Picture Archive Post 67

Finally, a night bus service to Terminal 4.
First Berkshire VSH69929 on Route N7, Hatton Cross Station, 28/09/2016
(© Aubrey Morandarte)

Route N7 began after the "rationalisation" of the First Berkshire network, splitting the Heathrow routes to a core route to Slough, with the other half of the routes being localised to terminate at Slough. Night service by First Berkshire from Slough to Heathrow began on 5th September 2015, when the 75 (to Heathrow Central via Langley Harrow Market) and 78 (to Heathrow Terminal 5 via Trelawney Avenue) had an added hourly night service. This stayed as far as 24th September 2016, when the routes were split. The N7 was formed as a night service, which ran every 30 minutes Slough-Heathrow Terminal 5, before running alternately to Heathrow Central and Hatton Cross via Terminal 4. The part between Hatton Cross and Heathrow Terminal 4 only lasted about 10 nights, being withdrawn on 3rd October 2016. Passenger numbers between Heathrow Terminal 4 and Hatton Cross were so low, it is likely that the author was the only passenger ever to Hatton Cross on the N7. The N7 thus continued as Slough-Heathrow Central/Terminal 4 until the morning of the 19th January 2018. Further cuts on First Berkshire has caused the withdrawal of the N7 service, with a few 7 journeys replacing the latest N7 journeys. Thus ends the short-lived attempt to give Heathrow's forgotten terminal a night bus service.
Yes, somehow, Transport for London don't give Heathrow Terminal 4 a night bus service, yet commercial First Berkshire managed it for a couple of years.

VSH69929 is one of a few Volvo 7900s in the UK, and harks back to a more successful 7series era. 2013 was when First Berkshire obtained these buses to upgrade the 7series routes, then consisting of the 71, 75, 76, 77 and 78. With the Green Bus Grant partly funding these buses, this bus was part of a batch of 10 initial hybrid buses for Berkshire. A further 5 buses were ordered in 2014, thus 15 Volvo 7900s now are supposed to form the whole allocation of the 7. When these were ordered, they supplemented and replaced part of the large Citaro fleet for the 7series. Heathrow-Slough via Langley at the time was 8bph. After the most recent cuts, the service has been reduced to 4bph.
These buses still show the erroneous 8 buses per hour figure, as these buses have not been rebranded to show the current situation. They are still at Slough Garage though, although with the cuts to First's services, one can only worry what could happen in the future.

Post by Aubrey Morandarte
All rights reserved © WLTMTB 2018


Sovereign's Next Step

For the first change of the year, on 6th January 2018, Routes 142 and 642 moved from Arriva London North to RATP London Sovereign.

The 142 and 642 are allocated ADL Enviro 400s displaced from the loss of routes 120 and 222 at Hounslow to Metroline. These buses had worked [mostly] all their lives from Hounslow, thus this is a change of scenery for these buses from their usual haunts on the 81, 120, 222, H98 and occasional trips on the 111 and H32.

Gleaming first day?
Logo work on some of the ADEs has occurred with ADE40418 being one with London Sovereign logos seen turning to Edgware High Street enroute to Watford.
(© Tommy Cooling)

London Sovereign ADE40429 on Route 142, Edgware
Newly refurbished ADE40429 stops on Edgware Road (Edgware High Street) enroute to Brent Cross
(© Aubrey Morandarte)

As a result of the 142 changes, a few other changes were required for the route to squeeze into Edgware Garage. Edgware's 183 allocation had to move into Harrow as the Gospel Oak to Barking London Overground rail replacement Service J took up the remaining garage space. To fit the 183 into Harrow, routes 398 and H17 moved to London United's Atlas Road garage on a permanent basis, as well as six 183 buses (drivers still based at Harrow), albeit on a very temporary basis until the LO-J service finished later in January.

Hybrid 142 [Explored]
VHs from the 139 allocation also strayed onto the 142 on the first day, with VH45106 being an example at Stanmore.
(© Tommy Cooling)

Other buses on the first day strayed onto the 142, including VHs, and SP40135 originally from the London United division, for Route 10 then Route E3.

London Sovereign SP40135 on Route 142, Brent Cross
SP40135 seen at the southern terminus, just starting another journey towards Watford Junction.
(© Aubrey Morandarte)

The Polish influence [Explored]
SP40135, having finished the journey it was seen on above, now turned at Watford to head back towards London.
(© Tommy Cooling)

First day service was generally alright, although there were some notable gaps of 20+ minutes. These gaps were, however, few and far between. Overall, service was decent for the first day. With familiar drivers amongst possibly other staff, the service should settle to a normal, improved state.

London Sovereign ADE40434 on Route 142, Edgware Station
Some of the buses still have their AV (Hounslow) codes in original yellow, although the logos, garage codes and refurbishment are due for some ADEs still. To be honest though, the unrefurbished examples do not have many notable signs of wear.  Unrefurbished ADE40434 is seen turning into Edgware Station.
(© Aubrey Morandarte)

London Sovereign VH45121 on Route 142, Stanmore
Multiple VHs saw service on the first day of the 142, with VH45121 advertising Too Faced in the middle of Central London being far away from said store, at Stanmore.
(© Aubrey Morandarte)

Prior to London Sovereign, the 142 has only been at Garston, since 1986, having been won then by London Country from London Transport, then still under National Bus Company control (for only 3 more months). Between 1986 and 2018, during its time at Garston, it was run either with the ordered Olympians (LRs), ordered DAF DB250s (60xx), or...err.. anything TfL at Garston Garage!

Arriva Shires 6014 on Route 142, Brent Cross
6014 (DLA614) showing the order after the low-floor conversion of the 142 back in 2003. 6000-6024 was the combined order for the 142 and 340, with 6025 (DLA625) (the last ever DLA-class to be built) as a top-up in 2004 for the 142.
(CC Aubrey Morandarte)

2 is company, 3 is a crowd & 4 is ... [Explored]
The allocation later became the VLA-class Volvo B7TL/ALX 400 displaced from other parts of the Arriva London area. 4 examples are seen here at Watford Junction.
(© Tommy Cooling)

6100 and 6101, side by side
The route did also see the use of Wrightbus vehicles too with the Volvo chassis (VLW-class) and the intergral (DW-class). Here 6100 (later DW190) and 6101 (later DW191) pass at Edgware Bus Station. These two were bought by Arriva for the 640 school contract in 2009.
(© Lewis Nagle)

However, a more too familiar sight was the single deckers on the double decker routes, even when deckers were found on single decker routes!

Garston doing what Garston does best [Explored]
A Cadet during the last few days of 142 operation by Arriva London North at Watford Junction. The use of singles on this route (and the 258) had become common place during the last few months of the contract.
(© Tommy Cooling)

Double single
And on the odd occasion, singles on both routes have been captured together, with [now withdrawn] Cadet DWL97 (3728) and PDL117 in Bushey.
(© Tommy Cooling)

Single to Brent Cross
A rarer sight was to see the few Dart/Pointer buses at Garston on the 142, as Garston only had a few. Back in 2015 and under Arriva Shires control, 3804 is seen at Brent Cross.
(© Aubrey Morandarte)

As a result of this there were a number of knock on effects, a number of Arriva's remaining VLAs were withdrawn, the last remaining VLWs were/will be withdrawn. A couple of the older deckers will need to be kept for scheduled school workings on the H18 and H19, alongside the new Streetdecks allocated to the 340. All of Garston's routes are now scheduled to move out of the garage, mainly to wins by other operators leaving the sole 340 to move to Palmers Green. Their two closest routes are now with RATP London Sovereign, and later on this year, after the rest of the routes will move away, Garston Garage site will be sold to developers. It's a sad time for many enthusiasts, as Garston holds a significant historical relevance in today's bus operations, being one of the few original London Country garages left.

Post by Tommy Cooling & Aubrey Morandarte
Photos by Tommy Cooling, Lewis Nagle & Aubrey Morandarte

All rights reserved © WLTMTB 2018
Please do not reproduce any images without permission


First's last hurrah on the Greenline

Ever so slightly late but here it is!

First Berkshire 37985/BJ11XGY | Route 702 | London Victoria Coach Station -
First Berkshire 37985/BJ11XGY, London Victoria. 02/01/2017.
© Mohammad-Omar Diab El-Arab

A major change on the Greenline network, Reading Buses taking over the 702 from First, is just around the corner, and will see a timetable and fleet change on the route, probably the most major change to the Greenline network since Uno withdrew the 797 in September of last year. What this also means is that a little more than 2 years after the last day of First operating out of Bracknell depot, their last route serving Bracknell is also pulled.

The birthplace of the Greenline brand can be traced back to the 9th July 1930, where the London General Omnibus Company registered the brand to cover its interurban bus and coach services between London and surrounding towns within roughly a 30 mile radius. The network initially began with only 8 routes, yet this quickly expanded to 27 the following year. In 1933, the new London Passenger Transport Board absorbed Greenline as well as services that competed with the network. Most services by that point were linked to form cross-London services, as the laying over of coaches in the city centre inevitably caused congestion.

Greenline services were suspended during the Second World War, and were then resumed in February 1946. More services were introduced, and the 700-series route numbering was introduced, a feature of the Greenline network that still remains today. Ridership increased, and coach-spec Routemasters(RMCs) were introduced to meet the rapidly growing figures.

In 1970, Greenline was transferred to National Bus Company-owned London Country Bus Services. By this point, patronage was declining, mainly due to the increased utility and speed of parallel rail routes and also due to the increasing number of people using cars as a method of commuting, with the last cross-London services ceasing in 1979.
 More buses and coaches were ordered around the same era too, such as Leyland Nationals, Leyland Tigers and Leyland Leopards, posing Greenline as one of the most modern methods of movement between London and towns in the Home Counties. A major turning point was the deregulation of bus services, and in 1986 London Country was divided into 4 areas, ready to be sold off. The sell-off fragmented the Greenline network and only a few routes survived. Arriva purchased the rights to the brand around the mid-1990s, as they had most of the old LCBS successor companies under their control.

The brand was licensed to various operators, one of them being First Berkshire & the Thames Valley for their 700/701/702 services. The service was introduced in 1994/5, with Berkhof Excellence 1000-bodied Scania K113CRBs. It ran as two routes: the 702, which ran as it currently does, and the X7, which ran via Bagshot and Camberley to reach Bracknell. In 2001/2, this changed, with Plaxton Premiere-bodied Volvo B10Ms arriving from Glasgow to replace them, which lasted until about 2005 when First Cymru transferred over Plaxton Profile/Volvo B7Rs to operate the route. New vehicles were being introduced on the Reading RailAir service, which displaced 3 of the Scania K114IB/Irizar Century coaches, which were repainted into Greenline livery to operate the route.

First Beeline SC23008 on Route 702, Kensington High Street
First Berkshire SC23008 on Route 702, Kensington, August 2013
© Aubrey Morandarte

By 2011, the network comprised of 3 routes:
The 700, which ran between Bracknell and London, avoiding Slough, but instead going via Datchet
The 701, which ran between Bracknell and London in the peaks only, serving Great Hollands, Birch Hill, Harman's Water and Bullbrook, albeit avoiding Windsor Town Centre
The 702: which was the basic route between Bracknell and London and provided an hourly frequency

First Beeline 37987 on Route 701, Victoria
First Berkshire 37987 on Route 701, Victoria, April 2014
© Aubrey Morandarte

By that point, 3 new Volvo B9TL/Wright Gemini 2s(37985-7) were bought for the route, displacing some of the coaches. In 2013, 3 more(37997-9) arrived, displacing the remaining coaches off the route. By then, it was fully operated by B9TLs.

London via Datchet
First Berkshire 37985 on Route 700, Bracknell, on the last day of Bracknell operated Greenline.
© Aubrey Morandarte

2015 saw a rather large change to First operations in Berkshire, with the closure of Bracknell depot after the loss of the "bus war" with local independent Courtney Buses. With this came two things: the movement of the Greenline allocation from Bracknell to Slough, and the complete withdrawal of the 700 and 701.

First Berkshire 37275 on Route 700, Legoland
First Berkshire 37275 on Route 700, Legoland, on the last day of Bracknell operated Greenline.
© Aubrey Morandarte

Fast forward to now, with First pulling out of the 702 altogether, having provided a useful and practical service, and many misallocations that were loved by enthusiasts(see TN on the last Bracknell-run 702!). The current B9s will have a short spell on rail replacements around Southampton, yet their future is uncertain.

The Last Bracknell-Based Green Line
The last 702 run from Bracknell Garage, operated by 33179, seen at Hammersmith.
© Aubrey Morandarte

I've decided to document the last day of First operation on the 702 with a bash/photo session, running into both Lewis and Tommy on multiple occasions, the first instance of which was on my first 702 of the day, 37987, which took me from Hammersmith to Bracknell, and then back to Kensington.

Last day of First on the 702 - First Berkshire 37987/BJ11ECX | Route 702 | Bracknell Bus Station
First Berkshire 37987/BJ11ECX, Bracknell Bus Station
© Mohammad-Omar Diab El-Arab

Tommy and Lewis went away at this point, and got a few interesting shots at the WhiteBus yard...

Never to be repeated
First Berkshire 37276/LK58EDL and WhiteBus YX67VGK, Winkfield
© Tommy Cooling

After a quick run into Boots, a friend and I come out only to miss a 702, which was running 5 minutes early, so we diverted via Heathrow and the 7 to Langley. Once we hopped off, we walked to the 702 stop on London Road, only to hop on my favourite Greenline B9TL to Kensington!

Last day of First on the 702 - First Berkshire 37276/LK58EDL | Route 702 | Kensington High Street
First Berkshire 37276/LK58EDL, Kensington High Street
© Mohammad-Omar Diab El-Arab

My penultimate move was 37999, the highest-numbered Greenline B9TL, which took me to the village of Winkfield, just beyond Legoland.

Last day of First on the 702 - First Berkshire 37999/BF63HDY | Route 702 | Winkfield, The Squirrels PH
First Berkshire 37999/BF63HDY, Winkfield, The Squirrels PH
© Mohammad-Omar Diab El-Arab

My last move was on 37998 working the last timetabled run from Bracknell, the 18:50, which only continued beyond Slough if Legoland was open after 7. Now, Lewis checked that Legoland was open at that time, which it was, so we were pretty sure that it would continue to London. However, nobody got on at Legoland, so the bus officially terminated at Slough. The driver was kind enough to offer myself, Lewis and Tommy a lift to Hammmersmith, where we would continue our journeys home. What a way to end the last day of First operation!

Last under First
First Berkshire 37998/BF63HDX, Bracknell Bus Station
© Tommy Cooling

Happy New Year from the WLTM Transport Blog.

Text by Omar
Photos by Omar, Aubrey and Tommy

All rights reserved © WLTMTB 2018