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Sunday, 1 March 2015

The Route 488 itself is a relatively modern route in the sense it was first introduced on 5th July 2008, however it did replace the Route S2 which dates back to 1970. Starting back in 1970, the route itself has seen many small alterations in the length of the route as well as the destinations it served although for the most part it has ran between Bromley-By-Bow and Clapton. In 2011 it was extended from Clapton to Dalston Junction via Rectory Road to terminate in the purpose built ‘bus station’ alongside the London Overground East London Line station. I use the term ‘Bus Station’ loosely as it is currently only used by the 488 but there is room for other routes if and when necessary.

DMV45107 (YY64YKS) is seen in Dalston Junction Bus Station about to depart towards Bromley By Bow (taken on 28/02/15 by Kristian Lake)
The route transferred to Tower Transit on Sat 28th Feb 2015, after being operated by Stagecoach for five years. It now works out of Lea Interchange Garage using brand new 10.8m Enviro 200’s, it runs between Bromley-By-Bow Tesco to Dalston Junction Station which is a distance of around nine kilometres or six miles, and it takes around 40 minutes on average to complete one journey. Buses run every 12 minutes on weekdays, every 15 minutes on Saturdays and every 20 minutes on Sundays. The route has a peak vehicle requirement (PVR) of ten. And it is also worth noting that the numbers of buses on this route has increased steadily over the last few years as the PVR was only seven when First started the route in 2008. I would assume this is thanks to the steady population increase in the East End.  This route is used by many as a hoppa service as it explores the back streets of Bow and Hackney very well. Not many people use the route in its entirety, but it does provide valuable links to the Bromley-By-Bow Tesco, Roman Road Market and Homerton Hospital.

DMV45101 (YY64YKL) is seen on Kingsland High Street, Dalston Junction having just arrived from Bromley By Bow. (taken on 28/02/15 by Kristian Lake)
After travelling on the route between Clapton Pond and Bow Bus Garage it does provide an interesting perspective of the area, starting on the Homerton High Street you turn to do a circuit of the front entrance to Homerton Hospital, returning back to continue along the Homerton High Street you are turning again onto Kenworthy Road which is a non-descript residential street which deposits you on the rather busier Wick Road, you then travel under the concrete structures carrying the A12 and North London Line before you arrive at the terminus of the route 30. This is as close to Hackney Wick station as you are going to get, as you then turn to run alongside the A12 for a short while. If you pay attention on the left then you may get a glimpse of the Olympic stadium between the numerous light industrial estates which litter this area. You then find yourself dropping slightly below the A12 into what is known as ‘Fish Island’ before a rather sharp right hand turn (a struggle in a 10.8m bus against oncoming traffic) is made under the A12 once more, joining Wick Lane for a short time which would take you up into Victoria Park is you wished, however we turn left to join Jodrell Road which will then feed us through the back streets of Bow, passing the bustling Roman Road Market on one side and shortly after on the other, the now derelict Bow Fire Station. Soon enough we are turning onto the double parked Fairfield Road which causes problems when two buses want to pass each other in opposite directions. Now a few doors before you get to Bow Bus Garage there is a rather imposing building on the left, now known as Bow Quarter which was a mid-19th century match making factory which has now been converted into 750 apartments, a story which is similar for many buildings in this part of London.

DMV45103 (YY64YKN) is seen on Fairfield Road outside Stagecoach London's Bow Bus Garage. (Taken on 28/02/15 by Kristian Lake)
The brand new buses Tower Transit are using on the route are 10.8m ADL Enviro 200’s, numbered DMV45101-DMV45111, they are fitted Allison gearboxes which does make them sound and ride much better than recent examples on the Route 100. Internally they do also feature Tower Transit’s new seat coverings and green grab poles. So overall they are very good buses and the larger type is certainly required on this route, to cope with the numerous pushchairs and shopping trollies that come with the route.

Friday, 20 February 2015

Weeks upon weeks of waiting have brought me to the writing of post, however as the old saying goes, you wait for one and three show up, and what  would present a more perfect photo opportunity than this, two of the bus manufacturing world's latest ventures standing next to one another as if deliberately done for the purpose of this shot. At present three vehicles in 2074, 2075 & 2077 are at the centre whilst the rest from the batch 2072-2087 await delivery from Plaxton's plant in Scarborough.

Metroline TEH2074 LK15 CRZ & VWH2050 LK64 EHU
The 16 strong batch were ordered against the 332 contract which was retained by the company, however in they will operate on the 'flagship' 16 allowing the 332 to benefit from the introduction of newer buses on the route which  in theory should allowed the ageing TAs to be displaced elsewhere...Almost immediately noticeable on these new batch of Enviros is the loss of the blue dash, which bar the paintwork and logos, would enable it hard to tell if these were Metroline vehicles or not, however that doesn't take away from the fact, these are a very stylish set of vehicles, and its hard to fathom the design of these was conceived from that of the previous E400.
Metroline MM819 LK57 AYO & Metroline TEH2075 LK15 CSF
As visible in the photo, the traditional logo beneath above the cab has been ditched in favour of a more prominent larger logo, which is now situated below the drivers cab due to the design of the bus. Given the fact, these have been delivered to a non standard specification, it remains to be seen whether or not further deliveries will continue in this fashion.

The rear of TEH2075 LK15 CSF
 From the rear, although much has changed from the original E400, resemblance can be drawn through the design of the rear window, which has reverted back to the 'kidney' shape, although revised to allow for better access in times of an emergency. The positioning of the fleet number has also been altered to below the lower deck window as opposed to the upper deck window.

U.W 11,655KGS
As mentioned in my previous post when on a visit to Camberwell, I am worried that buses are being built to a very low weight specification as it begs the question what is being used as a make-way or compromise to achieve results as such.
Metroline TEH2075 upper deck 
Upper-deck rear window on TEH2075
Another view of the upper deck showing the full blue consist
From an interior perspective it is clear to see that subject to consultation from their major customers ADL have listened and created an atmosphere more airier and welcoming as opposed to the original E400 and on Metroline models grey and blue seems to be a common theme.
Metroline DLD207 LN51 KXO
Nostalgia was provided in DLD207, one of 10 Darts originally purchased and subsequently delivered to Edgware garage to provide traction on recent tender wins in 2001, before moving to North Wembley and Kings Cross in 2011 to provide extra capacity on the 274. More photos from my visit are placed below featuring a special guest too!

Metroline TE836 LK57 AXR
Metroline SEL752 LK07 BBV 
Metroline SEL753 LK07 BBX
Metroline TA652 & TE671 LK55 KKC
Metroline DE997 LK09 ENJ
Metroline VWH2061 LK64 EJG having just been delivered to the centre
London Sovereign DPS638 SK02 XHO
London Sovereign's DPS638 was today's special guest, as it jetted in for a quick chassis spray, hastily leaving. The vehicle was initially delivered to London United's Stamford Brook garage in the April of 2002, to operate on the newly retained 283 before transferring to London Sovereign's Harrow Garage [SO] in January of 2010, via Hounslow Heath Garage. It was refurbished in November 2011 and now spends most of its days on Harrow Circular routes, H9 &10.

Metroline VW1826 BK10 MFN
VW1826 pretty much caps of my visit for today, please do feel free to comment on what vehicle you think is better in the debate of the MMC vs the Gemini3. Adios!

Thursday, 19 February 2015

London has a new vehicle in WSD1 SN64 CTV a Wrightbus Gemini 3 mounted to an integral Chassis, fitted with a 5 litre Mercedes engine, but of course, that's too much to utter in one mouthful, so lets just stick to calling in the 'Streetdeck' as advertised on Wrightbus' website. The vehicle almost slipped underneath the radar, if not for someone who reported it running around the Camberwell area after being delivered on the 9th of February. Here for extensive trials against its Volvo counterpart 'V6' another Wrightbus bodied Gemini 3, it will be allocated duties on the 12 (which could of been guessed) and the 45.

At present it awaits blinds and an Oyster card machine, before being commissioned into service here at Camberwell garage. Visually it is identical to its counter part with the only obvious give-away being the fact it is liveried in Go Ahead London colours. This 10 ton beast, well 10,839kgs is the first and second of its kind in London, if you're the pedantic sort, you'd say Arriva's DW411 LJ11 AEB technically comes first, and as I was told today, mechanically, is not much indifferent to the NRMs currently whizzing up and down the streets of London today. Although I do admit it is quite worrying seeing a modern day double decker with a weight of just under 11 tons, I must say the thing feels as steady as any other Wright product and definitely represents one of the many positives brought forth with the 'Streets Ahead' project which sparked this dramatic need for weight reduction on the manufacturer's vehicles.

A thanks must go out to the guys and girls at this very large base, although its not everyday you are told an E400 is the best bus in terms of reliability and that a Volvo B9TL is awful, which was quite odd to hear, with the engineering manager, quoting the former Mandela Way batch as 'dream' machines, which  I reluctantly had to agree with...On a day to day basis, the garage manages vehicles from all aspects within the company's fleet, so its always a pleasure to visit...I think this is visit number three!

Although the garage was opened in 1914, it did not operate a single bus service for much over 5 years when it was requisitioned for the war. However when it did start to operate, it became one of the largest garages in London, the mammoth base was used to carry out body overhauls in 1940s, however in that said year, it was severely damaged following a bomb attack during the war. Following the attack, 13 vehicles were seriously damaged while four were completely destroyed. A write up of the garage can be read below.

The garage was promptly repaired, however in early 1950s the garage underwent a modernisation programme which is sounds funny to say considering the 1950s was so many moons ago. However the programme included the reconstruction of the welfare and operational block, with the addition of a new extended parking area which greatly increased capacity of the garage. The new and improved facilities incorporated a new pit and workshop which also took on the duties of heavy maintenance for the Walworth Garage ironically situated across the road from the base. The changes took the the capacity of the garage to a respectable 350 buses.

Despite its mammoth size, the allocation steadily decreased over the years as many routes were shifted out, until the closure of Walworth garage in 1985. This saw the allocation of vehicles rise back up to 142, although a shadow of the amount it did operate in the 1950s, which was close enough to 200 buses.

For a bit of trivia, the garage held three Leyland Titans, that were fitted with electronic blinds on an experimental basis. The vehicles were used on night bus standby duties. A selection of the photos taken today can be viewed below. 

Go Ahead London Pointer
Go Ahead London PVL302 PJ02 RFX
Go Ahead London WHY7 LX57 CLZ
Go Ahead London PVL86 W486 WGH
Go Ahead London LDP260 SN53 KXY
The forecourt of Camberwell Bus Garage
Go Ahead London LDP206 SN51 UAY
Go Ahead London PVL338 PJ52 LWT

Saturday, 7 February 2015

A visit to Abellio London's Beddington Cross garage was in order today, and for one reason only..The garage is home to Abellio London who are the remains of Connex and Travel London who were part of the national express group. We visited this location the last time it gained new buses back in June 2012 and we're back here almost three years later. The new buses come in the shape of the highly applauded Enviro 400 MMC model buses, of which 28 have recently been delivered. The new style Enviro 400s which in actual fact is just a face-lifted E400 (with a lot of 'major' changes) took up service on the recently won 109, which duly passed from Arriva to Abellio London on the eve of 30th of January 2015. 

The new buses, numbered between 2487 & 2513 have been received much praise from drivers and passengers alike with one driver, noting they are have a much smoother ride than the previous models operated, which allows them to accelerate quicker, although in the same breath, he also uttered they have been modified so that their top speed is limited.

The relatively small base was opened at the start of the Millennium in the year 2000 following the unexpected expansion of the unsettled Connex Bus who also ran the Southern and South Eastern Rail franchises at the time. The purpose built garage was built to house the route 3 which was won of London Ceneral in 1999. after a very long stint with the operator. 

The small base is comprised of two storage units as well as a compound which includes a bus wash amongst the other normalities you'd expect in a Bus Garage. From the compound visible, is the Metrobus Croydon Depot which is located literally across the road! That tied up with Arriva Garage TC which is only a short distance away makes for perfect competition across the whole Croydon borough especially at the time when tenders are submitted. 

Although not a purpose built depot, in its own right, the company Abellio, since taking over Travel London, who themselves took over the below-par Connex operation, have gone a long way to somewhat turning it into a base fit for a purpose, which is to win, sustain and retain work, this has become evident in the recent tender wins which has seen 455 and T33 won in recent years and more recently the 201 as well as the S3. The Route 109 is the latest of many to transfer here and without any further descriptive text, all the photos from the visit are placed below.

Abellio London E400 MMC YY64 TZA
Abellio London E400 MMC YY64 TZA
Abellio London 8820
One of the three sheds that makes up the Abellio Beddington Cross Depot
Abellio London 8831 YY64 YJN
Withdrawn Abellio 8016 BX04 DMO
Abellio London 8438
Another view inside the shed
Abellio London 8528 YX59 BYW
Abellio London 8502 LJ56 ONO
Abellio London  8505 LJ56 ONS
Abellio London 9066 & 8504 LJ56 ONR
Outside the storage facility
Abellio London 8524 YX59 BYS

Abellio London 8473 LF06 YRJ

Abellio London 9030 BX55 XMC
Abellio London 9025 BX55 XLW
Key Facts to note about Beddington Garage
  • Opened in 2000
  • Holds just over 100 Buses
  • Opened primarily to hold the route 3 that was won in 1999
  • Comprised of two separate units 

Friday, 30 January 2015

Route 487 runs between South Harrow and Willesden Junction, serving Alperton, Park Royal, Acton and Harlesden in the process.

The route is operated by Metroline from Alperton Bus Garage (ON) using Enviro200 (DE) buses. The route is 9 miles long and has a Peak Vehicle Requirement (PVR) of 9.

Metroline DE1668 YX09 AEY having just completed a trip from South Harrow whilst working the 487