17/09/2016

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:

Why?
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.

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