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Quality Line Epsom Garage [EB]

A throwback takes us to Quality Line's Epsom Depot, located in you guessed it Epsom. The purpose of the visit if I can remember correctly was to photograph the two new E400s that had just been delivered for the recent 467 contract gain from London United in 2011.

The garage is located on Roy Richmond Way, named after the much admired family who founded the company in 1920. The business started out as an excursions company, who made available family trips around the United Kingdom using open top coaches known as Charabancs. Their most popular were those to Brighton, although expensive, costing an extortionate £1, which in fact would be £21.80 today, not to mention the nearly 5 hour drive, it seemed that the public were willing to pay by any means, so long as it was a Richmond & Reeves Coach and this is what helped mould the company into the success they are now today.

Over the decades the company began to grow from strength to strength, ditching the Charabancs in the process in favour of some conventional saloon coaches in the 1930s. Skip a few years to the 1960s and thus came another growth for the company, as they opened up the first of four retail travel agencies as well as becoming the first tourist company, to operate a fleet of 11m coaches.

1971 saw the company move into a purpose built location on the Longmead Estate in Epsom to facilitate the expansion of the company. At the time of their opening the premises were described as the 'finest in the UK' and said to be miles ahead of their competition if any. The small base housed a fleet of 30 heavyweight coaches ranging from Leyland Leopards to AEC Reliances'.

By 1986, the company had wandered into the Bus industry for the first time, taking advantage of the recent deregulation. The company began to operate hopper type services in and around the Epsom and Ewell areas using a fleet of Mercedes midibuses. In the same year the company's director Roy Richmond was presented with an MBE for services to the passenger transport industry.

The 1990s was a significant year in the company's history, as the company proceeded to win its first London route, in the form of the S4, this came shortly after the appointment of Steve Whiteway as Managing Director, the first non-family member to ever join the board. The S4 win saw a record investment by the company, culminating an order for 11 brand new state of the art Mercedes buses, the first of their type in London. The vehicles were branded using the quality line identity, the new name for the bus division.

As the bus and coach industries began to flourish, the decision was made to sell off the travel agencies that had existed since the 60s in order to focus on the expansion of the said industries. In 2005 the company expanded the base, by purchasing and adjacent site which was developed into a workshop to service the needs of the ever expanding business. 2007 saw the delivery of the company's first double deck buses in the form of E400s commence following the tender success for routes 406 and 418.

Following the formidable expansion of the company, plans arose to yet again modernise the Blenhiem Road site to provide a 21st century operating centre. The modernisation programme was completed in June 2010 which included a new paint shop to accommodate any size single or double deck vehicle,  a state of the art workshop as well as a new staff quarters, this helped boost the capacity of the premises to a respectable 130 vehicles.

In January 2011, Roy Richmond died, leaving behind a 64 year legacy with the company, following his death, Blenhiem Road was renamed to commemorate his legacy in June of that year.

At present the company operates 14 Bus Routes, with a fleet of over 90 buses. I hope you have enjoyed reading this post as much as I have writing it and more photos are situated below the text in the post.

Quality Line SD33 SN51 UCO
Interior of Quality Line SD33
Quality Line OV01 YJ60 KGA
Interior of Quality Line OV01 
Quality Line SD48 PE56 UFN
Interior of Quality Line SD48
Quality Line OP14 YN53 SUF 
Interior of Quality Line OP14
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West London: Latest Observations

Firstly, I have to apologize for my lack of presence on the blog as of late. Uni has been hectic and I have had to prioritize! Anyone following me on Flickr ( will know that I have still been trying to upload photos as regularly as I can but taking the time to sit down and write a blog post hasn't been as easy! Anyways, being a West Londoner, I thought I would give an overview of some recent workings and changes that have taken place recently.

During February, the country was hit with some bad weather. This affected a lot of routes around the Surrey area. An oddity that appeared as a result of this was double deckers on the 203, something that otherwise is unheard off bar the odd occasion. They were primarily running shorts between Ashford Hospital and Staines although some did come in service to Hounslow Bus Station.

TA235, LG02FAU is pictured at The Bell in Hounslow

The first white on black blind dart finally arrived at Fulwell garage in the former of reinstated dart 8436, RX51FGK. It was first seen in serivce on the 28th February working on Route R70. Since then, 8435 has also re-entered service with WOB's too meaning there is now three RX51 darts at Fulwell (8435, 8435 & 8439).

8436 is pictured making the turn towards the stop at Richmond Bus Station

Recently, a new peak bus has been introduced on the H28 during the evenings to help aid the service. As the route only has one spare bus, that is often used on the 112 or U7, sightings of nimbuses on the route have started to happen again. The peak bus, running number 349, leaves Osterley Tesco on its first run at 15:20, and is the last bus of the day to leave Osterley at 23:30pm. As a result of the new timetable, the running number series has also changed. 611 - 618 has been replaced by 341 - 349.

8466, GM03TGM is pictured loading up outside the Treaty Centre in Hounslow

Route 235 was recently extended to the new development in Brentford called Great West Quarter. To start off with, the route was converted to near fully E200 operation bar the power blinded nimbuses/darts as the 87## series nimbuses didn't have inserts for the extension. It has taken a long while from them to gain inserts but earlier this week, the majority of the nimbuses returned to the route with there new inserts.

8462, RL02FVM is seen on stand at Great West Quarter

SLE43 recently transferred over to Fulwell from Shepherds bush and received old style blinds (which I much prefer!). It is another SLE that has had a skirt only paint job but it is certainly looking considerably better than SLE45 which had the same treatment and is 50 shades of red!

SLE43, YN55NKM is seen passing West Middlesex Hospital

Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Hopefully it will not be so long before I write another one! For the latest updates, check out my Flickr!
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Vehicle Focus: VNE32052 [X578 RJW]

Every now and again, we Londoners are blessed with the opportunity to experience a new type of vehicles, be it for a fixed period trial or evaluation. Today's post will focus on VNE32052, an East Lancs bodied Volvo B7TL and the only one to be operated by First London.

VNE32052  X578 RJW in 2009 on the 79 seen leaving Edgware Station
Ⓒ JE1791
The demonstration vehicle was the first ever ELC Vyking body to be coupled to a Volvo B7TL Chassis when it was completed and delivered in September 2000.

Coded VE953 prior to First's Voyager numbering system took place, it was allocated to their Centrewest Uxbridge Garage (UX) although it was rarely used due to its reliability at the time. Being a Euro II B7TL it mechanically different to any other Volvos within the Centrewest fleet. However when it was utilised,  it was mainly seen on the 207.

Following its stay at UX, it was sent to Westbourne Park (X) as well as blinded for the routes there although it did not make it out onto the running sheets.

The brief stint at X ended when the vehicle, still owned by Volvo was sent back to ELC for major modification work, the lack of opening windows saw it fitted with an air conditioning unit which required major structural change in order to bring it in line with Tfl compliance.

Two years the vehicle now purchased by First London, reappeared, this time at Alperton (ON) with a new fleetcode (VNE32052) as well as opening windows. The vehicle was purchased as part of the route 83 tender which saw it run alongside 29 VNLs that were also purchased for the route although used primarily on the 79 and 258 while the 83 still used a proportion of its Leyland Olympians. Despite being allocated on paper to the 83, it spent most of its time on the 79 as well as making cameo appearances on the 92.

The 10.2m vehicle impressively seated 63 people, something typical of East Lancs vehicles which was made possible by the lightweight seats used.

November 2009 saw the phased introduction of new Gemini2 bodied Volvo B9TLs for the route 83 contract thus saw the decommissioning of the this lovely vehicle, I often referred to as just 'VNE'. Before it disappeared for many moons.

It resurfaced on the 13th of November 2010 after a major refurbishment which saw it converted into a Engineering research and development vehicle.

VNE32052 X578 RJW at First Aberdeen Depot in June 2013
Vehicle Fact File

  • First ever ELC Vyking Volvo B7TL 
  • Delivered to First Centrewest in September 2000
  • First used at Uxbridge on the 207 before visiting Westbourne Park
  • Sent back to ELC for major modification work which saw the inclusion of opening windows
  • resurfaced in 2003 and formed part of the vehicles used on the 83 contract after it was purchased fom Volvo
  • Allocated to the 79 
  • 10.2m long
  • Withdrawn in November 2009
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Picture of the Week [W/B - 07.04.2014]

Metroline TE1571 LK08 is seen outside White City Station in a refurbished state having just completed its journey along the Uxbridge Road Gateway. The 607 is one of a few express routes operating in London, but unlike the others it hasn't been subject to much change apart from the extension to White City from Shepherd's bush which came with the opening of Westfield Shopping Centre in October 2008.

TE1571 LK08 FNE in new money started its life at Northumberland Park (NP) as DN33503 as per Route 179 contract, however in 2009 it moved over to Greenford Garage (G) as a TN went in the other direction. It was easier to spot as opposed to the other DNs as it had the old orange fluorescent logo.

More recently it has been transferred to Uxbridge Garage (UX) now operated by Metroline West, where it has been integrated into the existing batch of TEs at the garage whose bonnet numbers run from, TE1571 - 1582. The batch is currently being refurbished as per 607 contract, the refurbishment will see the inclusion the following
  • Removal of Silver tree deflectors and replaced with red ones
  • The inclusion of black matting around the near and offside windows
  • The inclusion of garage codes 
  • Metroline seat moquette
  • Roundels as standard
The hubcaps still remain on some vehicles but are expected to be removed in due course. However the vehicles still retain their purple back seats complete with the aqua handrails, albeit with Metroline seat moquette. Definitely one to look out for. A similar job has been done on Go Ahead, Northumberland Park based EN4.

TE1582 LK08 FND is another vehicle which has been refurbished to a similar specification although it is still devoid of fleetnames, a picture has been placed below.

Refurbished Metroline TE1582 LK08 FND

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