Reading on Rail Replacement
Goldline have been awarded the contract to operate a major rail replacement service in the Maidenhead and Slough area this weekend. Eight Metrobuses, five Olympians and the three Goldline Titans were out on Saturday alone, alongside Reading Heritage Travel's exReading Mainline Routemaster No.15 (RM999), Courtney Coaches two Volvo Olympians and another sizeable fleet from First London. A Reading Buses controller was also stationed at both Slough and Maidenhead alongside the usual railway staff.
85, 467, exNo.15 and 458 waiting time at Slough Station yesterday
Cango to Newbury!
Thursday 14th saw the launch of four new Hampshire County Council Cango services, operated by Stagecoach and jointly funded by Hampshire County Council and Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council. The services will serve North Hampshire villages such as Burghclere, Penwood and Broadlaying and replace links to Newbury previously provided by Stagecoach services 20, 123 and 124. The services started operation on Friday 15th and operated free for the first two days until ordinary services start on Monday 18th. An Optare Alero, acquired by Hampshire County Council will be used to operate the services from Stagecoach's Andover garage. Fleet number 47805, registration YN03 UXY, and capacity B13F, it is seen below at the launch on 14th:
Thanks to Brian Coney for this photo, and the information for this article.
Other Cango services operate around Andover provided by Stagecoach, using another Alero and a Solo. The second Alero that was used to launch these services has been transferred to Stagecoach South, they needed something bigger than an Alero for some routes as they often had requests to carry more than one wheelchair-bound passenger!
New RailAir Scanias Enter Service
The first of the new Scania / Irizar Centurys for the RailAir service entered service on Monday. One was first noted in town on Sunday on driver familiarisation duties, whilst YV03 UBC is seen below at Reading Station today:
Fleet numbers for these vehicles have yet to be confirmed.
Only two vehicles are reported delivered so far, and today the remaining members of the old RailAir fleet were still in service alongside another fairly recent arrival, Greenline 799:
799 was showing Greenline route number 702 whilst on the RailAir service in Reading today.
Goldline help out in Town
Reading Buses are currently suffering from a shortage of double deckers. As a result the Goldline Titans have made rare appearances on town services recently. On the 6th 77 worked route 4 in the afternoon, and today 78 worked an afternoon/evening duty on routes 44/45 after operating the Thames Water contract in the morning. The decker shortage has been caused by 457 requiring repairs for accident damage, 466 for fire damage and 728 still being away following major accident damage last month. In addition the extremely hot weather has caused problems with vehicles overheating.
78 on route 44 at Reading Station this evening.
Additional news is that an operator right on the boundary of the Bus Zone area - Wilts & Dorset have today been taken over by the Go-Ahead Group.
Titan 77 worked routes 18 and 37 today, 78 route 25 and 79 was also being used!
On Street Ticket Machines - start to appear
Last month there was a photo of one of the 'stumps' that have appeared around the town ready for the on street ticket machines. The first machine has now been fitted, although it remains out of use presumably until the whole network is ready for launch.
The first on street ticket machine, next to stop CN for service 17 at St. Marys Butts. I don't think that the empty drink bottle on top will be a feature of every machine, but some around town recently have found the stumps to be very handy for sitting on!
RailAir - New Fleet Imminent!
First Berkshire's Reading - Heathrow RailAir fleet is set for a new look during the next month or so. Eight Scania Irizar Century coaches are due to replace the seven tri axle Plaxton Excaliburs currently in use. In advance of the arrival of the new coaches 701 and 703 have been transferred to their new owner First Southern National early to help out on rail replacement duties. In the meantime the relatively high-spec Greenline coaches are covering on the RailAir service, and some loaned lower spec coaches are operating some Greenline duties.
701 is seen on rail replacement duties at the back of Oxford Station at 7am on 6th August. It still retains its RailAir branding, but has had Southern National legal lettering added to the door and new fleet number 6701 added to the fuel cap.