Wednesday, 20 September 2017

Picture Archive Post 63

Metroline TA642 on Route 266, Hammersmith, 19/06/2010
Metroline TA642 on Route 266, Hammersmith, 19/06/2010 (© Aubrey)

Route 266 was introduced as the bus replacement of former trolleybus route 666. Running between Edgware and Hammersmith, the route ran as current 266 to Cricklewood, then as current 32 to Edgware. Introduced as part of Stage 13 of trolleybus replacement on 3rd January 1962, new Routemasters were introduced from Stonebridge Garage (SE) and Cricklewood Garage (W). A Willesden Garage (AC) allocation was added in September 1968, after Route 260A was withdrawn. In June 1970, the route was withdrawn between Edgware and Colindale (peak hours), West Hendon (weekdays) and Cricklewood Garage (weekends). June 1972 saw Hammersmith Riverside (R) gain an allocation to cover for the 255 withdrawal. 255 itself was a former trolleybus route of 655. In January 1976, Brent Cross Shopping Centre opened and Route 266 was diverted to the shopping centre on Monday-Saturday except late evenings. From October 1978, some journeys were extended in Monday-Friday peak hours via Graheme Park to Mill Hill Broadway on Monday-Friday peak hours. April 1979 saw the allocation of crewed Daimler Fleetlines (DM) on Sundays from SE. In 1980, the DMs were replaced by MCW Metrobuses (M), still crewed. 1981 saw the peak hour extensions to Mill Hill be withdrawn, and SE be closed. The SE allocation was replaced by a split Willesden and Cricklewood allocation. 1982-1985 saw the allocation solely be dealt with by W. 1985 saw the conversion of the route to OPO, with Ms initially introduced crewed before November. 

Under sectorisation, the route came under Metroline. 1995 saw the whole shopping hours service extended to Brent Cross. June 1998 saw the service partly, then completely in December 1998 go to Cricklewood Garage. September 2000 saw the route move to Harlesden (HR), and convert to Volvo Olympians ex-16/52. 26th July 2003 saw the route be fully extended (day and later night) to Brent Cross Shopping Centre, as the bus station later became known as an interchange. 17th April 2004 saw the N266 become renumbered into 266, based at W. The day route moved to W on 21st May 2005, as the route was converted to low-floor with Tridents. On 22nd May 2012, the 266 was won by First Centrewest using Volvo B9TL/Wright Eclipse Gemini 2s, from their new garage at Atlas Road (AS), a base to replace the temporarily closed part of Westbourne Park (X) due to Crossrail work. 22nd June 2013 saw the contract novate to Tower Transit, as they bought out that part of First Centrewest. As AS closed on 1st July 2017, the route moved to X for 28 days, as then the route returned to Metroline on 29th July 2017 (for 2.5 years).

Alexander-Dennis Trident/ALX400 TA642 started out in 2005 as a bus for Cricklewood, as part of the low-floor conversion of Route 266. Initially based at Cricklewood, it moved to Brentford (AH) to replace Tridents which were on lease for the 237. Once those buses were replaced by TPs (Trident/Presidents), the bus moved back to Cricklewood. Ironically, on the first day of 266 back with Metroline, TA642 was back on the route!

Return of the Trident
It was like nothing had changed, as on 29th July 2017, TA642 is seen back on its old haunts.
(© Aubrey)

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Temporary New Trains

First Class 707 Service
South West Trains 707005+707003 arrives at Brentford to take its first passengers, ever.
(© Aubrey)

After many months of problematic testing (brake and software issues, mainly), delayed dates and standing at Clapham Yard for what seemed like a permanent fixture, the Class 707 finally entered service just a few days before the end of South West Trains altogether. On the 17th August 2017, 707005 and 707003 formed a consist which ran some test runs, but now in service...albeit for one day. Just as a token service in order for SWT to say they entered the Class 707 into service.

The service diagrams that the consist ran were as follows (actual times used):
2Z31 0928 Brentford-Reading
2Z32 1051 Reading-Staines
2Z33 1200 Staines-Reading
2Z34 1252 Reading-Staines
2Z35 1427 Staines-Reading
2Z37 1523 Reading-Staines
1Z38 1631 Staines-Weybridge

Reading Suburban Stock
This service ran from Brentford to Reading, non-stop between Hounslow and Ascot.
(© Aubrey)

The Class 707s are designed to replace the Class 458/5s in suburban moves between Waterloo and Windsor/Hounslow Loop. As they are suburban trains, Stagecoach South West Trains ordered these trains with no toilets. As they were also a small order to replace just the Class 458/5s on certain routes, they would've only managed to alleviate some capacity issues in the short term.

Interior of South West Trains 707005, Brentford
The interior of 707005, showing the walk-through carriages
(© Aubrey)

The trains have a more airy feel as the carriages are walk-through. These are basically Class 700s, in red, with plug sockets and no toilets. However, toilets can be retrofitted on the trains.

Class 707 Information Screen
Interior passenger information screens display the level of loading in each carriage. This is a different visual design to the Class 700s, and only shows the loadings of the specific unit the screen is in.
(© Aubrey)

The restriction of the screen showing only the specific unit means that passengers are unsure whether the other half of the train is loaded worse or better than the part they are in. This may mean people moving to the other units only to find out they can't get back if they are not shown or told that the other half of the train still has some space. However, it could be deemed unnecessary to show how the other unit is doing for loadings, as it is not directly connected by a corridor.

Class 707 Information Screen
The Class 707s also have Transport for London network service updates...which at the time only partly worked at the time as some lines had delays throughout the day! It also orders everything alphabetically, whilst on the 700s, they are ordered firstly by tube lines, then other services
(© Aubrey)

Class 707 Information Screen
They also have a network update for the wider South West Trains network. Unfortunately on the first day of service, none of the information was working at all. Under subsequent introduction by South Western Railway, the trains have had the screens black for network service updates.
(© Aubrey)

Class 707 Information Screen
As some stations on the network have short platforms for 8 cars, instead of 10 cars, notably different orange displays are shown at stations where the train doors do not open. Announcements also are linked to this. However, on the first day of SWR service, the announcements were being played throughout the train for short platforms, where the doors for the specific coach will not open, even though they will at a certain station.
(© Aubrey)

@ Winnersh on Class 707 displays under South West Trains
For one, sole August day, the trains were operating for South West Trains, this was displayed, at most stations.
(© Aubrey)

@ Feltham on Class 707 displays under South Western Railway
For all subsequent days, from first service under SWR, the 5th September, the Class 707s had different logos and different colour scheme for the displays.
(© Aubrey)

Class 707 Information Display under SWR
The displays also show the time, and as with the old announcements, show where to change for certain destinations. However, the announcements are not as "polite", telling people to "get off for" instead of "alight" or "change" at stations. Also shown is the new colour scheme used by South Western Railway.
(© Aubrey)

The announcements are a text-to-speech programme by Acapela Group, instead of announcements by a voice actor/actress. This has created a more flexible range of announcements possible.

South West Trains 707003, Reading
South West Trains 707003 at Reading, with 458535 already on a Reading service.
(© Aubrey)

The Class 707s are being introduced in order to replace Class 458/5s on London Waterloo to Hounslow Loop, Weybridge via Hounslow and Windsor & Eton Riverside services. These Class 458/5s (except 458531-458536) will replace Class 450s on Reading services, thus allowing the service to run an (eventually) 4 trains per hour service to Reading with these units.

South West Trains 707005, Staines
Most of the first day services involved a reverse at Staines, and a stable in the sidings there. Coming out of the sidings for another service is 707005 leading 707003, seen at Staines.
(© Aubrey)

After 165 miles and 43 chains of riding these trains that were the future of South West Trains, I (Aubrey) can say that these trains just feel like red 700s. The train was very clean (of course), with a "new" smell. The interior was airy and very bright with lights. This would, of course, may be an issue at night if the lights were too bright and heavily contrasts with the night (as seen on 700s already). Comfort may be an issue when compared to Class 458/5s, however, the Class 707 shows that the nature of modern suburban units is more about capacity and less about comfort. Thus, "ironing board" seats are specified, as they are lighter than some other types of seats.

South West Trains 707005+707003, Weybridge
At the end of the first successful day of passenger service, 707003 is at the rear of the ECS move back to Wimbledon Traincare Depot.
(© Aubrey)

The ONLY day of service with South West Trains with these trains was a success, with only minor delays caused by traffic. The train service ran smoothly over the first day of service, and thus was fault free. Staff were pessimistic over when Class 701s are to replace the Class 707s. It is seemingly odd that SWR are to actually replace these Class 707s only in 2019. It however makes economic sense, as a common fleet of Class 701s for suburban services creates easier maintenance and has lower lease costs.
Notably, South West Trains were actually going to do that nearly 15 years ago with yet another problematic set of trains as well....the Class 458.

South Western Railway 707006, Clapham Junction
On 5th September 2017, the sets of 707006 and 707004 entered service with South Western Railway. And promptly broke down within the evening peak, after this journey ran to London Waterloo!
(© Aubrey)

These units may still be problematic, but it was never as bad as the Class 458s. These rolling stock may be good short-term relief for services on the Windsor lines. These units will also run in peak hours on the other suburban services. For the future of these units once they are replaced by Class 701s, this is uncertain. However, as 707001 and 707002 are fitted with dual-voltage capabilities and have pantographs, these trains can have a future whether it be in the Southern Region or not.


Monday, 28 August 2017

East London Takeover

The corridor of Routes 15, 115, 5 and N15 has turned over from Stagecoach to Go-Ahead London. This is one of the largest set of contracts to turn around to a different operator recently, with a total PVR of 71 (22 at night).

Blue Triangle LT926 on Route N15, Oxford Circus
The first N15 to enter service was LT926, departing on time at Romford Market at 0020. This bus is seen finishing the first eastbound journey from Romford at Oxford Circus.
(© Aubrey)

The changeover started out on the N15, with buses supposed to be starting at 0020 from each end. Drivers were mostly ex-Stagecoach, thus were mostly route trained for the N15. Some drivers did find the section north of Trafalgar Square new to them, or at least needed refreshment in their knowledge. However, there is one very short new section on the N15, running north of Oxford Street for the first time since August 2010. However, this extension only takes it one stop past it, as it terminates by Margaret Street on Regent Street, thus serving Oxford Circus.

Central London Transit
East London Transit branded LTs run on the N15, as most of the first night's allocation was LTs from the East London Transit allocation. LT908 is seen on the 0210 departure from Oxford Circus.
(© Aubrey)

The allocation is mostly LTs from the East London Transit routes, as well as other LTs from the 15. Route N15 automatically becomes the second-largest night route Go-Ahead London run, and is the first night route into Central London for the Blue Triangle sector. It is also the second most frequent night route on weekends that Go-Ahead London operate, at every 10 minutes. The N155 running every 9 minutes being the most frequent. However, the N15 did run every 7-8 minutes until the contract change.

Go-Ahead Enviro on N15
EH145 on its first ever passenger run, with the 0130 departure from Oxford Circus, seen at Charing Cross Station enroute to Romford Market.
(© Aubrey)

The other part of the N15 allocation are spares from the 5/115, which include these new E40H/Enviro 400MMCs. This is not so much of a big allocation change from the prior allocation with Stagecoach...

Night, Stagecoach
Stagecoach London 10327 on the last weekend of N15 under Stagecoach London. Spot the difference, shalt we say?
(© Aubrey)

So, for at least for the N15, there is a same-type, different operator replacement of parts of the allocation. Stagecoach did run an LT on the N15 prior to contract announcement, thus both types by Go-Ahead London so far have already been run by Stagecoach.

Although, now operated by Go-Ahead London, there is a chance that the Camberwell Night Spare bus that is used to fill gaps in the service being used on the N15. However, even that might not be so different to parts of the allocation either!

Fairfield Rest
An example Camberwell Night Spare bus, EH124 on Route N87 at Kingston. This working has not happened at the time of writing yet on the N15.
(© Aubrey)

Operation of the N15 over the first two nights was good enough to not need the Camberwell Night Spare, so far. Other than some drivers having to re-remember the section between Oxford Circus and Trafalgar Square, the early part of the N15 first night went well.

Blue Triangle LT919 on Route N15, Canning Town
LT919 stands at Canning Town, with the driver getting instructions from a controller. And a familiar passenger!
(© Aubrey)

Route N15 started to run with erratic headways towards the end of the service of the first night, and some N15s did stand at Canning Town Bus Station for long periods of time.

N15 Borismaster Pair
LT906 westbound passes LT936 eastbound at Canning Town Bus Station.
(© Aubrey)

Overall, the N15 ran to a decent service for the first night, and it seems the frequency decrease seems to have made not too much overcrowding. The LTs are not as bad during the night as they are during the day, and overall, it seems that Go-Ahead have gotten a grip of the N15 pretty early, pretty quickly.

Some journeys from the N15 interwork into the 5, and thus an LT ran on the first journey of Route 5.

Borismaster on Route 5
A fully blinded LT917 running the first 5 from Romford Market, seen at its last stop of the journey and of the bus's duty. The bus then ran not in service back to River Road Garage.
(© Aubrey)

The 5 turned out to be the most diverse of bus types having run on the first day, with 5 bus type codes (4 different types of buses) running on the route.

Thus, the 5 went from this:

Last Day of Stagecoach on Route 5
Tridents ran the main allocation of the 5, with Enviro 400s of pre-MMC and MMC types running also on the 5 under Stagecoach. Other buses that ran on the N15 also ran on the 5.
(© Aubrey)

To 4 different types of buses (5 codes):

Borismaster (LT) (seen above)

Volvo B9TL/Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 (WVN)

Blue Triangle WVN28 on Route 5, Canning Town
WVN28 on one of the first eastbound 5s. These WVNs are buses from the 259, recently lost to Arriva London.
(© Aubrey)

Volvo B9TL/Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 (WVL)

Blue Triangle WVL347 on Route 5, Fair Cross
WVL347 is one of the refurbished East London Transit buses, seen along the newer part of ELT at Fair Cross, near the old base at Stagecoach of Barking Garage. Other "native" B9TLs from the 19/249 loss also run on the 5.
(© Aubrey)

Alexander-Dennis E40H/Enviro 400MMC (EH)

Blue Triangle EH137 on Route 5, Fair Cross
EH137 is one of the new hybrids allocated for the 5, as part of the 5 and all of the 115 are allocated these Enviro 400MMC hybrids. These new buses are decent to ride on whilst new certainly.
(© Aubrey)

Alexander-Dennis E40D/Enviro 400 (E)

Blue Triangle E137 on Route 5, Fair Cross
E137 is an oddity, normally allocated to other routes in River Road but being used on the 5. These strays are likely to happen.
(© Aubrey)

The 5 has been rerouted within Romford to go via Queen's Hospital. The frequency of the 5 has been cut to every 6-7 minutes, with new peak direction journeys introduced instead. However, even then, the first few journeys of the 5 and 115 were completely full. The 5 itself was not running without too many notable hitches, and all seems well.

Blue Triangle EH132 on Route 115, Canning Town Station
The first Blue Triangle 115 operated by EH132, seen at Canning Town Bus Station
(© Aubrey)

The 115 is deemed as the "infiller" between the 5 and the 15, having its own unique section between Canning Town and All Saints. Previously run as the 15B, the 115 only started to run on the evenings in 2003 once 15's Routemasters were withdrawn. Like the other routes, the 115 has always been with Stagecoach since privatisation. Now, it is the route with a full hybrid allocation.

Morning Blue Triangles
EH147 on Route 115 passes one of the last N15s of the night, operated by LT930.
(© Aubrey)

The 115 has had no notable change other than the buses and the operator. The route, although fairly busy, has had not very notable hitches over the first few days of service...except

101 to
Everything there is wrong. And somehow people know it's a westbound 115. It's actually a 115 to Limehouse. The side says 101 to Beckton Alps.
(© Aubrey)

EH134 was one of the first buses to be curtailed, with it running to Limehouse. It also had a blind fault, thus it ran only to Limehouse, then ran displaying full 101 displays for East Ham on the way back!

Wrong Blind, Right Blind
EH134 subsequently passes EH131 on its way back, running parallel yet in service displaying completely wrong blinds. EH134 needed to return to River Road for blind reprogramming.
(© Aubrey)

Some early 115s were running either with a short curtailment to East Ham, Newham Town Hall instead of Central Park, or were using the wrong East Ham blind. Either way, this was mostly solved later on in the day.

115 to East Ham, Newham Town Hall
EH133 was one of the first 115s, and it was at least blinded to be curtailed a few stops early from its terminus.
(© Aubrey)

And finally, the change that was nearly no change. The 15 overnight had its buses transferred from Bow to River Road, checked over and had Blue Triangle legals added. Thus the 15 changed operator with no change overall.

Blue Triangle LT408 on Route 15, Charing Cross Station
Change, but not really. LT408 transfers operator with the 15 contract and is seen under its new operator at Charing Cross Station.
(© Aubrey)

As TfL own the LTs, they can transfer the LTs between operators at will, with these being the latest to move. This is the first route to have moved with its existing buses to a different operator, permanently.

Overall, this constitutes the first big inroad Go-Ahead London has had on Stagecoach East London, with a whole corridor of routes moving to one massive River Road garage. This is also Blue Triangle's first Central London route, and first Central London night route. As with a mammoth corridor, Go-Ahead have their work cut out for the next 5-7 years.