Saturday, 8 March 2014


It seems more than just over a month ago that there was a rather interesting couple of days back in early February, when a variety of extra bus operations occurred in London due to industrial action on the Underground system. So herewith a round-up as best can be reported of most of the additional buses that were used, plus the more interesting 'vintage' models brought out of hibernation. The narrative is courtesy of the London Omnibus Traction Society's monthly newsletter, The London Bus a link to which can be found here

The Strike on London Underground 5th/6th February

There was a strike by RMT and TSSA Trades Union members on London Underground from 21:30 on Tuesday 4th February to early morning on Friday 7th.  Although some trains ran, that was somewhat random, and between “150 and 175 extra buses“ ran on each day. Extra River Boats also operated between London Bridge & Canary Wharf and between Westminster and Tower Pier. 

TfL made provision for extra vehicles to operate over selected routes as "EXTRAs", and mostly on short sections of route, in a bid to ease the additional burden placed upon the bus route network. Both modern and many vintage vehicles including RTs, Routemasters (both real ones and ‘New’ ones) along with two Daimler Fleetlines, an MCW Metrobus and a Leyland PD3 appeared. Most of the old buses were provided with temporary paper blind inserts (a few had ‘original’ displays), the ‘modern provincial’ buses that came with electronic blinds had those suitably programmed. Some of the ‘modern TfL’ buses had to just rely on windscreen stickers. 

There were some surprising oddities to routes, including single-decks on double-deck routes and the sight of corporate-liveried Stagecoach buses on Stagecoach London routes, not to mention an array of former London buses in their new colours! 

One interesting point was that, with over 150 extra Mon-Fri buses, the all-time highest peak vehicle requirement – 7736 on 18th June 1952 – was for the first time exceeded, estimate at 7845, if only for two days! A second strike was planned in the following week from 21:30 11th to early morning 14th, but 11th hours talks resulted in a cancellation.
First of all on Wednesday 5th February:

Listed in route order, whilst not every additional bus was recorded individually, some examples are recorded below:

8    (Stagecoach East London) Extras from other garages, ADL Enviro400s 10102 & 10111-WH, 10196-Plumstead, Tridents 17526-Barking, 17767-Romford.

9    (London United) Extra ‘New Bus for London, including the silver LT 150.  The 9H Heritage route (and 15H) started earlier in the day.

11   (London General) Four extras, including Volvo B7TL WVL 117 and London General ‘Commercial Services’ Routemaster RML 2520.

14  (London General) Putney & Piccadilly Circus only.  Metrobus Scanias 940-946.

22  (London General) Two extras, ‘LG Commercial Services’ Volvo B7TL PVL 218 and WVL 93 

25  (Tower Transit) Stratford & Holborn by Ensignbus Volvo artics 401/402, Volvo coaches 601/602, Southend Fleetline 233, London Fleetline DMS 2646, Metrobus M 1, AEC Regents RT 1431, RT 3232, RT 4421, Trident 109 (T87 KLD).

26 (Tower Transit) Shoreditch & Waterloo with Amber Coaches B7TLs Y172 and Y202 NLK, Travelmasters Trident V131 LGC, Sullivan ‘Thorpe Park’ blue liveried Darts AE 4 and 5.

27  (London United) Hammersmith & Baker Street with Buses ETC Volvo B7TL PVLs 175, 178, 211 (S25, S26, S28 ETC) and Seaford & District Tridents V309, V310, V311 KGW. 

29  (Arriva London North) Trafalgar Square & Nags Head, Holloway with London Bus Company AEC Regents RT 3062, RT 3238, RT 3871, Routemaster RM 298, RM 909, RM 1966, RML 893, RML 899, RML902 plus ex-Arriva DAF DB250 DLP 17. Arriva itself ran Volvo VLW 78 as an extra.

36  (London Central) Four extras using ‘LG Commercial Services’ Volvo B7TL PVL 248 and ex-Metrobus Scanias 935/6/7. 

38  (Arriva London North) Victoria & Angel, Islington by Ensignbus RT 1499, RM 25, RM 54, RMC 1485, RMLs 882, 2405, 2588, 2734, Trident 103 (V479 KJN), Leeds Leyland PD3 5280 NW plus Galleon Travel B7TL X649 LLX.

66  (Arriva Southend) Five Volvo B7TL double-decks 6111, 6115, 6120, 6121, 6122.

91  (Metroline) Crouch End & King’s Cross by Ensignbus Trident 108 (X602 EGK), B9TLs 112, 119, 123, plus Travelmasters Trident/E400 AY58 CYJ, Stephensons Scania/E400s EU13 EBK, EBL.

98    (Metroline) Four extras with Volvo B7TL from Edgware loaned to Willesden.

114  (London Sovereign) Three extras, two normal double-decks but also Dart DPS 635 from Harrow Garage.

139  (Metroline) Three extras, including RML 903.

148  (London United) Several new LTs into service ten days in advance of the formal conversion, using LTs 124, 127, 128, 134, 139, 141, 142, 144.

155  (London General) Three extras including Volvo Merit DWL 13 and ‘LG Commercial Services’ Volvo PVL 245.

158  (Stagecoach East London) Stratford & Leyton by Stagecoach RMs 324 and 2050  (also RM 652 early morning).

167  (Blue Triangle) Buckhurst Hill & Ilford by Regal Busways MAN single-decks 801 and 802.

188  (Abellio London) Four extras including Dart 8438 from Hayes Garage. On Wednesday evening, ten extra buses ran on the 188 due to an event taking place at the O2 Arena.     

190  (Metroline) Two extras of normal Dart types.

205  (Stagecoach East London) Bow & Baker Street with Stagecoach nationwide liveried Scania/E400s 15495 (Thanet), 15502 (Hastings) and 15904 (Herne Bay) and Trident/ALX400s 18503/510/512/514 all from Winchester.  Also some Tridents from other London garages including 17425-Rainham and 17478-Catford.

211  (Abellio London) Waterloo & Sloane Square. Four extras including Tridents 9742 and 9842 plus Dart 8054 (QB).

242  (Arriva London North) Three extras of normal DAF or Volvo types.

257  (London General) Stratford & Leytonstone by Ensignbus Olympians 826/7/8/9, Trident 195 (GVV 205), B9TL 126.  Extras from London General including Volvo 11 and 18.

388  (Hackney Community Transport) Two extras of normal types.

E3    (Metroline West) Two extras, Tridents TP 439 and TP 461.

H91 (London United) Olympians VA 10, 46, 49, TLA 1, 2, plus Scanias SP 37, 129, 135 loaned from Shepherd’s Bush.

U1   (Metroline West) Uxbridge & Ruislip with Tridents TP 428, TP 440 and TP 1575.

Thursday 6th February:

A repeat of the above, with the addition of route 23, while on the 29 some buses ran further north. 

9, 11, 14, 22, 26, 27, 36, 66, 98, 139, 148, 155, 158, 167, 190, 211, 242, 257, 388, E3, H91, U1 all as 
on the 5th, although the 9 had LT 126 as well as LT 150, while on 148 LT 138 replaced LT 127.

8     (Stagecoach East London) Including Enviro400 10109-West Ham, 10141-Bromley, 10196-Plumstead, 19716,19721-Rainham.

23    (Tower Transit) Paddington & Oxford Circus with Sullivan Trident DEL 1 and Volvo WVL 3.

25    (Tower Transit) As on the 5th but with Leyland RTL 453 replacing M 1.

29    (Arriva London North) As on the 5th, plus LBC’s RML 897. Arriva sent DLA 207 (Norwood) and  
        DLP 92 (AD).

38    (Arriva London North) As on the 5th, plus RM 1361 and RMA 58.

91    (Metroline) Ensignbus Trident 108 and B9TLs, plus Travelmasters B9TL/Geminis EY07 AXH, AXK.

114  (London Sovereign) ADL Enviro200 DE 84 (am) and Dart DPS 635 again (pm).

188  (Abellio London) Darts 8041-Hayes and 8061-Beddington Farm noted; there should have been others.

205 (Stagecoach East London) The seven provincial Stagecoach buses again. Also 10111-West Ham, 17425-Rainham, 17478-Catford, 17526-Barking.

A more visual view of the events recorded a few days afterwards, can be found here and here
Whether anything like this occurs again, depends of course upon an agreement being reached between the respective parties involved, London Underground and the Trades Unions.

However (there's always an however), this was not the first time that old timers had helped out on occasions in London. Two earlier examples were extra buses on the 38 route in the 1990s, and half-cabs on training duties in the late 1970s, both for quite different reasons. 

First up the 38 (Victoria-Clapton Pond). During the school holiday period in August 1993 the London Underground Victoria Line was partly suspended in order to complete major works on the system. The then London Buses Limited subsidiary Leaside Buses, who ran the route with Routemasters on weekdays, provided extra buses from their Private Hire fleet. Included were examples of Daimler Fleetline and Leyland Titan in open and closed top form, but probably the best offering was a half-cab Park Royal bodied AEC Regent previously operated by the East Kent Road Car Company.
The extra buses operated a shortened version of the route and ran between Victoria Station and the Tottenham Court Road area.

And then finally further back in 1978 several pensioned-off AEC Regent RT-class half-cab double-deckers were brought back into service for London. Not in front line service, but as trainer buses owing to the lack of such serviceable vehicles in the fleet, against the number of new recruits.
All were by then in preservationist hands and are shown as they arrived and departed the now long disappeared famous Chiswick Works in west London.

The hallowed portals of the entrance to Chiswick Works off of the High Road played host to AEC Regents RT 4651 going in and RT 1400 coming out on the 17th April 1978. Sadly much in this image has since passed into history the area now the home to a modern business park and housing.

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