Issue nr 269
Wednesday September 27th, 2023
updated on September 28th

From the Editor

Major news for this issue is the October 23rd increase in Oxford tube services

Charles Powell updates us on the Pulham coach fleet by September 28th

Your Editor remembers his early days and the major change in Greater Manchester's bus services now happening

Metrobus open day pictured by Andrew Webb and Jack Cooper

Statfold Barn bus show by Jim Wright

Readers Write

Andrew Dyer with an ex General Managers thoughts and pictures of Charlton Services

Neil Gow relating to local issues with the £2 ticket

Buses in the Landscape from Paul Dudfield

Jack Cooper visits Witney and Banbury

Andrew Webb continues his visit to Madeira



More stops - Improved frequencies - Additional coaches

We’ve listened to feedback from our team and our customers and are making big changes to ensure that the Oxford reTube remains the number one coach choice for travelling between Oxford and London

Our core Oxford Tube service is a roaring success, so much so that we know at weekends in particular demand for the service is very high.

We have identified opportunities to increase our capacity and provide more trips to London without disrupting the core route to improve your experience of travelling with us.

These improvements enable us to retain the renowned Oxford to London service you know and value whilst seeking new ways to make it even better.

You can expect the following improvements from 23rd October 2023:

New connections

From 23rd October we’ll be introducing some weekday trips via:


These early morning commuter trips will originate in West Oxfordshire picking up from the following stops:

Carterton Crossroads
Broadshires Health Centre
Teasel Way
Minster Lovel A40 flyover
Ducklington Lane
Witney Market Square
Staple Hall
Eynsham (Evenlode A40)
Cassington Turn
Oxford North (next to the BMW Garage)

(stops in bold are timing points and so will appear on the timetable)

This new route will then bypass Oxford city centre serving Thornhill only before continuing the normal route to London.

Four outbound journeys will operate in the morning, with three returning journeys later in the afternoon.

High Wycombe

This hourly route will begin in Oxford city centre as usual but will serve High Wycombe coach way after Lewknor and then will travel to Hillingdon and Baker Street into London as per the current express route – providing additional links to Baker Street.

Ten round tips will operate daily, except for weekends.

The core Oxford Tube route and the express trips that run via Baker Street will remain unchanged.

Improved frequency

Great news; we’ll be increasing service levels across the board with frequency improved to 8-12 mins on a Saturday (10-15 mins Mon to Fri) and up to 20 minutes into the night.

This will provide more capacity at weekends and during the week, including lates and nights. We truly present a 24/7 service; offering a reliable option for those late-night socialites.

We're still finalising the timetable, it'll be uploaded here shortly. 

More coaches

To deliver more services we need more coaches and so this package of improvements will see us introduce more coaches back into the fleet. 

And all with the same fair pricing – no add on charges, what you see is what you pay ​

We keep things simple at Oxford Tube. Our coach fares are always the same, whatever time of day or day of the week you travel.

Peak and off-peak charges aren’t applicable here and neither are added costs for bringing luggage.

No surprises, just great value coach travel. 

We’re really excited to deliver these enhancements in recognition of our commitment to the Oxford Tube. We are dedicated to continuing to provide this key route for commuters and leisure seekers as well as explore new stop locations to boost its development and long-term sustainability.


update from Charles Powell

Ex Airline 71 is now back from repaint into full Pulhams livery by September 28th.

One day to join the Airline fleet 29 is presently on loan with 28 to Pulhams
as seen in these pictures from September 28th.


Transport for Greater Manchester - Wikipedia 

Now, over 80 years ago, your editor first remembers buses his buses in general were actually red and cream, and as it was during the Second World War many of them had grey roofs to make them less conspicuous for the enemy bombers though we were too far north west for fighters to appear in the Manchester area. There were two companies, which I remember. One was Manchester Corporation and the other the North Western Road Car Company Ltd.

A Manchester bus route  the49, passed by the house where I lived and I suppose made my interest in buses earlier than my later interest in other forms of transport.

A post war Crossley which was gearless. By the late '40s the streamlined livery had gone.

I am reminded of this by the latest developments in Manchester as Andy Burnham Burnham, the Mayor of Manchester launches the Bee Network with yellow buses. These colours will replace the present various company colours which have been seen on the streets for many years now.

The Bee Network is an integrated transport network for Greater Manchester, composed of bus, tram, cycling and walking routes. Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) is expected to have the network operational by 2024, with commuter rail services expected to be joining the network in 2030. Initially revealed in 2018, the project is aiming to create a London-style transport system, to encourage more people to take public transport instead of cars.


The design of the network is inspired around the Greater Manchester symbol, the worker bee, with bus and tram liveries coloured yellow and black to represent this.

Bee Network - Wikipedia 


However this is not the first time that we have seen change in the Greater Manchester area as in 1969 a new organisation named sell neck South East Lancashire and North East Cheshire re-placed the many companies which I had grown up with and be calm used to with the various other companies buses, it is interesting to note that yet again all those years ago, our colours changed from grape variety to orange and white, which replaced so many then remembered colours.

Pictures of SELNEC

The SELNEC PTE was officially formed in terms of its vehicle operations on 1st November 1969, and inherited the Bus Fleets from 11 constituent City and Town Councils being Manchester, Salford, Oldham, Ashton, SHMD (Stalybridge, Hyde, Mossley and Dukinfield), Stockport, Rochdale, Bury, Bolton, Ramsbottom and Leigh, totalling 2,514 buses.

Whereas the other three of these organisations known as PTE's (Passenger Transport Executives) took the colour of the largest constituent fleet, i.e. Liverpool Green for Merseyside, Newcastle Yellow for Tyneside, Birmingham Blue for West Midlands, SELNEC did not take the Red of Manchester or any of the constituent colours of any of the Bus Companies that were absorbed to form it, but took a political decision to have a neutral colour, thus ending up with sunglow orange/Mancunian white, launched on 11th March 1970. This was somewhat of an anomoly as the Mancunians had been painted in pure white, but the "Mancunian white" used with sunglow orange was off-white. 


Metrobus open day

Metrobus operation is 40 this year and we are pleased to that a garage open day at Orpington on Saturday 23 September 2023 between 1000hrs to 1600hrs took place.
David Cutts, Go-Ahead London's Managing Director, said:
"In celebrating its distinguished past, we also look forward to a bright future that includes innovative electric buses on Route 358. We know from experience these events are very popular, as was the case at Orpington in 2013 when Metrobus celebrated its 30th anniversary, and further details will be shared over the coming months."
Metrobus was effectively born on 24 September 1983, with buses initially adopting a blue and yellow livery. The company secured its first London Regional Transport bus contracts in 1986, for Routes 61 and 361, using 13 ex-London Transport Daimler Fleetlines.

Andrew Webb

A good selection of preserved Metrobus vehicles were displayed alongside current members of the fleet.
Olympian UWW13X, originally part of West Yorkshire PTE, and Trident T411SMV show how the original livery changed over the years. 

Metrobus celebrated its 40th birthday with an open day on 23 September at the Green Street Green garage where the company started operations in 1983.  The London operations are now part of the wider Go Ahead London group, whilst the Metrobus identity lives on in Crawley and Sussex, albeit now part of Brighton & Hove. 

As TfL wanted more and more red on buses working their routes so the livery changed to meet these requirements.  Plaxton Dart SLF SN54GPY wears the "80% red" livery. 

After selling out to Go Ahead the original owners later started Southdown PSV which itself has subsequently been purchased by Go Ahead and is in the process of being integrated into the Metrobus fleet.  Still wearing Southdown PSV livery, this Enviro 200 MMC also carries a Metrobus fleetnumber.  

The current Metrobus fleet includes a batch of Wright Volvo B7RLEs delivered for use on the Fastway services linking Crawley with Gatwick Airport.  6019 has been turned out in the original Metrobus livery with 40th anniversary branding and made its debut at the open day.


The Wright Volvos are currently in the process of being replaced by a batch of Wright GB Kite Hydroliners which, as the name suggests, run on hydrogen.  Continued problems with obtaining sufficient hydrogen means that only 3 or 4 are used each day.  Nevertheless enough hydrogen could be found to bring 6055 to the open day. 

Another fleet which is experiencing a significant delay in entering service is the distinctive Irizar i e Tram which are destined for busy route 358 linking Orpington with Crystal Palace.  Apparently discussions around installing a recharging pantograph at Orpington are partially to blame.  IE2 was on display at the event, still wearing branding for an SMMT event earlier in the week. 

More conventional in appearance is SEe245, another ADL single decker which will soon enter service

Alongside the static display a variety of preserved vehicles ran a network of services over local routes. 

DT29 was running over home turf having served Orpington as part of the Roundabout network, albeit operating for Metrobus competitor Selkent.  It is seen arriving at its destination with a working on the R1.  The coach seats were gained in a later role on Airbus Direct duties. 

Another bus from the late 1980s to feature on the routes was this preserved Maidstone & District Leyland Lynx. 

The fine autumn sunshine meant preserved London General NV171 was a popular choice on routes.  After dropping off passengers it is seen turning into the garage for a break.

Arriva have never had a major presence in the Orpington area but this not stop several preserved Arriva vehicles operating on the routes. 

DLA1 is a significant vehicle on London bus history, holding the accolade of being the first low floor double decker to serve the city's streets. 

Now preserved in the original 'cow horn' livery it is seen leaving the garage to start a trip to Sevenoaks on route 402.   

Also on the same route was DLA23 which carries Leaside Travel branding. 

ENL1 is an early example of Enviro 200 bodywork.  Still carrying the Buses roundel it looks every inch a regular TfL bus but is in reality now preserved.


This Plaxton Dart SLF started life with Arriva in Kent but later transferred to the London fleet where it became PDL145.  It is in this guise in which it is now preserved. 

Another competitor to Metrobus was Centrewest which set up 'Orpington Buses' far from its usual operating area.  Later taken over by First this era was remembered by DML41424 which ran in service.  Although this bus didn't serve Orpington the livery was once familiar in the area.  

South east London was synonymous with the Leyland Titan the main rival to the MCW Metrobus which together formed the backbone of the London Buses fleet in the 1980s.  Metrobus later acquired some second hand examples so it was appropriate that M1440 was entrusted with route 471 linking the open day with Orpington station.

Jack Cooper

Orpington Open Day, celebrating 40 years of Metrobus. It was a nice event, however the sunlight wasn't great for photos whilst I was there, I don't think I had managed to get photos of everything that was there. 


My thanks to both contributors for their efforts and interest provided. Ed. 



Jim Wright

Today 24-9-23,l visited the Statbus bus rally at Statford Barn near Tamworth. Few interesting buses there.

Harpers 1293RE,

EX Oxford tube 50235,CN61FAK,Now with South Staffs coaches.

Stagecoach 202 and Midland Red 6225. 

I have happy memories of Harpers when I worked part time for them in the early '70s. Ed.

Andrew Dyer with an ex General Managers thoughts

I saw with interest Paul Coley’s comment about branded vehicles on the 280. I’m afraid that I just don’t buy the argument that debranding creates flexibility. If a route has say 10 all-day PVR and ten vehicles are branded, then surely the buses are either on the route or off the road for maintenance. Whilst there might be a few occasions where emergency substitution is needed and the only available bus is a branded one which has just come off the pit, this should be very much the exception rather than the rule.   

I think that they real problem is that companies nowadays just don’t pay enough attention to detail in such matters, political correctness seems to have a higher priority than service quality. And I’m not singling out Arriva for this comment. I saw at least half a dozen Stagecoach branded buses allocated to the wrong routes while I was in Sussex two weeks ago and a yellow Scania E400 going up St Giles’ in Oxford last week, still proudly displaying “Coastliner 700” on the rear. 

When I started with NBC, my boss Harry Blundred (of Thames Transit fame) would always say “this industry is all about attention to detail”…….he was right …..or am I just out of date?!!

It is scarily 53 years since I started my first school holiday job sweeping the floors at Charlton on Otmoor! So, last week I had a rather belated 50th anniversary driving day where I operated one of the school contracts that Charlton Services run for the European School at Culham. Whilst the garage in Charlton has changed little since 1970, the fleet is rather different …not an RT or a Leyland Tiger Cub to be seen!

Photos of the current fleet ….old, but still very smart!


Neil Gow relating to local issues with the £2 ticket

I’ve seen the comments suggesting Arriva could do more to publicise the £2 single ticket (amongst other gripes). They do at least tell you about it if you look. First completely fail to acknowledge the existence of it – in fact I wonder if they have even participated in it. There is no reference to at all on either their national website or the local Thames Valley one. If you search for all ticket types they don’t even acknowledge that any type of single ticket exists  - all they want to sell you is a network ticket or a ten journey ticket which at £35 comes to £3.50 a journey, a stonking 75% more than the national scheme (and still 40% more from 1st October). There are occasions I would have bought the £2 ticket to travel from Maidenhead to Slough trading estate if I knew they participated in the scheme, but as I’m not prepared to get rushed for £5.50 or whatever the “normal” single fare is these days for a journey of just over four miles I still take the train (£2.20 single) and enjoy the 20 minute walk. I noticed when I made a return journey from Slough to Wycombe on the 103 three weeks ago (to sample Volvo B7TLs 940 and 941) that Carousel were doing a good trade on through journeys from Slough to Wycombe despite it being slower than the X74, so First’s policy of either not participating in the scheme or just not telling anybody about it (does anybody know which it is?) isn’t doing them any favours.


Readers views are always welcome. Ed.


Paul Dudfield

I am pleased to see that the OCBP continues to go from strength to strength.  I thought you might be interested in these two pictures for the buses in the landscape section.

B7TL Wright Eclipse Gemini with Ely Cathedral forming an imposing backdrop.

The second is an unidentified Stagecoach East Volvo BZL/MCV passing over Magdalene Street bridge in Cambridge.  

     Fleet News and developments   

Malcolm Crowe

Cressex depot on September 23rd

Again 69928 spent most of the past week working the RA2 ! It is working on route today.

Malcolm Crowe

409, 879 and 880 are seen at the depot on September 23rd.

The overflow yard on September 23rd with 432 at the back still.

It would appear that at least 531, 532 and 533 have had all branding removed ?

Jack Cooper

Coach 39 seen in Gloucester Green on September 20th.

70 may welll be the last Interdeck to see service with Oxford, here in Gloucester Green on September 20th.


Jack Cooper

BB70BUS and CC70BUS are seen at work in Witney on September 19th.

GL20PUL working an X9 in Witney on September 19th.

Jack Cooper

602 is currently based at Didcot and seen here with an X40 on September 20th.

6092 seen here in Abingdon with an X2 on September 18th.

Dave & Deric

Here is our update from the Stagecoach West Fleet Card Period 5 (dated 15/09/2023). Oxford depot vehicles highlighted in yellow as usual.

There are quite a few changes this month due to service changes at Bristol and back to school/college requirements.

Out of Reserve




















To Reserve
























Reserve (RTA)























North Bristol





North Bristol




















North Bristol





North Bristol





North Bristol













For Disposal




For Disposal












Grahame Wareham

Stagecoach 15990 on my way to the pub last Saturday

Jack Cooper

Jack spent time in Witney and Banbury providing pictures from these areas which are welcome.

These MMCs are due to be replaced shortly and provide most of the double deck working based at Witney.
Taken on September 19th.

Originally based at Banbury, 47832 and 47834 are now based at Witney for the 23* services.
Taken on September 19th.

Four of these 27xxx buses are at Banbury mainly for the S4 services.
Taken on September 19th.


The 36xxx E200s were first based at Oxford but now provide most local services in Banbury.

Some of the first MMC E20s were new to Banbury with 37401 being repainted into Midland Red heritage livery

37630 was new to Banbury for a Bicester Village special services.

Jack Cooper

36941 is seen working the 50 in Chipping Norton on September 19th.

David Oakley

Seen in Buchanan Bus Station in Glasgow is Stagecoach East Scotland Van Hool TDX27 Astromega 50261 - OW14LJZ.
New as T40UBE to Oxford Tube, it has recently been reregistered from NXX451 in preparation for disposal.

Jack Cooper

Belying 10 years of age, 50271 is seen in London on September 23rd.
Jack advises that the Astromegas now only have weeks left in service.

     London operations    

Andrew Webb

This week saw two new campaigns take to the capital's streets plus the revival of a campaign from earlier in the year. 

Fenty Beauty have chosen 'conventional' double deckers rather than New Routemasters for a campaign advertising make up. 

Stagecoach E400MMC 11342 shows off the advert as it passes Bank on 23 September. 

Also from the Stagecoach fleet is LT272 wrapped with a campaign for Kurt Geiger. 

It is seen on the same day dropping off passengers in Oxford Street after arriving on the lengthy route 55 from Walthamstow.

Arriva's LT982, seen at Marble Arch, is one of several buses to receive 'Nakd' wraps in a second run of the campaign that first appeared over the summer.

Andrew Webb

Madeira 'country' operators - SAM

Interurban services connection Funchal with the outlying towns and villages are operated by three further operators, each having their own sector of the island. 


Sociedade de Automóveis da Madeira is abbreviated to SAM and operates a varied fleet.  The only articulated bus seen during a visit in late July and early August was this Volvo B12MA with Sunsundegui body which seemed to be dedicated to a specific weekday duty on route 155 linking Machico with Funchal.  It is seen arriving at the SAM bus station in Funchal ready to work the 11:00 to Machico.  The bus station has a saw tooth layout with all buses reversing direct onto a dual carriageway!  When not in use the vehicle seemed to spend days off in Machico bus station. 

Other vehicles in the fleet include this unidentified coach registered 5378MA. 

The Volvo B10M is still a popular workhorse in the fleet, illustrated by this example carrying Irmãos Mota  Atomic IM bodywork.


The most modern members of the SAM fleet are these Irizar i4 coaches, including this example on a Scania chassis. 

The Scania Irizar combination is also used for touring coaches, with this i6S seen in Funchal working for tour operator TUI whilst wearing the 'Madeira is ... nature' livery, one of series of 'Madeira is...' branded liveries including 'Madeira is...sun' seen on the Scania Irizar Century.

SAM Aerobus


SAM also operate a regular 'Aerobus' service from the island's airport to Funchal where it loops round the hotel district before heading back to the airport. 

Amongst the vehicles used on the service is this lengthy tri axle bus seen on 1 August as it leaves Funchal with a good load of passengers and accompanying suitcases. 

Seen heading the opposite way on the same day is this Asta bus, the branding highlighting the single fare, although savvy travellers can save 2 Euros by buying a period return! 

The main airport is officially known as Cristiano Ronaldo International Airport in recognition of the footballer being born on the island.  It is considered one of the harder airports for pilots to use, with the runway built onto the edge of a cliff and extending on stilts over the ocean.  A balcony in the departures area allows passengers to see flights landing and departing as well as viewing apron buses shuttling around the airside.  Alongside Cobus 3000s, a staple of airports across the globe, the airport also operates some rare FBW-HESS built Platform buses dating from the 1980s

Madeira Rodoeste


Rodoeste operate a varied fleet with buses from several decades and manufacturers in use.  With routes being interurban in nature most of the vehicles are what the UK would term 'dual purpose' including 4132MD, a Volvo B7R.  The older B10M also features, including 5227MD.  Both are seen arriving in Funchal on 29 July.   

Seen in the same spot two days later is this MAN with unidentified bodywork carrying the white version of the company livery.

The same livery and similar bodywork is also carried by this Scania on 1 August. 

Camo Minerva bodywork is carried by this MAN 18.360, also in the white liver. 

This MAN 18.410 carries Camo Helius bodywork wearing the beige livery.

Madeira Empresa de Automóveis do Caniço, Lda


Empresa de Automóveis do Caniço, Lda is abbreviated to EACL on buses which carry an attractive livery. 

This Mercedes OC500 RF carries Irmãos Mota Atomic MKllm bodywork, seen leaving the main bus station in Funchal. 

Irizar i4 on Scania chassis also feature in the EACL fleet, this one is seen arriving at Funchal bus station. 

An older Scania, seen in the same location, carries Irmãos Mota Atomic bodywork

EACL operate the oldest bus seen operating. 

This Chevrolet dates from 1931 bus spent the weekend of 29 &30 July operating a free shuttle from central Funchal to a '1940s show' featuring a line up of classic cars of the era.  It is seen in central Funchal after arriving with the final trip of the event.

Having worked for the Portuguese Airline TAP for 15 years I have many happy memories of Madeira in the '60s and early '70s. Ed.