Thursday, 19 October 2017

Central London Route Changes Part Three

Only a small change this time, just one route in fact!

At the end of September, the third stage of changes to the bus services in Central London took place. These changes are all part of TfL's ongoing review of bus services in London. Some of these changes are to match the present level of demand, whilst others are to facilitate the thinning out of bus numbers along Oxford Street to remove congestion, and a few route amendments associated with the imminent opening of the Crossrail Elizabeth Line.

An in-depth look at all the changes coming up can be found on the TfL consultation page here:
https://consultations.tfl.gov.uk/buses/west-end-bus-changes/

The changes that took place on Saturday 30th September 2017 affected Route 23, with a knock-on implication for Route 11.


Routes 23
Route 23 was withdrawn between Liverpool Street bus station and Aldwych. The frequencies remained unchanged.
As a result of this cut-back, Route 11 was re-extended back to Liverpool Street bus station from Aldwych to maintain the Aldwych-Liverpool Street link. This route had been cut-back due to roadworks around Parliament Square.

The result of this means now that there is only one direct bus link [at a reduced frequency] between Trafalgar Square through to Bank and Liverpool Street in the City. It is a testament to the severe increase in congestion [caused by long-term roadworks and road amendment schemes] and dwindling passenger users that has meant that this change, whilst significant, will hardly be noticed.


DN33777 crosses Ludgate Circus towards Liverpool Street in June 2017.
This section of Route 23 has now been withdrawn
© Tommy Cooling


VNW32397 eases past Bank in June 2017.
This section of Route 23 has now been withdrawn
© Tommy Cooling


DNH39115 shows the "new" terminus for Route 23 on Oxford Street in October 2017.
Note that the Christmas lights are already up!
© Tommy Cooling


VWN32416 on Oxford Street showing the "new" terminus.
It would have been expected for the remaining VNWs on Route 23 to be withdrawn following the massive PVR cut but a few still survive as spares covering for the DNH refurbishment process at Westbourne Park
© Tommy Cooling

Route 11
The route had been (temporarily) cut-back to Aldwych following the ongoing roadworks around Parliament Square and Victoria. As a result of the 23's (permanent) cut-back to Aldwych, the 11 was re-extended back to its original terminus at Liverpool Street bus station maintaining the link lost by the 23.


Post by Tommy Cooling
Some of these images and more can be found on my Flickr page:
Please do not reproduce any of my images without permission

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

The end of Chiltern's Bubble

After more than 50 years in service on Britain's mainline railways, the Class 121 unit, have been retired from passenger service. They have been commonly referred to as Bubble cars for their round shape and airy atmosphere, with the ability to be able to see straight out the front through the driver's compartment from the passenger saloon.

Chiltern Railways had two operational units, 121020 in Chiltern blue and 121034 in British Rail green. These saw use during the Monday - Friday peak hour period operating a shuttle between Aylesbury and Princes Risborough as there was not enough available stock to cover the full mainline service and the branch line service. However, faced with ever rising maintenance costs, an influx of new units for the new Oxford services, and clever timetabling, the decision was made to retire these two workhorses without the need for any additional units.

 
In the run up to the last day, The Branch Line Society organised a rail tour for the Bubble car which, on Sunday 2nd April 2017, visited a number of places on the Chiltern network which was uncharted territory for the Bubble. The tour visited Marylebone station, the new Bicester chord link, Oxford and the Calvert works near Quainton Road.

121034 at Northolt Park on the Branch Line Society rail tour heading towards London Marylebone
© Tommy Cooling

121034 at London Marylebone
© Tommy Cooling


On Monday 1st May, 121034 provided a shuttle service between Aylesbury and Quainton Road for the Buckinghamshire Railway Centre's May Day bank holiday special event day. Up to twice a year, Chiltern assist the Railway Centre's special events, usually on one May bank holiday and the August bank holiday, the service was not always guaranteed to be the Bubble car, and has in the past been operated by a 2-car 165 DMU. 121034, for the last time, was booked to run on May Day 2017 for the last ever time on the Quaintonian service.

121034 at Quainton Road station
© Tommy Cooling

121034 passes 121020 heading to Quainton Road from Aylesbury.
121020 had been receiving attention at the time in preparation for the last day of the bubbles
© Tommy Cooling

 
The last day in service was Friday 19th May 2017, and the Bubble services were withdrawn in the Sunday 21st timetable change. With the recent increase in stock for Chiltern's new Oxford services, enough stock has been made available to cover the Bubble services. That and the huge cost increase to be able to keep the two units up to Mainline passenger condition are no longer viable. During the last week, an empty coach stock working from Aylesbury to Princes Risborough was made into an additional passenger working for those wishing the sample the last of its kind.


On the last day, a special ceremony was held at Princes Risborough for Chiltern's two units, and both were coupled together for the first time. The ceremony included cake and a presentation by Chiltern's Managing Director (MD) with the Mayor of Princes Risborough in attendance. Following this, the two Bubbles formed a series of additional passenger workings to and from Aylesbury within the normal timetable. These trips ran non-stop so not to affect the normal service. A technical failure meant the Bubbles lost one of the special trips during the afternoon, but made this up at the end of the day by replacing a Turbo unit on the last shuttle of the day.

Both of Chiltern's "Bubbles" operated together for the first time on the last day.
55020 and 55034 at Princes Risborough prior to the Class 121 ceremony
© Tommy Cooling

The other end of the duo with 121034
© Tommy Cooling

The Chinnor Railway also brought their two "Bubbles" up to Princes Risborough, to coincide with Chiltern's event perhaps?
Preserved Class 121 units W55023 and W55024 (960010) sit on the Chinnor railway link line
© Tommy Cooling
 

121020 at Princes Risborough with a special
ceremonial cake made just for the occasion
© Tommy Cooling
Class 121 poster in the ticket hall at the station
© Tommy Cooling

 
Close up of the cake, modelled on 121034
© Tommy Cooling

Chiltern's MD Dave Penney addresses the audience with the Mayor of Princes Risborough to kick of the ceremony
© Tommy Cooling

A slice of the [very tasty] chocolate cake
which was handed out to those who wanted it
© Tommy Cooling
Chiltern's MD Dave Penney cuts the cake with the
enthusiastic crowd and plethora of cameras looking on
© Tommy Cooling


The surviving end of the cake after the ceremony showing the detail and precision that went into the bake!
© Tommy Cooling

121034 and 12020 leave Princes Risborough for Aylesbury on the first of the special non-stop trips
© Tommy Cooling

034 (leading) and 020 approaching the Bishopstone/Marsh Lane level crossing heading towards Aylesbury
© Tommy Cooling

And the duo heading away from the same crossing towards Aylesbury with 020 at the rear
© Tommy Cooling


A selection of free chocolates were brought out in
the afternoon with special chocolates for the occasion
© Tommy Cooling



121020 in miniature and full size
© Tommy Cooling
Close-up of the special chocolates
© Tommy Cooling
A model of 121020 on display in front of the real thing at Princes Risborough
© Tommy Cooling

The scene onboard the "Bubble"
© Tommy Cooling
The duo leave Princes Risborough on the first of the afternoon timetabled trips
© Tommy Cooling

The duo arriving back at Princes Risborough
© Tommy Cooling

Interior view of 121020 having run for the final time at Aylesbury
© Tommy Cooling

121020 having finished for the last time
© Tommy Cooling


121034 prepares to run light into the depot at Aylesbury for the last time
© Tommy Cooling

Post by Tommy Cooling
Some of these images and more can be found on my Flickr page:
Please do not reproduce any of my images without permission

Monday, 16 October 2017

The future is electric, the future is green, the future is here!

Monday 16th October 2017 marked a new milestone in Great Western Railway history when the first new electric Hitachi IEP Inter-city Express Train, UK Class 800, made its first fare paying passenger service. GWR 800 008 & 800 009 formed 1C03, the 07:00 Paddington to Bristol service. There was a second booked working for an IEP train this morning, however this suffered technical difficulties and was subsequently taken out of service.


I had the pleasure of riding on the 11:45 service out of Paddington to Reading. Herein follows a pictorial report of that trip on the first day of public service for the new Intercity Express Trains.

The departure from Paddington was swift, smooth and quiet. The train had racked up 125mph before Southall. In diesel mode however, the train is restricted to 110mph only. The train ran in electric mode as far as Taplow, and then diesel onwards. This is due to the wires beyond Maidenhead not being signed off for use. This is supposed to be done by the December timetable change to allow electric trains to run as far as Didcot, and to allow Crossrail 345s to begin testing up to Reading.

GWR 800 008 arriving into Paddington have travelled in service from Bristol
© Tommy Cooling
 
First Class designation from outside including electronic display of the destination, carriage letter and what looks like the next stopping point and time, though why it says 09:30 Bath Spa upon arrival at Paddington is not known!
© Tommy Cooling


First interior view of Standard Class accommodation
© Tommy Cooling

The dreaded windowless seats in Standard Class
© Tommy Cooling

Standard Class 2+2 seating with table
© Tommy Cooling

Interior view of First Class accommodation
© Tommy Cooling

Red First Class headrests
Note on the top of the seat the slot provision for the current GWR reservation "tags".
It was noted that 800 008 arrived with reservation tags in place, but none in 800 009.
© Tommy Cooling


Socket and USB charging point between seats in
First Class accommodation
© Tommy Cooling


Promotional GWR poster depicting
IEPs, in one of the new IEPs
© Tommy Cooling

Seat reservation screens - free seats in green
© Tommy Cooling

Seat reservation screens - partially available seats in yellow, telling you where it's free from/to and when it is reserved
© Tommy Cooling

Seat reservation screens - seats reserved for the entire journey in red
© Tommy Cooling

Interior view with seat reservations shown on the carriage side walls above the windows
(Hint, look for the "green seats" for a free seat)
© Tommy Cooling
 
View of the new on-board receptive accessible toilets
© Tommy Cooling

GWR 800 009, just fitting on the end of the platform at Paddington
© Tommy Cooling

Side-on view of the IEP showing the location of the numbered seats in the carriage
© Tommy Cooling

"Welcome to London Paddington"
Still will take getting used to seeing IEPs here.
© Tommy Cooling


GWR 800 009 at Reading, the end of my journey for today with an HST (43152) lurking in the background
© Tommy Cooling

There are now supposed to be two daily IEP workings, running from Paddington to either Bristol, Cardiff or Swansea, with some Sunday services to/from Weston-Super-Mare. This will be joined by a further two booked workings in November. The plan is to bring one or two new trains into service each week until May 2018.


Post by Tommy Cooling
All these images and more can be found on my Flickr page:
Please do not reproduce any of my images without permission