20/01/2018

Picture Archive Post 67

Finally, a night bus service to Terminal 4.
First Berkshire VSH69929 on Route N7, Hatton Cross Station, 28/09/2016
(© Aubrey Morandarte)

Route N7 began after the "rationalisation" of the First Berkshire network, splitting the Heathrow routes to a core route to Slough, with the other half of the routes being localised to terminate at Slough. Night service by First Berkshire from Slough to Heathrow began on 5th September 2015, when the 75 (to Heathrow Central via Langley Harrow Market) and 78 (to Heathrow Terminal 5 via Trelawney Avenue) had an added hourly night service. This stayed as far as 24th September 2016, when the routes were split. The N7 was formed as a night service, which ran every 30 minutes Slough-Heathrow Terminal 5, before running alternately to Heathrow Central and Hatton Cross via Terminal 4. The part between Hatton Cross and Heathrow Terminal 4 only lasted about 10 nights, being withdrawn on 3rd October 2016. Passenger numbers between Heathrow Terminal 4 and Hatton Cross were so low, it is likely that the author was the only passenger ever to Hatton Cross on the N7. The N7 thus continued as Slough-Heathrow Central/Terminal 4 until the morning of the 19th January 2018. Further cuts on First Berkshire has caused the withdrawal of the N7 service, with a few 7 journeys replacing the latest N7 journeys. Thus ends the short-lived attempt to give Heathrow's forgotten terminal a night bus service.
Yes, somehow, Transport for London don't give Heathrow Terminal 4 a night bus service, yet commercial First Berkshire managed it for a couple of years.

VSH69929 is one of a few Volvo 7900s in the UK, and harks back to a more successful 7series era. 2013 was when First Berkshire obtained these buses to upgrade the 7series routes, then consisting of the 71, 75, 76, 77 and 78. With the Green Bus Grant partly funding these buses, this bus was part of a batch of 10 initial hybrid buses for Berkshire. A further 5 buses were ordered in 2014, thus 15 Volvo 7900s now are supposed to form the whole allocation of the 7. When these were ordered, they supplemented and replaced part of the large Citaro fleet for the 7series. Heathrow-Slough via Langley at the time was 8bph. After the most recent cuts, the service has been reduced to 4bph.
These buses still show the erroneous 8 buses per hour figure, as these buses have not been rebranded to show the current situation. They are still at Slough Garage though, although with the cuts to First's services, one can only worry what could happen in the future.

Post by Aubrey Morandarte
All rights reserved © WLTMTB 2018

01/01/2018

First's last hurrah on the Greenline

Ever so slightly late but here it is!

First Berkshire 37985/BJ11XGY | Route 702 | London Victoria Coach Station -
First Berkshire 37985/BJ11XGY, London Victoria. 02/01/2017.
© Mohammad-Omar Diab El-Arab

A major change on the Greenline network, Reading Buses taking over the 702 from First, is just around the corner, and will see a timetable and fleet change on the route, probably the most major change to the Greenline network since Uno withdrew the 797 in September of last year. What this also means is that a little more than 2 years after the last day of First operating out of Bracknell depot, their last route serving Bracknell is also pulled.

The birthplace of the Greenline brand can be traced back to the 9th July 1930, where the London General Omnibus Company registered the brand to cover its interurban bus and coach services between London and surrounding towns within roughly a 30 mile radius. The network initially began with only 8 routes, yet this quickly expanded to 27 the following year. In 1933, the new London Passenger Transport Board absorbed Greenline as well as services that competed with the network. Most services by that point were linked to form cross-London services, as the laying over of coaches in the city centre inevitably caused congestion.

Greenline services were suspended during the Second World War, and were then resumed in February 1946. More services were introduced, and the 700-series route numbering was introduced, a feature of the Greenline network that still remains today. Ridership increased, and coach-spec Routemasters(RMCs) were introduced to meet the rapidly growing figures.

In 1970, Greenline was transferred to National Bus Company-owned London Country Bus Services. By this point, patronage was declining, mainly due to the increased utility and speed of parallel rail routes and also due to the increasing number of people using cars as a method of commuting, with the last cross-London services ceasing in 1979.
 More buses and coaches were ordered around the same era too, such as Leyland Nationals, Leyland Tigers and Leyland Leopards, posing Greenline as one of the most modern methods of movement between London and towns in the Home Counties. A major turning point was the deregulation of bus services, and in 1986 London Country was divided into 4 areas, ready to be sold off. The sell-off fragmented the Greenline network and only a few routes survived. Arriva purchased the rights to the brand around the mid-1990s, as they had most of the old LCBS successor companies under their control.

The brand was licensed to various operators, one of them being First Berkshire & the Thames Valley for their 700/701/702 services. The service was introduced in 1994/5, with Berkhof Excellence 1000-bodied Scania K113CRBs. It ran as two routes: the 702, which ran as it currently does, and the X7, which ran via Bagshot and Camberley to reach Bracknell. In 2001/2, this changed, with Plaxton Premiere-bodied Volvo B10Ms arriving from Glasgow to replace them, which lasted until about 2005 when First Cymru transferred over Plaxton Profile/Volvo B7Rs to operate the route. New vehicles were being introduced on the Reading RailAir service, which displaced 3 of the Scania K114IB/Irizar Century coaches, which were repainted into Greenline livery to operate the route.

First Beeline SC23008 on Route 702, Kensington High Street
First Berkshire SC23008 on Route 702, Kensington, August 2013
© Aubrey Morandarte

By 2011, the network comprised of 3 routes:
The 700, which ran between Bracknell and London, avoiding Slough, but instead going via Datchet
The 701, which ran between Bracknell and London in the peaks only, serving Great Hollands, Birch Hill, Harman's Water and Bullbrook, albeit avoiding Windsor Town Centre
The 702: which was the basic route between Bracknell and London and provided an hourly frequency

First Beeline 37987 on Route 701, Victoria
First Berkshire 37987 on Route 701, Victoria, April 2014
© Aubrey Morandarte

By that point, 3 new Volvo B9TL/Wright Gemini 2s(37985-7) were bought for the route, displacing some of the coaches. In 2013, 3 more(37997-9) arrived, displacing the remaining coaches off the route. By then, it was fully operated by B9TLs.

London via Datchet
First Berkshire 37985 on Route 700, Bracknell, on the last day of Bracknell operated Greenline.
© Aubrey Morandarte

2015 saw a rather large change to First operations in Berkshire, with the closure of Bracknell depot after the loss of the "bus war" with local independent Courtney Buses. With this came two things: the movement of the Greenline allocation from Bracknell to Slough, and the complete withdrawal of the 700 and 701.

First Berkshire 37275 on Route 700, Legoland
First Berkshire 37275 on Route 700, Legoland, on the last day of Bracknell operated Greenline.
© Aubrey Morandarte

Fast forward to now, with First pulling out of the 702 altogether, having provided a useful and practical service, and many misallocations that were loved by enthusiasts(see TN on the last Bracknell-run 702!). The current B9s will have a short spell on rail replacements around Southampton, yet their future is uncertain.

The Last Bracknell-Based Green Line
The last 702 run from Bracknell Garage, operated by 33179, seen at Hammersmith.
© Aubrey Morandarte

I've decided to document the last day of First operation on the 702 with a bash/photo session, running into both Lewis and Tommy on multiple occasions, the first instance of which was on my first 702 of the day, 37987, which took me from Hammersmith to Bracknell, and then back to Kensington.

Last day of First on the 702 - First Berkshire 37987/BJ11ECX | Route 702 | Bracknell Bus Station
First Berkshire 37987/BJ11ECX, Bracknell Bus Station
© Mohammad-Omar Diab El-Arab

Tommy and Lewis went away at this point, and got a few interesting shots at the WhiteBus yard...

Never to be repeated
First Berkshire 37276/LK58EDL and WhiteBus YX67VGK, Winkfield
© Tommy Cooling

After a quick run into Boots, a friend and I come out only to miss a 702, which was running 5 minutes early, so we diverted via Heathrow and the 7 to Langley. Once we hopped off, we walked to the 702 stop on London Road, only to hop on my favourite Greenline B9TL to Kensington!

Last day of First on the 702 - First Berkshire 37276/LK58EDL | Route 702 | Kensington High Street
First Berkshire 37276/LK58EDL, Kensington High Street
© Mohammad-Omar Diab El-Arab

My penultimate move was 37999, the highest-numbered Greenline B9TL, which took me to the village of Winkfield, just beyond Legoland.

Last day of First on the 702 - First Berkshire 37999/BF63HDY | Route 702 | Winkfield, The Squirrels PH
First Berkshire 37999/BF63HDY, Winkfield, The Squirrels PH
© Mohammad-Omar Diab El-Arab

My last move was on 37998 working the last timetabled run from Bracknell, the 18:50, which only continued beyond Slough if Legoland was open after 7. Now, Lewis checked that Legoland was open at that time, which it was, so we were pretty sure that it would continue to London. However, nobody got on at Legoland, so the bus officially terminated at Slough. The driver was kind enough to offer myself, Lewis and Tommy a lift to Hammmersmith, where we would continue our journeys home. What a way to end the last day of First operation!

Last under First
First Berkshire 37998/BF63HDX, Bracknell Bus Station
© Tommy Cooling

Happy New Year from the WLTM Transport Blog.

Text by Omar
Photos by Omar, Aubrey and Tommy

All rights reserved © WLTMTB 2018

20/12/2017

Picture Archive Post 66

London General ELS13 on Route 42, Aldgate, 08/07/2015
London General ELS13 on Route 42, Aldgate, 08/07/2015
(© Aubrey)

ELS13 is a Scania N94UB/East Lancs OmniTown ordered in early 2002 for the 42 by Durham Travel Services (London Easylink). For most of its life so far, it has been on the 42. This route was gained from Connex/Limebourne back in January 2002. Only a few months later, London Easylink went into liquidation, so Transport for London took over the work of London Easylink as East Thames Buses on 21st August 2002. Once the impounded buses were taken over by TfL as East Thames Buses, these buses stayed with ETB initially at Ash Grove Garage (AG). With the 2005 opening of Mandela Way (MA), the bus and route moved there. Go-Ahead purchased East Thames Buses in 2009, thus the bus and route moved to GAL. These buses gained skirts, just as most other buses were losing theirs. This bus ran on the 42 until 23rd December 2015. Afterwards, the bus was sold on to Trustybus (Galleon Travel) near Harlow. Now, as TB VFM (HXZ9926), this bus runs on Trustybus routes in and around Harlow.

Route 42 itself started out as a cross-London trunk route, running at maximum length from Turnpike Lane to Camberwell Green in the 1930s. Shortened to Aldgate-Camberwell Green from Old Kent Road and Camberwell garages in 1939 due to WWII, the route mainly stuck to the same routing until 1994. From 1951 until 1985, the 42 was with Camberwell Garage. Extensions to Herne Hill and Norwood Garage on Sundays and garage journeys happened in the 1950s, until 1966. RTLs ran on the route from 1951-1966, before being replaced with RTs. To convert the route to OPO, the bus route was converted to single decker with MBs (AEC Merlin), before re-conversion back to double decker with the DMS (Daimler Fleetline) in 1973. 1979 saw a re-conversion back to single decker with the SMS (AEC Swift), lasting less than a year before returning to DMSs. Leyland Titans (T) ran the route between 1980 and 1987, before the first part of privatisation of LT took place, with initial tenders of bus routes coming out in 1987.
London Country South East (formerly NBC London Country, ironically stemmed from the LT country division) won the 42 on tender with Leyland Nationals at a base initially at Catford. The base then moved to Victoria (Battersea Coach Park) in 1987 and Bricklayers Arms in 1989. LCSE was re-branded as Kentish Bus in 1987, and thus the route was operated by Kentish Bus. 1990 saw the route gradually move to Leyton, and gain Leyland Olympian operation on weekends. A full move to Leyton in December 1990 saw the route convert to MCW Metroriders. The route was extended in 1994 to Liverpool Street Station, and new Dennis Dart/Northern Counties Paladin buses were introduced in 1994. April 1997 saw the route move to Limebourne, from Battersea (QB). New Dennis Dart SLF/Plaxton Pointer I were put onto the route, and the route was extended to Denmark Hill. On October 1998, Limebourne went into receivership, and for a time suspended operations. Eventually, the management re-established Limebourne, and the route ran with different Dennis Dart SLF/UVG buses ordered new to replace leased buses in early 1999. 2001 saw the purchase of Limebourne by Connex, and thus the route was run by Connex for a year, before it was moved to Durham Travel Services (London Easylink). London Easylink ran the 42 at Old Kent Road for 8 months, before they went bust. East Thames Buses used new ELSs from London Easylink to run the 42 at Ash Grove (AG) initially, before moving to Mandela Way (MA) in 2005. 2009 saw East Thames Buses be sold off from TfL to Go-Ahead London (London General). The route moved to Camberwell (Q) in 2010, before moving to Mandela Way (MW) in 2012, and returning to Camberwell in 2014, where it is today.
On 1st October 2016, the 42 was extended from Denmark Hill to East Dulwich Sainsbury's, and is now run with Volvo B5LH/MCV EvoSetis from Camberwell Garage.

Post by Aubrey Morandarte
All rights reserved © WLTMTB 2017