15/08/2015

More Metal Comfort

Four routes in Birmingham has started a large batch of Enviro 400MMCs for National Express West Midlands:
Routes 9 and 50 (normal) and Routes 900 and 957 (Platinum branded)

Route 9: Birmingham City Centre-Stourbridge Town

National Express West Midlands 6104 on Route 9, Birmingham Queensway
National Express West Midlands 6104 on Route 9, Birmingham Queensway (© Aubrey)

Route 9 is the main route out of Birmingham City Centre to Stourbridge, which is west of Birmingham. Stourbridge is, well known, for having the line that the Class 139 PPM runs on.
The route goes through Halesowen, Quinton and Bearwood enroute to Birmingham Snow Hill.

National Express West Midlands 6106 on Route 9, Queensway
National Express West Midlands 6106 on Route 9, Queensway (© Aubrey)

The route is based at Pensnett Garage, the batch for the 9 is 6101-6122 (including generic spares).

Route 50: Birmingham City Centre-Druids Heath

National Express West Midlands 6127 on Route 50, Bullring/Moor Street
National Express West Midlands 6127 on Route 50, Bullring/Moor Street (© Aubrey)

It is termed as the Birmingham equivalent to the 25 in London. Runs with a night service, very frequent (the most frequent bus route in Birmingham, without even including the competing services by Diamond Bus/Rotala.

Bullring Bunching
And yes, it does bunch a tad.
National Express West Midlands 6125 on Route 50 leading three MMCs on Route 50 (the rear one is technically on short 50E), Bullring/Moor Street (© Aubrey)

ShortiE
National Express West Midlands 6143 on Route 50(E), Bullring/Moor Street (© Aubrey)

The 'E' suffix means "exception", which is used for short workings on routes. This could get confusing on the circular routes (11/8) at times, but otherwise a notable way of showing short workings.

Druid Reflection
National Express West Midlands 6146 on Route 50, Druids Heath (© Aubrey)

The Druid Heath terminus of the 50 is less busy than the rest of the route. Druids Heath is a housing estate with large swathes of green areas. This bus adorning a more generic branding, with a group day ticket being advertised.
The 50 is based at Yardley Wood Garage, with 6123-6148 (including generic spares) being the batch for the 50.

Route 957: Birmingham City Centre-Solihull Station

NXWM 6714 on Route 957, Bullring
National Express West Midlands 6714 on Route 957, Bullring/Moor Street (© Aubrey)

Route 957 is the limited stop route to Solihull (albeit not the most direct route). Although Route 37 is the most direct bus route to Solihull, Route 957 uses the busy Coventry Road corridor to get to Solihull. Along with Route 900, it provides a limited stop route along the corridor. It is every 15 minutes (Mon-Sat), and combined with Route 900, it runs every 7-8mins to Sheldon.

Generic Platinum
National Express West Midlands 6718 on Route 957, Solihull Station (© Aubrey)

The Platinum brand was introduced earlier in 2015 with these buses. They have wifi, e-leather seats and next stop information, typical of "premier branded buses". More metal themes here, as Stagecoach brought out Gold, Arriva bringing out Sapphire, and now to follow the metal themes, this is Platinum.

National Express West Midlands 6718 on Route 957, Moor Street
National Express West Midlands 6718 on Route 957, Moor Street (© Aubrey)

Generic Platinum buses also appear on the route, as part of the spares. This route and the 900 share the spare buses, but have their own separate branded buses too. The route is based in Birmingham Central garage (Digbeth). 6711-6715 are buses branded for the 957.
 
Route 900: Birmingham City Centre-Coventry Pool Meadow

National Express West Midlands 6709 on Route 900, Moor Street
National Express West Midlands 6709 on Route 900, Moor Street (© Aubrey)

Route 900 is the express bus route to Coventry. This is a route that I (Aubrey) will be seeing a lot more of in the next few years, as I will go to Coventry University in September 2015. This will mean that the blog will expand its frontiers to include the West Midlands more (hopefully) during this period.

What the E?
National Express West Midlands 6710 on Route 900E, Moor Street (© Lewis)

Yep, it's one of those exceptions. The 900E in this instance runs between Birmingham City Centre and Birmingham Airport/NEC as extras every 30 minutes in addition to the half hourly 900 service to Coventry. 6703-6710 are the branded buses for the 900, based alongside the 957 at Birmingham Central garage.

These routes have been since joined by the 997 and X51 (Birmingham City Centre-Walsall) which gained their Platinum E400MMCs in August.

National Express West Midlands 4902 on Route 900, Coventry Pool Meadow.
National Express West Midlands 4902 on Route 900, Coventry Pool Meadow (CC Aubrey)

And I'll leave it with one of the old guard at Coventry, a surrounding that it will take getting used to as a new chapter will begin. Don't worry, London & Home Counties stuff will still continue.

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