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January 2005

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Solars are Coming!


This week more details about Reading's forthcoming fleet of Scania L94UB / Wright Solars have been announced. In addition to the initial order of 12 vehicles for routes 4, 5 and 6 due in February/March, an additional 8 have been ordered for delivery in May/June. The batches are to be Reading's first vehicles with four digit fleet numbers - numbers 1001-20.

The arrangements for the new South Reading quality corridor on routes 4, 5 and 6 are to commence from 21st February, although the Solars will enter service gradually as they arrive from 14th February onwards. The 12 vehicles for these routes will wear a green version of Reading's new beige livery, but it is not yet clear what the other 8 (due from 30th May onwards) will operate.

The Solars will replace 20 Optare Excels which have been sold to a single (as yet unnamed) buyer. The Excels will start to depart from 21st February, whilst a number of vehicles are to come in on loan to provide cover until all of the Solars arrive. The Excels that have been chosen to depart are:

917-24 (R917-24 SJH) the third batch of Excels excluding 916 which was new three months earlier as a FastTrack vehicle
937-40 (T937-40 EAN) (937 currently in FastTrack livery)
943-45 (V943-45 DCF)
946-50 (R201-05 DKG) the last of the 15 examples acquired from Cardiff Bus in 2000

Once these have gone, nearly half of the once 64-strong fleet of Excels will have left the fleet with 951-60 having been swapped with Eastbourne Buses for Optare Spectras 708-13 in 2001.

945&929 on 22 January 2005 (52939 bytes)

929 on the 5 and 945 on the 6 today, a scene that will look somewhat different in a couple of months time!

It is perhaps worth noting that:

  • the seating capacity of the Solars will be 10.7% higher than the Excels
  • the only step entrance single deckers in the fleet - Optare Deltas 501-10 at Newbury and 511-20 at Reading are to remain on their predominantly rural work for the time being

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