Villager Stop-Start

The WLTMTB have been listed as one of the top 100 mass transit blogs in the world, more details at the end of the post.

Abellio London 8172 on Route 464, Tatsfield Old Ship
Abellio London 8172 on Route 464, Tatsfield Old Ship (© Aubrey)

Route 464, a TfL route being the main link south of New Addington to Biggin Hill via the steep 15% Salt Box Hill and Jewels Hill is a small village route being also the main link to the little village of Tatsfield, in north-east Surrey. It had been operated by Metrobus since it was introduced in 1998.
Gained by Abellio London under tender on 20th May 2017, new Enviro 200MMCs are the new allocation on the 464.

Village Bus
(© Aubrey)

The rural nature of the Tatsfield terminus can be seen here, with the route terminating at the village green, next to The Old Ship pub. Metrobus used Darts since when it was tendered in 2000 (it was commercial between 1998 and 2000) as part of the Tramlink service changes. The Darts have been dependable buses for the route, with passengers certainly noticing the change in buses and operator.

Abellio London 8172 on Route 464, New Addington
Abellio London 8172 on Route 464, New Addington (© Aubrey)

Taking 8172 to Tatsfield and back proved to actually be a slightly painful experience. When stopping at each stop, the stop-start technology kicked in. Unfortunately at each stop, the engine would not start again until a complete switch-off and turn-on again. This proved to be troublesome at the hail and ride sections, notably. On the southbound run, the bus stalled at Jewels Hill whilst stopping and luckily not at the steeper Salt Box Hill. The E200 engine was only just getting to the top of the 15% incline into Salt Box Hill. The issues actually meant that 8173 (the other bus on the 464) had to wait just before Salt Box Hill for the other bus to get through.

Abellio London 8172 on Route 464, Tatsfield Old Ship
Abellio London 8172 on Route 464, Tatsfield Old Ship (© Aubrey)

The sections at Jewels Hill and Salt Box Hill are so narrow, the timetable ensures the buses pass at Biggin Hill, and that each bus must not proceed into the Salt Box Hill/Jewels Hill section northbound until they have seen the other bus towards Tatsfield. For schooldays, there are 2 extra journeys slotted into the timetable southbound and one extra northbound for schools. They are timetabled very closely to the normal buses and only run between New Addington and Biggin Hill. Thus three buses (8171, 8172, 8173) are all allocated for the 464.

Abellio London 8172 on Route 464, New Addington
Abellio London 8172 on Route 464, New Addington (© Aubrey)

After about 1 minute of stand time at Tatsfield due to the delays by the stop-start, the bus made its way back to New Addington with the issue popping up only once on the return. The buses are decent for the route, and hopefully the issues with the stop-start technology on these vehicles can be fixed. After that, the buses can last for some time on the route. Abellio London, running the route from Beddington Cross, should not find too many issues on running this small village route. Unless two buses meet on the Jewels Hill/Salt Box Hill section. That could be very tricky!

Also, notably, the WLTM Transport Blog has been listed as one of Feedspot's top 100 mass transit blogs, the first sort of award given to this blog. It's been a great 5+ years, and thanks to every past and present member of the blog, we've managed to do this, and we will continue to blog about transport for as long as we can. The list can be seen here.

Thank you to Feedspot for this award.


Picture Archive Post 59

Wrong Blinds!
London Central DWL35 on Route 108, Bromley-by-Bow, 09/05/15 (© Aubrey)

A fairly recent photo for this month's Picture Archive, the VDL SB120 is not normally seen on London's streets. So when East Thames Buses (TfL in-house operator) ordered new buses to replace Excels for the 108, these (albeit badged as Volvo Merits) were the bus choice. Unfortunately, these were plagued by reliability problems, and eventually were withdrawn when sufficient Darts were available.

DWL35 started out as an East Thames Buses (TfL) bus operating the 108 and 132 from Belvedere (BV) in January 2005. In October 2009, due to the policy of Boris Johnson to withdraw the role of physical bus operation of TfL, the bus moved to Go-Ahead London (London General). East Thames Buses was only formed after the collapse of Harris Bus. These buses were allocated on the 108 for most of its life, moving with it to New Cross (NX) in May 2010. By the end of 2010, the buses were refurbished into full Go-Ahead livery. This lasted until 2015, when it went into brief storage at Bexleyheath (BX), being withdrawn in January 2017 after spending its final few days on the 225.

Route 108 itself started out as a route from Bromley By-Bow to Crystal Palace with double decker buses. Each double decker bus for the 108 at the time were especially modified for the route. The NSs had solid tyres and a rounded body with the roof curving further in, thus allowing it to fit in the tunnel, and scrub against the kerb within the tunnel. They were replaced by STLs which had steel reinforced pneumatic tyres and a special profiled roof. The reason for all these modifications for the buses was due to the Blackwall Tunnel. When the tunnel was lowered, normal buses appeared in 1954 and RTLs were the mainstay. In 1960,the route was withdrawn on weekdays Lower Sydenham-Crystal Palace. Poplar (Atholl Street) (C) closed, moving the route to Poplar (PR) in 1961. In 1967, the new southbound bore of the Blackwall Tunnel was opened, and it could fit deckers comfortably.
Then in 1968, the old, now northbound tunnel was raised again to widen the roadway. This meant the 108 was converted to single deckers (AEC Merlins), and thus was cut to run only between Bromley By-Bow and Blackheath. The route was extended to Eltham in 1970. AEC Swifts replaced the Merlins in 1973. In 1977, the route was extended to Stratford on Monday-Saturday, and on Sunday in 1978. 1978 also meant the unsuccessful Swifts were replaced by Leyland Nationals. In November 1985, Poplar (PR) closed, and the route moved to Bow (BW). In June 1986, the route was modified to Stratford-Lewisham. This state did not last long, and in 1988, due to the withdrawal of Route 10, the 108 was extended from Stratford to Wanstead.
Under sectorisation, the route passed to East London for only a few months, before tendering moved it to Boro'line Maidstone based in, erm... Maidstone. New Leyland Lynxs were ordered for the route, which stayed when Boro'line Maidstone realised there was not as much money in London as they'd think. Kentish Bus took over, and a more local base of Crayford (CR) was chosen. In September 1993, the route was shortened back to its 1986 state. Part of the allocation moved to Lewisham (LM) in 1994, along with new Volvo B6/Northern Counties buses. The Lewisham allocation lasted only between February and August 1994, as that section moved to Cambridge Heath (CH). Tendering moved the route back to Crayford but with Harris Bus in April 1997. New Optare Excels converted the route to low-floor.
Harris Bus themselves only lasted until March 2000, before TfL took over. A night service (as N108) was introduced in September 2001, before the N108 lost the N in November 2003. East Thames Buses got new Volvo Merits (re-badged DAF SB120s) in 2005 for the route. However, by then, the Optare Excels were so unreliable, ex-Limebourne Dennis Dart/Caetano Compass buses were drafted in to run the service. In 2010, the route moved to New Cross. 108N had a special escort arrangement when the tunnel was closed at night, but otherwise the route was either split or worked via Tower Bridge when the Blackwall Tunnel was closed.

On 1st October 2016, the route swapped ends with the D8 between Poplar and Stratford, thus allowing the D8 to go to empty double deckers. The 108 gained Mercedes-Benz Citaros from the electrification of Route 507 and 521, and thus the route finally now has full-sized buses:

London Central MEC3 on Route 108, Stratford City
London Central MEC3 on Route 108, Stratford City (© Aubrey)


(Nearly) All Change on the Uxbridge Road

It's been nearly all change recently for the Uxbridge Road corridor, with all but the 607 changing allocations.

The first change came on 10th/11th February 2017, with the N207 moving from HZ (Hayes) Garage to UX (Uxbridge). Enviro 400s and Volvo B7TLs replaced the firmly allocated Scania OmniCity buses, which have been the sole allocation since the route fully moved to HZ/HS back with First in 2011.

Metroline West TE1581 on Route N207, Ealing Broadway
Metroline West TE1581 on Route N207, Ealing Broadway (© Aubrey)

Some TEs from the 607 have new blinds for the 114, and this one thus demonstrates the newer blind style on the N207....with blind lighting needing improvement.

N207 to Hanwell Broadway
Metroline West VW1561 on Route N207, Ealing Broadway (© Aubrey)

And surprisingly, on the first night of UX operation, they had managed to curtail an N207 at Hanwell Broadway. Night buses are rarely curtailed short of the timetabled curtailments, thus this example is pretty notable.

Metroline West VW1563 on Route N207, Ealing Broadway
Metroline West VW1563 on Route N207, Ealing Broadway (© Aubrey)

Here is a more normal destination for the N207, being Holborn. Some buses on the first night had 607 or 207 side and rear blinds.

The N207 moving to UX also meant some late evening journeys on the 207 also moved to UX, leading to the same vehicles running on the 207:

Limited Stop 207?
Metroline West VW1567 on Route 207, Shepherd's Bush (© Tommy)

Some of the 207 VWs, for the first few evenings at least, were using 607 blindset destinations for the 207, thus the oddity of a 207 being limited stop is shown here!

Metroline West TE1742 on Route 207, White City
Metroline West TE1742 on Route 207, White City (© Aubrey)

Other TEs had the older blindset from Greenford, which included the 207. Thus the 207 on some of these SN09 registered buses were "normal" for the 207.

Blue 207
Metroline West TE1574 on Route 207, Shepherd's Bush (© Aubrey)

However, the newly blinded sets did not initially have 207, but have it as an additional insert. This meant that the 607 blue destination for White City is used.

The Scania OmniCity buses, a staple on the N207 and 207 since the bendy conversion in 2011, were to also move, before cascades would move the leased buses away from the Metroline fleet. The cull was done on the 8th April.

Last Metroline West Scania OmniCity
Metroline West SN1924 on Route 207, Acton Old Town Hall (© Aubrey)
The last Scania on the 207 was this bus, being also one of the last 207s in service for the evening.

During this time, the future allocation of the 207 was running on the 427. This included transferred B9TLs from Holloway Garage:

New at the end
Metroline West VW1286 on Route 427, Uxbridge (© Tommy)

On the 8th April, the 427 moved within Hayes from the Metroline garage to the tighter spaced Abellio garage.

Abellio 427
Abellio London 2558 on Route 427, Acton Twyford Avenue (© Tommy)

New Alexander-Dennis Enviro 400MMC hybrid buses are the new order, cleaning up the western end of the route, ever so slightly.

Abellio London 2402 on Route 427, Ealing Common
Abellio London 2402 on Route 427, Ealing Common (© Aubrey)

However, some of the 427's buses had not arrived for the start of the route, so some hybrids from Walworth Garage also moved over for the start of the 427. These buses started out on Route 188. As there are now many hybrid double deckers at Abellio, some of the 427's buses have made it on the E1, E9 and U5.

Abellio London 2573 on Route 427, Ealing Common Station
Abellio London 2573 on Route 427, Ealing Common Station (© Aubrey)

First day service on the 427 was not too bad, but the new operator only has a shorter, 3 year contract to impress TfL. This is due to the Crossrail Elizabeth Line being introduced, which may change the patterns on the western end of the Uxbridge Road. The current GWR service is thin with short trains, so the Uxbridge Road corridor buses usually have a higher usage as a bus corridor.

Meanwhile, Route 207 had moved to Greenford Garage and gained the old 427 allocation. Which meant that all the buses with jammed blinds out of the 427 batch either gained new blinds, or were wrenched forcibly to display 207 instead!

Metroline West VW1834 on Route 207, Ealing Common
Metroline West VW1834 on Route 207, Ealing Common (© Aubrey)

All of the 427's VWs however did not have White City blinds. The first day was interesting though as people did not know whether the route was actually curtailed to Shepherd's Bush, or was displaying that in lieu of White City.

Travelling "West"
Metroline West VW1266 on Route 207, Acton Twyford Avenue (© Tommy)

These buses had moved from Holloway on Route 134, bringing more Volvo B9TLs to top up the existing fleet from the 427 to make the 207 allocation.

The first day of the 207 under Greenford was, slower to say the least. However, things have improved since the first few days.

Many Buses, One Corridor
Thus the current scene of the day part of the Uxbridge Road corridor is as shown in this photo.
(© Aubrey)

Two VWs on the 207 (of different origins and different batches), Abellio on Route 427 and the 607...still with its Enviro 400s....

Metroline West VWH2184 on Route 607, Ealing Common
.....and the odd rogue appearance of an 114 bus. (© Aubrey)

It's been all change on the corridor, with shuffles of buses nearly everywhere bringing new types, ousting old types and shuffling around existing types. The 207 regains a Greenford allocation since 2001, with the experimental articulated buses. It also gains the Uxbridge allocation for the first time since the split of the route back in 2005. The N207 returns to Greenford after a short absence of 6 years. And the 427 introduces a new operator to the main corridor routes (207/427/607/N207) for the first time, as all of those routes have been operated by Centrewest, or descendants of it since sectorisation/privatisation back in 1989.