Spottings & Jottings

Issue nr. 21 - 26th February 2010

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

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Our weather continues in a cold bleak spell with little sun and few hours of any warmth. This really must be the longest spell of cold weather for many years. As such photography has been difficult and I can only say how pleased I am that my regulars have come up with some very acceptable results.

One contributor who sends me items from time to time has managed to get some very interesting pictures from Scania at Abingdon who are not only doing local work, such as PDIs on the new Stagecoach gold double decks for Witney but have also been involved in buses from the preceding batch being prepared to enter service on the south coast 700 Coastliner operation from Portsmouth to Brighton. I thought that their livery was most attractive.

These pictures were sent in by Harvey Cullimore who had occasion to visit Scania Abingdon with a Scania coach.
They are most interesting as they show the batch preceding the Gold batch for Witney, two of which can be seen in one of the pictures above.
The other pictures show several of the batch being prepared for Stagecoach South for operation
on the coastline 700 service between Brighton and Portsmouth.
It is interesting to note that they were built with 59 plates but these are being changed to 10 plates for introduction after March 1st.

The coach being used by Harvey was this special Scania/Irizar PB fitted out for the carriage of people with disability.              

Councillors give thumbs up to High Wycombe (Handy Cross) coachway just off the M40

PLANS to build a “gateway” coach station, park and ride, 150-bed hotel and “high quality” office facilities at Wycombe Sports Centre have been given the green light by councillors.

Wycombe District Council’s planning committee agreed on Wednesday to approve the multi-million pound Handy Cross development, subject to planning conditions. The six-bay coachway would provide frequent services into London, Oxford, Reading and Slough. The interchange would also run services to Victoria, Heathrow and Stansted Airport. 

The Cressex island park and ride would be relocated to the site, providing regular trips into High Wycombe bus station at Eden and the train station, with 556 car parking spaces. The outline proposal also includes plans to build an eight storey, 150-bed hotel and up to five “high-quality” business developments which could create 1,655 jobs. A concourse building is intended to be a “landmark” structure, forming a “main entrance to High Wycombe”.

The council will need to submit detailed applications for the hotel and business park. These would have an additional 964 car parking spaces, with the number of parking spots at the sports centre being cut from 377 to 271 spaces.

WDC council leader Lesley Clarke said the scheme would be “hugely positive” for the town and the council would be “silly” to miss out. She said: “I am very pleased with the outcome and very pleased that people saw the benefits of the coachway because it is needed.

“Obviously there are still a few issues to be ironed out, such as the residents parking up at Fair Ridge, but the county council are working very closely with them. It means that we’ll get more people investing in the town, the business park will create those middle management jobs the town is crying out for, meaning younger people can live and work in the town and of course improve transport links, so it will be of huge benefit to High Wycombe”.

The council received eight objections to the scheme, citing concerns about the impact on residential properties, traffic problems, and that all sport facilities should be based on one site. Wednesday’s planning meeting had three public speakers against the plans – Mike Chadwick from the Chiltern Society and Fair Ridge resident Mike Evans discussed the impact the development would have on traffic and environment.

Brian Mapletoft, chairman of the Hazlemere Residents Association 2009, spoke out against the council’s controversial plan to move the sports centre’s athletics track to Sir William Ramsay School. For the Handy Cross scheme to go ahead, WDC needs to find a suitable site to play host to the running track which needs to be moved to make way for the coachway, as well as the synthetic pitch currently at the site.

And Sport England has threatened to “call in” the coach way project to the Secretary of State if the Ramsay application is turned down or another site is not found.

One of course wonders how capacity will be provided on existing services or will new services be introduced. Currently The Oxford Bus Company and Oxford tube run services past junction 4 on the M40, serving London, Heathrow and Gatwick and National Express operates the 737 through High Wycombe. If this service was to use the new coachway then one wonders if it would cease to call in Stokenchurch.

All food for thought.

More Snow last Monday

Monday the 22nd saw further over night heavy snow fall affecting the morning rush hour. Stagecoach Oxfordshire 14535
creeps down the hill out of Enstone on an ice covered road in this picture by Richard Sharman.

Buses in the Landscape

Three pictures are to hand for this issue and reflect these times.

Buses in the Landscape - Parliament and Nelsons Column from Piccadilly Circus with Transdev VLE3 serving route 9
on 3rd ~February 2010 by John Marsh.

Blue Triangle WVL336 (LX59DDO) on East London Transit EL2 at Dagenham Dock seen on February 10th.

Bus companies are becoming very colourful and this pictures of variety in The Eden Bus Station emphasises this point.
Six liveries for three companies.
Picture by Malcolm Crowe on 17th February 2010.

Coach services into and out of Oxford

I take the Oxford Times every week and read with some interest the arguments for and against the coach services, especially from London and airports traversing The High and other city centre streets. It is suggested that such coaches should either start from Thornhill or even traverse the Park & Ride sites on the outskirts of the city. It is also said that the coaches add to the noise and pollution in the city centre and even cause vibrations to the buildings, especially along The High and High Street.

I feel that is now time to expand on some of these proposals which may cause hardship to the very many non car owners who use these services, should any of the above proposals to take these forms of transport out of the city centre come to pass.

A very large number of the passengers using the coach services are the students who attend the University colleges in our city. Indeed they are the ones who most often have the heaviest baggage and do not need to have to change buses at Thornhill or any other point. Another large proportion of passengers on the London coach services are commuters who are not going to take kindly to having to change services at a Park & Ride. Indeed such impositions may have a undesirable result in increasing car use within the city, especially for those commuters who board coaches between Gloucester Green and Thornhill! Already the Park & Ride at Thornhill cannot take more cars, it is generally full on most days of the week by 9 a.m.

Oxford currently enjoys one of the best, if not the best, public transport system in the country and proposals such as those mentioned above may only serve to discourage the use of public transport.

I wonder if it might not be better to use the Park & Rides to stop most, if not all cars coming into city, thereby reducing pollution and noise. This is especially so with the new Euro 5 standard buses and coaches now serving our streets with more to come.

Brian Marsden writes-

Thanks for once again producing a most informative and enlightening edition of the Oxford and Chilterns Bus Page. 

Some (vague) observations and thoughts:

Your efforts over the years are more than appreciated. I can only apologise that I do not contribute as much as I would like.

Treated like a Terrorist

A local man in Oxford found himself treated like a terrorist for taking pictures of some policemen in Kidlington recently. They demanded he delete the pictures and after the event handed him a form showing that he had been searched using powers under section 43 of the Terrorism Act. According to the Home Office, this legislation gives officers the power to search a suspect they reasonable believe to be a terrorist.

Whilst this is not a bus photography incident it follows on from the fact that some people taking pictures in the U.K. have had problems and indeed I was told to remove myself from the Junction 5 M40 overbridge as taking photos was a distraction to passing motorists.

What a world we are living in! 

Finally and as always, my thanks to all who have contributed to this issue.

Malcolm Crowe - Editor - OCBP - 26th February 2010.



Trevor Wilson writes " least one Arriva Scania N***EUR has been working the 353 Chesham <> Slough recently.

Glenn Knight visited Milton Keynes yesterday (20/02/2010). He saw some interesting developments where the "old" MK Metro now seems to be disappearing fast and Arriva has made a big impact.

3202 (R202RBM) is seen at Central Milton Keynes Rail station.
Picture by Glenn Knight.

3640 (KX59ACJ) a Scania K230UB with Wright Solar B44F bodywork at CMK Bus Station by Glenn Knight.

3641 (KX59ACO) a Scania K230UB with Wright Solar B44F bodywork at CMK Bus Station by Glenn Knight.

3524 (HDZ2604) {Ex MK Metro R514SJM} a Dennis Dart SLF with Plaxton Pointer B43F bodywork at CMK by Glenn Knight.

3570 (KX09GYY) an E300 Dart with Enviro 300 B45F bodywork at CMK Bus Station by Glenn Knight.
This is part of a batch of nine for MK which follow on from the batch
used on the Centraline 300/301 services out of Hemel to Stevenage.

3151, a Scania with East Lancs bodywork at now included in the MK fleet and seen at CMK Bus Station by Glenn Knight.

3525 and 3526 in before and after livery, Darts with Caetano bodywork at CMK by Glenn Knight.

3510 (V897DNB) a Dart with Plaxton bodywork ex MK Metro and now in Arriva National livery. Picture by Glenn Knight.

Gavin Francis saw Trident/Enviro 400 5438 (280 branded) on the 500 approaching Hemel from Watford on 22nd February.

Indeed the use of branded buses on the incorrect route is becoming the norm rather than an unusual occurrence. Gavin took a series of pictures in High Wycombe and this is clearly shown in his work.

3862 with Green route branding is seen on the 100 service and 3866 also with Green route branding is seen on the 32 (Blue route). Pictures by Gavin Francis.

3146 with Blue route branding is seen on the 37 and 3203 also with Blue route branding is seen on the 74 to Slough. Pictures by Gavin Francis.

3825 with Red route branding is seen on the 32 (Blue route) service and 5148 with 5/6 Hemel branding is seen on 33 (Red route). Pictures by Gavin Francis.

Recently acquired Volvo B10BLEs 3849, 3851 and 3852 are seen on a variety of routes. These buses are unbranded.
Pictures by Gavin Francis.

Some Wycombe based buses on a selection of routes. Pictures by Gavin Francis.

Two of the coach seated Olympians transferred sometime ago now from Hemel work routes out of Wycombe.
5147 and 5150 are seen above. Pictures by Gavin Francis.

In the most recent Arriva fleet list one cannot find ex Wycombe Bus 3823 which started at Wycombe but was moved to Aylesbury garage a few years ago now. Can anyone advise where this bus is now? It is N523MJO.

Nigel Peach writes with a few recent Arriva observations: 

"Some of the vehicles lying dormant at Cressex appear to have gone (probably the ones with the red band round which Pete Cabin referred to last time). Volvo B6s 3115, 3128 and 3138 are no longer there and nor is the last G reg Northern Counties bodied Olympian 5110. 

Instead, the final G reg Olympian 5121 (G291UMJ) is now parked there, withdrawn, reducing Arriva's Wycombe's Double Deckers to seven d/ds at Wycombe, (5132/41/47/48/50/51/53)

A recent arrival (from Luton), is a further East Lancs bodied Scania, 3147, meaning there are now eight from this batch based at Wycombe. 

DAF 4490 (T490KGB) has lost its all over ad for Lakes Electrical and is back in normal (old) livery. 

Just to correct my email from yesterday, I should have said there are nowI'd forgotten 5141!" 

From Andrew Morgan dated 26th February : 

"Green Line Citaro 3905 (BU06HSJ) was on the 724 today (26/02/10) and has been repainted. It is in Green Line livery but plain with only route branding on the top of windows. I think it is awaiting for branding to be applied."

Gavin Francis was working on the 737 and suffered a delay at Luton Airport en route to Stansted which enabled him to take a number of pictures.
These included FOUR of Aylesbury's Scanias on route 61.


The snow was falling and soon slush was on the roads. The airport had been closed in the morning whilst they cleared the runways.
This must have reduced passengers using the 757 to London. Picture by Gavin Francis.

One of the new MK Citaros working the 300 in CMK. Picture by Richard Sharman taken on 20th February.

Once based at Aylesbury 3202 now resides at MK. Picture by Richard Sharman.

working the 510 from Harlow via Bishops Stortford. The date Monday 15th February.

Dart 3178 spent many years in the Luton/Hemel area but is now resident at MK. Picture by Richard Sharman.

One of the most recent Solos, 2498, painted blue and working route 12 at MK. Picture by Richard Sharman.

One of the older Solos, most appropriately registered MK02BUS working the 12 in Arriva National livery pictured by Richard Sharman.

One of the oldest double decks left in the Arriva fleet is 5100 seen on the 150 from Aylesbury, its home base.
Picture by Richard Sharman.

As a suitable ending to this part of the report, we see Citaro 3522 somewhat off route on a 280 working last Sunday in Oxford.
Picture by Malcolm Crowe.

Nigel Peach writes "Two of the Metrobuses that have been under cannibalisation for a long time now, C345/356BUV, appear to have departed."

Still proclaiming that the A40 is a new service, L564 departs on a Line 1 service to Bourne End. Pictured on 17th February by Malcolm Crowe.

Two of Carousel's smartly turned out buses leaving Wycombe to Watford and Uxbridge respectively.
Pictures By Gavin Francis.

Centrebus are a strongly emerging player in the Hertfordshire/Bedfordshire area and whilst acquiring second hand buses are now getting new buses. Following the takeover of the Trustline service 700 which runs from Stansted Airport to Little Hadham, Puckeridge, Letchworth, Hitchin and Stevenage, the company has introduced new buses on this route as seen in the pictures from Gavin Francis below.

One of the brand new Scania
K230UB/ Wright Solar's 751 (YR59NNV) working the 700 on 19th February.
Pictures by
Gavin Francis.

One of the Trustline Dart, AE55MVL, has now received Centreline livery and looks very smart.
It is seen on service 700 on 19th February 2010 and earlier on 17th March 2008 by Gavin Francis.

Andrew Morgan wrote saying "the four Wright bodied Scanias all are for route C3 at Harlow they are as follows :

748 YN08 MRO (ex-DEMO)
749 YR59 NNT
750 YR59 NNU
751 YR59 NNV

I saw one on the 700 about 8:15 Saturday in Stevenage heading to the bus station but was to far away to see which and take picture."


First purchased these buses new for work from Slough on the 7's services.
Seen above on the highly competitive 74 service from Wycombe to Slough. Picture by Gavin Francis.

Another picture of recent acquisition, Citaro 943YKN, looking very smart whilst loading for a run on the 116 to Abingdon.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

As mentioned above Gavin had an unexpected layover at Luton airport last week and took this atmospheric shot of C033, a Stansted allocated coach
working the 787 through Luton airport to Stansted on 22nd February 2010.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

Here is Gavin's coach, 59215, parked up at Luton waiting time for its return journey. Either the 767 or 777 will bring its Oxford passengers from Stansted.
Picture by Gavin Francis.

For those of you who are looking for more pictures of National Express coaches, you may be interested in the web site mentioned below which includes one of the tri-axle Scanias (SC29) which once operated out of Stansted and is now with Bruce Coaches. My apologies to those who already know of this web site.


The main news this week is the entry into service of another two Volvo B10BLE/Wright Renown buses. These are 790 and 791. Their first day in service saw them on the 400 service.

790 R220HCD Volvo B10BLE Wrights Renown B46F new Feb-98
791 R322HCD Volvo B10BLE Wrights Renown B46F new Feb-98

First day in service for Oxford, we see 791 at Frideswide Square. Picture by Gavin Francis.

Another shot of 791 on day one, this time from John Hammond.

These Brookes University Partner stickers are currently being fitted to OBC vehicles. Picture by Richard Sharman.

A nice shot of 102, red and on a green Park & Ride route, 300, seen in Magdalene Street East.. Picture by Gavin Francis.

The Citaros, bought for City 2 are still hard at work as seen by this picture of 841, taken on 21st February.
Behind it one can see small Wrights Dart 401 on 6 road. The photo taken by Gavin Francis.

Woottens of Chesham have acquired former City of Oxford Leyland Olympian / Eastern Coach Works CUD 222Y from Fords Coaches of Althorne. This bus is being prepared for service and will become W64..

Straight roads and T413AGP loads on a nr 6 at Milton Keynes - the date 20th February. Picture by Richard Sharman.

Red Rose 

John Hammond advises that "Red Rose Dart FJ06URR has been fitted with a new LED destination in place of the roller blinds it was fitted with.

Picture of the bus on 21/2/10 whilst I was waiting on layover at Whipsnade Zoo, by John Hammond. 

Ironically this same bus was on the 275 on the evening run from Oxford on 26th February 2010.


Currently being stored at Redline's Gatehouse Way Depot awaiting a new engine. The new engine to be fitted is from accident damaged H534RKG."

R H Coaches

Richard Sharman has sent some nice pictures of their revised coach livery and lettering. He says "February saw the RH identity applied to some of the MAN/EOS 90's in RH Transport Services coach division fleet."


R H Coaches have introduced a revised livery which is shown in the pictures above.
Pictures by Richard Sharman.

The first of the new Gold Scanias have arrived and have been seen at Abingdon Scania and Network Oxford waiting to be prepared for service at the end of March.

Three of the Gold Scanias ready for PDI at Scania Abingdon seen alongside three Coastliner ones on 22nd February.  - picture by Harvey Cullimore

15609-15612 at Network Oxford, brand new and waiting prep for service, 20th February. - picture by Gavin Francis.


RAY Ramsey writes "I can confirm that Volvo Olympians 16768 and  16782 have transferred from Manchester to Leamington this week. I understand all Leyland Olympians are to be withdrawn from all Stagecoach fleets by April, many being displaced by this same batch of Manchester Olympians."

Now a rather old coach, 52485 - once a star of the X5 - is seen working the VT99 at Luton airport on 22nd February - picture by Gavin Francis.

Last week we showed Witney Tridents which had lost their branding and this week we have 18134 still replete in full S series livery.
pictures by
Gavin Francis.

M A N 18.240 22763 seen basking into winter sunshine at St Giles on 22nd February pictured by Gavin Francis.

As I'm now a night worker I thought I would experiment with night photography.
This is taken at Oxpens shortly before I worked the 0110 to London on Thursday morning.  Picture by Malcolm Crowe.

My Megabus contact notes "The 06.45 Newcastle - London M12 / 15.00 London - Newcastle M12 is regularly duplicated between Leeds & London on Fridays & Sundays by Tetleys of Leeds, hence the good "Homemade" destination labels they use. 

Whilst most duties changeover at Watford Gap, the 23.45 London-Aberdeen M11 changes drivers at M6 J1 as that's the closest point to Rugby depot."

Andrew Morgan writesUNO Volvo Olympians 250-252 are all  for sale and sold OLYMPIANS 250 and 252 have gone to SOUTHERN TRANSIT. The third, 251, is still up for sale.

Uno do not have any plans for new buses this year."

Ralph Adams writes :-

Tuesday 16 February observations. 

Re your query on the vehicles on the X88, arriving in the City at about 17.35 was the newly acquired T registered Dart and the outgoing bus at about 17.40 was the R registered Excel. There was no sign of the empty workings in or out via St Giles so presumably use another road to their base.


Glenn Knight writes "Visited Milton Keynes yesterday (20/02/2010)"

S455LGN Mercedes Benz 814D at The Point MK

MX03YDE Optare Solo at C.M.K Rail Station

LN51 SBO Dennis Dart The Point MK

All pictures by Glenn Knight.


Passenger Focus starts work

Passenger Focus (PF) starts officially representing bus, coach and tram passengers in England (outside London) from the morning of 25th February.

It follows Transport Minister Sadiq Khan signing the order to enact the legislation transferring PF from its ‘shadow’ role to a statutory remit; the change in the law comes into force today.

Transport Minister Sadiq Khan says: “Given that bus, coach and tram passengers make 5bn journeys each year, it is important that these are provided to a high standard and many of them are.  

“But as I have seen and heard on my bus tour, there are still too many examples of services that don’t reach the standards that passengers have a right to expect.

“Passenger Focus already has a strong reputation for securing benefits for rail passengers through evidence-based campaigning and advocacy.  I am confident that they will be able to transfer this capability to deliver improvements for bus, coach and tram passengers.”

PF CEO Anthony Smith added: “We’re absolutely committed to using our established consumer focus to get the best deal for passengers.”

PF has carried out extensive research across the country to gather evidence of passengers’ experiences of bus and scheduled coach services. A report looking at the passenger perspective of the National Concessionary fares scheme has already been published.

In the coming months, comparative, benchmarked research into bus passenger satisfaction in 20 areas of England will be published, as well as bus and coach passenger priorities for improvement.

In addition, PF has taken over the Bus Mystery Traveller Survey from the Department for Transport and will also be looking at measures to improve the handling of bus passenger complaints across the bus industry.

Passenger Focus is now “building a dedicated team who will use this research as the basis of their work at a local and regional level to help get a better deal for bus, coach and tram passengers.”

Stagecoach launches UK’s first ‘Healthy Heart’ Bus

Transport group Stagecoach has joined forces with the UK's largest independent hospital provider BMI Healthcare to launch a voluntary heart health screening programme for employees in its UK Bus division.

A state-of-the-art 'Healthy Heart Bus' – the first of its kind in the UK - will tour Stagecoach's bus depots, providing free heart health check-ups for thousands of staff.

The double-decker vehicle has been specially designed in partnership with BMI Healthcare and was refurbished by Plaxton Limited as a mobile cardio-screening unit equipped with patient consultation facilities and the latest exercise electrocardiogram (ECG) equipment.

The £2m initiative is being funded by Stagecoach Group, with support from Chief Executive Brian Souter who has personally pledged £1million towards the project.

Employees in the North-east of Scotland are the first to be invited to take part in the programme, which gets underway this month and is designed to encourage heart health awareness among employees.

Over the next three to four years, all Stagecoach UK Bus employees with more than three years' service will be given the opportunity to undergo a voluntary assessment of their cardiovascular health, as well as receiving advice on ways to maintain and improve their heart health.

Heart and circulatory disease is the UK's biggest killer, with someone dying of a heart attack every six minutes. However, early detection and treatment increases a person's chance of avoiding more serious complications. 

The Stagecoach initiative will allow staff to find out their level of cardiovascular health and potential risk areas, receive individual advice on ways to improve their heart health and access further medical tests through their GP if required.

Fully qualified BMI Healthcare doctors and nurses will run the service, carrying out assessments at Stagecoach depots around the country. Employees' health information will be kept completely confidential.

Stagecoach Group Chief Executive Brian Souter said: "This kind of personal health check is often only available to senior executives. We felt it was important to extend the service to our frontline employees who serve our customers every day and the Healthy Heart Bus will allow us to do that.

"We are delighted to be launching this ambitious employee benefit which is targeted at preventative healthcare as early intervention can save lives."

There are two stages to the project:

BMI Healthcare CEO Adrian Fawcett said: "We believe delivering top-quality healthcare is not just about providing the best treatments but also about providing effective prevention strategies. It is important to give people the information and advice they need to identify health risks before they become too serious. We are pleased Stagecoach shares our passion for preventative healthcare, and we look forward to working with them on this unique and exciting venture."

The state-of-the-art bus contains an "eBike" and software provided by GE Healthcare. GE Healthcare's CardioSoft™ software controls the speed and resistance for the eBike, monitors the subject's vital signs and sends the ECG data securely and wirelessly to GE Healthcare's MUSE® ECG database system where Dr Barry Vallance, Healthy Heart Bus Clinical Lead and Consultant Cardiologist for the NHS and at BMI Ross Hall Hospital, will analyse the results and advise on any required course of action.

Dr Vallance said, "Each day I treat people whose conditions could have been slowed or prevented through earlier detection and treatment or lifestyle changes. Taking the initiative to seek health advice when you're feeling seemingly well is easy to deprioritise, especially when you're busy at work, but this carries risks. The beauty of this project is that it brings nurses and doctors to the employees, making it much easier to access the tests, advice and guidance that can improve their chances of a healthier, longer life. It's a brilliant undertaking, and I am very proud to help lead the effort."

Graham Stevenson, National Organiser Transport for trade union Unite, said that they were pleased to support the free medical screening project that should benefit its members.

"We are especially pleased that our members will have this opportunity to have an assessment of their heart health, which will enable potential risks or problems to be identified and addressed via their GP," he said.

"Participation will be voluntary and all results of the screening will be confidential, even to the employer. It is rare to see such a service being offered by a major employer to its employees. Unite has no hesitation in applauding Stagecoach's initiative and we would encourage all of our members to take up this chance."


Peter Edgar writes "Thanks for your latest newsletter. 

The photograph of the Bristol on the lowloader is, in actual fact a Bristol LS and was in the fleet of the Bristol Omnibus Company, Fleet number 2910.

Having been born and breed in BOC territory I still have an interest in this company's  vehicles and can only hope that this vehicle was on its way  for future restoration. 

Many thanks for your continual work on the newsletter,as always very much appreciated."

Geoff Cunliffe and I were discussing an interesting old bus from Lytham St. Annes when we last spoke and now Geoff has sent some interesting pictures.

Lytham St Annes TJ 6760 by G Cunliffe

"We were speaking about Lytham 24, TJ 6760. Attached are four photographs which show what money can do."

Photo 1 (copyright R.F.Mack) shows here as original

Photo 2 shows her in Canada in 1998 somewhat forlorn.

Photo 3 (copyright Geoff Meak) shows her as returned to the Ribble Enthusiasts Group at Freckleton.

Photo 4 (copyright Geoff Meak) shows her running once again after a few pounds have been spent!