New Look for Reading-Heathrow RailAir.com
The first vehicle to wear new look branding for the Reading-Heathrow RailAir service returned to service today. The vehicle, 23009, was delivered to Bracknell on Friday and is to be followed by 23014. 23011 is already plain white but will remain like this until the repaint programme has been completed.
23009 at Heathrow early this morning. Thanks to John Wheeler for this photo.
23009 in Reading today. Thanks to John Wheeler for this photo.
Alexander Dennis Enviro 400H Demonstrator
Reading Buses have diesel-electric hybrid demonstrator SN59 AWW on loan for three days, and after a day in the depot yesterday it is out on route 17 today and tomorrow to assess customer reaction to the ride.
The vehicle in St Mary's Butts this afternoon.
At the heart of this hybrid is a system developed by BAE systems which is widely used in America, coupled with familiar Alexander Dennis parts. A battery powered electric motor provides the traction with a small diesel engine (in this case the same as fitted to ADL Enviro 200 Darts) charging the batteries. Power is also derived from regenerative braking where energy that would normally be converted to heat or sound is diverted back to the batteries, meaning that overall the Enviro 400H is at least 38% more fuel efficient than a normal diesel powered vehicle. The cost of the batteries and specialist systems mean that the vehicles are a considerably more expensive to buy, but the manufactures expect that the fuel savings will comfortably pay for this when factored across the whole life of the vehicle.
The bus was given fleet number 900, and the driver used a cash try inside the cab instead of having a vault fitted. The centre doors were not used.
The vehicle ride seemed very smooth with no gear changes, only a very slight but reassuring whistle/whine when it was being pushed. It was also slightly strange because the engine tone didn't always match what the bus was doing!
Summer of Roadworks
Scotia Gas Networks have spent much of the summer replacing metallic gas mains across the junction of Bridge Street, Gun Street and St Marys Butts following work in Friar Street and Greyfriars Road over the last 18 months or so. Detailed planning has allowed all bus routes to run as normal for the duration of the work.
The first phase of the latest work saw one lane closed in Bridge Street from 3rd August for approximately six weeks. The northbound bus lane was maintained at all times by removing southbound access for ordinary traffic, instead diverting it via the IDR (looping around St Marys Butts if necessary). 832 passes through the work on 8th August, which later moved onto the opposite side of the road:
The second phase saw the work progress north to the first half of the junction of Bridge Street and Gun Street. Ordinary traffic from Castle Street to Bridge Street continued to be diverted around St Marys Butts back onto the IDR. The bus-only right hand lane from Gun Street to St Marys Butts was opened up to all traffic to retain access for loading, requiring a zigzag into Castle Street as performed by 610 on 10th September:
The final phase saw work move to the other half of the Gun Street junction, and the southbound side of St Marys Butts. The flow of ordinary traffic between Castle Street and Bridge Street was returned to normal, but northbound traffic from St Marys Butts was directed through the buses-only section towards Broad Street. Buses heading for St Mary's Butts were just about able to turn from the left hand lane in Gun Street, as demonstrated by 812 on 19th September:
Work on the junction came to an end around 9th October, albeit with some finishing works in St Marys Butts.
From 24th October until 4th November (later changed to 26th October until 1st November) Gun Street was scheduled for a full closure to allow Thames Water to carry out sewer replacement work, Reading Borough Council to resurface the road and John Lewis to put up their Christmas lights. Services running from the Station out to the West of Reading (1, 2, 2A, 15, 16, 18, 26, 28, 33) were unable to serve much of their ordinary loop of the Town Centre, instead departing from temporary stops in Cheapside. The 23 ran direct to Friar Street from the Station via the IDR, the 17 and 500 used Queens Road, IDR and Castle Street instead of Kings Road to get to St Marys Butts, buses normally using the London Street bus lane (9, 20/21, 22, 62) were diverted via Bridge Street, and the 63/64 ran direct from Huntley & Palmers to the Station.
1029 emerging from Cheapside on route 1 on 31st October, heading for Russell Street to rejoin the normal route at the top of Castle Hill.
The 15 and 16 departed from stop CZ outside the former Blockbuster Video store. 841 is pictured above loading there on 31st October.
A temporary stop for routes 1, 2, 2A, 26 and 28 was located half way along, as being served by 1005 on 31st October.
A second temporary stop was located at the end of the road for the 18 and 33. Here 857 loads on 31st October.
Temporary parking restrictions were in place along the length of the road, but were quite widely abused making going difficult at certain times. Creditably, there did appear to be regular traffic warden patrols actively moving people on, but the road appears to be a very popular pickup, drop off and waiting point so at busy times it didn't take long for someone else to come along. The real time information system was displaying diversion information at the affected bus stops and inside the vehicles.