Saturday, 7 April 2018

Delightful Doors!

This post has been weeks in the writing and, as such, the event happened around 2 months ago. I may have forgotten some details etc, but hopefully it should still be as informative as usual!

Getting there
I just took the normal, boring route. c2c to West Ham, Jubilee to Stratford, Central Line to Epping. From there, it was time to board the 339 to North Weald...

The Event
Upon arrival at Epping, I was greeted by 3 modern vehicles, a surprise for a Sunday! They were 2 Trustybus vehicles on the Sunday equivalent of the 420 (the 420A) and an Arriva Optare Solo operating the 418B, a route that they recently took over from Trustybus. However, after a few minutes, RCL2260 arrived on 339 shuttles to/from North Weald.
Change your blinds and go!
Our blinds got set to 'North Weald Station' and we were off! Sometimes, the 339 service operates beyond North Weald to Ongar and even stretching out as far as Shenfield. This is when the Railway itself  is running a high-season timetable, but it seems like the kind of thing that would be perfect for the bus event. The conductor came round and issued us all with a date-stamped Gibson ticket to signify that it was valid for the event and we met T1 coming the other way, with the well-known Trevor Wright driving. It was supposedly running a 339 shuttle, but I believe this was an extra - our bus was definitely busy enough to warrant one!
You're not supposed to be here!
As I arrived at North Weald, all the buses were fairly crammed in - I believe this was due to a waterlogged field being unusable. The 2 RFs, 180 and 401, MBA539 and M1014 were lined up. I assumed the M was one of the guests, but it was just a static exhibit for the day.
A squash and a squeeze!
I knew that it was going to be a little wait for the first bus to come (I arrived on the first 339 out of Epping and extra buses didn't start until about 1115), so had a quick look at some of the stands. The buses were arriving so quickly that the EOR's already tight turning circle could barely cope! MBA582, V3, RMA48 - they kept on coming!
First arrival in preservation!
After that, it wasn't long until MBA539 pulled up next to the departure stop (another bus, RMA48, was already there). In true O.P.O. fashion, someone stood at the door and checked everyone's tickets prior to boarding. The bus was the busiest I have been on in preservation! We were all crammed in - the true Red Arrow experience! After a short run of about 15 minutes towards Passingford Bridge on route 500, there was a quick photo stop, but it wasn't the best because of shadows caused by trees.
Red Arrow bus, Red Arrow experience, not a Red Arrow route!
Upon arrival at Passingford Bridge, we saw RMA48 parked at the 375 stand (to the right), but we turned left at the roundabout, left again into Epping Lane and reversed into a farm track before coming back out again and turning right towards the 'bus stop' (just a layby). Obviously, I thought that the reversal meant that we'd gone the wrong way and the RMA was correct, but the driver of the recently-restored Routemaster variant soon followed and it turned out that it was the other way round!
I boarded the RMA to head back to North Weald as a 175 - it was only its 2nd run in preservation, so I felt rather honoured! We passed DM1052 at Ongar Station and made our way back along the road almost parallel to the railway. When we arrived, one of the surprises (T1128 in 'Forest Ranger' livery) was sat there - I wasn't too interested in it, so decided not to alter my meticulous plan to get on it.
Nice bus, but I'll pass!
In came T1 again, still running back and forth on the 339. It would continue to do this all day, apart from one route 175 trip that was planned. After a rather short wait, V3 - the Ailsa - pulled out of its parking space and into the middle of the action. As it loaded up, I didn't get a chance to take a photograph and nor did I when it set down at Passingford Bridge! As we passed through Ongar, I was crammed up against the window as a Father and 2 children had taken the seat next to me. The adult even had the audacity to let one of the children urinate in a pot on the bus - it was not a pleasant experience and I shall be travelling on an Ailsa again as soon as possible. The Greenway National was already sitting opposite, as expected, when V3 arrived, so I headed on over to catch it! Although I was standing all the way, it wasn't as busy as the MBA first thing - the GLS is like the current Red Arrow buses, with room for around 24 seated passengers and the rest standing. Obligatory photographs were taken by some people as we made our way through Abridge and over the River Roding, but I wasn't one of them. A quick run through the countryside took us to St Margaret's Hospital, where the rear doors failed for the photo stop!
Clearly Winter!
After that, it was a short distance through Epping High Street to the terminus at North Weald Forecourt, where the rear doors failed again - everybody disembarked from the front instead. It turned out that the GLS was rather late and by the time we had arrived at North Weald, RF180 had already departed on her route 381A journey to Passingford Bridge via Tawney Common and the back streets. Therefore, when T1 pulled up to just before the stand (which was, again, occupied) operating a 339, I decided to deviate from my plan and not just wait about 2 hours for the next 381A. It was a pleasant run to North Weald Station and back, but the Titan was rather full on the way there; the way back was fairly empty, as nobody was going to the event at about 14:00!
An Extra Extra!
On this trip, I also saw the 2-hourly 501 for the second time that day. I would go on to see it twice again! NIBS Buses run the Sunday-only route and the allocation on 18th February was a Dart Pointer - namely SN55DVR. I've travelled on the 501 in the past from Harlow to Epping (but not all the way to Ongar) on an unliveried Wright Streetlite. It's a lovely, fast ride through the Essex countryside and is actually very useful - I recommend it!
Two-hourly, Twice!
After that short round trip of about 30 minutes, the bus stopped short of the forecourt and dropped us (by which I mean about 4/5 people) off there to avoid unnecessary further congestion. During the wait for the RF, MBA582 pulled round and I was surprised to see people on board, as it was only supposed to be a static exhibit. However, it was operating trips around the local area for which they could not charge - the bus wasn't Class 6 or something like that, so they couldn't advertise them.
An unexpected second MBA!
RF180 then pulled in, having completed a 'High Beach Tour' service. Instead of just turning the blind as usual, the crew had to all heave a picnic bench out from near the bus stop and three grown men climbed on top of it to remove the temporary 'insert' blind!
There's something you don't see every day!
Very gently, the driver set the blind to '381A Passingford Bridge', which surprised me. This particular RF had worked the 381A's first journey and wasn't scheduled to run either of the other two: the GLS and MBA were booked for those. However, this worked in my favour - I hadn't caught the RF and I planned to catch the second 381A anyway, so I hopped on board and off we went. After about 5 minutes, we were already on the country lanes and I was frankly surprised that they even decided to run a bus down there, let alone a more modern National or Merlin!
Even the RF struggled!
After a very pleasant 30 minute run through the countryside, we arrived at Passingford Bridge around 10 minutes late. Luckily, as expected, V3 was standing there ready to run a 175 back to North Weald and the bus I was getting back to the Station (RF401) looked almost ready for departure, so I quickly took the colour change and we set off back along the 500 route via Abridge. London Bus Company really have done a good job and it looked as if it had recently been reupholstered. When we pulled back in to North Weald, there was a choice to make... 718 to Harlow or High Beach Tour? On the basis that it would be the second 'surprise' guest vehicle, RP21, I chose Harlow. Annoyingly, when I went to check, the bus was full and there was no space for me - I wasn't complaining though, as RF401 - about to run the High Beach Tour - really was a lovely bus and I knew the conductor! It was probably for the best anyway, as the run to High beach was rather scenic - Harlow would've just been residential. Upon arrival at the lovely High Beach, two minutes were spent obtaining a quick photograph.
Get your blind sorted!
From there, we ran round a loop before returning the same way as far as Epping, where this particular final journey ran into the Underground Station, where I alighted to head home.
Goodbye for now!
Apart from standing around at Epping Station waiting for some more buses, I was about to go home... but wait! As T1 pulled in, I heard the words 'North Weald and Back'. The Titan had been running extras all day, so I wouldn't have been surprised if it continued - and it did! My suspicions were confirmed when I enquired to the crew (whom I also knew) and I boarded for a quiet little round trip to North Weald and back with around 3 other people on board - the 'icing on the cake', if you like.
Surprise trip!
Apart from getting stuck at North Weald Forecourt for almost quarter of an hour waiting for other buses to move out, it was a pleasant run and, on the way, I saw some other buses returning - they were T1128 running the last 175, which also served Epping Station on the way to North Weald:
Late Arrival!
and DM1052, also blinded for a 175 run from Passingford Bridge.
You're not where you're supposed to be!
However, the latter supposedly finished its duties about 2 hours beforehand. Thanks to a little eavesdropping, I found out that the RP on the 718 had broken down in the middle of nowhere (that High Beach trip really was a 'blessing in disguise') and I can only assume that DM1052 went to rescue the stranded passengers. After a run that was longer than expected due to the delay at North Weald, the bus arrived back in Epping Station and dropped me off for the trip back home.
Into the distance!
The return trip was just like the outward, except mainly in the dark - very uneventful. All in all, it was a great day. Very well organised and no major hiccups. Well done EOR.

Happy travelling!

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

A Hounslow Hello!

Yes, I'm back!

This post is about the Hounslow Road Run on 11th February 2018. Enjoy!

What was supposed to happen
The plan for the day was to recreate four routes in the Hounslow area with RF486. It would come from Chertsey Station in the morning as a 237, then run a return 211 trip to Hampton, before finishing the day by heading to Leatherhead Garage as a 202 as far as Richmond, Dee Road, then as a 71 to the Garage.

Getting there
Hounslow is easy to get to, just a long way away. I hopped on a c2c to Fenchurch Street, walked to Tower Hill and took the District line to South Kensington. After that, it was just a rather long way on the Piccadilly Line to Hounslow East, which happens to be closer to the Bus Station and the centre of Hounslow than Hounslow Central or Hounslow stations.

The Road Run

Upon arrival at the rather grand Hounslow East Station, I consulted my watch and discovered that I had 45 minutes to spare. With this spare time, I decided to have a look around, but RF486 was already arriving by the time I made my way back to the Bus Station
RF486 on the final leg of its route 237 trip from Chertsey.
By the time I arrived back at the aforementioned Bus Station, RF486 was already parked up, but another bus – RF406 – had decided to come along for the ride as well and had just finished unloading outside the Bus Station.
A little bit of a surprise!
They had arrived a little earlier than expected, so had around 25 minutes on stand instead of the expected 15. The blinds were changed to ‘211 Hampton Station’ and they performed a rather complex manoeuvre to pull into the Bus Stand.
Quite a nice stand at Hounslow!
I decided to board the grey-banded RF406, as I had heard it would return to Chertsey later in the day, instead of working to Leatherhead with RF486. It is immaculately preserved and the moquette must have been recently changed, as it was pristine! RF486 was just ahead of us for a while, but red lights and traffic meant we lost it after about 10 minutes! Luckily, the crew stopped in a layby and we were soon on our way again, in convoy, towards Hampton. With pretty much no clue as to where we were going, the driver just followed the leading RF through the housing estate’s twisting roads.
Not the most scenic route!
Soon after, we had arrived at Hampton Station, where cars and vans had to squeeze between the parked cars and the RFs. Nevertheless, our bus quickly reversed for a photo with the other.
Blocking up the road!
Everybody swapped onto RF486 here, so I assumed that RF406 would be heading home. As a result, I took 486 back to Hounslow too. We had a few minutes on the other side of the station, before departing for Hounslow. We meandered back through the estate with RF406 still in tow (although with barely any passengers!) Bang on time at 13:00, we arrived back at the stop outside the Bus Staiton.
RFs - always on time!
Again, both buses turned into the Bus Station, but this time ran into the Garage itself.
Time for lunch!
After an hour at Hounslow, RF486 turned back out of the garage and into the stand. Luckily, I got a seat with a friend I had made earlier that day (it was 2 ¼ hours down to Leatherhead). A short while out of Hounslow, in Nelson Road, we stopped for a quick photo.
Strange place for a photo!
After a speedy run through Twickenham and Richmond Town Centre, we arrived at Dee Road – just outside the centre of Richmond. There, the blinds were changed for Route 71 to Leatherhead, in a hailstorm that really hurt!
Then we were off again, back through Richmond (where we exchanged garage codes, now displaying Kingston) and to the Bus Station, where we paused for another quick photo.
Not that busy on a Sunday!
It was a pleasant run to Sandy Lane in Ham, where we were able to get more photos!
Not very Sandy, and with no Ham!
Only a relatively short hop to our next major location, Kingston’s Cromwell Road Bus Station, and our RF ride was almost over – only 4 hours after it had begun!
This, or an Omnicity?
However, there was still a little way to go yet! There was a rather large gap between photo stops here, as we sailed down the A243 past Chessington World of Adventures (formerly Chessington Zoo), through Malden Rushett and under the M25. Soon after exiting the A243, the conductor left the bus at Park Rise, leaving us to run O.M.O. to the Garage… or so I thought. Upon departure, he announced that we could continue all the way to Dorking Station if we wished! We paused briefly outside Lloyds Bank for a photo, where we met a Dorking-bound 465…
Wait for me!
…and the driver tried to set off without us! Luckily, we were able to stop him again, just in time! Either it was a genuine mistake, or he didn’t like us. Probably the latter. The 465 that we met in the Town Centre followed us for the short trip to the Garage (now a leisure centre) and the official terminus for the trip. Arrival there was a little early, allowing for most of the passengers to transfer to the Kingston-bound 465.
Not the end!
I decided – obviously – to continue all the way, along with 5 or 6 others. This section was really fast, as RF486 made the journey down the A24 from Leatherhead to Dorking in around 20 minutes – faster than the OVs do on the 465, the modern equivalent. Then, sadly, our time on the RF was up. We said our goodbyes and exited for the 465.
Bye for now!
It departed from the other side of the road after about 30 minutes’ wait in the snow. Oh well, I got to Surbiton! From there, a SWR train whisked to into London and I got home ok, if a little late at around 1930.

Happy travelling!

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Day 1, Part 2: PLUSBUS is my saviour

Yet again, I type this in my hotel room, but at 7:08 in the morning this time. I did have a good night's sleep (or I would've got my money back... it's a Premier Inn!) but there may still be some errors! Also, Blogger isn't working very well on this iPad, so there may be some unnecessary lines left etc. Sorry if there are errors in this post (please point them out, it's how I learn!) Anyway, here's what happened during the rest of yesterday:

After the tricky trip to Torquay, I decided to buy PLUSBUS. I never knew that you could buy it after you had bought the ticket, but you can. So, I was going to go on some buses, but tiredness was kicking in by now. I decided to go to my hotel room (which is great, by the way - much bigger than other Premier Inns) and unpack. It was about 15:00 by then, so great timing!

A rather nice photo, I'd say, just opposite my hotel (where I am now!)
After a quick lie down, it was time to use PLUSBUS! However, I went to the tourist information first and the walk there was via a road, with buses running down it. Here are some photos:
The first day of Torbay Buses operating the 62 to Cockington
A 'Hop 12' Enviro 400 making a trip towards Brixham, seen right next to Torre Abbey Sands
'Rail River Link' Y808 TGH working a short route 100 journey to Churston.
Disgraceful isn't it? They can't be bothered to think of a name other than 'Hop'? A 22 Enviro 400 runs a trip to St Marychurch
 The first bus of the day was an Enviro 400 on the 'Hop 12' route to Brixham. I decided to go all the way, as the unexpected high-backed, leather seats were very comfortable!
WA61KLK on an unusual 'Hop 12' short working to Newton Road ASDA
This part of the post is written the night after, at 22:28

The 'Hop 12' is a very handy route and the only frequent route to Brixham, so it was the same old, same old to get back to Paignton. However, Brixham was a convenient place to stop for dinner and had a Wetherspoon pub. Why not? 😂

Upon arrival back at Torquay, it was decided that I would get a Hop 22 up to St Marychurch, where I could 'Hop' on a 34 (not Hop-branded though!) back into town.

The 'Hop 22' that I 'hop'ped on to St Marychurch, not the Harbour!
A Co-op provided pot porridge for one morning's breakfast (not had it yet, probably will on Thursday) and it was time to walk back to the bus stop! The 34 pretty much pulled in as I got there and the last bus of the day was a rather nice, but rattly Dart back to Cary Parade.
WA56 NNG, after working my 34 back into town

A better day than I thought, apart from the delay on the train. I would've preferred to go on more than 4 buses, but it was definitely worth the money! Today will be put up very soon too!

Hope you enjoyed,

Monday, 3 April 2017

Day 1, Part 1: Tricky train travelling

It's 21:27 and I'm sitting in bed at my hotel room typing this, so sorry if there are some errors! For once, auto-correct is my friend, not my enemy! 🙂

Torquay is a nice place, but I'd have to wait quite a while to discover that, for reasons that will become apparent later. After the normal journey across London (although surprisingly less tedious than usual), the 11:06 to Plymouth awaited me on Platform 2. It didn't just await me though, it was rammed, with only a few seats to spare! There were signal problems in the Reading area, so here's the real time information:

Station, Expected dep - real dep (DELAY)
London Paddington, 1106 - 1106 (ON TIME)
Reading, 1133 - 1150 (17 LATE)
Pewsey, 1203 - 1222 (19 LATE)
Westbury, 1221 - 1242 (21 LATE)
Castle Cary, 1239 - 1302 (23 LATE)
Taunton, 1302 - 1327 (25 LATE)
Tiverton Parkway, 1315 - 1342 (27 LATE)
Exeter St Davids, 1332 - 1359 (27 LATE)
Newton Abbot, 1352 - 1418 (26 LATE) arrival time
The Class 43 that hauled the very late 11:06!
And then, on the way to the toilet via some running, this greeted me!
43002 or 253001 hauling a Torbay Express service towards London Paddington 
And, on the same platform, 150232 pulled in working a service to Paignton. Admittedly the one after the planned 14:10 (14:42 leaving Newton Abbot), but I only arrived about 30 minutes late!

150232 in the new GWR livery, taking a service from Exmouth to Paignton.
That's it for Part 1. Part 2 (about the second part of the day) will be coming soon.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Southern Day Part 7: Hastings is a nice place. With lots of buses. And trains to London.

On February 18th (long time ago now, I know!) I went out and bought a Southern DaySave. Took my life into my own hands. Not just a single or return, but a Southern day ticket! this is how it panned out...

After arrival in Hastings, I walked to the seafront with some opportunities for bus photos. Here are some of the best:
SN66VVM, an unbranded E400 MMC on 'The Wave' 100, usually run with branded MMCs
MV54BLU, An ex-Bluebird (Manchester area) Dart working Hastings - Ore rail replacement
Evening light on the seafront and GN12CMV runs a 'Hastings Arrows' 20 to Hollington
SV53DDU, a Dart, runs a 26 to Conquest Hospital. 
Well, it seems the 'Hastings Arrows' 22A and 'The Wave' 99 have swapped vehicles for the day! 'The Wave' GN61EVY works a 'Hastings Arrows' 22A to Hollington and 'Hastings Arrows' GN12CMX works a 'The Wave' 99 to Eastbourne!
With that short walk over, it was time to eat! 'The John Logie Baird' looked like a nice place to eat and Wetherspoons is always cheap, so I went there. A bus-loving human with a satisfied stomach then moved up to the Station. Having just missed a train to London, there was time for some more bus spotting at the main terminus, but (because it was dark) I couldn't get many good shots. There were some GAL commercial buses there for the rail replacement, but the best and most interesting photo is below.
WHAT? AN OLYMPIAN! Wow, I never expected that! R61LHK working rail replacements at Hastings Station
Shortly afterwards, I decided to go into the station to catch the 18:58 towards London Victoria. Freezing to death on the platform, the train finally arrived, 5 minutes after it was supposed to depart. A quick turnaround meant that, about 8 minutes late, we were on the move for the hour and a half journey back to East Croydon.
377136 arriving 5 minutes late into Hastings.
You won't find the 18:58 in the timetable though, as I believe it usually continues to Ore. After arrival in Croydon, it was a normal and very uneventful journey home, arriving at 22:30 - too late!

All in all, a great day!

Hope you enjoyed,