Celebrating 5 years of the Circle of London Est. 15/04/2010
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Route 297: Willesden to Ealing Broadway (Timelapse Video)

Route 297 runs between Willesden Bus Garage and Ealing Broadway Station, serving Wembley, Alperton and Perivale in the process.

The route is operated by Metroline from Perivale Bus Garage. The route is 9 miles long and has a Peak Vehicle Requirement (PVR) of 16.

Ex-Metroline Demonstrator VWH1469 BF63HDG having just completed a trip from Willesden.

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London Recap - July 2015

July is typically the month that signals the start of a lot of things, garage open days, where many enthusiasts can come together to appreciate the hobby on one-accord, similar to a church choir, or the peak in the hay-fever season which makes carrying tissues essential , not forgetting the joys of having a stream flowing from your nose. But here at the Circle of London, this July signalled the ever closer one millionth hit, something which really justifies the work we do and our levels of consistency. Typical of July, the bus scene was booming with action, so lets take a look and see what July had for us to offer.

With Hampton Court Flower Show and Wimbledon Tennis overlapping this year it meant that some extra vehicles would be needed to run both services.
Hampton Court Flower Show Shuttles:

NV171 (Now preserved by the Bromley Bus Preservation Group) was returned to its former owner to work on the Hampton Court Flower Show Shuttles and is seen in glorious weather in the village of East Molesey on 05/07/15 (Taken by Kristian Lake)

Former Metroline VW1469 is seen powering along the Hurst Road alongside the River Thames having been acquired by Go-Ahead London along with Ex Arriva VGD1. (Taken on 05/07/15 by Kristian Lake) 

Wimbledon Tennis:

Meanwhile at Wimbledon, a number of the Enviro 400's which had been used on the Route 135 for the past month (covering until Enviro 400 MMC's arrived) where pressed into service with out blinds in the case, on the various shuttle services to and from Wimbledon Tennis, they have since moved on to a number of other garages around London to cover for roadworks and refurbishments. (Taken on 05/07/15 by Kristian Lake)

Latests NBFL Adverts:

LT97 is seen at Marble Arch on the Route 390, this was one of the first buses to receive the new bPay advert livery (Taken on 05/07/15 by Kristian Lake)

Green Bus
LT538 is seen on Park Lane at Marble Arch while working on the Route 73 to Victoria. (Taken on 01/08/15 by Kristian Lake)

Tube Strike Extra's:

This month saw the biggest Tube Strike for over 10 years and it was reliant on extra buses being provided to move as many people as possible, in reality around 100 extra buses where provided and here we see two Stephensons of Essex Optare Olympus's at Holborn while working on the Route 25. (Taken on 09/07/15 by Kristian Lake)

Potters Bar Garage Open Day
The first garage open day of year traditionally takes place at Metroline's Potters Bar Garage located just outside the LT boundary zone, even though two TFL bus routes operate there. It is also a short ride out of Barnet on Metroline's Commercial Route 84/84A and you may even be lucky enough to get a TP/TPL, a dying breed in TFL land now.

Brief Garage History
The Garage itself celebrates 85 years in operation this year, having been opened back in May 1930. The Garage has seen many different types of buses over the years and this year it hold the largest number of buses in its history (171 buses based at PB with 10 outstations at South Mimms)

Arguably the main attraction for many people was the brand new Wright Streetlite (exclusively revealed here a few weeks), it has now been branded for the new Route 714 to Luton Airport which it should see use on. (Taken 11/07/15 by Kristian Lake)

DES794 a recent repaint into Commercial Colours is seen blinded for the Route PB1. (Taken 11/07/15 by Kristian Lake)

As with all open days, inside the garage was filled with heritage vehicles and stalls. (Taken 11/07/15 by Kristian Lake)

Not all of the garage was open to the public as PB has a lot of buses running in and out all day for driver changes. (Taken 11/07/15 by Kristian Lake)

As part of the open day, Sullivan Buses also operated three tours to there bases at North Mymms and South Mimms, showing off the various buses which where not out on a big Rail Replacement job that weekend.
ALX 5 is seen alongside DPS575 at Sullivan Buses North Mymms Engineering Base. (Taken 11/07/15 by Kristian Lake)

TAL123, TPL927 and TN1 are seen at Sullivan Buses South Mimms Base. (Taken 11/07/15 by Kristian Lake)
Metroline Transfers

Metroline West VP476 is seen negotiating the mini roundabout at Uxbridge Station following its transfer to its new garage. 
Following the introduction of up to 34 VWHs at their Willesden Garage, Metroline took the opportunity to rehouse 9 of these vehicles to 'west' garage Uxbridge to help oust the TP class there although some have remained temporarily for the London Overground/Underground shuttle Route 558 which will run from Cricklewood.

As detailed in our CELF Centre Part 50 post, the introduction of MMs on the E8 commenced on the 29th of July with the first journey completed by MM783. At present 5 MMs have transferred from West Perivale to the nearby Brentford base following the early double-deck conversion of Route 90. Little is known about whether they will form the basis of the up and coming tender bid for the route, however their introduction to the base has been supplemented by some DEs from Cricklewood.

Introduction of Stagecoach Enviro 400 MMC's Diesels from NS

July has seen the introduction of seven Diesel Enviro 400 MMC's at Stagecoach's Romford North Street Garage for the route 498 recently won from Go-Ahead London. (Taken 20/07/15 by Kristian Lake)

Introduction of Stagecoach Enviro 200 MMC's Diesels from NS

Another recent tender win for Stagecoach at Romford was the Route 499 between Gallows Corner and Heath Park Estate, won from Arriva Kent Thameside. (Taken on 31/07/15 by Kristian Lake)

Introduction of Go-Ahead Wright Streetlites

A surprise introduction this month was these brand new Wright Streetlites, fitted with Damiler Engines and Flywheels. They will be gradually replacing the slightly older vehicles which will be returning to Wrightbus. (Taken 25/07/15 by Kristian Lake)

The final farewell to the DLA class

It is expected that July will see the end of the operational fleet of DLA's in London, with only two remaining at Palmers Green as School Buses and three south of the river at Thornton Heath. However as the schools have now finished they are likely to be withdrawn any day now. Contrary to this, Garston will continue to operate small numbers of the class, however, they are not technically, 'DLAs' as they are numbered in the Arriva Shires fleet system. (Taken 25/07/15 by Kristian Lake)

End of Month Tender Changes
Uno - Route 383

We have also seen a new company start to infiltrate TfL services this month, Uno or University Bus took over the Route 383 between Barnet and Woodside Park from Metroline. Using Brand New 8.8m Enviro 200's. 602 is seen at High Barnet on the first day in service. (Taken 25/07/15 by Kristian Lake)

London Sovereign - Route 326

Another company expanding this month is London Sovereign as they take over the Route 326 between Barnet and Brent Cross which will use refurbished Enviro 200's from London United. One such bus DE16 is seen on Station Road near New Barnet. (Taken 25/07/15 by Kristian Lake)

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Route 303: Edgware to Colindale Superstores (Timelapse Video)

Route 303 runs between Edgware Bus Station to Colindale Superstores, serving Mill Hill and Grahame Park in the process.

The route is operated by Arriva the Shires from Garston Bus Garage. The route is 4 miles long and has a Peak Vehicle Requirement (PVR) of 6.

Arriva 5448 SN08AAE having just completed a trip from Edgware.
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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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