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Sunday, 8 March 2015

Tower Transit, The Next Two...


So one week after the Tower Transit take-over of the Route 488, they took over two further routes in North East London, these where the route 212 between St James Street and Chingford as well as the route 444 between Turnpike Lane and Chingford. Both routes have a peak vehicle requirement (PVR) of ten buses, so the fleet now consists of eleven 10.5m Wright Gemini 3 B5LH’s and eleven 10.8m Wright Streetlite’s along with one 10.4m ex first demonstrator streetlite (more on that later). As with the Enviro 200’s on the route 488, these buses both feature the new Grey/Green Tower Transit interior. However they have a different type of seats compared with the Enviro 200’s.
The Interior of WV46106, Taken by Kristian Lake on 07/03/15.
Starting with the Route 212 which between St James Street Station and Chingford Station, the route in its current form originates from early 1981 where it was a newly created route to partly replace the routes 191 and W21, the route was operated by First for nearly 18 years and passed to the previous operator (CT-Plus) in 2010. Having ridden the route a couple of weeks before the transfer to Tower Transit, it seems a relatively short distance, or at least it does on the train. However in most cases the train runs along a fairly direct route with the bus taking the much longer route. Statistically the bus route is around a mile and a half longer. And while on the route you will frequently see the Greater Anglia (soon to be London Overground) line.

VH38109 (BL64MHU) is seen on Selborne Road, Walthamstow while working towards Chingford. Taken by Kristian Lake on 07/03/15.
Shortly after departing Walthamstow you will encounter the first of many residential streets that the route will run along, I only really noted a couple of points of interest along the way, the first being while skirting passed Highams Park Station, this is one of very few locations you will find a railway level crossing in London, it is also a busy road so I can imagine this can cause problems when the barriers go down for a couple of trains. The route encounters a couple of steep hills between Highams Park and Chingford one of which is found after serving the rather unusual stop at Chingdale Road just after Chingford Hatch. The stop itself is set from the main carriageway, on a smaller road called Friday Hill, it is a tight squeeze getting into and out of Friday Hill especially in a 10.5m bus. Also on arrival at Chingford, you will find that the bus station is fairly small considering the amount of buses that regularly fill it, seven routes terminate their along with another non TFL route from Harlow. It has also become Tower Transit’s chosen relief point for both the route 212 and 444 with staff cars returning drivers back to Lea Interchange (LI). The buses themselves are very much like the previous examples of the Gemini 3 hybrids, found with Metroline. They do make the first hybrids based at LI and also the first Gemini 3’s in Tower Transit.

VH38111 (BL64MHX) is seen leaving Walthamstow Bus Station heading towards St James Street, Taken by Kristian Lake on 07/03/15
Now for the Route 444 which was first created in November 1991 after replacing the Route 144 which used to run along the same route. The route was operated by Arriva for around sixteen years, first starting off under Lea Valley County Bus. Riding the route on the first day under Tower Transit between Silver Street Station and Turnpike Lane which is a journey I had only previously done on the modern day route 144 (which now runs between Muswell Hill and Edmonton Green), a large proportion of this journey is on the Great Central Road otherwise known as the A10, which is a non-descript dual carriage way, lined by houses and the odd shop along the way. This does mean that the streetlites can get up to a good speed. As while I was there a couple of buses turned at the North Middlesex Hospital, meaning the bus I rode through to Turnpike Lane was well loaded which was no issue for the bus which still performed very well.
VW46106 is seen in Turnpike Lane Bus Station departing for Chingford, taken by Kristian Lake on 07/03/15


After leaving the Great Central Road, the route crosses over lordship lane and heads down Westbury Avenue which was quite slow due to temporary lights at the main junction at Turnpike Lane. On arrival the driver went through the blinds which showed that they are blinded for most of the Tower transit single decker routes, of course they won’t be used on all routes due to the length of the buses. It’s also worth noting that on the first day the newly acquired 10.4m ex First Streetlite demonstrator made an appearance on the route even though it does not show any external Tower Transit branding.

WV44700 is seen at Angel Corner, Silver Street Station heading towards Chingford, taken by Kristian Lake on 07/03/15

Overall it is good to see Tower Transit branching out into new areas, the new buses that have been introduced over the last two weeks have all very good and hopefully this is a sign of good things to come for Tower Transit with more successful tender results.
 

2 Comments:

Anonymous
at: Wednesday, March 11, 2015 10:11:00 pm said...

I think you mean Middlesex hospital. Central Middlesex hospital is in Park Royal

Kris Lake says:
at: Sunday, March 15, 2015 9:45:00 pm said...

Yes apologies, I meant the North Middlesex Hospital, I have amended the text.

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