20/01/2018

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 The part between Hatton Cross and Heathrow Terminal 4 only lasted about 10 nights, being withdrawn on 3rd October 2016.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

2 comments:

  1. Passenger numbers low at Night is due to the fact most flights start at 6AM and people are often making their way there by Taxi at least an hour before the two hour flights or if it's long haul it's slightly different but the reason why passenger numbers are low could be a number of factors. A buses leaving late and then trawling the streets at a snails pace. One of these 7s nearly crashed an 81 in Colnbrook not reading the road properly.

    Nothing against buses at all but if people took their job seriously people may use the public transport. Berlin can manage with SXF and Tegel!

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    1. First Berkshire has been declining for quite some time now, and it's fairly concerning. The weird thing is - most of these buses in the early morning at about 3-5am are actually pretty decently loaded. The Terminal 4 loadings towards the end of the N7 journeys actually were decent. A lot of airport workers use/d the 7/N7. About 3-5am, there rarely is an empty bus going into Heathrow!

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