Spottings & Jottings

Issue nr. 10 - 25th October 2009

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Welcome to issue number 10 which has some nice items of interest included news from OBC on the disposal of some Tridents, pictures of the ex Oxford Tube Neoplan fleet at Plaxtons, Anston and various other items of interest.

One of these are some pictures from Malta. It seems that many people are interested in Malta and there is quite a tourist trade in bus enthusiasts.

A word on the lack of full News Page issues. At present I am much involved in work and seem to have little time for web page work. This means that the Spottings & Jottings cover more than originally intended but I do hope to get back to normal in the coming months. I am sure readers will appreciate this matter. It does mean that some of your contributions have not been used and I must apologise for this.

One of the ex Oxford Tubes being worked on at the Anston premises of Plaxton.
Happy memories of this particular coach as it was 50124 and winner of the best new coach at the 2004 Showbus event.
Picture by Clive Middleton.

The National Express saga seems to have gone quiet in the last few days and it seems that we are now waiting for the outcome of the rights issue.

Again many thanks to all those who have contributed to this week's S&J issue.


As mentioned in a previous addition one of the Enviro 400s has had its destination display changed to show the route number nearest the pavement. This is I now realise quite important for intending passengers as when buses are in a queue approaching a stop it is difficult for intending passengers to see a route number when it is on the "offside".

Arriva 5435 showing the route number change. Picture by Gavin Francis.

Leather seated Line 100 dedicated DAF 3447 was on the 280 last week as pictured by Gavin Francis.

Mark Turner asked what has happened to the following buses that were all allocated to Hemel depot?

3152 N702 EUR
3155 N705 EUR  (intalink bus)
3156 N706 EUR
3441 R201 VPU (ex 500 bus)
3442 R202 VPU (ex 500 bus)
3443 R203 VPU (ex 500 bus)
Adam Green replied during last week as follows:-

"3156 is at Aylesbury with 3444 and 3152. 3160 which was at Aylesbury is in Hemel garage and 3442 is parked up in the middle of Hemel garage. Adam adds that he will continue to follow up on the remaining buses."

Glenn Knight said "3441 was at Luton"

Nigel Peach notes that "Volvo B10BLE 3452 (W452 XKX) has joined 3453 and 3454 at Wycombe (from Stevenage). I saw it today (Wed 21st) on route 32 - but without destination display (just the paper in the windscreen!)."

Mark Turner sent a few pictures taken in Watford, one of which is of an unusual working on Line 500.

Pictures by Mark Turner

The continuing news on Carousel regarding their newly introduced Circle Line, covering Stokenchurch and Lane End, comes from Mike Chadwick who has reported on sightings of buses covering these services during the past week.

"During last week one of the H-reg Olympians, L554, has put in several appearances and on 23rd October the 2A/2C were covered by Olympian L554, H554GXX and Agoraline AL2 C2WYC."

As so often happens Gavin Francis was on hand to record the appearance of the Olympian in Stokenchurch.

Olympians in Stokenchurch by Gavin Francis.

I am told that Tridents 904-7 have been sol to Western Greyhound. 908 and 909 are it seems for sale but 902 and 903 are to continue in service on the 500 Park & Ride. 

I hope someone can provide pictures of 904-7 in the new home. 

Dave Godley advises that they have reverted to their original registrations of NK51UCL/M/V/W.

I also notice that Volvos 798 and 799 lack the chrome strip on the front, making them obvious from a distance when compared to 792-797 and 801-821.

Gavin Francis took these pictures of the remaining Trident/Presidents with 903 on the 500 and 909 on 8 road.

Mark Lyons writes "There has been much coverage in the local press recently about the future of Reading Buses' ethanol powered Scania Omnicitys.  Although the operator's web-site has had all reference to the vehicles removed there has been no official announcement from the company.  Reading Borough Council however has issued the following press release" 

Glenn Knight writes "Friday 23rd Oct I was asked to do 335 from Slough to Chalfont Common on the condition I could take my own bus. I left the two Ex-London ALX 400's at the depot and took Ex-Dublin Bus RH57 H643PTW  (90 D 1057) Leyland Olympian Alexander. Picture attached."

The Olympian at Chalfont Common. Picture by Glenn Knight.

Service X88 ceases to run after today, Sunday, being split at Brackley or Silverstone with the Stagecoach part being from those points to Northampton and Walters Limousines to do the Oxford-Brackley portion.

Richard Sharman kindly provided some pictures of the service as it was, X6, and it became X88.

Originally worked by Plaxton coaches, one often saw Olympians of Volvo buses.

Stagecoach made quite an effort, applying branding for the service and offering a highly reliable service.

Volvo buses and even Enviro 300s appeared on the X88 from time to time.

Gavin Francis
took this picture of Solo 47123 last week. Note it has already lost its X88 branding.

Finally this one from Richard Sharman showing one of the last through services leaving Brackley on 24th October.

Stephen Le Bras writes "Megabus/Oxford Tube observations - Saturday 24th October:

50229 without a trailer on the Manchester run.

50216 seen in service.

With a major demonstration in Park Lane/Piccadilly, the Oxford Espress was not serving the Victoria station stop between 12.0 and 3.0pm. Traffic was badly delayed around the central area."

For a major part of the day the Oxford Tube services were routed from Shepherds Bush via the Embankment to avoid the demonstrations. As such they did not service Notting Hill Gate or Marble Arch during that diversion.

I notice that a few unusual workings have taken place in the last week or so. I see that a Stagecoach Gold Enviro 400 has worked the S1 service from Witney in the morning peak. Also I saw and Gavin Francis took a picture of Enviro 15435 on the Rose Hill 3 last week.

15435 is seen working the 3 in Bonn Square last week. Picture by Gavin Francis.

Route branding is being applied to M A N s 22913-22917 which are nominally based at Harwell outstation. The branding is for the "Wantage Duo"

Branding being applied to 22914 last Friday evening. Pictures by M Crowe.

The final delivery of the last new Van Hool coach, 50219, took place on Thursday 22nd October.
This coach is currently obvious as it is the only one lacking wheel trims. These will be supplied later as they are on back order by the manufacturer.
Pictures by M Crowe.

The final two Neoplans, 50114 and 50122 left Oxford on 21st and 22nd respectively for the journey to Plaxtons and Anston where all 25 are being repainted and returned to the lessor. I am grateful to Clive Middleton who has provided some excellent pictures of the various coaches now at Anston.

Clive Middleton
provided some excellent pictures of the Neoplans now at Plaxtons for preparation for return o the lessor. All taken on 21st October 2009.




50108, 50109 and 50110

50113 and 50115




My thanks to Clive Middleton for these excellent pictures.

Now we have covered the return of Neoplan 50133 to Stagecoach Western and I am delighted to have some pictures from David J W following its return to service on the X76C Kilmarnock-Glasgow route.

Various pictures of 50133 taken on 19th October by David J W.



Eastbourne merger is cleared 

The Competition Commission (CC) has changed its mind and cleared Stagecoach’s November 2008 purchase of Eastbourne Buses and Cavendish Motor Services.

The CC has changed its provisional decision, issued in August, that the acquisitions  - which Stagecoach merged into one operation - “substantially lessened competition.”

It says that following consultation on its provisional decision, “further evidence and analysis” revealed that Cavendish was operating loss-making routes throughout 2008, and its financial position had “substantially deteriorated” following expansions of its operations.

As a result, the CC thought it “unlikely” that Cavendish would have chosen to continue to run its business in the same way and would instead have been likely to withdraw relatively quickly from a large number of routes, or close its operations altogether.

After its provisional decision, the CC proposed a series of potential competition remedies, including divestment of part of the merged business to create a new competitor (which would then be protected by the OFT), Stagecoach allowing a competing operator to use its Eastbourne garage facilities, changes to services and price restrictions

The merger clearance means that none of the remedies will be implemented.

A decision on the Preston situation is still awaited.

Cyclists - a question?

When commenting on cyclists failing to use the cycle tracks provided by Oxford's Council, I seem to remember being told that this was because the surface was so uneven as to be dangerous.

Can our cyclist friends therefore please tell us why, when beautiful new surfaces have been provided, STILL cyclists use the road going to and from Headington near Oxford? With a 20mph speed limit now in force these cyclists now overtake those road users who obey the law. Is this also another law which cyclists are not obliged to abide by? Certainly for a vast majority they do not "see" red traffic lights, ride on pavements when it suits and generally behave as though they own the roads they neither pay for or contribute to.

It is interesting to note that when a bus is in their way in the bus lane (London road, Headington), they then can use the cycle track and then the pavements!!!!

I suppose I should clarify that there are still some cyclists who do abide by the law but sadly they do seem in a minority.

Birds eye view of George Street corner, Oxford

Robin sent three nice pictures of various bus movements at George St, Oxford taken in September 2009, two showing the Neoplans in the latter days.


Marcus Lapthorn writes "I was recently very privileged to visit Paramount Buses in Malta where I met with the owner of that company - Leo Grech. He very kindly opened up his reserve collection of buses for me to photograph. The vehicles were difficult to photograph as they are all packed tightly together." 

Photo 890: Leo's Office clock

Photo 892: Fleet no 159, plus 2151

Photo 895: Interior of fleet no 731

Photo 897: Fleet no 382

Photo 903: Ex London Transport

Photo 904: FBY 742

Photo 907: DBY 462

Photo 909: Interior rear view of FBY 742

The registration numbers formerly carried by these old 'uns' are now carried by modern buses! 

In the same vein Jeff Lloyd has provided this nice picture of another UK bus still operating in Malta.

MALTA ROUTE BUS - DBY 470 - VALLETTA. 20.10.2009.

A request for photographs

Kevin Barlow asks does anyone have any pictures of Hearns or Venture Coaches which they could let him have. If so please forward them to me and I will see Kevin gets them.


Martin Beckett writes "This may be of interest - RM1 about to make a trip around Acton and one of the new Mercedes Citaro Fuel Cell buses. The photo was taken at The Depot at Acton - the  London Transport Museum's exhibit store. It is occasionally open at week-ends and it was open for the 10th and 11th October for a family fun week-end."

RT1 by Martin Beckett as mentioned above.


Stagecoach set to run a local bus service in Oxford on Christmas Day

Services will run to revised timetables over the Christmas and New Year period.

For the first time ever Stagecoach will be running a service on route 1 on Christmas Day in addition to the now traditional service on the Oxford Tube. Banbury will get its first ever service on Boxing Day with a service on route B5. There will also be improved Boxing Day frequencies on routes 1 and S5 compared to last year, plus a new service on route 10 between the JR and Cowley Centre.

More details of these services and other holiday changes can be found at the link below.