Rowing to the MAX

Arriva Midlands & Shires 3010/BJ12YPV, High Wycombe
The current allocation for the 800/850. 3010/BJ12YPV waits for the green light at High Wycombe bus station on route 800 to Reading via Shiplake. (© Omar)

The Reading - Wycombe corridor of routes is now defined primarily by routes 800 and 850, which are currently run by Arriva. However, routes 800 and 850 started out in life as 4 routes, 2 regular and 2 school services:

328: Reading - Sonning - Twyford - Henley-on-Thames - Marlow - High Wycombe
329: Reading - Caversham - Shiplake - Henley-on-Thames - Marlow - High Wycombe
School route 330: Reading - Caversham - Shiplake - Henley-on-Thames - Marlow - High Wycombe
School route 331: High Wycombe - Marlow - Henley-on-Thames - Wargrave - Twyford - Sonning - Reading

These routes were primarily run by Reading Buses with Optare Excels, whereas the 329 was run by the Wycombe Bus Company with the N-NRG batch of Plaxton Verde-bodied Volvo B10Bs. 
However, on the 14th of December 2000, the Wycombe Bus Company was taken over from the Go-Ahead group, by none other than Arriva. The Verdes were then repainted in the space of around a year after the takeover into Arriva's corporate livery. Around the same time, in November 2001, Reading Buses opted to hand their operations to Arriva, to help ease a severe driver shortage, and at that point the school variants were dropped.  The renumbering into what we know them as today didn't occur until the 2nd of September 2007, where the 328 became the 850 and the 329 became the 800. This was primarily due to the work by Buckinghamshire County Council to simplify their core network of routes.

Arriva Midlands (Shires) 3007 on Route 800, Reading Friar Street
Arriva Midlands & Shires 3007 on Route 800, Reading Friar Street (© Aubrey)

They ran with step entry buses galore such as the same Verdes that started it all, Wright Handybuses, step-entry Darts and many more. This trend, however, was broken in August of 2009, when the W-XKX batch of ALX300-bodied Volvo B10BLEs was transferred from Stevenage, which allowed them to stray onto the route. They were then branded into the rather simplistic "Thames Valley Line" branding, and with the V-HBH batch of Renowns, replaced step-entry buses on the routes.

Arriva Shires 3454 on Route 800/850, Reading Station
Arriva the Shires 3454/W454XKX on route 800 at Reading rail station (CC Aubrey)

In around 2014, the KE05-plated Eclipses off the 31(High Wycombe - Penn) have been de-branded and replaced the older buses on the routes, with some 07-reg Eclipses transferring from Stevenage to cover the rest of the PVR. This deregulated the ALX300s to town work and sent the Renowns away to Aylesbury. 

Arriva Shires 3867 on Route 800, Reading Station
3867/KE05FMM, one of the ex-31 Eclipses on route 800 in Reading. (© Aubrey)

On the 1st of August 2016, however, Carousel made their move into the corridor by introducing the X80.

Beneath the Bunting
Carousel's own 405/SM65LNG in Henley-on-Thames working the X80. (© Lewis)

Now, Arriva had to respond to the rather sudden "intrusion", if you will, by Carousel Buses. And what better way to do that than to utilise the recent merger between Arriva Midlands and Shires, and get some 12-reg Citaros off Tamworth depot to convert the routes to MAX operation? And that's what they did! 

Arriva Midlands & Shires 3009/BJ12YPU, Henley-on-Thames
One of the transfers from Tamworth: 3009/BJ12YPU in Henley-on-Thames serving the 850 to High Wycombe. (© Omar)

The transfers are as follows:

3007 - BJ12YPR
3008 - BJ12YPT
3009- BJ12YPU
3010 - BJ12YPV
3011 - BJ12YPW
3012 - BJ12YPX
3014 - BJ12YPZ
3016 - BJ12DHY
3018 - BJ12DHE

Arriva Midlands (Shires) 3008 on Route 850, Reading
Arriva Midlands & Shires 3008 on Route 850, Reading College (© Aubrey)

Upon riding one of the Citaros, I have noticed a rather significant upgrade in comfort over the badly-padded Eclipses. The Citaros provide something the B7RLEs couldn't and that's a smooth and comfortable journey worthy of being a MAX route. My one did sound rather odd in idle with odd scraping noises, but I think we can all blame Wycombe's maintenance for that. I believe that Arriva's move was rather excellent at responding to Carousel's entrance to the corridor(though I'd rather travel on Carousel). Overall, I think that MAX'ing the Thames Valley Line has provided a significant improvement to not just the buses on the route, but to the overall comfort and quality of a long-distance bus journey through Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire. 

Choose wisely!
Take your pick! Arriva's 3012/BJ12YPX works the 800 to Reading while Carousel's 404/SM65LNF boards passengers for an X80 to High Wycombe in Henley-on-Thames. (© Omar)

And now, to actually introduce myself!

Stagecoach South 16262/P262WPN, North Baddesley
"I'm always out of the big city for the country life. And also for Olympians!" (© Omar)

I may as well start off by introducing who on earth I am, so let's get right down to it! I'm Omar(call me that, please, it'll only make your life and mine a whole lot easier) and I'm quite obviously a transport enthusiast from North West London... that's rarely in London because I prefer non-London stuff! I'm here, there and everywhere getting photos for my Flickr (lilnetworker) and my Youtube channel (LilNetworker Productions) but now, I'm also a blogger with many thanks to Au for putting me on the team!

My future coverage should hopefully cover a wide range of areas both in and out of London, and I'm very excited to contribute to the blog even more!


"Improving" West London: Split a Trunk

Transport for London continue their review of the West London bus network with a notable change yet again involving Metroline B9TLs.
On 10th September 2016, long standing Route 83 was split into two during the day, and the N83 was reborn.

First Ever Bus on New Route 483
Metroline West VW1778 on Route 483, Ealing Broadway (© Aubrey)

When it comes to firsts, it doesn't get as much as this. This is an ex-First bus, on the second half of a split ex-First route, on the first service of new Route 483. In other words, the first bus on new Route 483.

Metroline West VW1264 on Route 483, Harrow Bus Station
Metroline West VW1264 on Route 483, Harrow Bus Station (© Aubrey)

Running between Ealing Hospital and Harrow, the 483 gives a roundabout-ish new link between Ealing and Harrow, as well as directly linking many other places. The new route has come at a cost:

Last Day of 83 to Ealing Hospital
Metroline West VW1247 on Route 83, Ealing Hospital (© Aubrey)

Route 83 has been truncated to Alperton, thus running between Golders Green and Alperton only. This allows it to have less traffic delays, as the already long trunk route does not need to deal with North Circular and Ealing traffic, in addition to the current traffic problems the route still has, especially around Wembley.

The consultation showed that there was only a 47% agreement to the 83 being truncated to Alperton, with missing links between Ealing and places north of Wembley. It is, notably, a shortening of an orbital North-West London trunk route into two trunk routes.

Metroline West VW1780 on Route 83, Alperton
"Metroline West VW1780 on Route 83, Alperton (© Aubrey)

However, the 83 was a 24 hour service, so there must be a night replacement for the 83 truncated section. Enter the reintroduced N83:

New Route N83
Metroline West VW1245 on Route N83, Ealing Broadway (© Aubrey)

Every 30 minutes, the same times every night (except Christmas & Boxing Day, of course).

The consultation brought up suggestions like the increase of frequency to every 20 minutes. Although the pictures do not show it, the 83N (now N83) is becoming a notable orbital night bus route. There was a concern about the likely early end time of the N83, so the route now finishes at about 5am (leaving both termini), which is reasonable for most of the route. The first 483 runs before the last N83 northbound.

Metroline West VW1268 on Route N83, Ealing Broadway
Metroline West VW1268 on Route N83, Ealing Broadway (© Aubrey)

Other than one rogue N83 displaying "83" (even on iBus), all buses were kept well with blinds. The first night of the N83 was pretty smooth, with buses keeping to time fairly well.

New Route 483 was created by many factors. A notable one is to link hospitals - more services are now being handled by Northwick Park Hospital, thus a direct link between Ealing and Northwick Park Hospital allows less able customers to travel direct instead of changing at Wembley. Redevelopment is also being planned and built around Wembley Park, and to cope, the 83 needs to be shortened in order for it to be more reliable.

Metroline West VW1752 on Route 483, Northwick Park Hospital
Metroline West VW1752 on Route 483, Northwick Park Hospital (© Aubrey)

To connect the southern and northern part of the old 83, there is a common section between Wembley Stadium Station and Alperton Station. The new TfL Bus "Hopper" ticket allows a change of buses within an hour free of charge, thus no extra fare is dealt with when someone is trying to do the old 83 route, so as long as the second bus is touched in within one hour of the first.

Metroline West VW1264, VW1246 on Route 483, Harrow Bus Station
Metroline West VW1264, VW1246 on Route 483, Harrow Bus Station (© Aubrey)

There was strong support for the 483, with 69% of all correspondents wanting the new route, notably commenting on the new links the 483 would create. There was some traffic concerns (like any route through Wembley, a large traffic hotspot). Although the first day did not bring up large loads, the intervening days has seen the expected increase of patronage.

483 Stand Kerfuffle
Metroline West VW1248 on Route 483 leads a long line of buses at St George's Centre, Harrow (© Aubrey)

The route does bring some issues to Harrow Bus Station. It cannot stand in the bus station, so it stands next to St George's Centre. That, coincidentally, is an alighting stop. There is a bus stand for only one extra bus nearby, as that is used for the 395.

The new route also introduces a bus service to a 400 metre section of Wembley Hill Road between Empire Way and Wembley Park Drive for the first time. TfL say they are planning with Brent Council for a bus stop on the road. In the meantime, a very informal situation is happening. Buses northbound are allowing people off at Wembley Park Drive where there is no bus stop.

Metroline West VW1276 on Route 483, Wembley Hill Road
Metroline West VW1276 on Route 483, Wembley Hill Road (© Aubrey)

I (Aubrey) had gotten off the bus at that point, and took the photo of the bus as it left. Yes, the driver dropped me off there. It is currently an informal alighting point. It is a uni-directional hail and ride section (passengers have boarded the 483 along this section of road before) towards Harrow. Unofficial, but certainly an odd proposition.

Metroline West VW1765 on Route 483, Wembley Hill Road
Metroline West VW1765 on Route 483, Wembley Hill Road (© Aubrey)

The 483 only stops towards Harrow. Towards Ealing Hospital, there is a bus stop at the bottom of the hill (behind the bus) shared with the 79 and 204.

Smoky B9TL
Metroline West VW1275 on Route 483, Wembley Hill Road (© Aubrey)

The B9TLs struggle up the hill at Wembley Hill Road, as evidently shown. The B9TLs are not exactly in the best condition right now, so this is expected.

Great idea TfL, once again. The route providing new links and allowing the existing 83 to gain a better service can only be good news. The broken links are notable, but otherwise it is a good decision by Transport for London.


Picture Archive Post 51

London United TA246 on Route 57, Wimbledon Station, 30/03/12
London United TA246 on Route 57, Wimbledon Station, 30/03/12 (© Aubrey)

Route 57 currently shares a very small part of its current route with the route it had when it was introduced. It started out as a route between Tooting Broadway and Victoria via Brixton. Introduced in January 1951 to replace trams, the original allocation was RTs from Brixton Garage. Sunday service was withdrawn in August 1958. In January 1964, the route was withdrawn between Victoria and Stockwell, but extended to Kingston via the current route. The route was also re-allocated to Merton Garage. The route was retracted to Streatham in 1966 due to the Victoria line. In September 1971, it gained SMSs and thus became single deck OPO. November 1977 saw the DMS give the 57 an extra deck. Part of the route was turned single deck again as a partial allocation of Leyland Nationals were given in 1982 (and taken in 1985). In September 1989, the route moved to Norbiton Garage before moving swiftly to Fulwell in 1991. This gave the route MCW Metrobuses, and put it under the London United sector.

In September 1992, competitive tendering was at its early stage. Route 57 was gained by London & Country, and a Sunday service was added between Kingston and Tooting, with the Streatham terminal also changed to Atkins Road (Clapham Park). The route was operated jointly by Croydon and Leatherhead garages with Olympians and Dennis Dominators. In June 1997, the route passed to Westlink (which later became London United) from Kingston Garage. New Volvo Olympians with route branding were bought for the route. In November 2001, it moved to the Kingston garage replacement, Tolworth Garage. Tridents started to enter the route in 2002-2003 and it was fully converted to low-floor by mid-2003. A night service was introduced in June 2007. Some Tridents were replaced by VLEs off the 9 when it was converted to LT in 2013, however due to noise complaints, Tridents were still the mainstray for the 57N. Then, the 57 was tendered to London General from Merton Garage from 2nd July 2016.

TA246 is part of a larger batch of Tridents for Fulwell routes like the 65 (when gained from Armchair), 71, 267. New to London United, it is one of a notable large batch of Tridents London United ordered between 2002 and 2003 for various routes. It joined some Tridents at Tolworth for the 57, and moved there between 2011 and early 2012, where it is seen on the photo. This particular bus then did a garage merry-go-round. In November-December 2013, it moved from Tolworth to Hounslow, where it is seen:

London United TA246 on Route 81, Hounslow, 25/02/14
London United TA246 on Route 81, Hounslow, 25/02/14 (© Aubrey)

It also, interestingly, found itself doing shorts on Route 203:

Airport Scenes
London United TA230 and TA246 on Route 203, Abellio London 8487 on Route H25, British Airways G-EUPD at Hatton Cross (CC Aubrey)

The bus later moved from Hounslow to Fulwell on July 2014. It returned to Tolworth after only three months, where it spent only one month. After a brief period of no usage, in January 2015, the bus returned to Hounslow Garage. This bus is still with AV, and lives on with the few dotted Tridents around the London United empire. Weirdly, the current Tridents are older than the newest ones new to Hounslow (which are all at Tolworth and 03 reg). The Tridents at Hounslow now usually provide the bulk of the H32 allocation, with some on the 81, 111, 120, 222 and H98.


Return to Bromley: 146/336 to Stagecoach

First day of Stagecoach London on route 146 - 36620, YX16OLA stands at Downe Church
The first morning of route 146 at TB sees 36620 standing in Downe. (© Jacek)

Route 146 is a short little route linking Bromley with Downe every hour. Back in 1985 it was notably one of the first routes in London to be tendered, passing from TB to Crystals Coaches, using a mixture of Leylands and Mercedes midibuses. More recently since the 90s Metrobus ran it with step entrance then later low floor Darts.

Two days left - Go-Ahead London (Metrobus) 229, PO56JFA at Downe Church on route 146 to Bromley North
Two days before TB take over, Esteem Dart 229 stands in the same spot in Downe. (© Jacek)

The 336 is more complicated. It runs from Locksbottom to Catford Bridge, through Bromley and the tight side roads in Downham. It started in 1990 as a Bromley - Locksbottom link run from TB, passed to Centrewest in 1995 then to Metrobus in 2001 who kept it for the next 15 years with various Dart SLFs. It reached its current form in 2004 when it was extended over the 138 to Catford Bridge.

The last day - Go-Ahead London (Metrobus) 252, SN54GPX standing in Locksbottom on route 336
On the 336's last day with GAL, Pointer Dart 252 stands in Locksbottom. (© Jacek)

On the 20th of August, both the 146 and 336 were taken over by Stagecoach, marking a return to TB operation. For this contract 13 new 9m long E200MMCs (numbered 36609-36621) have been purchased, with GAL Metrobus withdrawing the Esteem-bodied Darts. The first one actually went out a month early without logos, on the Knockholt circular R5/R10:

Brand new - Stagecoach Selkent 36617, YX16OKV in Orpington on route R5
The first MMC out a month early, 36617 reverses into the stand in Orpington having worked an R5 from Knockholt. (© Jacek)

Since then they've gone out on all of TB's R routes, while the old style E200s allocated to those have gotten new blinds containing the 146 and 336:

Stagecoach Selkent 36581, YX63LGA in Catford on route 336 to Locksbottom
Reblinded old style E200 36581 in Catford. (© Jacek)
The buses perform quite well, they have plenty of power given the chance to open up (which given how tight the 336 gets, won't happen often). The interior is very comfortable, if not as good as on the longer versions as these have slightly less legroom at the back. Air cooling works as expected, really the only issue I found as a passenger was a rattly front door.
They've also caught the eye of the average punter in Bromley, and I overheard a few comments about "lovely new buses" on the first day.

First day - Stagecoach Selkent 36621, YX16OLB standing in Locksbottom on route 336
MMC 36621 standing in the rain in Locksbottom. (© Jacek)

Operation of the routes has overall been good but has had its issues. The 146 has been basically fine but the 336 has had trouble with bunching and the odd curtailments, plus the side roads around Downham being too tight for the buses (they failed the route test, then got sent out anyway as there's nothing smaller available). More trouble came when a water main burst in Bromley Common causing traffic and diversions. However a frequency increase to every 15 on the 336 has helped it with overcrowding issues common in Metrobus days, when it ran every 20 minutes.

First day - Stagecoach Selkent 36620 on route 146 and 36610 on route 336 at Bromley North
36610 on 146 and 36620 on 336 meet at Bromley North. (© Jacek)

Overall, both routes seem to have a bright future at TB. The 336 could use some improvements but it's early days and with time, as TB get used to running it again, it'll likely become much better.


Return to Armchair

The 117 has returned to the old Armchair base at Brentford, and Armchair's successor, Metroline. Using existing Enviro 200s, Route 117 has returned to Metroline, with buses that ironically used to run on the 117 (infrequently, as Darts were the mainstay of the 117).

Metroline DE1001 on Route 117, Hounslow
Metroline DE1001 on Route 117, Hounslow (© Aubrey)

The route went to Abellio London in 2011 with new Enviro 200s. However, the route returned to Metroline with, erm... No new buses. At all. In fact, the replacement buses are actually older in specification (non-ECWTA) as well as age (by two years). These originally are buses from the E8, however shifted to the 209 in favour of partial double deckers on the E8.

Metroline DE1001 on Route 117, Feltham Station
Metroline DE1001 on Route 117, Feltham Station (© Aubrey)

However, due to cost cutting throughout TfL, this has been deemed acceptable, especially as they are mid-life buses anyway. Not all contracts need new buses. These buses are displaced from the 209, which means that there needs to be some replacements to the 209 (temporarily at least, as the Metroline West Enviro 200s are being refurbished for the 117):

Suction Cups and Obscured Slipboards
Metroline West DE1605 on Route 209, Hammersmith (© Aubrey)

Temporarily a batch of these Enviro 200s are on the 209 (using paper held on by suction cups) from Uxbridge in order to cover for its own batch Enviro 200s that are on the 117. They are replaced by the new DELs:

Metroline West DEL2163 on Route U2, Uxbridge Station (© Aubrey)

Issues on Route 487 about length clearance for these longer, 10.8m Enviro 200s meant that they cannot go on the 487 at the moment. They moved to Uxbridge, so the 10.1m Enviro 200s can move to Brentford for the 209 (temporarily).

Metroline DE1010 on Route 117, Staines
Metroline DE1010 on Route 117, Staines Bus Station (© Aubrey)

Another ride from West Middlesex Hospital showed how busy the route can be, especially at its still fairly low frequency, with the bus filling up to barely any standing room as per usual during a midday run. This and the 235 are the only bus routes between Feltham Town Centre and Hounslow, and as both are single deck, are still very, very busy. Therefore, nothing has still changed on that aspect, with no increases expected any time soon.

Enviro 2x200
Metroline DE1008 on Route 117, West Middlesex Hospital (© Aubrey)

One does come to wonder - did the previous blindsets still have 117? (yes, they did). The original blindsets had not been notably changed since delivery on these Enviro 200s, so possibly only the contract dictation of white on black blinds or different curtailments could feasibly cause the change of blinds. No new buses means these are still the same old Enviro 200s as per usual.

Metroline DE998 on Route 117, Staines Station
Metroline DE998 on Route 117, Staines Station (© Aubrey)

Overall, the 117 being back at Metroline has not seen any major issues. Only time can tell whether Metroline run it well enough to retain it again. Interestingly, the route was awarded to "Metroline West", which led to rumours that the route would be run from Greenford. However, due to the size of the Brentford depot, there was enough space for the E8. Other rumours about the buses to be used were also swirling around, however, it just turns out it was existing fleet vehicles to be used instead.


THe 64 Returns to TH

Upon sectorisation, the 64 started out as a South London (sector) route. That later became Cowie South London then Arriva London South. The route was later lost to Metrobus but however was recently re-gained by Arriva London from Thornton Heath.

Triple Curtailment
Arriva London T15, T144 and T120 on Route 64, East Croydon Station (© Aubrey)

Triple, curtailed bunching. Yup. Due to roadworks in the Croydon area, there were large delays on through routes in Croydon. This meant that the 64 had large amounts of curtailments to East Croydon, as well as other routes being stopped short of their destination (the X26, for example, terminated at East Croydon).

First Day Incomplete Destinations
Arriva London T165 on Route 64, East Croydon (© Aubrey)

The 64 is allocated Enviro 400s off the 341, where the replacement is VDL DB300s. These buses were refurbished (i.e. refreshed, as proper refurbishments do not happen in London anymore), and is one of the many new operator changes with existing buses.

First day - Arriva London T156, LJ60AVD in New Addington on route 64 to Thornton Heath Pond
Arriva London T156 and T151 on Route 64, New Addington Vulcan Way (© Jacek)

The 64 at Vulcan Way used to, under Metrobus, stand next to the stop. However, the new Arriva 64s stand at the stand ahead of the stop. Then they double back Vulcan Way and the turnaround to serve the first stop. Metrobus 64s used to just pick up where they stood, although this was away from the kerbside.

Go-Ahead Metrobus 960 on Route 64, New Addington
Metrobus 960 on Route 64, New Addington Vulcan Way (© Anthony)

Metrobus won the route from Arriva London South in August 1997 with Volvo Olympians. The route before passing to Metrobus was run from both Croydon and Thornton Heath garages. Afterwards, a 19 year period of Metrobus on the 64 appeared, including a last few years under Go-Ahead London control (as opposed to being separate from the rest of Go-Ahead London). Many types of buses could be found on the last day under Metrobus, including the shown Scania Omnicity.

Metrobus PVL377 on Route 64, East Croydon
Metrobus PVL377 on Route 64, East Croydon (© Aubrey)

A newer type for the 64 was the Volvo B7TL/Plaxton President, transferred to replace similar-aged Scania Omnicity buses (to standardise the fleet).

Go-Ahead Metrobus WHV58 on Route 64, East Croydon
Metrobus WHV58 on Route 64, East Croydon (© Anthony)

Types allocated on other routes also found themselves on the 64, including this B5LH from Route 119.

Metrobus E216 on Route 64, New Addington Vulcan Way
Metrobus E216 on Route 64, New Addington Vulcan Way (© Aubrey)

And finally, some of the leftovers from LT conversions including these Enviro 400s were also on the route on the last day with Metrobus. Most drivers are not transferring to Arriva. Due to the rerouting of the 64 in New Addington to replace the T31/T32, drivers find the 64 pretty slow as opposed to before the Addington changes.

The 64 arrives back at Thornton Heath, having been based there between 1962 and 1997 (Sunday only 1992-1997).

Bunching - Arriva London T164 and T153 at East Croydon on route 64
Arriva London T164 and T153 on Route 64, East Croydon (© Jacek)

It hasn't been the smoothest start, with a lot of bunching on the 27th August (first day), and a fire on T154 just a few days later on the route. However, the 64 isn't the easiest to run as it goes through Croydon as opposed to terminates in Croydon.

Arriva London T151 on Route 64, New Addington Vulcan Way
Arriva London T151 on Route 64, New Addington Vulcan Way (© Aubrey)

However, it's not the hardest route to run in London by any margin, and with the various existing Enviro 400s, Arriva should be able to get a hold on running the route.


A New Delayed Thameslink Train

The Department of Transport caused job cuts within Derby as they awarded the contract for new Thameslink trains to Siemens. They produced the Class 700, a walkthrough train with many new features.

Crystal Palace 700
Thameslink 700107 on test at Crystal Palace (© Aubrey)

The trains are themselves fairly overdue, as contract difficulties meant that they weren't delivered until mid-2016. The delay meant that in order to cascade 319s to Northern, new 387s were built for Thameslink as a temporary measure to cover the nonexistent 700s, which were supposed to replace all stock through the Thameslink core. Thameslink were already borrowing 377/5s (for Thameslink Programme Key Output 0) and 377/2s from Southern.

Thameslink 700110, East Croydon
Thameslink 700110, East Croydon (© Aubrey)

In order for them to be bought, 19 loans were needed just to fund these trains. After funding, contracts and other administrative stuff was dealt with, the 700s were built in Germany, and then tested at the Siemens test area before being tested on the Thameslink network in broad daylight, as well as after hours. UK testing began in December 2015, and the first train ran on 20th June 2016. Initial diagrams were on London Bridge-Brighton before being introduced through the Thameslink core.

Thameslink 700102, Blackfriars (© James Panaligan)

New depots were built in Hornsey and Three Bridges for the 700s. The depot at Three Bridges is finished, whilst the Hornsey depot is still yet to be linked to the Thameslink network. The small Canal Tunnel connection between St Pancras International and the local lines of the ECML still needs to be completed before the full Thameslink services can be rolled out. This includes most of the local ECML services towards Peterborough and Cambridge being extended to the Southern Region.

The 700s are now well pressed into general service, and do several weekday and some weekend diagrams on the main Bedford-Brighton service.

Thameslink 700104, East Croydon
Thameslink 700104, East Croydon (© Anthony)

Anthony and I rode 700104 between East Croydon and City Thameslink. There is a new passenger information system, with new announcements. These announcements can be heard in a short ride video between Blackfriars and City Thameslink:

(© Aubrey)

There are new passenger information displays that cycle between various boards showing the status of the train, including:

Toilet Status on Thameslink 700104
The status of the toilets (each possibility that's able to be shown is shown) (© Aubrey)

Train Loading Indicator on Thameslink 700104
The train loading indicator (© Aubrey)
This shows how full the train is. So expect to see the whole train be red during peak hours. It also shows passengers where the emptier carriages are, and it means passengers are more likely to distribute themselves across the train more evenly.

TfL Network Status on Thameslink 700104
The status of the TfL network so people can change their plans on the go as and when they need to due to disruptions. (© Aubrey)

Class 700 LED Display Board 1
The destination, calling pattern and next stop (obviously) (© Anthony)

Class 700 LED Display Board 6
The fact CCTV exists (© Anthony)

Class 700 LED Display Board 7
And when First Class isn't First Class (so the Thameslink ticket inspectors can't catch you out when other parties have declassified First on the train) (© Anthony)

Interior of First Class of Thameslink 700104
Talking of First Class, this is what it looks like (© Aubrey)

The seats are not any more comfortable than standard, but they are wider. They also feature plug charging underneath the seat, and a swing door that does not completely cover the doorway. Armrests are also available.

Standard Class interior (© James Panaligan)

The Standard Class interior has no tables on the backs of seats, and features more standing space, more luggage space and perching areas. The seats are like the "ironing board" slightly hard type, as seen on newer 377s, and the 387s. However, there is a clear feeling of more space throughout the train. Air conditioning works, there is faster acceleration (for faster journey times and more frequent trains) and slightly oddly shaped side windows.

Desiro City Thameslink
Thameslink 700104 and 319434, City Thameslink (© Aubrey)

Overall, these trains will definitely do the job of transporting commuters well. And as for the train alongside it? That'll go to Northern as part of a general EMU>DMU cascade. So side by sides of a 700 and a 319 are not very common as the number of 700s increase, the number of 319s decrease. 377s and 387s will initially replace the 319s on the Sevenoaks and Wimbledon Loop services before they too will be replaced by 700s.

Sorry about the lack of posts lately, we are very, very busy at the moment dealing with the latter parts of holidays. Thanks to James Panaligan for allowing us to use some photos for this post, all of his photos are copyright to him.