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London United Storage Yard

Today we took a trip to a secret London United storage yard that we had recieved word about. The new site holds all the vechiles which were previously on the Atlas Road site prior to First's new garage opening. Align Left
DP60, T360PRH & DP86, V886FKH

The yard currently houses around 40 buses which are VA's & DP's from Hounslow (AV) and Shepherd's Bush (S) garages. Up until mid last year these buses saw daily serivce on Routes 220, 222, H37 and H98. Our kind thanks must go to the staff who allowed us onto the site to get our snaps. More pictures from the visit can be found below:

DP71, T371PRH & DP50, T350PRH

DP93, V793FKH & DP81, V781FKH

VA89, W119EON, VA78,V194OOE & VA88, W118EON

DP98, V798FKH
DP72, T372PRH

DP85, V785FKH
A line up of the buses on site

A line up of the buses on site
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Route 129: North Greenwich - Greenwich, Cutty Sark (Timelapse)



Route 129 runs between North Greenwich and Greenwich, Cutty Sark and is operated by Go Ahead from New Cross (NX) garage. The route has a peak vehicle requirement (PVR) of 4 buses and is approximately 2 miles long.
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Latest Buses at the trim...20th Of January 2012

Metroline VP536 LK04 CUU, seen here at the Hants Dorset Trim in Eastleigh for refurbishment work following the retention of Routes 6 and 98 that run from their Willesden base in North West London. This is part of a batch of Plaxton President B7TLs that were numbered between VP510 - 580 following the retention and conversion of Routes 6 and 98 from Routemaster operation in 2004. 
Metroline VP541 LK04 CVB, seen here at the Hants Dorset Trim in Eastleigh for refurbishment work following the retention of Routes 6 and 98  that run from their Willesden base in North West London  . This is part of a batch of Plaxton President B7TLs that were numbered between VP510 - 580 following the retention and conversion of Routes 6 and 98 from Routemaster operation in 2004. 
Go Ahead London WVL227 LX06 DZK, seen standing outside of the paint shop at the Hant's Dorset Trim, awaiting a refurbishment for newly retained Routes; 68,468 and X68 which all run from GAL's Camberwell base in South London.
Go Ahead London WVL261 LX06 EBM, seen standing outside of the paint shop at the Hant's Dorset Trim, awaiting a refurbishment for newly retained Routes; 68,468 and X68 which all run from GAL's Camberwell base in South London.
Metrobus ELC Esteem Dennis Dart 236 PO56 JFU seen on the forecourt of the Hant's Dorset Trim having nearly completed its refurbishment for Route 367 which runs from Metrobus' Orpington base in Kent.

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First London Atlas Road Garage [AS]...Revisit...Farewell to the TNAs!

I visited Atlas Road today for the second time since it's opening in October. The Garage is currently an outstation for headquarters Westbourne Park and has the capability to house just over 150 buses. Located in North Acton the garage sits just 5 minutes down the road from Willesden Junction Depot which is also owned by First. It currently runs routes 28,31,328,N28 and N31. It is due to gain a Garage 'status' in April 2012.


The base has been subject to a lot of vehicle movement as of late, due to the fact First have quite a few spare vehicles due to the contract loss of the Route 79 and other routes. This time it is the movement of the TNAs which have been shifted from Westbourne Park Garage (X) to Atlas Road (AS) for storage prior to being used on the Olympic contracts. The TNAs were first delivered back in 2003 when First's flagship Route 23 and Route 295 were retained with new Buses. The TNAs, originally classed as TALs were were favourably ordered and delivered in September of 2003 subsequently they entered service that month. Fitted with a Euro3 Voith gearbox, the new buses were not as quick as the RMC Routemasters and Euro2 Tridents they replaced but nevertheless they did the job. The new buses were numbered between TNA33343 - 33386. Although at least one was retrofitted with a Caterpillar engine and another repainted at Rotherham, the TNAs have been left relatively untouched which is unusual for a First vehicle.  When TFL announced the 23 contract had been retained, First took the opportunity to get rid of the TNAs and replace the vehicles with some new state of the art Wrightbus Gemini2 Volvo B9TLs, VNs to you and me. However there is an interesting story to this.

The TNAs will be refurbished at Rowan Telmac's trim in Coventry prior to being sent to work on the Olympic contracts before they end up in their final home of Bristol Depot. This will allow First to get rid of more step entry buses within the provinces as they seek to modernise their fleet.

However First seem to have gone back to the 37XXX series to number their VNs rather than continuing on from the Route 25s batch numbered in the 36XXX series. The new VNs are numbered between 37952 - 37984 and will operate on the 23 on a temporary basis until April when they will make way for 33 new Alexander Dennis Enviro 400 Hybrid Buses. The VNs will then be transferred to AS will 28 of them will operate on the Route 266 which they respectively gain off Metroline in May 2012.

Other things to note in the garage were two formerly based Willesden Junction Trident President (TN) trainers at 5 VNs waiting to be commissioned before going into service on the Route 23. Credit to the Atlas Road staff for allowing me on site, please note that I did have to sign a form to state that I was on the premises and I had to wear a High Visibility Jacket (Hi-Vi) as part of a compulsory safety procedure. More shots from the day are placed below.

First London VN37963 BN61 MXJ awaits commissioning at First London's Atlas Road Garage in North Acton, this is part of a batch 28 Buses that is set to be temporarily used on the Route 23 prior being replaced by some ADL E400 Hybrids and going on the 266.  

First London TNA33360 LK53 EXZ stands inside Atlas Road Depot after being decommissioned, this is one of 10 TNAs that are present at the site today and one of 43 that will be decommissioned in the following months for Olympic contract use and cascading to First's provincial operations.

First London Routemaster SMK735F being stored at Atlas Road Garage for some reason or another. Any comments on this would be much appreciated.

First London TNA33348 LK53 FCG stands inside Atlas Road Depot after being decommissioned, this is one of 10 TNAs that are present at the site today and one of 43 that will be decommissioned in the following months for Olympic contract use and cascading to First Bristol. 

'Out with the old and in with the new'  TN33348  LK53 FCG and VN37969 BN61 MXT stand side by side at Atlas Road Garage.

A general yard view of Atlas Road Garage. I did promise that I would provide more yard shots of Bus garages rather than just take pictures of the Buses only. 

TN33348 LK53 FCF, this is just one of the few TNAs that has survived the firing line for the time being but in due time, this bus will of course be decommissioned. 

An offside view of 3 of the 10 TNAs that are currently situated at Atlas Road Garage in a decommissioned state. 

First London VN37965 BN61 MXM awaits commissioning at First London's Atlas Road Garage in North Acton, this is part of a batch 28 Buses that is set to be temporarily used on the Route 23 prior being replaced by some ADL E400 Hybrids and going on the 266.  
Another general yard view of Atlas Road Garage
Not the most popular buses if this caption is anything to go by!

Key Facts to note about Atlas Road Garage
  • London's newest Bus Garage 
  • Opened in October 2011
  • Has the capability to house 150 Buses
  • Set to run the 266 when gained off Metroline
  • Currently an outstation of Westbourne Park
  • Interestingly it houses one Enviro 400 in the form of DN33509
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Metroline CELF Centre Part 32...Route 90 gets its MMs back

Things at CELF Centre are generally starting to become quieter following the recent deliveries of the remaining TEHs to Cricklewood Garage so there was not much to really see here today. So please don't expect many photos in this post.


Amid there not being much to see, a welcoming sight was seeing  MM825 LK57 AYM at Perivale West Garage (PA) undergoing driver type training duties. This batch is part of the 18 buses that make up the Route 90 allocation, numbered between 810 - 827. Since PA undertook the Route on November 26th 2011, it has been allocated DLDs, DPs and the odd SEL, this is due to the fact Metroline were considering whether to convert PA to a whole MM operation on the single deck side of the operations or whether to convert the 90 to DE operation which is the main allocation PA's single deck routes.

It was decided last week that the MMs would return to the Route 90 following driver training and a refurbishment,  however the only thing that changes is the MMs will be maintained at CELF Centre in order to ensure that they receive the best care possible. I was quite happy to understand that the MMs would be returning to the 90 as they are my favourite single deck buses, the sheer power and comfort of these beasts is what makes them stand out to other single deck buses that I have travelled on I.E E200s.

Once all 300 drivers at this garage become familiar with these buses, the DLDs and DPs will be swiftly withdrawn before being sold on to Ensignbus.

Other Buses to note were TEH1110 which has been withdrawn since June 2011, TA652 which had an RTA (Road Traffic Accident) and TE729 which looks as if it had a serious RTC (Road Traffic Collision).

More photos of today are available to view below.

Please note that all photographs were taken with the permission of the CELF Centre management and all safety procedures were followed whilst on sight. Please do not attempt to wander onto the CELF Centre premises prior booking an appointment and this is classed as trespassing and you could get fined for this.
Metroline TA652 LK05 GGA stands outside of Metroline's CELF Centre following a RTC, this bus will more than likely receive its treatment here then be sent of for refurbishment prior to Olympic contractual work

Metroline TA652 LK05 GGA and TEH1225 LK61 BKE stand side by side at Metroline's CELF Centre. 

Metroline TEH1238 LK61 BLN stands outside of Metroline's CELF Centre prior to being delivered to Cricklewood Garage to take up duties on the Route 16 and 139 contracts.

Two Buses stand in the chassis cleaning facility at  Metroline's CELF Centre

MM825 LK57 AYM stands inside of Perivale West Garage prior to doing a driver training course which consisted of going to Scotch Common and back via South Greenford, Ruislip Road East and back to Perivale West Garage. 

Metroline MM825 LK57 AYM  and DLD142 W142 ULR stands inside of Perivale West Garage

Metroline DE1138 LK10 BZE stands inside of Perivale West Garage

A nearside view of the beauty that is MM825!

Metroline TEH1227 LK61 BKG stands outside of Metroline's CELF Centre after delivery from ADL Falkirk 's Factory
Metroline TE729 LK07 AZF, seems to have had a serious accident, repairs will be done in house at CELF as per usual, then this bus will be refurbished then returned for work on Route 186/204 contracts. 
Key facts to note about Metroline's CELF Centre 
  • CELF Stands for Central Engineering Logistics Facility 
  • Opened in September 2007
  • Metroline's central maintenance facility 
  • The Centre deals with repaints, refurbishments and chassis cleaning
  • Has a dedicated section for Perivale West's Buses
  • The place where new Metroline Buses to go to be commissioned into service
  • Has very friendly and professional staff
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A Trip back to the Past....Northern Counties Motor & Engineering Co. Wigan Plant

Now thanks to the excellent Ned Basher we are delighted to announce that we are able to host his truly stunning shots of a rare visit to Plaxton's Wigan plant when it was open. The shots are from 2001, an era when Plaxton were in their prime, receiving orders from London's top companies in masses, these companies included First, Go Ahead Group and Metroline.


Plaxton in their current form was founded in 1907 in Scarborough. Plaxton made quite a mark on the UK Bus industry. however their years as a bus manufacturer were not always blissful. Various failed attempts didn't help secure Plaxton's place in the bus industry, although they did establish themselves as coach-builders. However the 1990s Plaxton finally found their feet and introduced two of the United Kingdom's greatest double deck and single deck bus bodies, the Plaxton Pointer and Plaxton President. The Pointer was a hit with most operators throughout in England and Ireland as it was cheap, durable and quite stylish. However it was the announcement of the Plaxton President that stole headlines and went a way into cementing Plaxton's place in U.K double decker market.

Above is a shot of 6 nearly completed Plaxton Presidents at Plaxton's Wigan based plant, destined for London Central's Bexleyheath Garage. The bodies were mounted on the on the reliable Volvo B7TL chassis which proved very popular with the majority of London operators. 

Unveiled in 1997, the Plaxton President offered a whole host of new features, it became the first low floor double deck bus in the U.K and it's streamlined front half made for a much needed change to the box on wheels we were used. It's launch attracted a host of London operators including MTL who subsequently placed an order for 65 President bodies on the Dennis Trident Chassis. The TPs were initially delivered in 1999 and by that time MTL group had already been absorbed by Metroline Travel Limited so the specification of the buses were built to that of Metroline. However the fact the model only started production in 1999 made it fall short of the ALX400 body that was launched a year earlier in 1998. However Plaxton were smart and following the introduction of the President, they allowed the bodies to be mounted on the DAF DB250 Chassis, Volvo B7TL Chassis and the Dennis Trident Chassis. Metroline were the first company in London to order the Plaxton President, and in 1999 65 examples were delivered to Holloway Garage for routes 17,  43 and 134.

Completed Metroline VPL194 Y194 NLK sits in the MOT bay at Plaxton's Wigan Plant undergoing testing before being delivered to Metroline's Willesden Bus Garage (AC) for the recently retained Route 52. This was part of a batch of 30 vehicles numbered from 168 - 197. These were mounted on the Volvo B7TL Chassis.
In 1999 Go Ahead London or London Central as they were known back then placed an order for 39 Plaxton President bodies on the Volvo B7TL Chassis. They were numbered between PVL1 - 39. They were allocated to Bexleyheath (BX) for the Routes, 229, 401 and 422. They proved a favourite for Go Ahead and at the time of this visit (2001) GAL had recently just placed an order for a further 48 Presidents mounted on the Volvo B7TL Chassis. This time they were allocated between Bexleyheath and New Cross Garages.

Two newly made Plaxton President Volvo B7TLs lay stagnant at Plaxton's Wigan Plant having just got their rears moulded together. They will then be painted into their operator's livery, these two being destined for GAL London. They are part of the batch numbered between PVL208 - 256 for Stockwell Garage (SW)

At the very same time First had also placed orders for many Plaxton Presidents, however this time they were built on the Dennis Trident Chassis. Their models consisted of both long wheelbase and short wheelbase models.

Above is an unidentified Plaxton President body that had just been mounted on the Dennis Trident Chassis.
The President I must say is one of my all time favourite bus bodies, I think its sleek design made it stand out above its rival the ALX400 and throughout its 8 years in build, it sold over 1000 models in London which is an astonishing achievement!

Below are some more shots from the Plaxton Wigan Plant in 2001. I say thank you very much to Ned Basher for kindly allowing us to use his excellent and exclusive shots of the Plaxton Wigan Plant which are very rare. I must stress that these shots are not my property and must not be published elsewhere. If you wish to see more excellent shots of this nature please see Ned's amazing photostream http://www.flickr.com/photos/nedbasher/




A freshly made Go Ahead London Plaxton President sits inside of Northern Counties Wigan depot awaiting a paint job that will see in transform from white mould and sheets of aluminium, to a shiny new red London bus.


A freshly made Go Ahead London Plaxton President sits inside of Northern Counties Wigan depot awaiting a paint job that will see in transform from white mould and sheets of aluminium, to a shiny new red London bus.

The interior of a Go Ahead London Plaxton President that judging from this picture has a long way to go before reaching completion. The exposed panels show the complex wiring in a modern day bus.

Go Ahead London President nearing completion at Plaxton's Plant in Wigan

An all but complete Go Ahead London Plaxton President Volvo B7TL Bus sits inside of Plaxton's plant in Wigan, awaiting a wheel hub, minor interior fitments, body panelling and some London Central logos. 

Go Ahead London Presidents nearing completion at Plaxton's Plant in Wigan

Go Ahead London President nearing completion at Plaxton's Plant in Wigan

Go Ahead London President nearing completion at Plaxton's Plant in Wigan

Go Ahead London President nearing completion at Plaxton's Plant in Wigan

Go Ahead London Presidents nearing completion at Plaxton's Plant in Wigan

Go Ahead London President nearing completion at Plaxton's Plant in Wigan

Go Ahead London President nearing completion at Plaxton's Plant in Wigan

Go Ahead London President nearing completion at Plaxton's Plant in Wigan

Two province specified Plaxton President bodied Dennis Trident 2s sit in the yard at Plaxton's plant in Wigan. Quite weird to see them with manual blinds and not the dot matrix style blinds we are use to seeing with province specified style buses. 
Go Ahead London President nearing completion at Plaxton's Plant in Wigan


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