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Saturday, 28 March 2015

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  The route superseded the H50 which only operated between Hayes and West Drayton and was introduced in 2000 and ran Monday to Saturday only as it was funded by Hillingdon Council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.

2 Comments:

Anonymous
at: Saturday, March 28, 2015 11:19:00 pm said...

nice brand new bus of the Enviro 400 mmc and it's quite similar to the Scania Omnicity but it's much better than the Scania Omnicity and I can't wait to see that on route 285 and i'm hoping it's gonna be brand new Volvo B5LH Enviro 400 MMC Battery Hybrid double decker to retain the route 285 and plus I can't wait to replace some Scania Omnicity for London United soon the some routes has retained! the brand new Enviro 400 MMC is nicer to ride on the route 350. can't wait to see the brand new Volvo B5LH Enviro 400 MMC in May 2015 on route 135 for go ahead London.

Anonymous
at: Tuesday, March 31, 2015 1:00:00 pm said...

As good as it is to see the MMCs, I'll miss the tridents.

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