Buses on Rail Replcement

London Underground Central Line


North Acton to West Ruislip via Northolt

18th & 19th July 1998

25th & 26th July 1998

1st & 2nd August 1998

Three weekends of major engineering work on the Central Line brought a whole fleet of buses from all over London and elsewhere to my doorstep.

The rail replacement service was run as two overlapping sections. Service A North Acton to Northolt stopping all stations & Service B North Acton to Northolt non-stop then all stations to West Ruislip. Most of the best photographic opportunities were at Northolt and most pictures where taken there on the first Saturday. The turning circle allowed the buses to spread out, but was only used by those on Service A. As they departed for North Acton both services were held outside Northolt Station while officials shepherded passengers onto the right bus. The cluster of hi-visibility vests round the entrance made good nearside shots dificult but allowed plenty of time to risk life and limb going to the central reservation for an offside view. At North Acton the vehicles were tightly penned in an industrial estate, while at West Ruislip they parked nose to tail along the kerb.

Northolt Station West Ruislip parking

Here's a selection of buses seen at work, sorted by company, with apologies for the ones that got away. To quote a well known phrase "I've got better things to do with my time than stand around waiting for bŁ@@#y buses".

Blue Triangle

Had been asked by Lodon Underground not to use RM, RT or RF as on previous occasions. A strange numbering system for their MCW MetrobusIIs finds C952LWJ as MCW552 & C954LWJ as MCW1954. Public information from its previous operator in South Yorkshire was still displayed on one example. Another had a patch of the former green paintwork left uncovered to save re-applying the "engine stop" notice.
Blue Triangle T358 Blue Triangle MCW552 Blue Triangle MCW514
The driver must have gone to a lot of trouble to get MCW514 into the very awkward looking position in the entrance to the Three Valleys Water Co. where it was serving as a general crew base on 18th July. RMS49, a former British Airways Routemaster, being used as crew bus on Sunday 19th, has had no modifications from its first life, right down to retaining the towing eye and the spare number plate for the trailer in its holder behind the driver's seat. Metroline often leave a DT-class Dart in the Northolt circle as a ferry bus to save taking DLs on 90 out of service for driver changes or breaks. I didn't notice any buses performing similar functions at Northolt on the second weekend. On Sunday August 2nd a Blue Triangle Leyland Titan acted as crew base at Northolt.
Blue Triangle MCW514 Blue Triangle RMS49 Metroline DT140

Capital Citibus

To begin there was no sign of the recent First Group take over on any of the MCW Mark II, Leyland Olympian & Denis Dominator - Northern Counties. By the third weekend (f) graphics where appearing on front and rear panels. One red liveried bus had its Citibus arrows either side of the destination screen spectacularly replaced with (f)
Capital Citbus 286 Capital Citbus 136 Capital Citbus 274
  Capital Citbus 136  

London Traveller

Leyland National MKI with legal lettering for Central Car Parking Systems Heathrow. London Traveller only shown on PSV licence.
  Leyland National MKI  


Wearing Stagecoach stripes from "Hants & Surrey" Leyland National MKI had a legal lettering notice for "Kelly's Coaches" displayed in the windscreen
  Leyland National MKI  

City of Oxford Motor Services

Buses of all ages in Wycombe red, white & blue from Leyland National MKIIs including GUW451W, ex-Uxbridge Buses LS451 - last seen on 607 & Leyland Lynxs to Dart SLF Plaxton Pointers.
Former 607 Lynx @ North Acton Lynx @ Ruislip Gardens
On the final weekend some all Leyland and Alexander bodied Leyland Olympians were to be found on Service A.
Dart SLF Leyland Olympian Alexander Olympian

Ariva the Shires

Fielded East Lancs. bodied Scanias from "Aylesbury & The Vale" plus Volvo B6s from "Chiltern Rover" based at Wycombe. They sent an Olympian for the single deck Service B on Sunday 19th, the driver very inventively used an alternative route between South Ruislip & Northolt to avoid the 12ft(3.7m) bridge at South Ruislip. Even some high floor coaches which can have only just fitted under that bridge were used.
DAF VanHool Scania E.Lancs.

White Rose Group

Ran former London Central Leyland Titans including unrepainted OHV794Y over Service A on the August weekend.
grey skirt all red

Local buses not on Rail Replacement Service

Metroline's route 90 had a couple of interesting visitors on the first weekend, DLS1 (P101OLX) claims to be the 1000th Dart-SLF, while DL81 (R181VLX) shows the latest revision to the Plaxton Pointer front styling. Route 398 is a "Shoppers' Special" lightly used mainly due to unprofessional operators in the past. The route might well benefit from renumbering to associate it more closely with Sovereign's H(for Harrow) numbered routes.
Metroline DLS1 Metroline DL81 Sovereign Mercedes

Original photographic images and electronic derivatives © Martin G. Layton 1998