Issue nr 268
Wednesday September 20th, 2023

From the Editor

This issue is more limited than normal but still has much of interest for readers
Oxford Botley Road closure extended over Christmas period
Friends of East Kent and Dover Transport Museum running day by Barry Holman
Northern Ireland Miscellany by Andrew Webb

Readers Write
Julian Walker regarding Stagecoach
Simon Povey on recent Arriva changes
Chris Huntingford with an interesting idea
Paul Coley with a report on route 9 in Aylesbury
Fleet News update
London update from Andrew Webb
London RMs by Kevin Nicol
Newcastle upon Tyne and Inverness from Gordon Scott

Oxford Botley Road closure extended over Christmas period

Network Rail bosses have backtracked on their pledge to reopen the Botley Road for four months at the end of next month.

In a shock announcement today the rail authority, which is working on a £161m upgrade of Oxford rail station, said it no longer planned to reopen the major route at the rail bridge from October 29 until March 2024 due to a number of 'unique challenges'.

The road was due to reopen next month, with a further seven-month closure planned from March 2024 to October 2024.

But according to Network Rail, even though the project switched to 24-hour working in August, the delays contractors have encountered mean Botley Road will not be able to reopen this October, and the route will remain closed at the rail bridge until October 2024. 

East Kent 107 - Friends of East Kent and Dover Transport Museum

Barry Holman

Last week I had a holiday in Kent and visited the East Kent 107 Rally, Walmer,  on Saturday 2nd September.  I thought you might like to include my photos on the next Bus Page. East Kent 107 is run annually by Friends of East Kent and Dover Transport Museum.  Most of the exhibits are East Kent vehicles with a few more from London,  Maidstone & District, and Maidstone Corporation.


I also went to the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Railway rally at New Romney on the 3rd. 

Northern Ireland miscellany

by Andrew Webb

Northern Ireland 'country' operations


Away from Belfast most Translink bus services are operated under the Ulsterbus banner with a varied fleet, although Wright products once again dominate. 

The most modern double deckers are Wright Streetdecks and visually similar Wright bodied Volvo B5TLs. 

2110 is an example of the Volvo B5TL, seen on 24 July at Derry / Londonderry station meeting arriving rail passengers for the short hop across the unusual double deck bridge (visible in the background) to the city centre bus station. 

It is from the latter that Streetdeck 3177 is seen departing with a shuttle service to the GAA World Games being held at the nearby Owenbeg Centre of Excellence. 

The most modern single deckers are Wright GB Hawks, including 2525 seen in Belfast on 23 July. 

Older single deckers include Wright Solar Scania K230UB in the older blue and white Ulsterbuis livery.  496 picks up at Derry / Londonderry station whilst working a city service on 24 July.  


Wright Solar bodies are also carried on Scania L94UB chassis, including 2410 parked in the overflow yard at Pennyburn bus depot on 24 July.   

Visually similar and unique to Northern Ireland is the Eclipse SchoolRun built on the Volvo B7 chassis.  As the name suggests this is a bespoke high floor design for school bus duties.  194 takes advantage of the 6 week school holiday at Downpatrick on 22 July, the centre door giving access to a lift for wheelchair users. 

The older style of Wright bodywork is also represented in the Ulsterbus fleet on Volvo B9TL chassis such as 2224 seen in Belfast on 25 July. 

Predecessor to the Volvo B9TL was the B7TL, Volvo's first commercially successful low floor double deck chassis.  The type carry the fast disappearing Alexander ALX400 bodywork, including 2305 seen in Derry / Londonderry on 25 July.

Northern Ireland 'country' operations


Alexander Dennis products can also be found on a batch of Enviro 300 bodied Volvo B7RLEe.  Three examples are seen on 24 July at Ballymena depot, home of arch rival Wrights! 

Optare products also feature in the fleet with both Solos and Versa being represented.  Solo SR 0020 is seen arriving at Europa bus station in Belfast on 22 July, whilst Pennyburn depot is the location for Versa 1813 on 24 July.

4083 4085 4088

Optare Solos also serve Giants Causeway, one of Northern Ireland's most popular tourist attractions.  They provide a shuttle service from the visitor centre down to the causeway along a single track road closed to all other traffic. 

Conventional diesel Solo SRs are in this dedicated livery for the service, such as 1935 parked at the visitor centre on 24 July.  Also in use are electric Solo SRs which carry a variation of the Translink livery with National Trust logos.   0030 and 0031 are seen providing the shuttle on 24 July.

Derry / Londonderry


The second city of Northern Ireland is (depending on your political / religious persuasion) is Derry / Londonderry.  Translink operate most services and use the Foyle Metro branding on a red livery, the River Foyle being a key feature of the city. 

Versa 1835 is branded for the dedicated rail link linking the rail and bus station, but on 24 July had found employment on a city route. 

The regular Foyle Metro livery is simpler, as shown on Solo SR 1972 seen at the city's Pennyburn bus depot.  The logo over the rear wheels represents the city's Peace Bridge opened in 2011. 

Wright Solar Scania L94UBs such as 846 and Wright Eclipse Gemini Volvo B9TLs such as 2258 also carry the Foyle Metro livery.  Both are seen in the city on 24 July.


During August a new fleet of electric buses entered service on the Foyle Metro, bringing zero emission travel to Derry / Londonderry.  Locally built Wright Streetdeck Electroliner and Kite Electroliner buses form the fleet and on 24 July were parked at Pennyburn Garage. 

Lurking in the overflow yard was the Alexander N Leyland Tiger 1260 which has been converted to serve as an engineering / recovery vehicle.  Following changes in rules regarding tow vehicles it sees little use.


Derry / Londonderry is one of the few places in the UK to have international local bus services. 

Mc Gonagle operate a regular service across the border to Buncrana, a town in County Donegal, 23km north west of Derry / Londonderry.  On 24 July the service was operated by this smart Optare Versa which started life with Veolia.  It is seen in the city ready for another trip to Buncrana. 

Irish operator Bus Éireann also serve the city as part of their Expressway network.  VDL Futura VX14 is seen leaving the city's bus station on 24 July at the start of a 5½ hour journey to Galway.  Note the destination shows the Gaelic version 'Gaillimh'.

Belfast sightseeing buses


Following The Troubles the Good Friday Agreement has bought a prolonged period of peace to Northern Ireland and allowed tourism based regeneration to take place.  Belfast has many attractions and is served by two operators offering open top bus tours with a varied fleet of second hand vehicles. 

City Tours Belfast RFZ8427 started life as AV125 in the Dublin Bus fleet operating city services before losing part of its roof for use on sightseeing tours in the Irish capital.  It now tours Belfast and is seen on 25 July carrying a healthy load through Donegal Square. 

Scania YT59SFX started life in another capital, serving London as SP93 in the London United fleet.  It is seen awaiting custom in Donegal Square early on 23 July. 

City Sightseeing Belfast also provide tours of the city using a bus which started life in Dublin.  AXI297 is a Volvo B9TL East Lancs Visionaire delivered new to Dualway for use on tours of the Irish capital.  It is also seen early on 23 July awaiting customers.


A third capital represented in the Belfast sightseeing fleet is Edinburgh where this Plaxton President Dennis Trident started life with Lothian.  It is seen in Donegall Square on 25 July. 

When new SFZ7967, a Wright Eclipse Gemini Volvo B7TL, ran the lengthy routes btween Leeds and the Yorkshire coast as YK55ATX in the Yorkshire Coastliner fleet.  Its operating range is now somewhat smaller, seen here in Belfast on 23 July.

Northern Ireland express coaches


Translink operate a network of express coaches across Northern Ireland and across the border to Dublin under the Goldliner brand.  With Wrights not offering any coaches the fleet is currently focused on products from Spanish builder Sunsundegui.  

The Sunsundegui Sb3 has not found favour on mainland UK but is popular across the island of Ireland.  Mounted on the Volvo B8RLE chassis it offers coach like comfort with a low floor front section.  1798 is seen on 24 July arriving at Ballymena bound for Belfast Europa bus centre. 

It is at the latter location that two example of the SC5 are seen arriving on 25 July.  1208 is a four wheel example, whilst 1130 is a tri axle version.  Both are on the Volvo B11R chassis.


For double deck coaches Translink have a batch of Caetano Invictus mounted on Scania K410 chassis.  They are mainly used on routes linking Belfast with Derry / Londonderry and it as at the latter's Pennyburn garage that 2033 is seen on 24 July. 

Scania chassis also provide the base for a now dwindling fleet of Irizar i4 coaches.  1050, seen in Belfast on 25 July, is used on tours taking fans to filming locations used in Game of Thrones. 

Cross border services to Dublin are one corridor on which Translink face competition. 

First's Aircoach operation is well established and uses a fleet of Plaxton Panther Volvo B11Rs with a mix of Irish and Northern Irish registrations.  20932 is registered in the Republic and carried an advert for a Spiderman film when seen in Belfast on 22 July. 

The latest entrant to the market is National Express who operate Caetano Levante Scania K410s under the Dublin Express banner.  They are operated by local operator Quinns, including this example taking on passengers in Belfast on 22 July.

Julian Walker regarding Stagecoach buses

Thank you for continuing to produce the Oxford Chilterns Bus Page - even though I have been in Devon for four years now, I still enjoy reading it to keep in touch with the area.  

I was interested to seen Andrew Webb's picture of the Suya Hut bus in Barking, and also in a previous guise as Stagecoach South West 18073. This bus also has a connection to the OCBP area, as it also worked briefly with Reading Buses (along with sister vehicle 18062). 

18062 and 18073 were part of a batch new to Stagecoach South West in 2004 for the busy 12 route between Newton Abbot, Torquay, Paignton and Brixham, one of the company's busiest and most profitable routes and which receives new buses every six or seven years.  

18062 and 18073 transferred to Stagecoach South in 2016, so that elderly step-entrance Olympians at Aldershot could be withdrawn. They were sold to Reading Buses when that company took over the Reading-Fleet section of route 7 from 16th April 2018 and were numbered 536 and 537.  

18073 (537) operating route 7 in Reading in June 2018, still in Stagecoach colours but with Reading Buses fleet names.  

18062 (536) in Reading Buses generic livery, when it returned briefly to South Devon to take part in the Devon General Centenary Bus Rally in August 2019.


Simon Povey on Arriva changes

I have been reading your pages for many years and the recent discussions around the Arriva Wycombe changes has made me finally e Mail you. There are a number of things I would like to mention. 

Personally I can’t help but think the money and time spent on the network re- renumbering could have been better spent on getting said basics right.

Keep up the great work it’s always an interesting read,


Chris Huntingford with an interesting idea

“Oxford and Oxfordshire attract a very large number of visiting scholars and researchers from around the world. However, many of these have a limited stipend, so travelling on the weekend by train or coach tour to see the UK can be prohibitively expensive. However, one recently said how amazing the two-pound bus scheme is, and especially how it allowed meeting locals as well as travelling cheaply into the countryside. Some are from nations where, sadly, diplomatic relations have become strained over recent years. As visitors return home, they may eventually become senior government officials. It is not beyond imagination that they will remember the UK kindly, recall exploring in their free time “on your crazy two-pound local bus scheme”, and so support building a more joined-up world through improved links to the UK. 

Now the academic year is about to start, how about much more publicity for the scheme? And use the electronic screens to say “Welcome on board, thank you for using the bus” in multiple languages. Nice maps illustrating the long routes from Oxford and where they go would also be good.”

Paul Coley about route 9 in Aylesbury

De-branding the 280 E400s to provide ‘flexibility’.

Personally, I think the Sapphire brand is dead in the water, has been for a while. Various machines are used on the 280 and have been for ages, with the 280-branded 400s appearing on other services including, until recently, the 9. The only route that appears to need deckers at some times of the day is the 300, even with the competition it is now seeing with Red Line (I have seen a couple of their shorter E200s and those retaining the dual doors with standing passengers arriving/departing SM Hospital at peak times). 

I guess that now being left with a 20-bus allocation and 3 routes at Aylesbury you need greater flexibility, the boffins at Arriva HQ will know far more than the rest of us. 

I also think it means the buses can be easily shipped out and swapped for others within Arriva Midlands, which might be another reason for it, meaning further vehicle diversity for Aylesbury.

New order on the 9, 10 days after Arriva bailed out.  

The service sees MMCs now, the two silver ones coming from the sister Red Line fleet.
The destination has been programmed incorrectly, as it serves Hawkslade and Walton Court
on the journey to Aylesbury, not the other way round.  

The Red Rose liveried bus isn’t going to Aylesbury, it is actually heading to SM Hospital
…old habits of not changing the blind are obviously proving a bit of a challenge. 

It’s a real shame that, when the Red fleet have panels replaced, these never seem to see a coat of paint - really tarnishes the look of the operation. 

Replies or further comments are invited. Ed. 

Jack Cooper

tube 50443 in Westgate on the 17th September.

     Fleet News and developments   

Sorry but no fleet allocations received for September 1st.

Jack Cooper

5462 in New Road minus 280 branding on September 16th.

Of interest is that 69928 spent most of the week before last working the RA2 ! Indeed it is working that route, September 20th.

Airline update

BF73CCO MB Tourismo L WEB41057523002152 MB C55FLt 9/2023 City of Oxford 29 Intended as BF23CJJ


Malcolm Crowe

431 is seen in the yard on September 16th with Thames Travel 226 in for engineering work.

The overflow yard on September 16th with 218, now back in service this week.

Jack Cooper

35 and 37 seen in Westgate on September 16th.

New to Thames Travel now 300 and seen in Westgate on September 16th.

361 seen in Westgate on September 16th.

373 seen in Westgate on September 17th.

677 and 688 seen in Westgate on September 16th.

515 and 652 seen in Westgate on September 16th.

655 seen in Westgate on September 17th.

687 seen in Westgate on September 17th.

No news to report this week. Ed. 

Jack Cooper

213 seen in Westgate on September 16th.

908 seen in Westgate on September 17th.

921 seen in Westgate on September 16th.


Jack Cooper

YX65RGV seen in Westgate on September 16th. This bus was new to the company.

Malcolm Crowe

During a short walk with our dog I got this picture of Y23RRT working the 40 at 1630 on September 15th.
It is seen approaching the stop near my house with four people waiting to board and a runner !!

Robert Homan

One of the short Enviro 200s in the SC West fleet (36080) has been in Cheltenham for a few weeks.
Attached shows it in service on the town H route today. It was third hand to Stagecoach I think.

Frazer Peddle

10070 seen at the JR West Wing before running later service, 0004 to Blackbird Leys on September 18th.

10070 and 10071 are now regulars on the 10. Ed. 

Jack Cooper

10432 seen in Westgate on September 17th. Most of its sisters have moved to SC South.

TUBE to start some journeys at Carterton and some serving High Wycombe from October 23rd

Jack Cooper

50432 (pure coincidence) seen in Westgate on September 16th.

Due praise to the company for the continuing presentation of these coaches. Ed.

     London operations    

Andrew Webb

Luggage manufacturer Rimowa are the latest company to advertise their product via an all over bus wrap. 

Abellio's LT623 shows off the advert at Tottenham Court Road on 16 September.

Route 38 is the latest route to host a London Bus Museum running day, with vintage vehicles supplementing the modern New Routemasters on 16 September. 

RM2208, RT1798 and RTL554 illustrate three different classes taking part as they turn into Charing Cross Road bound for Victoria.

Kevin Nicol from Canada

For London enthusiasts RMs were all of the ex-Double Deck Tours Routemasters. These buses had made the long trek from Niagara Falls and were being fixed up for future service in the Maritimes.

The fleet numbers will give a clue to the original details. Ed. 

Andrew Webb  has provided more on Funchal which will be coming in future issues. Ed.


Gordon Scott from Newcastle and Inverness

Had a trip to Newcastle at the weekend shots attached.

Go Ahead North East 8960 -  SN60 BZC Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 ex Go ahead London E131 taken at Gateshead on X66 to Metro Centre.

Stagecoach North East 11501 - SN69 ZRG  Alexander Dennis E40D first in special new livery when delivered taken at Eldon Square on route 40. 

Snowdons Coaches YJ10 DFD Van Hool Altano 921TD new to Eavesway. Taken at Stagecoach Walkergate Newcastle depot on hire to Megabus.

Stagecoach North East Newcastle 11617 - YX23 OTZ Alexander Dennis E40D on route 1 in Newcastle. 

Stagecoach shots from Inverness. 

Stagecoach Highland 11782 - SK23 CSV Alexander Dennis A40D seen on route X99 to Scrabster in Inverness. 

Stagecoach Highland 53734 BF63 ZRR Volvo B8R Caetano Levante ex Stagecoach East Scotland Fife on route 10 in Inverness.