Reading Trolleybuses 70 Years On
This weekend the Trolleybus Museum at Sandtoft commemorated the 70th anniversary of the first Trolleybuses in Reading. For the first time ever preserved Trolleybuses 144, 174 and 196 were brought out of storage to join 113 and 181 under the wires at Sandtoft all at the same time. Motorbuses 3, 47, 52, 76, 98 and 258 also attended along with tower wagon 332.
The grand line-up of Reading Corporation vehicles. From left to right 258, 76, 52, 3, 98, 47, 193, 181, 174, 144, 113, 332.
For more pictures and a full review please go to Bus Zone's special Sandtoft Reading Weekend page.
New Solars in Action on Route 37
Today saw the latest batch of Wright Solars enter service on route 37. As expected 1022-5 are branded for the service in a light blue version of the quality travel livery.
1024 waiting time at the Station. Thanks to James Cusworth for this photo.
The conversion of the route was set to commence yesterday, but minor technical difficulties meant that the blue Solars could not appear in force until today. Meanwhile grey Solars 1026-30 remain under wraps at the back of the yard, and dark green 1021 has yet to be noted in service.
1023 heading out along Oxford Road. Thanks to Stephen Wise for this photo.
There is some suggestion that one of the vehicles might have been in service yesterday, but as yet there are no confirmed sightings. It is however known that two grey OmniDekkas were in use during the morning peak. Today the main off-peak daytime service was operated by 1022, 1023 and 1025, with 1024 appearing in the peaks to complete the allocation for the day.
1025 at Reading Station early this morning after operating one of its first few trips in service.
New branded timetables and should now be available for the route.
Once the rest of the Solars enter service Reading's rural routes look set to be converted to low floor operation using displaced Optare Excels. In connection with this the terminal loop on route 137/138 in Sonning Common is being altered from Tuesday 30th May to make better allowance for the vehicles. Buses will run via Beech Rise instead of Newfield Road.
Painting the Town Pink
The second half of Reading's latest batch of Scania OmniDekkas started to enter service yesterday branded dark pink for routes 23 and 24.
831 in St. Mary's Butts yesterday. Thanks to Stephen Wise for this photo.
Alongside the new buses a lot of work has been put into upgrading the infrastructure along the 'Premier Routes'. Most of this work has been done either in advance or as the buses have been upgraded, and the 23/24 are no different. A limited upgrade is currently being carried out north of the river involving 19 upgraded stops and 11 extra real time displays. This is in addition to more comprehensive work which has recently been carried out on route 9 where real time flags are now up and working.
As part of the work on route 23, a new stop called 'Littlestead Close' has been introduced on Caversham Park Road after Dumbarton Way at the request of elderly residents. It serves the only residential development on the 'wrong side' of Caversham Park Road which previously was 200m away from a stop, and is now only 50m away.
Blast from the Past
Four Routemasters have appeared in Oxford over the weekend, parked behind the old Bingo Hall on Cowley Road.
Three are identified as follows: WTS 418A (RM909), SSL 806 (RM120) and PVS 828 (RM1018) which were all refurbished by Marshalls in May 2001 and operated by Arriva (RM909) and Sovereign (RM120, RM1018). Of these RM 1018 is of particular interest to Bus Zone because it was formerly No.18 in the Reading Mainline fleet.
SSL 806 and PVS 828 around the side of the Bingo Hall this morning.
WTS 418A is visible from Cowley Road peeking out alongside the Bingo Hall. The fourth RM is hidden behind.
An application has just been granted for the site to be used as an operating centre for upto 5 vehicles, so one wonders if somebody has anything interesting planned for Oxford!
The fourth Routemaster is now confirmed as AST 416A (RM191) which is former Reading Mainline No.11.
A fifth Routemaster XYJ 427 (RM1185) has also now appeared.
Reading FC Celebration Tour
Today saw Reading football club tour the town to celebrate their promotion to the Premier League and show off the football league championship trophy. A fleet of three buses were used - two Southdown Queen Marys and recently repainted Reading 465. Southdown AOR 158B carried the players, trophy and managers, Southdown 416 DCD carried their families and the press, and 465 to brought up the rear as a spare.
The vehicles departed from the Great Knollys Street depot at 1200 to start officially start the tour from Station Hill.
Southdown 412, AOR 158B leaving the depot. Synonymous with Southdown, Queen Marys are in reality Leyland Titan PD3/4s with Northern Counties bodywork.
Southdown 416, 416 DCD leaving the depot. A crowd of over 60 people were waiting outside the gates to see the team emerge, probably the largest number of people to congregate there in the last six years.
Two police bikes and a police Landrover cleared the way for the procession which was led by four mounted police.
The vehicles continued from Station Hill along Station Road, Friar Street, Town Hall Square, Market Place, Duke Street, London Road, Silver Street, Whitley Street, Basingstoke Road, Imperial Way and the A33 to the stadium for a lap of honour. Several unusual vantage points were used by supporters, the Bingo Hall balcony proving popular, but also some people were watching from the roof of the station and the top of the bus shelters in Friar Street.
Thousands of people must have been in town to see the buses go by.
The procession makes its way through the crowds on Station Hill.
A closer view of the bus.
In order to facilitate the parade, a temporary road closure was obtained for Station Road, Friar Street and Town Hall Square for the period 8am - 2pm to allow the police to close the road to traffic at any time necessary during this period. It was planned that the closure would be activated from 9am to install safety barriers and that the roads would reopen as soon as the parade had passed and crowds dispersed.
Reading Buses ran a near full service of football buses to the ground, starting from 11am. Normal bus services were however severely affected by the parade, with a large proportion of the town centre closed off most routes operated via the IDR to terminate at St. Marys Butts. Route 24 to Coley Park used the bus shelter outside the Oracle on Bridge Street, perhaps the first time that a normal scheduled bus service has ever used this stop! A Reading Buses inspector was on hand at the Butts to help deal with the situation.
A large rail replacement service was also in operation today with Weavaway OU05 AVD, OU05 KKB, OU 05 KLA, B10 MNX, RX06 WPR and Goldline 234, 239 all in evidence around the time that the procession went by. Courtney S847 DGX also managed to get caught at the Station during the procession, although it looked like it should have been operating the 190. Reading 313, 459, 461, 462, 463, 708 and one other Metrobus were on hand ready to operate the 79, whilst the FastTrack service was not operating.
465 has been repainted into Reading Football club colours and followed towards the back of the procession. It made its first appearance at a football match held in Reading yesterday.
The team arrived at the depot at 1140 onboard Goldline 213 and 212. 212 was carrying the players and trophy - the trophy is just visible in the front window!