12/06/2016

"Improving" West London: Bell Corner, not End

First Day of: E8 to Hounslow Bell Corner
Metroline VW1048 on Route E8, Hounslow Treaty Centre (© Aubrey)

The long awaited double decking of the E8 has finally happened, in conjunction with an extension to Hounslow. It relieves the 235 (hence it was awarded with single deckers) and the 237 between Brentford and Hounslow, as well as giving a new link from Hounslow to Ealing. TfL have recently awarded the 235 with single deckers, which shows that the E8 is a pretty darn useful extension.

Metroline VW1262 on Route E8, Hounslow Bus Station
Metroline VW1262 on Route E8, Hounslow Bus Station (© Aubrey)

No fancy new hybrids, not even any refurbished buses. Just used, ex-Holloway Volvo B9TL/Wright Gemini 2s, as well as native Brentford examples. With new blinds that shout out "BELL CORNER" in one direction. On the first morning, not many people were using the extension, however by the Bank Holiday Monday afterwards, the extension is well used, including the through route facility from Hounslow towards Hanwell and Ealing.


Temporary Stand
Metroline VW1213 on Route E8, Hounslow Bell Corner (© Aubrey)

At Hounslow Bell Corner, the stand for the E8 and H22 is closed due to roadworks. Instead, it is standing on the side of a road next to an Aldi supermarket.
The E8 has been subject to numerous aborted double decking schemes, with TPs, and this batch of VWs. Some were transferred to AH with the intent on converting the E8 to double deckers, but that did not happen completely. This explains the half-half treatment of the blinds, where the white on black is new to when the bus was transferred to AH, whilst the yellow on black is a spare destination set for VWs.

Last Day of: E8 to Commerce Road
Metroline MM783 on Route E8, Brentford Commerce Road (© Aubrey)

The E8 was previously allocated the MAN 14.240/MCV Evolutions which used to run on Routes 90, 206, 232. In practice before that, the allocated buses were anything out of Brentford depot.

Metroline VW1216 on Route E8, Ealing Broadway
Metroline VW1216 on Route E8, Ealing Broadway (© Aubrey)

The original plan was for the E8 to replace the H28 at West Middlesex Hospital and Amhurst Road. This would give the route a kink at West Middlesex Hospital to serve it. However, it would have made journeys longer. There was also a large opposition to the route along Amhurst Road. The H28 was also supposed to be rerouted away from Wood Lane and Amhurst Road, which was unpopular to those living on the route, despite the consultation showing that it was a popular decision to extend the route to Brentford (by 29% to 22% against). The main reasons against the rerouting/extension of the H28 were West Middlesex Hospital access and the loss of service on Wood Lane and Northumberland Estate affecting especially elderly customers. Therefore, the E8 was extended directly via London Road, and the H28 was unchanged.

Last Day of: Route 635 to Brentford County Court
London United TLA7 on Route 635 and Abellio London 8573 on Route 235, Brentford County Court (© Aubrey)

Route 635 is cut back to Hounslow Bus Station because the E8 is able to provide the excess capacity. The 635 was a useful reliever route between Hounslow and Brentford, but with the E8 providing better distribution of capacity, it was deemed unnecessary to double deck the 235 and have the 635 to Brentford. It will be interesting to see how the Hounslow-Feltham corridor will cope however.

London United DPS659 on Route 110, Ivybridge Retail Park
London United DPS659 on Route 110, Ivybridge Retail Park (© Anthony)

Also, another change the E8 extension has dealt with is the rejigging of the 110 to run from Hounslow Bus Station to West Middlesex Hospital via Twickenham and 267 (providing more capacity there). It is removed from West Middlesex Hospital to Hounslow via London Road due to the excess capacity now met by the E8 extension. The whole section was supposed to be directly replaced by the E8, but as the E8 does not serve West Middlesex Hospital, it is no longer a direct replacement.

London United DPS691 on Route 110, Busch Corner
London United DPS691 on Route 110, Busch Corner (© Aubrey)

The 110 will no longer serve this part of the route, which is slightly a parallel to the 117 service. The 117 is infrequent by itself (every 20 minutes), but with the 110, it gave 6 buses per hour from Hounslow directly to West Middlesex Hospital (the H28 is indirect). Now, the 117 has to take the 110's load back, and as the 117 is one of the two routes that does Hounslow-Feltham, could things get better?

London United DPS681 on Route 110, Ivybridge Retail Park
London United DPS681 on Route 110, Ivybridge Retail Park (© Aubrey)

This does mean that the 110 will now return to terminating at Hounslow "Bus Station". They all added links at the expense of not many links being taken away. Most of the opposition of the restructuring of the 110 came from the affected areas in Isleworth. The 110 is effectively a loop service, when joint with the old 110 routing, and the route is now in a horseshoe shape.

Metroline VW1255 on Route E8, Ealing Broadway
Metroline VW1255 on Route E8, Ealing Broadway (© Aubrey)

Overall, the changes made are a good set of changes to relieve the busy 235 and 237, as well as help bolster up the 267. The 235 is one of London's busiest single decker routes, and it is one route that is on the border of being single decker and double decker. Full-sized single deckers cannot run on the 235 due to Sunbury Village. The Brentford-Hounslow section of the 235 and 237 has just gotten a little bit better, and the E8 provides a new link between two large centres in West London.
Two more unlinked centres that will be linked this year is Ealing and Harrow which will be linked later on this year.

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