Alternative Technologies: The Colourless Order

Reading Buses, already having made a prominent name for themselves in the UK gas bus market, have decided to step up their game from the Alexander-Dennis Enviro 300-bodied Scania K270UB CNGs currently forming the majority of their single decker fleet. And they've done this using none other than ADL's new contraption: the Alexander-Dennis Enviro 400MMC-bodied Scania N280UD CNG. Well, not at first...

ScaniADL Pair
Oh look, both types of ADL/Scania buses managed to make it into the picture! E300/K270UB 413/YR13PLZ working a 9 to Whitley Wood passes new E400MMC/N250UD 775/YN65BBX dropping off passengers after having worked a 33 from Turnhams Farm (© Omar)

Although only temporary place holders for the actual Royal Blue Scanias(which are being built), the white batch of Scania MMCs are deployed on Royal Blue routes 33(Reading Station - Turnhams Farm) and 33a(Reading Station - Tilehurst Triangle). They are currently running alongside the 2 ex-Claret MMCs that have been repainted into Royal Blue livery, 756/YX64VRR and 757/YX64VRT, and Reading's spare fleet. This was done to replace the Scania N230UD/Optare Olympuses on the route.

Reading Buses 857 on Route 33, Reading Station
Reading Buses 857 on Route 33, Reading Station (© Aubrey)

Nevertheless, the white Scania MMCs should be an indication of the hopefully permanent order of yet another batch of Scania MMCs that are actually painted in blue for the 33 and 33a. These MMCs do not feature the typical Reading Buses extras(charging points and announcements), alluding to the fact that they are indeed only temporary.

Brand new - Reading Buses 775/YN66BBX | Route 33a | Reading, Station Street
775/YN66BBX dropping off passengers on Station Street ready to work a 33a to Tilehurst Triangle (© Omar)

And yes, I did get a video this time:

Having tried two of these, I must say I am genuinely impressed by them. The ride quality is smooth and sturdy, as one would expect from a Scania. They sound largely the same as Euro 5 Scanias, but have the rather lovely howl of the diff(as shown by my video). It's rather safe to say that ADL and Scania have continued on and set a new modern standard from the E300/K270UB CNG to the E400MMC/N250UD(and hopefully the E400MMC/N280UD-CNG combo), and it's not hard to notice the significant difference in quality from the Euro 4 and 5 equivalents of the chassis to the current Euro 6 variant. As I would say personally, top job Scania!

Brand new - Reading Buses 777/YN66BBZ | Route 33a | Reading, Station Street
And to round off the post, here's one of my personal favourite shots from the day. 777/YN66BBZ drops off passengers at Reading, Station Street having just worked a 33 from Turnhams Farm, ready for its next run, a 33a to Tilehurst Triangle. © Omar


Picture Archive Post 53

Metroline TPL272 on Route 32, Cricklewood, 08/06/12
Metroline TPL272 on Route 32, Cricklewood, 08/06/12 (© Aubrey)

TPL272 is a Transbus Trident/Plaxton President new to Metroline in 2002. It started life at Potters Bar for the 82 when the route was converted to low-floor. Afterwards, it had a normal life going through Metroline routes from Potters Bar, Cricklewood, Holloway and then back to Cricklewood. By 2012, when the bus was withdrawn, the bus was doing Route 32 from Cricklewood. After withdrawal on 1st November 2012 (yay), the bus then was sold and moved to Newport Bus for use on town services, where it is today.

Route 32 started out to run between Edgware Station and Kilburn Park Station, replacing the southern half of Route 142. Running from Cricklewood Garage with Routemasters from 13th June 1970. A short Sunday allocation at Hendon (AE) occurred in 1971, before conversion to Daimler Fleetline OPO (DMS) operation in March 1971. The MCW Metrobus then became the standard type for the 32 from 1980. A short peak-hour deviation via Graham Park Estate to Mill Hill Broadway ran between 1981 and 1996. It passed over to Metroline after sectorisation. In 1996, single deck Dennis Lances replaced the Metrobuses and ran on the route until it was converted back to double deck (with low floors) in 2000. Dennis Trident/ALX400s then became the allocation. After a while, the allocation for the 32 became "all the cast-offs from the 16" and "any double decker in Cricklewood". It currently has the Enviro 400 hybrid cast-offs from the 16 as the allocation.

Also, a note from Aubrey:
Due to the rush in making the previous post by me, I was not able to explain my hiatus from the blog prior to now. From about September, I was going though a lot of personal social upheaval, which along with coursework from university, led that it was unsustainable to continue blogging. The time off allowed me to have more time with myself, allowing to think decisions through and sort my own life out. Quite a few of my friends know exactly what had happened, but at the end of the day, I've recovered better than before. WLTM Transport Blog is not just any blog team. It is a team of friends who blog in their spare time, and it has been like that since the blog became a team back in 2012. Teams of friends stick together, talk with each other and help each other out when another friend is in need. Tommy Cooling has joined the blog, although he'll talk more about himself when he released his first post.

Thanks to Lewis, Josh, Jacek, Omar and Tommy for helping me get through a hard time, and now, we all continue blogging.
From the pretty strong WLTM Transport Blog team, thank you for your patience, and near-normal blogging will resume!


Great Western Electrics

The Great Western Main Line electrification programme has allowed GWR to replace some of their Networker Turbos with new electric trains. Although the wires have not reached Reading yet, the trains have already been built. So as wires already reach Hayes & Harlington, and there is a large amount of overcrowding on GWR services in the London area already, why not introduce them on the already electrified section?

First Great Western Electrostar
GWR 387133 (and 387130), Hayes & Harlington (© Aubrey)

So they did. The Class 387/1s have third rail shoes as they are very similar to the 387s at Great Northern (Thameslink). Introduced initially on some peak hour journeys, the new 387s provide much needed relief on the GWML commuter services.

The timetable shows two AM eastbound, one westbound, and two eastbound, three westbound services (© Aubrey). This was taken at Ealing Broadway on the Saturday before the start of service. These services take Greenford branch slots. During this time, the Greenford branch terminates at West Ealing bay platform.

GWR Electrostar Route Map
GWR Electrostar Route Map (© Aubrey)

Currently, the services will only run between Hayes & Harlington and London Paddington, and GWR aim to have a service between those two places every 30 minutes with these Class 387s by early 2017. Once the electrification (for Crossrail + Great Western Modernisation) to Maidenhead is complete in Summer 2017, electric services will be extended to Maidenhead. Eventually, these trains will form most of the non-Crossrail Thames Valley services. Not all branch lines will be electrified, however.

Great Western Renewal
GWR 43163 next to 387130/387133, Paddington (© Aubrey)

GWR have ordered more than the initial 8 units that were ordered, with the uptake of the rest of the Porterbrook order "for future demand" that isn't going to National Express c2c and 23 more, with a total of 45 units going to GWR. This allows Thameslink 387/1s to move to Great Northern instead of GWR. The Class 387s are to eventually cascade most of the Class 165/166 to the South West & Bristol, replacing Pacers and other BR-era trains in the area.

Eventually, with electrification, the HSTs and Class 180s* will, too, be partially replaced by newer electric trains. The Intercity Express Programme Hitachi units (Class 800/801) will soon take over most express diesel services over 2017-2018. Electrification of services, modernisation of stations and ERTMS signalling installation making up most of the approx £5bn (with parts now indefinitely deferred) Great Western Modernisation Programme.

The first GWR electric service departed Paddington at Platform 11 at 0715, formed of 387130 and 387133. (© Aubrey)

As the 387s are more permanent to the GWR franchise, they have gained a GWR interior, as shown:

Interior of a GWR Class 387 (387130)
Interior of a GWR Class 387 (387130) (© Aubrey)

This is only the second batch of 387s that do not have the Southern interior - the other being the 387/2s for Gatwick Express.

Table inside GWR 387133
(© Aubrey)

Amenities include no First Class and plug sockets on each side of the train for most seats. The seats are the same as other 387s other than the colours. This also introduces a newer PIS system for GWR:

A video of the PIS in action leaving Ealing Broadway - note there is a lot of wheelslip as it was a fairly wet day. The usual "Coach 1 of 8" announcement standard in nearly all Electrostars still exist!

First Great Western Electrostar
GWR 387133 (and 387130), Hayes & Harlington (© Aubrey)

As the bay platform at Hayes & Harlington is not yet finished, the 387s went to a siding, before returning for the return trip back to London. Usage of these peak hour services are quite high, and these services get quite busy. Thus, it is very good that this necessary capacity is being provided now.

GWR 387130, Hayes & Harlington
GWR 387130, Hayes & Harlington (© Aubrey)

The first services have done well. The Class 387s are just like any other 387s albeit with a different interior (that isn't a Gatwick Express one). Hopefully, the electrification delays subside enough so there is more capacity on services on the GWML to Reading, Maidenhead, Burnham, Slough etc.