Spottings & Jottings

Issue nr. 16 - 3rd January 2010

A Happy New Year to all my readers

Visit the "OXFORD & CHILTERN BUS PAGE " Current archives from October 2002

If you wish to be included on a mailing list where I will advise of any mid-week news please let me know

2010 and let us hope it is a better year for everyone, though it does start with price increases as VAT goes up to 17.5% and the weather does not get any warmer. The past days leading to the end of 2009 saw snow and ice bringing chaos to many roads in our area. Indeed in this issue I am including a story of the snow and its effects on bus and coach services in the Chilterns.

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

More snow falls around the Chilterns and brings chaos to our roads

Graham writes
"It’s been a while since I’d taken anything worth sending to you but you and your colleagues might like this photo
 of a blocked Desborough Avenue, High Wycombe at 8am on  22nd December."

Picture by G
raham Anderson.

I have gathered together some stories relating to the snow and the delays caused thereby.

A 737 driver’s snowy story of the days before Christmas 2009. 

The last week or so leading up to Christmas has been one of the worst for weather experienced in many years. 

National Express service 737 has been seriously disrupted and my own experiences are worth relating. 

Friday 18th December produced a difficult trip to Stansted and I was to operate the 06.30 service from Oxford to Stansted and the 11.45 return with coach 59215. I was unable to serve High Wycombe or Hemel Hempstead due to the adverse weather and blocked roads, especially since the M40 was closed in both directions between junctions 3 and 6 due to an accident. This always puts extreme pressure on the A40 through Wycombe and NEx control in Birmingham told me operate direct Luton and then on to Stansted. 

I chose the road through Thame to Aylesbury and on to the A41 towards Hemel. However there were problems further along the A41 and I determined to take the B489 onwards through Ivinghoe and to Dunstable, after which I could take the M1 south to the Luton Airport turn off at junction 10.

Whilst the B489 was not good I managed to get through and my first hold up did not occur until Dunstable. Here there was a long traffic delay to cross the A5 in the town centre. 

By the time I reached this point the time was 08.30 and I was hopeful that I could reach the airport only a little late. However the traffic was really slow and although I had a clear run down the M1 I only reached the airport at 09.25, some 30 minutes late. 

My colleague on the 04.30 service took over two hours to reach High Wycombe and then took the M40/M25 direct to Luton. 

I took a short break at Luton airport and we then ran non stop to Stansted which we reached at 10.50, 20 minutes behind a rather generous schedule allowed for this service. 

I took a break and was on stand for an on time departure with the 11.45. 

We were to operate via Hatfield to Luton Airport but then non stop to Oxford taking almost the same route as the outbound service in the morning. Both Hemel and Wycombe were not to be served due to the increasingly poor weather. 

I chose the route via Wendover, Princes Risborough and Thame to reach Oxford. One passenger left us in Princes Risborough to take the Arriva 300 service to Wycombe, this was running via West Wycombe direct into Wycombe itself.

Arrival in Oxford was only five minutes late and I was able to sign off only a few minutes behind schedule at the depot 

I was luckily off on Saturday and Sunday and had opted to work the night roster for Christmas week. My Monday and Tuesday duties were to be the 18.30 departure from Oxford to Stansted with the 00.45 return the next morning. 

Monday 21st December I reported for duty around one hour early at 17.00 to find that my coach, 59212, was running around 90 minutes late approaching Hemel inbound to Oxford. The M25 and M40 were both seriously congested and the weather was getting worse. 

We thought it best for the driver to use the A41 from Hemel to Aylesbury which also proved not to be a good idea. The coach got stuck in heavy traffic on Tring Hill and I eventually relieved the driver at the end of the new A41 near Aylesbury some five hours later. The service eventually arrived in Oxford at 00.45 on Tuesday morning instead of 17.30 on Monday evening. 

Things were so bad on the M40 and its associated roads that the Oxford tube night service was suspended after midnight due to a lack of drivers with sufficient hours to get to London and back. 

Following my return to Oxford I had to go to Wycombe to rescue passengers off the 20.10 arrival in Oxford where their coach, 59211, was marooned on Desborough Avenue hill along with what seemed like half Arriva’s Wycombe fleet, the road being by now impassable. I eventually got to Wycombe at 03.00 and the passengers walked down to my coach on Desborough Road by about 03.30. 

The roads were treacherous and I returned to Oxford through Stokenchurch which, whilst tricky, was managed by 04.30 and I eventually signed off at 05.15. 

Tuesday 22nd December and the same duty saw me once again an hour or so early signing on and this time my coach, 59212 again, was not so late. I took a staff van to Gloucester Green and this time was able to leave with only a short delay on my 18.30 departure. Using the motorways throughout I was able to make the round trip with much less difficulty and even signed off on time to a well earned few days off before my next duty, the Boxing Day 01.00 service to Stansted but that’s another story. 

....more snow,  sno-o-ow on snow (after Holst........) by Paul Davis 

In case you hadn't heard(!) Wycombe was gridlocked Monday evening 21Dec. 

It was taking people 4 hours to do 1 mile journeys and the like.  Amersham and Marlow Hills were disaster zones etc etc etc. 

Eventually the Police were directing traffic into the Eden Centre Car Park for free overnight parking in order to get the roads cleared. 

I ventured into town Tuesday morning.  Carousel Route 1 was working Wycombe-Bourne End (no RM's unless you know differently).  Despite Gritters working up and down the London Road, strangely they'd done nothing in the High Street so buses (at least in the morning) were diverted at the main roundabout via Abbey Way straight to the Bus Station.

At the bus station it was worse than shown in your 21Dec update (see picture) with Carousel operating only Route 1 and A40.  Firstbus 74 was operating, and a handful of Arriva buses.

First did operate some services from slough and one of the ex London Tridents is seen above heading back to Slough on Tuesday 22nd.
Picture by Paul Davis.

....more snow,  sno-o-ow on snow - Carousels Dart DMS14 heads into Wycombe along the London Road on 22nd December.
Picture by Paul Davis.

One of Carousels Citaros works an A40 service from Heathrow on Tuesday 22nd.
Picture by Paul Davis.

The nice little VDL passes the Gatso camera on the London Road, little chance of speeding I think!
 Picture by Paul Davis.

A picture from reader Andrew showing an abandoned Volvo on Amersham Hill . It was said that there were nearly two dozen Arriva buses stranded in various parts of Wycombe

over the night of 21st/22nd December following heavy snowfalls during the day.

Two of Carousel's three Renaults wait their next turn of duty on Tuesday 22nd December.
Pictures by Gavin Francis.

A Redline Citaro on Tuesday morning in Desborough Avenue. I think it was stranded. Picture by Gavin Francis.

Wycombe Bus Station on 22nd December, by now the snow is beginning to melt.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

Ivinghoe, mentioned in my story, is shown on Sunday evening 20th when John took this picture of his steed on the 161.
Picture by John Hammond.

From Andrew Dyer, MD Stagecoach South. 

I know not strictly in your area, but can I lay down a challenge for your readers to come up with worse late running than Stagecoach in Basingstoke had on Monday afternoon, 21st December? 

You may have seen that the town hit the National news after snow brought gridlock on Monday afternoon. Our route "Jazz 2" from Basingstoke to Baughurst has a scheduled round trip time of 1hr 6 mins. A bus left the bus station at about 1500 that afternoon and returned at around 2300 8 hour round trip ...............that must be a record - can anyone better (or should I say worse) it?!! 

We also had a number of stranded passengers who stayed overnight in our bus station canteen at Basingstoke! 

We have had a lot of well deserved praise from the public for our drivers and control staff who really went the extra mile to try and keep things going. We are very proud of them. 

Stagecoach South Dennis Dart SLF, Fleet no 33034 (P434 AYJ) enters a snowy Basingstoke Bus Station. The day was probably a bit of a shock for this bus - we doubt it experienced this when it was new in Hong Kong!!


From David Percy, Jeffs. 

"I took a feeder coach to Dover on Monday night/Tuesday  morning, and if I get a chance over Christmas, I will recount my tale! 

I am on a Bowens group feeder MPV from Oxford (09.20) to Hopwood (M40 services) tomorrow, then off untill 29th, two more days of MPV movements, I will try to take some photos! 

I managed to avoid the 'ultimate' rail replacement service, a French company were let down by Eurostar, so Jeffs put on a double manned coach from London to Nice yesterday, 21 hours on duty, hotel, then home empty, that is what is the joy of variety of working in the private hire  sector!! 

Bowens MPV work for the 'Twixmas' period, then a few days off!"

David relates his cold winter duty.

‘Do not travel, unless it it is important’ the TV warns us... 

How do you define important, I am thinking to myself, as I leave home on the 21st of December at 20.30 for a book on time of 21.00.

I am a driver for Jeff’s Coaches, based in Helmdon, a small village north of Brackley, South Northamptonshire and my vehicle is YN58CGE, a Volvo B12M/Plaxton C47Ft, the newest vehicle on the books, taking 42 passengers on a Christmas break to Spain, first pick up point Corley services, then Rothersthorpe, then on to Thurrock service, where I was to be taken off...

Or that was the plan, but earlier in the day, the traffic manager called (how many of you in the coaching industry know that when the duty phone calls, it is always with bad news!), as there were problems at the channel tunnel, could I take it down to Dover ferry terminal. 

It had been snowing heavily for most of the evening, and it was with some trepidation that I drove into the yard at Helmdon to take up my duty, not a soul about, and a deep covering of snow all around.

I knew the vehicle had been prepped, and was ready to go, and was in the warm under cover in the garage, I sorted the keys out, fired her up, did my walk round checks, and at 21.00 left the very snowy yard, and made my way out of Helmdon village, looking into all the cheery looking houses, all with Christmas lights in the windows thinking ‘what on earth am I doing driving a coach at this time of night’!

Once on the main roads, the snow was not a problem, but on reaching the M1, my wipers ceased working, meaning  a call into the Northbound services at Rothersthorpe, a call on the phone to the out of hours fitter  saw him attend with the breakdown van, fiddle around with the fuses on the side of the coach, and things were working again.

Taking up my booked position at Corley services, I had my 45 minute break, then the door to door MPVs started to arrive, Jeff’s are part of the Bowens group of companies, and offer a door to door service, in which a fleet of 7 seat VW minibuses will pick customers up, and meet the main coach at pick up ‘hubs’  for the main journey, 25 customers were fed by MPV to me, and left Corley on time at 00.30, then into Rothersthorpe (for a second time that evening) being met by three Yorks (another sister company) MPVs, being ready to go, as booked, at 01.30.

The dashboard display was  telling me that the temperature was freezing, and after a call to the tour driver, it was decided that we would change over  at Medway services on the M2, old hands will still know this place as Farthing Corner, so down the M1, round the M25, and over the Dartford crossing, with the met office warnings still ringing in my ears about unnecessary travel,  my luck was holding out, just a few flurries of snow to contend with, but nothing serious, a text message from my tour driver said to watch out at the services, as it was like glass underfoot , I entered the service area at walking pace, a quick flash of lights from a car confirmed where my driver was, I bade farewell to my passengers, and  took my wellies, sleeping bag and shovel from underneath the vehicle to place in the cars boot.

It was now 03.30, and after sorting myself into the car (isn’t it always the way, you can’t find the light switches in the dark on a strange car!), made my way home, back round the M25, with the promised snow for the South East region starting to make it’s presence felt. 

Back into Helmdon yard, as other drivers were booking on, the snow was falling quite heavily, but I was relieved that I had a fairly short journey home, had done my nights work, packed my emergency snow equipment in the boot of my car, and was on my way for a good breakfast! 

As I went to bed at 09.00, I thought of the coach and its passengers, it would be two  hours into France by then, on its way to Spain,  mentally thought ‘merry Christmas’ to them all, and went to sleep.

Richard Sharman and Gavin Francis sent a few pictures taken on 23rd December when things had improved but fog became a problem.

Wednesday 23rd December 2009.

An S2 Gold Scania works out of Oxford along St Giles on a foggy morning.
Picture by Richard Sharman.

One of Stagecoach Gloucester's Scania-Levante tri-axles passes by Oxford on the A40 on 23rd December.
Picture by Richard Sharman.

With temperatures below freezing one can hardly blame the few passengers on this tour bus for taking the lower deck for the journey.
Picture by Richard Sharman.

Stokenchurch on 23rd December and the Line 40 is wisely taking the main road on its Thame journey.
New Road on its normal route was very icy and not suitable for a bus.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

The Carousel bus is on a direct run to Lane end and will not go via New Road, Stokenchurch.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

Solo 2496 returns from Thame and passes through a snowy West Wycombe on its way into town.
Picture by Malcolm Crowe.

Up by the Kings hotel in Stokenchurch a Carousel Dart heads for the main village stop and its return to High Wycombe.
Picture by Malcolm Crowe.

Many thanks to everyone who sent in pictures and stories. now they are on record for posterity.

Finally I have to advise readers of a change in my work as I will transfer back to the Oxford tube from Monday 4th January. Sadly I have reached the age limit for drivers on National Express or at least I will do towards the end of January. This means that I will now rely upon correspondents for news of Hemel, Luton and Hatfield and those areas. However Gain Francis will continue to drive National Express 737 services from time to time so I expect we can keep up to date with happenings in Stansted.

Three delightful passengers who travelled from Oxford to Stansted with me on 22nd December. Picture by Catharine.

My very last NEx duty with Scania 59212 is seen at Stansted prior to working the 2115 departure to Oxford on Tuesday 29th December.
Picture taken by Michelle, the NEx Duty Manager at Stansted.

I will have many happy memories and will miss the friends I have made!

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 and may I wish everyone a very peaceful and prosperous New Year 2010.


Seer Green villagers will gather to "mourn" bus service cuts

Paul Davis
says "The 305 route number is/was the last remaining number from London Transport days in Wycombe.
From Monday 04Jan it will be truncated to Beaconsfield-Uxbridge with just one morning peak journey back-projected to Wycombe
and the number will also be used for a couple of short journeys in town which bear no real relationship to 305.
Above Arriva 3214 departs on what I believe is the last proper departure to Uxbridge, the 14:35 Sat HW-Uxbridge trip." 

RESIDENTS gathered at a bus stop in Seer Green last Saturday to “mourn” the loss of a direct service to High Wycombe.

The 305, which travels between Uxbridge and High Wycombe seven times a day, will be “severely” cut from January 4.

It will only travel between Uxbridge and Beaconsfield, meaning Seer Green residents will be forced to get two buses into High Wycombe. The last bus of the day will also be cut.

Buckinghamshire County Council subsidise the service and have given the contract to a new company.

The Bucks Free Press recently featured Barbara Clarke, of Wood Pond Close, who urged the council to reconsider - saying life in Seer Green is “already like living on the Yorkshire Moors” (see link below).

Other villagers saw the article and have backed the pensioner's campaign.

Colin Walker, 68 on Wednesday, said: “They keep changing the timetable and reducing the service. We think that after another six months there will be another chop and it's a longer term strategy to take the bus service away completely.”

He said the elderly find it difficult to get to the village train station, which is around 20-30 minutes walk from the centre of Seer Green.

Pensioners are also entitled to free travel on buses in Buckinghamshire.

He has organised a public meeting on the issue at The Jolly Cricketers pub at 2.30pm. There will then be a demonstration at the bus stop outside the pub at 3.10pm to greet the last Arriva bus on its way to Uxbridge.

Andy Clarke, group manager for transport services at BCC, said the Beaconsfield to High Wycombe leg of the journey was not subsidised by the council and Jason Tours, which takes over the contract from Arriva in January, has chosen not to continue it.

He said passengers can change buses at Beaconsfield if they are travelling on to High Wycombe.

Seer Green Parish Council has also backed the villagers' campaign and chairman Phil Clarke will chair the meeting in the pub.

James Allum has sent some snowy pictures from the Hemel area during the recent weather problems.

James writes "I hope you and all your readers had a wonderful and peaceful Christmas.

Some news from Hemel this week, one of the Arriva Enviros for the route 300/301 was used on the route 2 one evening last week and the other bit of news is that ex Garston and possibly High Wycombe decker 5149 S149 KNK was on the routes 4 and 5 with LED destination blinds today (29/12/09). Also spotted on 29/12/09 was a unidentified Green Line coach based at Hemel depot on the free Tesco route 101.

Here are some more photos from Hemel a few days after the recent snowfall including a rare trip on the 6 to Maple Cross for P175SRO (3175) and ex Green Line coach 4367 on the route 300 looking smart in the Arriva inter urban livery!.

Also thanks to the driver of KE53NFD (3835) for allowing me to take this photo which he was happy to be in of the route 4 photographed here at the other end of the Route 4 and 5 terminus, Bennetts End."

James Allum
took these photos.

He also asked me to include the following.


I wish to ask all your readers if they have any Arriva bus blinds that they may have to spare?

Arriva 3830 which has gained a digital display and is seen in Welwyn Garden City. Picture by Andrew Morgan.

A very smart Volvo 3245 is seen on New Year's Eve at Cressex Depot. Picture by Malcolm Crowe.

Finally for Arriva a picture of a forlorn Volvo which took a "short cut" at the departure roundabout on 22nd December whilst working a 510 Stansted-Harlow service.
Picture by Malcolm Crowe.

Carousel advised that they were to operate a special service at Christmas and the New Year.

Noel Clark, Operations Manager, Carousel Buses Limited writes "we ran Line 1 on New Year’s Eve with RML896 and RM2198 all day. A revised Saturday timetable was in operation and standard fares were applied with a Wycombe Zone day ticket at £3.10 for unlimited travel."

Pictures by Paul Davis.

Both RMs now sport full destination displays which is very nice.
Picture by Nigel Peach.

RM2198 is seen at the depot before taking up service. Picture by Nigel Peach.

Recent additions to the fleet are three ex-TWM Metrobuses 2707, 2744 & 2865.
Pictures by Nigel Peach.

Carousel seem to have faired better than the other local Wycombe operator, Arriva, and on several days were operating the only services, including the trunk route A40 to Heathrow. Obviously services routed over the hills did not fair so well as the roads were treacherous.

Nigel Peach writes "I was very fortunate to see the RML. I had to work on New Year's Eve, it being the last day of the financial year and I accepted the fact that I was unlikely to see the RMs in service. I'd diverted via the Carousel depot on my way to the bank in Oxford Road at lunchtime, then on my way back to the office I just happened to see RML896 coming on to the roundabout at the bottom of Marlow Hill. I went up Crendon Street and left into Castle Street and parked on a yellow line (safely of course!) by the shops at the top of what used to be Woolworth's rear entrance many years ago. The bus got delayed coming up Corporation Street by a thoughtless car driver trying to turn in front of it which gave me a chance to get some pics. My first, a front view was completely blurred (very disappointing). I did get a side view which isn't very sharp, but I attach it now, in case you don't get many other pictures of it! 

Word had obviously got round that the RMs were running today. I saw a few photographers at different points."

Ralph Adams adds a few extra notes on the new Solos. He says "They are allocated to specific routes:

Banbury              YJ59GFV. This is a 23 seat on the Rural link services

Bicester Town      YJ59NNG  and  YJ59NNH

Kidlington             YJ59NNL

Route 25              YJ59NNM, YJ59NNO and  YJ59NNP

NNO and NNP are 27 seat buses. They have 2 tip up seats and 1 seat afterwards whereas the 29 seaters have 3 tip ups followed by a double seat. These 2 (only) have seat belts but they do not appear to do any school contracts but whether this is a possible plan for the future, I do not know

I have not yet seen the Woodstock bus which I am told is a smaller Solo."

Hedley Shanks sent a picture showing F991XOE going to Yorkshire for scrap on the 20th Nov. He also notes that ex Shearings Tiger E26UNE went the day before. Hedley says "I always think it is sad when the finally go, especially when there was nothing wrong with E26 other than it donated its’ engine to E28UNE (a useful 70 seater)."

Picture by Hedley Shanks.

Further news from this company via Hedley is that have recently acquired an Olympian direct from Dublin Bus with another four to follow.

This Irish Olympian came to us this lunchtime by Ward Jones of High Wycombe who undertake maintenance for Herschel Grammar School in Slough. In the cab it was RV373 (97-D-373) with Dublin Bus.
Picture from Hedley Shanks, Motts

A further Irish Olympian turned up yesterday RV490 (99-D-490) but we have immediately sold it on to Red Rose Travel, so we owned it for about two hours!
Picture from Hedley Shanks, Motts

South Gloucestershire took over most of the working of the 040 from first and one of the coaches is seen in London.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

Stansted at 04.00 on Boxing Day morning, even the birds were asleep.

James Griffiths of the Hull & Country Bus Group writes "We have bought for preservation Ex Oxford Jeffs, Helmdon. It is WWL209X."

Picture by Gavin Francis.

Citaro 839 hard at work on the 2 on 23rd December - picture by
Richard Sharman.

The story of R5OXF

When Oxford Bus decided to reregister some Darts they retained the plates to use on other buses. R5OXF has now seen three uses as shown in the pictures below by Gavin Francis.

In the lead up to Christmas several drivers encouraged a spirit of Christmas.

Ria who drives on the Wantage routes looks as pretty as a picture on this X30 service taken by Gavin Francis.

Friday 25th December 2009 - Christmas Day

NEW! Special service on route 1 only.

Route N1
Blackbird Leys – City 0935, 1035, 1135, 1235 then 1435, 1535, 1635, 1735
City – Blackbird Leys 1010, 1110, 1210 then 1410, 1510, 1610, 1710, 1810
Night bus fares will apply

Local (night bus) fares will also be available on the Oxford Tube running between Oxford and Headington.

Enviro 300 22770 at Cowley Centre on Christmas Day showing N1 route on its display. Picture by
George Irvine.

Tube 50202 was one of the coaches in use on the annual special Christmas Day service operating via Heathrow Airport Central bus Station.
It is seen leaving Gloucester Green in this picture by George Irvine.

Coaches in use on Tube services to London via Heathrow on 25 Dec.
A total of six duties using
1/ 50202
2/ 50217
3/ 50222
4/ 50219 changed after 1st trip to 50213
5/ 50214
6/ 50209

I was the first bus out on Boxing Day working the 0100 737 service to Stansted. A few pictures of our depot were taken by me to show just how deserted everything was.

A gathering of Oxford tube coaches at Horspath depot at midnight and one minute on 26th December. 24 were in the picture but of course you cannot see those behind.

To accommodate the tube fleet the older M A N s were parked down at Excel and the newer M A N Enviro 300s at Horspath on the ramp.

All the National Express fleet were at the depot and I had my choice for my duty. I chose 59213 which has excellent heaters and demisters.

Several pictures of my coach en route to Stansted, including one leaving Horspath, one at Gloucester Green and one at high Wycombe.
I was almost the only thing on the road. I also didn't have many passengers.

Several M A N saloons have received super rear adverts for Rafhels in Oxford as shown below.

Pictures by Gavin Francis.

Richard Sharman
sent this picture of 22924, another with the super rear mentioned above.


Andrew Morgan writes "two pictures taken today (21/12/09) the first of uno 270 taken in Welwyn Garden City bus station and the second of uno 271 in St Albans."

Tridents in Welwyn Garden City and St Albans on route 601 taken by Andrew Morgan.


Borough set to sell Ipswich Buses

IPSWICH: It will be all change on Ipswich Buses with the borough-owned company set to be sold in the New Year.

Talks have been going on between the borough and transport giant Go Ahead, with the firm expected to take over the operation of most of the bus services in the town.

Go Ahead has services across the country - mainly in towns and cities - and earlier this month took over the bus services run by Plymouth City Council.

The number of council-owned bus companies has fallen steadily since bus company deregulation in 1986 - Ipswich Buses is one of just 11 council-owned companies in Britain.

The news will come as a blow to First Group who operate rural buses throughout Norfolk and Suffolk.

But bosses at the company always knew they would not be able to take over Ipswich Buses because such a move would have prompted a Monopolies' Commission investigation which would almost certainly have blocked the deal.

No one from Ipswich Buses was able to comment on the progress of the talks.

The figures involved in the buy-out have not been revealed.

We understand that the deal is near completion and a formal announcement is expected early in the New Year.

As well as operating bus services in London, Brighton, Oxford, and the North East, Go Ahead is also one of the largest rail operators in England.

It runs the Southern, London Midland and South East franchises and has built a reputation for allowing its managers to run services tailored to their needs with little interference from headquarters.

Since deregulation there have been several approaches by transport giants to buy Ipswich Buses from the council. These were always rebuffed by the former Labour administration.

The Conservative/Liberal Democrat administration now in power at Grafton House was never as firm in its opposition but until now no deals were considered tempting enough.

The sale does not include the bus company's headquarters in Constantine Road which is owned by the council, and the Star understands the borough may retain a stake in the bus company - although control would be in the hands of the Go Ahead group.

Wayne Bell kindly provided this information plus a picture of Ipswich from his interesting web site. 

Wrightbus gets TfL’s ‘NB4L’ order

Transport for London (TfL) has selected Wrightbus as the preferred manufacturer for the final design and build of the New Bus for London (NB4L), based on the iconic Routemaster.

It is to build a prototype of the diesel-electric hybrid, and deliver five pre-production vehicles for on-the-road trials in 2011.

The NB4L will have an open platform (to be closed off at certain times, such as at night) allowing reinstatement of a hop-on hop-off bus service; three doors (including the rear platform); two staircases and capacity for “at least” 87 passengers.

It will also “incorporate the latest hybrid technology” and be 40% more fuel efficient than conventional diesel buses and, significantly, 15% per cent more fuel efficient than current hybrid London buses.

Air quality emissions will be reduced by 40% for NOx and 33% for particulates, compared with diesel buses.

Mayor of London Boris Johnson says: “Londoners have waited with stoic patience as work has continued behind the scenes to select the manufacturer to make the 21st century Routemaster a reality.

“The decision has now been made, and we can look forward to a new icon of London that not only returns to the Capital the joy of the open platform, but also utilises the latest state-of-the art green technology, slashing pollution and fuel consumption.

“The countdown is now well and truly on as Wrightbus work nineteen-to-the-dozen to deliver Londoners their new bus in 2011, ahead of the world descending on the city for the 2012 Games.”

Wrightbus will work on finalising their design with initial outlines expected in the New Year. 

Wright Group MD Mark Nodder says: “This is indeed a privilege and a wonderful opportunity for everyone in the Wright Group, to design and build a vehicle that will doubtless become recognisable the world over.”

The ‘invitation to negotiate’ was issued to six bus manufacturers on 22 May.    The preferred manufacturer was chosen on 23 December and there is now a 10-day ‘standstill’ period (required by the public procurement regulations) between announcing the winner of a contract and the signing the contract.

Stagecoach "most admired" of Britain's major bus and rail groupsJump to top navigationJump to site services

Stagecoach Group is the most admired of the UK's major five bus and rail groups for the second year in a row, according to an authoritative survey of corporate reputation.

Management Today's annual review of Britain's top companies, now in its 16th year, again placed Stagecoach above Go Ahead, First Group, Arriva and National Express.

The 2009 Britain's Most Admired Companies survey covers more than 230 businesses across 25 sectors.

The Perth-based group was second only to easyJet in the full transport sector survey, which compared 10 companies.

Conducted by Birmingham City Business School, the survey is a peer review of corporate reputation using responses from board level representatives of competitors, as well as analysts and City commentators.

The survey covers nine performance criteria, which include:

Across all companies in the transport sector, Stagecoach was rated first for the quality of management, and second for its financial soundness. Among the big five bus and rail groups,  Stagecoach was rated top in five out of the nine criteria.

Steven Stewart, Director of Corporate Communications, said: "We are delighted to have been recognised one again by our peers and other stakeholders for the high reputation of our management and our business.

"Despite the challenging economic environment, we have continued to focus on delivering high-quality good value travel to our customers. Our strategy of targeting organic growth in our greener smarter public transport services has given the business a firm foundation as we continue to deliver long-term value to our shareholders."

Last year, Stagecoach was rated the most ethical of the UK's big five public transport groups in a survey carried out by the Observer newspaper in conjunction with Co-operative Asset Management. The Group was rated in the top 10% of UK plcs in the second annual Good Companies Guide, which assesses the performance of all the shares in the FTSE 350 index against a range of social, environmental and ethical criteria.

New Year's Day in Winchester

Having taken a day's leave I was able to visit the annual King Alfred Running Day in Winchester this year. I awoke around 7 am and on hearing the weather forecast found it was to be a sunny if cold day. I left home around 8.30 and was in Winchester by 10 am. The roads down were very quiet, the previous night's revellers presumably sleeping it off. The only coach I saw on my journey down was the NEx 539 near Didcot, operated by the Bruce Levante tri-axle which has the St Andrews Cross on the back. Rather appropriate I thought.

On arrival in Winchester I found plenty of space in the multi-story just by the bus station and quickly made my way to the parked buses. There were quite a few there and I soon continued to the roundabout by King Alfred's statue which makes a good vantage point for photography. Not too many heads in ones pictures I find.

James Freeman was at the wheel of the little king Alfred Dennis, looking every inch a vintage bus driver, in his full KA uniform. He departed soon after I arrived with a full load.

I noted several arrivals including the Woods Crossley decker now in the Quantock fleet. Also passing by was a Midland Red S2? looking as if the past thirty years are but a dream and a King Alfred Atlantean.

I was to take a city tour on the Crossley ably driven by Johnny from Quantock. What the bus lacked in power was made up for by its excellent condition with only a slight window vibration in the lower saloon. Even that seemed to fit in with the overall impression. I must say I did enjoy my trip and we saw some interesting places en route.

On my return I went into the Guild Hall which this year was being used for the Sales Stands. There was a lot to see and I purchased some new books including a nice one on Lytham St. Annes which brought back childhood memories.

Outside again and there was a lot to see, I have included a few of the over 200 pictures I took on the day. The Mervyns OB was fully loaded and I would have liked a trip on this fine coach but time did not permit.

My next trip was on a Bristol RE DP coach formerly with Bristol OC at Stroud. These really are fine vehicles and the exhaust was a dream. I went to the Park & Ride to see what was there but it was really too cold to spend that much time there.

My return was made on a Bristol VR of Wilts & Dorset which is still in service. It was in very fine condition even to coverings on the ceilings which made a much quieter bus.

My final trip of the day was a real must, a Warrington Foden which I took in both directions to the Park & ride, keeping my seat on arrival. What a wonderfully quiet bus this was, not a rattle to be heard and very well driven. It made an excellent end to a super day out.

On my way out of Winchester I was well placed to catch a picture of one the KA Renowns passing under the station bridge. On the other side was another waiting to come through but that picture was not very good at all.

All pictures by your Editor.