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  

News Page
Editorial & Features

Issue 293
Tuesday 28th July 2009
(next update during August 2009)

Now in our 11th year

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Menu for News Page Issue 28th July 2009

Archive Index (previous News Pages)

Introduction & main menu

Editorial & Features plus Picture Corner

Company and Fleet News

Concessionary Travel, Buses in the Landscape, Running Days and Historical articles.

Special issue to mark introduction of new Oxford tube fleet

Some pages may not be available immediately, please check back.

Editorial & Features


Stagecoach named as a potential bidder for National Express
Plans revealed for a "coachway" at Handy Cross, High Wycombe
Domestic driving hours to be reviewed
Review of the new 700 and 800 Park & Ride services in Oxford
Transform Oxford becomes reality
Oxford Bus receives further Tridents for the Brookes contract
New Citaros 530s take over on Red Arrow 507
Pictureview - seen in Oxford


Stagecoach reveals interest in National Express

In a statement by Stagecoach to the Stock Exchange on 27th July, revealed it is “considering its options” in relation to National Express Group (NEG).

The options appear to be the purchase of parts of the business that the Cosmen family doesn’t want - possibly the USA school bus and UK bus operations - or if the Consortium’s bid fails, all of NEG.

Stagecoach confirms it is in “exclusive discussions” with the Consortium – which comprises CVC Capital Partners and the Cosmen family - regarding the “possible acquisition by Stagecoach of certain businesses and assets of NEG in the event that the Consortium acquires NEG.”

It adds that “in addition to its discussions with the Consortium, Stagecoach will continue to consider all other options in relation to NEG.”

Last week the Consortium revealed that it had made a bid for NEG, which is though to be worth up to £600m.

Analysts said Stagecoach is most likely interested National Express's UK bus and coach services, and possibly the group's school bus operations in the US.

It is thought that Stagecoach would have to do a share issue to complete any deal. One analyst said: "It is very difficult to fund anything with debt alone in the current market conditions and also inadvisable. It puts the balance sheet under stress. That is how National Express got into trouble, so you don't really want to repeat that.

"There has been a lot of equity issuance in the past six months. The market is no longer averse to companies issuing equity as it might have been a year or two ago. It would be advisable for [Stagecoach] to maintain a relatively strong balance sheet."

It is thought that the cost of National Express' UK bus and coach services could run into "several hundreds of millions". National Express reported operating profits of £67m from the combined units last year.

Stagecoach said in a statement that it would "continue to consider all other options in relation to National Express".


Plans for a coach & bus interchange at Handy Cross

THE athletics track at Wycombe Sports Centre is to move to a secondary school to make way for a bus interchange.

Councillors have agreed to move the track four miles to Sir William Ramsay School, Hazlemere to help finance a re-build of the sports centre at Handy Cross.

The plan will need permission from Wycombe District Council, which owns the sports centre on Marlow Hill.

The interchange will include national coach services and a park a ride facility, re-located from nearby Cressex. WDC will spend £50,000 to complete the project.

Councillor Katrina Wood, WDC cabinet member for younger and older people, said: “I am delighted that this decision has been made.

“With proposals to install a new regional coachway at the Handy Cross site it was imperative that a decision was made about the relocation of the track in order to prevent this project being delayed.

A public consultation will take place later in the summer, including an exhibition.


Bucks County Council vision for Handy Cross


Regional coachway and Park & Ride, High Wycombe

Since the concept of improved coach connections in the Thames Valley was first identified by Central Government in 2002, Buckinghamshire County Council and Wycombe District Council have had an aspiration to develop a regional coachway and park and ride facility at Handy Cross, High Wycombe.

A coachway is defined as a coach station built adjacent to a motorway interchange to allow regional coach services to serve the local area while allowing the integration of local feeder services serving the adjoining urban and rural areas. This will enable residents of the area to have access to existing regional coach services and also to potential new services. It is our aspiration that the coachway facility will enable local residents to access a regional coach network, with services to Oxford and London, to the Thames Valley and potentially north of High Wycombe. Access to key facilities such as airports is also expected to be improved.

Within High Wycombe an interim Park & Ride was established at Cressex Island, Junction 4, M40 in September 2005. It is anticipated that once the coachway is opened the interim Park & Ride will relocate to the Coachway site to enable the integration of the two facilities. The location of the Park & Ride on the Handy Cross site also helps support the development of the vision for a cross-town north-south Park & Ride bus link.

It is anticipated that the scheme could be constructed as early as 2011/12, although this would be dependent on success with various statutory processes for planning and funding.

Scheme Proposals

It is anticipated that the coachway and park & ride facility will offer the following facilities:

·         High quality interchange for regional and long-distance coaches

·         Re-location of existing local Park & Ride service to site to allow for integration of facilities

·         Interchange facilities for local bus services, cycling and walking

·         A prioritised access /egress point for buses and coaches into the site to allow for quick and easy pick ups/drop offs

·         High quality waiting facilities for passengers

Background to the Scheme

Various studies and strategies have been undertaken in the past five years to review and analyse current accessibility problems and to put forward possible opportunities and solutions to these problems.

Studies have included:

·         The ORBIT Study (2002)

·         Thames Valley Multi Modal Study (2003)

·         Express Bus and Coach Study (2003)

·         Thames Valley Express Coaches - Analysis of Proposed Coach Network (2005)

The Regional Context

The South East Regional Assembly (SEERA) are currently developing the South East Plan, which aims to set out the vision for the future of the South East region to 2026, outlining the response to challenges facing the region such as housing, the economy, transport and protecting the environment.

The updated draft South East Plan (2006) identifies High Wycombe as a regional hub, including regional spokes to the east (London), west (Oxford) and the north (Aylesbury, Milton Keynes). Following the Examination in Public on the draft South East Plan held in 2007, the Panel Report recommended the inclusion of a spoke from High Wycombe to the Thames Valley at Maidenhead.

Hubs are be defined as settlements where the provision of (or potential to provide) a range of multi-modal transport services supports the concentration of land uses and economic activity in a suitable manner. More particularly, regional hubs should be the focus for development and investment in the transport system that leads to an increase in the overall level of accessibility by all modes between regional, sub-regional and local hubs along transport spokes. The transport corridors between regional hubs and sub-regional hubs and links to key destinations and growth areas outside the sub-region were also seen as a main focus for transport investment.

The RTS recognises that the coach network plays a distinctive role in the South East with a current focus on Heathrow and Gatwick Airports and commuter services to/from London. The development of scheduled coach and express bus services along spokes and inter-regional corridors are sought along with associated interchange facilities and rail services to provide better and intra-regional connections. The development of high quality interchange facilities within regional hubs are seen as a key priority. Likely locations include rail based parkway stations or inter urban bus and coach interchange points close to motorways. The RTS makes reference to broad locations arising from findings of the multi-modal studies, including M4 junction 11 south of Reading and M40 junction at Handy Cross, High Wycombe.


Domestic Driving Hours Rules to be reviewed


The Government has launched a review of the UK Domestic Hours rules, which apply to buses on regular routes up to 50km

Making the announcement to the House of Commons recently, Transport Minister Paul Clark revealed that his consultation document seeks views on the current rules and the government is “now reviewing these rules.” As part of this process, it “needs to better understand the views and experiences of those that are affected by them in their working lives.”

He says that although the consultation document “proposes no legislative changes at this stage,” the responses received will “inform the initial consideration of potential policy options,” which will then be the subject of further consultation.

Given previous statements by bus drivers’ unions, it seems likely that they will press for shorter hours, reduced total driving time and longer breaks.


TRANSFORM OXFORD: All change on the buses in Queen Street

(with thanks to The Oxford Mail.)

New bus stop locations in Oxford - eff 20th July 2009

The first phase of plans to pedestrianise Oxford city centre has been met with a mixed reaction from shoppers.

County Hall’s decision to remove all bus stops from Queen Street means thousands of passengers will have to get used to new stops in the city centre.

However, the changes to Queen Street were broadly welcomed by the majority of visitors to the city yesterday.

Mick Saville, 65, a regular bus user from Wolvercote, said: “I think it’s great to get rid of the buses out of the city centre.

“It’s been like walking through a big bus garage on Queen Street for too long.

“It’s nice walking down it without having to look over your shoulder the whole time.

“People complain they’ve got to walk up another road, but they should stop grumbling, it’s good to get exercise.”

Tom McTaggart, 72, of St Thomas’ Street, was out shopping with his wife, Margaret, 69.

He said: “You can see the difference and now you can walk on the pavement without getting stuck behind people queuing up for the buses. It’s definitely a big improvement, there’s a lot less buses going along and it’s less congested.

“I think it will improve trade at the shops in Queen Street now as people can stop and stand around and have a proper look in the shop windows.

“It feels like the space has been brought back into use for pedestrians.”

The £985,000 first phase of Transform Oxford has seen 24 bus stops relocated, meaning changes for passengers on 57 routes.

Despite stops being removed from Queen Street, buses are still driving along the road on city services, but County Hall claims the number of buses using it will be cut by a third. Council officers were in the city yesterday to help passengers with the changes.

However, some shoppers spoke out against the plans and again voiced concerns that the elderly and people with mobility problems will struggle to walk longer distances to bus stops.

Cat Hall, 47, from Barton said: “If the buses are still coming up here, they should be stopping for old people. It’s wrong, this is putting too many people out. It’s too much confusion for too little benefit.”

Shirley Kelly, 74, from Bicester, said: “They don’t think about us pensioners.

“The buses are still flaming well driving up here. It’s ridiculous. Some people will really struggle.”

Now that seven bus stops have been removed from Queen Street a new paving scheme will be laid and finished by the autumn.

In future years the council intends to fully pedestrianise George Street, Magdalen Street and Queen Street.

Pictureview by Gavin Francis & Richard Sharman

Again a picture of Queen St with only one bus in sight. Gavin Francis.

The Barton services now load in Castle Street and then run non-stop through Queen St. Gavin Francis.

The Blackbird Leys services pick up in Castle St and then St Aldates as seen above. Gavin Francis.

Rose Hill services pick up in Bonn Square - Gavin Francis.

Park & Ride service 400 now runs via Castle St and St Aldates on its Thornhill bound services. Gavin Francis.

Buses on layover at City Centre now have additional facilities in Norfolk Street. Gavin Francis.

Richard Sharman was in town early on Monday morning and caught Queen St without a bus in sight,
his second picture shows the two Blackbird Leys services now departing from St Aldates
and finally his third picture shows the City Councils information point at Carfax to help intending bus users.


Park & Ride services 700 & 800 - by Mike Bennett


The intention of my visit to Oxford on Tuesday 14th July was to photograph the extended Park & Ride service 700 and to see the new service 800, both operated by RH Transport Services.  I partially managed this and my efforts are attached, including photographs of 4 of the double deckers on the 700 - but I ran out of time to get down to the Nuffield Orthopaedic and Churchill Hospitals which it now serves.  However, I came down to Oxford on Thursday 23rd and took a few more photos.  


I started on the 14th by using the 500 P&R service from Magdalen St, on OBC 902 to Water Eaton, and whilst there I took several photos.  RH 806, one of the newly acquired Tridents with Plaxton President bodies originally PDL17 with Go-Ahead London, came in from Kidlington and posed nicely for my camera, before continuing to JRH.  I took the opportunity to shoot it with the OBC example on which I had just arrived.  Later OBC 633 - Volvo B10B / Plaxton Verde came into the bus station on driver training duty, showing off its QBuster livery. 


(RHTS 806)  &  (RHTS 806 + OBC 902 together)  &  (OBC 903)  &  (OBC 633 QBuster) , all at Water Eaton P&R


It was then time to catch RH 801, a DAF / Optare Spectra, on service 700 to the John Radcliffe Hospital, alighting at the West Wing, to photograph some of the services which serve that hospital.  This included RH Solo 410 on the new service 800 linking the JRH with the Pear Tree P&R site, and RH 805 on the 700.  Also OBC Citaro 859 on the X13, and Stagecoach MAN 22053 on the 14A.


(RH 410)  &  (RH 805)  &  (OBC 859)  &  (StOx 22053) , all at the JRH West Wing


I walked up the hill to the JRH Main Entrance bus stops to find RH 801 coming back from the Churchill Hospital, and new RH 808 on its way to the Churchill.  I then jumped on a Stagecoach No 10 to Headington Shops in time to photograph RH 808 coming back from the Churchill.


(RH 801)  &  (RH 808) , both at JRH Main Entrance  &  (RH 808) at Headington Shops


It was now 16:35 and time to head back into the city centre.  202, one of the new OBC Brookes buses pulled up, so that was my mount for this journey, alighting near Carfax, and waiting long enough for me to get another photo.


(OBC-Brookes 202)  at High Street - Carfax



On Thursday 23rd July I arrived in Oxford at 13:30 and quickly found my way to the Pear Tree P&R site on OBC 110, by way of service 300 from Magdalen Street.  Here I soon saw RH Transport Solo 411, and rode on it through Summertown to JRH West Wing.


(RH 411)   &   (OBC 110),  both at Pear Tree P&R 


Having taken a few photos I jumped on RH Transport's "new" Trident / Plaxton President 808, and went right through to the Churchill Hospital, managing a photo as it left the site.  One diagram for the route 700 was being operated by a single decker, and Solo 410 turned up. 


(RH 804) at JRH West Wing & (RH 808) & (RH 410), at Churchill Hospital


I rode on 410 round to the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, where I took several photos, including RH 401 on route 600 which links the Thornhill P&R site to the Churchill Hospital, via the Nuffield Orthopaedic.  It is half hourly now so needs only one vehicle.


I did not recognise the hospital at all, even though I had been a patient there a while ago, well 1954 to be exact.   It was now time to take a route 700 bus back towards Summertown Shops, and RH Trident 806 turned up, so I jumped on for the ride. 


(RH 401), at Nuffield Orthopaedic 


Summertown is very busy so soon I had more photos, this time RH 808 & 410, both heading south on a another trip back to the 3 hospitals.


(RH 808)  &  (RH 410),  both at Summertown Shops. 


One last journey before getting the 66 back to Watchfield, and that was on OBC 903 to Magdalen Street East.   A quick walk up Cornmarket to see the changes to the bus stops in Queen Street and I was just in time to see OBC Brookes 204 come out of said street, followed a while later by an Arriva route 280 bus.  The first I can understand, but the 280?  Incidentally, OBC 204 was showing service U1 Wheatley Campus on its indicator.  All 4 photos I took showed nothing.  This can be another difficult batch to photograph!


(OBC Brookes 204),  in Queen Street.


Obviously the recently acquired deckers for RH are from London and Gavin Francis sent a picture of one in London service. 


Not the first buses to have worked on the 88 and moved to Oxford - Gavin Francis.


Edward Howard writes "I am very pleased that RH are starting their 700 Water Eaton to JR service in Kidlington and extending to Oxford Brookes and other  Headington hospital destinations.

Though it runs every 15 minutes from our end (towards Grovelands) in Kidlington quite regularly there are still teething troubles regarding the timing of arrivals - and this is holiday time. But it saves going through the city."


London changes see the end of bendis on the 507 - pictures by Gavin Francis

The not so old and the very new on route 507.
The new bus lacks much of its branding and even fleet number such appears to be the rush to get these buses into service.


Coming Events 

To celebrate the Jubilee line's 30th anniversary, London Transport Museum's 1938 Tube train will make two special runs along the Jubilee line from Stratford to West Hampstead, one of which will be via a disused station at Charing Cross, where you will have the opportunity to alight, explore and take a quick photograph More...  Tickets must be booked in advance, telephone 020 7565 7298 or book on-line... 

Pictureview - seen in Oxford by Richard Sharman

Roadliners Royal tiger looks splendid and memories are evoked by this Moretons Reliance coach.
Finally Excelsior were in Oxford in force when Richard took this picture.

A Jonckheere Tube now owned by Barry's of Weymouth

Tellings Golden Miller were out in strength and fielded these two fine coaches.

Menu for News Page Issue 28th July 2009

Archive Index (previous News Pages)

Introduction & main menu

Editorial & Features plus Picture Corner

Company and Fleet News

Concessionary Travel, Buses in the Landscape, Running Days and Historical articles.

Special issue to mark introduction of new Oxford tube fleet

Some pages may not be available immediately, please check back.