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Friday, 18 January 2013

The Metroline SELs...A brief History

Quite an unusual feature in the Metroline fleet but nevertheless very good buses. I'd prefer to get on one over the latest VWs and TEs any day. For some reason there is something very appealing about these vehicles, it may be due to the fact the ELC Olympus body is not a body that can be found in abundance on the streets of London or it may be due to the fact, they are one of a handful of Euro 4 Scania N230UDs, which are great buses.

Metroline SEL760 LK07 BCX on Route 7 on New Oxford Street© Peter Horrex
On November 2nd 2006, TFL announced the outcome for the tenders regarding the routes 7/N7, and the outcome was quite a shock as it was announced that Metroline had gained the Route from First's Westbourne Park Garage in Ladbroke Grove to. It was announced that the route would run from Metroline's Perivale East Garage starting on the 23rd of June 2007.

The vehicle types were shortly announced afterwards as being a batch East Lancashire Coach Builders Olympus bodies with a Scania N230UD chassis which besides the body was the biggest shock as the company hadn't operated the chassis since the early 90s. The vehicles would be allocated fleet numbers ranging from SEL739 - 764. The body which was unveiled by ELC a year before, was a type that was never seen before, this was probably down to the manufacturer's track record, however the vehicles were very much anticipated by enthusiasts.I remember searching all over Google for pictures using search types such as 'Metroline Scania East Lancs and Metroline Olympus, although to no avail.

So it came as a big disappointment when we understood that the vehicles would be slightly late due to weight issues caused by the bodywork of the vehicle. However in July of 2007 the vehicles began arriving in steady numbers and entered service the following week. I must say they were quite the lookers when they were new   with their bright red paintwork and gold advert frames. Though problems did arise concerning the weight of these buses and they were one by one sent back for removal of their Civic Esteban seats to be replaced by lighter plastic based seats with minimal cushioning.

The 10.8m long vehicles were strictly allocated to the 7/N7 although they did make the odd cameo appearance on the Route 90 from time to time. The company in Autumn of 2007 announced a further order of 7 vehicles for the Route 205 top up. The vehicles would be numbered SEL803-809. However by this time ELC had gone into administration and bought out by Darwen Group, so these buses were known as Darwen Olympus'. They were delivered between January and March 2008. But little under two years later the company lost the route 205 to ELBG who were bought back by Stagecoach.

Metroline SEL748 LK07 BBJ on the Route 205 at
Liverpool Street Station © Andy Davison
The surplus vehicles were transferred onto the route 460 to allow the TPLs operating on the route to be transferred to Cricklewood ( A bit of an odd one there, Cricklewood getting older stock! Irony!). The changes would not last long in typical Metroline fashion as from 11th of December 2010, the company announced that the route would transfer to Willesden Bus Garage and the once again surplus SELs (803 - 809) would transfer to Perivale West (PA) for use on the 297 which would in turn allow 6 TEs operating on the route to transfer to EW and W respectively. Adverse weather conditions at the time delayed introduction of these buses on the route until early January 2011.

Metroline SEL804 LK57 KBE on the Route 297 at
Wembley Park Station © Andy Davison
Since the company won the 79 and 105 in July 2011 and November 2011, only a few of these buses have made it onto these routes, this owes to their awkward blind set layout, which comprises of a manual front driver roller and a rear power blind, which is very unique indeed. This heightens the cost of updating the blinds unlike standard blind set ups.

In the opening months of 2012, it was announced that the company would be closing Perivale East Garage (PV) which holds the main allocation of these vehicles and the routes 7 and 90 would transfer over to PA which would then force routes 143, 232 (run from PV) and 326 to transfer to Cricklewood (W). This move would allow the company to centralize the 33 strong fleet of SELs to one garage which has many benefits in itself, as Metroline's head maintenance Centre 'CELF' is just around the corner, should any errors arise with these non-standard fleet vehicles, this will allow them to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

Since new little has been done to these unique vehicles, however it may be worth noting that SEL743 and SEL764 have both received red skirts and a some tinted windows, which makes them look extremely classy if I must add my opinion, SEL764 LK57 KAU demonstrates below.

Metroline SEL764 LK57 KAU on the Route 90
at Hatton Cross Station © Lee Thatcher
Little is known over the future of these buses, however this is probably dependent on whether the route gets its proposed 2 year extension, however regardless of the outcome, I would love for these vehicles to remain in the fleet for years to come!

Happy new year guys and look out for more posts as such outlining specific vehicle histories within a company and for those that didn't quite take in that piece of text I have included some bullet points to make it that bit clearer. Be sure to comment and rate. Cheers!

Key Facts
  • The company's first Scania vehicles in over a decade
  • The First body of its kind in London
  • Delivered in Summer of 2007 for the Route 7 that was respectively won from First
  • A second batch delivered between January and March 2008 for the route 205
  • Numbered from SEL739 - 764 & SEL803 - 809
  • 33 buses in this batch of vehicles
  • All based at Perivale West Garage (PA)


Lewis J.N. says:
at: Friday, January 18, 2013 6:41:00 am said...

Fantastic Post! Another interesting feature on one of these (SEL807) is the use of black headlight surrounds instead of the conventional silver. Personally, I prefer the silver but the black looks very smart!


at: Friday, January 18, 2013 12:50:00 pm said...

Great Post, Jay! I really like this post and what you did is smart, how your gonna write about a vehicle class within a company. great start and I can't wait to see what you're gonna write!

COBO says:
at: Monday, January 21, 2013 6:22:00 pm said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
COBO says:
at: Monday, January 21, 2013 10:14:00 pm said...

Great post Jay, it's a shame that there ain't more of these buses because they aren't that bad.

Lewis J.N. says:
at: Thursday, January 31, 2013 9:35:00 pm said...

Optare are just about to finish their new Integral Double Decker model - I hope this finds it's way into London as the mix of E40D / Wright is getting a tad on the dull side, as good as they are.

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