Spottings & Jottings

Issue nr. 14 - 9th December 2009

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Welcome to issue number 14 which has a number of interesting reports and sightings. Significant is the awarding of 26 GREEN buses to Oxford through Stagecoach. These will be used to provide a more environmentally friendly bus service on city routes from the summer of 2010. This adds to the recently announced investment by Stagecoach in a further twelve Gold double decks for the S1 from Witney into the city. Add to this the recently introduced fleet of very GREEN double deck coaches for Oxford tube and one can appreciate the attention being made to the quality of life in the city of Oxford. Oxford Bus also boasts the GREENEST fleet of buses in the U.K. and Thames Travel are also included in the GREEN bus award with one new bus for their routes.

As ever your contributions are much appreciated and enable me to provide another page of great interest.

East Coast trains promotion by Andrew Morgan

We are, I am sure, all aware of the recent return of the East Coast mainline franchise by National Express and I received a note and pictures from Andrew Morgan of a Solo promoting the new operating power now known quite simply as East Coast. What is not clear is who owns this bus or mobile promotional vehicle?

Pictures of an East Coast trains Optare Solo outside Stevenage station on 4th December 2009, seemingly promoting the new name.
Pictures by Andrew Morgan.

It was recently used by Metronet – see this link:

Once again my thanks to all my readers, many of whom send me such pleasant notes on the work which goes into each edition of the OCBP.


Nigel Peach writes "3245 (R603WMJ) is another of the Wright Crusader bodied VolvoB6LEs to appear at Wycombe. It was at Cressex on Sun 6th. I think that makes five of these now at Wycombe, but I rarely see any in service. I guess they frequent routes I don't see very often! 

I think the influx of cascaded buses may mean that the days of the G & H reg double deckers are numbered. There will only be about half a dozen D/Ds left after that!"

Mark Turner writes "I have attach some more pictures of buses taken in Watford Nov/Dec 09 they include a picture of a Mullany's Bus which is only used on a Saturday on this route. Also a picture of an Arriva Dart on route 500 plus a picture of 3271 (V271HBH) with the route 500 branding on the side."

Pictures by Mark Turner.

This bus once plied the streets of Feltham and Heathrow! Picture by Mark Turner.

Picture by Mark Turner.


Seen on route 510 at Stansted was 3439 (R169GNW), this being the first time I have seen this bus on that route.

On the 7th December I saw two unusual workings, Route branded 5422 off 500 on 280 all day and route branded Enviro 400 off 280 on 300 all day.

Paul Davis writes "I managed a couple of shots of RML896 on Route 1 in HW this morning (04Dec). RM2198 was on the usual morning peak journey on Carousel Route 1 today, 09Dec, so it's looking pretty regular at the moment. No blinds on the front - paper stickers downstairs, and LT route 22 blinds on the rear!"

Picture by
Paul Davis.

Contribution on 4th December for the new Stokenchurch service was as above - pictures by Gavin Francis.

Excel at Stansted have been gaining some interesting buses and have now had, due I imagine to the growing fleet, to add fleet numbers.

Pictures by M Crowe.

First's Greyhound venture commenced in September and it is reported that tensions have been growing between the UK's largest bus company and National Express (NEx). First surrendered the vast majority of its South West NEX routes immediately before starting Greyhound. This acted as a handy way to cascade the needed Scania/Irizar PBs for Greyhound.

In the latest move by First, the operation of one NEx's most frequent coach services (it used to be branded 'Shuttle') is to be surrendered at the end of the year, with South Gloucester Bus & Coach taking over Service 040 between Bristol-London, operating to an hourly frequency throughout most of the day. This will cease all First Bristol operation of NEx services. A smaller seven-coach unit is understood to be unaffected at Bath; as too is the seven-vehicle operation at Cheltenham and the few remaining diagrams operated by First Devon & Cornwall (11 coaches).

First's Greyhound business having a managing director for merely two routes, it has always been almost certain that this new brand will extend from 2010 with Bristol to be one of the 'first' destinations when expansion comes.

Charles Powell writes "Heyfordian at Bicester and amongst the vehicles in the yard were a new solo registered YJ59GFV and a Citaro registered 943YKN. Both were in full Heyfordian colours."

Steve Warwick also advised Heyfordian re registration :- Optare MB0530 was X438KON now 943YKN on 26.11.09.

You can see pictures of the Citaro in its earlier life. 

Recently noted are changes to diagrams on 787, 010 and A6/A9. Several LKs moved to Stansted in exchange for tri-axles to Sipson Rd. Sipson Rd now working the 787 linked to 010.


Three LKs which appear to have moved to Start Hill depot from Heathrow - Pictures by
Malcolm Crowe.

Once used on the VT99 Watford-Heathrow service for Virgin Trains this coach is now C075 at Stansted.
Picture by Malcolm Crowe.

The 040 service is about to become wholly worked by SGB and their L66SGB is seen on 7th December at Victoria.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

C098 and C100, both recently transferred from Kings Ferry are now regular performers on the 025 out of Crawley depot.
Pictures by Gavin Francis.

Irizar PB tri-axle from Ireland is seen on the Eurolines service from Dublin.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

Coachmiles of Leighton Buzzard now run this ex COMS Volvo Y27OXF on NEx diagrams out of VCS - r 509 2nd December.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

Travelstar European Walsall Bova YE52TSE on the 210 at Banbury 051209 - R Sharman

I noted that Citaro 860 was working on the 400 Park & Ride service at Headington last Friday morning, a most unusual working and one not reported before of this batch off their normal Abingdon workings.

Gavin Francis
took this picture of 112 bearing a new super rear and seen turning into Castle Street this week.

Stagecoach Gold
The next batch of buses are now confirmed as 15609-15620 and all will be allocated to Witney depot.

Other news

As mentioned above 26 ADL/Enviro 400H buses due in mid summer 2010. The new buses, when launched will work on the busiest  routes to Blackbird Leys, Kidlington and Barton and are 30% more fuel efficient.

Picture time

Seen at Oxpens on 8th December was this ex Tube coach now with Minety coaches on a visit to its old home city.
Gavin has also provided a picture of the same coach when with the Tube back in 2004.
 Pictures by
Gavin Francis.

Another ex Brookes bus was 18199 now with S5 branding and pictured by Gavin Francis.

Seen in Victoria coach Station on 2nd December was 50227 resting after its long journey south from Scotland on Megabus service.
Picture by Gavin Francis.



Stuart Curwen writes "Below are details of 4 Dart MPD's that are now in the Thamesdown fleet. 

Fleet nr

Reg. No.

Chassis Type & Number

Body Type & Number





Transbus Dart MPD / SFD6BACB33GW/87403

Transbus Pointer / 3041/7





Transbus Dart MPD / SFD6BACB33GW/87404

Transbus Pointer / 3041/8





Transbus Dart MPD / SFD6BACR44GW/87675

Transbus Pointer / 3080/10





Transbus Dart MPD / SFD6BACR44GW/87691

Transbus Pointer / 3080/14



Also photos of the said buses.


Andrew Morgan writes "I have found out the following info from a uno driver they have three ex London general PDLs I do not know the other twos reg or old general fleet numbers there new uno ones are said to be 208-210 they are going to be at least repainted just before or after Christmas/new year but as at the minute there is a bus shortage they have been put in to service in London red on any route they are to stay two door . they are to be for route 601 Welwyn Garden City - St Albans to replace Olympians 250-252 to make the 601 low floor (which there has been a lot of complaints about since 250-252 started on the route) but they maybe used on the 614 Hatfield business park-Queensbury as they are up to LEZ standard but as the Olympians are not they have not been used on the 614 or can not with out getting fined which is another reason the Olympians are going . I do not know when the Olympians will leave the fleet when they do it will leave Plaxton Beaver 2 429 as the only non low floor vehicle . I have not been out yet to try and get pictures of them".

Today Andrew sent pictures of uno 271, one taken on the Business Park and the other two at Stanborough on route 694 which like the 690 (uni shuttle) is for staff and students only so this is restricted to this routes. This is because as yet it has no ticket machine fitted.

Pictures by Andrew Morgan.


Dave Stewart writes "There are three - collected from London General last Wednesday.  They are nominally for route 601, the Olympians thereon just get shuffled about for odd school journeys.

 270-PN03ULM ex PDL30
 271-PN03ULS ex PDL33
 272-PN03ULZ ex PDL40.

Gavin Francis provided this picture of PDL30 when in London service back in July 2006.

The expected Optare has now been out on service.

Seen at Gloucester Green on 4th December, this ex Reading Optare is now in use on the X88 - picture by M Crowe.


Green Bus winners announced

Grants for a total of 349 ‘green’ buses, worth £30m, have been announced by the Government, along with the names of the successful winners.

They include only three of the ‘big five’ groups, and a number of smaller independents.

Details of the manufacturers involved have not yet been released, although firm orders need to be placed very soon to qualify for grant payment.

The full list of winners (with vehicle quantities to be ordered in brackets) is: Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Executive (66), Transport for London (46), Stagecoach in Manchester (30), Stagecoach in Oxfordshire (26), Rotala (23), First West and North Yorkshire (22), Reading Transport Limited (20), National Express West Midlands (20), First Manchester (14), Cumfybus (13), Mike de Courcey Travel (13), Hatch Green Coaches (9), Holsworthy T/A Beacon Coaches (9), Tyne and Wear PTE Nexus (8), On a Mission Coaches (6), Johnsons of Henley-in-Arden (4), Nottingham City Council (4), Bullocks Coaches (4), Durham County Council (3), Milton Keynes Council (3), Blueworks Taxis (2), Ipswich Buses (2), Bath and North East Somerset Council (1).

·         What is a Hybrid bus: At the heart of the E400H hybrid is a system developed by BAE systems which is widely used in America, coupled with familiar Alexander Dennis parts. A battery powered electric motor provides the traction with a small diesel engine charging the batteries. Power is also derived from regenerative braking where energy that would normally be converted to heat or sound is diverted back to the batteries, meaning that overall the Enviro 400H is at least 30% more fuel efficient than a normal diesel powered vehicle. 

·         The Government Green Bus Fund: Bidders were competing against each other. Provided all other criteria were met, the grant was allocated to those who sought the lowest amount of grant per bus, until the £30 million Fund had been exhausted.

·         Stagecoach demonstrated a hybrid bus in Oxford in 2004 and has gained valuable experience from running hybrid buses in Newcastle and Gateshead over the last 5 years.


The new buses are to be ADL Enviro 400s which brings  a new type to Stagecoach in Oxfordshire but adds to the normal Enviro 400s already in service with Oxford Bus and Arriva.

Stagecoach Group plc – Interim results for the six months ended 31 October 2009


Commenting on the results, Chief Executive, Brian Souter, said:

“We have performed well in the face of the continuing challenging economic environment and increased cost pressures. This performance has been achieved by providing safe, high quality, value-for-money bus and rail travel.

“We have successfully taken action to control costs across the Group. We have also taken steps within our bus operations to match our transport services to changing levels of demand.

“The Group is in a strong financial position with a balanced portfolio of businesses that will allow us to trade through the current economic cycle and we are well-positioned to benefit from future economic recovery. We believe our strategy of targeting organic growth in our greener smarter public transport services builds on the firm foundations of our business and will help ensure we continue to deliver long-term value to our shareholders.

“We have made a good start to the second half of our financial year and current trading remains in line with management expectations.”

Additional information on the Daventry report by Marcus Lapthorn sent in by Peter Hale

Peter Hale writes "As always, I very much enjoyed the latest edition of Spottings and Jottings.  However, Steve Buckley's comments about Geoff Amos and Stagecoach on the Rugby - Daventry - Banbury corridor need some amplification to give the full picture.

In late 2008 Geoff Amos decided to deregister its commercial Rugby - Banbury service, so Northamptonshire County Council stepped in and arranged a short-term contract for Amos to continue the service until it was put out to tender.  It seems that Amos then decided to register a much reduced commercial service, so Stagecoach in Warwickshire registered an hourly commercial service between Rugby and Daventry.  On hearing of this, Amos decided to run an hourly commercial service over the whole service after all.  Stagecoach in Warwickshire did know about this change of mind but decided to go ahead with service 72, hence the competition.  About half the 72 serves Onley Park (for the prison) and, like Geoff Amos, all journeys use the main road through Willoughby.  One journey on the 72 (the 0905 arrival in Daventry) is operated by a Leyland Olympian on schooldays.

Some of this saga is available on Oxfordshire County Council's website, under the Agenda for the 26 March 2009 meeting of the Cabinet Member for Transport."

A further report from Geoff Cunliffe on Blackpool Trams & a visit to Oxford

"We had a fleeting visit to Oxford on Wednesday 2nd. December. It was a rather ponderous ride into the city on Trident 118 which, I felt, was making a somewhat strange noise which I couldn’t identify but sounded like a large fan running dry .

It was the day when The Queen visited Oxford, visiting the Ashmolean Museum then going on to Brasenose College. It seemed to be well organized and appeared to cause minimal disruption to the busy life of the city. 

It wasn’t convenient to meet our Editor on this occasion so, together with the rain which set in about 12.30pm, our trip was shorter than usual. I felt I had to send something so I photographed Stagecoach 22770, OU09BZP, a neat Enviro 300, in Castle Street working to Barton, red Oxford Trident 106, T106DBW heading for Didcot, also in Castle Street by the relatively new pedestrian crossing at the junction with New Road, .and finally new Tube 50225, OU59AUY at Carfax.

Pictures by Geoff Cunliffe. 

Talking of other matters, my mate Bob Fergusson has fed me some more news about the upgrade programme with the Blackpool trams. 

With a view to possibly solving the congestion issue at The Metropole just north of Talbot Square, apparently they took test borings in front of the hotel with a view of moving the tram tracks to the seaward side of the hotel but concluded that there was only sand for a significant depth and would not support the weight of a tramway. Bob adds that “I find this odd, since the whole of the central and southern promenades were built up behind the sea wall of nothing but sand, brought up from the dunes further south!”  The present idea is to segregate the trams on the seaward side of the road, with two-way road traffic on the landward side.   Presumably there will be no parking on the hotel side. 

It is proposed to make the track south of Harrowside, to the new depot, open sleeper-type, with no pedestrian access! What about loading at Starr Gate? 

Work on the track in Fleetwood, Lord St is to start in January 2010, until July - concession to Christmas trading! (3 x 6-month periods until 2012.) 

The three-track layout at the Tower is to be extended to accommodate longer cars, and there is to be a significant alteration at North Pier, with pointwork in place for future extensions up to the proposed new Talbot Gateway and thus reinstating track removed before WWII. Let us hope the points are eventually used unlike those installed at Foxhall Square when the laudable intention was to rebuild the original Blundell Street depot for the new cars, but the Council wished to retain the present car park there! 

Finally may I give a plug to a video which has been produced by Videoscene entitled “Last Tram to Fleetwood”. I have not seen it so cannot recommend it but details can be found on 80 minutes, £16, probably plus postage."

Abingdon in December 2009 by Guy Watts

The lasts week has yet again seen branded buses on the wrong routes. The bus that seems to be out this way a lot is Stagecoach 18198 and this has been on the X30,31 & 34 for the majority of the week. It seems to appear on the same regular workings. I think that this is due to heavy loadings at peak times which demand more capacity than a regular M A N. The workings featured below are workings where I have seen this particular bus operating and the running card on the bus at the time was W6 the times are as follows:
34  - 7.00am departure From Oxford (Harwell).
31  - 8.10am departure From Wantage (Abingdon College).
X30 - 9.45am departure From Oxford.
X30 - 10.35am departure from Wantage. 
Then the other peak times are as follows:
X30 - 15.45pm departure from Oxford.
34   - 16.30pm departure from Wantage (Harwell).
I Have Attached A Picture of 18198 taken on Saturday the 5th Of Dec and a picture 22917 taken on the 4th December. Also included is Heyfordian KX08OMP on the 116 taken for my media course at Abingdon College. Keep up the good work many thanks

Pictures by Guy Watts.

Guy is absolutely correct, the decker has been used from Harwell to cover overloading on single deck use on the routes mentioned/

DAF / Van Hool National Express coaches when new by B Osbourne 

"Nice to see out old DAF T9 SB4000 YJ53 VHF (L99 SGB) still on National Express service, I was the route mentor for Birmingham Coach Company Nat Ex route 240 Bradford-East Midlands-Coventry-Heathrow-Gatwick when this was new to us, based at our Bradford depot, it was a faultless vehicle and at the time was unique among earlier T9 coaches, then Midland Fox and Selwyns took delivery of vehicles from the same batch.

The only problem we ever had with the SB4000 T9s was a problem with the throttle fly by wire system I remember being on the M25 doing about 50mph when a passengers mobile ring tone could be heard next thing we were in limp mode to the hard shoulder awaiting Heathrow DAF to come an plug their lap top in. The vehicles were then fitted with suppressor and the interference from mobile didn't become a problem. 

For power they could leave the tube Monaco M A N s behind on Stokenchurch bank,, the only National Express vehicles that ever past us on the 240 were the Neoplans on the Aberdeen overnight, we both used to leave Heathrow CBS around the 23.00 mark we would also be about 5 mins ahead as we didn't have as many to load but normally on the long straight near Beaconsfield they would pass us and you wouldn't see the tail lights after Wycombe!!!"

I was delighted to receive these memories from Mr Osbourne and must say that these are better coaches in so many ways when compared to our "ultra modern" Levantes. 

Intachange 61
Intachange Magazine (issue 61) is now available. To access your copy, please click on the link below.

Explorer Prize Draw
This year Intalink have teamed up with Tesco to offer Explorer Ticket users a chance of winning a share of £100 of shopping vouchers. For your chance to win visit

Christmas & New Year Services
Information on Christmas & New Year services can be found at
Alternatively a leaflet is available which can be picked up from most libraries, tourist information centres and council offices.

Some history on Stockwell Bus Garage

Marcus Lapthorn writes "My son-in-law took this photograph of RML 2318 in May 2005 at Stockwell Bus Garage, Binfield Road Stockwell, Lambeth, London."  

'Cambridge Photographer - Alex Orrow' -


Stockwell Garage is a large bus garage in Stockwell, London. It was designed by Adie, Button and Partners, with the engineer A E Beer, and was opened in 1952.

It is typical of much of the concrete architecture built in the post war reconstruction period in London around the Festival of Britain. There was a steel shortage, so concrete was used to support the roof. However, the opportunity was taken to create a bravura piece of reinforced concrete design. The 393 ft long roof structure is supported by ten very shallow "two-hinged" arched ribs. Each rib is 7 ft deep at the centre of the arches, 10 ft 6 in at the end, and spans 194 ft. Cantilevered barrel vaults between, topped by large skylights, span the 42 ft between each pair of ribs. The vaults are crossed by smaller ribs to prevent torsion. Seen from the outside, the main arches are visible as outward-leaning buttresses, with a segmental curve to each bay forming a flowing roof line. The garage provides 73,350 sq ft of unobstructed parking space and could originally house 200 buses. At the time of construction it was the largest unsupported area under one roof in Europe. Since 1988 the garage has been a Grade II* listed building reflecting its importance in post-war architectural and engineering history.


Hardings WR08HCR and XR08HCR at Oxpens Coach Park on 8th December by Gavin Francis.

British Airways 747-400 over Victoria - low enough to take cover said Gavin Francis who took the picture on December 1st.

Paul S Winson T7PSW - matching flag and livery - Oxford on 4th December pictured by Gavin Francis.

LONDON COUNTRY BL111 - RPH111L - Route 321 - ST ALBANS St Peter Street.
Photographer and date unknown.