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January 2012

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Reading Trial MAN EcoCity


CNG (compressed natural gas) powered MAN EcoCity demonstrator WX61 FXO has arrived on a 5-6 week trial with Reading Buses. MAN has supplied 3,000 gas buses worldwide, and has now decided to introduce this UK specification gas bus as a way of meeting forthcoming Euro 6 exhaust limits. The EcoCity, which is part of the extensive MAN Lion's City range, is to be sold as a complete MAN product but actually has an Alusuisse body built by Caetano on conventional MAN chassis.

WX61 FXO on 19 January 2012

WX61 FXO in the Forbury today. Thanks to Peter Coney for this photo.

MAN is working in conjunction with the Gas Bus Alliance, an organisation which brings together producers of bio methane (methane captured from sewage and food waste) to clean it up and feed it into the natural gas network. The Gas Bus Alliance are providing the infrastructure for the supply of fuel during this trial using the mains gas supply at Great Knollys Street depot for the first time. Earlier experiments with CNG powered Optare MetroRiders 614/24 in Newbury in 1994/6, and LNG (liquefied natural gas) in Reading in 2001 used fuel from a dedicated supply. The Gas Bus Alliance attributes the failure of CNG to take off in the 1990s to a number of factors including the quality of the gas and the fact that the vehicles involved in trials were often conversions rather purpose-built gas buses. That affected reliability, and coloured views of CNG's viability as a fuel for buses. Lessons have been learned, with widespread use of CNG in other countries.

WX61 FXO on 19 January 2012

WX61 FXO in Butter Market. Thanks to Peter Coney for this photo.

This demonstrator has 39 seats, a low floor gangway right through to the back and a vertical engine located in a cubicle in the rear offside corner. It will be used exclusively on route 9 during it's stay in Reading.

Final Departures from Station Hill (for now)


The next phase of development work at Reading Station to affect the Town Centre road network commences on 9th January with the closure of Station Hill. The work will allow the construction of a new entrance to the station on the opposite side of the old station building to the current entrance which was opened in the 1980s. The work will involve sinking part of Station Hill by four metres so the subway running under the railway lines will open onto flat ground on both the north and south sides of the station, allowing daylight in and linking new transport interchanges on each side. The raised area of Station Hill is effectively on stilts with a void under much of the road, with now disused subway exits as far down as the old bus station.

The final departures from Station Hill for the time being were operated by 65726 from First on the 50 at 1845, followed by Reading 1034 on the 40 at 1900. Rail replacement services continue into the evening, and Rugby specials on 8th.

1034 on 7 January 2012

1034 on the last ordinary service to depart from Station Hill. Work to remove the old Station canopy can be seen behind.

65726 on 7 January 2012

65726 on the final First departure from Station Hill. The bus station entrance can just be seen on the left.

From 9th most of the remaining services that use Station Hill will be diverted into the old bus station for at least a year whilst the building work is carried out. In preparation for this the bus station has seen a modest refurbishment during the later weeks of December, including bright new lighting. The previous bays have been filled in to create three bus stops on a straight kerb and four bus stands have been provided in the former manoeuvring area, whilst the taxi waiting area remains fenced off on the far side. Evening and Saturday services to Kennet Island will run along Friar Street to Station Road, whilst the morning peak journeys on the 22 and 24 which currently serve Station Hill will drop off on Greyfriars Road instead.

Reading Bus Station on 7 January 2012

Reading Bus Station open and ready for action this evening.

Over Christmas and the whole of January Cow Lane has been closed to traffic to allow the first of two low bridges to be replaced, this will allow two way traffic and headroom for double deck buses once the second bridge is replaced in 2013. The old signalling room will be demolished to make way for the new platforms and passenger footbridges that are scheduled for opening in 2013.

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