The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  ~~~~   The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  ~~~~   The page for enthusiasts in the Oxford Chilterns Area - News from you and news for you - pictures too  

Issue 198

Sunday 15th October 2006
next update week ending 28th October 2006

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

Please note that any comments made in this news page are those of the Editors' and in no way constitute 
any official points of view from the bus companies mentioned,  or indeed any other official body. 
As a news page we reserve the right to make valid comments as seen from an editorial point of view.

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To see the pictures full size just click on the small one

Flooding brought chaos to the roads around Oxford last Wednesday, when torrential rain hit the county. The Oxford Eastern By-pass was closed in both directions after floods caused a lake blocking the road. It is reported that half the monthly average rain fall came down in just one hour during the morning. The upper end of the Cowley Road was also flooded and I am grateful to Andrew Robert Harvey who has supplied pictures that he took of this road at the height of the flooding.

In this picture Brookes Trident 18053 is seen heading towards "town" just before the old COMS bus depot. Pictures by Andrew Harvey.

Alexander (Curly) wrote to say "Oxford has been flooded by the huge, raging storm. Abingdon Rd, Kennington Rd  and  Botley Rd are flooded. The railway line at Kennington is also flooded. Abingdon Rd is flooded from Folly Bridge-Weirs La. Weirs La and Donnington Bridge Rd are also closed. Kennington Rd is flooded at Templeton College-Kirlene Nursing home. Botley Rd is flooded from West Way-Ferry Hinksey Rd. Duke St and Bulstake Cl have been flooded too."


The Oxford Times also carries a further item regarding the enforcement cameras for the bus/taxi only areas in the centre of Oxford. County council leaders have now been given the go ahead for cameras to prevent drivers flouting the ban in the marked areas.

It was as long ago as 1999, in the last century, that the OTS was introduced. Since that time, with the exception of odd occasions when police have manually enforced the restrictions, many thousands of car drivers have totally ignored the no go areas. Equally there all still occasions when drivers seem unaware that the route leading round from Speedwell St to Castle St is two way. They come down to the traffic lights on Old Greyfriars St on the wrong side of the road and one day there could be quite a crash.

The Oxford Times quotes the fact of 200 drivers per hour flouting the rules in the High Street alone.

One wait with interest to see how long it will be before the appropriate cameras are installed.

From the castle mound

David Harrison writes "Being a regular reader of your pages I have not seen any photos on it taken from the Castle Mound, therefore I thought I would send two of mine in, the location provides a very different angle on the buses!!

I am very interested to hear about the Tridents for the 35, especially as we may soon be moving to Abingdon and this would become "our" local bus route!! 

Anyway I hope you like the photos and keep up the good work!!"

Thanks to David for two pictures which I include below. I hope other readers may take the opportunity to take pictures from unusual angles or points.

Oxford Bus Volvo 642 is seen on an Abingdon working. During the weekday main day service Abingdon buses show 4.
However during the evenings and at weekends they can show 4B. This has changed as in days past Abingdon through buses were always 4.

David's other picture catches a Stagecoach M A N on the through service from Kidlington to Barton (7) turning into New Road.


On the subject of pictures from a different angle I took one this morning which whilst not a different angle does at least include much more of the surroundings. Indeed it is more like an old time postcard, hence the title on the picture.

The bus in the picture is "bouncy castle" 3818 which had been transferred to Harlow but has now appeared back on the High Wycombe allocation.
The inevitable picture of the 10:17 shows the bus awaiting departure. This morning it carried four people only from the village.


Following the successful introduction of four low floor Plaxton Centros, Centrebus in Luton will shortly take delivery of a further pair of similar vehicles. The Centro bodied VDL SB120s have brought a step change in quality to Centrebus’ service 10 in Luton. “They are our first low floor buses in Luton and they have been well received by our customers” enthused Operations Director Neil Harris. “They attracted a lot of interest when we displayed them in Luton’s main shopping area before they entered service and they are proving popular on the road. We have seen a massive increase in the numbers of mothers with pushchairs taking advantage of the easy no step entrance”.

Plaxton’s Centro service bus body was launched early in 2006 and is proving popular with a wide variety of operators who appreciate the clean lines and attractive interior layout. The standard 10.8m long Centrebus’ vehicles feature 38 fixed Esteban Civic seats plus two tip up seats in the offside wheelchair bay. The seats are trimmed in a dark red moquette, contrasting with the light grey shades of the interior fittings and high visibility yellow handrails. Externally, the vehicles carry Centrebus’ blue, orange and white livery and provide highly visible destination information via Mobitec electronic displays at the front, nearside and rear. Easy access is assured by the low floor layout, kneeling facility and manual ramp in the front entrance. Mechanically, the VDL SB120 chassis features a 135hp Cummins 4cyl Euro 3 engine coupled to an Allison LT2000 4 speed automatic gearbox. 

Luton route 10, operating between the town centre and Marsh Farm was acquired by Centrebus with the Lutonian operation in July 2004. The introduction of the Centros coincided with the launch of increased frequencies on the wholly commercial route. The easy access Centros, three of which are route branded for the 10 service, replaced step entrance vehicles and run every twelve minutes during the day on weekdays with a commercial service also provided during Sunday shopping hours. Neil Harris is pleased with the smooth introduction of Centros “They are very reliable, they have given us good service since day one”.


Redline are the latest operator of Plaxton's new Primo Bus. At only 7.8m long yet with a generous 28 seats and 16 standees, Mr Wali Khan considered the vehicle ideal to operate the Bucks CC Rider Scheme in and around Buckingham Town Centre. The Primo supplied by MISTRAL GROUP is painted in the distinctive Bucks CC Green Scheme and is Redlines first NEW vehicle and it joins 12 other vehicles operating a mix of local bus services and school contracts.

Services operated by Redline can be found at the following links:

There is another operator new to me which also operates some County Rider services. This is Red Kite.

It would be nice to have pictures of these operators and their vehicles.

Stagecoach orders 15m coaches for Megabus

Stagecoach has ordered 45 Plaxton Panthers on 15m tri-axle Volvo B12BT chassis

THE BIGGEST UK order for 15m-long coaches has been placed by Stagecoach, which is taking 45 Plaxton-bodied Volvo B12BTs for its low-cost Megabus operation in an £11million deal. Although 15m coaches have been legal in Britain since 2004, Stagecoach is the first operator to place a large order for the type. The company has previously bought Neoplan Skyliners when investing in high-capacity coaches.

The new fleet will have Plaxton Panther bodies – the first 15m coaches to be produced by the Scarborough-based builder – and will be wheelchair accessible using a lift in the main passenger entrance. They will be 63-seaters with a toilet compartment at the rear, and with on-board CCTV.

Stagecoach already operates 56 wheelchair-accessible Plaxton B7R Profiles.

Brian Souter, Stagecoach Group chief executive, says: " offers the best value inter-city travel in Britain and this new investment will provide a further step-change in the quality of service we provide our customers.

"The new vehicles will bring our investment in to around £18million in the past 18 months, and we see further opportunities to attract more people to low-cost inter-city travel."

"We are delighted to have secured this, the first major order for 15m coaches for operation in Britain," adds Plaxton’s sales and marketing director, Kevin Wood. "We worked closely with both Stagecoach and Volvo to develop a specification which met the needs of the Megabus operation in terms of accessibility, comfort and carrying capacity."

The only alteration required at Plaxton’s factory is the provision of a new paint booth to accommodate the longer vehicles. Work on that is now underway, in preparation for delivery of the first of the new coaches in the spring.

Stagecoach is also pushing the environmental benefits of coach travel. Souter concludes "Bus and coach travel is the greener way to travel and far less damaging than airlines. Not only is easy on the wallet, it is easy on the planet."

Bus and Coach Professional reports.

You’ll look long and hard to find a 15m coach on Britain’s roads. But not for much longer, following the announcement by Stagecoach that it has ordered no fewer than 45 of them for its Megabus business.

It’s proof, were any needed, that Megabus has come a long way since it was launched three years ago, with many of the services being run by tarted-up ex-Hong Kong double-deck buses. And it might just open a debate on the role of maximum-length coaches

in Britain.

It’s a prestigious order, which has been won by Volvo and Plaxton, both established suppliers of express coaches to Stagecoach. The Scottish-based group has over the last year taken 56 wheelchair-accessible Profile B7Rs, following earlier deliveries of similar conventional – i.e. not wheelchair-accessible – coaches.

The new Megabus vehicles will, like the Profile B7Rs, incorporate a wheelchair lift in the front entrance. They will be 63-seaters, with a walk-in toilet compartment at the rear.

The bodies will be based on Plaxton’s Panther, but stretched from its current maximum length of 12.8m. The chassis will be Volvo’s tri-axle B12BT with 420bhp Euro 4 engine and I-Shift transmission.

Stagecoach says the new fleet is costing £11million – that’s £245,000 a vehicle, or about £3,900 a seat. That Stagecoach is ordering 45 rather than a trial batch of, say, ten, suggests it is convinced that 15m coaches will work.

The commercial benefits of a 15m express coach are clear. They provide increased capacity and are therefore more efficient to operate. The capacity does not match that of a double-decker, but at least all the seats are on one level. Climbing stairs can be a disincentive to older passengers.

They can also be allocated to specific routes where there are no problems with the infrastructure accommodating them, whether that be fitting them in to bus stations or roadside stops, or simply ensuring that the approach routes to town and city centres do not present any hazards.

And that’s one of the things which militates against their more widespread use on other types of coaching. Would you want to drive a 15m coach through a congested Lake District tourist town in the height of the summer? And if you did, could you be sure you would be able to squeeze it in to the hotel car park at the end of the day?

Speed of loading and unloading is another issue. On express services you can build that into the schedule, and you can do the same on tour and charter work too – but pity the 67th person getting off a fully-seated 15m coach for a 30-minute comfort stop and has to wait for 66 other passengers to get off first. A two-door layout is one answer, although it means that elderly travellers using the centre door would not be able to get assistance from the driver, who’d presumably be occupied at the front.

Some operators of extra-long coaches use the continental exit to speed boarding and alighting at locations where it is deemed safe to do so, such as motorway service areas. That’s OK, provided the driver carries out a proper assessment of any risks before opening the continental door.

Then how about personal attention? A driver or courier on a standard touring coach can engage with passengers seated 12m away at the back of the vehicle, and can quickly identify all of his or her charges when there are only 49 of them at most. Stand at the front of a 15m coach and it’s like looking down the cabin of an airliner. Giving personal attention to people 15m away may not be easy.

Despite the increased capacity which longer coaches offer, whenever there has been a change in the length limits coach operators have generally been slow to adopt bigger vehicles. Although 12m coaches were permitted from the late 1960s, many operators continued to buy 11m vehicles until the end of the 1970s.

The recent relaxation of the 12m limit has seen two camps emerge. There are those who go for coaches just over 12m in length so they gain extra legroom rather than more capacity, while avoiding the added expense of a three-axle chassis. This does mean keeping a careful eye on weight when the coach is fully laden. Then there are those who specify a vehicle of around 13.5m in length on three axles, using the extra space both to increase legroom and capacity.

And does everybody need big coaches? There is growing interest in smaller vehicles. Sales of lighter duty midis based on the Mercedes-Benz Atego are strong, while EvoBus has had an instant success with its purpose-designed 34-seat Tourino, selling an impressive 30 in its first year in the UK. The success of the Turkish-built BMC Probus, soon to become the Karisma, has prompted rival Turkish manufacturer Temsa to enter the midicoach market with the Opalin.

The 15m coach looks like remaining a specialist vehicle, but what its arrival has done has been to open operators eyes to wider issues on size, with growing interest in vehicles which are more than 12m long as a way of adding more comfort rather than more seats. Balance that out with growing interest in midicoaches too and it’s clear that the market is changing.

The 12m model will continue to dominate the market because it’s what operators are used to, and it offers a good balance of physical size and comfortable carrying capacity. But increasingly operators will be buying both longer and shorter vehicles, even if the full 15m variety remains a specialist choice.

Changes to the Arriva 323 and 324.

Details of the changes to these services may be found at the following link :

Further Polish buses enter service with Transdev

Wednesday saw further Scanias entering service on the 148 with SP1, 2, 3, 4, 6 and 7 now seen in service. They are very distinctive with the black roof line at the front.

Picture by Gavin Francis

I was struck by one thought and that was that when I was a lad British buses seemed to rule the world. Many parts of Europe, Crossleys in the Netherlands, Leyland in the Netherlands and Scandinavia plus many British buses throughout Africa, Australia, New Zealand and many parts of South America to mention but a few. Now it is headline news when a British bus sale makes it, although there are to be further Alexander Dennis Enviros for Florida like this one photographed by Tim Hall.

Who could have imagined over the years that some of London's buses would be provided by Poland.

Again my thanks to all my contributors, both old and new.

Malcolm Crowe - Sunday 15th October 2006

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date

News of the local companies – 15th October 2006

Andrew Millwood writes "It's not very often Arriva use double-deckers in Reading although a few have turned up recently, usually Olympian/Northern Counties 5109/10/34/35 or even a Palatine 5144/45 but on Monday 9th Oct an Olympian 5122 was spotted. As  I don't see them here very often I enclose a photo. It is seen on route 329 on the 15:17 service."

Last week we had pictures from Simon Oliver and it does seem that the 328/329 routes are currently being operated by deckers.

Olympian 5109, which has spent most of its life at Wycombe is seen leaving the new bus station on a 32 working to Booker last Monday.

Several readers tell me that the Ayats Bravo is now in full fleet livery. Now all we need is a picture?

Gavin Francis sent a picture of one of the current fleet taken at Stokenchurch a week ago.

Following the repaint of Dart 401 I asked Philip Kirk for an update on current matters, especially concerning the Dart fleet. I also asked re the latest Trident from the north east. Philip replied:

"Three Darts will be repainted but not refurbished. These are those scheduled to be definitely retained for work on City 6. They are not being refurbished simply because they do not need it, having seen a lot less passengers than the 800s on 5 and 15. The three Darts will also have electronic blinds fitted shortly, which means that all low floors will be to that standard. The balance of eight will be cascaded within the group.

Trident “3883” is now 904 in the fleet. It awaits fitment of GPS kit before being used in service. I will advise on the full batch when I have it."

Many thanks to Philip for those interesting notes. One wonders if OBC will retain the cherished registrations carried by most of the Darts?

Chris Maxfield caught up with Volvo 635 on the 4B to Cumnor, pictured above in Castle Street a week ago.

Another Chris Maxfield shot, this time of soon to be refurbished Volvo 812, seen here again in Castle Street on the 5.

I am not sure if I recorded that OBC now have two Volvo B10B/NCME Paladins in the training fleet. Details are:

962 K119 BUD (K2KLL) Volvo B10B with Northern Counties Paladin body number 4441 new in Apr-93 to London General  (was fleet number 645)

963 K120 BUD (K3KLL) Volvo B10B with Northern Counties Paladin body number 4442 new in May-93 to London General (was fleet number 646)

I was surprised to see a Scania/Irizar PB on the 737 today passing through Stokenchurch whose destination setting was bizarre to say the least.

It read alternately :  Oxford 737  - via high Wycombe 757

Spot the deliberate mistake. Indeed for some time now I have noticed that several coaches display 757 instead of 737 but this was the first time I had noticed two routes numbers for one route.

I think someone in National Express deserves a prize for this one?????

As mentioned last week Stagecoach are operating a minibus shuttle service in Kidlington between now and December. I would appreciate pictures of the bus used, 42624 from any kind reader.

M A N 22203 ex Manchester and STILL without wheel trims works the 10 on a very wet day in this picture by Gavin Francis.
6th October 2006 at Carfax.

This weekend has seen at least two Neoplans given new branding for the Wi-Fi facility on the Tube. 50108 has had its first branding removed in favour of revised branding and 50117 has the same branding now applied. One item of note is the repositioning of the fleet numbers to the nearside, front and back and the use of a different font face.

The front branding has been changed from the first style pictured over the past few weeks.
The fleet number has been moved the nearside front corner.
The lettering on the offside upper deck side windows now reads "your comfortable connection ... convenient and always dependable."
The nearside reads "so frequent you don't need a timetable ... you can trust the Tube"
50108 pictured leaving Hillingdon last Saturday on  its first journey to London with the new branding.

50108 from the rear, showing the latest branding which replaces that originally applied a few weeks ago.

There will be a number of rear themes on the fleet which should all be completed in the next few weeks.

Dart 156 is registered KC56 HCZ. We still await pictures and further details of this new arrival.

Also the pink Scania decker is back in service having been off the road for repairs after an accident. On Saturday it was on the X39 working through to Watlington.

If you have a digital camera and wish to submit photos for this page please send them to the me at



I subscribe to the group site and this often produces interesting information about buses and coaches from our area. One of considerable interest was submitted by Graeme Selway who writes "My picture is of an ex Heyfordian AEC languishing at Darley Ford Garage, one of several abandoned coaches - sorry for poor picture - I think this wants to be a Leyland National judging by the roof pod, is this an early air conditioning unit or something ?

After Heyfordian, XWL was the pride of the Primrose fleet (and kept in tip-top condition) for a number of years before briefly going to an operator in Coventry, after which it returned to Cornwall being acquired by Darley Ford themselves.  They passed it to Lethbridge and of course, sixteen or so years after it's coming back to Cornwall it's still in DF's yard.  A sad end to a rare and significant coach.

Here it is with Primrose in April 86, looking a little less than its usual best, having just received its new front end, such was the trend at the time.
Picture by Graeme Selway.

(I think Godfrey Abbott in Manchester had a similar coach back in the '80s. Ed.)


I found an interesting link for pictures of City of Oxford-South Midland at

If you have any pictures or historical memories and wish to submit them for this page please send them to the me at

Coming events & models

The Oxford Bus Museum - October bus rally

Herewith a note in the forthcoming bus rally at the Oxford Bus Museum. It is to be held on Sunday 15 October and vehicles will be displayed at the Water Eaton Park & Ride site, by kind permission of the County Council, and a regular free bus service, operated by preserved vehicles, will run between there and the Museum.  Free parking is available at Water Eaton.  Alternatively visitors can park at Long Hanborough: look out for the signs to the nearby industrial estate, and then take the free minibus service to the Museum.

DVD s by Robin Clare

The full details of DVDs available from Robin Clare may be found at his web site :-

Latest Citaro models revealed

Dave Rogers sent the following press release.


Mercedes-Benz Citaro - ukbus 5004 Arriva Manchester  -  ukbus 5007 Oxford Bus


Creative Master Northcord Limited is proud to release two brand new liveries on its well known Mercedes-Benz Citaro casting. Both models have received significant, yet different, modifications to the tooling in order to represent, as close to 100% accuracy as possible, the real buses on the roads. 

ukbus 5004 represents fleet number Arriva North West’s 2851 (CX55 EAA). This Mercedes Citaro is one of three such vehicles with dedicated route branding for service 700 and with the destination set to Manchester. The model features a redesigned interior layout that includes the reduced seating capacity and luggage racks. 

Starting on 29th October 2005, Arriva North West’s service 700 runs from Manchester’s Piccadilly Railway Station to Liverpool’s John Lennon Airport. For the service, 3 Mercedes-Benz Citaro buses were purchased and numbered 2851-3. They were painted in the same style and colours as the Scania OmniCity buses that already operated between John Lennon and Liverpool city centre. 

ukbus 5007 represents fleet number 830 (X13 OXF) of Oxford Bus Company. 830 entered service in December 2003, to upgrade the X3 & X13 Oxford – Abingdon services. The bus was painted in a new and distinctive livery designed by Best Impressions. 

ukbus 5007 features the smooth, curved windscreen with the destination display set behind the windscreen glass rather than the protruding destination found on the Park & Ride Citaros in the fleet. This feature is one of the standard specifications on other Citaros that the Go-Ahead Group has purchased. 

Mercedes-Benz Citaro ukbus 5004 and 5007 models are each a one-piece casting whose clean lines accentuate the square-mounted, double-glazed windows and the livery application on which all logos and lettering are clearly legible. Another main feature on both models is the extensive portrayal of handrails. The headlight / indicator units at the front and indicator / tail light units at the rear are made of individual components to look more realistic.


The brand new single-door Mercedes-Benz Citaro bus models will be distributed by John Ayrey Die-Casts Limited (UK), Porte Publishing Company (Japan) and Concorde Hobby Shop (HK) respectively. The ukbus 5004 and 5007 models are limited to 1700 pieces worldwide respectively. 


Model Buses for Sale
prices revised with immediate effect

I have a revised deal on Models for your readers...

Each of the following models are available for the following price : 

Each Model = £10.00

Postage is £4.00 regardless of the number of models.







Once again this offer is only available by emailing me direct at

More models are for sale on my eBay store,

Thanks!    James

Would readers who respond to the above please quote my site when doing so.


If you wish to be included on a mailing list where I will advise of any mid week news & when each News Page is posted
please let me know on

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002 to date


These are three most interesting sites which I do recommend

Bus Zone Logo (2421 bytes)

Mike Penn's photo page with much from Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire as well as Buckinghamshire

Chris Lowe's Photo page - mainly North West UK

The Oxford Bus Museum

Ray Jackson Art

A web site which has paintings of buses.
Nice present for a Christmas or Birthday wish list !!


Stagecoach Handbook for 2006
from British Bus Publishing

The latest handbook from BBF was on sale at Cobham and was the ever popular Stagecoach edition now in its 13th year.
It includes all the latest takeovers and as ever is invaluable
in keeping track of this now very large fleet.

As in earlier editions it includes the 2006 new bus orders.


Bus Services in Buckinghamshire

Bus services in Oxfordshire

Where are the Chilterns?

Visit this informative site through the link below.

back to home page
Map showing the Chilterns Hills beginning in Oxfordshire in the Thames Valley and stretching north-east through Buckinghamshire and Bedfordshire to Hitchin in Hertfordshire. The highest points are over 250m. There are various water courses running from the Chilterns to the South East.

Visit the "OXFORD BUS PAGE" Archive 1998 - 2002

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Archives from October 2002