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Wednesday, 11 April 2012

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 However as a wartime economy the Rotue 43A was subsequently withdrawn then 7th of December 1914.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


at: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 11:04:00 pm said...

Please, it's Colney Hatch, not Conley Hatch.

C0BO says:
at: Wednesday, April 11, 2012 11:37:00 pm said...

But VPL629 - 637 don't have or never had gold frames and don't you mean 9 newer VPL type vehicles.

Fred the Shred
at: Thursday, April 12, 2012 7:05:00 pm said...

22 nearly new E400's. Where are these coming from, are they second hand from a previous operator??

at: Thursday, April 12, 2012 10:18:00 pm said...

Fairly certain that the Titans allocated to FY/MH were not new but cast offs following tender losses elsewhere - were they from Chalk Farm after it lost the 24 to Grey Green?

Jay says:
at: Friday, April 13, 2012 12:02:00 am said...

From what I have been told Fred, they are set to be some 60 Reges from Cricklewood.

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