Friday, 23 June 2017

Another step forward for Crossrail; the first Class 345 in service

After a short delay, the first Class 345 train for the new Elizabeth Line finally entered service on the Liverpool Street to Shenfield TfL Rail line. The first train was expected to enter service in May 2017 however this got pushed back to June in order to complete thorough testing of the units.
345 005 arrives at Maryland forming a TfL Rail service to Liverpool Street 22/06/17
© Tommy Cooling
345005 at Shenfield plat. 5 awaiting its return trip to Liverpool Street 22/06/17
© Lewis Nagle

TfL Rail 315861 still in Greater Anglia livery on the
first day of TfL operation at Gidea Park 31/05/15
© Tommy Cooling
Today's introduction was another big step forward towards the grand opening of the whole Elizabeth line in 2019. The Liverpool Street to Shenfield line passed into TfL control at the end of May 2015, and branded TfL Rail as an interim measure using the existing Greater Anglia Class 315s. These have since been refurbished inside and out with a smart white and blue TfL Rail livery. For the first time, this section of line now appeared on the Tube Map in TfL Rail blue. Next May will see Heathrow Connect services branded as TfL Rail before the Elizabeth line name is launched in December 2018 with the opening of the core section. Full through-journeys will start in 2019.
TfL Rail Class 315835 shows off the new white and blue livery adopted on the former Greater Anglia units 30/09/15
© Tommy Cooling
Primarily running for a press launch, 345005 made one round trip in passenger service, departing Liverpool Street at 10:35 under the watchful eye of the attending media, returning at 12:25 at which point the train then ran empty back to the depot. 
345005 having just arrived at Liverpool Street after its first round trip in passenger service 22/06/17
© Tommy Cooling
345005 at Shenfield plat. 5 (east end) just after arriving from Liverpool Street after its first trip.
Here you can see the train is surrounded by enthusiasts and the media who were all present on the first run!
© Lewis Nagle
Crossrail new vs. old at Liverpool Street with the new class 345 alongside the old 315 22/06/17
© Tommy Cooling
The first trip was a press release, so multiple members of the press was on the train, mainly on the northbound trip out of Liverpool Street. As this train was closely following a conventional Class 315 set, the train was picking up the passengers mainly who wanted to see the new train, as well as the odd lucky passenger who just so happened to get the train.

Interior of TfL Rail 315861, Liverpool Street
315 861 interior, showing off the interior of the current trains, albeit pre-refresh.
CC Aubrey Morandarte

315848 interior following the TfL Rail refurbishment.
© Lewis Nagle
Interior of 345005, Stratford
345 005 comparison, showing the different, higher backed seating for the transverse seats 22/06/17
© Aubrey Morandarte

The trains have mixed longitudinal and transverse seating. However, compared to the 315 sets, there is far less transverse seating for the longer-distance traveller. At least the transverse seating is decent for the longer-distance traveller, as it is high-backed. For the shorter distance passengers, there are standing strap handles and poles which allow for better standing. Liverpool Street to Shenfield may not seem too long, but once we have trains running from Reading to Shenfield, it's fairly doubtful someone wants to be sitting sideways on a train the whole way through (although we reckon it's unlikely this full journey will be regularly travelled!).

Interior of 345005, Liverpool Street
The longitudinal seating at each end of the train 22/06/17
© Aubrey Morandarte

This kind of seating is very similar to the ones on the Class 378, but as this train is designed for both short and long distance travellers, it is hard to find a fitting configuration correct for the mixed type of passengers on these trains. One massive upside over the older trains is the air conditioning. Notably, as the recent warm days have shown, air conditioning has been increasingly crucial for passenger comfort. A well controlled climate on a train is much better than a passenger taken ill at a station. This train has a good functioning air conditioning system.

As can be seen in this video, the new 'Aventra' undercarriage design involves very quiet motors which is very noticeable on board but even more so outside. Here is 345005 leaving Liverpool Street after its public rounder just showing how quietly the train glides away.

Subject to short term cancellations, the 10:35 Liverpool Street to Shenfield service, followed by the 11:39 Shenfield to Liverpool Street service, should be operated by a 345 unit from Monday 26-June to Friday 30-June, for those who wish to sample the delights of the new trains.
What happens beyond this date is yet to be seen.

345005, 315860 and 90006 all at Shenfield today in a unique combination which will be very different in years to come.
© Lewis Nagle

  Post and photo contributions by Aubrey Morandarte, Tommy Cooling and Lewis Nagle.
Please adhere to the respective copyright notices.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Picture Archive Post 60

London United VA74 on Route 120, Southall Station, 23/03/12
London United VA74 on Route 120, Southall Station, 23/03/12 (© Aubrey)

Route 120 moves to Metroline from the 24th June 2017, its second private operator after London United (under various owners of Transdev and RATP).

By 1934, the route ran from Hounslow Heath to Hayes, run from Hounslow and Southall Garages. In 1936, the route was shortened to a Southall-Hayes stub. Southall became the sole garage from 1938 when it was re-extended to Hounslow Heath. In 1951, the route was converted to RT. Under the trolleybus replacement program in 1960, the 207A replaced the 120 between Hayes and Southall. From 1965, the route was extended to Greenford. Between 1978 and 1979, the route was allocated DMSs (with one man operation), before switching to MCW Metrobuses From 1986, the 120 returned to Hounslow Garage. In 1987, Route 120 replaced Route 257 to Beavers Farm Estate by splitting the service to a yellow/black blind service southbound. Yellow blinds meant that the route went via Beavers Farm Estate and black blinds meant the route ran to Hounslow Bus Station. Southall-Greenford was withdrawn in 1988. In 1991, the route lost its Beavers Farm Estate loop to the new minibus H21.
However, in March 1993, the route was re-extended north of Southall, this time replacing the 232 to Northolt, as that route was being localised as the H32. January 1994 saw the route be fully converted to low-floor as one of the first routes to be converted. Dennis Lance SLF/Wright Pathfinder (LLW) buses were filled with passengers. That and unreliablility meant some MCW Metrobuses and other double decker buses from Hounslow strayed onto the route. From 2000, the route was converted to Volvo B7TL/ALX400 and President buses (VA/VP). Strays of Olympians arose when some transferred to Hounslow, and in general, the route became just another double decker route out of the night routes, 111, 120 and H32. After 2009, Scania N230UD/OmniCity buses started to stray onto the route, and SPs became the norm. Contract renewal in 2012 brought new Enviro 400s (ADE), which is where the route is at the moment.
From 24th June 2017, the route will gain Volvo B5LH/Wright Eclipse Gemini 3 buses from Metroline's Perivale West (PA) garage.

Volvo B7TL/Alexander ALX400 VA74 was a Hounslow machine, branded for Route 111 (oneeleven branding) initially. This branding wore out, and the bus was later repainted red with the grey skirt untouched when the 80% red rule became a skirt colour only rule. Between 27/09/12 and 26/10/12, the bus was based at Fulwell for a short time. Otherwise, throughout its life, it ran on the double decker Hounslow Garage routes. The bus became Hounslow's last Volvo B7TL/ALX400, with withdrawal on 4th November 2013.
This bus has since passed onto Whippet Coaches, where it still runs as WD416.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Central London route changes Part One

As part of TfL's ongoing review of bus services in London, yesterday saw the first part of many upcoming changes to bus services in Central London. Some of these changes are to match the "actual" level of demand, whilst others are to do with the thinning out of bus numbers along Oxford Street and there are 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 consulation page here:

The changes that took place on Saturday 17th June 2017 affected routes 6, 73/N73, 172, 242 and 390.

Route 6
Route 6 was withdrawn along Oxford Street and Regent Street, and instead re-routed via Park Lane and Piccadilly between Marble Arch and Piccadilly Circus. There have been no other changes to the route. This re-routing has in fact provided a direct bus link between Green Park/Piccadilly and Marble Arch/Park Lane for the first time.

VWH2098 on route 6 on Oxford Street lit up by the Christmas lights on the House of Fraser store 07/12/16
Route 6 no longer serves Oxford Street or Regent Street between Marble Arch and Piccadilly Circus.
© Tommy Cooling

VWH2098 on route 6 outside Burlington House on Piccadilly 17/06/17
Route 6 now runs along Park Lane and Piccadilly between Marble Arch and Piccadilly Circus.
© Tommy Cooling

Route 73/N73
Route 73/N73 was cut back from Victoria to Oxford Circus as a result of passenger number decreases following the improvements to the Victoria Line, and to improve the reliability of the route. These changes are linked to the 390 which was re-routed to Victoria along the route of the withdrawn 73 to maintain the links between King's Cross and Victoria.

LT495 on route 73 to Victoria turns off the Pentonville Road at King's Cross 27/11/16
Route 73 has now been cut back to Oxford Circus along with the night route, N73.
© Tommy Cooling
LT517 turning off Oxford Street towards its new terminus at Oxford Circus on Holles Street 17/06/17
© Tommy Cooling

9001 was one of the very few buses with
"Clerkenwell Green" blinds. © Tommy Cooling

Route 172
Route 172 was withdrawn between St. Paul's and Ludgate Circus, then extended up Farringdon Street to Clerkenwell Green with no changes to bus frequencies. This change has allowed the old 172 stand at St. Paul's to be used by route 242 after its own cut back from Tottenham Court Road.
Most of the buses on route 172 were not able to display the new Clerkenwell Green terminus, with only 9001 (right) and 9021 reported as being able to do so. Most vehicles showed blank with an A4 sheet of paper in the front.
9439 seen before the change on route 172 to St. Paul's, outside St. Paul's Cathedral 21/03/17
Route 172 has now been withdrawn along this section of road and now runs to Clerkenwell Green via Farringdon.
© Tommy Cooling

9018 turns off Farringdon Street from Clerkenwell Green onto the original 172 route at Ludgate Circus 17/06/17
The original 172 to Brockley Rise would have crossed Ludgate Circus here right-to-left.
© Tommy Cooling

Route 242
Route 242 was withdrawn between Tottenham Court Road and St. Paul's with no change in frequencies. At St. Paul's, buses now use the 172 route stand which was vacated by the re-routing of route 172 to serve Clerkenwell Green instead. The move away from Tottenham Court Road has meant the vacant 242 stand could be taken by route 8 which was re-routed at Tottenham Court Road to use this.

VLW95 heads along Holborn Viaduct east from Tottenham Court Road 17/06/17
This section of route has now been withdrawn with buses starting at St. Paul's a little to the east.
© Tommy Cooling
HV231 heading to its new terminus at St. Paul's, passes the Bank of England 17/06/17
© Tommy Cooling

Route 390
Route 390 was withdrawn between Marble Arch and Notting Hill Gate, and then extended from Marble Arch via Park Lane and Hyde Park Corner to terminate at Victoria, following route 73 and using the 73 route stand in Victoria Bus Station. Route 390 has also seen an increase in frequency, up to x6mins Mon-Fri from x8mins and an extra eight vehicles on the route to match this, taken from roadworks frequency reductions from routes 24 and 9, 10, and 148. The vehicles that have moved from London United to Metroline for the 390 change are LT175, 460 & 461.

LT110 passing Marble Arch heading towards Notting Hill Gate 10/05/17
This section of route has been withdrawn and buses now turn left off Oxford Street and head down Park Lane to Victoria.
© Tommy Cooling
LT750 crosses Regent's Canal on York Way with a route 390 service to Victoria 17/06/17
© Tommy Cooling
LT175 was one of three vehicles that transferred from London United to Metroline for the 390 route change 17/06/17
© Tommy Cooling

Other changes
Route 8/N8
The temporary withdrawal of route 8 between Oxford Circus and Tottenham Court Road has been made permanent. Route 8 has also been re-routed slightly at Tottenham Court Road to use the route 242 stand which now only runs as far as St. Paul's.
No changes to route N8.

Route 15/N15
The temporary withdrawal of route 15 between Oxford Circus and Trafalgar Square became permanent.
Route N15 would resume running from Oxford Circus again to and from Romford.

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