Celebrating 5 years of the Circle of London Est. 15/04/2010
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Route 340: Harrow to Edgware (Timelapse Video)

Route 340 runs between Harrow Bus Station to Edgware Bus Station, serving Wealdstone, Harrow Weald, Stanmore and Canons Park in the process.

The route is operated by Arriva the Shires from Garston Bus Garage. The route is 6 miles long and has a Peak Vehicle Requirement (PVR) of 9.

Arriva DLA206 (renumbered to 6106 by Arriva the Shires) having just
completed a trip from Harrow Bus Station.
This bus has since been withdrawn.

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Birmingham MMC's - Part 2

So the eagerly awaited follow up, we will now look at the latest batches of Alexander Dennis Enviro MMC’s to be introduced into the National Express West Midlands (NXWM) Fleet…

The follow on order to the Scarlet and Maroon batch were delivered in May/June 2015 to Birmingham Central Garage for the new 'Platinum' services which will be NXWM's flagship premium brand. The new buses will feature a new two tone grey livery with flashes of red which looks very sophisticated and slick. They also have a full external rear LED destination screen. Internally they feature luxury high back leather trimmed seats, extra leg room (with the removal of two sets of seats when compared to a standard MMC), on-board stop announcements and free Wi-​Fi, not to mention the suit wearing drivers which the local media seemed to pick up on when the idea was launched in October 2014.

With the Enviro 200MMC being a brand new design, I am sure for some people it may take a lot of getting used to. But in my opinion the Scarlet & Maroon does certainly suit the new design, I can’t say that for the TFL red versions which will be introduced at Stagecoach’s Romford garage very soon. I think the rear of the E200MMC is very much similar to the Scania Omnicity Single Deckers. And differs very much from the original Enviro 200’s. However I think the fatter curved front suits the Enviro 400 more.
They are following a very similar principle to all the other premium brands such as Arriva Sapphire/MAX or Stagecoach Gold. By providing a higher quality service on a standard routes. Especially if they link main towns such as Coventry, Solihull and Walsall with Birmingham. It also provides competition with the railway. They are also trying to increase patronage especially on key trunk routes which would hopefully reduce the number of cars travelling between these main towns. Even though this does not seem to be such as problem in the Midlands as during the morning peak, it’s been calculated that 28 people per second get on or off one of NXWM’s buses.
This is not forgetting that NXWM will become the first operator in the UK to introduce the Enviro 200MMC, the first of 50 vehicles began to be delivered to the Acocks Green Garage towards the end of June 2015 for the Routes 37, 71 & 72. The first of which entered service on 4th July making them the first in the country. And within the first two weeks, 11 had been delivered with a steady three a week expected for the next few weeks. The first two ventured onto the Route 71 and 72 shortly after I visited, following the summer service changes on 20th July.
The ‘E’ working. A very interesting concept that I have only really come across in the West Midlands. There seem to be two types of ‘E’ working; the Timetabled and the un-timetabled. The timetabled ‘E’ workings come in the form of regular short workings for example the platinum routes 900 and 957 combine to form eight buses an hour between Birmingham and Sheldon this comprises of 4 957’s, 2 900’s and 2 900E’s an hour. With the 900E’s only running to Birmingham Airport compared to the full 900 which reaches Coventry. Then there is also the un-timetabled, these may come in the form of a traditional ‘duplicate’ bus at peak times or could be a short working due to delay.


The Route 900 (Coventry to Birmingham via the Airport) was the first route to be upgraded to Platinum standard from 1st June 2015. With the Route 957 (Solihull to Birmingham) following at the start of July. And routes X51 (Birmingham to Cannock), 934 and 935 (Birmingham to Walsall), 936 (Birmingham to Brownhills) & 997 (Birmingham to Wallsal Limited Stop) all expected to follow suit over the rest of the summer. Which means the first 18 platinum’s have been delivered to Birmingham Central Garage with the following 40 currently being delivered to Walsall Garage.  

There has been a lot of talk about the design of the MMC models and that is no more apparent than when you look at the rear of the MMC’s. The Picture above shows off the rear of an Enviro 200 MMC alongside an Enviro 400 MMC platinum. Both models have no rear window so reversing camera for the driver is provided. The E400MMC platinum’s also have a rear white LED destination screen, I am not convinced people will be looking at the back of the bus to see where it is going. And to be honest the rear is probably better off with a full rear advert or branding in this case.

A general refurbishment program has started with the rest of the National Express West Midlands fleet which comprises of an internal deep clean including new seat covers to match those that now feature on the new MMC’s buses. It is also includes an external re-livery into the new livery which also matches the new MMC’s buses. At the time of writing a quite a few of the older Enviro 400’s had been refurbished as well a handful of the Scania Omnilink’s.
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London Recap - June 2015

Apologies for the slightly delayed post, its been a very busy few weeks.

Stagecoach's Green Enviro 400 to celebrate World Environment Day

The month of June started with Stagecoach painted one of Leyton's Enviro 400 Hybrids in Green to support World Environment Day which was on Friday 5th June, this bus only worked in service for that week on the Route 55 and 56. And has now gone for its midlife refurbishment which will see it return to red. 12137 can be seen arriving and on stand at St Bartholomew's Hospital near St Paul's.  (Both Pictures taken on 02/06/15 by Kristian Lake)

A range of NBFL Adverts
Following on from last month's Coca-Cola adverts which now number 31 buses, June has given us four new NBFL adverts. However Vita Coca and TAGHeuer barely lasted the month before they became B-pay adverts (See upcoming July Recap):

The first was an allover advert for the Proper Corn flavour Sweet Coconut and Vanilla which was one of two Proper Corn ads.

The second was another variation of the Proper Corn advert, this time in yellow for the Sweet and Salty flavour.

Next was Vita Coca, an allover blue advert with a great slogan "8500 Red London Buses? This isn't one of them."

And Finally TAGHeuer advertising the Formula E final at Battersea Power Station at the end of June, this advert only featured on NBFL's on the Route 137 presumably due to its proximity to the power station its self.

Introduction of London United's Volvo B5LH/Gemini 3's
After a brief use on 4th June, to cover for Enviro 200's needed on a Private Hire job, Saturday 13th saw the full introduction of the VH's on the Route 285, it marks a well deserved and long awaited double decker conversion of this route. VH40 is seen at Heathrow Central Bus Station on 13/06/15 (Taken by Kristian Lake)

MMCs on the E1

Two Enviro 400 MMC's made an appearance on the Route E1 on Saturday 13th, to cover buses which where on Rail Replacement, these buses where ordered for the Route 350 and where delivered at the end of March 2015. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 13/06/15)

Introduction of Stagecoach's Volvo B5LH/Enviro 400MMC's
13062 is seen loading at Greenwich Station while working on the Route 177 to Thamesmead. (Taken on 20/06/15 by Kristian Lake)

Within the first few days, the Stagecoach version's started to appear on other PD routes, 13075 appeared on the Route 122 on 25th June and then also appeared on the Route 51 the following day. 13061 also featured on the Route 53 on the 26th June as well.

13069 ventured onto the Route 472 on 27/06/15, seen at Greenwich Peninsular. Taken by Kristian Lake.  

Introduction of Metroline's Volvo B5LH/Gemini 3's
VWH2091 is seen on Oxford Street while working on the Route 6 to Aldwych. (Taken on 20/06/15 by Kristian Lake)

Introduction of Go-Ahead London's Volvo B5LH/Enviro 400MMC's
EHV3 is seen at Crossharbour Asda about to depart on the Route 135 to Aldgate. (Taken on 20/06/15 by Kristian Lake)
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Route 6: Willesden to Aldwych (Timelapse Video)

Route 6 runs between Willesden Bus Garage and Aldwych/Somerset House, serving Queen's Park, Edgware Road, Oxford Street and Piccadilly Circus in the process.

The route is operated by Metroline from Willesden Bus Garage (AC). The route is 6 miles long and has a Peak Vehicle Requirement (PVR) of 24.

Metroline VWH2093 LK15CWP having just completed a trip from Aldwych
seen here at Willesden Bus Garage.
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Metroline CELF Centre Part 50...New Commercial Streetlite & News Special

We made it to a half a century of CELF Centre visits and unlike Jack who visited here last week, it seemed as if luck was on my side today as the title may suggest. Having been out of the scene for the past month, it was nice to be greeted by something new and something which I had no clue even existed.

The yet unregistered 8.8 ton demonstration vehicle was ordered in April of this year for completion in late June, ordered specifically for the new commercial Route 714, it will operate out of the company's Potters Bar base in Hertfordshire, although its specification may suggest may suggest otherwise. Typical of any Metroline vehicle it features the blue on orange interior as well as the Esteban Civic seating and makes a welcome change from the far too familiar E200, regardless of how much ADL want to change the design.

Whether or not more are ordered is dependant on this trial, however at present it seems as if Metroline cannot get enough of the Wright offerings at the moment and this comes as the news of an order for 23 new VWHs was announced just three days prior.

Metroline Wright Streetlite
Although I remain unconvinced in regards to the design of the Streetlite it does offer a welcome change from the current offerings on the market. Although there is no official fleet number, through a grapevine I did hear that it may be coded STL1470 and registered SL15ZGR. Typical of me I asked if the vehicle could be moved in order to gain more shots and here's what the request produced...

Seen here entering the CELF Centre facility driven by my favourite engineer who moved the bus in order for me to get a better shot.

Metroline VWH2097
One of 64 new buses for Willesden Garage is seen resting prior to the start of its very long life...News from the centre suggest the following.

  • Route 90 converts to DD operation using a mix of SELs and VWs, with VW1205-1216 moving back to PA from HT to facilitate this conversion.
  • Route E8 to gain MMs from PA with DEs moving in the opposite direction along with a few from Cricklewood.
  • VP5xx from Willesden to transfer to HT in order to aid the ousting of the TPs and TPLs.
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Metroline CELF Centre Part 49...New VWHs for Willesden [AC] read that right...Posted by Jack. I am last! Apologies it has been so long. University/Full time work has not left me with enough time to make a worthwhile post.

It has been 4 months since the blogs last visit to CELF, and being in the area, I thought I would do the honors. Whilst its been 4 months since the blogs last visit, it was my first visit to the site since March 2012! Metroline must have know I was on my way as I have never seen the place so empty! Great!

My primary reason for visiting today was to check out the new VWHs for Willesden. VWH2099 and 2105 were present on site today. CELF will always play an important part of the blogs history - it is also the place I had the pleasure of meeting the COL creator himself for the first time! ;)

VWH2105 is one of a batch of  34 (numbered VWH2088 - 2121) Volvo B5LH/Wrightbus Gemini 3's that are currently in the process of being delivered for Routes 6 and 98. Either side of it is Metroline West VW1865 and Brentford's DE1013.

Other pictured from the site can be seen below (which shows how empty it was compared to previous visits!)

 Harrow Weald VP625, LK04UXH

Greenford TE1720, SN09CEA

 Metroline Variety - TE1090,VWH2099 & VPL214

 VWH2043 & TE679 in the chassis cleaning area

 Perivale West DE1609, YX58DWG

MM779, LK07AYL - This bus was in service on the 90 two days ago but is now completely blindless.

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London Recap - May 2015

Introduction of new Enviro 200's on Routes G1 and 322.

The start of May saw the introduction of new buses at Plough Lane and Stockwell for the Routes G1 and 322 respectively they where a batch of small Enviro 200's, quite possibly the last standard batch for London, with all future models of the MMC flavour.

SE254 is seen at the Battersea Shaftesbury Estate, this is one of very few turns where buses have to reverse in the road. (Taken on 02/05/15 by Kristian Lake).

SE239 is seen on stand at Clapham Common on the first day of operation of the route following its transfer from Abellio (Taken on 02/05/15 by Kristian Lake)

New Coca-Cola NBFL advert livery
LT167 is seen on Oxford Street on 9th May working on the Route 10 to Kings Cross, this was the first NBFL to receive the advert with a couple more also expected to get similar treatment. If it is anything like last years Coca-Cola advert then get it quickly as it wont be around for long.

New Ensignbus Volvo B9TL's/Gemini 2's
One of the surprises of the month came in the form of four new Volvo B9TL's which where delivered to Ensignbus towards to end of April, this was to allow a similar number of older Trident/ALX400 buses to be disposed of. The new buses came with the Wrightbus Gemini 2 body, are the last of the type to be delivered. Carrying 15 Plates, the vehicles themselves were built iin 2014 under the small type approval scheme which allows manufacturers combined to build up to 250 vehicles of a previous Euro rating and similar models have showed up with Arriva North East as well as Go Ahead North East.

127 (LX15GOK) is seen in Stratford City Bus Station on 9th May while working on a DLR Rail Replacement Service to Canary Wharf, this was one of 26 buses within the Ensignbus fleet to be named after a local Purfleet solider who lost there lives in the Great War, A wonderful tribute to commemorate the centenary of the Great War.

Cross-London Transfers...
May saw a further four ex Stagecoach Trident/ALX400's enter service with Tower Transit at Westbourne Park, these four had been released from Leyton following the conversion of Route 55 to NBFL and join six others already with Tower Transit.
TAL33208 (LX03BTY) ex Stagecoach 17754 is seen at Marble Arch on 9th May while working on the Route 23 to Westbourne Park.

NBFL introduction on Route 73
The introduction of 53 new NBFL's and six transfers from BN began on Thursday 14th May, when the first ten entered service, the whole route is expected to be converted by Saturday 6th June.

LT467 is seen on Oxford Street near Bond Street Station while working on the Route 73 to Victoria. (Taken on 23/05/15 by Kristian Lake)
LT472 became the latest victim of a accident, while on its first day in service it collided with another NBFL on Oxford Street outside Selfridges, causing long delays to all bus services in the area. But thankfully no one was injured and the bus was towed away within an hour. (Taken on 23/05/15 by Kristian Lake)

Route 135 transfer to Go-Ahead
Saturday 23rd May saw the transfer of Route 135 to Go-Ahead operation using E208-223 (transferred from NX thanks to the cascade of WHV's from Q following the introduction of NBFL's on the Route 12, yes I know its complicated) in the interim until the brand new Volvo B5LH/Enviro 400 MMC's (numbered EHV1-13). It is estimated that the first bus will be delivered for commissioning at the turn of the month. It is unlikely to enter service for at least two weeks while it undergoes some testing. So keep you eyes peeled in June for the EHV's.

E211 is seen at Aldgate Station while working on the Route 135 to Old Street, having transferred over from New Cross a few days previous. A couple of buses ventured onto the routes D7, 673 and 474, they are also currently the only buses able to work on the 135. 
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Birmingham MMC's Part 1

As a large number of London’s Enviro 400 MMC’s have now been delivered, with two more batches for Go Ahead and Stagecoach still to come, I thought I would take a trip out of the capital, to Britain’s second city, Birmingham. To see what their versions had to offer.
6108 (SN15LFS) is seen on Snow Hill Queensway, Birmingham while working on Route 9 to Stourbridge. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 16/05/15)
National Express West Midlands (NXWM), is one of the largest bus operators outside of London and even with London included they would still be ranked third largest (following Go-Ahead London and Metroline). They operate over 170 routes and around 1,600 buses working out of ten garages, they have a varied fleet from double deckers to articulated or bendy buses right down to small midi buses. And that doesn’t include sister company National Express Coventry. Also it’s worth noting that when compared to London their fleet is ageing, with still quite a few buses over 10 years old.

6141 (SN15LHL) is seen on Moor Street, Birmingham having just started its journey on the Route 50 to Druids Heath. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 16/05/15)
As part of the Transforming Bus Travel agreement, signed in 2013, NXWM are delivering more than £34 million of investment in the West Midlands bus services over a period of two years, this investment includes 300 new buses. This included 14/64 registered standard Enviro 200’s and 400’s as well as the remaining 171 buses which will be delivered this year,  mainly comprising of the largest order so far of Enviro 400 MMC's, they are also the first company to receive the new Enviro 200 MMC. The first Enviro 400 MMC’s hit the streets towards the end of March. And will form an average of one new bus hitting the region’s streets every day between March and August.

6111 (SN15LFV) is seen on Snow Hill Queensway, Birmingham while working on the Route 9 to Stourbridge. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 16/05/15)
Alongside the investment in new buses, improvements also include more real-time information on bus shelters, similar to what exists in London as well as other cities. There will also be improvements in CCTV coverage, to help reduce crime and dedicated cleaners at each end of certain routes to help improve cleanliness on buses. Which I think is a great idea as it happens on the trains, and it’s something other cities like London should be replicating to improve the standard of service for bus passengers.

6138 (SN15LHH) is seen on Park Street, Birmingham while working on the Route 50 to Druids Heath. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 16/05/15)
The first batch of Enviro 400 MMC’s where delivered between March and April 2015 and have been spilt between Pensnett and Yardley Wood garages for the Routes 9 and 50 respectively. All these buses were delivered in the new Scarlet and Maroon livery which is a looks very smart compared to the previous red and white livery. However most of the buses are route branded and in my opinion it slightly spoils the livery.

6134 (SN15LHD) is seen on next to The Bullring Shopping Centre, Birmingham showing the rear route branding for the Route 50. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 16/05/15)
The Route 9 runs between Stourbridge and Birmingham City Centre (approx. 13 miles) operating every 7-8mins in the peak times and every 10-20mins the rest of the time. The Route 50 runs between Druids Heath and Birmingham City Centre (approx. 6.5 miles) and is one of the most frequent bus services in the UK outside London running 24 hours a day with buses every 4-5mins Monday to Saturday daytimes. It was also the first route in the UK to operate low floor double decker buses.

6106 (SN15LFP) is seen on Snow Hill Queensway while working on the Route 9 to Stourbridge. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 16/05/15)
The Buses themselves… I am surprised NXWM have still continued to order single door buses as loadings can often be high which will lead to long dwells especially at busy stops. I am also surprised they did not go for the hybrid version of the MMC, as there are only two hybrid routes in Birmingham at the moment (Routes 23/24). But having ridden the route 9 from Stourbridge into Birmingham, trying to rein in my pro MMC bias, the buses are great, the seats are sturdy, which will prove useful on these busy routes they are allocated too. They weren’t too much of an issue on the hour long journey either. The buses are also very quick not as quick as the hybrid models (in London) but they are still able to get away from other buses when bunching occurs, which happened a few times I observed both routes 9 and 50. Also useful on the large amount of A-road’s on the Route 9. The ride was smooth, and it did iron out some of the smaller imperfections. Also it was quite evident that they have bedded in very well as the drivers seem very comfortable with them. They also seemed to be very popular with the local’s as well, which is always a good sign.  

6124 and 6130 are seen on Moor Street while working on the Route 50 to Druids Heath. (Taken by Kristian lake on 18/05/15)
So it looks like I will be returning to the Midlands hopefully within the next few weeks to see the 'Platinum' Enviro 400 MMC’s and Enviro 200 MMC’s so stayed tuned for Part 2.
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