Ch, ch, ch, changes ... in Reading, Caversham & beyond

The past couple of months have been a busy period for Reading Buses. As well as a number of fleet and service changes to their existing Reading & Caversham town services, their operations have expanded to covering the Greenline 702 Bracknell to London service, and Routes 2 & 5 in Slough under the Thames Valley brand. Reading have taken on the 702, followed by the 2 & 5, with evening buses on Route 4, and Sunday buses on Route 6 after First Berkshire ceased their operation of those routes.

Back in Reading & Caversham, Route 17 has seen a recent makeover with brand new state-of-the-art gas buses which has sent a cascade of slightly older vehicles to other routes which has in turn seen the withdrawal of old buses.
As a result of the Caversham Consultation at the end of 2017, Reading are also modifying their Pink route network with changes affecting the 23, 24, 27 & 29. There are also some changes to the NINEteens which sees the 9 split from the 19, with the latter being combined with the 22 and numbered 22.

Reading have recently announced that they will be taking over the operation of Stagecoach's Route 7 between Fleet and Reading.

Greenline 702

In late 2017 First Berkshire announced that they would cease running their Greenline Express 702, that runs between London Victoria and Bracknell via Slough, Windsor and LEGOLAND. Following this announcement, Reading Buses agreed that they would take over the running of the route, initially following First's timetable and with a mixture of fleet vehicles. That said E400 1208 (GO11LDN) has been specially branded up for the Greenline express launch (see below).
Reading are still trialling a variety of vehicles on the route before placing an order for their preferred bus.

Greenline 1208 in London Victoria
© Tommy Cooling

Grey Greenline 758 in Bracknell
© Tommy Cooling
Scania deomstrator 778 in Slough
© Tommy Cooling

Sky Blue 15 & 16

The 15, 15a and 16 are in the process of receiving the purple E400s displaced off the 17. These E400s are being converted from hybrid to diesel upon refurbishment, a process that is also seeing the E400s turn blue, to match the "Skyblue" livery of the 15/a and 16.
These E400s are replacing the blue Olympus's, as well as the Caversham Pink Scania Omnicities.

At time of publishing, only 208, 225 & 229 have been refurbished.

Skyblue 208 in Central Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Purple 17

Brand new CNG powered Scania E400 City buses have recently appeared on Purple Route 17. These are the first buses in Reading to operate with rear exit doors, a new feature that is well needed on such a busy route, and one that I personally hope will be adopted on any new vehicles the Claret 21 & 21a University routes get, if not across more of the Reading Buses network.
These state-of-the-art purple buses on the 17, of which there are 17 in total, have replaced the 2011 built electric hybrid E400s that were previously allocated. These vehicles are undergoing a refurbishment process and painted in the Sky Blue livery for Routes 15/a & 16, as well as the new Berry livery for Routes 23 & 24.

Purple 715 in Central Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Purple 713 by Forbury Gardens in Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Thames Valley Ventures

In late January 2018, Reading Buses took over the operation of some First Berkshire routes in Slough; Route 2, which runs between Dedworth, Windosr and Slough, and Route 5, Cippenham to Slough. In addition to this, Reading also took over the running of the evening journeys on Route 4, and the Sunday operation of Route 6. This group of routes has fallen under the delightful Thames Valley branding and grouping.

Thames Valley Scania OmniCity 4 on Route 2 in Slough
© Tommy Cooling

Thames Valley Solo SR 198 on Route 5 in Slough
© Tommy Cooling

February 17th Changes

The NINE(teens), [Red] Nineteen and Pink 22

Route 9 has been branded into generic grey and been unlinked from the NINEteens group. The routing for the 9 has also being revised such that it can provide a better link between Whitley Wood and the Royal Berkshire Hospital (RBH). The route reverts back to using Shinfield Road from Whiteknights Road.

Route 19 has being combined with the 22 and turned Red! Buses run between Chalfont Way ASDA in Lower Earley to Caversham Heights, as per the old 22 did, providing direct links between Caversham and RBH. This route has also been numbered 22, and will be allocated red streetlites. On Sundays, services only run between Central Reading and Caversham Heights.

Grey 654 in Central Reading
© Tommy Cooling

NINEteens White 131 by Forbury Gardens in Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Pink 431 on Friar Street in Reading
© Tommy Cooling
Red 22 Streetlite 167 in Central Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Streetlite 167 was one of the batch that was delivered orange for the Earley 19s back in 2014. Now it has been painted into Red for the Red22 branding.
With this, the new 22 service is also using the former Scarlet9 E300s.

Red 22 E300 414 in Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Pink 23 & 24

Pink routes 23 & 24 have been combined providing a two-way circular service improving links within Caversham, and between Caversham and Central Reading.
Route 23 runs via Reading Bridge and out through Queensway, returning via Hemdean Road and across Caversham Bridge. Route 24 runs via Caversham Bridge and out along Hemdean Road, returning via Caversham Park and across Reading Bridge.
Both routes serve the north side of Reading Station before continuing on a anti-clockwise loop through Central Reading via Friar Street and Blagrave Street.

The Caversham Pink Omnicities are gradually being replaced in the fleet with refurbished ex. Purple 17 E400s and spare E200 & E300s. A number of the displaced Omnicities are ending up at Midlands-based operator midlandclassic, 1102 is already in service with the operator, still carrying its Caversham Pink livery!

At time of publishing E400s 219 and 220 have been painted into the new Berry livery for the 23 & 24.

Pink 1104 on Friar Street in Reading
© Tommy Cooling
Berry 220 in Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Berry 219 in Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Pink 27 & 29

These routes became circular providing more direct journeys between Reading, Caversham Centre and Lower Caversham - with route 27 operating anti-clockwise and route 29 clockwise.

Pink 163 on Friar Street in Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Route 7

It has been announced that from April 2018, Reading Buses will take over the running of Stagecoach Route 7 from Reading to Fleet. Stagecoach would continue to operate from Fleet to Aldershot. With the takeover, two buses from Stagecoach would transfer to Reading Buses, and at the moment these are believed to be two ALX400 bodies Tridents, like TA18064 below.

Stagecoach TA18064 in Central Reading
© Tommy Cooling

Post by Tommy Cooling
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