Issue nr. 180
Monday, November 22nd 2021


A busy week especially since the last issue was a day late. The weather, whilst not raining has turned very cold with a bitter wind blowing up on the Chilterns. I am pleased to have made the transition to my laptop for preparation work as is my wife. Whilst working in my study is great and uninterrupted I do become divorced from day to day life.

This week's page has a number of interesting items to relate including the entry into service of the two ex Thames Valley Versas with Carousel. I should note that 431 worked last Friday but has not been out since and 432 appears to still be at Cowley House. 241 spent a few days at Thames Travel appearing in Oxford working the X2 and it would appear that 886 and 887 are currently not in use working link40.

Generally services look busier than of late and the general public is getting out and about to the shops and suchlike.

However the picture below shows that few if any people are viewing the Marble Arch Mound from its height.

One cannot see any visitors on November 18th in this picture from Gavin Francis.

Arriva's vehicle presentation has improved and services appear well supported. Redline and Red Rose are still doing well and their vehicles are always trim and tidy.

Pictures this week include Arriva and Carousel in High Wycombe plus City Sightseeing's illuminated bus in Oxford and a good selection of pictures of our local operators.

First picture of Versa 431 in service with Carousel last Friday in Beaconsfield by Ryan.

StreetLites side by side in The Eden Bus Station on November 19th when Jack Cooper caught up with buses in High Wycombe.

Christmas lights have appeared in Oxford lighting up the city streets on November 19th.

Arriva Cressex depot on November 20th by your Editor.

Ben Studley is seen with 631 at Cutteslowe last Saturday. 

National Express, Stagecoach merger talks extended to December

National Express has been given a new deadline of 14 December to make a firm offer for a takeover of Stagecoach.

In a statement released on Tuesday November 16th National Express revealed that the Board of Stagecoach has requested, and the Panel on Takeovers and Mergers (the Takeover Panel) has consented to, an extension to the date by which the operator is required either to announce a firm intention to make an offer for Stagecoach.

The new deadline is set at no later than 1700hrs on December 14th. The deadline can be extended by the Board of Stagecoach with consent of the Takeover Panel in accordance with Rule 2.6(c) of the code on takeovers and mergers.

“Reciprocal due diligence is now at an advanced stage and constructive discussions between Stagecoach and National Express are ongoing. The Boards of Stagecoach and National Express continue to believe that the Potential Combination would be a strategically compelling proposition delivering strong value creation for both set of shareholders,” writes the operator.

The pair have been in discussions since September under the terms of an all-share deal which valued Stagecoach at £445m. The latest announcement follows a previous deadline extension after the October 19th date passed.

Van Hool debuts world’s first battery-electric double-deck coach

The Van Hool company will produce a battery-electric double-deck coach, the TDX25E, for the US market.

I wonder if the Oxford tube will eventually get electric coaches? Ed.

The coach provides capacity for 69 passengers, with 18 on the lower deck and 51 on the upper deck, and has a claimed range of 500km (310 miles) depending on conditions and topography.

The TDX25E is to be used for employee commutes and regular passenger transport. It comes after Van Hool debuted its first battery-electric coach, the CX45E, at Busworld in 2019. The first of those models was shipped one year ago and now 22 units have sold within the US.

CEO Filip Van Hool said at that time that the manufacturer is “ready to quickly deliver a solution for customers who are looking for such a product, if European interest becomes more pronounced”.

Both the TDX25E shares the same electrical components as the CX45E, being fitted with a Siemens power train and Proterra batteries.

“American customers reacted very enthusiastically to the driving experiences with our first battery-electric coach, the CX45E,” comments Mr Van Hool. “This prompted us to quickly set to work on developing a battery electric double-deck, which has a higher passenger capacity. Our experience with electrical drive systems in the past, and recently with the CX45E, really helped us with the rapid development and comprehensive testing of the newest Van Hool double-deck, the TDX25E.

“We’ve been producing double-deck coaches since 1982. Twenty-five years later – in 2007 – we shipped the first double-decks to the US. And now, 15 years later, we are launching the first 100% battery-electric double-deck coach on the US market. This is a second home market for Van Hool, nowhere else in the world is the demand for our double-deck coaches higher than in the USA. Globally, Van Hool has sold more than 3,500 units in 19 different countries.”

Gavin Francis finds an interesting bus at Gloucester Green.

A nice find is this ex Trent Leyland HRC1021C fulfilling a new role on November 19th. 

Paul Lacey Transport Books

Paul has written a large number of books concerning our area of interest including Thames Valley, Newbury & District and Reliance Motor Services of Newbury.

He has some very special offers on his books and it is well worth a visit to his website as above.

Ciaran Bird

Autumn is here and nearly gone, soon it will be winter if the temperatures on Sunday last are anything to go by.

This nice picture of a Gold working the S3 reflects the current Autumnal colours of Oxfordshire on November 16th. 

Many thanks to all who contributed. 

Further increases in this awful virus are being reported and one notes many are not wearing masks anymore. I wonder if this has an effect ? 

Fleet news and developments


Andrew Simmonds

3506 seen Berkhamsted on November 17th.

Gavin Francis

2790 seen in Oxford Street, High Wycombe working service 33 o n November 20th.

4819 working a Football Shuttle in Oxford Road on November 20th. These buses have given good service to Arriva since 2002.

Hazel Richardson

Recently transferred to Aylesbury, Arriva 
Scania K230UB OmniLink 3506 YN08HZT seen in Hemel on the 500 on November 16th.
This is a very clean and smart bus. Ed.

Jack Cooper

...spent time in Wycombe having travelled over on an Airline service on November 19th.

Solo 2479 was working the 300 when Jack visited The Eden Bus Station.

StreetLite 2526 was employed working the X30.

Citaro variety, 3008 working two routes, 3016 with an 850, 3030 on the 300 and 3038 working the 30.

3506 seen in Wycombe working the 300.

Wrights 3700 also seen working the X30.

3925 is working the 30 to the bus station.

Two ALX400s working the 32, 4819 and 6000.

I wonder if 5461 had been to Wycombe for its MOT?

Malcolm Crowe

Seen at Cressex depot 3700 and 6000 on November 20th. By the afternoon 6000 was out on Football service.

Neil Gow

Regarding Tony Bungay’s pictures of 3758 (YJ08 DZH) on the 500 but not displaying it in issue 178, I wonder if these were taken mid-afternoon. I’m told there is an afternoon school working on the 500 which runs over dead from Hemel to start at Aylesbury, so arriving as “Not in service” and departing as “School service” might make some sense in that case. 

Jack Cooper

StreetLite 63314 working the X74, notice the reversing picture! November 19th.

I asked Phil Southall, Managing Director a number of questions to which he has provided the answer which I much appreciate. The questions and answers are set out below.

1/ 431 and 432.    431 was VOR on Saturday at the Carousel depot.


Yes, 431 hasn't entered service yet but is at Carousel. It has a mechanical defect that is under repair.


2/ 709 has reappeared at Carousel, maybe this is withdrawn now.


Yes, all Solo are now out of use and unlikely to operate again.


3/ 886 and 887 are now seemingly unused in the overflow yard and 421 and 423 appear to have gone.


Yes, all the M A N have now departed. 886 and 887 remain on fleet but have mechanical defects at the moment and a decision on their future will be made shortly. 


4/ 408 has been off the road for along time and maybe sick.


Yes, it is awaiting a new engine and this will be fitted shortly.


Oxford Bus.


1/ Can 848 be repaired


848 will not be repaired and is being cannibalized.


2/ Is 317 due back soon and maybe 311.


317 is awaiting a VTP5. 311 has not gone away and is awaiting mechanical attention at Oxford. 314 will be the next to go away and be converted when 317 returns.


Thames Travel


1/ 875 may have gone for repaint.


No, 875 is off with a mechanical defect.


2/ Not seen anything about the two deckers you mentioned earlier.


There have been issues with them getting a VTP5 but we expect to see them in the next two weeks

I am sure all our readers will appreciate these answers and again thank Phil for his prompt response.


Gavin Francis

Wycombe overflow yard and we see 710 245, 886, 887 and 709 on November 20th. 

Hazel Richardson

One of carousel's recent arrivals, Optare Versa 431 YJ65EVM seen in Chesham on November 19th, working it's first journey on the 105.

I believe it may be the first day the bus has been used in service at Carousel.
It was using the Spare ticket machine tracking as 800005.

Jack Cooper

..... who visited Wycombe on November 19th.

Seen at Cressex Coachway, 859 is working the peak X8 to Wycombe Centre.

242 is seen with a 36 in The Eden Bus Station.

Versa 431 is seen heading for Watford on its first day in service, Friday November 19th.

Animal Citaro 870 is seen with a link40 to Thame.

followed by 940 with the 35 to Flackwell Heath.

The Mercedes Sprinters are finding use quite often working the 8 and a regular route the 34, 977 and 978 leave the bus station.

241 spent a few days in Didcot with Thames Travel seen here in St Aldates on November 15th.

Riding by StreetLite 407, Jack returned to Oxford via The Airline connection. 

Ciaran Bird

355 is seen at Kidlington working a 2B on November 8th.

678 was off the road for sometime recently but is seen here working a 500 road duty on November 8th.

Daniel Harwood

364 is seen in St Aldates working 15 road on November 20th.

901 also in St Aldates with an X3 on November 19th.

Gavin Francis

Nice to see Citaros back 6 road with two different destinations on November 19th. 

Jack Cooper

The Christmas lights bus has made a return to the streets of Oxford on Saturday 20th November, running through Rose Hill, Blackbird Leys, Cutteslowe, City Centre, Botley, Barton, Risinghurst and Wood Farm. Like last year, 631 is being used (although last year it was numbered 196).

631 is seen in High Street on November 20th.

On Sunday 21st November timetables at Thames Travel are changing. The 20 is bring transferred to Oxford Bus Company, and will be known as the city20. The River Rapids, ST1, 41 and 45 are having timetables changed and the 95/95B is being withdrawn. 

Full details and timetables -                                

Ex Thames Travel Hybrid 300 nicely displaying the wrap applied to this bus.

Ex Hybrid 316 is seen on November 16th and 17th working City services.

366 and the bus just passed show off the 2 road livery on November 20th.

366 in OPCSG wrap seen in Divinity Road with a 15 road working on November 20th.

653 is seen in St Aldates heading for the Rail Station with a 5 road on November 20th.

662 is seen leaving the station with a 3A service on November 16th.

666 is back after an absence seen working an X3 on November 20th.

679 and 680 at Oxford Parkway with the back of 679 showing a changed style to the destination on November 20th.

685 and 690 working their respective routes on November 16th in Westgate.

Citaro 845 seen working an 11X in St Aldates on November 15th.

901 is seen looking pristine with an X3 in St Aldates on November 18th.

903 shows off its style and interior working an X3 on November 17th.

975 is back from Hull and seen here in St Aldates with an 11X on November 20th.

James Freeman

454 is seen at Thornhill, probably having a test run on November 18th.

Jack Cooper

Tourismo 30 is seen leaving Gloucester Green heading for Gatwick on November 18th.

Jack used 34 to get to High Wycombe seen here at Coachway on November 19th. 

Jack Cooper

A year ago in November the service was suspended due to Covid.

203 is seen in Worcester Street on a dry day with some punters on November 18th. 

Bob Chalmers

I mentioned that we seemed not to have recent pictures of 208 in service after a long absence and Bob provided a picture taken last week on November 19th.

He writes "I work at Mayott House and was  - actually tracking 208 as it was about to pass on it's return journey - shot out the front quick to get an 'action' pic "

The mileage on this bus is I expect lower than oth
ers of the batch.
My last picture was taken at Carousel Wycombe when it was being prepared for its MOT.

Daniel Harwood

I noticed that Thames Travel have changed their destination displays recently, some of them seem harder to read from a distance than the old design.

Jack Cooper

Jack has provided some pictures which highlight these changes.

206 with an 11, 208 at night with an X2,  213 working the X32 and 223 with the X38.

230 with the X32, 252 with the X39 and 902 in the reducing light of a winters' afternoon.

849 is seen in  Westgate on November 16th working the X38.

Seen in St Aldates 853 with an X40, 861 which appears to have a repaint 862 and 865 on November 18th and 20th.

868 and 873 with the X32 again on November 18th and 20th. 873 is due for a repaint into TT livery soon.

241 was at Thames Travel from Friday 12th November - Wednesday 17th November. During its stay it ran mainly school services, and the associated duties with them. It had worked the 136, BB1, X2, BB4, 38, 67. 

On Sunday 21st November timetables at Thames Travel are changing. The 20 is bring transferred to Oxford Bus Company, and will be known as the city20. The River Rapids, ST1, 41 and 45 are having timetables changed and the 95/95B is being withdrawn. 

Full details and timetables -                                 

Jack Cooper

Levante III is seen nearing the end of its journey from Stansted with the 737 on November 20th.

including Courtney, Newbury & District & Thames Valley

Robert Williams


Just in time for the Christmas trip season, Newbury & District has taken delivery of a brand new 59 seater coach, the second addition to its private hire fleet in as many months.

The purchase of this brand new British produced Plaxton coach supports the company’s school contract and private hire work and is the first investment in a new vehicle since Newbury & District was acquired by Reading Buses in 2018.

Robert Williams, Chief Executive Officer, said today: “The new coach comfortably seats up to 59 passengers, is fully wheelchair accessible and meets the latest Euro VI emissions standards which means it has lower emissions than the average family car.

“This will also be our seventh fully accessible coach as we continue to upgrade the Newbury & District fleet with an eighth 72-seater to be converted before winter to complete the set.

“I am delighted to have worked with Dawson Group who have been really helpful sourcing this dream vehicle for us so quickly to meet the requirements of a new contract with West Berkshire Council.”

Dave Fulford, Operations Manager at Newbury & District, also pointed out that the investment has come at an opportune time with Newbury & District running days out to various destinations for the Christmas period.

Said Dave: “The delivery of this new vehicle means that customers booking onto Newbury & District’s Christmas days out can travel in one of the best coaches around. We have days out going to Christmas markets and shopping in Oxford, Birmingham and Bristol amongst others around the south east.“

To find out more about the private hire range and the Christmas days out, customers can visit:

Pictured at the handover are from left to right Simon Povey, N&D driver, Mark Taylor, Alexander Dennis,
Robert Williams, Chief Executive Officer, Mark Bateup, N&D leading driver, Tom Ranson, chief engineer, Anton Chiu-Foon, Dawson Group.

Kevin Fuller

This week, my contribution is a trio of Thames Valley vehicles taken in Bracknell on November 19th.

Enviro 400 MMC, 797, YX18KNC with route branding for the 194 service Bracknell - Camberley, lays over between duties in Bracknell bus station. 

Enviro 200 MMC 665, YX65RLO picks up passengers at the High Street stop while working local service 171. 

In Bracknell bus station, Enviro 400 1209, SN11BTF awaits departure time with a 194 service to Camberley. 

Thanks to Kevin, it seems quite sometime since we had pictures of Bracknell. 

Andrew Simmonds

Red Eagle MX13BAU seen in Berkhamsted working route 18th November 18th 2021

Jack Cooper

FP04CFE seen working the 38 in Wycombe on November 19th.

Still in Wycombe LJ08CZY is seen with a 338 to Great Hampeden on November 19th.

Gavin Francis

An interesting picture from the rear of YX10BFZ working the 130 on November 20th.

Jack Cooper

From the front and now leaving for Aylesbury the same bus on November 19th.

JW16BUS is seen arriving in Oxford with an X20 on November 18th.

James Freeman

Heading for Westgate, with the X20 JW16BUS is seen at Thornhill on November 18th. 

Regional Director North - Michelle Hargreaves to retire

Regional Director North for Stagecoach Michelle Hargreaves has revealed that she plans to retire in July 2022 after a 35-year career with the company.

Michelle started her career with Stagecoach in 1987 as a Cash Clerk in Blackburn. She then held a number of managerial positions before becoming Managing Director at Stagecoach South West in 2008.

In her 35-year career with Stagecoach she also held the roles of Managing Director in the East Midlands and in the East of the country before becoming Regional Director with responsibility for Stagecoach’s bus and tram operations in the North of England.

As part of the business change team, Michelle has also worked on developing a strategy around people development and employee wellbeing.

Michelle has also served as a role model for women in transport, having won the 2017 FTA Everywoman Transport awards Passenger Award Leader. She has also been recognised as one of the top female role models in the North, being named on the Northern Power Women Power List 2020.

Her other fond memories include setting up Stagecoach’s 192 Manchester service in the 1990s, whereby she along with commercial colleagues recruited the necessary staff and launched the service from the Ford Car Centre at Bredbury. It would become one of the busiest routes in Britain.

“I vividly remember at my first interview being told the company wasn’t looking for a woman  – and I was determined to prove them wrong!” Michelle says. “I’m very proud of the career I’ve had with Stagecoach, and have been given some fantastic opportunities- including the highlight of learning to drive a bus and automatically getting a car licence, with licensing laws being very different in the late 80s.

“It’s now the right time for me to move onto the next phase and I’m looking forward to spending more time with my husband and enjoying my retirement.

“I believe there are lots of exciting opportunities to come for the bus industry and with the great team we have at Stagecoach, there’s a bright future ahead. I’ll miss all the people here but will continue to watch the developments in the industry with interest.”

Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive of Stagecoach adds: “Michelle has been a valuable and key member of the Stagecoach team, and we are lucky to have had the benefit of her skills and experience over more than three decades.

“I have really enjoyed working with Michelle and will very much miss her input into the business. I know everyone at Stagecoach will join me in wishing her all the very best for a relaxing and well-deserved retirement.”

Recruitment for a new Regional Director North at Stagecoach is underway. 

I am told that a number of E200's from Oxfordshire are working in Cheltenham which explains the use of double decks for the 800 and 900 hospital services.

Jack Cooper

Now based in Swindon and seen in Gloucester Green with an S6 on November 18th.


Oxford's 11251 passes 10686 from Swindon passing in Gloucester Green on November 18th.

Gold MMC 10990 is seen in Chain Alley on November 20th with an S6 service. 

See the comment under West on the E200 situation.

Ciaran Bird

10441 seen heading along the A43 with a number 7 on November 16th.

Seen working the 700 10675 and 12001 (unusual for a Hybrid) on November 8th.
12001 was the first Hybrid ADL in Stagecoach.

15755 is seen heading south towards the city with a 2A service on November 8th.

Seen at Woodstock Turn 157547 shows off the exterior and interior upper deck with the recovered seating on November 16th.

M A N Trainer 22416 is seen near Woodstock on November 16th.

Recent transfer 27704 seen heading for Oxford with an S4 on November 8th.
The move of other Banbury Gold's seems to be on hold at present.

Daniel Harwood

On a dull November 15th 15757 is seen at the train station working the 14A.

Gavin Francis

Gold 10787 brings added luxury to the Blackbird Leys service on November 19th.

Jack Cooper

MMC 10432 also seen working the 10 in St Aldates on November 20th.

10674 with a 2 by Oxford Parkway on November 20th.

Hybrid 12003 in St Aldates with a nr 10 on November 20th.

Local livery 15757 with a Blackbird Leys service on November 18th.

Looking very clean tidy Gold 15760 is seen in St Aldates with service 8 on November 20th.

Also looking smart and not needing a repaint is 15767 with a 7 to Woodstock on November 20th.

Gold Scania 15831 by Oxford Parkway with a 7 on November 20th.

E200 36933 is seen working the 16 in St Aldates on November 20th. 

Ciaran Bird

Distance liveried 10872 is seen along the A34 heading for the city with an X5 on November 8th.

Jack Cooper

MMC 10880 seen leaving Gloucester Green with an X5 on November 18th.

Another MMC 11280 in St Aldates with an X5 on November 20th. 

After several months and expensive congestion charges when ex megabus Astromegas (Euro 5) two long departed ex tube Euro 6 Astromegas 50272 and 50274 are returning to Oxford.

Gavin Francis

Here is 50272 at Network Oxford having just arrived from Scotland on November 18th needing some cosmetic attention.

Jack Cooper

Euro 5 Astromega 50235 leaves for London on November 20th.

Panorama 50425 also seen leaving for London on November 18th.

Seen arriving from London in St Aldates 50431 on November 20th.

Mike Power from Manchester

50431 is seen at Hyde Road depot on November 17th involved in publicity event.  

Ciaran Bird

Still going strong, P200GTA seen on November 13th.

Another tidy coach is YC02DHM on November 13th. 

Local operators from Gavin Francis

It must be a 70 seater N70HEY in St Aldates on November 19th.

For Football Shuttle at West Wycombe GT21MTT on November 20th

London operators

Gavin Francis

A nice wrap covering DA221 of Big Bus at Marble Arch on November 18th.

London United BCE47001 is seen working the 94 in a full poppy wrap in November 18th.

Seen at Acton Green another BCE working the 94, is 47024 on November 18th.

A new wrap for Metroline LT100 at Marble Arch on November 18th.

Metroline LT562 working a 332 service at Paddington on November 18th.

Metroline VMH2481 at Lancaster Gate with a 274 service on November 18th.

This is the first time I've seen a wrap for Boots Stagecoach 12234 with a 205 at Paddington on November 18th. 

Tower Transit DNH 39130 at the now 414 terminus of Marble Arch on November 18th.

Gavin Francis

Wooburn Abbey Showbus with ex Thames Valley 616 on September 20th 2015.
The eagle eyed will note that the Stagecoach MMC is 10441 driven by your Editor.

Michael Wadman

A few more photos of Thamesdown for you. 

Bristol RESL6G / ECW no 168 (JMW 168P) on Fleming Way on service 28 in 1981. 

No 23 (EKA 223Y), a former Merseyside PTE Dennis Lancet / Duple, in Marlborough on service 170, 10th December 1996. 

No 14 (A94 FRY), Dennis Falcon / Duple from Leicester City Transport, in Cirencester on service 61 (photo by Keith Newton). 

Dennis Dominator / East Lancs no 73 “Western Venturer” (H973 XHR), in Marlborough on service 48A, 9th September 2005. 

Finally, for several years Thamesdown ran a number of excursion-type services during the summer.

This is why we find Dennis Dominator / Northern Counties no 65 (B65 GHR) at the unlikely location of Bournemouth pier.
I don’t have a date for this one but nr 65 was new in 1985 and service X93 last ran in 1987 (photo by Keith Newton).

Now we have some Swindon & District Stagecoach pictures in the late '90s.

Seen in the bus station is ex Manchester GNF8V on March 24th 1999.

Now a Gloucester Green working for 903 P903SMR seen with a 66 service on March 25th 1999.

Leyland National 2 373 is seen in Marlborough working the 70 on April 14th 1999.

Back in Swindon Bus Station ALX200 is seen with a 72 to Wroughton on March 24th 1999.

Relating to the last issue:

Fred Gough writes "Can I just advise that the picture of Dart SLF 918 in Bath, was brand new to Swindon, hence the Wiltshire registration plate, not Oxford. Dennis Darts 901-3 P901-3 SMR,(step entrance)  904 - 14 (low floor) P904 - 14 SMR were all brand new to Swindon."

Sorry Fred that was my mistake. Ed. 

Gordon Scott

Taken on November 17th at Buchanan Bus Station, Glasgow.

Parks of Hamilton HSK 651 Volvo B11R Plaxton Panorama
in full Xmas advert.

I wonder if this one will get to London in the future month? Ed.

Stagecoach West Scotland 50283 - YJ14 LFV Van Hool Astromega in new livery on X76 Glasgow to Kilmarnock.
These have got the full Distance livery branding unlike the MMCs from Bedford working the X5 still in plain yellow !

Pictures of interest

Martin Sacaloff

Some very interesting pictures from the past week can be found at the link below.

Nick Ross

Two images from a very quick trip to the Highlands last week 

Stagecoach Highlands Trident 18446 on a schools on Huntly street, Inverness with the swirling waters of the Ness river too on November 8th 2021 

A smart Dennis YX18KUP outside the Elizabeth Yule garage near Pitlochry station on November 9th 2021.