Night Tube Changes, But... (NBAD 8)

...no night Tube, obviously. TfL decided to increase the frequency of 53N and N68, give 24 hour weekend service to Routes 132, 486, 154 and permanent 24 hour service to Routes 222 and 238 (thus 222N and 238N). But two significant changes were:

Route N47 is rerouted via Route 199 between Canada Water and Lewisham, being renumbered N199.

Longest Night Route in London
Stagecoach London 10135 on Route N199, Trafalgar Square (© Aubrey)

This makes Route N199 one of the longest bus routes in London, in fact overtaking N9 and making it just as long as N89. However, the service is worsened for those who use it in the later times of the morning and at around midnight.

Last to St Mary Cray on the First Night
Stagecoach London 19842 on Route N199, London Bridge (CC Aubrey)
It isn't even 4:30am and this is the last N199 to St Mary Cray. Early morning journeys are curtailed to Bellingham afterwards, which gives people with early morning starts a very long journey via 208, 47 (and 15) instead of one direct N47. On Sundays, these journeys run to St Mary Cray (and the last bus northbound does another southbound journey). With N47, the last southbound bus was 5:27am on Saturdays (5:20am on Sundays) to St Mary Cray.

Night Short
Stagecoach London 10132 on Route N199, London Bridge (CC Aubrey)

As seen by this bus, the last two journeys (Mon-Sat am) are shorts to Bellingham, leaving people that need to go further to trot along on slower day buses. This did not happen with the N47, with all buses on the N47 running full route.

Last of the First Day
Stagecoach 10203 on Route N199, Charing Cross Station (CC Aubrey)

This is 5am, and the last N199 arrives at Charing Cross. The last N47 every day was at least at around 6:20-6:30am arriving at Trafalgar Square.
The first N47 at any point was the 11:24/8pm service from Trafalgar Square (11:40pm on Mon-Fri), but the first N199 is the 12:56am from Lewisham to Trafalgar Square.
A heavy reduction of services on the fringes. NBADs will have to start earlier in the night, but think of the poor regulars whose latest N47s have been replaced by a 208-47 journey!

Route 47(N) (night service of Route 47) replaces part of Route N47:

Stagecoach London 18488 on Route 47N, London Bridge
Stagecoach London 18488 on Route 47N, London Bridge (© Aubrey)

Also, Route N133 is extended to Morden via the 118. Banditry ensures.

First Night Banditry
Arriva London T98 on Route N133, London Bridge (© Aubrey)

The route now has buses which start and finish slightly earlier, but otherwise the timetables do not have many differences, except the obvious extension to Morden.

Double Banditry
Arriva London T88 on Route N133, London Bridge (© Aubrey)

And the obvious banditry.

Arriva London VLA1 on Route N133, London Bridge
Arriva London VLA1 on Route N133, London Bridge (© Aubrey)

In one direction only.

The TfL surveyors were at London Bridge and Morden (at least) doing the new changes. The N199 was emptier than the equivalent N47s which are pretty full as commented by them. Overall, the changes exist and slightly benefit a few. At least Shoreditch has another night bus service to relieve the N35 (the 47N).


The end of London Midland's 321s. (210915)

Binspirational. 321413 stands at Watford Junction 1 week before withdrawal ©LT3001
As of Sunday 20th September, the last 321 under London Midland run on the St. Albans Abbey line. All of London Midland's Class 321s (Bins) will be replaced by former Thameslink 319s.
The rather lazy logo application to a 319. ©LT3001

319216 was the first to run, replacing the bin at 16:04 from Watford, and remained on the line until the last trip. The unit, as the others are, are still in Southern colours, with LM decals on the sides. The units will be repainted into the appropriate livery in due course. One unit is sporting the new livery at present, but it isn't finished yet.

London Midland even advertised that the first 319 was coming to the line on their PIS systems, whether any ordinary people took notice is another matter however.

319003, 319216, 319429 and 319460 are the units transferring to London Midland from Thameslink. As well as operating on the Abbey Flyer, these units will also operate peak time services to/from London Euston to Watford Junction, Milton Keynes, Tring and Northampton.

So some of you may be asking, where will the 321s go? Well two are destined for London Overground for the Romford-Upminster line, which will later become TfL Rail, and the rest are destined for Abellio Scotrail to join the Scottish Class 320 units of similar design.

The old replaced by the old. 319216 stands at St. Albans Abbey displaying Northampton for some peculiar reason. ©LT3001
With these units now over half way through their serviceable lives, and having had worked with Network SouthEast, Connex South Central, Southern, Thameslink, First Capital Connect, Northern Rail and London Midland, and for plans* to later be used with Great Western Railway and Southeastern, who knows when these units will leave UK service for good...

*= Plans mean plans. Nothing is set in stone.



This post actually works out rather well because I can actually write about the ends of two completely different eras, both of which affect this blog.

The First (aha, get the joke...) is momentous and quite sad really, because it is the withdrawal of First Beeline in the Bracknell area (hence the one-off yellow background). Here on WLTM we have written a number of posts about the 'war' between First Beeline and Courtney Buses, each competing which each other's services and the council tendered services also ran a hokey-cokey between the two operators. These posts are here:

  1. Courtney begins to attack
  2. Thames Travel surrender leaving Bracknell to First and Courtney only
  3. Developments in Maidenhead, now dubbed the 'Berkshire Bus War'
  4. First make some radical changes in Bracknell
  5. Courtney spread their wings
  6. More changes at Bracknell, including the introduction of B-suffixed routes
  7. Courtney has won
        (click on the post to view it)

And this is the eighth post, detailing the final day of First Beeline and in the process we will look back through the history of Beeline in Bracknell including a synopsis of all the above seven posts. So here we go...

In 1986, when the Government-owned National Bus Company was split up, the Berks Bucks Bus Co. was created, with the trading name BEELINE. The company took over the allocations from the Bracknell, High Wycombe, Maidenhead, Newbury, Reading and Wokingham garages. The company became wholly private when it was sold to Q Drive in late 1987. Q Drive had just also set up London Buslines in 1985 to run the TFL tendered route 81, which is probably where you've heard that name before. In 1988 the company also bought the operations of Aldershot & District.

After only a few years' operation, Q Drive sells the High Wycombe depot to the Go-Ahead owned Oxford Bus Company, creating the Wycombe Bus Company (which is now Arriva) in 1990. Also in 1990, the Aldershot & District services were sold to Drawlane Transport to create a new network in Guildford and West Surrey. In 1992, the depots at Reading and Wokingham became publicly owned once more under the new, and still growing, Reading Buses. The remaining Aldershot services are bought by Stagecoach which also still operate in the area under the Hants & Surrey blanket.

However, after many losses as detailed above, Q Drive then buy the Slough Depot from Luton & District to integrate it in with their other operations in 1993. At the same time, the depot in Maidenhead is closed.

In 1996, the whole network of Beeline, Railair, Londonlink and London Buslines are sold from Q Drive to CentreWest (based in London), and only a year later the nationwide First Group buys the whole of Centrewest, including the new Q Drive operations. First continued the Beeline brand until 2001 when it was renamed First Berkshire & Thames Valley.

A brand new Citaro for the Slough-Heathrow routes
sits at a rally just after entering service, showing the
original livery.
CC Steven Hughes

In the interim of 1997, when Beeline transferred to First, to 2003 many new vehicles were introduced including the ubiquitous Dart but with slightly more unusual Marshall and Alexander ALX200 bodywork, along with Mercedes Citaros for the airport routes.

Since then, the operations have changed little, with minor reworking of route networks and service alterations as times changed and passenger numbers grew or depreciated. First Berkshire & Thames Valley have fought many battles in their 18 years so far, including a battle fought with Courtney in Maidenhead, from which First waved their white flag and withdrew in 2004.

One of the most successful Beeline routes is the Greenline 702 which runs from London Victoria to Bracknell via Slough, Windsor & Legoland. Peak 701 journeys run to Great Hollands missing out Windsor, and a newer 700 service does not stop at Slough. These routes received brand new double decker buses in 2008, 2011 and 2013; the final batch of which was covered in the first post (link above) on the Bracknell Bus War (30/11/2013).

First Beeline 64602 (Route 191), Thames Travel 503 (Route 108), Bracknell
Two things you'll no longer see - a Thames Travel 108 is picking
up behind a now withdrawn First Solar on route 191 to Windsor.
CC Aubrey
First had already set up a fairly slick operation at Bracknell with town circular services as well as services to Wokingham, Reading and the aforementioned Greenline to London. They had only just relaunched the Beeline brand, as that name had not been mentioned since the millennium, with a new yellow version of their interurban livery. Thames Travel ran the few council-tendered service, and Courtney just poked around echoing the already established First routes 171/172 and 194, running the tendered evening and Sunday services and then their own competitive day services as well.
Smart Dart
A Dart transferred from Hampshire & Dorset works
the 153 from Bracknell to Warfield Tesco.
© Lewis

When Thames Travel surrendered the council-tendered contracts for Courtney and First to take up, things began to look up for the First who took routes 53, 108 and 153 (see the second post, 18/01/2014). They brought in some old Darts from Hampshire & Dorset to work these routes. However these contracts had only 4 months left, leaving the future for these routes uncertain.

As mentioned before, First left Maidenhead in 2004, leaving the main routes there to Courtney. However, in late 2013, First set up their own 8 (and interworking X9 to High Wycombe) to compete with Courtney's similar service. Their main advertisement included free journeys on the first weekend of service and a prominent WE GIVE CHANGE on the destination screen which highlights that Courtney do not offer change and First wanted to challenge that paradigm (see the third post, 23/11/2013).

First Beeline 64001 on Route 190, Reading St Mary's Butts
A rather smart looking 64001 leaves Reading on the
soon to be withdrawn 190 route.
CC Aubrey
In mid-2014, First Berkshire changed their services in Bracknell including various renumbered routes, new routes and routeing changes. Route 155 became the B5, routes 171/172 were replaced by new routes B1, B2 and B3, and the 190 was split into two 90s with one running direct via John Nike and the other via the Southern Estates. Route 194 was also altered to differentiate it from the Courtney equivalent, renumbered 94; the X94 was withdrawn (see the fourth post, service changes on the 16/08/2014).

Early Morning Blues
A Blue Solo on the new 192 to Windsor.
CC Aubrey
Courtney was the next to make a move, offering alternatives to First's 190 and 191 services with the 189 and 192 respectively. The 189 was very similar to the 190 (this was before the change to the 90) but ran to Jennett's Park. This did seem a strange move as the new 90 via Southern Estates would also serve Jennett's Park from the end of the month. Up to Windsor, the 192 offered a peak-time alternative to the 191 using the buses which would then take up service during the day on Windsor routes 6/6A/16. With First's 171/172 withdrawn, Courtney took this open opportunity to up their publicity on these routes and the 194, which now had separate branding (see the fifth post, 05/08/2014).

First Beeline TN33153 on Route X1, Reading Station
A Trident leaves Reading on the X1 service express
to Bracknell then all stops in the Southern Estates.
CC Aubrey
The sixth post (24/11/2014) covers the changes mentioned above. It also shows the short-lived X1 route from Bracknell & Southern Estates running direct to Reading via the A329(M). Also at this time, Beeline received some newer Enviro200s for the Bracknell routes replacing the old and worn-out Darts.

Things stayed as they were for about 6 months, possibly the longest time with no changes for a while in the area, but the biggest hit was yet to come. Courtney won all of the Bracknell Forest tenders. Yes, all of them. It would mean that routes 53, 108, 151, 151A and 153 would all transfer from First to Courtney on 13th July 2015. It came to light that First were no longer making enough money to keep the services in Bracknell going, so it was announced at the beginning of Summer 2015 that they would withdraw from the area and close the Bracknell depot. Both variants of route 90 passed to Reading Buses on 26th July and were rebranded as the 4/X4 on the last day of August. The final Beeline routes (191, B1, B2, B3, B5) were withdrawn on 28th August 2015, when the depot was closed for the foreseeable future. Stagecoach took up operation of route 94 from the next day.

Beeline Variety
64013 (L) and 33143 (R) on route B1 on the last day of its operation at
Bracknell Bus Stn.
© Lewis

32348 on route 94 on the last day of its First operation at Bracknell.
© Aubrey
Been there B4
64020 (L) and 64012 (R) on routes B3 and B5 on their final day of operation at
Bracknell Bus Stn.
© Lewis

First Berkshire 33143 on Route 191, Legoland
33143 on route 191 on the last day of its operation at Legoland entrance.
© Aubrey

Bye Bye Bracknell Forest
64018 on route B2 in the Bracknell Forest / Southern Estates area on the
final day of its operation.
© Lewis

The Greenline routes 700/701/702 have been rerouted along the 191 between Windsor and Bracknell following a petition from the area as there are no other services along that corridor. Now worked out of Slough, the 700 and 701 will be put to sleep for the winter very soon leaving only the 702 left of First in Bracknell.

37999 climbs Legoland Hill on the last day of its Bracknell operation.
© Aubrey
London via Datchet
37985 at Bracknell Bus Station on its last day of Bracknell operation,
on route 700 which is set to be withdrawn soon.
© Aubrey
The Last Proper One
The final Bracknell-worked 702 to leave for London was in fact this
Trident, no. 33179, seen here en-route at Slough. Farewell, Bracknell.
© Lewis
The last day of First in Bracknell was momentous - enthusiasts of all ages came down to Bracknell to catch the Beeline in its last moments. Out of a Beeline Citaro and a Courtney Solo, I know I'd choose the Citaro in a heartbeat, but unfortunately the people of Bracknell no longer have that option. So here's to First in Bracknell and the second end of Beeline, but perhaps it will return again...

Bye Bye Beeline
64018 displaying route 702 as an appropriate tribute to Bracknell's
Beeline operations. Many thanks to the kind driver (who's smiling in
this shot!) who changed it for me.
© Lewis


And the second 'End of an Era' is that our very own Aubrey has now left London to study at the University of Coventry for the next 3 years. I think all of our readers will join me in firstly congratulating him and wishing him the best of luck.
As his commitments rise, Aubrey will be able to contribute to the blog less, so I will step up to cover more of the changes in and around London whilst he is away. It also does mean, however, that our scope will widen even further to cover changes in the area of Coventry and the wider West Midlands (which is why that county now appears on our fabulous new header) - a change which I'm sure you will all welcome.

The End of an Era
'AU1' to Coventry University: a little fake pic I did as an appropriate image to encapsulate both the bulk of this
post about the loss of Beeline, and Aubrey's move to Coventry. I've attempted to mimic the typical Berkshire
display style, including a LED mortarboard to the left of the main destination.

That's all for now; I hope you enjoyed this long post as much as I enjoyed writing it. Don't forget to comment below, along with making the WLTM Transport Blog part of your blog list and hitting the 'Like' button on our Facebook page.

Written by Lewis J N, September 2015.


Picture Archive Post 39

Yep, this post is being typed from Coventry.

London United DPS581 on Route 419, Barnes Bridge, 15/11/11
London United DPS581 on Route 419, Barnes Bridge, 15/11/11 (© Aubrey)

Route 419 is a fairly new route, starting on the 11th November 2000 running between Hammersmith and Richmond via Castelnau and Mortlake. The routing hasn't changed since (except for the Hammersmith terminal revision when the lower bus station opened). The route was born from the R69 which was born in 1990. The 419 started at Stamford Brook Garage, before moving to Hounslow in October 2002 for a short while before returning to Stamford Brook Garage at August 2003. However, in November 2005, the 419 was one of the first two routes for new operator NCP Challenger based in Twickenham. They renamed themselves as NSL Services before being sold to Transdev/London Sovereign. The planned transfer to London United happened and has stayed at London United again since. The route moved to Stamford Brook when Twickenham garage had its TfL services moved away from it. Then when the E3 arrived, the route moved to its present garage at Shepherd's Bush.

DPS581 started out as one of the Darts for Route 290, allocated to Fulwell Garage in December 2001. The bus stayed at Fulwell before moving to London Sovereign (Harrow) then Twickenham (where it is seen here). In March 2013, it was transferred to Fulwell before going off-lease in September 2013. It hadn't been repainted throughout the whole of its life at London United, interestingly.


Blackbird New Buses. Again.

Stagecoach Oxfordshire 10434 on Route 1, Oxford City Centre
Stagecoach Oxfordshire 10434 on Route 1, Oxford City Centre (© Aubrey)

Blackbird Leys seems to have a lot of new buses because just after the Streetdecks by Oxford came in, Stagecoach put new Enviro 400MMCs on Route 1.

Stagecoach Oxfordshire 10431 on Route 1, Cowley
Stagecoach Oxfordshire 10431 on Route 1, Cowley (© Aubrey)

These buses replace hybrid Enviro 400s which aren't exactly that old anyway!

Stagecoach Oxfordshire 10433 on Route 1, Cowley
Stagecoach Oxfordshire 10433 on Route 1, Cowley (© Aubrey)

The ride isn't too bad on either bus. The seats are better on the MMC than on the Streetdeck. However, the Streetdeck has next stop information and wi-fi whilst the Stagecoach MMC doesn't.

New Buses to Blackbird Leys
Oxford Bus Company 654 on Route 5 and Stagecoach Oxfordshire 10431 on Route 1, Cowley (© Aubrey)

It has turned out to be the competition of angular styles. Pick which one is the best. Blackbird Leys and those under the 1/5 route certainly have that choice!


Surrey Bus Review August 2015

Surrey County Council have decided to consult and cut services again to save money. That's the bluntest way to put it. The changes went through on the 29th August 2015, which also meant that the last day of these lot coincided with a large change down in Bracknell.

Abellio Surrey changes are the main changes to be covered due to the limited time to cover them. The full changes can be found on this document.

Route 590: Staines-Stanwell Moor - Bear Buses and Abellio Surrey journeys withdrawn.

The Second to Last Abellio 590
Abellio Surrey 8773 on Route 590, Staines Bus Station (© Aubrey)

This route was part of the replacement of the 441 at Stanwell Moor when it was diverted away from the village. It will be replaced by the 446 extension to Heathrow Terminal 5 (which is ironically via where the 441 used to go between Staines and Heathrow).

Route 451: Staines-Brooklands - withdrawn.

The Second to Last Day of the 451
Abellio Surrey 8108 on Route 451, Brooklands Retail Park (© Aubrey)

This route is being replaced partly by a Route 514 extension, thus reducing the complete service level to every 2 hours from every 30 minutes. The new 514 is so complicated, I can't even understand the timetable!

Second to Last Day of Route 451
Abellio Surrey 8001 on Route 451, Chertsey Sainsbury's (© Aubrey)

The route, formerly known as Route 51, used to run all the way to Heathrow Terminal 5 before being retracted to Staines. It has also changed operator from First to Abellio before. The Brooklands part is replaced by the 436 as well as the 514, which does mean that Weybridge-Staines can really only be done by train.

Route 459: Kingston-Woking - withdrawn

Abellio Surrey 8445 on Route 459, Addlestone Tesco
Abellio Surrey 8445 on Route 459, Addlestone Tesco (© Aubrey)

Replaced as well by the extensively confusing 514. The alternative services include the 458, 514, 461, 556, 557 and 592. Yeah...

Two Modes, One Stop
A South West Trains 455/8 passes Abellio Surrey 8445 on Route 459, Kingston (© Aubrey)

This does affect quite a few passengers as a regular service is replaced by yet another confusing service. It also means there is no more direct bus from Kingston to Woking anymore. Passengers that I had spoken to had been basically told to walk to their nearest bus stop, even though it isn't the best option for them.

Route 438: Staines-Shepperton via Royal Estate - withdrawn Royal Estate-Shepperton

Withdrawn Duo
Abellio Surrey 8108 on Route 451 & 8090 on Route 438, Staines Bus Station (CC Aubrey)

The route also has a reduced frequency in order to interwork with the 566/567. Although it is replaced by a 438 frequency increase. Some section of Worple Road however will force people to walk to their bus stop.

438 at Shepperton
Abellio Surrey 8090 on Route 438, Shepperton Station (© Aubrey)

Route 515A: Kingston-Guildford via Hampton Court - withdrawn

Abellio Surrey 8004 on Route 515A, Kingston
Abellio Surrey 8004 on Route 515A, Kingston (© Aubrey)

Route 557: Heathrow Terminal 5-Woking Station - withdrawn Sunbury Tesco-Heathrow

Second to Last Day of 557 Sunbury-Heathrow
Abellio Surrey 8004 on Route 557, Ashford Hospital (© Aubrey)

Replaced by Route 446 which has been extended from Staines via the 441 route and Stanwell Moor to Heathrow Terminal 5. The 557 (and new 556) will also swap routes with the 446 between Addlestone and Woking (albeit 556 will run via West Byfleet and 557 will run via Woodham).

Route 514: Extended in something complicated to Weybridge/Brooklands

Abellio Surrey 8066 on Route 514, Kingston Cromwell Road
Abellio Surrey 8066 on Route 514, Kingston (© Aubrey)

The route is replaced within London by Route 965 at Lovelace Gardens (which has been increased to run thrice a week now!).
The route is extended from Hersham via Walton to Weybridge. Then it runs alternate directions in a loop including Weybridge Station, Byfleet Village, Brooklands Retail Park and Byfleet & New Haw Station.

Other changes to Abellio services include the extension of Route 555 to Hersham and a re-routing of Route 458.

Other operators:

Metrobus Route 540: Woldingham-Redhill - withdrawn

Metrobus 379 on Route 540, Redhill Bus Station
Metrobus 379 on Route 540, Redhill Bus Station (CC Aubrey)

Replaced by Route 357 rerouted, certain journeys on Route 409 and a Caterham-Woldingham Buses 4U service.

Metrobus Route 526/527: Crawley-Gatwick circular - partly withdrawn, renumbered.

Metrobus 6535 on Route 526, Horley
Metrobus 6535 on Route 526, Horley (© Aubrey)

The route, renumbered to Route 26, is being curtailed at Horley and will only run via Ifield and Charlwood. It is replaced by Route 424 being rerouted, even though it breaks some links to Gatwick Airport (which were lost by withdrawal anyway due to roadworks).

Other changes include Routes (Southdown) 357, (Metrobus) 409, (Southdown) 424 being rerouted, Metrobus Route 22 having no Saturday service, some journeys being withdrawn on Woking-area services, Arriva Route 437 being extended to Weybridge from West Byfleet, Arriva Route 34/35 timetable being redrafted and Arriva Route 35 not serving Hermitage Estate.

Overall, a clear set of mind to cut costs that seems to be a trend across a lot of the bus industry, especially outside London. It will affect many people across Surrey, although it does give a few some new links. Thanks, economy(!).



Fastrack, the busway system of Dartford, Bluewater, Greenhithe and Gravesend has just recently got new buses.

From A to B
Arriva Southern Counties 4310 on Fastrack B next to 4301 on Fastrack A, Dartford Home Gardens (© Aubrey)

Yep, Streetlites. And surprisingly, they are quite fast (on the busway sections at least).

Arriva Southern Counties 4316 on Fastrack B, Dartford
Arriva Southern Counties 4316 on Fastrack B, Dartford (© Aubrey)

They have the usual offering of charging plugs/USB ports and wi-fi (which can work). Otherwise they are Daimler engined Streetlites.

A and B
Arriva Southern Counties 4305 on Fastrack A and 4302 on Fastrack B, Dartford (CC Aubrey)

Arriva Southern Counties 4307 & 4313 on Fastrack B, Darent Valley Hospital
Arriva Southern Counties 4307 & 4313 on Fastrack B, Darent Valley Hospital (© Aubrey)

Although these aren't as good as the previous buses, and certainly aren't the most fitting replacements to the former Volvos, they still look presentable even with the Streetlite front.

Arriva Southern Counties 4306 on Fastrack A, Bluewater
Arriva Southern Counties 4306 on Fastrack A, Bluewater (© Aubrey)

Overall, these buses aren't as bad as I was expecting. Surprisingly fast when needed. Alright to ride on, and the e-leather seats do exist again. Quite similar to the Carousel Streetlites in their turn of speed. Could have been worse.