Spottings & Jottings

Issue nr. 17 - 14th January 2010

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

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Another week, more snow and the grit is running out we are told. It seems no one expected so much snow yesterday and many roads are still in a parlous state. Bus and coach services have been badly hit and this issue reflects the difficult operating conditions experienced by all operators for the second Wednesday running. Indeed I think congratulations are in order to all our local operators for providing a service in recent days.

I am delighted with readers responses to my request for pictures of operations in the snow and this allows me to provide other readers with an idea of recent road conditions.

Last week saw my retraining for Oxford tube and I made my first solo run on Tuesday last on a duty which parks up for seven hours in London. It was a cold day and not the best for this type of duty but it was nice to be back on the London run after nearly three years on the Stansted service. Imagine my surprise when, on my return journey to Oxford, one of the regular 737 passengers who travelled Headington to Hemel each weekday boarded my coach at Shepherds Bush. I must remark that the Van Hool coaches are so warm and comfortable and there is no rattling lift to distract the driver.

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

January snow falls continue to make life difficult

John Hammond provides us with some really super pictures of the recent snow and its effects on local transport.
Here we see Oxford bus Volvo B10B on route 8, though declaring itself to be a U8, in the quite thick snow of Wednesday 13th January.

One needs a sense of humour and someone certainly did have in this snow scene on Wednesday 13th January.
Picture by
Richard Sharman.

I have been sent a number of pictures and show these here which certainly illustrates the difficulties faced in providing a reasonable bus service in the last week or so.

Wednesday 6th January 2010

The first major snow problem came on Wednesday 6th January when fortuitously I was on a rest day.
Here we see conditions on the M40 at Stokenchurch with very little traffic on the motorway.
An X90 service is seen heading towards London whilst a Tube is seen Oxford bound.
Picture by Malcolm Crowe.

On the same day we were lucky that Gavin Francis took time to visit High Wycombe where services were severely disrupted.
His picture of Stansted bound Levante 59212 from Oxford, taken at 10;05 on that Wednesday tells the story better than words.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

Red Rose managed to run the 275 service to Oxford and we see the mid morning departure arriving for loading in
High Wycombe bus Station on 6th January 2010. Picture by Gavin Francis.

Two of Carousel's Darts are seen in Wycombe on this snowy morning.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

By the 7th the snow was easing and the sun had come out. Here we see the Red Rose 104 at Stokenchurch.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

From Nigel Peach 

I walked to Wycombe from Flackwell Heath this morning (January 6th). 

On the A40 London Road, Carousel had the little Primo RK07 BNF and later Dart S513 KFL on the Bourne End route, and white Sterling AF53GCZ on 740 (I think). I also saw a First bus on the 74. These were all outbound between about 9.00 and 9.20. 

Arriva Red Route branded SLF Dart 3821 also went along "Not in service". It then went back Wycombe bound with lots of passengers. I guess it had turned round in Loudwater. 

Sorry, no pictures - by the time I'd taken my gloves off, found and pointed my camera it would have been too late! I was also concentrating on keeping warm, staying upright and dodging the drivers who thought it was fun to speed along the road throwing up slush everywhere! 

Thanks as always for your regular updates.  

From Peter Cartwright 

Wednesday 6th January 2010

Have just seen your e-mail and thought best to comment. 

I left my home at about 09.15 this morning to walk to Buckinghamshire County Council's Area Office for a meeting (relocated from County Hall at Aylesbury). I attach a picture of my road at Wycombe Marsh as I left home. A short walk down steep Hatters Lane - only one car seen which could not make it up the hill - brought me to the A40 London Road. I saw a Carousel A40 heading to Wycombe and looked left and saw a Red Route 33 liveried Arriva Dart showing "Not in Service" coming up the London Road towards Wycombe. Although I was on the opposite side of the road, the driver stopped for me to cross the road and board the bus which had at least 20 passengers on board. They had done a trial run from Loudwater and the driver stopped a further twice for pedestrians to board. This was much appreciated and certainly earned many brownie points for Arriva from the travelling public. All passengers were carried free of charge. 

I alighted at Trinity Church bus stop and walked through deep snow in a deserted Railway Place to BCC's offices. Some staff were holding the fort there whilst others had migrated to Handy Cross depot to help with gritting the highway network.  After my meeting I had to go to post letters in the Town Centre and pop into Tesco for a few necessary food supplies. 

I then walked to the bus station and arrived there about 12.50. Display boards were indicating that no bus services were operating. A number of Arriva staff were there in the hope that services could commence and several had set out walking to work early in the morning. As there was no sign of any buses at the bus station, I thought I would take a couple of photos to record this. My first photo was unsuccessful and ,as I was about to take the second, a First Citaro appeared on Route 74 from Slough. After taking a second photo, I realised that the driver was going to depart and so boarded the bus. The driver told me that First were operating an almost full service from Slough Depot although they had encountered some problems around Windsor and some minor roads. He said he had come into Wycombe with a standing load and had trouble negotiating steep Corporation Street up to Castle Street. 

We departed via the Abbey Way flyover and, with so little traffic about,  were soon down London Road. By 13.19 were at Wycombe Marsh where I alighted. This was the 13.10 departure from Wycombe and we were ON TIME - most remarkable given such bad weather. 

What will be the situation on Thursday 7 January after a severe frost forecast for tonight?

From Matthew Searle

Here are some pictures from yesterday and this morning of buses in the snow in Oxford. All the operators seem to be doing extremely well under the circumstances.

Picture by Matthew Searle.

Wednesday 13th January 2010

From Ralph Adams 

I have taken the governments advice and been a coward for some while staying indoors. My time has often been on the computer to see what buses are running.  

Weather conditions obviously mean that care must be made on which, if any, services are operated. However, communication with the public is also necessary and being stuck in my home as my local buses are not working, I have been looking at the internet. On Monday, my local buses were operating and we pulled into a bus stop lay-by. However, with the snow, we were unable to move forward and needed to reverse backwards. Not surprising therefore that most rural services were withdrawn. 

Internet summary 

Whites. Good details with a link to what schools were open. Picture of a penguin and snow all around. I thought this was the best site. 

Oxford Bus. Good information on the front page, easy to read with details alternating between red and blue to help read across on screen. Updated several times a day, but surprisingly on Thursday still had Wednesday night until quite late in the morning. 

Stagecoach. Once the page was found, very good service information updated regularly throughout the day including early in the morning including Sunday. 

RH Buses. Initially clear on what was operating, later replaced with telephone number to contact. Then full details again on Friday. Second week no details given but a picture of one of their buses in the snow. 

Thames Travel. Good information easily accessible of services operated. Also quoted a telephone number (normally only provide Fax and email) 

Heyfordian. Details of services provided. 

Worths. No information available

Oxford Brookes Bus 211 is seen in the city centre on a U5 service.
Picture by John Hammond.

Another Scania/Enviro 400, this time Stagecoach 15440, works a 31 service from Wantage.
Picture by John Hammond.

The snow is still falling as Oxford's 108 and 100 head towards Peartree. 
Pictures by John Hammond.

Motts little Solo provides local service 108, having got in from Aylesbury that morning.
Picture by John Hammond.

Oxford's 640 is seen again on the "U8" as its returns to the City. Services were only operated as far as Green road since Barton was treacherous.
Picture by John Hammond.

Two more very snowy pictures with Oxford Bus still providing buses.
Picture by John Hammond.

Stagecoach managed to run most local services but under difficult conditions.
Pictures by John Hammond.

Oxford tube ran services to London, sometimes with increased headways but the passengers got through and back.
Empty coaches were run up to London to ensure capacity on the evening peak returns.
Picture by John Hammond.

Oxford continued to run the airport services though many passengers may have had a fruitless journey as there were many cancellations at Heathrow.
Picture by John Hammond.

Thames Travel ran services in from south Oxfordshire, doubtless under difficult conditions.
Pictures by John Hammond.

Didcot train station forecourt with a selection of buses on 13th January.
Picture by John Hammond.

Trident 108 heads out of Oxford towards Peartree, Picture by Richard Sharman.

A very snow bound Magdalen St East with two Oxford Citaros. During the 13th services were disrupted for a time. Picture by Richard Sharman.

Snowy north Oxford and Citaro 839 heading for the city. Picture by Richard Sharman.

Oxford's 903 on the Water Eaton services ploughs through the heavy snow.
Picture by Richard Sharman.

Tube 50207 waits its turn to take up service from Gloucester Green.
Picture by Richard Sharman.

Before and after, Solo 402 was able to work on the day in question.
Picture by Richard Sharman.

Three RH deckers stand idle at the depot in the snowy conditions.
Picture by Richard Sharman.

Richard Sharman wrote about conditions and their effect on R H Buses on Wednesday 13th January.

"Despite the terrible road conditions we managed to operate the Hospital Link Park & Ride's every day since the snow started on the Wednesday (by far the worst day snow wise), providing extra buses to maintain a good frequency, Road Conditions have been varied but in particular Grovelands estate in Kidlington, where the 700 terminates, has had sum 5 inch's of ice on it since Thursday, this only just starting to thaw today (Wednesday). Today saw the Roads on the 700 route(Oxford Road, Banbury Road, Marston Ferry Road and Headley Way) absolutely solid, departures leaving Grovelands around 7am where taking up to two hours to reach the JR Hospital, so we added extra buses to the route again to maintain a 15minute frequency. The roads freed up around 12pm and carried on with a trouble free rush hour"

Gary Seamarks sent some good pictures of Bedford on 9th January.

Your Editor goes back on Oxford tube

Well, as mentioned in the last issue I have transferred to Oxford tube and having completed my training and now back on the roster.

My first solo duty was on an all day park up in London which gave me more than enough time to take in the bus and coach scene. I am including a few pictures taken during the day which may interest readers.

During type training we pause at Didcot with 50215 on Tuesday 5th January. Picture by Malcolm Crowe.

During my route training and taken in London by Gavin Francis.

My first solo duty and my coach, 50224, parked up in Sammy's for the day. Picture by Malcolm Crowe.

I am enjoying these coaches and the passengers who are friendly and very helpful!

The OCBP - Some comments by Roger Pratt 

As an ex-Thames Valley driver (High Wycombe) of 40 years ago, now a retired Airline Captain living near Worcester, may I say how much I look forward to each and every edition of your Page. It's well written, straight from the heart, and I so love your accounts of battling the elements or venturing afar, work or play, and am just beginning to realize what an encyclopedic knowledge of our by-roads and diversions you guys have to dream up to get your customers (yuk, let's call them passengers, always used to!), to their destinations. Must admit I never did OMO or long-distance coach work, (only schools/RAF/ factories contracts with Jeffways after TV), as I always preferred a bus day out with an LWL6B or KSW, which I just caught the last of luckily, as I just loved mastering that lovely 5-speed crash box!

If you ever have any doubts about whether any particular aspect of what you write may or may not interest us your readers, then DON'T!  I can assure you that every jotting is awaited with the keenest of interest. Long may you continue!   

With Grateful Thanks, and Happy New Year.

My thanks to Roger for his e-mail. Such thoughts make the effort of producing the page very worthwhile.   

The service reports included in Fleet News/Spottings was correct at 09.00 today but may change later.

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.


Yet another Wednesday of snow which is still causing problems on Thursday 14th!

For the record the following service information was available for Arriva services on Thursday 14th January 2010

Arriva High Wycombe

Only the following running at the moment but with reduced frequencies

31 Wycombe – Penn via Amersham Hill and not serving Rose Ave

31 Wycombe – Downley NOT Operating

32 now running Wycombe – Booker but not serving Bookerhill Road

32 Wycombe – Micklefield Now operating

39/33 service operating in both directions Wycombe – Amersham Hill – Tyzak Road – Hatters Lane – London Road – Bus Station

33 extra service Bus Station – London Road – Gordon Road – Bowerdean Xroads – (one way system) – Bus station -  One way loop

37 – Wycombe – Bourne End  – Maidenhead not serving Whitelaydes Lane and Spencers Estate

40 Wycombe – Stokenchurch  – Chinnor – Thame Not serving New Road Stokenchurch or Towersey

45 Wycombe – Great Missenden via Hughenden Valley and Cryers Hill not serving Great Kingshill

52 Wycombe – Amersham – Chesham – Hemel Hempstead – not serving Holmer Green or Pond Park

62 Wycombe – Amersham – Chesham now operating but not serving Holmer Green and terminating at Chesham Broadway

74 Wycombe – Beaconsfield – Slough – not Maxwell Road Beaconsfield

331 Wycombe Chinnor will operate

800 Wycombe – Marlow – Henley -Reading not serving Binfield Heath

850 Wycombe – Marlow – Henley – Reading not Twyford

353 Slough – Amersham Service Suspended

Park and Ride –  Now Running normal route


Arriva Aylesbury

2 Aylesbury – Haydon Hill running along Bicester Road, not serving Haydon Hill

4 Walton Court – Aylesbury – Coppice only operating Bus Station to Schweppes Roundabout

9 Bedgrove – Aylesbury – Stoke Mandeville  not Serving Narbeth Drive, Welbeck Ave, or Hawkslade and terminating At the Ambulance Station at Stoke Mandeville

16 Only operating between Aylesbury and Westcott via main roads


50 Aylesbury – Halton not serving Weston Turville or Elm Farm

60 Aylesbury – Buckingham Main road only and terminating at Buckingham Tesco

61 Aylesbury – Luton only operating Aylesbury – Tring

100 Aylesbury – Milton Keynes normal service

110 no service

150 Aylesbury – Milton Keynes normal service

280 Aylesbury – Oxford normal service but not serving Haddenham and Thame Parkway Station forecourt

300 Aylesbury – Wycombe main roads only not serving Butlers Cross, Lacey Green, Walters Ash or Naphill

500 Normal service

There are a number of pictures near the top of this report and some interesting workings have been reported in the last 10 days.

4/1/10  4368 on 300 to Hemel see picture below.

Rather unusual was the appearance on 4th January of school coach 4368 on the 301 from Stevenage to Hemel. Picture by Andrew Morgan.

Adam Green noted 3452 was on the 52 to High Wycombe.

Trident 5447 has been repainted into Interurban livery. It looked very smart in this picture taken in Welwyn.
Picture by Andrew Morgan.

On the 11th January I noted that the 280 was being operated by Citaro 3919 and Olympian 5144.

Gavin Francis caught up with Olympian 5160, now devoid of 280 branding, at Friedswide Square in Oxford.

Gavin also noted Scania 3158 on Line 40 on the 13th January. 

Glenn Knight reports that Enviro 300 KX09CVV operated a midday service from Hemel Hempstead to London Victoria.


James Allum asks all readers if they have any Arriva bus blinds that they may have to spare?

For the record the following service information was available for Carousel services on Thursday 14th January 2010 (this information was live at 09.00 on the 14th and could change later in the day.)

Carousel Buses

1 Wycombe – Bourne End Normal service

36 Wycombe – Flackwell Heath – Bourne End Now operating but terminating at Flackwell Heath

2A/2C  Wycombe – Lane End – Stokenchurch – West Wycombe – Wycombe Normal service but not serving Piddington, New Road in Stokenchurch or Frieth on the school journey

4 Normal service but not serving Holmer Green and terminating at Chesham Broadway

A40/740 Wycombe – Uxbridge – Heathrow Normal service not Maxwell Road, Beaconsfield

A30 Chesham – Amersham – Uxbridge – Heathrow – Normal Service


The company was rather disappointed by the support for their Routemaster services on New Years Eve and seemingly having been requested to run the Ailsa then attracted some strong criticism.

I think it sad that support was poor, the company lost money on the operation, now being less inclined to support the enthusiast.

Stuart Harvey writes "Some news from yesterday, I saw at least two MCV Evolutions in overall red running on the A30/A40 services in Uxbridge, one on the 8.58 A40 service to Wycombe, the other on the 9.10 A30 to Heathrow. I presume these are M A N 's but I don't know. They took be by surprise so I didn't get the registration of either.

Later on the 5.20 A40 to Wycombe from Heathrow was AE 59AWH, which may have been one of the ones I saw earlier.

Not sure what they have replaced, as I have seen all three Agoralines, two Citaros, one DAF / Prestige, two MAN / MCV Stirlings and at least two Volvo B7TL's since Monday.

If I had been at home, and had known the Ailsa was out I would of definitely supported the day. Personally I can stand Routemasters, too many survive where other types are not represented as they should be.

I did see the Ailsa yesterday in Beaconsfield."


One of the new M A N buses. Picture by Gavin Francis.

J & L Transport

Two recent additions to J&L Travel of St Leonards, Near Chesham are 2 high capacity ex-Hong Kong deckers: C45HNF (from Stagecoach/Magicbus via a Glasgow operator) 100 seat Leyland Olympian and EBZ6295 106 seat MKII MCW Metrobus ex-Mullany’s Watford both for new contracts starting today. These are the only buses in this otherwise all-luxury coach fleet. J&L are the only operator in the area of a Scania OmniExpress: YR58RUC which is exactly one year old this week.

My reporter writes "I’ll see if I can get some pictures for you although this may not be until Friday when I may be taking one of them out on a school run. I have driven both and they are rather good fun – a bit different! They certainly look impressive. Both have been re-sprayed into plain white and the Metrobus has had the seats re-trimmed."

Some further new Levantes are appearing, this one from Lucketts. Picture by Gavin Francis.

A regular performer on National Express services is ex Oxford Y27OXF, seen above on a 460 service to Stratford-upon-Avon. Picture by Malcolm Crowe.

This was the scene at 03.30 yesterday morning when Gavin went into operate the 04.30 737 service. Picture by Gavin Francis.

There are a number of pictures and information on this company throughout this issue.

Keeping the fleet clean is almost impossible during recent weather. Picture by Gavin Francis.

Recent sightings.

11/1/10 - 908 on 300 all day

12/1/10 -  640 on 400

14/1/10  640 on 5 

Very much back to its old haunts, 640 put in time on 5 road yesterday. Picture by Gavin Francis.

Scania 203 descends Headington Hill under the snowy trees. Picture by Gavin Francis.

Red Line

For the record the following service information was available for Red Line services on Thursday 14th January 2010

164 Aylesbury – Leighton Buzzard still operating but very delayed

6 Water Rider Aylesbury – Watermead running with delays

335 Slough – Chalfont operating with delays

Evening 321 and 52 will operate but the 52 will not serve Holmer Green and will terminate at Chesham Broadway

No other services running

Red Rose



Bus funding switch frees up cash for Oxford services

Stagecoach currently runs the 12 and 12A from Greater Leys via Cowley Centre, 16 and 16A via Minchery Farm and Cowley centre, and the 14 and 14A services from the JR Hospital via Marston under contract to Oxfordshire County Council.

Although existing contracts for the Oxford City area are due to end in June 2010, Stagecoach have made the decision to take over the funding for these three routes in February, due to high customer demand.

Better daytime links between Littlemore, Donnington Health Centre and the City Centre will also be provided along with more reliable timetables. Greater Leys will also see more direct daytime links into the City.

Oxfordshire County Council will continue to subsidise a small number of early morning and evening buses on these routes.

The arrangement will also give the county council the opportunity to explore ways of reinvesting in public transport - which could include providing new subsidies for other bus routes.

Oxfordshire County Council's Cabinet Member for Transport, Rodney Rose said: "This is a common sense approach which promises to be of significant benefit to bus users.

"We all know there will be financial pressure on public services in years to come and that means the need for joined-up thinking like this will be all the more pressing in order to give taxpayers the best value for money that we can. We are very pleased that Stagecoach has committed to taking on the funding for these services."

Stagecoach Managing Director Martin Sutton added: "We have listened to our passengers’ comments - particularly those of Littlemore residents who have called for more direct buses to Donnington Health Centre and the city and believe these changes will be popular with everyone."


Stagecoach South 16525 – R425XFC

Volvo Olympian on Bishops Waltham, route 69 from Fareham by J. May.

"Incidentally, a few hours after I took this photo of 16525 we experienced the heavy snowfall, and the bus was left stranded and abandoned in a safe place at Lower Upham (not exactly sure where it is). It was outstationed at Bishops Waltham at the time I took the photo, and was reported that none of the Bishops Waltham drivers could get their buses back to the depot safety. Drivers were taken home by the one bus driver who could get his car out of B’ Waltham outstation. When I took the photo I had no idea of the mayhem that would take hold in the hours to come!"

From Richard Morgan

"Last Thurdsay, 31/12/09, 47236 was working the 14.20 Service 9 from Aberdare to Merthyr and I travelled on it. It is based at Aberdare depot and so is one of Caz's buses!  Sorry it is not a very good photo but the bus was having to contend with very snowy conditions!"


Part of Oxford tube fleet ready for a days service. Picture by Gavin Francis.

50216 shows off its length at Thornhill in this picture by Richard Sharman.


Andrew Morgan writes "I have been able to get pictures of the first ex London Trident to re-enter service in full fleet livery"

Repainted Trident 272 in Welwyn Garden City and St Albans on route 601 taken by Andrew Morgan.

Z&S Buses

Service 7 now operating limited service on main roads only

Service 1 (Silver Rider) now operating but not serving Fowler Road

No other services operating



All change coming for Oxford City bus services

Oxford’s two main bus companies are set to sign a landmark agreement which will see the number of buses using the city streets by up to 25%, making the planned pedestrianisation of the city centre a step closer to realisation.

At least £10m is to be invested in a fleet of “green” buses, with Oxford’s major bus companies introducing joint timetabling and ticketing.

The revised bus network introduces the promise of improved services and will significantly reduce the number of buses travelling through the centre of the city.

One of the main thoroughfares to benefit will be the historic High, the focus of many complaints about the bus numbers.

The new partnership is heralded as an historic event for the city and the two major companies, Oxford Bus Company, Stagecoach with Oxfordshire County Council, are to be congratulated.

The new arrangement is said to be the first of its kind in Great Britain and uses revised powers under the Local Transport Act 2008, designed to allow councils and bus operators to work closely together to provide coordinated services.

This revised legislation is seen as a major instrument enabling local authorities to help reduce the congestion on our roads by buses resulting from the deregulation in the 1980s.

The voluntary agreement follows months of negotiation between County Hall and the city’s two main bus operators, with all sides claiming the partnership will provide a greener, more efficient service on the main routes into the city.

Local bus users in Oxford will enjoy forty six brand new double-deckers said to be some of the most environmentally advanced in Europe.

The Oxford Bus Company is to replace thirty four buses in its ninety strong local bus fleet and replace them with twenty new vehicles.

Stagecoach, will replace thirty five of its buses with twenty six new double deckers. This has already been mentioned as part of the Government’s initiative to provide funding for greener buses in Britain. See my Spottings & Jottings issue 14 for full details on the new bus initiative.

To add to the benefits outlined above a £2million multi-operator smartcard ticketing system will be introduced which will improve the boarding of passengers and allow them use either company’s buses.

It is hoped that the new services will be implemented by the Autumn of 2010 though there are some legal issues still to be resolved.

OFT refers local bus services 

The OFT has formally announced its referral of UK local bus services to the Competition Commission. The decision, which excludes London and Northern Ireland follows consultation on the results of the OFT market study into the industry last year. The study found evidence that limited competition between bus operators tends to result in higher prices and lower quality for bus users and may represent poor value for money for taxpayers, says the OFT.

Islwyn bus firm sold to Stagecoach

THE sale of Blackwood-based Islwyn Borough Transport to bus operator Stagecoach is now complete. The operator has purchased the firm's 33 buses and coaches ...

Blackpool goings on by Geoff Cunliffe

Well, it’s all happening at the moment. To start this week, my mate Bob Fergusson emailed me to say that the track in Fleetwood at the northern end of the system is now going to be relayed, together with stops, poles and overhead, in one operation and not spread over two-and-a-half years, which is much better news.  It is expected to be complete by June 2011. 

Blackpool Council have agreed to spend money on relaying the pointwork at Hopton Rd depot, which probably means that they have abandoned plans to house the heritage trams at Starr Gate (which they couldn't afford, anyway)! 

However, that good news has been tempered by a (typical) newspaper report tonight saying that “the £100m revamp of the system has hit the buffers after the Government ordered an 11th. hour review of the plans. Council leaders admitted today that they fear for the future of the famous seafront service after the Government announced it is to probe the siting of the controversial new depot at Starr Gate.” 

Controversial it certainly is, having provoked widespread criticism and reaction from many sources. It is, on the face of it, a curious decision – separated from the main Blackpool Transport administration and facilities, right at the end of the system, immediately adjacent to the seawall and exposed to all of the salt, sand and adverse elemental intrusion that the weather can throw at it. It is allegedly in an area where no commercial development should take place, it has displaced a long-standing and popular Go-Cart facility which was very popular with tourists, it has necessitated the closure of a large and busy car park and, although  the building itself is portrayed as having neat flowing, curved lines, it will be surrounded by a six foot high steel fence. You only need the searchlights and the security towers and it will look like a prison camp! 

If the Starr Gate building is condemned, it may make the Council either reconsider the Blundell St site (as originally planned), or spend a lot less money by adapting the existing Hopton Rd depot. Logical as those options are, it is alleged there is a hidden agenda for not developing that existing site!

Watch this space!

Bet you're still having fun with the snow. We still have most of our two inches, but it is compacted, very slippery and unsalted. Interestingly, a couple of local bus routes are going 'off-route' to stay on the main roads and drivers are, in general, being quite helpful about stopping where people request.

Anyway, when we last spoke, I said Blackpool Transport had Engineering Car 754 stuck by the Tower immediately north of the current section of track being replaced, and so it was unable to return to its depot. Apparently it had been put on a low-loader just before Christmas and was taken north where it did some overhead work around Cleveleys and Thornton Gate. I understand one of the two Unimog road/rail vehicles that could have done the work was involved in some sort of accident so couldn't be used. It is curious to know what needed doing with such urgency, given the system is closed for the winter's upgrading, unless there had been some damage to the overhead at a road crossing.

I attach a couple of lousy photographs for you. In the first, showing 754 with the cable drum dolly behind it, is in shadow, but I couldn't move the Blackpool Tower building to get sunshine. Similarly in the second one, I couldn't move the lamp post which was in the way. Nonetheless, they show the abandoned tram just inside a security compound at the north end of the present section of track replacement work as the contractors work their way northwards towards Talbot Square.

Comments on the last issue by Julian Walker

Thank you for a very interesting and informative "Spottings and Jottings" (no 16, 3rd January). It was particularly fascinating to read about the realities of trying to keep bus and coach services going in the current weather. As I live in inner London I do not always appreciate had badly the snow affects outlying areas, particularly the Chiltern Hills. 

I was also interested in you account of taking the first coach from Oxford to Stansted in the very early hours of Boxing Day. In these days of 24-hour lifestyles, Sunday trading and the like, it is only at Christmas that we are able to appreciate just how quiet Britain can be. It must have seemed very eerie being just about the only person out and about. You may have picked up very few passengers, but I dare say the ones you did carry appreciated you being there.

The 305 article is interesting, but I suspect the route has been struggling with the continued growth of Carousel's A40 and now 740 with its more direct service between Uxbridge/Gerrard's Cross and Beaconsfield/Uxbridge. The introduction of the A30 in September, giving an hourly service over the 305 between Uxbridge and Chalfont St Giles, was probably the final straw. At least Bucks CC has stepped in to ensure Seer Green retains some sort of service - as the article points out, the village is remote from the station. Perhaps some kind of taxibus or other demand-responsive service connecting into trains and buses might be a better solution here?

Finally, I'm sorry to hear you have to give up the National Express work, but I hope you will continue to enjoy driving on the Oxford Tube - at least you won't have so much heavy luggage to worry about. And I hope you still find time to produce the OCBP and continue to enjoy doing so.


Letter from Chichester by Jonathan Doran

Happy New Year and best wishes to you on your 'semi-retirement' in reverting from National Express duties to Oxford Tube duties!
Oxford exiles remain ever-present with Stagecoach South in Chichester in the form of Route 60 branded Dennis Dart SLF/Alexander ALX200 33813-8 (R813-8YUD) and Volvo Olympian/Alexander RL 16501 (R501UWL). The latter still likes to stretch its legs periodically, as on Saturday 2 January it was deputising for an absent Trident on the CoastLiner 700 Southsea-Brighton four-and-a-quarter hour marathon service. Speaking of which...
...shortly before Christmas an unidentified 'standard' livery Scania N230UD/Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 was delivered to Chichester, the first new double-decker at Chichester since February 1997! It is currently stored in the depot pending the receipt of approximately 20 others to be shared between Portsmouth, Chichester and Worthing depots to relaunch the CoastLiner 700 and in so doing replace the current fleet, Alexander Dennis Trident/Alexander Dennis ALX400 18510-27 which entered service in May 2006 from Portsmouth and Worthing (Chichester was not involved in the 'full-fat' CoastLiner back then). The complete batch for Stagecoach South should largely if not entirely fill the 'gap' in the 2009/10 Scania order 15521-15620 between the end of the North West batch at Chorley (15584) and the start of the expected Stagecoach Gold batch for Oxfordshire at Witney (15609). Incidentally, according to the Scania website Stagecoach has an option for a further 100 of these buses in 2010/11 - Personally speaking I shall be glad to see the flagship Southsea-Brighton revert from Voith gearbox double-deckers to ZF gearbox double-deckers for the first time in some 14 years.
I must say the 26 Alexander Dennis Enviro 400H/Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 hybrid double-deckers expected at Oxford later this year will be most interesting additions to the Oxfordshire fleet. I have travelled on the examples Metroline runs on the 16 Cricklewood-Victoria and found the passenger experience to be a combination of Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 and milk float - truly bizarre!
Finally, in S&J Nr 13 you included a picture of former London Transport Leyland Titan T23 (WYV23T) taken at Binders Yard (wherever that may be says this 'foreigner'!). This is something of a celebrity bus, as it is owned along with RML2394 (JJD394D) and (I understand) more than one other AEC Routemaster by Ltd company directors of which include BBC Radio 2 luminaries Ken Bruce, Alan Dedicoat and Charles Nove. In the picture you included T23 was screened-up for "266 BRIDES ON A BUS Wedding TV GRETNA GREEN" and if you look at you can read more about why it was screened-up thus. Clearly Charles Nove is a rather hands-on director of the company! 
Thanks for maintaining such an interesting website - please keep up the excellent work!


They never stop - in spite of the snow the City sighting operations in Oxford and other places continue. Picture by Gavin Francis.

Victoria Train and bus Stations the day before the snow - picture by Malcolm Crowe.

Gloucester Green in the snow - picture Gavin Francis.