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Old news 2004 to 2006

Last update
30th April 2011


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Semi-regular news updates which would be of interest to the enthusiast have been provided on this site since 2001. This page contains the updates published between 2004 and 2006 inclusive. It should be read in conjunction with the route change history page.

2006 in Harlow - Review of the year

Perhaps rather predictably after the dividing of route corridors at the end of 2005, the last 12 months have been a rather quieter period for commercial route changes. Those which have taken place tending to be relatively minor modifications rather than tit for tat competitive moves, as had featured between Arriva and SM/Olympian, and before that Arriva and LocalLinks. Despite the apparent truce, 2007 kicks off with competition restarting on the Harlow - Ware - Hertford route.

On the tendered front, there were more than the usual number of changes of operator during the year. Gains and losses featured amongst the independents, but Arriva were the dominant winner, taking back some services which have been in independent hands for many years. One casualty was Clintona, who have left local operations after many years of service. They do of course continue elsewhere in Essex. Regal, who have expanded considerably elsewhere in the region, cling on in Harlow with just one return journey on positioning service X2.

A particularly welcome change, demonstrating that service investment can pay dividends, would be the dramatic enhancement to the evening service network. What was a handful of journeys has transformed into a comprehensive network that would rival most London satellite towns. Reports are that patronage has increased as a result. 

Talking of independents, either a coincidence or a peculiar trend is the convergence of liveries. All over white with a blue(ish) skirt now features on Excel, Stansted Transit, and Olympian Coaches vehicles. Add in that SM's is basically white, and Myalls are all over white and I doubt that the public know one from another. Trustline even have a couple of vehicles in this livery, but they're the exception and a smart and distinguished image, as is the case with Imperial, is rather more the norm.

LED 'blind' displays have also come to the fore in the last year. Stansted Transit had been in the process of converting before, TrustLine have decided to standardise on them, Excels MAN's for the 308 also feature their first forays, and SM also have their first example too. Arriva continue to specify these on new vehicles also. 

Harlow has been fortunate enough to feature a significant number of new vehicles this year. Arriva have invested in a new fleet of Mercedes Citaro's for the 724 ousting the DAF/Plaxton Prestige fleet. Many more Optare Solo's arriving have almost eliminated the Merc/Beavers. TrustLine have acquired Dart/MCV's, whilst Excel have their first new service buses in the form of Alexander Dennis Darts for ECC service gains and MAN/MCV's for Bishops Stortford area 308. Perhaps the biggest surprise was at SM, where there has been a major fleet upgrade. Out from the mainstay are the early minibuses, in were Darts with Pointer style and Caetano bodywork. Not content with one surprise, the later disappeared in favour of more of the former within a few months. 

More traditional operations are featured by Imperial. The fleet remains subject to regular change, but there is much more of a heritage feel to the whole thing. When it comes to real heritage though, the Blue Triangle operations on selected days are perhaps the most significant operation of their kind to have operated this year (excluding the 9 and 15 in London of course).

Finally, looking ahead, the New Hall development will see a bus priority scheme and new service via First Avenue. The media is already whipping up a frenzy with all the objectivity and accuracy that we have come to expect.

Best wishes for the new year to all readers. Some pictures are to follow, and who knows, this year I may keep my resolution to make more regular and on-time updates, and even to modernise the site and upspec the programme I use to publish HarlowRide.


Michael Bennett

6th December 2006

At Arriva, the march of the Solo continues with the appearance of brand new vehicles 2473/4 (YJ56ATY/Z). The old Mercedes/Beaver combination is all but gone. Just one, 2155 (N385JGS) remains now, and even then, only seen recently on staff shuttles and the like. A less than usual arrival is that of Dennis Dart/Northern Counties Paladin L118YVK

have continued the upgrade of their fleet. New MAN/MCV Evolutions have arrived for nearby Bishops Stortford local service 308/9. Although these are not scheduled to see service in Harlow, the vehicles that they succeeded did on a regular basis, so we'll wait and see. BAA sponsoring and route branding are evident on a green and gray livery. Another Alexander-Dennis Pointer dart seen is EU56CVG, operating the 333 this time. A less dramatic but interesting new arrival is that of Dennis Dart/Northern Counties Paladin L113YVK, ex-Arriva Kent Thameside and sister to the Arriva vehicle noted above, carrying the new blue/white livery.

having depleted their Metrobus stocks to some degree have expanded again. This time one time Harrow Buses, and more recently Newbury Buses M1455 has arrived. Dart/Pointer N261PJR constitutes a more conventional arrival. 

Something of a quick change at SM Coaches. The two recently acquired Dart/Caetano's have gone, replaced by two more Alexander-Dennis Pointer Darts, MX56HYA/B. Early sightings are in all white, and, like their predecessors, legal ownership is in the name of a finance company.

At Trustline, a couple of noteworthy strange visitors to the C3 on 27th October were Titan 78 and Dart/Evolution DMA7. 


3rd October 2006

Excel have purchased a brand new Alexander Dennis Dart, and introduced a new livery at the same time. Visually indistinguishable from a Stansted Transit vehicle, EU56FTO sits in the bus station

New arrivals at Imperial too. One time Lothian Olympian B760GSC departs on the H1.
Blue Triangles Sunday network has continued to operate. RM25 putting in an appearance on this occasion.

13th August 2006 (revised 27th August 2006)

The recently announced Essex County Council contract changes will have a marked effect on Harlow:-

Arriva have made gains, with the Sunday town services (4/10/11/12) and out-county services (200/3) all now falling under their control once again. A regain, this time during the week, is that of the 381/2.

As a consequence, one operator will cease their connection with the town , and another will be reduced to a single journey on Mondays to Fridays.

Loosing a long link with the town entirely is Clintona. Their network had been reduced to just the Sunday town services in more recent times, a network they commenced in April 2001, when the services were known as 851-4, and taken over from Eastern National.

Regal Busways, who commenced their now ballooning operation with the 381/2 service in Easter 2002, will pass this over to Arriva. They will also cease the Sunday 200 and the 381/2 linked Saturday 506. They will continue to operate a single journey into Harlow each weekday, being what was the 07:38 arrival on the 381 into Harlow, now numbered 502. Nearby service gains for Regal include the Sunday 240/250/251 network at Waltham Cross.

Excel have made some minor gains, picking up school service 322 (from Arriva) and the rural 47 service group (from TrustLine). 

In other news, the 724 has been converted to new Mercedes Citaro operation. Fleet details are now on the Arriva page. The DAF/Plaxton Prestige vehicles that they have replaced were the first low floor buses to serve the town on a scheduled basis when they were introduced. 

At Excel, there will be something of a major fleet upgrade on their local network. Dart/Pointer BU51REG (ex Reg's coaches) being one of two arrivals expected for the 333, whilst there is also expected to be a minibus upgrade on the 308/9 (Bishops Stortford area).

Finally, at TrustLine more new arrivals include three Volvo B6/Alexander Dash's, being M424PVN, M426RDC and M430RDC. This has enabled the two Dart/Caetano Compass vehicles to be removed to airport duties. Departures include Metroriders 412 and 428, but more notably, the near-unique Plaxton Primo PPS6 (MX55WDA).

8th July 2006

The Blue Triangle vintage operations are underway - below are a selection of images of the operation at Harlow.

Not previously mentioned, is that on more vehicle to have arrived as part of the significant 2006 intake at SM Coaches is an Irisbus Agora Line EU06KHK

have been using Mercedes/Beavers on the 381/2 of late. Recent examples are HHZ5929 and P480DPE. All-over white with lilac bumpers is the livery, suggesting that these are short-term hires.

A recent addition at TrustLine is a third Dart SLF/UVG, registered P844KOT, and in full fleet livery. 

Finally, we hear that many Essex County Council supported services will change hands at the end of August, including some that reach Harlow. Details to follow.


13th May 2006

There has been another new arrival at SM, this time in the form of a Mini Pointer Dart. The vehicle, with logos. but minus blinds or the normal maroon skirt at this stage, leaves the bus station on the M15.

Dennis Tridents last operated in Harlow in the days of Metroline's 310B, but a loan from Ware saw 5425 covering for a Metrobus. The vehicle lays over between trips on school service 322 (Old Harlow - Saffron Walden).
The DAF/Plaxton Prestige vehicles seem fewer by the week on the 724. Amongst the regular substitutions are Ware based Wright bodied VDL (DAF) vehicles, as exemplified by 3826, seen in recent weeks.

More a revived route than a new one, the 622, having operated previously as an Essex County Council sponsored service, is back as part of a network of vintage routes being ventured by Blue Triangle on occasional days in 2006. 
We do get some unusual visitors to Harlow. Totally unconnected with any service, but very striking nevertheless, the Army parked their Optare Spectra careers information bus in the market square and attracted considerable crowds. 

17th April 2006

New vehicles to report with three local operators
Firstly at Arriva, the fleet of Optare Solo's has expanded again, this time with four further examples, all with 06 registrations. Other arrivals include Volvo B6/Plaxton Pointer L608EKM and a third B6/Dash. The effect of all this is to reduce dramatically the large fleet of Merc/Beavers, so long overdue for retirement.

SM Coaches
have not before purchased brand new vehicles especially for local services, but appearing out of the blue are short wheelbase Caetano Nimbus EU06KDJ and EU06KDK. At present they are in all-over white, but doubtless will be fully liveried in the near future.

Finally, the continued expansion of Trustline, who have won considerable work from HCC from April, also sees some new arrivals. Route 700, operating between Stansted and Stevenage, now features two more MCV eVolution Darts. Numbered DMA7 and 8, they feature higher specification interiors as befitting the type of service they will provide. Due in the coming weeks are one-time London Red Arrow National Greenways GUW 442/452/505/505W. These, we are advised by the company, are for airside work, and will be in a a blue and white livery. Also due is Dart SLF/UVG P844 KOT.    

Not new, but noted in service with Stansted Transit, former Metroline Dart SLF/Pointer II P106OLX 

A new special operation
Blue Triangle,
as reported elsewhere, are starting a new network of services, operating on a number of selected Sundays and one bank holiday Monday. The operation will feature vehicles of particular interest to enthusiasts, and requires four in total for the complete circuit, all inter-worked between three routes. Please click here for further details.  

8th March 2006 - News and views 2006 to date

At Arriva, double deckers have returned once again. Besides school duties, town services 2 and 3 have played host regularly to the latest intake of two Metrobuses, here filling in on none other than the 724. 

Brand new vehicles at Trustline. Firstly a very new and still unusual sighing is the Plaxton Primo. Note the non-standard livery carried by this vehicle on delivery.
Not content with one new type, a pair of MCV eVolution bodied Alexander-Dennis Darts have also joined the fleet. This time the fleet colours are in the right places.

The village link look has been around for a number of years, but this one-time Armchair Dart SLF shows it's application on a vehicle . Village link services 5 and 7 operate nearby at Bishops Stortford and Stansted, but here a visit is being made to Harlow on the 347. The rural nature of the service wont make the branding seem out of place!
Fleet changes have seen the profile of the H1 change somewhat in recent times. An ex-Manchester Metrobus, a Dart SLF/Pointer and this ECW bodied Olympian are amongst the regulars now on the service .

2005 - The year in pictures

2005 was an active year again on the Harlow scene. Below is a representative sample of the happenings and sightings which characterised the year. Please click on the picture for the full size image. All pictures by Richard Hudson.

Brand new arrivals at Arriva came in the form of additions to the Optare Solo fleet. In theory they are for ECC services outside Harlow, but after a while waiting to enter service, all three appeared suddenly on local service 8 before taking up their planned duties. 2465 is seen here leaving the bus station 

Prestige service 724, despite having a fleet of dedicated low floor vehicles based at both Harlow and Ware, saw considerable strange visiting from both bases, and sometimes using the most unlikely vehicles. Here a Northern Counties Dart awaits time at the bus station.
Clintona continued with their Sunday operations, requiring 3 service buses and a ferry. Losses elsewhere have reduced the minibus fleet, in turn bringing a touch of luxury to, in this case, the 11. 

Routemasters, Metrobuses, Titans and Olympians all but ended their days in London in 2005, but the H1 can sport any of them. Admittedly this happens rather less frequently in the case of RM1641, seen on one of a number of special working days performed during the year. 
Olympian have had another active year, developing the London coach services. An unusual feature for a short time was a feeder service linking central and southern parts of Harlow with the more frequent service at Potter Street. A coach seated minibus awaits commuters waiting to transfer.

Trustline continue to develop and provide considerable fleet variety. Metroriders replaced tired Mercedes, also new in are an ex-London Country Tiger (East Lancs rebodied) and two Reading Titans. Perhaps topping the lot, although strictly 2006, is the arrival of two MCV Evolution Darts. 
Green Line services to London came to an end with the withdrawal of the single return journey 711 service. The route had passed it's silver Jubilee, but recalling another more frequent era, is RF269, a regular on the rally circuit.

Regal Busways had a good year in many ways, although largely the impact is outside Harlow. Within it, the 381/2 continued to offer considerable variety through loans and hires of guest vehicles. In the case of the Mercedes/Beaver shown opposite, the vehicle had come from the local Arriva company.
Excel coaches livery has slowly emerged through the branding, and here one of the varied double deck fleet primarily intended for schools, but seen not infrequently on the 333, shows the before and after effect. 
Perhaps the most dramatic change of the year was the last, where competition on local services effectively ended on Christmas eve. Here, in the last days of the T10, an Optare Vecta shows off branding for SM's Tumbler Road and Potter Street corridor, now to be numbered M15/M16. The T15 was the last surviving number from the TownBus area scheme, introduced in August 1980. 

15th December 2005

Although super-rear adverts are commonplace, until recently only one has featured in the local Arriva fleet, and even then, it was largely dedicated to an out of town route (Vario 2189 on the Waltham Point shuttle service 252). Recently, two more have appeared, both Vario's again, being 2172 and 2177, but as the feature is the Water gardens, one assumes these will be more prominent locally. 

Another of the semi-regular visitors to the Regal fleet has been seen on the 381. This time the vehicle has local history, being former Arriva Merc/Beaver N918ETM. It now appears largely in dealer white. Of greater significance to the operator if not the local scene, Regal have secured the contract to operate one of the governments kick-start services, in this case a link between Canvey Island and Chelmsford. If that were not enough, Regal are the proud owners of the first MCV Evolution bodied Alexander Dennis Dart. A picture can be found on the Regal website at www.regalbusways.com  

6th November 2005

The Harlow scene is undergoing a relatively unprecedented period of stability, certainly by the standards of recent years. Having said that, there are some items of news, as follows.

Firstly, at
Arriva, new Optare Solo's have been seen in the garage. Although intended for 'out of town' use, doubtless some will see local service once they enter service.

Excel, more of the fleet are receiving two-tone blue, particularly the double deck fleet, and although this is mainly for schools services, appearances on the 333 are common. One new addition substitute noted recently, and of more suitable size, was Mercedes/Plaxton Beaver N70TGM.

More variety at TrustLine, where the latest arrival is Leyland Tiger/East Lancs WPH139Y (fleet no. 139).

Adding to the variety provided by
Stansted Transit, noted on training duties, Leyland National II WPT691V. Fleet livery is carried.

A recent visitor to the 381/2 service of Regal, assumed to be a hire at this stage, Mercedes 811D/Marshall L891UVE. The red livery of NIBS is carried.

3rd September 2005


Starting at Arriva, after more than 5 years of sterling service on route 10, the two dedicated Dart SLF/Pointer IIs (3230/1) have undergone something of a refurbishment. The branding continues, as does the window sticker advertising this site (click picture above for full size image).

A few new minibus arrivals have been noted in the last month. Standard Mercedes/Plaxton Beaver 2149 (N379JGS) and 2177 (R177VBM) and 2377 (R947VPU) have been noted in service. These fit into the existing ranges of their respective fleets. Watch out for new vehicles coming soon, the result of recent tender successes on nearby services 46 (Chelmsford - Ongar) and 214/5/9/20 (Loughton-Debden local services).

Worthy of mention, is that the last Dart/Carlyles have now left local service. Although they only operated in Harlow late in their lives, they did see service on almost every route, including TfL contract service W14 when operated under the Harlow wing, and before non low-floor vehicles were banished from such services. 

Something of a change around at
TrustLine too. Gone are 4 Mercedes/Beavers (all except recent arrival L26ULA), but new in are ex-London Metrobus M399, Leyland Lynx F80SMC, to be followed shortly by ex-Reading Titans RMO77Y and RMO78Y. The new intake of double deckers are planned for rail replacement services, but let's see!

The Harlow services of
Stansted Transit can provide a considerable variety of vehicles, not to mention liveries and destination display styles, despite being limited one vehicle per day only (route 347 Mon-Sat, 203 Sundays). First day of 347 saw  Dart SLF/Pointer II R739TMO operated, and the second Optare Excel R817HJA.

On the route front, Green Line 711 bows out shortly. Although the service has waxed and waned over the years, and looks little like a Green to most eyes, it does have over a 20 year history, and was the first route to connect Harlow to London using the M11. Olympians services, for sometime superior, are the natural successors.  

1st August 2005

Starting with Harlow's smallest vehicle, there has been a bit of a change on the ZIP1 Milwards service operated by Arriva. The Mercedes Traveliner which has served the route since it's start has been stood down. For the last couple of months, a Vauxhall Zafira registered BK03ODY (pictured above) has covered, but now a new permanent vehicle has taken over, in the shape of Mercedes-Benz Vito 115CDI, fleet number 1258. Route branding is carried.

333 continues to provide considerable variety. Noted recently and illustrated above, a Stephensons Olympian/East Lancs, also two Volvo B10M-55 with Alexandra PS bodies. M231TBV is in Blazefield colours, whilst sister M232TBV is in Excels two-tone blue.

4th July 2005

Harlow sees it's fair share of vehicle variety and unusual visitors, but I do wonder if RM5, the first ever production Routemaster, has graced the town before. The event was a charity bus pull, and the vehicle supplied by Arriva for the occasion.

15th May 2005

At Arriva, unique Dart/Marshall 3103 (with ex-Lucketts cherished registration L300BUS) has moved on to pastures anew. 

version of the 333 continues to produce more than the odd surprise. Passengers may have had to do a 'double take' to realise that Stevensons all white Leyland Olympian/ECW TSO29X displaying route number 30 was actually their bus. 

The coach fleet at Olympian, besides having recently been upgraded, now features a few variations in livery and logo. A number of pictures have been added to the Olympian section to illustrate the point. 

Regal Busways recently used what we assume to be a loan machine on the 200 service. Optare Solo MX03YDF is in all white, but with the Regal Busways fleet name applied to the front. This vehicle will be enjoying the relative warmth of Essex, having once been operated by Shetland Islands Council.

When I heard that some 'interesting new illustrations' had been applied to SM Coaches' new Iveco school buses, my first thought was that this was some kind of unwanted grafitti, however, I was pleasantly surprised when I caught sight of it - see what you think on the SM section.  

Something of a revamp of the minibus fleet at Trustline, where three Optare Metroriders have arrived in recent weeks. Also arrived, largely for school work is a wheelchair accessible Mercedes L811D. Stood down is the ex-West Midlands Metrobus MkII, two of the Mercedes L811D/Beavers, the Dart/Northern Counties, two high-floor Dart/Pointers and finally, the Leyland National II featured in our news section of November 2003 (scroll down for a picture). The fleet page has been updated to reflect these changes.  

12th March 2005
(updated 14th March)

(Click on image for full size version)

Yellow school buses have arrived in Harlow. SM coaches have placed brand new Iveco's EuroMido's with Vehixel Scolabus 24 bodywork into service. Illustrated above, they are registered FD54EOO and FD54EOP.

A quality upgrade was experienced recently on the 381, when
Regal used Optare Solo YJ54BTE on the 381. Our assumption is that this is a demonstrator.

Over at
TrustLine, another ex-Metrobus Dart/Pointer to enter service is M150HPL. This, and the other recent Dart acquisitions are now in full TrustLine colours. Also joining the fleet is Lynx K101JMV.

At Arriva, the Debden outstation is no more. Routes 250/1/2 are operating directly from Harlow, whilst the 397, W13 & W14 have transferred to Arriva London at Edmonton, along with the Dart/ALX200 fleet. These will no longer feature on this site. The 549 (South Woodford - Loughton), the other remaining route, has passed to Docklands Buses.

Finally, something of an unusual visitor. Dart/Pointer 3359 (K409FHJ), having recently been repainted into inter-county all over advertising livery for the Bishops Stortford Park and Ride, found itself pressed into service on the 522 on a recent Saturday. A4 printed route information had to do, as the front blind box has been painted over as part of the scheme. 

6th February 2005

The main news since our last update has been the introduction of brand new vehicles. As indicated below, Arriva have upgraded the 510 with Volvo/Wrights, and also, with support, two more Optare Solo's have taken over the 59. On the same subject, Olympian have upgraded much of the coach fleet, with no less than six MAN/Noge Catelan Stars. These feature on the SKB contract, and also on the London Commuter services. A fresh new coach livery and logo feature to give an overall quite striking effect (picture to follow shortly). Still with Olympian, another arrival is another ex-Reading MAN/Optare Vecta, K801DCF. This joins three sister vehicles at SM.

An operator that doesn't feature to often in these columns is Myalls. Operating to Harlow just on Saturdays, and only two journeys at that, they now offer the sight of a Mercedes Vario with a Plaxton Cheetah body on the 5/354. Plain white un-branded livery and no blinds though - some things don't change!

4th December 2004

In the process of delivery are a fleet of brand new arrivals at Arriva. A fleet of 5 
Volvo B7RLE/Wrights are due in service on route 510 imminently. 

have now bowed had, having honourably respected the de-registration period for the 410, they now have no remaining presence in Harlow. In the last weeks, vehicles on hire from TrustLine featured. This trend was quickly reversed when  white Dart/Pointer SLF W566JVV, which had operated with Centra, featured on TrustLines newly expanded network. Elsewhere at TrustLine, two former London Central low floor Dart/Pointer, and two former Metrobus standard floor Darts have arrived. The former are intended to be the regulars on the C4. The three Mercedes/Beavers which had carried cherished registration numbers, have now reverted to their originals. All details are on the updated fleet list.

A few new double decks have arrived at
Excel. These are largely to service schools routes 802/3/9, which are not featured on this site, but that hasn't stopped  Stevensons liveried and one time Lothian Olympian/Alexander UAR219Y appearing on the 333. 

4th November 2004

Following on from the emergency contracts issued last month to replace Centra (details below) a more permanent situation now exists, with TrustLine having taken over the 47group and 347. Even though these are essentially one a day services, when combined with the 392, C4, and that other once a day service, the 354, it does mean that it's now possible to 7 different TrustLine vehicles in Harlow Bus Station, just by being there between 12:45 and 2pm. TrustLine also picked up Bishops Stortford area Village Link 1, Thursday only 19 and once a day 319. The Sunday contracts stay put with Regal and Stansted Transit respectively. The 410, final offering from Centra, often in the hands of at least 1 TrustLine vehicle in recent times, will finish on Friday 19th November. 

Worth checking out if you are local is the new website from Arriva. Amongst the new features at www.arrivabus.co.uk you can register your interest in a particular service, and get automatic updates. 

A further Iveco/Marshall to re-enter service in Harlow with
Olympian is M733AOO. Fully repainted, logo'd and gleaming, like the rest of the fleet, it is now a regular in service.

3rd October 2004

Centra call it a day in Harlow (almost!)

The main story is the decision by Centra to cease operations from the Stansted base. As far as contracted operations are concerned, this was pretty immediate, with replacement operators taking over weekday services from Tuesday 28th September. Emergency contracts have come into force on these occasional and infrequent services for October only, whilst the services are being formally re-tendered to take effect from 1st November. Details as follows.

47/146/147 (1 off-peak bus on Tues to Sat) to
Regal Busways. Initial observations show that Volvo B6/Marshalls have been used in full livery and with full blinds.   

347 (1 bus on two return journeys off-peak Monday to Saturday) to Arriva. A variety of small vehicles used.

Outside of our area, but other operations also reallocated include:

Village Link 1 (a school bus single return service from Takeley to Saffron Walden) to
19 (a single return journey on Thursdays between Bishops Stortford and Farnham Green) also to
319 (a school bus single return service from Great Dunmow to Bishops Stortford) to
Arriva (vehicle shared with 347)
802/3/9 (school services) believed to be transferred also to

On Sundays, Centra operated the three-bus Epping based circuit of services, 200, 201 & 203. These are reallocated, believed to be for 12 months as follows.

200 & 201 to
Regal Busways (using low floor Mini Pointer Darts)
203 to
Stansted Transit (a Mini Pointer Dart also seen on the first day)

Finally as far as operations are concerned, commercial services 410A and 410C (Harlow & Old Harlow circulars), these have continued to be operated by
Centra, although this may only be until the time for deregistration elapses. Interestingly, hired vehicles, including ex-West Midlands Metrobus Mk II 2956 and Trustline's Merc/Beaver OWC112 have been noted in service, the former actually displaying the suffix.

So operations have all but come to an end after less than six months. It may be that in many respects, the rot had already set in when Centra took over from LocalLink. The main commercial trunk route 410 (Harlow-Stansted Airport) had struggled to compete with the long established 510, and despite having been stepped up to every 30 minutes in order to compete, Arriva's take over and enhancement on the Harlow-Bishops Stortford section of the 333, meant that the war was effectively won over a competitor who's service had not been able to consistently demonstrate the required degree of dependability. The remaining local service has been tried before on it's busiest section, and also gained a poor reliability reputation.

Loss of the peak hour service on Harlow local route 5 had happened just before the Centra take over, which must have rendered the 47 group and 347 less viable. This was followed by the loss of Witham services shortly afterwards, and with a reduction on the 319, the whole operation must have looked less than tenable. With no tender wins having occurred, it looks as though the independents have it as far as this type of rural service is concerned.

Overall, it has to be said that the Centra operations were of a higher standard than those they succeeded, and certainly made efforts to do things properly, as evidenced by the continuation of the commercial services. The take over by Centra of Mitcham Belle in South London had no doubt driven Centra to refocus efforts and resources.  

Our apologies for the slight delay in publication of the update, which occurred    whilst we gained the full story, above.

31st August 2004

have been operating two ex-Limebourne Dart/Caetano Compass vehicles for some months. Until now they have carried an all red livery, but DCL418 illustrates how well route branding for the 392 sits on the yellow top of the standard fleet livery. At the same operator, two standard Darts have been withdrawn (KKZ3474/5, once London DRs 44 & 49) but a Routemaster (RM1822, present reg. EYY477B) acquired. Suffice to say, it hasn't yet appeared on the 392 or C4!

Excel (now known more fully as Excel Passenger Logistics Ltd.) have another regular visitor on the 333. This time it's Volvo B10M/Alexander PS M453VCW. The company two-tone blue scheme is carried, together with a large fleet logo. 

Regal Busways
have acquired two new Dart MPDs, registered YN04 PZY/Z. One is understood to have worked on the 381. An unusual but innovative service commencing this September is the X14. This will connect Waltham Cross with Lakeside via Upshire and Epping. The service will operate on Sundays only. Full details from www.regalbusways.com

SM Coaches have been operating an Optare Solo. W7JPD is in bus fleet livery (white/maroon).

Please note that operator pages will be updated over the next week, and that the next news update will be on 30th September.

5th July 2004

The main news is the arrival at Arriva Harlow of the first brand new vehicles (excluding the Alero's for the HCC supported Sawbridgeworth locals) for over 4 years. Two Optare Solo's, yet to see service, have been sighted in the garage, as above.   

Over at Centra, the white Dart fleet continues to be flexible. A new red based livery style has appeared with Volvo Citybus/Northern Counties G119NGN and Olympian/Alexander Royale M82MYM.

A little variety on the 381/2 in recent times, with
Regal operating Mercedes minibuses N811CSC in Niblet red and yellow, whilst IDZ8561 carries white with lilac skirt.

A Mini Pointer Dart has joined the fleet at
TrustLine. Brand new EU04BZY continues the Dart/Pointer fleet number series by taking number DPS3. 

29th May 2004

During an unusually quiet time for route changes, the vehicle side of the local scene has produced a hive of activity:-

A new vehicle type to enter local service with Arriva is the Dennis Dart SLF/East Lancs Spryte combination. 3174 has moved in from Hemel Hempsted has been seen on a wide variety of routes. Two types of minibus have disappeared from service in recent times. Firstly the larger Mercedes L811D/Plaxton Beavers, whose fleet that once numbered four locally all had high-back seating. Also that long standing and unique Mercedes/Alexandra Sprint, 2226. Next to go could be the DAF/Optare Delta's - one has gone, leaving just one left plying the 510. 

A 4th vehicle has now gained route 251 branding, Dart 3368 differs from the previous 3 in being a shorter example of the class.

Finally for this operator, new bright and bold route number blinds (three track numbers) are spreading through the fleet. These really make a dramatic difference, especially Darts when viewed from the side or rear.

The Centra fleet has continued mainly in the hands of the white Darts and assorted double deckers detailed last month. Joining the fleet are two Volvo Olympians with Alexandra Royal bodywork, once of London Central. So far one has been noted in service (M83MYM) and carries its former owners livery.

For the first time in a while, new vehicles have appeared on local service with Clintona. Mercedes Varios with Plaxton Beaver 2 bodies have featured on Sunday services. Interestingly these show a return to conventional front blinds. See operator section for details.

Excel Coaches
333 continues to see some unusual visitors. Recent weeks have seen blue liveried Olympian/ECW A890PKR.

The fleet seems to have settled somewhat at Olympian, with the expected Iveco/Marshalls now in service. Fleet details, including the return of some vehicles which were thought to have been stood down, and some illustrations of the coach fleet now available on this site. There is a new web-site available, with full timetable information shown. Finally, N742AWW carries an all over rear advert.

Two Dennis Darts with Caetano Compass bodywork, again of London origin, have entered service as the regular vehicles on TrustLine 392. Fleet numbers DCL418 and DCL421 are carried on a plain red livery. Duel doors are retained.

A few items of a more general nature now. Firstly electronic timetables have now appeared in the bus station, displaying departure times for services from relevant stands. They do however only cover Arriva services. Also related to the bus station, the southern half has now started to undergo construction, and so stands are reduced from 4 to 2 for the duration. 

26th April 2004

The main news for April is the demise of LocalLink, officially from close of business on Wednesday 7th April, with at least some operations taken over immediately by Central Parking Systems (Centra) from the following day.  

LocalLink started as an off-shoot of Stort Valley Coaches on 22nd December 2001, with the ECC contract for Monday to Saturday peak journeys on town route 5. Operations started with former London Titan T1006, and an elderly Leyland Leopard Coach generally making up the peak allocation of two. Quick expansion followed in  Easter 2002 with the uptake of contracts for routes 47/146/147 and 347/8 during the week, and 200, 201 and 500 on Sundays. Some positioning journeys were livened under commercial route 210, the service that initiated a series of developments which eventually saw a full half-hourly service scheduled along the Harlow - Stansted Airport corridor. 

The LocalLink operations were always characterised by the variety of vehicle colours and types that could be seen in service, many on hire for greater or lesser amounts of time, and also for good efforts made with blind displays despite the large number of different apertures employed on the fleet. All illustrations will transfer to the fotopic site by 1st May 2004.

The new operator, illustrated above, has stated with a clean slate of vehicles, full details of which will be provided on this site on 1st May 2004 with kind permission of the company. One noteworthy visitor, here for the time being at least, is former Reading Titan No. 68, part of the Thames bus fleet taken over elsewhere by Centra, and which previously saw operation on LocalLink services as one of the hires.   

3rd April 2004

Competition on the Upshire - Waltham Cross section of the 251 has prompted Arriva to upgrade their offering somewhat. In addition to the frequency increase, the service has largely been converted from minibus to Dart, with Plaxton bodied step entrance 3356, 3358 and 3360 all benefiting from route branding and new blinds fitted behind clean glass. Another increase is on local route 8, in response also to increased competition. Dart/Wright 3352 has been seen operating on town routes of late, although this may be a loan, similarly, appearances from former London Dart/Northern Counties 3398 and 3399 have continued. Another Dart/Carlyle to migrate to Harlow in recent times would be 3094 (H926LOX). 

31st January 2004

A small change around at Arriva has seen the last of the "333 intake" of loan minibuses (see July report) return home. As if in replacement, another few step entrance Darts have arrived in the town. Plaxton Pointers 3413 (P833HVX) and 3100 (K448XPA) join another former Oxford Wright bodies 8.5m example in 3817 (H367XGC)

Excel, a most unusual sighting was of former London Metrobus M709, standing in for a Mercedes minibus, still in all over red, and without blinds. Is it coincidence that ex Metrobus Dart/Pointer K709KGU, is the other frequent visitor? The also retains its original livery.

A host of varied vehicles have entered service at
LocalLink. These include a white Alexander PS, a National Greenway in LocalLink livery with Network Witham branding, and ex-West Midlands Metrobus MkII D956NDA. Mini-pointer Dart EN03EUD has also gained Network Witham branding, specifically for route 39. This hasn't stopped it appearing locally though!

Forthcoming expansion at
Olympian should see at least another two ex-Arriva Iveco/Marshalls, M154RBH & M157RBH, re-enter the service bus fleet in the town. Watch out also for N739AVW, which is destined for silver livery and coach seating.

Something of a sort out a
TrustLine, with the last of the MkI Metrobuses leaving, to be replaced by MkII variant D957DNA of West Midlands origin, but in full TrustLine fleet livery. Also gone is ex-London Dart/Carlyle DT56 (until recently registered 481EXO). A fire has regrettably claimed MAN/Optare Vecta P20TLS, leaving one survivor. Four Mercedes minibuses are now in service. See the TrustLine section for details. 

Service changes ahead in March will see a routes R4 (Olympian) and 396 (Clintona) disappear, whilst the 410 (LocalLink) will be very much localised and reduced. On the gain side, routes R2/3 (Olympian) will see a considerable expansion. Full details will appear shortly.


For news bulletins between 2001 and 2003, please see Older News

Please note that this is an unofficial site, and whilst every effort has been made to ensure the information is accurate and up to date, no claims can be entertained for losses caused by any errors or omissions here, or through any shortcomings on the part of the operators themselves. We would be grateful if any errors could be notified to us, in order that we can make a prompt correction. Any suggestions, comments or other forms of feedback are most welcome. This site acknowledges the support provided by local operators, but is not directly linked with any operator.

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