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Monday, 9 April 2012

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


Rhys says:
at: Sunday, April 15, 2012 8:10:00 am said...

Nice post, have a good two year blog birthday. To you and the team and good luck with the blog for many years on to go

at: Monday, April 16, 2012 8:35:00 am said...

Great buses, definitely best Mercs in London. Loads of history as well! Just to ask, why do the blinds not include 'Limited Stop' as other express routes do?
Also, well done on 2 years. Just keep it going as great as it has been, and all of us will keep viewing and chatting. :D

at: Wednesday, April 18, 2012 11:08:00 am said...

Great to see Quality Line win another route. I like how their buses are always spotlessly clean both inside and out.

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