Spottings & Jottings

Issue nr. 22 - 5th March 2010

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

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The weather has brightened up in the past few days and we have had some warmer weather, at least that is, during the day time. The nights have remained cold and often with a frost. As a result of the better days we have some nice pictures this week and many of us have been out with our cameras enjoying a respite from the snow, cold and dark days.

Your Editor takes lunch in Oxford

I enjoyed a very pleasant lunch on Wednesday with Geoff Cunliffe and his wife Margaret and found out early on how difficult it is to park at Thornhill during the day! The Park &Ride was completely full with several other motorists trying to find a parking slot. I gave up and drove into Headington and parked in the car park behind Waitrose. £1.50 for three hours but I was running short of time. I went through to the bus stop at Headington shops taking a few pictures on my way.

Pictures by M. Crowe.

A now elderly M A N 22934 was on a 7C working and I thought to take some pictures of these buses during the day as many are due to be replaced by new deckers in the summer.
This was followed by one of the new Brookes Scanias of Oxford Bus, nr 206 which looked very smart indeed.
These pictures are also of interest as the road is due to be changed in works starting in April when the London road is to be remodelled and the pedestrian underpass filled in.
This is located just behind the Stagecoach bus in the first picture.

My transport into Oxford turned out to be Oxford's 793, one of the Volvo B10BLEs acquired last year from Go-Ahead operator, Brighton & Hove. Apart from the window type they are almost identical to the dual door versions delivered new to Oxford back in 1999 and 2000. The Brighton batch were some two years earlier. My steed had been 223 with Brighton and was smart and well turned out.

The exterior of these buses are almost identical to the Oxford ones but internally they still have the old style group moquette.
The application of the interior advertising is tasteful and useful to passengers.

Our journey into the city was quite quick and we shared our running time with a Stagecoach M A N on the 7C. We hopped to the front and then ended up behind as we ran into the city, both buses having good loadings. Of course from mid year double deck buses will be introduced and frequencies shared between the two operators on these busy corridors and I am sure good loading will result under the new regime. We did not spend too much time negotiating the roadworks on High Street and I was soon alighting at Carfax to meet Geoff and Margaret.

We stopped for alighting passengers at Queens Lane where I got my first good picture of newly arrived 790 on the 400 service to Thornhill.
It also had a fairly full load of passengers supporting the comments that Oxford is a bus city.

We had a pleasant snack in the Marks & Spencer cafe in Queen Street and I could not help but notice how much quieter it is now that buses no longer pick and set down in this shopping street.

One can see the time by the M & S clock, once unseated by a Park & Ride Trident, that is shortly after 3 p.m. and there are only a few buses down by Bonn Square.

A few hours later we emerged into Queen Street after a reminiscing chat on a wide range of subject. They were to make their way to Debenhams for the 300 service to Peartree, having commented on their earlier delayed journey into the city due to roadworks on the Woodstock Road whilst I wanted to walk down High Street to see the roadworks from a pedestrians angle, I usually see it from the driving seat of an Oxford tube.

First I was able to capture one of Thames Transits M A N s at the classic point of Carfax Corner.

As I approached the two way working section under repair a gaggle of buses was coming through and the lack of space for unloading became apparent when one bus was left blocking eastbound traffic getting through.

They have proceeded quite quickly and one side is already completed, making a very smooth ride for the buses and other traffic using this part of the main road to and from the east.

Stagecoach's 22929 is seen on route 3 heading towards the stop at Carfax whilst Oxford's 865 blocks the road with nowhere to go.

I have often commented about the cyclists in Oxford and my pictures show the great numbers riding through the city centre. As I walked alongside the works one poor fellow turned out of The Turl and found himself confronted by oncoming buses and literally nowhere to go.

The cyclist must have felt very threatened, especially when tackled further down by the man controlling traffic at the eastern end of the two way working.

There had been quite a hold up for traffic in both directions as something was going on which I could not see and I could not work out why nothing moved for a good few minutes? As a result quite a queue built up at both ends and I was able to capture quite a few pictures of the buses and coach in the queue from the east.

The variety of types and colours can be seen in these six pictures within a few minutes of each other.

Whilst I was waiting for something to take me back to Headington I snapped a few more vehicles plying their trade in The High.

The first was this ex London Trident, now resplendent in its City Sightseeing livery, very smartly turned out.

As I waited one of the original low floor Darts of Stagecoach passed by, 33822, still bearing an Oxford registration and working route 12.

I was then faced with a choice of an X90 operated by a Scania/Irizar or a newer 08 plate Volvo on the X80 to Gatwick which I chose. This was 88, not at all well patronised but with welcoming driver who was most helpful to a Danish lady boarding at St. Clements who claimed to be paying less to fly from Gatwick to Copenhagen than she was paying to travel from Oxford to Gatwick!! A sign of the times I guess.

We were soon at Headington where I left the coach, with the ever helpful driver finding out if a lady running from the lights was wanting his service.

I really enjoyed my excursion into Oxford seeing things from a different perspective than normal.

Haddenham Station Forecourt closure

On the following Sundays, Chiltern Railways are running a large Rail Replacement service from Haddenham & Thame Parkway Station forecourt. The last time this occurred it caused problems and delays to service 280. Therefore for the dates below Arriva have decided to not serve the Station forecourt, running direct via Thame Road. Passengers will still be able to board and alight for the station at the stops by the Station Bridge in Thame Road, only a few yards away from the Station.

Dates are:- Sundays 7, 14, 21 March and Sunday 17th April.

I am sure this will present some interesting opportunities to take a variety of buses on rail replacement services.

An idea from John Hammond for an Interest Group in Oxford 

“I am interested in trying to establish a group to offer monthly meeting for bus enthusiasts in the Oxford area. A suggestion is that these meetings would be fixed on an evening once a month and would be based on a format of either members or visiting guests offering a monthly slide or photo show on bus related topics each month in subjects or areas that may be of particular interest to them. Such an arrangement has been taking place in Cambridge for many years organised by the Cambridge Omnibus Society. 

To gauge interest in such an  event taking place in future, I would like to propose an initial meeting for people interested in joining up to form a bus enthusiasts meeting in Oxfordshire. Anybody who is interested is welcomed to contact John Hammond ( in the first instance. If enough interest is received, an initial meeting will be arranged in the near future and hopefully with regular meetings following in future. A venue close to Oxford City Centre has already been found and can be booked for certain evenings each month for a very low cost.“

I am sure this could be a most interesting project and I remember the enjoyable evening I had and many still have with a similar group organised by The PSV Circle in Manchester. Ed.

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

Malcolm Crowe - Editor - OCBP - 5th March 2010.



Adam Green notes that 4029 is still parked up out of service in Hemel garage as at 26th February.

Andrew Morgan writes to say that Citaro, one of the Green Line versions on the 724 has been repainted and now lacks part of the branding.

On 27th February Green Line Citaro 3905 is seen in Welwyn Garden City Bus Station. Picture by Andrew Morgan.

James Allum writes that on 22nd February Olympian 5152 from Hemel was working routes 4 and 5 and High Wycombe based Dart 3213 was spotted on the route 52.

Two pictures from  James Allum show Vario 2373 on route 1 and Dart 3176 on route 5, both in Hemel.

James also notes that on 1st March ex Garston based gas bus DAF 3271 worked on routes 4 and 5 and Dart 3175 was on Tesco shoppers route 101 in place of the more normal Vario in Tesco livery. 

Long serving Mercedes/Plaxton Beaver 2133 is seen on Rail Replacement in Luton on 20th February. Picture by Mark Turner.

DAF SB120 4515, based at Garston depot is seen on a Watford local service on 13th February in this picture by Mark Turner.

Heading for Luton Airport, Aylesbury's 5104 is seen in the winter sunshine. Picture by Mark Turner.
These venerable Leyland Olympians are now entering their 21st year in service and maybe some of the last Leylands in service with a major group.

Variety in Luton now forces the use of street loading points following closure of the bus station. Picture by Mark Turner.

Steve Burns was telling me how pleased he is with their recent acquisitions of four West Midlands Metrobuses being used on the recently gained school contracts. He does not intend repainting them into fleet livery but has applied "Carousel Contract Services" titles. They are also delighted with the new M A N s being used mainly on the A40 and 740 services. They are proving most reliable.

One of the M A N s acquired from Birmingham Airport, resplendent in fleet livery - STL9 - seen at the depot. Picture by M Crowe.

The three Renaults also continue to prove useful buses and seem often to work Line 4. Picture by M Crowe.

Above are three pictures of buses in the other parking facility used by Carousel. These show the variety to be seen in this fleet.
The last is a Dart now used as a store. Pictures by M Crowe.

Noel Clark, Operations Manager, Carousel Buses Limited writes "In response to your readers’ observation I can confirm that Metrobuses M1345 and M1356 were withdrawn for disposal and have now been removed by PVS."

Gavin Francis
sent another picture of one of the buses acquired with the Trustline operation and now in Centrebus livery.
It is seen on route 7A at Stansted Airport on March 1st.

Andrew Morgan writes "two pictures both of CENTREBUS AE55MVL taken in Welwyn Garden City Bus Station, the first taken on 11th October 2008, shown repainted into ROTALA group colours by TRUSTLINE but I am not sure when in 2008 (bumper corner bits are replacements which are in TRUSTLINE/TRUSTYBUS blue) as it had been sold to them but then the sale fell through and the second as it is now repainted into CENTREBUS colours as in the picture taken on 17th February 2010."

Pictures by Andrew Morgan.

An elderly Scania still in service with Heyfordian and based at the Wycombe depot. Seen in Stokenchurch by Gavin Francis on March 2nd.

Motts only recently acquired this Volvo which started life with Trent Buses. Pictured on March 1st by Gavin Francis.

The history is that Trent Buses purchased this bus as their 55 (M455TCH) - a Volvo B10B with unusual Alexander Q bodywork for the Buxton-Matlock 'Transpeak' service, on which it appears to be operating in this link:-

The National Express reaction to the introduction by First of their Greyhound service to Portsmouth and Southampton was to brand some Levantes
for their competitive service but C062, seen at Stansted on March 1st by Gavin Francis seems somewhat off route!!

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.

Gavin spotted 792 on the 300 on 4th March.

Variety on the 400 sees Trident 101 at Frideswide Square on 27th February
. Picture by Gavin Francis.

This time Gavin caught up with green Trident 116 at Thornhill on March 1st.

Some more shots of the green Volvo B10BLEs from the camera of Gavin Francis.
They are all of 790, the first two on 27th February and the last on March 1st.

Pictured in the rain, special liveried 816 looks well at St Giles on 27th February. Picture by Gavin Francis.

A late submission by Gavin Francis is of Trident 108 which now sports a new "super rear" for Brookes.
Seen at Thornhill on 5th March 2010.

Red Rose

Red Rose employs a service support van which James Allum pictured in Hemel last month.

R H Buses

Gavin Francis
caught this Solo at Thornhill on service 600. Thornhill is a nice location for pictures on a sunny day.

Not much to report in this issue except that I am still waiting for a picture of the Volvo B6 - 31320 - on route 12 or 16.

Two buses at5 the end of their time with Stagecoach Devon awaiting disposal at Wellington on 27th February.
One of interest is the Dart which started life with Thames Transit in Oxford. Picture by Dave Godley.

James Allum writes that on 22nd February he had a short ride on board Tigerline route T2 from Hemel to Apsley and noticed one of the buses still has Stagecoach seat belt stickers. He continues "I was also pleased with the service that Woottens offer along this route, the staff are friendly and approachable and the fares are much more reasonable than Arriva's. By using Tigerline you save a fair amount of money in some cases, I saved about £1 - £1.20.

If you read this, Mr Wootten, I am as a customer very impressed and hope this service goes on well into the future."

Pictures by James Allum.


Arriva bids Keolis au revoir

Talks that could have seen Arriva and French transport giant Keolis merge to form a group rivalling First, have ended without agreement.

In a brief announcement this morning, Arriva says that further to its statement regarding Keolis on 28 January, it “confirms that exploratory preliminary discussions” took place with Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français (SNCF) regarding the “possible contribution of all or part of” the Keolis transport business into Arriva.

It simply says: “No agreement was reached and all discussions have now ceased.”

Aylesbury Transport Hub by Colin Richardson. 

The Hub is now complete, except for a number of small works to be completed.

13 stops in Great Western Street and Bus Station now each have real-time service information at all stops.  Additionally, nine stops around the hub have real-time service information too.  The travel information office for all district travel needs is also open, but only Monday - Friday 11.30 - 14.30  hrs,  A new area timetable is now available at various locations.

Further real-time information should be available at main urban stops with a shelter throughout the county over the coming months.

Comments from Adam Boon

"I have been reading the Oxford Chiltern Bus Page for many years now because I am most interested in coaches. My grandparents used to live in Hillingdon and we would go there by coach taking the Oxford espress from Victoria, getting off at Hillingdon. On returning to Stoke we'd do the same and often we would see an Oxford tube Neoplan at the stop in Hillingdon. We would take the X90 as we changed coaches in Victoria coach Station and so I have never been on the Oxford tube but I hope to get the chance to travel on one of the new Van Hools one day. The  Astromegas look massive and I always thought the Neoplan was big.

Anyway, congratulations on all the pages which I will keep reading."

On West Midlands Metrobuses from Peter Hale 

I always enjoy reading the Oxford & Chiltern Bus Page.  As a West Midlander, I thought I'd better e-mail you again, this time about a subject close to home. 

Contrary to the BBC report mentioned in Spottings & Jottings no 20, the West Midlands Metrobus has not yet vanished from normal service.  The last six are still in service at Acocks Green Garage.  Their primary use is on school and college services, but when not required for those they also see use in normal service in the Birmingham and Solihull areas - particularly on Saturdays. 

Remarkably considering the vehicles' age, the college services include two long routes to Stratford-on-Avon, which shows how well they still perform.  However, their interior condition is much as would be expected after up to 25 years' hard work.  It's not clear how much time the six have left, but withdrawal some time between mid-March and July seems likely.

West Midlands Travel had the back ends of hundreds of Metrobuses rebuilt during the mid-1990s, which must be why they've lasted anywhere near as long as they have.  Marshalls did a good job of the rebuilding, and it's quite something that even during this winter some Metrobuses have gone to the likes of Carousel for further service. 

I must confess that Metrobuses are not my favourites - I'd have preferred West Midlands Travel to buy Volvo Olympians rather than rebuild them - but I have developed respect for them and I'm pleased when I see one in use up here.  I don't think non-enthusiast passengers will be sorry when they finally go, though! 

I can recommend this website for following their exploits: 


Dave Godley provides an interesting photo this week. Carrying a G-registration but never been licenced as a PCV, this Leyland Atlantean/Park Royal was new to the RTITB and then passed to Longleat as a Safari bus.

Now parked in a lay-by on the A30 near Henstridge. Picture by Dave Godley.

Another interesting picture from Dave shows an ex Jim Stone's Leyland tiger now with Quantock near Taunton.


Gavin Francis visited Walthamstow earlier this week and caught up with yet another polish bodied Scania working for East London on route 48.
Transdev have also place d a number of these buses in service on route 10 and 148. Picture by Gavin Francis.

Parrys International Van Hool T917 YJ08NTN visited Oxford and is seen in this picture by Gavin Francis at Oxpens.
Parrys driver told Gavin that they are putting in to service five '10 plate' coaches on the 1st. Same model as above but of higher spec.

Two coaches from the Horseman fleet based in Reading visited Oxford and are seen in these pictures by Gavin Francis at Oxpens.