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Metroline CELF Centre Part 35

Probably due to the temperamental weather that April dawns on us, these are probably some of my weaker shots of a very plain CELF Centre to say the least. I'll be honest here, I only came here as I was anticipating the delivery of the new DEs for the 46, however internal sources advised me they will not be here for a while yet, so I was less than impressed today.

Above is a shot of the recently refurbished TA658 LK05 GHG, this bus is part of a batch of 22 Alexander Dennis ALX400 bodied Dennis Tridents that were delivered to Cricklewood Garage in February 2005 for the new Route 266 contract. The buses are numbered in Metroline's unique continuous numbering system which sees them have bonnet numbers ranging from 638 - 659 although there are merely 22 of them. However as most of us know, Metroline have lost the 266 contract respectively to First, the changes will take effect on the 19th of May 2012 and rather than to have these buses that are pretty much in their prime laying about, Metroline have made the decision to refurbish these buses and use them on the Olympic contracts for which they have been allocated 91 Buses. Hence the reason why TE appearances on the route are becoming more and more common. The refurbished Buses are being sent to CELF for prep checks before being stored at a location that I am not allowed to comment on.

The lower saloon of Metroline's TA658 facing the rear
Above is a shot of the lower saloon of TA658 which was refurbished at Hant Dorset's Trim in Eastleigh. Not that the seats have not been changed as with normal Metroline refurbishments. However the padding and seat Marquette have been restored to give the interior a more refreshed look. More shots of the saloons are based below.
The upper saloon of Metroline's TA658 facing the rear 

The lower saloon of Metroline's TA658 facing the front
 Although the seats have not been changed, they have been deeply cleaned and the flooring has also received new lino which can been seen reflecting through the sunlight.

Metroline TEH1219 LK61 BJV 
Metroline TEH1219 LK61 BJV is seen at CELF Centre of a typical Aprils afternoon. This is part of a batch of 26 Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 buses numbered between TEH1217 - 1224 & 1225 and 1242 that were allocated to Metroline's Cricklewood Garage to allow the139's 100% conversion to Hybrid buses and the Route 16's 82% conversion to Hybrid operation providing TEH915 - 919 were not allocated to the 189 as expected.

Metroline DM970 LK09 EKN
Metroline DM970 LK09 EKN makes a rare appearance at CELF Centre, the Brentford based vehicle is part of a batch of 10 MCV eVolution bodied ADL E200 Darts that were delivered to Brentford in early 2009 for the Route 190s new contract. However for one reason or another, this vehicle above is actually allocated to the E8.

Metroline DLD709 LK55 KMG
DLD708 LK55 KMG sits outside of the centre after being returned from refurbishment, this is part of a batch of DLDs that will be transferred from KC to AH in return for some DEs to allow type standardisation at both KC and AH Garage after the Olympics.

Other than the above there are around a dozen VWs that are still awaiting delivery to Holloway Garage and more shots are available below.

Metroline VW1270 LK12 AHA

Metroline VW1264 LK12 AEZ

Metroline DM970 LK09 EKN

Metroline VW1249 LK12 ABX

Metroline TE669 LK55 KKJ

Metroline TA658 LK05 GHG

Read more »

All Change Route 43...New VWs enter service at long last!

At long last the route 43 is now in the process of receiving its new vehicles. The route was part of a series of contracts that were announced late by TFL influenced by the current economic climate. The late announcements of the involved contracts caused confusion and dismay within operators, with many not knowing what exactly to do.

The Route 43 is considered Metroline's flagship route in terms of how much money the route earns the company per annum, running from the affluent suburbs of Barnet to the economically powerful area of London Bridge which is located in the City Of London, the Route 43 has been a very strong route for the company since they took it on in 1999 following their consumption of MTL.

The Route was introduced August 1912 running between Archway Tavern and London Bridge station via Holloway Road and Islington Angel. It was soon extended beyond Archway to Muswell Hill Broadway via East Finchley Station. Thus influencing the introduction of a shorter version of the Route 43 numbered the 43A. However as a wartime economy the Rotue 43A was subsequently withdrawn then 7th of December 1914.

Skip a few decades to the late seventies and On the 28th of October 1978, the now well used and established 43 became and all day route, meaning passengers could enjoy the increased running hours of the route and almost a year later the Route 43 was converted from RM (Routemaster) operation to OPO (One Person Operation) , this commenced on the 23rd of July 1978 and it made for much quicker boarding times during journeys. The preferred vehicles were the highly unreliable and unpopular Damiliar Fleetline Buses.

However again on the 24th of March 1983, TFL made the decision to convert the Route 43 back to Routemaster operation and a new Finchley allocation was introduced to allow this to be possible. The Routemasters operated out of Finchley for just over three years.

Routemaster CUV 298C at Colney Hatch (Friern Barnet) (c) Peter Horrex
On 21st of June 1986 a new Muswell Hill allocation was introduced and following an increased flow of passengers, a new longer wheelbase variant of the Routemaster dubbed 'RML' was introduced on the Route 43.Although this did not last for long as on the 14th of July 1987, the route was converted to back to OPO using 26 brand new state of the art MCW Metrobus', albeit even if it was only for a little under a year...

MCV Metrobus KYV 725X at Muswell-Hill (c) Peter Horrex
On the 28th of October 1989 the Metrobus operation was phased out by 22 Brand new Leyland Titans, the Titans were part of a massive investment by TFL which saw many of them dished most of London's operators, they were predominantly used on 'high profile' routes,so the 43 was no exception, however in the latter years of their life, they did shift to other routes. Upon the introduction of the Titan's the routes operation was again shifted, this time to Holloway Garage, located just south of Highgate Hill.

London Northern Leyland Titan T745 OHV745Y (c) Ian Armstrong
A freezing winter, saw the 43 change type again, on the 2nd of February 1991, the Route 43 was reverted back to MCW Metrobus allocation. The PVR remained 22 Buses, however a new Sunday allocation was introduced meaning that that the Route 263A which ran from North Finchley and Finsbury Square could be axed. The 43 at this time was now becoming a well used route, as it provided a direct link between North London and the commercial district unlike the other routes such as the 4 and 17. Thus warranted the route a frequency increase, and on the 31st of January 1998, the Route 43s PVR was raised from 22 to 27.

London Northern BYX115V is seen at Archway in 1997 (c) Peter Horrex
The 13th of March 1999 marked a transformation of vehicle type on the now highly popular route. It saw the transition from step entrance vehicles to low floor double deckers. The low floor double deckers came in the form of 27 brand new state of the art Plaxton President Double Deckers which were mounted on the Dennis Trident chassis. Fitted with a Voith Gearbox, the new vehicles were quite the vehicles! The vehicles were part of a batch of 65 buses numbered between TP1 - 65. They were originally ordered by MTL in late 1998, however in 1999, Metroline Travel LTD acquired MTL and the new buses were delivered in the ever distinguishing blue skirt of Metroline along with their cool azul blue interior. The new vehicles proved quite good people movers, as their central staircases made abundance of any space on the bus. However there was initially a mix up between the orders placed by MTL and First who were also receiving similar buses for their Route 91 contract. This meant some vehicles built to First's specification seated 63 whilst the others built to MTL/Metroline specification seated 67.

Metroline TP46 T146 CLO at Archway (c) Bowroaduk
The year of 2001 marked another change for the route, this time it saw the introduction of 27 similar vehicles that were introduced merely two years ago. This time, the chosen chassis was the smooth riding and fuel efficient Volvo B7TL Chassis. The new vehicles classified as VPLs were built to a 10.6m specification to cope with the growing capacity on the route and could now see some of the original TPs shifted to other routes at Holloway Garage such as the 4 and 271.

Metroline VPL139 X639 LLX seen at London Bridge Station in 2002 (c) Peter Horrex
The 23rd of April 2005, saw the commencing of the new contract for the route by Metroline. The route's PVR was raised from 27 to 30 vehicles. In addition to this 9 newer VPL type vehicles numbered between VPL629 - 637 were introduced on the route although they were originally destined for the Route 134 to help with a PVR increase. The new flagship vehicles were fitted with CCTV Screens situated both on the upper deck and lower deck and sported gold advert frames to seal their status as flagship vehicles.

Metroline VPL637 LK54 FWT seen in Islington (c) Peter Horrex
The morning of the 11th of October 2007 saw Metroline loose the 24 to London General respectively and thus meant, the now surplus E400s from the 24, now made common appearances on the 43 and the VPLs were shifted to the W7. The 16th of February 2010, saw the commencing of the new contract and the PVR was again raised from 30 to 32 buses.

Double act on the Route 43 at Archway (c) Peter Horrex
Summer of 2011, was a very nervy summer for many London Bus Companies as TFL delayed many tender announcements owing to financial issues. The route 43 was no exception, however, Metroline believing that they had retained the route, placed a provisional order for 14 VWs. The new VWs were part of a 79 strong batch of vehicles that would then go on to make up the allocations for Routes 4,43,134 and W7. In October 2011, it was announced that Metroline had successfully retained the route for a further 5 years for a contract starting on the 4th of February 2012. The new VWs which had already been assembled by Wrightbus in Ireland just needed a few minor touch ups before being delivered and on the 9th of March 2012, the first VW was delivered to Metroline's CELF Centre to prepare for service at Holloway on the Route 43. The new vehicles for the 43 are numbered between 1243 - 1256...but that's only 14 vehicles! But there is another twist, the new VWs are to be joined by a further 22 nearly new E400s which are currently undergoing a minor touch up.

The new vehicles are 10.5m Wright Gemini bodied Volvo B9TLs with a six speed ZF Ecolife Gearbox, they are fitted with 260HP engines and seats 62 people. Below are some shots of the new Buses in service, provided by the wonderful Peter Horrex.

Metroline VW1243 LK12 AAF seen at Friern Barnet
Metroline VW1243 LK12 AAF seen at Friern Barnet
Metroline VW1245 LK12 AAN seen here at Friern Barnet
 Key Facts to not about the Route 43
  • Runs between Conley Hatch (Friern Barnet) and London Bridge Station
  • Metroline's Flagship Route
  • Has a PVR of 35 
  • Runs from Holloway Garage
  • 9 Miles or 15km in length
  • 24 Hour Route
  • Has an average Journey time between 50 - 90 minutes
Read more »

All change Route X26!

Saturday 14th of April was the turn of the Route X26s new contract, which saw it respectively pass from Metrobus to Quality Line...which was quite a shock for most of us!

Metrobus 544 YN05HFH is seen on Route X26 at its second
stop on route to Croydon Town Centre

Route X26 has a history that dates back to the mid 1950's. The route started out with Green Line Coaches numbered 725 and ran between Gravesend and Windsor via Bromley, Kingston and Staines. In the late 1970's, Green Line Coaches introduced Route 726 which also ran between Gravesend and Windsor but went via Feltham, Heathrow Airport and Slough instead of Staines like sister route 725. In the mid 1980's the expected route cut and merge arrived. The routes were cut between Gravesend and Dartford and Heathrow to Windsor and this formed the new Route 726, Dartford - Heathrow Airport.

Green Line 224 GDF277V is seen on Route X26 at West Croydon
Bus Station on route to Dartford (c) Brain Kemp

At this time the Green Line network was operated by London Country Bus Services but when the company was broken up in 1986, the operation of the route was passed over to London transport and to their subsidiary company, London Coaches.

London Coaches 224 GDF277V is seen on Route X26 at Kingston, Wood
Street on route to Heathrow Central (c) Keith-V
The contract for the 726 again changed hands in the mid 1990's from London Coaches to Capital Logistics but still the routes passenger numbers carried on to decline so much so that London Transport attempted to withdraw the route. Nearly 2000 people complained about this proposal and the route lived on.

Capital Logistics R91GNW is seen on Route X26 at Heathrow Central
Bus Station off loading its passengers (c) johnmightycat1

At the beginning of 1999, the 726 was cut yet again and this time only ran between Bromley South and Heathrow Airport. At this point the route was still run under Capital Logistics however, on 1st June 1999, Tellings Golden Miller (TGM) brought their operations. A few weeks later a new contract for the route was successfully retained by the company. The company purchased 7 new vehicles for the route which were single door Alexander ALX-300 bodied Volvo B10BLE's

Tellings Golden Miller 907 W907UJM is seen on Route X26 in
Bromley South on its return to Heathrow Airport (c) John Delaney

The next major chance with the 726 brings us to around mid April 2005. This is where the route finally lost its 726 number and became the X26. With this change came yet another cut to the route, this time between Bromley South and East Croydon. As well as a large junk of the route cut, many stops along the route were removed including one in Hampton Court which caused a lot of fuss from the locals to help to improve the reliability of the service. The route was awarded to Metrobus and was to be operated from there Croydon (C) garage using 12m Single deck Scania Omnicities. The main objective of the route refresh was to try and attract more passengers. It was originally planned to axes further stops in places such as North Cheam and Carshalton but it was concluded that it would be for the best to leave these in as well as add an additional stop off at Teddington. After all the cuts that have taken place to the former 726 route, the X26 still remains the longest route in London at just under a staggering 24 miles. The route currently uses 12m single deck Scania omnicities, but double deck appearances are not unusual! Metrobus operate the route from their Croydon (C) garage

Metrobus 538 YN03WRJ is seen on Route X26 at its second
stop on route to Heathrow Central (c) Adam Murray

Metrobus 210 SN03WLX is seen on Route X26 at Kingston, Wood Street.
A very rare appearance on the route (c) Terry Wong Min

Metrobus 871 PN09EKT is seen on Route X26 at its first stop in Croydon
before completing its trip to Heathrow Central (c) Adam Murray

Metrobus 948 YN07EXG is seen on Route X26 at its second
stop on route to Croydon Town Centre

Metrobus 973 YT59DYW is seen on Route X26 at its second
stop on route to Croydon Town Centre

Quality Line began operating route X26 today, Saturday 14th April from their Epsom (EB) garage. With every contract change that has taken place a section of the route has been cut so let's see if Quality Line will break the tradition that has been taking place since the 1950's! All the best for Quality line and the operation of this win for them!

Quailty Line's MCL16 BN12EOY is seen on Route X26 at Heathrow Central Bus Station
having just completed a trip from West Croydon

MCL16 blind change whilst on the stand at Heathrow Central Bus Station

Read more »

All change Route 493!

Saturday 31st of March was the turn of the Route 493s new contract, which saw it respectively pass from London United to...Go Ahead London...of course!

Go Ahead London LDP292 LX06 EZZ

The Route 493 was introduced on the 23rd of November 2002 to provide the residents of Richmond with a direct link to Wimbledon and Tooting .The route ran between Richmond Manor Road and Tooting St George's Hospital .It was contracted to Mitcham Belle Buses from their Beddington Garage in Croydon using  13 brand new 10.2m Salvador Caetano bodied Dennis Dart Buses. The Route proved a success with a frequent flow of passengers making use of the abundance of previously un-served back roads prior to the introduction of this route. Although the route provides a direct link between Richmond and Wimbledon, a journey that was only ever made direct with the purchasing of n extortionate train ticket, the journey time of up to 90 minutes was simply unjust and the low PVR of 13 did not help much in the peak hours with buses often getting stuck in traffic hotspots such as East Sheen and Wimbledon.

Mitcham Belle Caetano 060 KU52 YBA is seen outside of London General's Merton Garage on the 3rd of December 2002. (c) John Delaney
Midway through the contract on the 27th of August 2004, Mitcham Belle were bought out by the shambles firm Centra Buses, the acquirement included all the assets of Mitcham Belle, including their buses, routes and their garage. The PVR of the route 493 remained the same and the Ceatano bodied Buses were repainted into a much blander red and blue livery which somewhat resembled Metroline's livery. Upon the up-taking of the Route 493 by Centra, there seemed to be many problems such as buses being late and the poor maintenance of the buses was a major issue.TFL were began to become seemingly unhappy with this and on the 20th of May 2006 Centra London became the first ever London Bus Company to loose all the contracts for their routes at one time. Route 127 passed to Metrobus, Route 152 passed to Travel London, Route 200 passed to London General, Route 201 passed to East Thames Buses and Route 493 passed to Armchair/Metroline on a temporary contract...

Centra London 071 HV52 WSK is seen in Wimbledon on the 8th of May 2004. Picture (c) Paul Featherstone
The Route 493 passed to Armchair/Metroline on a temporary contract due to the fact, TFL were still accepting bids from other companies who may have been eligible to run this route. The Route operated from their Brenford Garage (AH) using some spares from the Route E2 and E8 as well as some R Reg Dennis Pointers. Metroline also purchased 6 ex Mitcham Belle Dennis Dart Plaxton Pointers to cope with the increase of the Route's PVR which saw it rise from 13 to 14.

Metroline DLD135 W151 ULR is seen here in Richmond, en route Tooting St Georges Hospital. Metroline operated the 493 on a 9 month emergency contract. Picture (c) Paul Featherstone
The temporary contract lasted little under a year and on the 31st of March 2007, the route was respectively won by NCP Challenger from their Twickenham Base in West London, using some brand new Alexander Dennis E200s.The Route's PVR was raised again from 14 to 17 and 19 Buses were purchased by the firm.However on the 13th of November 2009, the firm was purchased by Transdev London United and once again the route 493 changed operator, although nothing was changed but the branding on the buses used. The buses were also sequenced into the London United numbering sequence.
London United DE72 SK07 DXX is seen on the Route 493 days before the transfer to Go Ahead London
London United seemed to be one of the few companies to actually add some stability to the Route with their punctuality and modern fleet of buses that did seemingly well on the Route. However, this did to reflect through the re-tendering of this route in 2011, when it was announced that the Route 493 would pass from London United to Go Ahead London General. The firm announced that the route would run from their Plough Lane Garage (PL) in Wimbledon using 17 brand new ECWTA Enviro E20Ds. Below are some shots showing London General's takeover of the Route 493.

Key Facts to note about Route 493

  • Introduced on the 23rd of November 2002
  • Has a PVR of 17
  • Has had 4 operators in its 9 1/2 years of running
  • Currently run by London General
  • Has an average journey time of 70 minutes
Read more »

Metroline CELF Centre Part 34

Edging ever closer to my 50th documented visit to Metroline's CELF Centre, myself and Jack who was also present came across some pretty interesting things today! As I have stated in the past, CELF is just one of those places you can go to and either find something very interesting or it can be quite bland to say the least. However today was just one of those interesting days...

As we arrived we came across a dual door Streetlite that has been built to TFL specification, complete with roundels, IBUS, a Wayfarer machine and Powerblinds. The vehicle is the same vehicle that has been on loan to CT Plus, Blue Triangle and London Sovereign in recent weeks. However it strangely appeared at Cricklewood Garage yesterday (30th of March 2012) and was quickly moved here to CELF, it appears as if the vehicle will be trialled, more than likely on a route such as the 316...However I must say it was very interesting to see this vehicle present today as I did advise Jack prior to coming here that there was a strong possibility that it could be here!

Amid this, there was an abundance of VWs destined for Holloway's Route 134...when I say abundance, I really mean 10! The new VWs are part of a batch 32 vehicles that are due to to take up work on the Route 134 contract, which commenced in February. The new vehicles have been allocated bonnet numbers between VW1257 and VW1288. They will eventually be joined by a further 32 VWs in August and September which will take up duties on the Route 4 and W7 respectively. I have to admit these are beautiful looking vehicles.

VW1258 LK12 AEF is seen at CELF Centre blinded for the 390
Some would say its strange, but Metroline have included the Route 24 on the blinds of these vehicles for one reason or another, interestingly the Route is also up for tender and makes up part of a huge number of routes up for tenders that are outstanding and still awaiting announcements...On the other hand however, it was revealed that it costs the company money to leave blank spaces on the blinds and that it would make sense for Metroline to include 24 as they do have a possibility of winning the route as with other London companies, so that may put that matter to rest for a while yet...

Metroline VW1254 LK12 ADV is seen awaiting entry into CELF Centre blinded for the Route 24.
Also present was DLD709 LK55 KMJ which has just returned from refurbishment at Hant's Dorset Trim as seen below. It is part of a batch of vehicles numbered between 696 - 711 for the Route 214 contract in 2005. They are somewhat unique as they were delivered with Voith Gearboxes as opposed to the normal Allison gearboxes that is preferred with Metroline. For those wondering why there were no logos on this Bus, it is due to the fact that, these are due to operate on the Olympic contracts for which Metroline have been allocated 60 vehicles. A source has also told me that these vehicles are due to transfer to AH (Brentford Garage) to replace the DEs which are set to go to KC (Kings Cross Garage).

Metroline DLD709 LK55 KMJ
However quite possibly the highlight of my day was seeing two of the 05 Plate 6xx TAs return to the company after a refurbishment. These Buses are part of a batch of TAs numbered between TA638 and 659 that were bought and introduced on the Route 266 in 2005. However following the sad loss of the Route 266 to First respectively, it was announced that these buses will be refurbished and put on the Olympic contracts before being assigned to other duties, hence the absence of logos on the bus seen below.

Metroline TA655 LK05 GHB
As expected, more pictures are placed below. However we must remind, that no one is allowed on these premises under any sort of circumstance without prior permission and we must send out a thanks to the CELF Centre team for ensuring our safety was paramount whilst on the premises.

More photos below

Metroline VW1261 LK12 AEU is seen at Metroline's CELF Centre
blinded for the Route 91
TE898 LK08 NVO is seen here at CELF Centre today, which is more familiar territory for this vehicle as it used to be allocated to the Route 297 which runs from the neighbouring Perivale West Garage (PA).

Metroline TE898 LK08 NVO is seen at CELF Centre
Wrightbus Streetlite DRZ9420 nearside
Wrightbus Streetlite DRZ9420 rear nearside

Wrightbus Streetlite DRZ9420 interior facing rear

Wrightbus Streetlite DRZ9420 interior facing front

Wrightbus Streetlite DRZ9420 rear

Metroline TE886 LK08 DXY

Metroline VW1262 LK61 AFO

Metroline TP55 V755 HBY

Metroline TP431 LK03 GFX

Metroline VPL183 Y183 NLK
Metroline VW1244 LK12 AAJ at CELF Centre blinded for the N20
Two of a kind stand together inside CELF Centre in the form of TA76 TA76 KLD and TA655 LK05 GHB 
Metroline TEH1219 LK61 BJV at CELF Centre
Things to note at CELF Centre today
  • 1 x Wrightbus Streetlite
  • 2 x 05 Reg TAs
  • 10x VWs for the 134
  • Refurbished DLD709
  • 2 x Scania Citylink Coaches
Read more »

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