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Wright Streetdeck, What's the Verdict?

Now following up from the extremely popular post back in March which previewed a new design Wright Gemini 3 or Streetdeck leaving the Wright Factory in Northern Ireland, I decided to pop to the seaside to see for myself what all the fuss was about, typically the British weather wasn’t the greatest.

943 (BX15ONV) is seen at the Old Steine, Brighton on the final part of the Route 12 to Churchill Square, this is one of the last streetdeck's in the batch. (Taken 02/05/15 by Kristian Lake)

Wrightbus launched their latest product, the StreetDeck at the Euro Bus Expo in Birmingham in November 2014, the product has leading fuel efficiency and capacity in its class and is a highly reliable product. With its Euro 6 Daimler OM934 5.1 litre 4 cylinder diesel engine, rated at 231hp and a maximum torque of 900 Nm at 1,400rpm. The product currently comes in two different body designs, you can either take the traditional Gemini 3 design or the new more angular design, the latter of which has been adopted by the production models for Brighton and Hove. A number of other revisions have been included into this new product including improved airflow throughout both salons, reduced solar gain in the upper saloon (basically the upper deck stays cooler when the sun is out). With other improvements in areas such as cab door lock design, wireless bell pushes and revised handpole fixings.

927 (BX15ONB) is seen on Churchill Square, Brighton about to depart on the Route 12 to Eastbourne. (Taken on 02/05/15, by Kristian Lake)

Before the main production models where produced, six demonstrators visited a number of companies across the country including Arriva Derby Sapphire, First Manchester and South Yorkshire, Transdev in Harrogate, Brighton and Hove (prior to them receiving 24 production models), as well as two for London with Arriva and Go-Ahead. However only the Arriva Derby model had the new design front, another variable with this design is whether you wish to have a visible stair case. Again looking at the demonstrators, some did and others didn’t, the Brighton production models chose to go with the new front but the non-visible staircase. This characteristic shows how the streetdeck shares a number of similar aspects with the New Bus For London.

933 (BX15ONK) is seen on Churchill Square, Brighton while working on the Route 12X Limited Stop to Eastbourne, following behind is another streetdeck on the stopping service. (Taken on 02/05/15, by Kristian Lake)

There is a growing trend in the bus industry at the moment to be moving towards higher  specification buses on par with coaches in some cases, the ever popular Arriva Sapphire/MAX and Stagecoach Gold brands require their buses to be fitted with leather seats, air-con, free wifi, plug sockets etc. This is just one of the ways in which the industry is trying to turn the tide of a general decline in bus usage around the country (excluding London). The streetdecks for Brighton & Hove follow a very similar principle with high-backed seats and leather headrests, audio-visual announcements, free wifi and plug sockets. Externally they have moved away from the traditional Brighton and hove livery and now come in a line green livery with full branding for the flagship coaster route 12 running between Brighton and Eastbourne (Based at the Whitehawk Garage), this also includes the 12A and 12X routes, which combine to form eight buses an hour (Monday to Saturday) between Brighton and Seaford with six continuing to Eastbourne.

The Brighton & Hove Coaster (Route 12) Branding. (Taken on 02/05/15, by Kristian Lake)
Delivery of the streetdecks commenced on 19th March 2015 and at the time of writing only two remained to be delivered hence why there was a few Scania Omnideka's still on the route when I visited. The streetdecks certainly have a place in the Brighton and Hove fleet which must be one of very few fleets in the country to be completely free of ADL/Enviro buses.

922 (BX15OMU) is seen on Churchill Square, Brighton working on the Route 12 to Seaford Library. (Taken on 02/05/15, by Kristian Lake) 
Now as many of you will be aware, I am a huge Enviro 400 MMC fan, but I would definitely say Wrightbus have taken it to the next level with the Streetdeck as it is undoubtedly an improvement on the Gemini models. However I thought the upper deck felt cramped with rather small windows in comparison to an MMC. I also think the cab looks rather small compared to what the MMC offers. But that said the buses rode well, and ironed out some of the smaller bumps well, the buses pulled off smoothly and got up to speed very well, even though traffic was quite heavy leaving Churchill Square in Brighton, the bus was able to make the time up along the way.

932 (BX15ONJ) is seen crossing Old Steine, Brighton while working on the Route 12A to Eastbourne via Chyngton. (Taken on 02/05/15 by Kristian Lake)
Brighton is well known for its hills and departing from the stand on Dyke Road, Brighton which is at the beginning of a prolonged hill was no problem for the streetdeck even though it was empty. I think these buses provide the best of both worlds for passengers, comfort for the longer distance travellers between Eastbourne and Brighton, obviously competing for customers against the train, but also the shorter distance travellers who maybe jumping between towns along the coast.

939 (BX15ONR) is seen on Old Steine, Brighton while working the final leg of the Route 12 to Churchill Square. (Taken on 02/05/15 by Kristian Lake)
Route One claims that the Streetdeck is 18% more fuel efficient compared to a Euro 5 Enviro 400, It would be interesting to know how this compared to a like for like euro 6 model. As this brings me onto the final question, will it sell in large numbers. I think they are a very good bus and will certainly provide some competition to ADL. There has been a lot of talk about the new design body but personally I think it has been mechanically where the improvements have been made. And can certainly see these buses being popular, for all the fuel saving benefits they offer but can we please keep with the Gemini 3 body.

930 (BX15ONG) is seen crossing Old Steine, Brighton while working on the Route 12X to Eastbourne. (Taken on 02/05/15 by Kristian Lake)
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It is quite a bit of a mouthful to say, but I'm sure as we become more familiar with the vehicle itself, a fitting nickname will follow as with many types before them and the type is arguably one of the most highly anticipated fleet of new vehicles, for obvious reasons.

In April 2014 as part of Stagecoach's national order, 18 E400 bodied Volvo B5LHs were included with the very prominent distinction that they would feature a new body, however at the time with no official announcement from ADL, myself just as much as anybody was left as dumbfounded as anyone as to what these new style E400 could look like. By the Summer pictures had surfaced as to what the new style body would look like which was followed by an official announcement from ADL.

Nevertheless the first four arrived at Stagecoach's Strathay Depot on the 23rd of April, with many complete with heavy branding and imagery to designate their Hybrid credentials. The three in the shot from left show 13046 SJ15 PVF , 13044 SJ15 PVL and 13045  SJ15 PVN, whilst the fourth a training bus HY14 BUS was sat inside the shed for staff familiarisation. Their fleet details follow below. 

13041 SJ15PUY 
13042 SJ15PUX 
13043 HY14BUS
13044 SJ15PVL 
13045 SJ15PVN 
13046 SJ15PVF 
13047 SJ15PVK 
13048 SJ15PVE 
13049 SJ15PVO 
13050 SA15VML 
13051 SA15VTW 
13052 SA15VTU 
13053 SA15VTY 
13054 SA15VTV 
13055 SA15VUX 
13056 SA15VTX 
13057 SA15VTZ 
13058 SA15VUY 

Seen here from the nearside angle in all heir glory, they do look remarkably similar to the Scania/E400 combination, one which had become so popular with the Stagecoach group over the years. 

Stagecoach Scotland E400 Volvo B5LH Offside 
Stagecoach Scotland E400 Volvo B5LH Interior - Upper deck
Stagecoach Scotland E400 Volvo B5LH Interior - lower deck
Stagecoach Scotland E400 Volvo B5LH Interior - lower deck
Stagecoach Scotland E400 Volvo B5LH Interior - Upper deck
Stagecoach Scotland E400 Volvo B5LH from the rear
The interior shows quite an unorthodox use of grey for the interior panelling while similarities can be drawn between the engine bay on these vehicles and the more familiar Wright Gemini B5LH. The vehicles themselves for their length weigh a noble 11,255KGS and seat an impressive 79 persons with space for 20 standees. The Stagecoach Scotland orders is followed by a further 21 which are due for Plumstead Garage route 177 in Summer whilst Go Ahead London have ordered 16 for their newly won 135 which will operate from their Silvertown Garage. Credit to our dear friend Gordon who supplied us with the photos and we must stress these must not be used without prior permission. 
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London Recap - March 2015

The calendar month of March is always a busy one irrespective of the London Bus Scene, if we recap Arsenal just came a step closer in being crowned Premier League champions following their 2-1 over Newcastle and Jeremy Clarkson left Top Gear in favour of the more lucrative role as a presenter of Channel 5's Fifth Gear. But deep within the streets of London are a group of individuals who pride themselves on accumulating knowledge of London's Buses and this is what this month's March Recap will be corresponding on.

Bexleyheath gained a V6 

V6 (BJ14KTL) is seen at Abbey Wood Station while working on the Route 229 to Queen Mary Hospital. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 12/03/15)
Short lived, V6 from Camberwell (Q) to Bexleyheath (BX) proved quite a shocker, when it suddenly appeared on the Route 229 one day, apparently for fuel comparison trials, the move was allowed to take place following the introduction of Streetdeck WSD1 on the 2nd of March 2015. The move also saw WVL366 move to Northumberland Park. The transfer itself was short lived and the vehicle was withdrawn from service on the 24th of March, reported to be visiting Coventry, prior to going abroad. 

London United OC1 moves to Quality Line

OC1 (YD63UZL) is seen in Kingston Town Centre while working on the Route 411. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 14/03/15)
One of the more quiet transfers saw former Metrocity demonstration bus OC1 YD63 UZL transfer between sister companies London United and Quality Line. The vehicles was the one previously launched at the Bus & Coach expo back in 2012 rather strangely sporting route 29 blinds.

Introduction of LTs on the 15 

LT391 (LTZ1391) is seen at Trafalgar Square having arrived from Blackwall on the Route 15. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 04/03/15)
During the early days of March , another Stagecoach route, in the 15 began its conversion to LT operation, with its batch ranging from LT391-416 as well as top up vehicles LT462 & 463 which randomly appeared out of sequence. The introduction of LTs en route has helped to aid the conversion of another Stagecoach route, in the 56 to full Hybrid operation in order for it to meets the terms of its new contract. After a refurbishment by ADL 12128-12153 will return to their new home, Leyton (T)

Streetdecks enter service 
WSD1 (SN64CTV) is seen on Westminster Bridge Road while working on the Route 12 towards Dulwich Library. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 04/03/15)

SW1 (LK64DVV) is seen leaving Wood Green Garage about to start on the Route 221 to Edgware. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 04/03/15)
Two new Wright Streetdecks enter service in London in March, but thankfully they have retained there Gemini 3 styling. WSD1 has gone to Go-Ahead at Camberwell to replace V6 and SW1 has gone to Arriva at Wood Green to run alongside VDG1, the Volvo B5TL demonstrator.

Transfer of Route 482 to Metroline
    TE1727 (SN09CEX) is seen on South Road at Southall Town Hall on the first day of Metroline operation of the Route 482, taken on 21/03/15 by Kristian Lake
On the 21st of March 2015, Metroline West duly took over the Route 482 from their Greenford Garage (GR) using the former E1 & E3 buses, with numbers ranging from 1715-1751, had things gone slightly differently, this batch of buses would have ended up at Potters Bar, operating on both routes 34 & 125. The batch is now split between the 91*, 282, 482 & U4, with the higher ended numbers transferring across from Holloway (HT) to Uxbridge (UX) to form a partial allocation on route U4 alongside the TPs. 
Tower Transits new buses and routes 212/444

WV46108 (SN64CVM) is seen at Sterling Way at Silver Street Station while working on the Route 444 to Chingford. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 07/03/15)

VH38110 (BL64MHV) is seen at Walthamstow Central Station while working on the Route 212 to Chingford (Taken by Kristian Lake on 07/03/15)
Tower Transit took over two new routes in March which required twenty new buses (10 new Streetlites and 10 new Gemini 3 hybrids) both currently working out of Lea Interchange (LI) but could easily be moved to the forthcoming Pickkets Lock (PI) garage. Both routes start and finish at Chingford which was virgin ground for Tower Transit. Anyone interested in finding out more about these two routes and buses please check out the Tower Transit, The next two post.

MMCs commence Abellio operations on the 415

2514 (YY64TZO) is seen at Brixton Station while working on the Route 415 to Tulse Hill Station. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 07/03/15)
The penultimate Abellio route to gain MMC's was the Route 415 which was also a takeover from Arriva, the first day saw only three MMC's running with other Walworth (WL) buses assisting but within a week all MMC's had entered service, they have also made a number of forays onto other WL routes such as the 40.

Three new E200s for Blue Triangle 

SE233 (YX15XML) is seen on Woolwich Manor Way at Beckton having just started its journey on the Route 376 to East Ham. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 17/03/15)
One of the surprises of the month came in the form of three new Enviro 200's which went to Rainham (BE), they are almost identical to the recent batch for the Route 100. And so spent there first few days on the Route 376 while drivers where being trained on them as they have the new gear box. All three made an appearance on the route within the first week using borrowed blind sets from Silvertown (SI) while new sets where on order. They have all since been used on there intended route the W19, but unfortunately this is likely to spell the end for the two remaining Cadets (DW11 & 12).

MMCs starting on Route 350

2526 (YX15OWU) is seen at West Drayton Station while working on the Route 350 towards Hayes & Harlington. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 28/03/15)

The long awaited final batch of Abellio MMC's entered service a week later than planned towards the end of March on the Route 350, a rather unusual choice in my opinion given Hayes only has two double decker routes. I would have thought they may have been better suited on a more central route. Anyway this batch signals the end of Abellio's current order of MMC's and also the end of some of the 51-reg tridents that have spent there latter years on this route. Anyone interested to find out more about the route of buses please check out the Route 350 overview post.

Introduction of LTs on the 12 

LT417 (LTZ1417) is seen turning into Margret Street at the end of the Route 12 at Oxford Circus. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 29/03/15)
March saw a second route start to receive New Routemasters, following on from the Route 15 at the start of the month the route 12 also began towards the end, this was one of the larger batches of recent, with a total of 40 buses going to Camberwell (Q) even though they may eventually get mixed in with the 453 batch at Mandela Way (MW). This phased conversion will be continuing into April.

New Enviro 200's for National Express at Heathrow

8360 (SN15LKG) is seen at Hatton Cross Station while working on the British Airways Staff Shuttle BA5. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 14/03/15)

8369 (SN15LKD) is seen at the Bath Road Roundabout near Terminal 5 while working on a British Airways Staff Shuttle service (Taken by Kristian Lake on 18/03/15)
March also saw the start of a new contract between National Express and British Airways for the operation of a number of staff shuttle services around the Heathrow perimeter calling at all the main British Airways office's, buildings and hangers. 10 ADL Enviro 200's (10.8m) and 4 Optare M900SR's where ordered for this contract and these supplemented a couple of other existing Enviro 200's which will solely be used for these services. These new buses join a number of other Enviro 200's based at Heathrow for BBC Staff Shuttles and Heathrow Hotel Hoppa services.
London's new Sightseeing Tour Company 
    Ex Metroline VPL183 (Y183NLK) is seen at the Tower of London while working on for London City Tours. (Taken by Kristian Lake on 28/03/15)
And finally this month also saw a new Open Top tour operate begin operations, they are using heavily modified ex Metroline VPL's, these buses have had their roof's removed (not all have the roof fully removed), new LED destination blinds, free Wifi as well as USB/plug charging. So they seem to have the facilities of a luxury coach compared to a sightseeing bus.
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Route Overview: Route 350

The Route 350 runs between Hayes & Harlington and Heathrow Terminal 5, the route was first introduced in 2008 when terminal five at Heathrow opened. In fact for the first four days, buses terminated in Harmondsworth as passengers were not allowed to be taken into the terminal as it had not opened.  The route superseded the H50 which only operated between Hayes and West Drayton and was introduced in 2000 and ran Monday to Saturday only as it was funded by Hillingdon Council and operated by Wings, after the first year, the Saturday service was cut due to a lack of patronage and the route remained a Monday to Friday operation until the route ceased. The operation of the route was passed to Tellings Golden Miller (TGM) in 2004 however this only lasted just over twelve months before they were acquired by Travel London.  Soon after Travel London began operation, the route was converted to double deckers, using three of their brand new Volvo B7TL Wrightbus Eclipse Gemini’s. However double decker operation only lasted for two years as with the creation of the 350 the route returned to single decker operation with 8 brand new enviro 200’s although one peak time double decker did remain. Once again in 2012 the route returned to full double decker operation, this time with eight ageing dennis trident alexander ALX400’s and hopefully within the next few weeks these fourteen year old buses will be retired in place of brand new ADL Enviro 400 MMC’s which will complete Abellio’s current order.

9768 (YN51KWC) is seen at the Bath Road Roundabout, Longford approaching its final destination, taken on 18/03/15 by Kristian Lake
The route is around seven miles in length and takes on average between 30 and 35 minutes to complete one trip, buses run every 12 mins Monday to Friday and every 20 mins at weekends. I rode the route from Hayes & Harlington Station to Heathrow Terminal 5 on Saturday 14th March, and hope to return when the MMC’s begin. And I was surprised at the amount of people that also boarded at Hayes station, the route begins on a small residential street just around the corner from the station. After departing the stop at the station we head down towards Heathrow however we will be turning off very shortly. The first points of interest on the route are located just off the first road on the left which is Nestles Avenue, where you will find the London Motor Museum, a real hidden gem for anyone interested in cars, it is identifiable by the ex-Seaford and District Leyland Olympian parked outside which is now acting as a burger bar, also if you carry on further down the road you can marvel at the now derelict Nestle Factory which has stood on this site for over a century.
E851DPN - Ex Seaford & District Leyland Olympian/Northern Counties now acting as a burger bar outside the London Motor Museum. Taken 14/03/15 by Kristian Lake
The one thing you will find on this route is that there is a distinct country feel juxtaposed by modern industrial estates and this is felt as soon as you cross the Grand Union Canal which brings the large Lake Farm country park into view, we suddenly turn off Dawley Road onto a small tree lined side road called Bolingbroke way, now I start to wonder where we are actually going, as it doesn’t look like a road a London bus should be going down. At the end of the road all is revealed as we turn left into the buses only entrance to Stockley Park Business Park, home to companies such as Apple, Canon and Marks & Spencer’s, the site also features a lake, country park, golf club, a gym as well as restaurants and shops. After passing through a bus gate, we are parachuted deep inside an out of town modern business park which to and to my amazement this is where most of our passengers are deposited. And it’s also work noting that two other bus routes serve the site, they are the routes A10 and U5. 
9772 (YN51KWG) is seen approaching West Drayton Station while heading towards Hayes & Harlington, taken on 18/03/15 by Kristian Lake
After leaving the business park at Stockley Park, we start to head towards West Drayton or Yiewsley to be more precise, both villages have now merged together on each side of the railway, with West Drayton station at the centre of all this. After a short burst down a country road we arrive into the industrial sprawl of West Drayton, which then becomes more residential as we approach the main high street and station. After circumnavigating the forecourt of West Drayton Station, which is currently a building site to make it ready for the increased services, Crossrail will bring to this station and area. Turning back onto the high street we head under the railway and start to head towards the small village of Harmondsworth. After flying over the M4 we leave West Drayton behind and are shortly arriving in Harmondsworth, after passing through the village which is full of speed bumps we arrive on the A4 colnbrook by pass for a spell of quick dual carriageway running which will take us to the boundary of the airport where we join the western perimeter road just as a plan lands right above us, which is always an surreal and slightly unnerving experience. And soon enough we are arriving at the maze of roads which form the entrance to the ultra-modern terminal five which is where the journey ends. 

2526 (YX15OWU) is seen outside West Drayton Station while heading towards Hayes & Harlington on 28/03/15, taken by Kristian Lake
Now to talk a little about the buses, currently the route is covered by 51-reg Dennis Trident ALX400’s most of the time, however looking at the records, other buses from Hayes seem to make regular occasional appearances on the route, including single deckers. Which is not a surprise as loadings often don't require double deckers. But all credit to these 14 year old tridents, they still perform well on the dual carriageway sections of the route, as the one that I rode was quick and the engine was very responsive, I suppose part of that comes with a good driver who knows the bus and the route well.

An interior shot of the upper deck of 9770 (YN51KWE) taken on 14/03/15 by Kristian Lake
The route has plenty of fast running and buses are able to stretch its legs, so I look forward to riding a Enviro 400 MMC when they are due out before the end of March. No matter how well the tridents perform, they are defiantly showing their age internally, as they are looking very tired, even though they are probably not as battered and bruised as some of the younger models found at Walworth. It will be a shame to see another batch of Tridents leave London as I was brought up on them living in East London as there where the dominant stagecoach bus a few years ago. I am sure they will find a nice home out of London for these buses.

2528 (YX15OWW) is seen arriving at West Drayton Station while heading towards Heathrow Terminal 5 on 28/03/15, taken by Kristian Lake
Returning a few weeks later, on the first day of Enviro 400 MMC operation on the route and buses where gradually introduced over the day with the first four in service by the afternoon. Including 2523 (YX15OWO) which I rode on it's first ever working, and there is no real difference in feel compared to the other previous Abellio examples, however this is probably the best route to experience the full potential of the MMC's as the Route 109 is a very stop/start route, the Route 415 doesn't really get going enough before meeting the hills between Brixton and Tulse Hill, but due to the many open stretches of roads on this route, you will defiantly be able to have the full MMC experience.
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Stagecoach London Barking Garage [BK]

The other garage in Barking is occupied by Stagecoach, located on Longbridge Road, the garage stands out almost as a monumental figure as it has done for the past 9 decades. Opened in 1924 by the LGOC following the increased demand of bus services, which was an implication of the sudden boom in the construction of housing estates in the nearby Beacontree Heath area.

The structure was comprised of a yard as well as a large Victorian styled shed, which was typical of many garages which were built under the influence of the LGOC. 7 years after opening, the base was expanded, and rather unusually, the entrance of the garage was located on S Park Drive, which limited the amount of vehicles that could enter at any one time and this was amended when it was expanded years later.

The garage proved quite a successful one time, taking advantage of the numerous routes that operated in and around the neighboring Barking, Beacontree Heath and Dagenham areas, its Central location allowed for easy access as well as providing relief for the nearby North Street & Seven Kings Garages, but its size prevented it from ever utilizing its full potential.. However it still remained quite a popular one and certainly among enthusiasts which was probably intensified when in 1979 it rather dubiously became the last garage to run the much loved RT class Buses on the Route 62.

However its popularity could not expel it from the plans, to close it in the 1990s. By 1991 plans had surfaced to close the garage by 1992 in favour of a new 'super garage' in the Chadwell Heath area. The new garage was planned to have replaced the work from the Barking, North Street and Seven Kings Bases and rather fittingly coded 'CH' and set to commence operation in 1993. But closer inspection of the site, revealed due to its previous use as a paint manufacturing plant, the land had become so badly contaminated, it was no longer suitable to build on anymore and the operation was aborted. Expectations for the base seemed rife and many of the Barking and North Street vehicles for years ran around with 'CH' codes.

Despite the fact the super garage did not open, quite surprisingly the Seven Kings Garage still proceeded with its closure that year, which as a consequence meant Barking had increased pressure due to an influx of work.To mitigate, it was slightly extended, which was achieved by purchasing of two adjoining bungalows before demolishing them.

By 1994, the garage had a maximum vehicle requirement of 109 vehicles at any one time, quite a large proportion of which made up by lengthy Route 5. The base like many in the 80s and 90s underwent a period of modernisation resulting in the introduction of the coveted Leyland Titan and the rather uncanny Optare Delta types.

Skip a decade to 2013 and, it was chosen as the first London Bus Garage to use  chip fat oil which on its 120 buses, this was set to reduce emissions by up 20%, stickers to designate this were accordingly applied to the vehicles on site. A 50,000 litre storage tank was installed on the site which enabled the bio-fuel to be mixed on the site, further reducing the costs as well as carbon emissions. A key standing point for the introduction of bio fuel on the site was the 8,700-strong bus fleet uses around 250 million litres of fuel each year, with 3.7 million litres used by buses operating out of the Barking garage alone. Although it remains to be seen whether or not the results from this experiment were successful or not. 

In contrast to the 1980s and 1990s, at present the garage runs the following routes 5, 62, 101, 145, 169, 366, 387, 396, N15 (also BW) with a fleet that consists of  40 double deck Alexander Tridents, 54 ADL Enviro 400s,  23 ADL Enviro 200 and 14 Optare Versas. 

Garage Fact File
  • Opened in 1924
  • Expanded once in 1931 and again in the 1990s
  • Runs 10 Routes
  • Ran the last ever route to run the Regent RT Class on the 7th of April 1979
  • Runs 120 Buses
  • Planned for closure in 1992 due to opening of new Chadwell Heath Garage which did not happen
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Enviro 400 MMC, The Story So Far...

Alexander Dennis launched the new model Enviro 400, codenamed MMC for Major Model Change in May 2014, the bus comes in four different specifications:
  • 10.3m Single Door, with 45 seats upstairs and 29 seats downstairs
  • 10.3m Two Door, with 45 seats upstairs and 25 seats downstairs
  • 10.9m Single Door, with 49 seats upstairs and 33 seats downstairs
  • 11.5m Single Door, with 49 seats upstairs and 37 seats downstairs
Now so far only three companies have currently placed orders for the London Specification (10.3m two door) vehicle. Abellio where the first company to place an order, for forty five buses going to three garages; Beddington Cross, Walworth and Hayes. Details as follows:

Spec: AD E400H – AD Enviro 400 MMC, 10.3m H41/25D, ULW- 11665kg.
  • Beddington Cross (BC) – 2487-2498 (Delivered Dec 2014), 2499-2513 (Delivered January 2015).
  • Walworth (WL) – 2400, 2514 (Delivered January 2015), 2515-2522 (Delivered March 2015)
  • Hayes (HS) - 2523-2531 (Expected March/April 2015).
Note: 2400 was used at BC for training purposes only and was used in service at WL, however it is unclear if the vehicle is going to be kept by Abellio.

This was shortly follow by Metroline who announced they had placed a small order for sixteen going to Cricklewood Garage, the first vehicles arrived towards the end of February 2015 and where expected into service around April 2015.

TEH2074 (LK15CRZ) is seen at Metroline's CELF Facility on 20th February 2015, a few days after delivery. Taken by Kristian Lake.
Spec: AD E400H – AD Enviro 400 MMC, 10.3m H41/25D, ULW- 11665kg.
Allocated to Cricklewood (W) – TEH2072-TEH2087 (Delivered to CELF Feb/March 2015)
Note: CELF is Metroline’s Central Engineering & Logistics Facility.

Finally, Stagecoach have confirmed they are expecting seven diesel buese to be delivered to their Romford Garage in June 2015 for the Route 499 which they will be taking over. It’s also worth noting that the stagecoach examples will be the first full diesel MMC’s to be introduced into the London as both the Abellio and Metroline examples have been Hybrid versions. Stagecoach will also more than likely to be the first to introduce the Enviro 200 MMC, which will also be going to Romford in June 2015.

We were first introduced to a MMC in London when a demonstrator was shown off at Abellio’s Walworth Garage open day on 19th July 2014. This bus has since returned to the company, first at their Beddington Cross Garage (BC) towards the end of that year to train drivers up on the new design before the main batch arrived there for the Route 109 in mid-december.
2506 (YY64TZF) is seen outside Beddington Cross Garage on 28th January 2015, while classmate 2511 is seen inside the shed. Taken by Kristian Lake.
It has since moved onto Walworth (WL) where it was fitted with set of blinds, ticket machine and I-bus and given the un-official fleet number of 2400, which is in itself incorrect as this is a hybrid number on a diesel bus. But it was first recorded in service on 24th February 2015 on the Route 172 covering additional morning only workings between Old Kent Road Tesco and Elephant & Castle which are in place of the impending extension of the Route 415 which was also moving over to Abellio operation from 7th March.
2400 (YY64GXG) is seen on stand at City Hall while working as an additional on the Route 381 on the morning of 4th March 2015. Taken by Kristian Lake.
However it was photographed a week earlier on the Route 381 covering additional peak time workings between London Bridge and Waterloo. It has since worked on other routes out of Walworth including the Route 40 (Aldgate to Dulwich Library) on the afternoon of 24th February and the Route 35 (Shoreditch to Clapham Junction) on the evening of 5th March also the Route 415 (Tulse Hill to Old Kent Road) on 8th March.
2502 (YY64TZB) is seen at Crystal Palace Station while working the Route 157 on its first day on 27th January 2015. Taken by Kristian Lake.  
The first buses from the Beddington batch started to appear a few days before the take-over of the 109, with the first (2502) appearing on the Route 157 (Crystal Palace to Morden) on 27th January and 2501 made an appearance on the Route 407 (Caterham to Sutton) on the following day.

2501 (YY64TZA) is seen on the London Road at South Croydon Bus Garage while working on the Route 407 to Caterham on 28th January 2015. Taken by Kristian Lake.
They have since made occasional appearances on the Route 157, and only four ever made it onto the Route 407. The final few didn’t arrive in time to make it out on the first day, so a couple of non-hybrid older buses where used on the Route 109 over the first few days however they had all entered service by the end of the first week.

2511 (YY64TZL) is seen on Streatham Hill at Brixton Bus Garage while working on the Route 109 on 31st January 2015, taken by Kristian Lake.
The intended last bus of the Beddington batch was supposed to be 2514 however this was actually reallocated to Walworth to form the first bus for use on the Route 415. This bus officially entered service on 26th February after doing a few journeys on the Route 343 (City Hall to New Cross Gate) and just like the demonstrator it has since made appearances on the routes 35, 40, 172 and 381. And it also featured on the first day of service on the 415.

2514 (YY64TZO) is seen at Elephant & Castle after working as an additional on the Route 172, taken on 4th March 2015 by Kristian Lake.
The start of March saw the first day of Abellio operation of the Route 415, over time this route should become fully MMC operated however on the first day only three made it into service these being 2514, 2515 and 2517. The latter two being brand new 15 plate buses which had only been delivered a few days previous. March should also see the start of the introduction of MMC’s at Hayes for the Route 350 which runs between Heathrow Terminal 5 and Hayes and Harlington, this should then allow the disposal of the remaining thirteen year old Tridents that still remain at Hayes.
2515 (YX15OWD) is seen on the Brixton Road while working on the Route 415 on its first day in service, taken on 7th March 2015 by Kristian Lake.
Now for a small section on the buses themselves, having ridden on a few different vehicles on different routes. I have to say that I am defiantly a fan, one of the first things to strike you when you board is how spacious they are inside, I think it’s larger windows and compared to a new bus for London which can feel like you are looking out of portholes with the amount of panelling there is especially on the upper deck. The seats are also very good a great improvement on something like a Scania Omnicity for example which have wooden benches in comparison. The next thing you will notice is when the bus pulls away, is the immense acceleration these buses have even in electric mode (on the hybrid vehicles), you will find that the will reach 30/40 mph very easily. They also feature a new bell which sounds twice whenever it is pressed, unfortunately there is still no widespread system used to prevent it being rung over and over again. Overall in my opinion these buses are a great improvement on the original Enviro 400 and are the best double decker around at the moment.
Upper Deck interior of Abellio 2517, taken on 7th March 2015 by Kristian Lake.
Finally a bit about the latest Metroline batch, after a large an continued order with Wrightbus for Gemini 3’s, I was slightly surprised to see this order of MMC’s but I suppose it will mean Cricklewood remains an Enviro garage for the time being. As the buses haven’t entered service yet, there isn’t much to say as they are no different to the Abellio examples so I will let the pictures do the talking.
TEH2087 (LK15CUH) is seen at Metroline's CELF Facility at Perivale, soon after delivery. Taken on 28th February 2015 by Kristian Lake.

TEH2077 (LK15CSU) is seen at Metroline's CELF Facility at Perivale, soon after delivery. Taken on 28th February 2015 by Kristian Lake.  
TEH2075 (LK15CSF) is seen at Metroline's CELF Facility at Perivale, soon after delivery. Taken on 28th February 2015 by Kristian Lake.

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