Kurz Quality

Quality Line MCS01 on Route 413*, Morden Station
Quality Line MCS01 on Route 413, Morden Station (© Aubrey)

Yet another returning operator for a route, this time, it's Epsom Coaches (Quality Line). Quality Line only ran the 413 between 1997 and 2001, sandwiched between London General spells.

Quality Line MCS06 on Route 413*, South Merton*
Quality Line MCS06 on Route 413, South Merton (© Aubrey)

During that spell with Quality Line, Darts were used. From the 3rd December 2016, a more unique approach has taken place with these new Mercedes-Benz Citaro Ks (K - Kurz - short). This includes the well known MCS10, formerly MBK1 back in 2013 with Quality Line (see post on MBK1). After that post, it had spells with Stagecoach London (Route 380) and London United (Route 110) It still has its LED displays. This means that this working can happen again:

Evobus Quality Line MBK1 on Route X26, Heathrow Central
Quality Line MBK1 on Route X26, Heathrow Central (CC Aubrey)

Quality Line liked the demonstrator so much, they bought the batch for the 413. They already have full-length Citaros for the X26, and Mercedes-Benz coaches, so it felt logical to continue with their good partnership with Evobus (the sellers of Mercedes-Benz buses/coaches in the UK).

Interior of Quality Line MCS05 on Route 413*, Sutton Garage
Interior of Quality Line MCS05 on Route 413, Sutton Garage (© Aubrey)

The MCSs also introduce a new moquette to Quality Line. As these are pretty small buses, but have an engine usually used to power the larger Citaro, these buses are pretty good on their acceleration. However, these buses are also much heavier than the other buses that are already in service which do similar jobs.

Quality Line MCS05 on Route 413*, Sutton Bus Garage
Quality Line MCS05 on Route 413, Sutton Bus Garage (© Aubrey)

These buses are pretty good to ride, and smooth. It did attract interest amongst other enthusiasts, with many riding the route (although not so many I saw, because I forgot Southern ran to Sutton from West Croydon...). The 413 otherwise came from peak hour journeys on the 213, but removed from its original haunts by being removed from Belmont. It now is a residential route from Sutton to Morden via West Sutton and Lower Morden.

Quality Line MCS02 on Route 413*, Sutton
Quality Line MCS02 on Route 413, Sutton (© Aubrey)

Overall, a pretty decent ride, and these durable buses should be running the 413 pretty well for the next few years.
The next and currently the last lot of Citaro Ks will go for the 110 with London United with its new contract in 2017.


Picture Archive Post 54

Stagecoach London 12134 on Route 15, Blackwall Station, 30/06/12
Stagecoach London 12134 on Route 15, Blackwall Station, 30/06/12 (© Aubrey)

12134 is an ADL Enviro 400H ordered for the 15, and ran the 5 (N15 duties), 8, 15, 205, N15 from Bow Garage until 19th March 2015, when the bus transferred to Leyton Garage for Route 56. It was ordered initially (and still is in) a special hybrid bus version of the Stagecoach interior, and this is the only batch of London buses in this interior specification. All other future hybrid Stagecoach buses are in the normal Stagecoach specification.

Route 15 started out as a cross-city route running from Acton and Ladbroke Grove to East Ham and Becontree Heath. It had journeys to Dagenham and North Woolwich in 1936, but was standardised to become Acton Vale (Sunday)/Ladbroke Grove-East Ham by 1937. STs, TDs and original LTs ran the route back then. From November 1947, the route was extended to Kew Green on Sundays via Gunnersbury Avenue. From 1948, the RT/RTW/RTL started to be the mainstray for the route, from Upton Park (U) and Middle Row (X) garages. 1964 saw the introduction of the Routemasters, which lasted on the route until 2003. From 1969, the Kew Green extension became seasonal, and at all other times, the 15 ran to Acton on Sundays. 1972 saw the Kew Green extension be extended to Kew Gardens. From 1975, the extension to Kew was again extended, this time to Richmond Bus Station, and all year round. This lasted until 1981, when it was replaced with the 7, and the 15 ended up with East Acton (Sunday)/Ladbroke Grove-East Ham. Middle Row moved to Westbourne Park in 1981, and their allocation on the 15 ended in 1982. In 1985, the route was rerouted to go via Tower of London. In 1987, the 15 was withdrawn from East Acton, and a deviation via Bank was introduced on Monday-Saturday replacing 15A. On Sundays, the route was converted to OPO with Titans. Under sectorisation, Centrewest gained an allocation from Westbourne Park on the 15 between Ladbroke Grove and Aldgate, and East London continued on the whole 15. In 1991, the route was extended from Ladbroke Grove to Westbourne Park.

In 1992, as part of widespread Central London changes, the 15 was split into the 15 and 23. The 23 took Ladbroke Grove-Liverpool Street, and 15 took Paddington-Canning Town (East Ham evenings/Sundays). However, on Sunday, there was no change. Centrewest involvement ended, and since it has stayed with East London/Stagecoach/ELBG/Stagecoach. The Sunday element also gained Scania double deckers. In 1993, the 23 replaced the northern part of the 15 completely. In 1999, the OPO element was made low-floor with Tridents. Also, the 15B was renumbered 115 (18/09/99) and the 15 was rerouted from Canning Town to Blackwall DLR Station at all times except evenings.
On 30th August 2003, the Routemasters were replaced with Tridents, and the route was withdrawn from East Ham, White Horse as the 115 was introduced in evenings. The route also moved from Upton Park to Bow (BW). In October 2007, the route was extended within Paddington to the Paddington Basin development. The route was withdrawn between Oxford Circus/Regent Street and Paddington in 2010 when the short-lived 159 extension to Paddington Basin took place. In 2011, the Tridents were replaced by Enviro 400Hs. Due to "Crossrail works", the route was further retracted "temporarily" from Oxford Circus to Trafalgar Square in 2013. This arrangement is expected to be permanent for the 15, but not for the N15. From March 2015, the Borismaster took over, as covered in this post. Other than workings off the N15, the 15 is now fully LT.


From A to D but not via C

Home of the Metropolitan line, and loved by most rail enthusiasts and staff alike, the last surviving sets of London Underground's A60/62 Stock are bowing out after around 55 years of riding the rails of Metro Land.

New to the Metropolitan line in 1960, the A Stock was at the cutting of technology at the time and had the hard task of replacing the Met's Bobo-electric loco hauled services from the City to Rickmansworth, and the subsequent steam services beyond up to Amersham and Chesham with the extension of electrification. They were built in 4 car sets, but have usually operated in 8 car formations, comprised of two sets, 4+4. They operated in 4 car sets during off peak times on the main line in the 20th century, and on the Chesham shuttle, which ceased in December 2011. In addition, A Stock was also used as 4 car trains on the East London Line, where the underground stations required the short formation of stock, especially at Wapping and Rotherhithe.

The A Stock has been the mainstay of the Metropolitan line from the 1960s up until 2012 when it was replaced by new 8 car sub-surface stock, S Stock built by Bombardier. The A Stock also saw life on the East London Line towards the end of the 20th Century up until December 2007 when the line was closed for refurbishment and extension works to become part of the new London Overground network, which opened in April 2010.

A Stock unit 5088 stands at Shoreditch on the East London Line, two days prior to permanent closure of Shoreditch station. (© Tommy)

A Stock unit 5110 at Amersham whilst operating heritage trips for the LU150 Trip to Metroland weekend in conjunction with the Rickmansworth Festival. (© Tommy)

A Stock 5110 at Harrow-on-the-Hill, the "Home of the Metropolitan Line", whilst working the usual autumnal rail adhesion duties. (© Tommy)

A Stock 5111 passes through North Ealing station on the Piccadilly line due to the very poor quality of rail which ultimately led to the closure of the Rayners Lane branch for a few days in November 2016, and contributing factor to the very limited service on the Piccadilly line in autumn 2016. (© Tommy)

The future of the Metropolitan and Piccadilly line's rail adhesion lies in the hand of a converted 5 car D Stock 7010 and 7123. Unit 7123 is seen passing through South Harrow on a test run in December 2016. (© Tommy)
The interior of the A Stock taken during the LU150 heritage rail tours in 2013. (© Tommy)

The interior of the rail adhesion car 6030. Car 6030 is the only remaining unrefurbished car of A Stock still in existence, complete with original grab handles. (© LUL)

The last passenger A Stock working on the Metropolitan line was in September 2012, a few days prior to the Farewell rail tour that covered all parts of the Met at the end of that September. Since then, three 4 car sets of A Stock have been retained for use on the Met as the rail adhesion train (RAT), one set operating, and two spares. The RAT operated as a 5 car train using the 4 car A Stock and rail adhesion carriage 6030 which was the only remaining unrefurbished car of A Stock still in existence. After the rail adhesion season in 2016, which is close to finish, the A Stock train will be finally retired from service and replaced for rail adhesion duties by a new converted 5 car D Stock train. This has been testing on the Metropolitan and Piccadilly during this year's leaf fall season and is due to be used from autumn 2017 on these two lines.

It is expected that at least two of the three sets of surviving sets of 4 car A Stock will be scrapped in the near future, with the fate of set 5110/1 unsure. LU/LTM preservation would be nice and many enthusiasts and staff alike would love to see one unit retained for LU rail tours but London Underground need to put operational requirements and running costs ahead of the fun and enjoyment for enthusiasts.

Euro BusExpo 2016

A nice easy(!) topic to discuss for my first ever WLTM blog post, and something that took way outside of my London comfort zone. There will be more about me at the bottom of this post ...

The bi-annual European BusExpo event returned to the NEC in Birmingham this year, and there was, at least vehicle-wise, a greater focus upon provincial buses than in previous years. In addition to provincial buses, the main focus of 2016's Bus Expo was on the varying forms of electric and gas powered vehicles. The primary aim of my visit to the NEC was from an enthusiast point of view looking at the newest ranges of vehicles being demonstrated, so I was there, camera in hand, ready to snap the latest designs and vehicle technologies coming off the shelf.
The first vehicle I came to was a world first. This Scania ADL E400 is the world's first Euro 6 bus, powered by food scraps and sewage waste alone. This bus is likely to be used at Nottingham.
Scania unveiling the world's first Bio Gas bus (© Tommy)

Next to the Scania "stall" was Mercedes-Benz. Their demonstration vehicle was a McGill's "ClydeFlyer" Citaro. McGill's have since announced they are gaining a further 14 new Citaros for their Clyde express routes.
McGill's Mercedes-Benz Citaro (© Tommy)
Following on from Mercedes-Benz you arrived into the Optare area. Optare were showcasing three different vehicles, two were London oriented and one provincial. The first of the London vehicles was an electric version of the Optare Metrodecker on trial with Go-Ahead on the 486.
 There were a few "first time" experiences on buses whilst at the NEC and the first came whilst trying to enter the Metrodecker. Height room for me through doors on any bus had never been an issue, but did when I tried to enter to Metrodecker through the rear doors as my forehead soon found out!

This Metrodecker EV is believed to be going on trail with Go-Ahead London, reinforced by the route 36 blinding, and the inclusion of London Central legal lettering!
Optare Metrodecker EV (© Tommy)

In addition to the Metrodecker, Optare were also showing their new MetroCity range for both London and provincial buyers. The London version was the electric MetroCity EV (top), in London Buses red with "green leaves", and the provincial version was the Metrocity xFE (bottom).
Optare MetroCity EV (© Tommy)
Optare Metrocity xFE (© Tommy)
Moving around the showroom from Optare, you came to the Alexander Dennis (AD) display and stall area. Alexander Dennis had the greatest number of buses on show, tied with Wright, four. The AD vehicles were an electric BYD E200 for Go-Ahead's Red Arrow routes in Central London, a provincial E400-City demonstrator and one of the new pink E200 MMCs for Trentbarton's Mickleover route.

Also on show was an LCEB compliant E400 MMC for Reading Buses' Royal Blue route 33. The Reading Buses E400 is powered entirely by compressed Bio-Gas (CBG) comprised from farm, food and sewage waste, similar to the Scania E400.

Go-Ahead ADL BYD E200 SEe35 (© Tommy)
Royal Blue Reading Buses ADL E400
(© Tommy)

ADL E400 City (© Tommy)

ADL E200 MMC (© Tommy)
After the ADL collection was the BYD (Build Your Dreams) section, and on display was one of Metroline's Chinese built K8SR electric double-deck BYDs, BYD1474. Five of them have been built and are in use at Willesden Garage running on routes 98 and N98, and are numbered BYD1471-1475. The first entered service on May 5th driven on a special working by TfL's Head of Surface Transport, Leon Daniels.  
Metroline BYD1474 (© Tommy)
 The biggest display stall both by quantity and star attraction was Volvo's new electric B5LHC chassis, fitted with a Wrightbus short routemaster (SRM) body, with the "C" referring to the fast Conductive charging system that relates to the overhead charging via the pantograph. The bus is charged via roof-mounted charging rails from a pantograph mounted to a charging station, as demonstrated below. The aim is that the bus would be charged from fixed spots along a route and at the termini. The bus works the same as a Volvo B5LH, that is it can operate at time in pure diesel, pure electric, or both, and would have the ability to travel up to 7km in pure electric mode without a recharge.

Wright's new electric B5LHC SRM  (© Tommy)
The interior is the basic New Bus for London (NBfL) with gold grab poles and red/grey striped/checked moquette, in two door format with a bank row of seats at the rear of each deck. The upper deck is the same as the hybrid SRM version but the downstairs is a different matter. In this electric SRM, the spacing between the front and rear doors, normally comprising of a luggage rack and four seats is instead replaced by a "battery cell pack" compartment. This compartment stretches from the front doors to the rear and rises to almost the top of the window level, to the location of the side blind box. This means that the driver cannot see the rear doors of their bus using their mirrors and has to instead rely completely on their little camera. Two of these B5LHCs have been ordered by TfL for trialling.

Next to Volvo's B5LHC Wrightbus SRM, was another Volvo chassis, the B5TL, with a Wrightbus Gemini 3 open top body in Edinburgh Tour livery.

Wright B5TL Gemini 3 open top (© Tommy)
Wrightbus had their own stand with their own in-house designs. Wrightbus were displaying two single deck vehicles and two double deck streetdecks.
The first of the two singles was a door forward (DF) Streetlite for MetroBus in "Fastway" livery for route 100.

Wright Streetlite - MetroBus 6104 (© Tommy)

The other single deck on display was one of Wrightbus' new electric single decks. The bus is the Wrightbus StreetAir EV. This is based on the Streetdeck chassis but with the classic Wrightbus single deck body at a length of 10.6m. At least one bus is due to be trialled with Go-Ahead and has been seen route testing along the 360. The StreetAir shown below was displayed with an Arriva interior so one would suggest that Arriva will also be trialling the StreetAir, possibly on the 312.

Wright StreetAir EV (© Tommy)

The two Wrightbus streetdecks were both from provincial operators. On show were Reading Buses 906 and Lothian 441. The interior of 441 has similarities with the New Bus for London, with the inclusion of "spot lights" on the upper deck and glass on the upper deck front support pillars in a similar fashion to the LTs and the electric SRM.

Wright's new Streetdeck Gemini 3s; Reading Buses 906 and Lothian 441 (© Tommy)
Also on display was a new electric single deck, Yutono E12 B39F is blue and white Arriva livery. It is very unlikely that TfL will order these vehicles due to the very small space for the front blind display.

Arriva E12 B39F Yutono (© Tommy)
The final display item was a new AD E200Dart for the Isle of Wight's Southern Vectis. HF66 CHH, 2751, stands up proud on Totalkare hydraulic jacks.
AD E200 - Southern Vectis 2751 (© Tommy)

Finally a bit about me! I have a vast interest in London's transport both from the early days of LT with RMs, RTs and RFs right up to the modern day with NBfLs and the vast array of hybrid deckers. Within London I like keep track of the London Bus network and London's vast rail network. Primarily I like to cover North West London and Central London as they are closet to my home in Harrow, but have been known to go further afield! I post my wanderings on Flickr, which can be viewed here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/127662272@N07/?deleted=15240589409. I do also have a YouTube channel but I haven't used that for years. I mainly seek out the unusual workings in London, but also cover route changes and just general pictures.
I have been brought up into a transport family with parental connections going back nearly 40 years in the LT era, and I keep the tradition going as I too now work in the transport industry.
This blog post is the first of what I hope will be many...


SOE, a return.

Note: a statement regarding changes to the members of the blog team is below. (UPDATED 21/12/16)
The 152 goes back to London General since it was lost in 2001 to Mitcham Belle.

London General SE147 on Route 152*, New Malden Fountain
London General SE147 on Route 152*, New Malden Fountain (© Aubrey)

This bus was the first London General bus to leave from New Malden (at 0540) on Route 152 since the route was lost on 1st December 2001. Twenty minutes earlier (0520), the first London General bus on Route 152 since it was lost in 2001 left Pollards Hill.

Between 2001 and 2016, the route has had 3 operators with 4 owners. The first was Mitcham Belle, with the order of new Caetano Nimbus bodied Dennis Darts. Unfortunately, the company suffered various issues, meaning that the bus operations were bought out by Centra Parking Services in August 2004. This brought about even more issues as the inherited fleet was not to the standard Centra had. This meant varied loaned and leased buses were used for Centra routes. Eventually, the 152 was lost by tender to Travel London in December 2006. However, Centra was not handling operations well, so Travel London brought in loaned Darts from Stagecoach, as well as Darts from the U7 to run the 152 from April 2006. From December 2006, new Enviro 200s and existing Darts from the loss of the 203 to London United were the allocation on the 152 as Travel London gained the proper contract of the 152. Through NS (Abellio) buying out Travel London, it ended with Abellio London running the 152.

Abellio London 8506 on Route 152, Pollards Hill
Abellio London 8506 on Route 152, Pollards Hill (CC Aubrey)

All of those events have made the transfer of the 152 from Abellio London to London General look very smooth. However, the route is plagued by traffic issues at certain points of the route.

The route is operated with, and allocated Enviro 200s of two bodies.

London General SE147 on Route 152*, Wimbledon Chase*
London General SE147 on Route 152*, Wimbledon Chase* (© Aubrey)

The first is the body supplied by ADL (Enviro 200). Displaced from the double-decker conversion of Route D8, this batch of 61reg Enviro 200s were ordered for the D8.

Docklands Buses SE142 on Route D8, Stratford International
Docklands Buses SE142 on Route D8, Stratford International (CC Aubrey)

Once they became homeless, some were transferred from Docklands Buses to London General, initially for temporary Route 563. SE147 still had the cards from its spell on the 563! Once the W19 was lost, that paved the way for most of them to move onto the 152. Currently, buses are route-bound to Route 152 due to the new blinds.

London General SOE30 on Route 152*, Wimbledon Chase Station*
London General SOE30 on Route 152*, Wimbledon Chase Station* (© Aubrey)

The 152 is also run with these SOE (Optare Esteem bodied Enviro 200s) buses that are off routes such as the 163, 164 and 80. Not all buses on the 152 were blinded for the 152, as at least one un-blinded SOE made it onto the route.

London General SE145 on Route 152*, Wimbledon Chase*
London General SE145 on Route 152*, Wimbledon Chase* (© Aubrey)

Now, the route is run from Merton Garage, having been away from there since December 2001. Hopefully the 152 continues to run as a normal route.

Due to circumstances regarding violation of the ethos of the blog, his position was untenable and Anthony has been dropped from the WLTM Transport Blog team. We thank him for his services to the blog over the past few months. It will take a few days for pages within the blog to change. This post ironically is of one of his local routes.
A replacement member/s has/have already been found, and will be confirmed as of the 13/02/17.


Alternative Technologies: The Colourless Order

Reading Buses, already having made a prominent name for themselves in the UK gas bus market, have decided to step up their game from the Alexander-Dennis Enviro 300-bodied Scania K270UB CNGs currently forming the majority of their single decker fleet. And they've done this using none other than ADL's new contraption: the Alexander-Dennis Enviro 400MMC-bodied Scania N280UD CNG. Well, not at first...

ScaniADL Pair
Oh look, both types of ADL/Scania buses managed to make it into the picture! E300/K270UB 413/YR13PLZ working a 9 to Whitley Wood passes new E400MMC/N250UD 775/YN65BBX dropping off passengers after having worked a 33 from Turnhams Farm (© Omar)

Although only temporary place holders for the actual Royal Blue Scanias(which are being built), the white batch of Scania MMCs are deployed on Royal Blue routes 33(Reading Station - Turnhams Farm) and 33a(Reading Station - Tilehurst Triangle). They are currently running alongside the 2 ex-Claret MMCs that have been repainted into Royal Blue livery, 756/YX64VRR and 757/YX64VRT, and Reading's spare fleet. This was done to replace the Scania N230UD/Optare Olympuses on the route.

Reading Buses 857 on Route 33, Reading Station
Reading Buses 857 on Route 33, Reading Station (© Aubrey)

Nevertheless, the white Scania MMCs should be an indication of the hopefully permanent order of yet another batch of Scania MMCs that are actually painted in blue for the 33 and 33a. These MMCs do not feature the typical Reading Buses extras(charging points and announcements), alluding to the fact that they are indeed only temporary.

Brand new - Reading Buses 775/YN66BBX | Route 33a | Reading, Station Street
775/YN66BBX dropping off passengers on Station Street ready to work a 33a to Tilehurst Triangle (© Omar)

And yes, I did get a video this time:

Having tried two of these, I must say I am genuinely impressed by them. The ride quality is smooth and sturdy, as one would expect from a Scania. They sound largely the same as Euro 5 Scanias, but have the rather lovely howl of the diff(as shown by my video). It's rather safe to say that ADL and Scania have continued on and set a new modern standard from the E300/K270UB CNG to the E400MMC/N250UD(and hopefully the E400MMC/N280UD-CNG combo), and it's not hard to notice the significant difference in quality from the Euro 4 and 5 equivalents of the chassis to the current Euro 6 variant. As I would say personally, top job Scania!

Brand new - Reading Buses 777/YN66BBZ | Route 33a | Reading, Station Street
And to round off the post, here's one of my personal favourite shots from the day. 777/YN66BBZ drops off passengers at Reading, Station Street having just worked a 33 from Turnhams Farm, ready for its next run, a 33a to Tilehurst Triangle. © Omar


Picture Archive Post 53

Metroline TPL272 on Route 32, Cricklewood, 08/06/12
Metroline TPL272 on Route 32, Cricklewood, 08/06/12 (© Aubrey)

TPL272 is a Transbus Trident/Plaxton President new to Metroline in 2002. It started life at Potters Bar for the 82 when the route was converted to low-floor. Afterwards, it had a normal life going through Metroline routes from Potters Bar, Cricklewood, Holloway and then back to Cricklewood. By 2012, when the bus was withdrawn, the bus was doing Route 32 from Cricklewood. After withdrawal on 1st November 2012 (yay), the bus then was sold and moved to Newport Bus for use on town services, where it is today.

Route 32 started out to run between Edgware Station and Kilburn Park Station, replacing the southern half of Route 142. Running from Cricklewood Garage with Routemasters from 13th June 1970. A short Sunday allocation at Hendon (AE) occurred in 1971, before conversion to Daimler Fleetline OPO (DMS) operation in March 1971. The MCW Metrobus then became the standard type for the 32 from 1980. A short peak-hour deviation via Graham Park Estate to Mill Hill Broadway ran between 1981 and 1996. It passed over to Metroline after sectorisation. In 1996, single deck Dennis Lances replaced the Metrobuses and ran on the route until it was converted back to double deck (with low floors) in 2000. Dennis Trident/ALX400s then became the allocation. After a while, the allocation for the 32 became "all the cast-offs from the 16" and "any double decker in Cricklewood". It currently has the Enviro 400 hybrid cast-offs from the 16 as the allocation.

Also, a note from Aubrey:
Due to the rush in making the previous post by me, I was not able to explain my hiatus from the blog prior to now. From about September, I was going though a lot of personal social upheaval, which along with coursework from university, led that it was unsustainable to continue blogging. The time off allowed me to have more time with myself, allowing to think decisions through and sort my own life out. Quite a few of my friends know exactly what had happened, but at the end of the day, I've recovered better than before. WLTM Transport Blog is not just any blog team. It is a team of friends who blog in their spare time, and it has been like that since the blog became a team back in 2012. Teams of friends stick together, talk with each other and help each other out when another friend is in need. Tommy Cooling has joined the blog, although he'll talk more about himself when he released his first post.

Thanks to Lewis, Josh, Jacek, Omar and Tommy for helping me get through a hard time, and now, we all continue blogging.
From the pretty strong WLTM Transport Blog team, thank you for your patience, and near-normal blogging will resume!


Great Western Electrics

The Great Western Main Line electrification programme has allowed GWR to replace some of their Networker Turbos with new electric trains. Although the wires have not reached Reading yet, the trains have already been built. So as wires already reach Hayes & Harlington, and there is a large amount of overcrowding on GWR services in the London area already, why not introduce them on the already electrified section?

First Great Western Electrostar
GWR 387133 (and 387130), Hayes & Harlington (© Aubrey)

So they did. The Class 387/1s have third rail shoes as they are very similar to the 387s at Great Northern (Thameslink). Introduced initially on some peak hour journeys, the new 387s provide much needed relief on the GWML commuter services.

The timetable shows two AM eastbound, one westbound, and two eastbound, three westbound services (© Aubrey). This was taken at Ealing Broadway on the Saturday before the start of service. These services take Greenford branch slots. During this time, the Greenford branch terminates at West Ealing bay platform.

GWR Electrostar Route Map
GWR Electrostar Route Map (© Aubrey)

Currently, the services will only run between Hayes & Harlington and London Paddington, and GWR aim to have a service between those two places every 30 minutes with these Class 387s by early 2017. Once the electrification (for Crossrail + Great Western Modernisation) to Maidenhead is complete in Summer 2017, electric services will be extended to Maidenhead. Eventually, these trains will form most of the non-Crossrail Thames Valley services. Not all branch lines will be electrified, however.

Great Western Renewal
GWR 43163 next to 387130/387133, Paddington (© Aubrey)

GWR have ordered more than the initial 8 units that were ordered, with the uptake of the rest of the Porterbrook order "for future demand" that isn't going to National Express c2c and 23 more, with a total of 45 units going to GWR. This allows Thameslink 387/1s to move to Great Northern instead of GWR. The Class 387s are to eventually cascade most of the Class 165/166 to the South West & Bristol, replacing Pacers and other BR-era trains in the area.

Eventually, with electrification, the HSTs and Class 180s* will, too, be partially replaced by newer electric trains. The Intercity Express Programme Hitachi units (Class 800/801) will soon take over most express diesel services over 2017-2018. Electrification of services, modernisation of stations and ERTMS signalling installation making up most of the approx £5bn (with parts now indefinitely deferred) Great Western Modernisation Programme.

The first GWR electric service departed Paddington at Platform 11 at 0715, formed of 387130 and 387133. (© Aubrey)

As the 387s are more permanent to the GWR franchise, they have gained a GWR interior, as shown:

Interior of a GWR Class 387 (387130)
Interior of a GWR Class 387 (387130) (© Aubrey)

This is only the second batch of 387s that do not have the Southern interior - the other being the 387/2s for Gatwick Express.

Table inside GWR 387133
(© Aubrey)

Amenities include no First Class and plug sockets on each side of the train for most seats. The seats are the same as other 387s other than the colours. This also introduces a newer PIS system for GWR:

A video of the PIS in action leaving Ealing Broadway - note there is a lot of wheelslip as it was a fairly wet day. The usual "Coach 1 of 8" announcement standard in nearly all Electrostars still exist!

First Great Western Electrostar
GWR 387133 (and 387130), Hayes & Harlington (© Aubrey)

As the bay platform at Hayes & Harlington is not yet finished, the 387s went to a siding, before returning for the return trip back to London. Usage of these peak hour services are quite high, and these services get quite busy. Thus, it is very good that this necessary capacity is being provided now.

GWR 387130, Hayes & Harlington
GWR 387130, Hayes & Harlington (© Aubrey)

The first services have done well. The Class 387s are just like any other 387s albeit with a different interior (that isn't a Gatwick Express one). Hopefully, the electrification delays subside enough so there is more capacity on services on the GWML to Reading, Maidenhead, Burnham, Slough etc.