20/05/2016

Picture Archive Post 47

Metroline DP27 on Route E8, Brentford Station, 19/06/10
Metroline DP27 on Route E8, Brentford Station, 19/06/10 (© Aubrey)

This month's Picture Archive revisits the E8 (see Post 26), which will be changing on the 28th May 2016, with an extension to Hounslow Bell Corner and a full double decking. Nearly six years prior to that, Metroline were running the E8 with various Darts, including this example, which has a pretty interesting history.

W127 WGT, or DP27 started life as a Mitcham Belle bus new for their gain of routes 200 and 201. It donned the colours of red, white and blue for their role as part of the Dart/Pointer fleet that ran routes 127, 152, 200, 201 and 493. In 2002, it gained the fleet number of 032 as the coach turned bus company expanded with the gain of the 152 and 493 in 2002.

Unfortunately for Mitcham Belle, everything seemed to be in poor shape, and when Centra (Parking Services) took over in August 2004, they had the mammoth task of retrieving a service. Centra were then well known for pretty much hiring as many single deckers as they could, with poor presentation. This was due to the poor availability of the buses as most of them needed work. Also, poor performance, drivers and poor public relations did not help. This bus itself was put into Centra's books as its DP27 and was repainted into a similar colour scheme as seen in the photo, with a silver instead of white band. Centra pretty much lost everything, with the 127 and 152 handed to Metrobus and Travel London respectively, early. It tried its hardest, but it seemed the situation was doomed for the start. May 2006 saw the last routes (200, 201 and 493) go, thus leaving this Dart surplus as Centra London went bust.

This bus ironically did the same move as the 493 by joining Metroline just a few months later (in September 2006). However, it did not have the chance to run the 493, as it started at PA (Perivale West), before going to Potters Bar (PB) in March 2008, North Wembley (NW) in September 2008, Cricklewood (W) in May 2009 and finally to Brentford (AH) in October 2009. This explains how an ex-Mitcham Belle Dart somehow makes it onto a Metroline route. This bus was later scrapped in 2011.

Route E8 has a less hectic history than this bus. It started out as Route E1, which was a partial replacement for the trolleybus replacement 255 (and the 83) between Hanwell and Brentford in November 1968 as part of the new Ealing flat fare routes scheme. The E8 was itself born from the E1 in November 1990 to run between Ealing Broadway and Brentford (Half Acre) via Hanwell and Boston Manor, initially with Centrewest using breadvans (Renault vans with Wright bodies) from Hanwell (HL) garage. That closed to make the Lidl/Poundstretcher retail outlets, so the route moved to Greenford (G) garage.

The route was diverted to Commerce Road in Brentford as Armchair gained the route with new Dart SLFs in May 1997. Newer dual-door Dart SLFs came through for the E8 in 2002. Metroline bought Armchair in 2004, and removed the Armchair name by 2007. Enviro 200s were bought for the route in 2009, and these buses just got fuller and fuller, even with the extension of the 195 to help the E8. Inevitably, partial double decker workings could be found on the E8, and anything at AH proved to be the allocation for the E8!

Finally, the route is to get its ex-Holloway VWs and turn into a fully double deck route with an extension to Hounslow Bell Corner, on 28th May 2016. Without the indirect routing via West Middlesex Hospital. Yay.

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