On 27th December Reading Buses take over from First Berkshire in the operation of the Bracknell - Windsor - Slough - London Greenline 702. However First ceased operation on the 23rd December, leaving the 24th without an official operator. So the inspirational Martijn Gilbert, CEO of Reading Buses called a few mates to see if they'd like to bring their buses out for the day on the route. The idea got a big thumbs up, and so Sunday saw a plethora of buses on the 702. Some with links to the route, others not.
My plan was to meet up with Ross Newman at Ensign, who was booked to drive Greenline liveried RT3232 and who had invited me along. However, with Ensign's hectic Christmas schedule Ross quite rightly decided to put family first. No worries, I was still able to travel up on the RT and back on Ensign's magnificent ex Southend Transport Van Hool Astromega. So I arrived at Ensign at 0730 only to discover the RT had departed at 0700, an hour earlier than Ross intended to. That meant my plan to stay with the RT to Slough then catch one of the Scania Omnilink tri axles Reading Buses have acquired for the route back to London was well and truly scuppered.
So I was forced to wait for the Astromega to leave. I know I know, sheer torture but you have to take the rough with the smooth. While I was waiting a Private Hire driver turned up to take one of the BCI Enterprises out. I've yet to meet an unfriendly person at Ensign, so a good chat about the Enterprise ensued, and a photo opportunity.
|The Enterprise being prepared.|
|No words needed|
|The Astreomega prior to departure|
|The lower deck of the Astromega|
|Nice line up|
We left Victoria with an old Greenline relic. RF226 looked really good, and I know carried quite a few distinguished passengers. We played leapfrog along the route, and as extensive journey times had been given, there were plenty of photo opportunities, although to my shame I appear to have concentrated on the Astro!
|The RF at Victoria Collonades|
|The Astromega at Kensington High St|
|Kensington becomes Peckham!|
|Alder Valley now Kennetbus Leyland National KPA 369P pic (c) Glyn Matthew|
|Scania Omnlilink SP57 CMJ pic (c) Glyn Matthews|
|RT3232 and the Astro at Windsor Parish Church|
|They look good but really aren't!!|
Just before we left Windsor one of the buses I wanted to see rolled in. Reading Buses have utilised 2 of their own Enviro E400's for the route, and due to a mechanical problem on one of the planned buses one of them was pressed into action on the Windsor - Bracknell shuttle. Now I'm not a fan of green, and certainly not a fan of E400's, but my word this livery is dazzling. It was a very dull day so the picture does not do it justice. I intend to ride the 702 to try out the various vehicles in the coming weeks and I'm actually looking forward to riding this one! I've just noticed the registration. Very clever!
|Reading Buses E400 GO11 LDN|
And that was just about it. A return journey to London on the Astro, with noticeably more traffic, and a smooth journey back to Purfleet. I did very little of what I actually wanted to do, some not my fault, others definitely down to my dimness! But you know - it didn't matter. I had made two new friends, one with 8 wheels, the astonishingly good Astromega, and one with two legs, Glyn. I sincerely hope I get to ride his taxi again. Thanks, Glyn, it was a great day and I'm looking forward to the next one. Thanks to Ross Newman for letting me travel on Ensign's buses and using the yard as a base, and well done and thanks to Martijn Gilbert for organising the day, and I wish Reading Buses all success with the 702. And thanks to those lovely people coming up to me in places I never expected complimenting the blog. Really appreciated. Incidentally the last bus from Victoria to Windsor and Bracknell, going onto Reading was OPEN TOP RmC 1510. I know it's been a mild Christmas in the South but that must have been a bit parky upstairs! Adam Green Tweeted this picture to the official Greenline Twitter team, who retweeted it, so I hope Adam doesn't mind me using it!
|RMC 1510 at Victoria on the last trip to Bracknell. pic Adam Green|
One last pic of the Astro, back at base, getting a well deserved feed before being put to bed. See you for the Rochester event on 30th, and in that post I'll reveal what I got for Christmas!!
|Night night everyone|