Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Happy Christmas from SWTN!

Well, firstly, I'd like to start by wishing all of my blog readers, Flickr followers and YouTube watchers a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year for 2015. I hope you all get what you want! :-) 

2014 has no doubt been an exciting year, with lots happening and I've certainly done a fair few good trips, to various parts of the country! I will hopefully get round to doing a year review video or blog post before the New Year where I shall go into much more detail about the past year.

For now, I thought for a Christmas Special post I would do something a little bit different. 

I don't often blog about the fleets in London, however I felt it's about time I give my favourite current London vehicles a mention. For quite a while now, one of the highlights of any day in London has been riding on Arriva's DAF DB250LF's, mainly with Alexander ALX400 bodywork (DLA). I do also enjoy the Plaxton President bodied DB250's (DLP) and the Wright Pulsar Gemini bodied variants (DW)

I've been a fan of the DAF DB250 since a young age, so it's nice to see them still soldiering on in the capital. However, unfortunatley these will be being phased out rapidly in 2015 (and have been on their way out for quite a while now) as Arriva loose route contracts, and upgrade their fleet to more modern tat. 

In 1998, Arriva London ordered a batch of 389 DAF DB250/ALX400's. The first one (which was also the first ever Alexander ALX400) was delivered as DLA1, registered R101GNW. The last one was DLA389, LJ03MZD. However, Arriva the Shires took delivery of the very last one for Arriva, this being 6025 YJ54CFG. DLA1-DLA125 were on the 10.6m chassis, with low height bodies and a rear staircase. DLA126-DLA321 were based on the slightly shorter 10.2m chassis, with full height bodies and a front staircase. All from DLA1-321 had DAF's owen 6 cylinder Euro 2 engine. DLA322-389 featured Euro 3 engines, and a slightly different seating layout at the rear downstairs.

On top of the ALX400's, Arriva also purchased a load of Plaxton President bodied DAF DB250LF's. These were DLP1-DLP110. V201LGC was the first and LF52UPT being the last. There was also 134 Wright Pulsar Gemini bodied VDL DB250LF's delivered under the "DW" class, however the vast majority of these remain in service.

Whilst a large amount of the Euro 2 DLA's and all of the DLP's are withdrawn (with some scrapped, and others cascaded to other areas of Arriva UK bus operations), a minority remain in London. Most, if not all of these will unfortunatley will be seen off early next year when Arriva loose the following routes:
109 Croydon - Brixton
N109 Croydon - Oxford Circus
125 Winchmore Hill - Finchley Central
135 Crossharbour - Old Street Station
415 Elephant & Castle - Tulse Hill 
432 Anerley Station - Brixton
499 Heath Park Estate - Gallows Corner Tesco

Back in November, route 34 Barnet Church - Walthamstow Central passed over to Metroline, meaning the last of the DLP's were bumped off fleet. Also, route 137 Oxford Circus - Streatham was converted to Borismaster operation just after, which also saw more DAF's off of the road.

In my opinion, the DAF DB250 is the most 'classic', and the nicest sounding low floor double deck chassis ever built. The same engine was retained right from the start of production in 1991, right through to the end of the DB250 in 2007, with very little sound difference between the early and late models. Even the upgrade from Euro 2 to Euro 3 didn't affect the DB250 that much, while other vehicles such as the Dennis Trident & Dart were, in my opinion, ruined. The growl of the engine, and whine of the diff on the DAF DB250LF will be a sound that I will very much miss from London when this type are withdrawn altogether. For now, I shall make the most of them, the Euro 2's in perticular while they still hang on!

Here is a list of all the DLA/DLP/DW's I've managed to get on this year:

  • Saturday 18th January DW70 WLT970 159 Oxford Circus to Marble Arch Station
  • Saturday 25th January DW124 LJ05BNE 159 Trafalgar Square - Brixton Station
  • Sunday 13th April DW60 LJ04LFF 137 Hyde Park Corner - Oxford Circus
  • Sunday 13th April DW59 LJ04LFE 159 Oxford Circus - Waterloo
  • Saturday 25th January DLA270 Y452UGC 159 Streatham - Westminster Bridge
  • Tuesday 27th May DLA210 W438WGJ 415 Elephant & Castle - Tulse Hill
  • Saturday 5th July  ex-DLA81 4141 S281JUA 84 Chester - Crewe (Arriva North West)
  • Thursday 30th October DLA253 X453FGP 415 Elephant & Castle - Tulse Hill
  • Thursday 30th October DLA314 Y514UGC 34 Barnet Church - Arnos Grove
  • Thursday 30th October DLA343 LJ03MDV 59 Waterloo - Kings Cross
  • Thursday 30th October DLA173 W373VGJ 415 Brixton - Tulse Hill - Elephant & Castle
  • Thursday 30th October DLP100 LF52URE 34 Arnos Grove - Silver Street Station
I have made a tribute video as a Christmas Special for the YouTube channel which can be found BY CLICKING HERE

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Paignton Pandemonium!

Yet again, I'd like to apologize for the lack of posts/updates etc on both here and flickr, I've had a lot going on and really haven't found the time to get them updated. I'm still managing, however, to get the odd video on youtube every few days or so. Hopefully things will pick up a bit soon.

Well having gone to bed at gone 3am Saturday morning, with the idea of going to Cardiff in mind for this weekend, it's unsurprising that when my alarm went off at 07:00, I deactivated the thing and went straight back to sleep. That was Cardiff out the window for a start. Quite a bit later than planned, I eventually get up at around half past 12, when, shortly after I received a phone call to say there had been a "collision" in Paignton Town Centre and that Air Ambulance was in attendance, and Great Western Road was shut. ( Read more about it here ON THE HERALD EXPRESS WEBSITE ) so I headed into town on Trident 18384 MX55KSE, which has recently returned from RTA damage repair itself.

ex-Wales 47520 in it's new "FOX" branding - very smart indeed!
What was looking like a very boring Saturday afternoon ahead of me turned out to be quite somewhat the opposite! After a gorp at the crash scene outside the bus station, Euro 2 Trident 17057 T657KPU come in on a Brixham bound 12 unexpectedly. In a moment of excitement, I boarded with the intentions of a trip down to Brixham and back to Paignton on it. Sods law, unbeknownst to me, 17057 had sustained mild accident damage on the way down from Newton Abbot and we were all asked to transfer onto newer Euro 3 Trident 18367 WJ55NLZ which had just been pulled off of a Roselands bound 22. Boring! Meanwhile, "FOX" branded Optare Solo 47520 CN57FWM (which was out for the first time in it's new branding) had come off service due to heavy delay and parked up on the 22 overflow stand. My friend and I were most amused when it looked like 47520 was about to do a route 22 on it's first day in FOX branding! On top of all of this, a driver refused to take Optare Solo 47105 WA04TXW out on a FOX due to a flat tyre! Subsequently, Trident 17057 and Optare 47105 both left Paignton Bus Station in disgrace.

"The Beast" 17003 in White Rock on the route 22!
Trident 18383, a really rare type to work the FOX!
By now it was around half past 1 and with everything going wrong, I had made plans to catch the 15:13 train down to Plymouth, just as Trident 17003 S803BWC pulls in on the 22, so I couldn't help my self but go for a trip - despite the fact I'd just come down from Roselands! After a rather beastly run around Roselands & White Rock, we returned to Paignton where, to our shock, there was a Trident waiting to depart on a FOX! So, we just had to! Alexander Dennis Trident ALX400 MX55KRZ 18383 provided an interesting run around Foxhole, a route that should be served by
Optare Solos! The Trident took the steep hills in it's stride, better than the Optares in fact, however the tight turns and parked cars proved difficult for the deckers. Nevertheless, we got there (and back!).

First Kernow 32817 T817LLC on Rail Replacements
 in Plymouth!
The traffic had backed up all the way back to the start of Hyde Road as a result of the RTA and the diversion around Torbay Road & the Seafront that the driver of our FOX advised everyone to get off at Hyde Road and walk to the bus station. As we were pushed for time, we did just that and made the 15:13 Newton Abbot train with good time. After a bash to Newton on 150104, we enjoyed a nice First class trip on a HST, hauled by 43029 with 43027 bringing up the rear, down to Plymouth. After grabbing a couple of shots of the Liskeard Rail Replacement vehicles, we caught Jackett's Coaches X85 up to Barnstaple, with ex-Abellio London Transbus MPD BX54DLD for haulage. From there, we rode back to Exeter St Davids on 150104 (again!) and down to Newton Abbot on Cross Country's 220034. Seeing as we'd long missed the last Paignton Train (21:30) at gone 10pm, we enjoyed a ride back to Paignton on Stagecoach Scania N230UD 15796 WA61KMG and finally Optare Solo 47691 WA58MRV on the 23/22, bringing to an end a quite strange, but nonetheless good day!
Jackett's BX54DLD in Barnstaple
150104 in Barnstaple