Spottings & Jottings

Issue nr. 39 - December 21st 2010

A Happy Christmas 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

Picture courtesy John Marsh taken at Market Deeping.

Some of the very worst weather I can remember in the Chilterns as caused significant problems for operators, large and small alike. The roads away from the Motorways are, in many places, quite dangerous and only people with four wheel drive cars are sure of making their journeys.

Operators in our area are only able to operate limited services and yesterday many services were totally suspended.

Stagecoach Bicester outstation on19th December. Picture by Peter Layman.

I thought readers might find it of interest to read of the latest situation as of Sunday mid morning and I list the information by operators as posted on their web sites. Indeed in the years to come this record may be of even more interest.

I am sure readers will appreciate these reports are a snapshot of the situation around 1100hrs on Sunday morning and each operator is updating their web sites on a regular basis. The operators kept their customers informed on a very regular basis by updates throughout Saturday, Sunday and Monday. I think that when one sees and reads of other situations on roads and transport in various parts of the country the actions of the operators highlighted is commendable.

As at publication of this page, 20.00hrs on 21st December services in our area were still suffering from some problems, mainly due to the north and west of Oxford.

Indeed readers may like to refer to the page of one year ago when things were just as bad in our area!!!!


No services at present in the Aylesbury area

Last Updated at 0930 …..19th December 2010

National Express.

Update as at 09:00 on Sunday 19 December 2010... 

We are doing everything we can to keep Britain moving during this bad weather.   

Due to last night's severe weather conditions and suspension of services, large parts of our fleet remains out of position, for this reason, we still cannot run a full service across our network. 

Currently, the main headlines are as follows:


·         Heathrow Airport will not be accepting incoming flights all day on Sunday 19 December.

·         Only a tiny handful of flights will depart Heathrow today. Customers must call their airline before attempting to travel to the airport.

·         Currently, National Express services at Heathrow Airport are suspended.

·         Gatwick Airport is open but flights are subject to delays and cancellations.

Customers must call their airline before attempting to travel to the airport.

·         Luton Airport is open and operational.  However due to the severe weather conditions, many flights are delayed and subject to cancellation.

·         Stansted Airport is open and operational but the surrounding roads are still experiencing difficult conditions.

·         A very limited A6 service is running from Stansted to London.

·         A very limited A9 service is running from Stansted to Stratford, London.

Services running

·         Services are running from Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Southampton.

·         Services are running from the main stops in the South West.

·         Services are running from Bristol coach station and main stops.

·         Limited services operating from Swansea and Cardiff.

·         Services running from the north of England.

·         Services running from Scotland.

·         A very limited National Express service is running from London Victoria in all directions. We are reviewing this situation every hour.

·         A very limited National Express service is running from Birmingham in all directions except the South West/Cornwall. We are reviewing this situation every hour.

Local note: Certainly the 737 Oxford-Stansted service did not run at 0430, 0700 and 0920 today, 19th December.

Oxford Bus.

Service Update  19th December 2010 at 10:50

Owing to the current adverse weather conditions and the treacherous state of many roads some of our services will remain suspended or disrupted.
We are constantly reviewing the situation and will keep this website and local media updated throughout.



Current Update

city 2

Oxford - Kidlington

Service Suspended

city 4

Botley - Rose Hill

Limited service between Rose Hill (not the Oval)
and city centre ONLY

city 5

Oxford Stn - Blackbird Leys

Limited service on normal route

city 6

Oxford - Wolvercote

Limited service between city centre
and Woodstock Road roundabout (not Wolvercote)

city 8

Oxford - Barton

Limited service between city centre
and Green Road roundabout (not Barton)

city 9

Oxford - Risinghurst

Service Suspended

city 13

Oxford Station - JR Hospital

Limited service not serving Cherwell Drive
or Northway

city 15

Oxford - Wood Farm

Limited service
not serving Girdlestone Road or Titup Hall Drive

city 35

Oxford - Abingdon

Service Suspended

city x2

Oxford - Didcot

Service Suspended

city x3

Oxford Stn - Abingdon

Limited service on normal route

city x13

Abingdon - JR Hospital

Limited service
not serving Cherwell Drive or Northway

park&ride 300

Pear Tree - Redbridge

Limited service from 1100

park&ride 400

Seacourt - Thornhilll

Limited service between city centre and Thornhill

park&ride 500

Oxford - Water Eaton

Service Suspended

Oxford espress

Oxford - London

From 0900 hourly service from Oxford.
First bus from London approx 1130

the airline

Oxford - Heathrow/Gatwick

Service Suspended



Service Suspended

Stagecoach in Oxfordshire

Posted : 19 December 2010 11:00

Weather Update


Following yesterday's heavy snow and very low temperatures over night we are attempting to run services as normal, except:

Route 7A/7B - is unable to serve Kidlington, and is finishing at Cutteslowe Roundabout

Route 7C - is unable to serve Barton, and is finishing at Green Road Roundabout

Route 10 - is unable to serve Cowley Centre, Horspath Road, Wood Farm or Osler Road. Buses are running along Hollow Way, The Slade and Headley Way.

Route 12 - is not running

Route 16 - is not running

Route 31 - is not running

Route 59 - is not running

Route 233 - is not running

Route 500 - is not running

Route S1 - is not running, but we are running a special service on route S2 between Witney and Oxford only. We are unable to serve Carterton.

Route S2 - special hourly minibus service from Witney Corn Street, Welch Way, Ducklington Lane, A40, Woodstock Road and George Street to Gloucester Green Bus Station. Departures are hourly 0900-1900, then 2030, 2200 from Witney and hourly 1030-2030, 2200, 2330 from Oxford.

Route S3 - is not running

Route S5 - is not running

Route B1 - is not running, see route B2 for the Horton Hospital

Route B2 - is unable to serve Bankside or Molyneux Drive. Instead buses are running along High Town Road for the Horton Hospital and then along Oxford Road to Broad Gap and Weeping Cross in Bodicote, hourly 1000 onwards from Bridge Street.

Route B5 - is running to Warwick Road, Orchard Road and Woodgreen Avenue only, hourly 1000 onwards from Bridge Street. The service may be suspended after 1800, this will be confirmed at 1700.

Route B8 - is running to Warwick Road, Highlands and Ruscote Avenue only, hourly at 1000 onwards from Bridge Street.

Route X5 - is unable to serve Bicester or Oxford

Oxford Tube - is unable to serve Lewknor Turn. Coaches are running a 30 minute frequency at 05 and 35 minutes past the hour from Oxford and from London.


All routes may also be subject to delay.

We will keep this page updated throughout the day as the situation changes.

Services tomorrow will depend on how the situation develops today and over night tonight. This page will be updated by 0630 tomorrow morning with information about which services we are able to run.

Lewknor was served from later in the day on Sunday.

As of this morning we had not seen any buses in Stokenchurch and I must assume that Arriva in and around High Wycombe are facing problems, especially as many local roads are difficult and the town is faced with many hills which in this kind of weather become impassable.

A few of you have sent pictures of conditions yesterday and there are many stories of people unable to get to work including your Editor. I got the car out of my drive and got stuck twice within 200 yards ending up with a kind person with a four wheel drive towing me back to my drive. I found it most frustrating but I am sure I was not the only person so affected.

From Stephen Le Bras

An update from Saturday 18th and Stephen writes "Saturday, it really was a day of contrast. The Welsh and Portsmouth NX coaches came in with snow on their front early on. The Megabus wished everyone a Merry Christmas but the fun started when I caught a bus over to Aldwych. It started snowing heavily and bus drivers were experiencing problems with the conditions. As I caught a 1 back from Waterloo, an inspector was saying to the driver" Tell them that Waterloo bus station has not been gritted; it is atrocious".

Where I went wrong was to let the delayed 702 coach leave at 1.55pm without me. I became aware that Oxford Tube coaches were not moving and even red buses were becoming fewer and farther between by 3.50pm. I decided to head for Paddington where all services were delayed (local) or cancelled including most Oxford fasts. I bought my ticket and had a slow journey home but at least I reached home to find that 8" of snow had landed in my back yard. All the buses had been taken off the road and the Windsor-Ascot-Bracknell roads were closed after a number of accidents."

Snow pictures

I am very grateful to all those who sent pictures of the snow and its consequences. Nearly 100 pictures were received and they are included below. I am sure you will agree that these are a significant contribution to these pages.

Pictures from Gavin Francis.

Arriva at Stokenchurch and Lane End on the 340 on the 20th and 21st December 2010.

Arriva at Wycombe Bus Station on 20th December 2010.

Carousel at Stokenchurch on 21st December and in Wycombe on 20th December 2010.

The National Express 737 service passes through High Wycombe operated by SCO 53701 on December 20th 2010.

Stagecoach in Oxford's Horspath depot on December 18th 2010.

Pictures from Glenn Knight.

Luton on December 18th 2010

Pictures from "unknown"

This photo is of Oxford Bus Company Scania 217 (FF10OXF) on Saturday 18th December 2010 in Yarnton Road, Kidlington heading towards Oxford in the severe conditions at around 13.00 before the suspension of all services on that day.


Pictures from David Beddall

David Beddall writes "Three pictures i took on Saturday 18th Dec. The First Enviro is taken at the RV1 stand at Covent Garden, the other two are passing through the Aldwych."


Pictures from Peter Leyman.

Peter Leyman writes "I have taken some photos of the Stagecoach buses used for the S5 that were parked up at the outstation at Bicester on Sunday 19th December, the day after the snow fall. That day was one when the S5 was unable to operate. Readers will notice one of the Chippy buses also parked up with the fleet (15433)."

Peter then writes re Heyfordian "These are the pictures from Heyfordian depot at Bicester on 19.12.10 . On Saturday 18th December. Buses left the site to proceed a normal bus service but due to bad weather conditions drivers were told to head back to base and call it a day. Route 22 & 23 (Bicester town service ) and the 25A ( Bicester to Oxford ) were the first buses back to depot."

Pictures from John Hammond 

Pictures from 20th December in the snow

Airline B12B 86 (FB07OXF) in Old Greyfriars

SCO 22940 (S940CFC) in Old Greyfriars

OX 860 (AF57OXF) in Old Greyfriars

OX Tramways livery B10BLE 817 in Speedwell Street

OX Scania 231 on a 300 working in Speedwell Street

SCO 22948 (OV51KAO) on a 10 working in Butterwyke Place

SCO Snow covered S3 branded 15432 (KX08KZL)

Hybrid 12022 in Speedwell street.

OX Brookes Bus Trident 113 followed by 103 along Speedwell Street

OX Citaro 830 on a 5 working

SCO 22926 (S926CFC) in St Aldates in a snow flurry

Thames Travel AE05EUZ in St Aldates

Airline B12B 90 (KB07OXF)

City Sightseeing Olympian 54 at St Aldates with Christchurch in view.

City Sightseeing Olympian 54 at St Aldates


Pictures from Richard Sharman

Various pictures from Richard giving a very good idea of what conditions were like on December 20th in and around north Oxford.

The snow was still making life difficult as we went to press. This picture of RH 805 was taken this morning.

A unusual sight at Pear Tree Services where three NEx Coaches parked up overnight and seen on the morning of 21st December.
 Alizee C093 is owned by National Express Operations but is on Long Term loan to Arriva MK Metro, it is seen having worked in on the 320. This normally overnights here.

More unusual is the Alizee of Selwyns (fleet 111) and a Arriva Classic Coaches Levante seemingly having run out of hours due to the road
conditions on Monday night. The Levante had been working the 310 from Bradford to Southsea but only made it to Oxford.



Picture from The Witney Lad

Mention is made above about the special arrangements made during the worst of the snow when a limited service on the S2 connected Oxford with Witney using a Solo!

Pictures from Allan Field

Great pictures from Allan Field showing conditions in and around Witney last Saturday before services were suspended.

A word about digital photos

I receive many pictures for inclusion on the page and notice that some contributors do not have the date set up on their cameras. It would really help if you could check this and if your date is not set it would be most appreciated if you could do this within the camera set up.


For those interested in all things London, I can recommend the link below. The monthly magazine is of particular interest.

Oxfordshire Bus Enthusiasts Society

John Hammond writes that The Folly Bridge Inn is the location for the meetings of 2011 and the first date is confirmed as:

Oxfordshire Bus Enthusiasts Society

The Oxfordshire Bus Enthusiasts Society was formed in June 2010 and aims to provide an informal monthly social meeting in  Oxford for those with an interest in buses. Meetings are normally held

on the 3rd Tuesday of each month and normally take the form of a picture  show with local and guest speakers.  A small charge is made to cover the cost of hiring the function room and this is usually

around £1 per person per meeting depending on numbers.

Next meeting: 18th January 2011.

King Alfred Motor Services by James Freeman

19.00 - 21.30pm

when James Freeman will be giving a presentation on King Alfred Motor Services, much involved in the annual event in Winchester every January.

Meetings are held at:


Upstairs Function Room

The Folly Bridge Inn

38 Abingdon Road


A detailed programme of meetings can be found at the following link and we hope many of you will attend future meetings.

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

Malcolm Crowe - Editor - OCBP - December 21st 2010.

A note regarding photographs which show drivers faces.

Some bus drivers do object to their pictures being taken, even though the photographer is taking the bus and not the driver.
So I will blank out the face to avoid any discomfort to the individual concerned. If you are the person involved send me an email to have this action taken.
I am sure people will realise that to ask everyone in advance of publication, whose face may appear in a picture is wholly impractical in both time and practice.
Now that we live in a world of human rights and political correctness which must be considered.
It is interesting to note that a change in official attitudes to pictures is changing and even companies will not support bus drivers who are abusive or threatening!


Readers varied contributions

Gavin Francis has been out and about, busy with his camera.

London Interlude by Gavin Francis

New buses in London this week.

Is this an unusual working on the C1?

It's now a very busy time of the year for coach travel and this picture by Gavin Francis shows a queue of coaches waiting to enter VCS Arrivals.


And so on to fleet news with individual company happenings.

Readers contributions

I checked with Arriva at the bus station in High Wycombe regarding the appearance of Park & Ride 3703 in Arriva inter-urban livery and was told that PR1 is now only scheduled for two buses (3701 and 3702) and therefore 3703 is not now dedicated to the route. however 3701 is away at present (maybe for repaint into the same green as 3702) and thus 3703 is being used.

On 13th December Mike Chadwick noted that mid-morning on the 40 (High Wycombe-Thame) Arriva operated Dart 3226 (V421DGT) + a Solo and he noted in the mid-morning in Thame an Oxford-bound 280 operated by yellow coach 4362. At the same time in Thame on Z+S route 111 being operated by a Purple Route 7-branded vehicle.

Glenn Knight noted a Garston based DAF SB220 3273 V273HBH in Luton on 14th December working the 321 to Watford with new line 321 branding shown in the picture below.

Regarding Green Line 797 which runs from Stevenage to London daily, it is noted that the single daily return journey that extends from Stevenage to Hitchin is to be withdrawn. This is the last remnant of Green Line services to Hitchin which, of course, date back a very long time.

From Sunday 23rd January 2011 there will be minor timetable adjustments ahead of the planned opening of the new Chiltern Railways 'Rail Station Interchange' at High Wycombe train station. Buses heading into town will turn off from Amersham Hill into the Rail Station then onwards by a new road directly into Castle Street. There is to be no change to outbound buses except that services 45 and 48 (Great Missenden) will turn into the Interchange, loop round and then onwards up Amersham Hill. The PR1 service will also serve the new facility.

The Volvo B7L 3890 has been repainted into inter-urban style (pictures appreciated please) and Dart 3178 has been transferred from Milton Keynes to Wycombe. Dart 3186 has been transferred from Garston to Wycombe. Dart 3413 is supposed to have gone to Arriva Kent & Sussex but may still be around Wycombe.

Scania coach 4352 has been written off after a fire.

Stewart Harvey writes "Of the Park & Ride VDL's, 3701 is running around both in normal service and on Park and Ride service with all branding removed from the green paint base. Still carries the logos on the rear windscreen.
3702 was parked up in the dead line for a while but has now disappeared presume to be painted and 3703 now in full Arriva livery, with just the Park and Ride logo in the rear windscreen
To add to the comments about this service, I have just recently started to use it, and it is terrible. The only types of vehicle based at Wycombe have that I haven't seen on the service is Versa or an Olympian.
The dead line at Cressex has lost the fire damaged Scania and a B10B/ Plaxton Verde over the last 10 days. Both step entrance Darts are still in regular use.

Due to the current adverse weather conditions the 300 Aylesbury – High Wycombe is NOT serving Butler’s Cross, Lacey Green, Walter’s Ash or Naphill. (211210)


Other Arriva pictures.

From Gavin Francis.

A very unusual appearance on November 2nd was when P&R 3702 worked a Line 40 service to Thame and back.
It is seen here in Stokenchurch on the return journey.

We have mentioned that the P&R fleet has been reduced by one with 3703 now repainted into inter-urban livery.
3701 and 3702 are now in plain green and these buses are seen above earlier this week.

Dart 3413 is mentioned above as being destined for pastures new. Well, so far, it hasn't moved away from Wycombe.
Gavin's first picture shows it working at Stansted back in 2008.

Still based at Luton, as a spare for the 757, 4365 is seen in London on the 757 on December 17th 2010.

Stuart Harvey notes "EVL7 has been repainted overall red, with full fleet names and the area around the windscreen is maroon."

Steve Doel from Calne in Wiltshire writes "I'm an enthusiast who also enjoys driving buses & coaches - I get quite a buzz from a day behind the wheel as it is so different from my day job.
Recently I have been doing some driving on the Oxford Tour for City Sightseeing Oxford, and I bet you can guess which of their fleet is a firm favourite? Yes, I'm always happiest with a day on their classic Atlantean - 928, GJZ 9573 (OSF 928M), Alexander bodied new to Edinburgh City Transport
Winter is truly with us now and hardly the time for taking an open top tour you might think, but Oxford always seems to have plenty of visitors. I came in last Sunday (bitterly cold) and imagine my surprise & delight to be allocated the Atlantean fresh back into service following a couple of months off the road where it has been re-panelled along the lower decks and also a replacement gearbox fitted. Now restored to fine health I had a cracking day!
928, despite being some 37 years old is a delight to drive. Not fast (but who needs speed on a city tour?), the steering and brakes are great, but the best bit is the sound of the engine & pneumocyclic gearbox
Enclosed are a couple of photos I took of 928 whilst out working last weekend"

Andrew Morgan writes that a Centrebus Leeds MCV EVOLUTION MAN 14.220 was in Stevenage bus station on 11th December. It was on lay-over and he does not know if it is transferred to Stevenage depot or the ex-Trustybus depot in Harlow because as it has luggage racks it could have been on the 700 to Stansted airport.

Glenn Knight sent a picture from Stevenage of Centrebus AF53EUW, an M A N 14.220/MCV Stirling which is ex-deCourcey, Coventry 533.

Stephen Le Bras, our regular correspondent from London VCS writes "My visit to London on Sat 11th December produced three new Levantes on the 025. One of these is gold coloured with a motto "We are England" registered FJ60HXY; the others are FJ60 HXT, HXV. The gold one was leaving just as I arrived back at VCS on an 11 bus and luckily turned down the road behind the bus so I grabbed a quick shot in between the vehicles."

Stephen wonders where the 2 Mercedes/Levantes are running?

General news and new vehicles.

Gavin Francis contributed a number of interesting pictures of NEx coaches in and around Victoria including the gold one mentioned by Stephen above.

This Levante came to grief on the M40 near Oxford on Saturday December 18th when the weather was at its worst!


Mark Priest sent this picture from Ripley's scrap yard in Barnsley taken on December 13th.

Pictures from Gavin Francis

Over the past few weeks the Park & ride 400 has seen a variety of buses including some of the new Scanias.
Indeed one of these double decks has also worked the X2 Didcot/Abingdon service

Here is Scania 231 on 4 road showing Oxford City on the blind, no mistaking that!



Red Rose

Dennis Dart N772 RVK ex-Stagecoach United Counties 32772 seen in Hemel Hempstead Riverside on 14/12/2010 waiting to depart for service 352 to Watford.
Picture by Glenn Knight

RH are in the news having taken over several routes in the Witney area. Gavin Francis caught up with buses on one of these routes, the 18.

More pictures can be found under Jottings below.

659 is the ADL Trident/Enviro 400 which is to be allocated to Bicester out station for S5 services. It is due in the next few weeks.



Stagecoach is running more buses than ever before over Christmas and New Year, and there’s a special gift for passengers.

Following the success of last years Christmas Day service on route 1 between the City Centre and Blackbird Leys, Stagecoach will be running hourly services on three main bus routes in the city as well as the Oxford Tube.

The services running include:

1 - Blackbird Leys to Oxford
7A - Kidlington to Oxford
7C - Barton to Oxford
Oxford Tube - Oxford to London

Last year just over a hundred people travelled on route 1 and Stagecoach expect more people to use the services this year, making it easier for people to visit friends and family as well as attending church and other places of worship.

Stagecoach looks for drivers to work over Christmas by asking for volunteers, the names are then put into a hat and pulled at random. Stagecoach says that drivers are more than happy to work and there have been plenty of volunteers.

Stagecoach spokesman Chris Child said “We have regularly run the Oxford Tube on Christmas day with a special diversion via Heathrow Airport and after running route 1 last year we know there is demand to travel”

“These links will be invaluable to many people and allow them to visit loved ones”

Stagecoach is also running more buses this year over the festive period including its popular S5 service between Oxford and Bicester Village on Boxing Day to allow customers to get an early start at the January Sales.


Vic Gackowski writes "I note reference is made in the latest issue to the Chippy based vehicle on the S1. This is indeed a booked move as Gavin Francis indicates. Chipping Norton Outstation Card N1 works the 0600  from Chipping Norton West Street to Oxford Station arriving at 0717. It then runs Dead to Witney Thorney Leys Roundabout to work the 0755 S1 to Oxford George Street where it arrives at 0908. It then drops back on to S3 work by returning to the station to work the 1010 to Charlbury. 

Improvements o frequency on the S3 in the peaks from November 14th has resulted in an extra card being introduced on to the route. Chipping Norton Outstation still work the bulk of services with cards N1 to N7 but the new card , N8, works out of Oxford Depot. It is booked for a low floor Enviro double deck to match the others on the route but, due to availability issues I am told, is currently formed by a single deck Enviro. This card is largely self contained on the additional morning and evening workings as far as Old Woodstock only but has one trip to Chipping Norton on the 1240 from Oxford Station and the 1354 back. 

Just to add that Chipping Norton N1 also does a similar move in the afternoons. After arriving at Oxford Station at 1605 off the 1454 ex Chipping Norton it runs dead to George Street where it works the 1625 S1 Departure to Witney Thorney Leys and the 1725 return. It then works the 1835 S3 service from Gloucester Green to Chipping Norton West St."

Chris Maxfield writes "on the last page you say its unusual to see a Dart on 14's. Its not anymore, the service is booked to use Darts. M A N's substitute when Dart's are not available."

Pictures from Gavin Francis

Since the 7A/B went over to Hybrids the Enviro 300s have been primarily deployed on the Wantage and Rose Hill routes.

Another picture of the Solo with 488 branding which was on temporary loan to Oxford.


Astromega 50214, the coach involved in the problem on the M40 on August bank holiday Monday is expected back from Van Hool in the next week or so.

Other Stagecoach news.


More trouble on the 66 route! 

When I was driving to Oxford on the evening of Friday 18 Dec at about 1825, I saw that another double decker that had been on the 66 route that day, was parked up in a lay-by at the Buckland turning. It had been on its way back to Swindon and had presumably broken down. It was in complete darkness, other than hazard lights flashing, so I do not know which fleet number it was. I do not know whether or not passengers were still on the bus.

Marcus Lapthorn


I read in the latest Buses that new Volvo B13B(T)/Plaxton 54101 is currently operating from Wales and not as had been indicated by legal lettering at the recent show, Stagecoach Midlands Rugby. So far no one has reported seeing this coach in VCS.

Interestingly 54061 KX59DLU Volvo B12B(T)/ Plaxton Panther C65FLT first registered for use at Rugby but allocated to Cwmbran (Megabus) has now been transferred to Rugby. Now I wonder why that has happened?

Stephen Le Bras writes "Reports of a Streetlite demonstrator being used on the 142 service (Tues/Wed) appeared to be wide of the mark as Solo 109 was working the 142 service today (Wednesday). However, patience paid off as what should appear behind John Lewis around 11.40 but a white Streetlite "out of service" registration BRZ9662."


Pictures by Gavin Francis

Recent pictures of Thames Travel buses in Oxford.

Andrew Morgan writes "just to correct the Woottens bit on latest page M.Crowe picture of W64 is on T3 not T5, plus was wondering what Malcolm Hyland saw on the T5 on 28/11 as W49 is a Plaxton Premiere Volvo B10M coach and the T5 is normally single decked with the ex-ULSTERBUS tigers W65-W69 or now and again the odd one or two ex-Strathtay tigers W57-W62 ?"

Sorry for my error on the picture. Editor.



Major news


Arriva launches website to support Malta services

21 December 2010

Arriva has launched the first phase of its website in Malta following the announcement that it has won the contract to provide bus services for Malta and Gozo from July 2011.

To begin with the website concentrates on recruitment information and the background to the Arriva Malta consortium. Over the next six months route and timetable information, ticket and fare details, and a feedback section will all be added.

The website,, will be the source for all information on Arriva Malta and the bus services Arriva will be operating in Malta and Gozo.

Arriva Malta project director Keith Bastow said: "Customer care and communication is a key part of Arriva’s plans for Malta. We are committed to engaging with the Maltese public and providing as much information as possible over the coming months to make the transition to the new services as easy and as smooth as possible."

He added: "We will be recruiting in the region of 920 employees, with a wide range of excellent positions available including drivers, support, engineering, management, head office and administration roles. We would love to hear from people who perhaps haven’t considered a career in transport before as well as from the many experienced drivers in Malta.

Full training and development support will be provided, and if you’re good, you’re welcome!"

Visit the Arriva Malta website

Stagecoach Oxford tube involved in an accident

On Saturday evening 11th December an Oxford tube service was the subject of an accident at junction 7 of the M40. This matter was widely reported in the national and local press, TV and radio and I do not feel the need to enlarge any further at this time. Suffice to say that our thoughts must be with the passengers and driver involved with whom we sympathise and give best wishes.

The coach involved was 50226.

National Express continues strong progress

Shares in public transport operator National Express (NEX) were up over 6% last Friday as the company announced continued strong progress in the fourth quarter and expected to finish the year ahead of current market expectations.

The FTSE 250 constituent said all parts of the business had performed well, with good revenue in UK Coach, Rail and North America. Margin recovery for UK Bus was also well ahead of plans and a strong margin was coupled with a return to intercity revenue growth in operations in Spain.

In an update on the business recovery plan launched in summer 2010 for UK bus, National Express said its West Midlands business had returned to underlying revenue growth, up 1.5% since July and was on track to deliver industry average margins in 2010, well ahead of schedule.

The company has boosted capacity and modernised the fleet, particularly on high frequency routes in the West Midlands, and has reduced network mileage by 4% since July also.

UK Coach has continued to trade well with underlying revenue of 3% in the year to date and the airports business has renewed its five year contract with BAA to operate Heathrow Central Bus Station. This part of the company is also expanding, with a new coach station opened in Milton Keynes this month.

The firm said it expected to see significant gains from the UK coach programme in the medium term and did not anticipate a material impact coming from the cessation of the current government funded senior citizen concessionary fare scheme in 2011.

UK Rail delivered even stronger revenue growth, with underlying revenue 7% higher in the fourth quarter. The firm said its East Anglia franchise has been extended to October 2011 and added that it hoped to bid for both a short contract extension and the remodelled longer term franchise.

In its Spanish operations, National Express said the Alsa business continued to perform strongly and conditions in the domestic coach market have shown improvement. Underlying revenue growth was a more subdued 1% in the fourth quarter, but intercity revenue was up year-on-year for the first time since 2008.

The company added that it did not think the impact of the current austerity measures on subsidised urban services had been marked. It said the pressure was on public funding of other modes of transport and so Alsa remains well placed to extend its presence into the domestic market.

Finally, the revenue generated by the North American business has grown 6% year-on-year since the start of the new school year in September. Demand in existing contracts and field trips has been broadly maintained and there has been a successful start up of over 1,600 new routes. Due to $30 million of annualised cost savings, the group said normalised operating profit in 2010 would be 50% higher than in 2009.

The next focus is to improve underperforming contracts, to deliver further cost savings and to improve fleet management.

Dean Finch, National Express group chief executive, said: "2010 has been a year of tremendous progress for National Express. This is now a much improved business, back on sound footing and with a strengthened management team."

Milton Keynes Coachway transformed 

You may have heard about the new Milton Keynes Coachway – it’s been transformed and includes an air-conditioned waiting room with comfortable seating open 24 hours a day.  X5 coaches used the new Coachway from Saturday 11th

December, along with National Express services.

There are some minor changes to departure times on X5 towards Cambridge too – coaches will leave the new Coachway up to 10 minutes later than they currently leave Campbell Park.  Coaches towards Oxford leave the new stop at the same

time they currently leave Campbell Park.

The first X5 coaches to leave the new Coachway were the 0825 to Oxford, and the 0840 to Cambridge.

I look forward to pictures from this new facility.

Hybrid Bus launch in Reading: Monday December 6th 2010 

I have now received a few pictures of the new buses in service in Reading. My thanks to Rob Williams and Mark E. Lyons.

Mark E Lyons writes "Following last week's press launch these buses duly entered service on Monday 13th December.  A couple of photographs are attached together with one of the branding carried on the bus stops - the advertising of the buses hybrid credentials is interesting."

Pictures by Mark E. Lyons

Picture by Robert Williams

Trips out


RH Transport Services take over three Stagecoach routes in West Oxfordshire  -  by Mike Bennett 

It was in late October this year that I was told that the Stagecoach in Oxford route 64, from Carterton to Swindon, was going to be operated by RH Transport from mid December.  Checking on a website I found that route 18 (Bampton to Oxford via Standlake and Eynsham), and route 19 (Carterton to Witney via Clanfield, Bampton and Aston), were also being transferred to RH. 

I decided that I must ride on the three services whilst they were still operated by Stagecoach so I worked out a round trip to include all three routes.  Now, I usually travel into Oxford from Watchfield on two days a week at lunchtime, but on Tuesday November 30 I caught the 66 into Swindon bus station instead.  I arrived in plenty of time to photograph Stagecoach Oxford Solo 47457 coming around the bus station onto its bay, ready for the next trip on service 64 to Carterton. 

I got on the bus and we left at 1345, right on time.  By Highworth we were running several minutes late due to heavy traffic, and it was rather strange to go right through the town where I live, as I would normally get off in Swindon Street.  Arrival in Carterton, opposite the Coop, was on time at 1442, giving me a few minutes to relocate to the Town Hall bus stop to catch my next bus.  This was Solo 47454 on route 19 to Bampton, which left 7 minutes late. 


As I was wishing to make the connection onto route 18 at 1505, the same time that we were due to arrive in Bampton, the driver radioed ahead to make sure the bus would wait for me.  We arrived at 1513, and with a quick transfer to Solo 47453, (no time for a photo here) we left on the next stage to Oxford, already 10 minutes down.  Route 18 runs through the delightful villages of Aston and Standlake, before going around some of the backstreets in Eynsham.  From here the route was along the A40 into Oxford via Woodstock Road, and we arrived in Oxford City Centre at 1603, on time. 

On the last day of Stagecoach in Oxford operation of the route 64, Saturday 11th, I decided to travel on the last bus into Swindon from Highworth at 1718, returning almost immediately at 1745, the last Stagecoach journey on the route.  I thought that some of the Swindon bus enthusiasts would have turned out for this event, but no one else was there.  The bus for this return trip was 47454. 


Tim Hall emailed me on Monday 13th to say that RH Slimline Solo 405 had been seen in Swindon that morning on the first journey.  Indeed, it was the same bus for the leg from Swindon to Carterton when I repeated my round trip on Thursday 16th.  I got a photo in the bus station before leaving on time at 1345. 

The timings were all the same as my earlier trip, with even greater delays behind a road sweeper near the major road works on the A361 either side of the Stratton Bypass.  However, this time we went via Coleshill after Highworth, before joining the main route at Lechlade, and so on to Carterton.  As it was Market Day here the bus set down opposite the Town Hall, just across from the bus stop for the route 19 to Bampton.  This produced RH 410, and we made it into Bampton in time to get a photo of the buses for routes 18 and 19 together. 


From here we made good time on RH 411, but as a few tweaks had been made to the timetable, we went round the loop nearer to Bablock Hythe this time.  We threaded our way through Eynsham, and out onto the A40, to arrive in George Street at 1610, several minutes down due to heavy traffic again near the A34 flyover.  There was no time to get a photo before the bus moved off, but I had managed one of RH 409 on Tuesday 14th as it was waiting to leave Magdalen Street East on the same trip. 

So that was the end of an era for three of the bus routes based on the Witney garage of Stagecoach, but the beginning of another expansion phase for RH Transport.

Many thanks to mike for that comprehensive report.

Chippenham by Marcus Lapthorn

I visited Chippenham on Tues 14 Dec and attach a few shots of activity around the bus station. When I lived in Chippenham between 1990-1994 the buses arrived and departed from the same geographical area, but there was not a proper bus station. It was very much a down at heel area but the bus station that I saw today is much more impressive with about 8 different departure/arrival bays. Amazingly the car park that used to occupy most of the site has been abolished and the whole area given over to buses!

If anyone is around Torquay on Boxing Day you might find this of interest.


Torquay (Union Street) – Paignton                                                                               Service 136

Via Torquay Fleet Walk & The Harbour

Operates on December 26th 2010 only 

Torquay, Union Street                   - - -   1045   1145   1245   1345   1445   1545

Torquay, The Strand                     1000   1100   1200   1300   1400   1500   1600

Paignton, Library                          1015   1115   1215   1315   1415   1515   1615 


Paignton Library                            1020   1120   1220   1320   1420   1520

Torquay Cary Parade                    1035   1135   1235   1335   1435   1535

Torquay Union Street                    1040   1140   1240   1340   1440   1540 

Serves all stops en-route, hop on – hop off, just come and enjoy a free ride!!! 

This service is operated with a Vintage Bus, this is a FREE service run by the Devon & Dorset Group, organisers of the annual Torbay Vintage Bus Running Day.

Buses in the Landscape


Barry of depotpic sent some nice pictures saying "another few for BitC."  

A First Big Orange Arctic running back to the city from the University of Bath campus near Saltford 

Not technically a bus but taken from the Shields Ferry whilst on an Explorer trip in the North East


Andrew D Webb writes "A snowy scene for Buses in the Landscape.  Seen at the rarely used bus stand at Norwood Green is Transdev London SP173 awaiting departure with a short working of route 120 to Northolt." 



Mike Bennett answers a question from John Marsh 

In answer to your friend trying to put some detail to his family tree, the chassis of the bus was by Milnes-Daimler, a very popular make at the time, but I am not sure whether it is the 16hp or the 24hp model.  By the date of your photo it had acquired a charabanc body, having previously been a double-deck vehicle belonging to the GWR, as seen in the photo revealed by clicking on the following URL.

The details show the bus is registered AF65, with fleet no. 6, so I am guessing that it is still owned by the GWR as a charabanc, because it still has the same fleet number, and the driver seems to be wearing the same style of uniform.  The photo is credited to 1904, and the registration is in the first series issued by Cornwall from January 1904.

The link below gives more details of the GWR bus services on the Wikipedia website.  The photo of AF84 shows a single-deck bus more in keeping with the type used on ordinary bus routes, whereas your photo shows a vehicle type that was used for excursions.

Are you sure that the charabanc had come from Launceston to Lands End?  As you say, it is a very long way, in excess of 75 miles. Does the slip board on the dash panel not say Penzance to Lands' End via Sennen, a much more likely journey on the roads of that time.  Also consider the reliability of the vehicles then - not good.

More details can be found in the book "Road Vehicles of the Great Western Railway" by Philip Kelly.  This book is from 1973 - I have a copy, but can I find it when I need it?