Return of the United (Again)

WLTMTB are seriously busy at the moment. This post covers two ex-London General bus routes, the 85 and 265.

*First London United 85 service*
The first 85N on the first night of the 85's return to London United
(© Anthony)

The 85(/85N) has returned to London United after a short 14 year spell with London General. This time, however, buses actually intended for the operator are used, instead of DB250s on loan from Arriva.

London United VH45167 on Route 131, Tooting Broadway
London United VH45167 on Route 131, Tooting Broadway (© Anthony)

Initially, the buses were used on the 131, 613 and 662 (the other notable double decker routes at Tolworth that were not the 57).

New Kid Late From School
London United VH45167 on Route 613, Tolworth Tower (© Aubrey)

A driver told us on the 131 that the lithium batteries can be notably dangerous, if handled incorrectly. But, that's an issue with all hybrids in general. They still go on the 131 etc, even after the 85 now has joined, because there are also strays of SPs on the 85:

London United SP21 on Route 85, Kingston
London United SP21 on Route 85, Kingston (© Aubrey)

The VHs themselves are quite smooth, but are just like any other VH that London United/Sovereign (Gemini 3) has. Decent city buses.

New Types, Returning Operator
London United SP20 & VH45180 on Route 85, Putney Bridge (© Aubrey)

The 85 was at London & Country from 1990 (tendered from London United) and when Arriva purchased L&C, they found out that they didn't purchase the garages, so when the Leatherhead garage shut, the 85 had to move to Fulwell (eventually transferring to London United) where it stayed until 2002, when new B7TLs (at the time) took over.

Go-Ahead London General WVL25 on Route 85, Roehampton Vale Asda
Go-Ahead London General WVL25 on Route 85, Roehampton Vale Asda (© Anthony)

The 85 since returned back to London United (for the third spell now).

London United 85 to Roehampton Vale
London United VH45182 on Route 85, Kingston (© Aubrey)

Overall, the 85, after the first few days of bunching and usual service trouble (including a broken down VH at the south side of Putney Bridge on the first night!), the 85 is doing alright.

The 265 did the reverse of the 85 in 2002, where the route moved from London General to London United. It too now has new buses. They are Enviro 200MMCs.

London United DE20132 on Route 265, Putney Bridge
London United DE20132 on Route 265, Putney Bridge (© Aubrey)

An interesting feature (that drivers mostly do not like) is the stop-start system of the engine, where the engine shuts down when the bus is stopped e.g. at a stop, like certain brands of cars that already have this technology. This means the engine does not run unnecessarily when stationary, saves fuel and reduces emissions.

London United DE20134 on Route 265, Putney Bridge
London United DE20134 on Route 265, Putney Bridge (© Anthony)
However, when the bus is moving, these buses are fairly fast on the A3 section that the 265 has, and are a decent ride (even with the usual hard-ish seats) and a decent looking interior.

London United DE20131 on Route 265, Barnes
London United DE20131 on Route 265, Barnes (© Aubrey)

Overall, the buses will serve well for the foreseeable future on the routes that serve Roehampton and Putney.


Return to Merton

A pile of existing Enviro 400s caused by the 345 have somehow found their way to Merton Garage where it awaited the return of the 57 on 2nd July 2016.

First London General 57N from Kingston
London General E114 on Route 57N, Kingston Fairfield (© Aubrey)
First 57N from Kingston with London General.

Route 57 was originally a route from Victoria to Tooting Broadway as part of the tram replacement program in 1951, operated from Brixton Garage. When it was extended to Kingston, the allocation moved to Merton (AL), where it stayed there until 1989, when it moved to Norbiton. During that time, it was reduced to Kingston-Streatham Hill (Atkins Road). It moved to Fulwell, London & Country (Leatherhead), Kingston and Tolworth Garages. The latter two were under London United:

London United TA312 on Route 57, Kingston Cromwell Road
London United TA312 on Route 57, Kingston Cromwell Road (© Aubrey)

The route toiled with Tridents and Volvo B7TL/East Lancs Millennium Vykings (since the 9 was converted to LT) under London United. These weren't bad buses, but under a new contract, different buses to these would be needed for this route.

London United VLE8 on Route 57, Merton Bus Garage
London United VLE8 on Route 57, Merton Bus Garage (© Anthony)

Under tender, the 85 was regained, at the expense of Merton regaining the 57. This meant that existing 09 reg Enviro 400s from Camberwell Garage were put onto the 57.

London General E111 on Route 57, Kingston
London General E111 on Route 57, Kingston (© Aubrey)

The 57 now has these buses, and it doesn't suit up compared to the new buses for the 85. However, a refurbishment and a lick of paint has done the trick to put them up for a few more years.

London General E147 on Route 57, Kingston
London General E147 on Route 57, Kingston (© Aubrey)

However, whilst other buses are under refurbishment, the usual float of some buses transferred from the 147, like this example, bringing the skirt to these routes.

London General WVL442 blinded for Route 57, Putney Bridge
London General WVL442 blinded for Route 57, Putney Bridge (© Aubrey)

There are also Volvo B9TL/Wright Gemini 2s blinded for the 57, and these do occasionally stray onto the route. This is not an example of that said stray, as it is a blinded example at Putney Bridge actually on the 270, but this shows what it does look like.

Go-Ahead London E113 on Route 57, Wimbledon
London General E113 on Route 57, Wimbledon (© Anthony)

Certain curtailments are coming back, like this one showing Coombe Lane. However, this is expected due to the usual settling period these routes have to do before the route settles with the operator.
Overall, it's a greater loss for London United than Go-Ahead London, but it (and the 114 loss) does allow RATP to get rid of older vehicles quicker.


Picture Archive Post 49

London United VA72 on Route 222, Hounslow West, 23/08/12
London United VA72 on Route 222, Hounslow West, 23/08/12 (© Aubrey)

The current incarnation of Route 222 started on the 16th January 1971, however a route numbered 222 between Hounslow and Uxbridge had been in service since 1934, running between Hounslow Central and Uxbridge as a single decker route due to the low bridge at West Drayton Station. The route was replaced by a re-routing of Route 223 in March 1961, when the height restriction at West Drayton was removed as the road was lowered. It ran from Ruislip to Hounslow with RTs. This lasted just over 10 years, when the 222 was reintroduced, with RTs from Uxbridge Garage. The RTs lasted only 11 months, as the RTs were replaced by SMSs to convert the route to one person operation. This lasted not too long, as DMSs later double decked the route (for the second time). In 1981, the DMSs were replaced by MCW Metrobuses.

Sectorisation brought the 222 to Centrewest in 1989. A Sunday operation of midibuses lasted between 1990 and 1994, when the whole route was converted (again) to single deck. This time, it was one of the very first routes that converted to low floor, using Dennis Lance SLF/Wright Pathfinders (LLW11-24). On 16th September 2000, the route passed to London United under tendering, running with Dennis Dart SLF/Plaxton Pointers (10.8m DPs). More modern DPSs displaced some of the Darts from the route towards the end of the second contract and by 2010, the route had gotten so busy, a small contingent of double deckers were allocated. Soon enough, after the 111, 120 and H32 gained a large enough contingent of SPs in 2010, the VA/VP/TAs started to stray onto the 81 and 222 (and less so on the H98), all very busy Bath Road corridor routes. Although they do serve Heathrow Airport North, they collect less airport related traffic as there are other, more direct ways to get to the airport. The route was formally converted to double deck in September 2012 with the new contract, and new Enviro 400s. As part of the Night Tube programme, the 222 was given a night service on 12th September 2015.

The bus (Volvo B7TL/Alexander ALX400), from the low floor conversion of Route 220, started out on Route 220 from Shepherd's Bush Garage. When Shepherd's Bush gained newer double deckers between 2010-2012, these VAs were displaced, with most going to Hounslow initially. VA72 was at Hounslow until 21st September 2012. This bus moved to Fulwell running on the 281, 131, 267 and 681 until removal from London service on 7th February 2013.

London United VA72 on Route 267, Turnham Green Church, 26/01/13
London United VA72 on Route 267, Turnham Green Church, 26/01/13 (© Aubrey)

This bus then passed to Confidence Coaches, where it still is today.


Lea Bridge Station

We have been fairly busy, especially me (Aubrey) as I've just moved back into London for the summer. This explains the lack of posts. Expect quite a few in the pipeline. And a chatbox is going to appear this month. Chatango based.

Lea Bridge Station
Lea Bridge Station Entrance (© Aubrey)

Lea Bridge Station re-opened on the 15th May 2016, with the official opening happening the following day. It is a simple unmanned station (which can easily be upgraded to a manned station), but on the day, there was an Abellio Greater Anglia member of staff keeping an eye on the first few services to ensure the station operated smoothly.

Lea Bridge Station
(© Aubrey)

There is a new lift and stair-accessed footbridge close to the road bridge over the railway where, ironically, the old entrance to the station was. The old entrance could not be used as the road had widened enough to make the pavement in front of the old station building very narrow. Also seen are the OPO monitors and various humans eager to see the first service arrive.

Lea Bridge Station
Information board (© Aubrey)

The departure list from Lea Bridge shows that 2tph is the general service towards Bishop's Stortford, with some services towards Hertford East (including all of Sunday). Another notable thing is the lack of the actual station within the maps in the station!

No Lea Bridge Station on maps in Lea Bridge
TfL and local area maps (© Aubrey)

Seen also here is the lack of Lea Bridge in maps around the station. This is odd as many stations around the area does have Lea Bridge as a station, yet this new station doesn't have itself on the maps!

Original Sign of Lea Bridge from 1985
Sign from previous closure (© Aubrey)

There has been a fairly notable campaign to reopen the station, which included the council. Prior to closure, this station only had a Tottenham Hale-Lea Bridge-Stratford shuttle run by a Class 105. The same performers who were at the closure of the station in 1985 appeared at each opening of the station (the literal opening and the ceremonial one). The station was marred with delays of platform clearance and disputes with freight operators.

Lea Bridge Station Platforms
Platforms (© Aubrey)

The station is going to regenerate the local economy, and as new housing is planned/being built around the area, this station looks to have a prosperous future. However the service...

First Train is late for Lea Bridge Station
(© Aubrey)

Yup, the first train is delayed. So it became the second train to actually arrive in the station. So the second scheduled train became the actual first train. The first scheduled train was held at a red signal at a junction before Lea Bridge.

The First (Actual) Train into new Lea Bridge Station

Abellio Greater Anglia 317672, Lea Bridge (© Aubrey)

The first northbound train is also the scheduled second train. However, as shown, the first train hasn't appeared yet. Only a minute and a half later:

The First (Scheduled) Train into new Lea Bridge Station
Abellio Greater Anglia 317669, Lea Bridge (© Aubrey)

The first scheduled train arrives. However, due to the volume of people boarding, and a musical performer celebrating the opening, the second train scheduled also became the first train to depart. The station is now well used, and more board on one journey than what used to board on the whole day back in 1985!