Picture Archive Post 34

The first free-boarding experiment in modern times in London, the Mercedes Benz Citaro G was really the right bus that was placed on the wrong routes. It was easier to manoeuvre than a Borismaster, and yet provided way more (theoretical) capacity. This open boarding experiment didn't need special buses, it just got off-the-peg Mercedes Citaro Gs. It went on during the term of Ken Livingstone, and the "bendy bus" became a symbol of the mayor tenure of Livingstone. However, with the mayoral election of 2008, Livingstone was replaced by Boris Johnson, who decided to get rid of these buses. They were replaced by conventional buses, and eventually Borismasters (Routes 38, 453 and 12). The irony that open boarding returns back to these routes, only in more expensive terms replacing buses that were fairly new.

London Central MAL84 on Route 12, Westminster, 17/06/07
London Central MAL84 (BX54 UDO) on Route 12, Westminster, 17/06/07
The original blinds for the articulated Citaros were oddly in New Johnston font, opposed to the normal Johnston font on blinds.

MAL84 itself started out as part of the batch that converted the 12 to OPO articulated buses, converted from Routemaster on the 6th November 2004 to these buses. On the 5th November 2011, the 12 turned to conventional bus operation, thus this bus ended up being obsolete for London. It ended up in the Go-South Coast events fleet as their 2906, mainly for the Isle of Wight Festival. However, as of when this was written, this bus is under a SORN and is off the road. To my knowledge, I am completely unsure where it is, the last time this has been seen was for the 2013 Isle of Wight festival.

Route 12 is a route with a long and interesting history, notably as being a very long route...
By 1934, it was a very long route that ran in two sections. The whole route was Willesden Junction to South Croydon, but buses ran Willesden Junction-Oxford Circus/Dulwich and Oxford Circus-South Croydon. The Monday-Friday PVR was 92. Yes, nearly 100. The 25 would be screaming for something close to that PVR today!
Between 1942 and 1945, for possibly war reasons, the route on at least some part of a Sunday ran in two completely separate sections as Oxford Circus-Shepherd's Bush was not served. From 1952, the route soon had a Monday-Friday PVR of 113 and by this time was a straightforward Willesden Junction-South Croydon in two parts route. From 1968, it started to have a nominal allocation of Routemasters amidst the RTs. In 1972, the route was shortened to Norwood Junction. The route was then shortened still to end up by 1991, as Shepherd's Bush-Dulwich. In 1994, it ended up being Notting Hill Gate-Dulwich (still in two parts). With the removal of Routemasters, the 12 ended up in its present state, all in one part.

The London Transport scheduling system had a limit of four garages running a bus route - this just coincidentally was the amount of garages operating the 12 during the 1970s.


More to Go-Ahead - Route 432

The losses of Arriva continue with route 432, formerly at N (Norwood) with a mixture of DAF DB250/ALX400 and Volvo B7TL/ALX400. The route is now run by Go-Ahead London General.

Go-Ahead London General WVL438, LJ61GWX at Crystal Palace on route 432 to Brixton
London General WVL438 on Route 432, Crystal Palace (© Jacek)

This had potential to be an interesting change, as nobody knew what buses would be used on the route, or what garage it would run from. Es at Q were re-blinded leading to speculation the route would run from there. However, there was also the small matter of the LT conversion of the 12 freeing lots of Volvo B9TL/Wright Gemini 2s, as well as a rumoured order of new buses. Eventually the 432 went to SW with some WVLs off the 12 and one duty run by an E from Q.

Go-Ahead London General WVL439, LJ61GWY at Crystal Palace on route 432 to Brixton
London General WVL439 on Route 432, Crystal Palace (© Jacek)

The first day turned out to be just boring. Nothing went horrifically wrong, but the buses drove slow and were a type pretty much all of London is familiar with. In other words, meh. Although this was a relatively smooth takeover, it wasn't entirely without problems. One driver went past my stop on the first day and WVL381 had its destination blind stuck on Brixton Hill.

This got worse over the next few days as Aubrey caught it in this state:
"Oops, forgot the blind doors"
WVL381 had the blind box door and destination smart blind door opened and placed beside on the seats.

Blind Box Doors. On The Seats. In Service.
This was the spare bus that somehow ended up on the 432.

(Both photos) Interior of London General WVL381 on Route 432, Rockmount Road (© Aubrey)

It was seen in this state:
Go-Ahead Taking Over Anerley Bus Stand
London General WVL475 on Route 249 and WVL381 on Route 432, Anerley (CC Aubrey)

Jacek passed this bus in Tulse Hill a few days later and the blinds appear to be fixed as it was showing the correct destination.

Aubrey caught the 432 on what seemed to be a normal day, with a normal time. WVL381 had ran early hence it waited at Rockmount Road, thus allowing me to take those interior photos as seen above.

London General WVL380 on Route 432, Anerley Station
London General WVL380 on Route 432, Anerley Station (© Aubrey)

432 to, erm.. Acton High Street?
London General WVL436 on Route 432, Anerley (CC Aubrey)

London General WVL382 and WVL439 on Route 432, Anerley
London General WVL382 and WVL439 on Route 432, Anerley (CC Aubrey)

A mixture of 60 and 61 registered B9TLs are being used, as well as one of the aforementioned Es on a weekday afternoon (and evening). The 432 continues to be an anonomyous route in the middle of South London, known as the outer part of the larger route 2 (formerly 2B), but otherwise not too impressive.


Peckham Pests: Route 12 LT Conversion

According to some, the Borismaster is a pest. To others, it's a thing of interest. In my case, I (Aubrey) call it a political weapon. Introducing the articulated bus provided free boarding. The 12, indeed, had that. The 12 regains a more expensive version of this as the LTs now do the same.

London Central LT438 on Route 12, County Hall
London Central LT438 on Route 12, County Hall (CC Aubrey)

The 12 is a fairly recent conversion, with less than half (as of 07/04/15) of the route being converted.

London Central LT419 on Route 12, Camberwell Green
London Central LT419 on Route 12, Camberwell Green (CC Aubrey)

London Central LT423 on Route 12, Camberwell Green
London Central LT423 on Route 12, Camberwell Green (CC Aubrey)

The batch for the 12 is LT417-456. The LT conversion is again, gradual. The buses from the 12 - some have been used to free up buses for the contract of the 432, but that's another post.

London Central LT445 on Route 12, Camberwell Green
London Central LT445 on Route 12, Camberwell Green (CC Aubrey)

The route used to run as far as Notting Hill Gate before the articulated bus conversion in 2004. However, the route then ran in two sections most of the time (Oxford Circus-Dulwich and Notting Hill Gate-Peckham), thus the articulated bus introduction withdrew the Notting Hill Gate-Peckham "section" and thus increased the Oxford Circus-Dulwich section.

London Central LT440 on Route 12, Camberwell Green
London Central LT440 on Route 12, Camberwell Green (CC Aubrey)

However, due to Central London always being in a mess in terms of traffic and works, the 12 doesn't always go to Oxford Circus. The destinations shown are normal turns for this route.

Oh, there is one more new bus for the 12 that isn't an LT:
London Central WSD1 on Route 12, Camberwell Green
London Central WSD1 on Route 12, Camberwell Green (CC Aubrey)
The Streetdeck demonstrator. It rides well, but when it is stationary, the engine vibrations are noticeable.


Both Coasts Are Virgins

 Virgin Trains 390020, Euston Virgin East Coast 91124, King's Cross
Two types of Virgin. Very similar. Very different.
Both are related to the APT in some way.
Both photos taken by Aubrey Morandarte (CC)
(Virgin Trains 390020, Euston & Virgin East Coast 91124, King's Cross)

Virgin Trains (West Coast) is owned by 51% Virgin Group and 49% Stagecoach.
Virgin Train East Coast is owned by 10% Virgin Group and 90% Stagecoach.
Thus don't be misled by the name. Stagecoach (practically) run services from both King's Cross and St Pancras now, as well as the stable South West Trains from Waterloo.

The kerfuffle of the East Coast franchise started when Sea Containers were financially unstable. Although in Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, this did not prevent GNER going into tender. They had improved the franchise, refurbishing the Mark 3 and Mark 4 carriages extensively. The Mark 4 coaches were, along with a Class 91/DVT combination, called "Mallards" (after the A4 locomotive). In 2007 the franchise went to National Express, which completed the refurbishment programme. National Express also experienced difficulties in their finances, so it was transferred to the government (Directly Operated Railways), under the East Coast brand. The last time that happened was when Connex failed to manage its finances on the South Eastern franchise, causing it to be publicly owned from 2003 to 2006. This led to temporary stability for the franchise:

East Coast 91110 'Battle of Britain Memorial Flight'
East Coast 91110 'Battle of Britain Memorial Flight', NRM York (Railfest 2012) (© Aubrey)

East Coast 43309, York
East Coast 43309, York (© Aubrey)

Then the Conservative government tendered the nationalised franchise back into the private sector. Shortlisted for this franchise was FirstGroup, Keolis/Eurostar and Stagecoach/Virgin in January 2014. In November 2014, the Stagecoach-Virgin bid was the successful bid taken forward. This should run until 2023 at least.

Virgin Trains East Coast 43290, King's Cross
Virgin Trains East Coast 43290, King's Cross (CC Aubrey)
Initially, the trains will have vinyl stickers over the power car "East Coast" branding as shown.

Virgin Trains East Coast 82200, King's Cross
Virgin Trains East Coast 82200, King's Cross (CC Aubrey)
The trains will eventually gain a full vinyl sticker application to the new Virgin Trains East Coast livery.

Virgin East Coast 91105, King's Cross
Virgin East Coast 91105, King's Cross (© Aubrey)
The livery is likened to the Coca Cola branding by many enthusiasts. Designed by the people at Best Impressions, this certainly gives an impression. Nothing is changed inside or in terms of services.

Not Government Operated
Not all trains have been treated by Virgin stickers, as seen by Virgin Trains East Coast 43295 still in East Coast livery at King's Cross (© Aubrey)

The Virgin Scotsman
Virgin East Coast 82205 (Flying Scotsman), King's Cross (© Aubrey)
Virgin Trains East Coast have so far committed to keeping the special liveries that East Coast applied to the Class 91/DVTs with their names.

Virgin East Coast 91110 (Battle of Britain Memorial Flight), King's Cross
Virgin East Coast 91110 (Battle of Britain Memorial Flight), King's Cross (© Aubrey)
Like, fittingly, 91110.

This makes King's Cross a station full of trains with mainly their old livery and stickers marking the new company running the trains (First Capital Connect -> Great Northern (GTR) and East Coast -> Virgin Trains East Coast (Inter City Railways Limited).

Virgin East Coast 43296, King's Cross
43296 is in East Coast livery with Virgin stickers over the East Coast logos, whilst the Class 365 in the background is in First Capital Connect livery with Great Northern logos. (© Aubrey)

Notably, this is now the fourth time a Virgin-involved company had bidded for the East Coast franchise. In 2000, the re-franchising was scrapped. In 2005, the franchise was re-awarded to Sea Containers (the other companies that bidded were First Group, Danish State Railways-EWS as well as Virgin Rail Group). In 2007, the franchise was awarded to National Express (the other companies that bidded were Arriva, First Group and Virgin Rail Group). This time, Virgin was successful (albeit Inter City Railways is mainly Stagecoach owned, with 10% owned by Virgin in order for the Virgin name to be used).

To explain the link between the Class 390 and the Intercity 225 sets - both trains use technology from the APT-P. The Class 390 uses the powered tilting technology from the APT-P, bringing tilting trains to the West Coast Main Line 17 years late. The Class 91 uses the power car technology of the APT-P, and the Mark 4 coaches have profiled sides which allow the provision for the bogies from the APT to be retrofitted.


It's the 1st of April: A few photoshopped images to whet your appetite!

A short post here, but topical nonetheless.

I hope that everyone out there had the joy of pulling a sneaky April Fools' prank on one of their good friends for a laugh. It's always interesting to see people's reactions to something slightly preposterous which could or could not be true.

I, personally, remember an April Fools' prank from back when I was in year 4 and the headteacher walked into our classroom to announce that there was an escaped tiger in the playground. Being the pedantic little sod that I was, I thought it was a load of utter codswallop, and it was, but everyone else rushed to the window in the hope to see one of the Earth's finest and most dangerous beings; alas not.

Anyway, I digress.


For those who follow my Flickr photostream (link here), you will know that I like to blind buses for other routes every so often, and I thought it would be interesting to post them all here for the blog's many viewers:

SN36054 / YR61RUC blinded for route 607 at Hayes By-Pass.
This working did actually happen, but only on Boxing Day 2012!
6100 / KX59AEE blinded for route 268 at South Harrow Station.
This is one of my personal favourites: as much as GR have a habit of intermixing double and single deckers, a decker will never go on route 268.
6175 / LJ55BVG blinded for 640 to Garston, Bus Garage at Harrow Weald, Clamp Hill.
Taken the day after I found out that route 640 had been lost to Metroline.
802 / C2WYC blinded for route 580 at Carousel's Bus Garage, High Wycombe.
If a Tempo did go on the 580, it would be sure to lose various panels and body parts, because it's about six feet too long for the route.
3814 / LJ58AVY blinded for route 640 at Harrow Weald, Bus Garage.
Just subbed from route 258, I was somewhat amused to find that it had 640 on the blinds!
44001 / LK57EJD blinded for route 252 at London Bus Museum, Brooklands.
This one had nothing to do with me personally - because 44001 is ex-Dagenham, someone had the good humour to put route 252 up on the blinds. The 252 is a double-decker route too, adding to the irony.
6101 / KX59AEF blinded for route 140 at South Harrow Station.
This was the most complicated and involved fake blinding that I've ever done: I used Aubrey's blind and had my friend from GR place it in the area of the number blind. Unfortunately, the sizes weren't the same and as a result it came out nowhere near what I was hoping for. D'oh!
DE60 / YX11GBU blinded for route 114 at Edgware Bus Garage.
Taken admittedly during a blindroll, this is something that apparently happened during the tube strike last year, but I was in school so can't verify that. Either way, it would be interesting to see an Enviro on the 114!
VWH2010 / LK14FBO blinded for route N7 to Rayners Lane Station at East Acton, Brunel Rd.
This could become the norm, but I think it's unlikely now. There has long been a plan to extend the N7 to Rayners Lane but it has never come to fruition; I guess only time will tell.

Similarly, I also like to fake a few of my pictures from time-to-time, generally to change the livery from dull red to something more interesting. Here is my selection:
5448 / SN08AAE on route 640 at South Harrow Station.
No livery change here: all I've done is reblind the bus, change the branding and numberplate and place it on another image with South Harrow Stn in the background.
DLE26 / T426KAG on route 398 at Northwood Hills, St Vincent's Hospital.
The numberplate is reminiscent of DP26, which was the real vehicle to bear this plate. I added the grey skirt, put the old London Sovereign logos on and changed the destination to Greenford, where the 398 used to go before 2009; I don't think DLE26 would actually fit round Racecourse Estate and Castle Road to get there though!
VH7 / BD13OJA on route 114 at Harrow Bus Station.
My first proper fake here - a completely new livery and destination blind to replicate the original Sovereign livery from the '90s.
EH6 / YX15OWW on route H50 at Stockley Park.
My latest fake from today shows a return of the trainlink livery and the H50 route which was replaced by the 350 after being extended to Heathrow Terminal 5.

Many thanks for reading; if you've any further fake or confusing pictures, please post them below.

Alternatively, tell us of a great April Fools' which you've had the privilege to experience!