Operator changes on Saturday 11th November saw routes 45 and 188 swap between Abellio London and Go-Ahead.

Route 45 Go-Ahead, London Central -> Abellio London

The up-until-recently PVL and WVL dominated route passed across to Abellio London from Go-Ahead and was given brand new E400-H MMCs which are based at Abellio's Walworth garage.
This was the first time that route 45 had seen a change of operator having run from Camberwell since 1985 (LT times). In the closing days of Go-Ahead operation, the 2002 Presidents were withdrawn and allowed Go-Ahead's new EHs and WHVs for the 176 and 188 to be bedded in. On top of existing MHVs and EHs that were common in the route, this mean that the 45 had gone 100% hybrid. This was also due to new low-emission zones that came into affect along the route. It was a slight surprise to see Go-Ahead's latest fleet of vehicles containing blinds for a route that they were just about to lose!

WVL260 outside St. Pancras on stand, exhibiting the more normal allocation prior to the hybrid conversion.
The route passes to Abellio London's Walworth garage.
© Tommy Cooling
One Week Allocation
MHV54 and an EH stand outside St Pancras Station waiting for their next trips on the 45, on the last day of Go-Ahead operation.
(© Aubrey)

E400-H MMC 2580 shows off the 45s operator change at Elephant & Castle.
© Tommy Cooling

Mimicking the scenes of the 45 under Go-Ahead, Abellio 2599 outside St. Pancras International Station.
© Tommy Cooling

Route 188  Abellio London -> Go-Ahead, London Central
Route 188 was notable for featuring the few remaining Volvo chassised vehicles in the Abellio London fleet. With the loss of the route, these will soon be withdrawn from the London fleet.

Abellio London Volvo B7TL Eclipse Gemini 9058 approaches Aldwych on a Route 188 service.
The route passes close to Go-Ahead's Morden Wharf garage.
© Tommy Cooling
The E40Hs, 2401-2413, are also gone off lease, but some of the Volvos are staying at WL until the 343 goes in February and 172 in March. The route saw a mixture of Geminis and E400s.

Abellio London 2406, SN61DFX at Surrey Quays on route 188 to North Greenwich
Abellio London's 2406 stops at Surrey Quays Leisure Park on the 188.
(© Jacek)

As Walworth did have many double deckers, it was not uncommon to see buses from different batches, or other double decker types appearing on the 188.

Abellio 2442 circles St. George's Circus in January 2017.
© Tommy Cooling
Go-Ahead London now use WHV-class Volvo B5LH/Wright Eclipse Gemini 3 buses (WHV168-196) from a fairly new garage near to the line of route. Morden Wharf (MG) replaced Mandela Way (MW), and is located near to North Greenwich.

WHV173 is one of the new Gemini 3s bought for the take up of the 188 by Go-Ahead, based at Morden Wharf.
© Tommy Cooling
The move of the 188 to London Central returns the route back to Go-Ahead London after 12 years. The last time the 188 was with Go-Ahead, it was with London General from Stockwell back in 2005. It was last with London Central in 2004, when Camberwell had half the allocation of the route.

London Central WHV170 on Route 188N, Waterloo
The second night 188 operated by Go-Ahead London was WHV170, seen at Waterloo.
(© Aubrey)

The Volvo/Wright combination seems to have been passed on somewhat through two contract changes, as Volvo B7TL/Wright Eclipse Geminis were present both at Stockwell, and Walworth. Now with the hybrid B5LH/Wright Eclipse Gemini 3, the 188 will continue to have this combination for at least the next 5 years.

WHV168 on stand at Russell Square.
© Tommy Cooling
We now join Jacek:
As a local to the route, I have mixed feelings about the 188 takeover, but we'll get to that in a bit. The 188's old Geminis weren't known for their quality, to say the least. Some of them were good, but some were in very bad shape. Their time has passed so I'm not too sad about them going. I liked the E40Hs, but a few of these were pretty clapped out by the end of the contract as well.

Abellio London 9019, BX54DJY at North Greenwich on route 188
9019 was one of the more worn out buses, seen here at North Greenwich
(© Jacek)

The new WHVs go well, have comfy enough seats, working air cooling, rather importantly for this time of year working heating, and are pretty boring buses overall. Don't get excited for stray workings - the only other type of double decker MG have is B9TLs for the 129, which aren't blinded for the 188 yet. Indeed, the only possibility for rares other than that is the Camberwell Night Spare.

London Central WHV193 on Route 188, Elephant & Castle
WHV193 passes the Elephant & Castle former gyrotary system on the first day of the 188 back at London Central.
(© Aubrey)

Now, the thorny subject of service. There have been plenty of internet arguments over how well Abellio ran the 188. In my personal experience, I never had to wait for it too long, and I never had issues with getting curtailed at short notice, although others have complained about this. And most importantly, when traffic caused other routes to collapse it could still run a reliable enough service. My only complaint was the 10 minute long driver changes at Elephant & Castle. These are done at Canada Water under GAL. Of course, as with most bus routes the service went downhill in the last month before Go-Ahead took over.

WHV168 at Canada Water, presumably after a driver change.
(© Jacek)
On GAL's first day most routes around central London were a mess due to the Lord Mayor's show, with buses unable to cross Waterloo Bridge. This meant a lot of traffic sought alternate routes and gridlocked the roads leading to the Rotherhithe Tunnel, in turn causing half the buses on the 188 to get stuck in traffic in Bermondsey. Typical of any operator's first day.

London Central WHV178 on Route 188, Waterloo
The first day saw this bus curtailed at Waterloo, which was very crowded due to the closure of the bridge. WHV178 is seen standing at Tenison Way.
(© Aubrey)

The new timetable includes a small frequency reduction from 8bph to 7.5bph (or every 8 minutes in human-speak) and an increase in running time to comply with 20mph limits, as is the norm for TfL nowadays. Unfortunately, as with any route this happens to, buses are running at a snail's pace now. As an example, I've missed a 188 at Bricklayer's Arms, got on a 47 5 minutes later, and caught it up after a journey less than 15 minutes long at Canada Water. This section is prone to gridlock at the drop of a hat but at the time I rode it, it was 9pm and there was barely any traffic.

One could argue that loose timetables help the service be more reliable. However, in the early days of running a bus service this goes out the window and it inevitably collapses. It's had plenty of curtailments and has bunched really badly, including one night where the eastbound service was all bunched within 15min of Canada Water. Some of the buses have had teething issues as well - looking on LVF I noticed one bus due to leave North Greenwich, which disappeared off of LVF 20 minutes later having not moved, and was replaced by one that was taken off an hour before, curtailed to Canada Water. One of the buses (I won't say which) also pulls away really slowly, revving a lot but not producing much power.

WVH188 on the 188 circling St. George's Circus.
© Tommy Cooling
WVH188 again on the 188, just over an hour after the shot above, in the shadow of the Dome.
© Tommy Cooling
As with most takeovers, this should hopefully settle down in a few months once GAL get used to running it. It's a big win for them, and a difficult route to handle due to all the traffic hotspots it passes through. Go-Ahead have run this route before, from Stockwell until 2005 when Travel London won it. They did fine back then, but traffic conditions have changed drastically in the past 12 years so good luck to them.

Post by Tommy, Jacek and Aubrey
All rights reserved © WLTMTB 2017
Please do not reproduce any of these images without permission


Picture Archive Post 65

Arriva-TGM 1632 on Route E10, Ealing Broadway Haven Green
Arriva-TGM 1632 on Route E10, Ealing Broadway, 26/09/2015
(© Aubrey)

As Route E10 turns to London United on the 9th December 2017, the route has undergone only one operator change dictated by contract. All other times has been due to novation, or the operator being bought out.

The route was created in 1997 to replace the Smith's Farm spur of Route E9, and part of Route E4, running between Smiths Farm and Ealing Broadway. Based at Greenford (G) with Centrewest (later First), the new route used Mercedes Benz 811D minibuses. A low floor conversion in 2001 gained it 8.8m Dennis Dart/Marshall Capital (DMS) buses, and an extension to Northolt, Islip Manor. In 2002, new Route E11 replaced E10 between Greenford and Ealing, with the E10 taking a new direct route between the two places. 2009 saw the introduction of Enviro 200s to the route. The 22nd June 2013 sale of First Centrewest to (mainly) Metroline saw the route pass to Metroline West, before being lost by them to Tellings Golden-Miller on 31st May 2014. During this time, the E10 was mooted to gain an extension to Chiswick Business Park, but due to two councils not agreeing on how a bus can turn right, the 70 was extended instead. As part of the Arriva group, the Euro 6 Enviro 200s gained Arriva branding, and weirdly had Traveline stickers on them.

Sooner or later, the Enviros needed more than just the ordered spares, so Dartford provided extra buses, which included this example. PDL137 (1632 at this time)/SN06BPE started out as 1624 for Route 162 in Dartford (DT). In March 2011, the bus covered routes revoked from Countryliner at Guildford, after the 162 was lost to Metrobus. Due to this loss, the buses were redundant in Dartford, so they moved to Lea Valley (LV) for the 192, 318, 379, 382 and W6.

London General PDL137 on Route 192, Tottenham Hale
London General PDL137 on Route 192, Tottenham Hale, 24/01/2015
(© Aubrey)

PDL137 was one of a select few that moved to London General at Northumberland Park (NP) for use on Route 192 as the new Streetlites did not arrive until then. Once the Streetlites arrived in January-February 2015, the bus moved into store at Edmonton, before moved to Heathrow (HE) for the E10. The bus has since stayed at Heathrow, with intermittent spells at Dartford too until October 2016. Since then, the bus has been repainted and is now a training bus.

Post by Aubrey

All rights reserved © WLTMTB 2017


RATP's Real Play

On Saturday 11th November London United RATP took over trunk route 18 from Metroline, and on the Friday night beforehand, RATP ran the associated night route N18.

Both routes had been run by Metroline West from Willesden Junction, since the split up of First London. Metroline inherited 50-odd Volvo Gemini 2s (VW1841-1894); vehicles which First London leased to replace the bendy buses on the route in 2010. Most of these buses have since returned to the leasing company.

The VWs on the 18 survive from First London days, and were ordered to replace the bendy buses on the route.
VW1879 waits time at Euston.
© Tommy Cooling
The 18 occasionally saw some of the 295s buses, shown by VWH2132 at Warren Street on a short working to Harlesden.
© Tommy Cooling

Metroline West VW1894 on Route 18, Euston
VW1894 shows the state of the buses on the last days on Route 18, repainted to red, prepared to return off-lease.
(© Aubrey)

To cope with the loss of the N16 operation at Harrow Weald, part of the N18 allocation was drafted in as a replacement, and VWH2218 demonstrates this here with the last N18 bus at Harrow Bus Station.
© Tommy Cooling

London United's operation of the route began in the very late hours of Friday 10th with the night bus service, N18.

First RATP N18
On a wet Saturday morning, the first bus, VH45219 arrived from Harrow Weald at Trafalgar Square. This is one of the new buses for the contract gain.
(© Aubrey)

The first departures from Trafalgar Square were to Sudbury, as timetabled. The night route started off with no qualms, with buses running roughly as scheduled. Most drivers were still in their Metroline uniforms, as expected with transferred drivers.

London United VH45242 on Route N18, Oxford Circus
At a drenched Oxford Circus, VH45242 is seen at Oxford Circus enroute to Harrow Weald.
(© Aubrey)

However, as the night drew on, bunching started to happen, which was not too dissimilar to the nights under Metroline West. Most of this bunching was however due to road closures in the Central London area, thus many buses were stuck at the southern end of the route.

N18 to Harrow
VH45227 at Oxford Circus is curtailed to Harrow after a fairly lengthy gap between buses.
(© Aubrey)

Most of the route runs to Sudbury, and only buses every 30 minutes run to Harrow Weald. It is a fairly busy night route, as it is the only Central London-Wembley night bus route, and does not parallel a night tube line throughout.

VH45240 on the N18 night service in Harrow, showing off the new Harrow Weald, Bus Garage display.
© Tommy Cooling

18/N18 runs from London United's new Atlas Road garage (RP), the same site that Tower Transit held until just before they lost the 266 to Metroline. A 10 year lease was signed for the site. All other routes formerly at Park Royal (PK), as well as the night 220 service moved into the new site around the corner at Atlas Road. It is not yet known whether RATP will keep the smaller, existing Park Royal garage site.

VH45241 demonstrates the new RATP chapter for Route 18 at Euston Station.
© Tommy Cooling
London United VH45216 on Route 18, Great Portland Street
VH45216 on the first day of Route 18 with London United at Great Portland Street.
(© Aubrey)

The majority of the 18 route uses new 67-reg B5LH Gemini3s (VH45216-VH45251), with a top-up of a few older 65, 16 and 66-regs of the same model from various RATP garages. At the time of writing, a few spare E400 ADEs were used to cover the late arrival of some of the new VHs.

A-Team || RATP London United: VH45157 | LJ65FZO || ADE40412 | YX12FNT || 18: Euston - Sudbury
VH45157, from London Sovereign's Edgware Garage passes ADE40412 from London United's Hounslow Garage at Sudbury & Harrow Road Station, the northern terminus of the 18.
(© Alisha)

The ADEs are from Hounslow (mainly), and are being used temporarily, albeit very few are actually used on the route daily. These buses were made free from the loss of the 120 and 222 to Metroline, ironically. These buses will later form the bulk of the 142 and 642 allocation when they move to Edgware (BT) in January from Arriva London North.

VH45159 (65-reg) was brought into Atlas Road for the 18 from London Sovereign's Edgware Garage.
© Tommy Cooling

VHs from the 65-reg batches are usually from the batch used to initially top up the 13 (and thus 139) at Edgware (BT), and these form part of the permanent allocation. VH45153-VH45162 and VH45184 (16-reg) are the ones that have transferred from Edgware.

London United VH45162 on Route 18, Euston
VH45162 (16 reg) was brought in from the 85 allocation at Tolworth, and forms part of the permanent allocation.
(© Aubrey)

VH45162 is the sole member of the 85 allocation to move to RP. Other 16 reg buses include VH45185 and VH45186 transferred from Fulwell's extra allocation for the 65.

London United VH45202 on Route N18, Oxford Circus
VH45202 is one of two Shepherd's Bush VHs to move to Atlas Road, with this bus seen at Oxford Circus. The other bus transferred was VH45201.
(© Aubrey)

Brand new - RATP London United VH45241/BF67GMV | Route 18 | Euston
VH45241 is seen at Euston at the end of a journey from Sudbury, which I had travelled on.
(© Omar)

I (Omar) sampled them on the first day of service. Compared to the B9TLs that ran the route previously, they’re a bit more cramped at the lower deck rear, although that’s due to the bodywork and chassis combination. The ride itself was largely rattle-free and ticked all the boxes for me. Fast, smooth and comfortable. The 18 was on diversion on the day as well via Wembley Hill Road, currently served only by the 483. The VH I had(45241/BF67GMV) effortlessly tackled its steep incline, a quality that Volvo haven’t let go of just yet. It’s the first time I’ve had a B5LH on a hill that steep, and it certainly warrants merit. The result of that: Sudbury - Euston in 53 minutes in the morning. Not a bad way to kick it off!

18 United
The first day was not without hitch however, with some gaps appearing throughout the day. Along with the diversion, bedding in of the route with new contract and operator, as well as the sheer frequency of the 18 in any case, bunching was inevitable, as seen here with VH45161 and VH45241 at Warren Street.
(© Aubrey)

The transfer of the N18 to London United meant that Harrow Weald Garage would be over capacity again at night. Therefore, the Edgware allocation of the N98 (similar amount of work as Harrow Weald's N18 allocation) was given to Harrow Weald to "solve" the overcrowding. The N98 is Harrow Weald's third Central London night route is two years, having had the N16, then N18 and now N98.

Metroline VWH2209 on Route N98, Oxford Circus
Displaying Holborn RED LION SQUARE, a destination that the N98 within a year may not serve, VWH2209 drives past Oxford Circus on the first night of Harrow Weald operation on the N98.
(© Aubrey)

As this is the largest day route that London United has ever operated with a PVR of 44 during weekdays, this will be their largest operation challenge to date. The 18 is one of the most frequent bus routes in London, with buses every 3-4 minutes during the peaks. The buses seem to handle the route well, and overall, this is a big positive move for RATP London.

Also a positive move is the introduction of our newest member of the blog, Alisha Juszczyk:

*RARE* Go-Ahead London Blue Triangle: DMN4 | LN51DWO || W19: Walthamstow Argall Avenue - Ilford
DMN4, rare on Route W19, back in July 2016 at Leytonstone Station
(© Alisha)

Well helloes. I'm Alisha, the Random Buses Girl. This nickname comes from the fact I started off in this hobby by getting on board of random buses that turned up, regardless where they were going. Officially this was back in 2014, but I always had an inner bus enthusiast in me, first coming to light when I used to take the long way home from school on 308's epic Marshall Capitals.
Today the London bus scene is major part of my life, having done all routes end-to-end. Currently you got me roaming around the city, doing whatever my heart desires, or what I'm reputable for - catching rare workings. Favourite ones got to be double decker on single deck routes, the views are where it's at!
I am also (slowly) getting into trains and trying to expand my horizons outside London. Grateful to join this blog, start of another epic journey methinks!

Post by Alisha, Aubrey, Tommy and Omar.
All rights reserved © WLTMTB 2017

Please do not reproduce any images without prior permission