Local Bus and Coach News By David Wilder
A Happy New Year to all our readers and as always, my thanks to Robert Williams, Bob Morley, Stuart Wise, James Cusworth, and everybody who has helped with information in the compilation of this.
READING BUSES Newbury and District
Little did I imagine, as I described the increased variety of vehicles on the V1 Vodafone contract that I was chronicling the final days of the traditional, Vodafone liveried bus operation. Robert Williams kindly confirms that the V1 contract was once again suspended after operation on 10th December following the latest Government advice regarding working from home. When the contract resumes it will be operated by any two standard liveried Newbury and District saloons, Vodafone having apparently become sensitive to empty or partially filled buses being associated with the company. Red Enviro 400MMCs 781/2 (SN66 WRC/D) remain at Reading as outlined below.
Volvo B8R/Plaxton Leopard coach 1419 (YX71 LTZ) has received full Newbury and District lettering.
Reading F.C.’s home game against Derby on Bank Holiday, 3rd January saw a welcome flurry of additional activity. Service F20 (Newbury) was operated by Enviro 400 MMC 784 (SN16 OHB) while sister 786 (SN16 OHD) worked F51 (Basingstoke), 785 (SN16 OHC) worked the F52 (Farnborough.) Assistance on the F1 (Reading Station shuttle) was provided by sister 783 (SN16 OHA) along with ADL Enviro 400 1207 (SN11 BMO) and former Nottingham Scania/East Lancs Omnidekka 866 (YT59 OZR) while sister 865 (YT59 OZP) helped out on the F2 (Shinfield Park shuttle).
The following non Jet Black 1 liveried vehicles appeared on the service over the period under review.
Generic ADL Enviro 400MMC 756 (YX64 VRR) – 1 day,
Generic ADL Enviro 400MMC 758 (YX64 VRU) – 1 day,
Red Vodafone liveried ADL Enviro 400MMC 781 (SN66 WRC) – 4 days,
Red Vodafone liveried ADL Enviro 400MMC 782 (SN66 WRD) – 2 days,
Newbury and District liveried ADL Enviro 400MMC 783 (SN16 OHA) – 2 days,
Generic liveried former Nottingham Scania/East Lancs Omnidekka 863 (YT59 OZN) – 1 day,
Newbury and District former Nottingham Scania/East Lancs Omnidekka 865 (YT59 OZP) – 2 days,
Reading app promotional liveried ADL Enviro 400 1203 (SN11 BWC) – 12 days.
Newbury and District liveried ADL Enviro 400 1205 (SN11 BWE) – 2 days.
Newbury and District liveried ADL Enviro 400 1206 (SN11 BWF) – 1 day.
Newbury and District liveried ADL Enviro 400 1207 (SN11 BMO) – 2 days.
The assistance given by original Jet Black 1 vehicles 1205-6 and original back up 1207 is impressive to say the least as these vehicles approach their tenth birthday, while as we close down this month’s column, the appearance of both 781 and 782 on the service on Saturday 8th January made it something of a red-letter day.
756/8 went straight onto Jet Black 1 on 14/12 and 17/12 respectively after working all night services, which is well within these fine vehicles’ capabilities but impressive nevertheless.
Since their move to Reading 781/2 have proved useful. In addition to the Jet Black 1 appearances 781 was recorded as working service 91 (Kentwood-Reading Girls) on the mornings of 14th-17th December followed by a working on trunk service 17 over the morning peak while its evening peaks included the return on service 91 on 13th, 14th 15th and 16th, service 81 (Bulmershe-Caversham Heights) on 15th tied with a run on Service 50 (Green Park) a 15 and a 12. On the 16th its PM school was followed by a 702 Green Line to Victoria and on 17th a quieter end to the day with runs on the 4, X4, 22 and 12. The new year saw it back on the 91 on 4th and 6th January with runs on the 5 and 6 on the 6th January and the 93 (Shinfield Park to Bohunt) on 7th, interspersed with some Jet Black 1. 782 hasn’t been quite so busy, working on the 4/X4 to Bracknell on 20th December, the 3 to Wokingham on 22nd December , football service F31 (Woodley) on 3rd January and school services 91, 93 and extras on services 13, 14 and 16 during week commencing 4th January, coupled with some Jet Black 1 and training duties- so their removal from V1 has not left them idle!
Special schedules in operation on Boxing day saw services 13/14/21 and 33 interworked so a number of orange, burgundy and royal blue vehicles were seen in places where they rarely venture.
It is understood that ADL Enviro 400MMCs 781/2 (SN66 WRC/D) are being considered for preparation use on Green Line service 702 to release non liveried vehicles from that service following their release from the Vodafone contract.
Cancelled Vehicle Order
After a loan period with Centaur, Crayford, Optare Metrodecker YJ21 FDD is confirmed as being in service with Central Connect, Roydon, Essex where it is regularly used on a college contract from Loughton to Ware. A second, to be registered CT71 GAL is expected shortly.
Optare Solo 111 (V946 DCF) has been withdrawn by O.R. Jones of Llanfaethlu who had reregistered it as GRZ 7789. This vehicle began life working the Vodafone contract before being cascaded to Newbury Buses for rural services and ended up as a generic liveried vehicle in Reading. It was initially sold to Newbury and District, where it carried registration V111 DCF before sale to Northern Ireland and eventual repatriation to Wales.
Thames Valley Buses
Former Vodafone Optare Solo SR 193 (YJ66 AEY) has been painted all-over white in readiness for return to Dawson rentals.
ALDERMASTON COACH LINES
New to DAF DB250/East Lancs CH51/29F YJ04 HSD has been acquired from Yelloway, Chadderton who renumbered it M12 YEL during its stint with them. It has been re-registered AC53 DAF.
Scania/East Lancs Omnidekka YN06 TGX which was new to Nottingham Transport as their 749 and passed to M.P. Travel as their W22 MPT has been reregistered N22 ACL.
MORTONS, LITTLE LONDON
Two Irizar i6s reallocated to this Luckett Group subsidiary are 572857 and 572957 (YN67 VDC/G).
STEWARTS COACHES, THEALE
Mercedes-Benz Sprinter/Carbus C19F 1914 (RX70 RYD) has been transferred in from sister company The Kings Ferry, Gillingham.
WEAVAWAY TRAVEL GROUP
Mercedes-Benz/UNVI Voyager PO16 CCE is now with Redwoods Travel and is featured in our photo review.
Former Reading Optare Solo 111(V946 DCF) which carried registration V111 DCF during its stay with Newbury and District and saw service in Northern Ireland after reversion to its original registration has been withdrawn by further owner O.R.Jones, Llanfaethlu.
NEWS FROM THE INDUSTRY
Our old friend James Freeman has been honoured by The UK Bus and Coach Awards ward for services to the Bus Industry following his retirement last year. I can think of no more worthy recipient and I know that our members and readers would wish to join me in congratulating James.
As one who has always believed that as an alternative source of fuel hydrogen will be the way forward I am pleased to confirm two significant developments. The Go Ahead Group has recently confirmed orders for 22 hydrogen powered saloons from Wrightbus with a further 34 to come from either Wrightbus or ADL. Wrightbus is now owned by heavy plant specialists, JCB.
The second hydrogen related development is that Flixbus are planning to begin testing hydrogen powered coaches in 2024 developed with partners Freudenberg and ZF.
Most members will have read of the planned merger between Stagecoach and National Express. The competition authorities are said to be worried about the lack of competition in the express coach market if Megabus and National Express are under common ownership but with the development of the Flixbus network in this country over recent years I do wonder why!