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Happy New Year & Highlights of 2010

Well I guess this year has gone by very quickly. Its our first year operating as a Blog and we would like to send out a big thank you to all of our readers who regularly tune into the Blog and also to those who give us feedback on what needs fixing up. We would like to say happy new year to all of you and we also promise that next year will be even better. Who would of thought that from it's humble beginnings the Blog would have grown so immensely in the short space of nine months. First we would like to recap on the highlights of 2010.

We sincerely hope that 2011 we be a vibrant year with more original content and we do hope to expand into other areas of the Bus Industry.

Highlights 


Metroline VW1034 stands inside of Brentford's yard. This was the picture that kick started the Blog before it had even been thought of by us. The post was well received and gave us the inspiration to carry on.


Original Post can be found here: http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/04/london-today.html


April 2010

On the 17th of April we visited London Sovereign's Park Royal Garage in North West London, by chance to see what was there, however little did we know that this would kick start a series of Garage visits (18 in total) and become a major factor in the Blog's success!





The following week on the 24th of April 2010, we visited Metroline's CELF Centre located in Perivale, again we had no clue that we would have such as fascination with this Centre that we would come back here over 20 times! As well as document it 16 times!


Original Post can be found here: http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/04/metroline-celf-centre-special.html

May 2010


The next month we wasted no time in getting some content for the blog, so on the 1st of May 2010, we visited three garages in one day which was quite a tiring task as within two hours we had travelled from North West London to Central taken photographs as well as have chats with the operators. This was probably one of our best days out.



Metroline North Wembley: http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/05/north-wembley-garage-special-1-may-2010.html

London United Stamford Brook: http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/05/stamford-brook-garage-special-1-may.html

First London Westbourne Park: http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/05/westbourne-park-garage-special-1-may.html

June 2010


That June we visited Metroline's Perivale East Garage in Greenford, North West London which is home to the iconic London Route 7.


Original Post can be found here:http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/06/perivale-east-garage-special.html

Later on in that month, on the 4th of June we visited London General's headquarters Garage in Merton South West London as we had recieved word that a prototype Double Decker was present. We missed it by 24hours however that did not stop us from taking pictures.

Original Post can be found here:http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/06/merton-garage-special.html

Again in that same month we visited Metroline's Perivale East Garage as we recieved word that the new Metroline Enviro 200s had been delivered to this location. The were for the 143 and C11 and numbered between 1115 - 1151. This provided some great photography.

Original Post can be found here:http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/06/perivale-east-new-metroline-des.html

July 2010


In July 2010 we decided to step it up a bit and on Sunday 4th of July, we visited First London's Greenford Depot in West London home to 90% of the Ealing Routes and home to Routes 92, 95, 105 (won by Metroline) and 282.


Original Post can be found here: http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/07/greenford-garage-special.html

In that same day we took the short but tedious trip to London United's head Garage in Fulwell, South West London. If we are being totally honest it did not provide the photography expected, nevertheless it was something new for the blog.

Original Post can be found here:http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/07/fulwell-garage-special.html

Following the disappointment of Fulwell Garage we decided to take our travels further out, this time we visited Alexander-Dennis's Factory in Harlow where some Metroline Enviro 200s and 400s were being prepared for service in London.

Original Post can be found here:http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/07/trip-to-alexander-dennis-in-harlow.html

 We then later that month visited Arriva's Lee Valley Garage in Tottenham where some of their very delightful Enviro 400s were being lightly stored prior to delivery to Thornton Heath Garage (TH)

Original Post can be found here:http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/07/lee-garage-garage-special.html

And as if one visit to Alexander-Dennis in Harlow was not enough, we visited the facility again on the 20th of July.

Original Post can be found here:http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/07/adl-harlow-part-2.html

We later that day visited Arriva London's Tottenham Garage in North West London where some Arriva DWs had been delivered early.

Original Post can be found here:http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/07/tottenham-garage-special.html

We then visited Metroline's Cricklewood Garage on the 24th of July as we received word that the TE1073,  TE1074 and TE1075 had finally been sent from ADL Harlow to the Garage.

Original Post can be found here:http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/07/cricklewood-garage-new-metroline-tes.html

Probably what was the most well received post on the Blog was when a mate of ours went out to North Ireland and passed through Wrightbus's Ballymena Plant, in this visit we also gained exclusive shots of the  Hydrogen Buses for the RV1.

Original Post can be found here:http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/07/trip-to-ballymena-wrightbus.html

August 2010


The following August we visited First London's Alperton Garage as we received news that a prototype VN, numbered 37943 had been delivered to the Garage for exclusive use on the 83.

Original Post can be found here:http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/08/vn37943-alperton-mini-visit.html

We also obtained more photos of Wrightbus's facility in Northern Ireland to gain more photos of the First London Hydrogen Buses as well as pictures of the London Central Hybrid Buses for the 360 receiving modifications.

Original Post can be found here: http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/08/trip-to-ballymena-wrightbus-part-2.html

September 2010


September was a fairly quiet month for the Blog only a minimal amount of visits were made but nonetheless, it still provided some decent photography. Starting with Lee Valley Garage.

Original Post can be found here: http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/09/lee-valley-garage-again-1-september.html

On the 3rd of September whilst in the area we decided to stop off at Metroline's Perivale West Garage and what a good stop in turned out to be as we got shots of some of the new VWs (Volvo Wrightbus) for the Route E2, the buses were there pending commissioning at a then busy CELF Centre before being delivered to Brentford Garage.

Original Post can be found here:http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/09/perivale-west-garage-part-4.html

We then followed up this visit by taking the short trip to CELF.

Original Post can be found here:http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/09/metroline-celf-centre-part-12-more-vws.html

We then followed this visit up by taking the short trip to Metroline's Brentford Garage.

Original Post can be found here:http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/09/brentford-garage-again-mini-visit.html

October 2010

A trip to Volvo Brimsdown did not provide a fun day out for us, as there was nothing here to see, nevertheless we did get some photos.

Original Post can be found here: http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/10/trip-to-volvo-brimsdown.html

However a trip to London United's Hounslow Heath Garage did provide us with some fun, as some Enviro 400 Hybrids were there in store awaiting commissioning into service for the Route 94 and some Enviro 200s were also in light storage for the Route 33.

Original Post can be found here: http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/10/london-united-hounslow-heath-garage-hh.html

We then later that month found ourselves at First London's Hayes Garage where some VNs were in light storage prior to taking over from the Mercedes Bendy Buses on the Route 18.

Original Post can be found here: http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/10/first-london-hayes-garage-hs.html


Later on that month we also changed the Blog template, to make reading the Blog easier on the eye and give the Blog a more professional appearance.


November 2010


That November we gained rights to use some Photos from a well known photographer of a converted First London VNW that had been modified for Greenline use.

Original Post can be found here:http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/11/day-greenline-visited-hayes-garage.html

We were also allowed entry onto Volvo's base in Brimsdown to take pictures of the new Arriva Hybrid  Volvo Wrightbus Gemini 2s classed as 'HV', this is what considered to be the best visit ever for the blog.

Original Post can be found here: http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/11/trip-to-volvo-brimsdown-part-2-arriva.html

December 2010


The last Garage visit for the year was caped off with a visit to Arriva London's Barking Garage in Greater London or 'Essex' as some may say.

Original Post can be found here: http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/12/arriva-london-barking-garage-dx.html

The year was emotionally sealed off with a tribute to the original Metroline TAs, TA66- 117 that had their time calling at the company. This was a 12 part picture special with information gained from Metroline employees and pictures gained from Metroline employees and well known freelance photographers.

Original Post can be found here:http://circleoflondon.blogspot.com/2010/12/tas-through-yearsfarewell.html


We would again just like to thank all of you who have given moral support to help us continue this Blog that has been beneficial to many people and look out for 2011! 
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Metroline TAs through the years...Farewell (12 Part Picture Special)

TA68 T68KLD is seen here boarding passengers at Arnos
Grove. Picture (c) John Delaney in 2003
In 1999 Metroline placed an order for 52 Alexander ALX400 bodied Trident 2 buses following the retaining of routes 16,140 and 182. TA66 - 81 were allocated to Cricklewood for the 16 and TA82 - 117 were allocated to Harrow Weald for the 140 and 182. The new ALX400s were the first of the body type for the company. These routes being some of Metroline's 'high' profile routes this body was ordered in preference to their seemingly favourite Plaxton President body, this move also proved efficient as the 9.9m Buses had a seating capacity of 63 and their high back coach style Lazzerini seats ensured that passengers had a comfortable ride when on board these buses. The Buses also featured tinted windows which were perfect for any weather conditions not to mention the sliding windows that made use of the non abundant breeze of a 'sizzling' hot day!

TA205 T205CLO in 2002. Photo (c) Peter Horrex
In 2000 these wonderful vehicles were still look 'as good as new' and apart from a few fleet shuffles within Cricklewood and Harrow Weald Garage there were no major movements for these Buses, which was uncharacteristic of Metroline who are renown for shuffling their Buses like a 'pack' of cards'. However this would not last long..... Most of these TAs would go to HT (Holloway) for maintenance as it was Metroline's head engineering facility at the time.

TA97 T197CLO is seen here on the Route 140 at Heathrow
Airport in 2001. Photo (c) John Delaney
As I said before the movements of these vehicles would not last long. As in 2001 Metroline ordered 17  brand new long wheelbase Alexander ALX400
bodied Trident 2s similar to the TA, they were numbered TAL118 - 134 and surprisingly had a different specification to their older sisters.The new Buses were ordered for Metroline's most valuable Route 16 which runs from Cricklewood Bus Garage to Victoria Station, via the affluent Mayfair. The introduction of these new Buses on the 16 now meant that TA66 - 81 that were initially ordered for the Route 16 were made redundant, however not for long. In Autumn of 2001 they were put to good use on the Route 32 which runs from Kilburn Park Station to Edgware. These TAs phased out the last of the knackered MCW Metrobuses at Cricklewood Garage.

TA105 T205CLO seen at Barnet Odeon. Photo (c)
Peter Horrex
In 2002 Metroline were back up to their old tricks again however this time, through no fault of their own. When the Route 263 contract was retained by Metroline from Potters Bar Garage with existing vehicles, TAs were chosen by the company to be used on the Route. TA99 - 117 were the chosen vehicles. However this now meant that there was a big gap for both Harrow Weald. Nevertheless this was not to be a problem as Metroline brought in 19 long wheelbase Plaxton President bodied Trident 2s (TPL) to fill the void left by the departure of these vehicles. 

TA84 T184CLO on the 182 at Harrow Bus Station. Photo
(c) John Delaney. 2003.
In 2003 the decision was made to transfer to the 263 operation to Holloway Garage (HT) and give it its own batch of Plaxton President bodied Trident 2s. This now meant that the TAs could now return to Harrow Weald (HD) however instead of HD just having TAs they would also retain the some of the TPLs. Most of the TPLs did go in the opposite direction to Potters Bar (PB). However Metroline had now intermixed the batch of TAs so W allocated TAs started appearing at HD and vice versa. Later that year Metroline took on the delivery of 55 Plaxton President bodied Trident 2s for W routes 16, 139 and 189. This new Buses were classed as TPs (Trident President) and numbered TP348- 402 Again this now meant the TAs on the 32 were made redundant and were replaced with the TALs.

TA94 T194CLO seen in Wembley. Photo (c)
John Delaney. 2004.
In 2004 Metroline placed an order for 25 Plaxton bodied Volvo B7TLs to be delivered to HD for the Routes 140 and H12, the numbers were to be VP604 - 628, 628 being the unique one of the batch sporting powerblinds. When the delivery of these Vehicles commenced in April that year the 19 TPLs were then sent to PB also 6 TAs went to W to act as spares. The TAs at HD stayed put and were more commonly seen on the 182 as the caption to the right shows.

TA83 T183CLO on the 182 at Wembley. Photo (c)
John Delaney. 2004.
In 2005 the contract for the 266 had been announced, it was good news for Metroline as they had retained it from Cricklewood (W) with brand new Buses.Metroline opted for TAs, that April 22 TAs were delivered and the numbered between TA638 - 659, ironically the contract specified 25 vehicles for the route, so Metroline had to take on permanent transfer 3 TAs from HD to act as the remaining three buses for the 266. Pretty silly of Metroline to order only 22 Buses for a contract that specifies 25 Buses.


TA109 V309GLB Photo (c) Peter Horrex. 2007.
In 2006, Metroline had started to do a bit paintwork on the now ageing buses and the majority of them had their blue skirts lowered to match the new April 2004 livery for Metroline. This was done by painting over the white band with red paint up until the blue skirt. This gave the buses a more attractive appearance. However there were no blind updates as expected.
TA73 T43KLD on the 189 at Baker Street
Photos (c) Peter Horrex 2007
2007 proved to be a major year in the Metroline TAs lifespan. In June of that year Metroline had decided that VP331 - 347 where to transfer permanently out from HT (Holloway) to HD (Harrow Weald) to join their sisters vehicles VP317 - 330. This would mean that Harrow Weald would then have the complete set of 52 Reg VPs. However there was a void left by these buses upon their transfer from HT and HD were left with too many vehicles. So the surplus TAs transferred to W and this released some TPs from W to transfer to HT. In addition to this some TAs were also sent to PV (Perivale East) for light storage until the following February.

TA87 T87KLD on the Route 210 at Golders Green.
Photo (c) Peter Horrex. 2010.
On February the 16th 2008 it was announced that Metroline had retained the contract for the Route 210 (Brent Cross - Finsbury Park), the new contract specified existing Double Decks and once again Metroline chose the TAs from W and some stored examples at PV. The Buses were stripped down and repainted in house at CELF. The Route was to be operated by PA (Perivale West) however some TAs did escape on to the Route 297  (Ealing Broadway - Willesden Bus Garage) including TA83. The frequency was reduced from 19 to 16 following the extra capacity the TAs gave in comparison to the Darts that were previously used.

TA90 T190CLO on Route 210 at Brent Cross.
Photo (c) Peter Horrex. 2010
In February 2009 the decision was made to transfer the 210 operation and its vehicles W and the move took place on the 17th of March 2009. The decision was made due to two factors, number one: Cricklewood would now be the only Garage to operate ALX400 bodied buses, therefore making for easier maintenance and the location of Cricklewood Garage is closer to both of the Route 210's termini therefore making for better running and loss of dead mileage which of course saves diesel and money.

Ex Metroline TA75 T75KLD at Ensign Bus's yard in Rainham
Photos (c) Bob Stranger 2010
In 2010, the contracts for the Routes 16,139,189 and 210 were all retained by Metroline with new Buses. This signalled the end of the TAs at Metroline and the decision was made to store them until further notice.The new Buses ordered were 41 Alexander Dennis Enviro 400s, with 10 of them being Hybrids. Numbered between TE1073 - 1104 and TEH1105 - 1115.The Buses were set to be delivered in July for the start of the new contracts however only by mid July only three buses had been delivered to Cricklewood, these being TE1073, TE1074 and TE1075. They duly entered service that August however this meant that TAs had to remain in service until December 2010, whilst the newer TEs were arriving from ADL Falkirk and Guildford. Prior to this in July 2010 an arrangement had been made between Metroline and Ensign Bus that the TAs, TA66 - 117 would be sold to them. When this sad news finally reached the public eye in October 2010 enthusiasts from far and wide were disappointed as I have say these were the best ever Buses to be operated by Metroline and in my humble opinion the best ALX400 Trident 2s in the World. Please beg to differ!

We hope you enjoyed reading this post as much as we enjoyed writing it. Below is some photo memorabilia from the TAs time at Metroline.The photos are provided by John Delaney and Peter Horrex.

Metroline TA88 T188 CLO on the 140 at Harrow Bus Station whils serving the 140 in 2003
Metroline TA68 T68 KLD on Oxford Street whilst serving the 189 in 2010. 
Metroline TA70 T73KLD at London Business School whilst operating on the 189 to Brent Cross in 2004
Metroline TA88 T188 CLO seen here Hayes & Harlington whilst opering on the 140 to Heathrow Airport
Metroline TA84 T184 CLO seen departing Harrow Bus Station bound for Harrow Weald on the 182
TA117 V317 GLB seen on Oxford Street whilst operating on the 82 in 2002
TA102 T202 CLO seen here in Finchley whilst operating on the 263 in 2003
TA103 V203 GLB seen in Whetstone on the 263 en route Barnet Hospital in 2003
TA109 V309 GLB seen here on the 82 at Golders whilst on the 82 in 2002
TA109 V309 GLB seen here at Trafalgar Square on the 139 in 2006

Photo Apprecations. The Circle of London Blog would like to thank the following, for providing us with these excellent pictures.

  • Peter Horrex
  • Bob Strangler
  • John Delaney 

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