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,

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Southern Day Part 6: Change, Change and Change again!

Sorry I'm so behind on these now!

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 leaving Newhaven on the 15:04 train towards Brighton, Lewes was a good place to change for the train to where I was going next.
Another 313 - YES! This one only took me to Lewes though, where I changed
I was going to a seaside town next and then the train to Eastbourne pulled up! So, on the train and to the station... before Eastbourne? What? Yep, 'twas time for another change, at Hampden Park! Trains go to Hampden Park, then go one stop further to the end of the line (Eastbourne), where they reverse - taking 8 minutes - and then call at Hampden Park again, to take the line off to the right which continues all the way to Ashford. I really wish I could've gone to Doleham...
377450, my train towards Eastbourne, seen here at Lewes
At Hampden Park, it was time to change for the Hastings train
377124, the aforementioned Hastings train, with another service after arrival at Hastings
I believe it was Normans Bay where the platform was only long enough for 3 carriages... but Southern don't have any 3 carriage trains! Before it was time for me to eat, I had some important business to do... BUS SPOTTING! That'll have to wait until part 7 though...

Hope you enjoyed,

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Southern Day Part 5: Not what it may seem!

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...

Newhaven. It's full of warehouses. It's all industrial. It's got 2 Stations (Harbour and Town) and a ghost station (Marine). Right? Nope. The Harbour and Town stations have something that I'm really in to at the moment, but we'll get to that later. Firstly, there's the well-known, abandoned Newhaven Marine Station, with its rusted (not-much-of-a) roof - the main reason I came. There's also an abandoned ferry terminal next to it, where ferries used to run to France from. (A great video of it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yTmumbrKohs). Except now it's demolished:
Trains to Seaford go left, but the branch to the right is where Newhaven Marine once stood.
But at least there was still one good reason... Take a guess - I'm obsessed with them at the moment!

If you said something that is short and red, you're right! Well, kind of - the Southern machines are green, but still...
The one working machine at Newhaven Harbour. The other had the 'Not In Use' light on
As I was walking to Newhaven Harbour (There was 15 minutes until the train and it was a 10 minute walk - I would probably be able to get another 3 pieces of paper from a short, green machine there too) I stumbled across a yard full of buses! At first I thought it was preserved buses, but after some research I've found out that it seems to be the depot of a company called either Victoria Coaches or Victoria Travel. It's very hazy, as they don't have a website and there is barely any information on them, but I think they're probably defunct now. Here is a selection of the best photos I could get without trespassing:
Believe this is a Leyland National 'Greenway', but not 100% sure. This actually has Victoria Coaches branding 
Something else to throw into the mix - a Seaford & District coach!
There really was everything there... A health and wellbeing bus? I think the rest of the buses need to go on here!
A Wrightbus and a Dart parked up, with a well-restored Scania peeping through
A seemingly neglected Wilts & Dorset branded Bristol VR
The only modern (ish) vehicles there - three coaches, one of which is branded for Victoria Travel
And finally, after a nice walk through Newhaven (not to offend anyone there, but it was the walk that was nice, not Newhaven :-P) It was time for another (not at all) clean, (but very) green machine at Newhaven Town!
Newhaven Town's only PERTIS machine.
So Newhaven is actually interesting! Don't go there for the sights, but it's got a kind of empty feel to it, which is quite nice on a sunny day. It's good for transport enthusiasts too, with two stations, three PERTIS machines (two working) and a yard full of buses!

Hope you enjoyed my review of Newhaven!

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Southern Day Part 4: NEVER plan a tight connection!

Sorry about the wait between posts, kind of forgot about this :-P

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 a quick look at Worthing beach, time to walk back to the station! Except it wasn't a leisurely walk, it was more of a RUN FOR YOUR LIFE!!! kind of walk. I had a 4 minute connection at Brighton for the Hastings train, so if I didn't catch this one, I wouldn't make the connection. Luckily, it was a few minutes late leaving Worthing. I just made it with about 1 minute to spare! Phew!
377128, the fairly fast train I caught from Worthing to Brighton. Sorry for the quality, couldn't get a photo at Worthing and had to run for my next train on Platform 8, all the way over the other side of the station!
The train was fairly fast, speeding through about half of the stations between Worthing and Brighton. As the train was pulling in to Brighton, I encountered lots of old Gatwick Express '442' units, including 442406 and 442413
I thought you were supposed to be in Ely?
As I arrived at Brighton, I sprinted for platform 8 and the train had just left... 30 seconds early (Bad for me, but amazing for Southern!). There was a train along to Newhaven in about 20 minutes, so I decided to reverse the plan and go from Brighton to Newhaven, then go to Hastings instead of going from Brighton to Hastings, then to Newhaven. It was a 313, finally! The first non-377 of the day!
313207 at Brighton, about to leave on the train to Seaford
313s are actually fairly nice trains and this one was heading for Seaford. Newhaven was my destination, for multiple reasons! Find out what happened when I got there in part 5!