E-Preview: The New Chapter - the 1

Route E1 has begun service with Abellio London from Hayes (WS) after five years at Greenford (G), this also making Abellio the route's third operator in five years.

With First London selling a part of its services to Metroline West, the new subsidiary of Metroline only operated the route for just under a year. The new contract of route E1 specified Alexander Dennis Enviro400 hybrid buses of the Euro 6 spec leaving us all wondering what moquette Abellio London would opt for: the new red and yellow combination seen on their new refurbished Volvo buses or the original red and silver seen on all current ADL Enviro400 buses in their London bus fleet?

Ewan Wood catches 2444 on the M6 in Cumbria.
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Another popular question was why Abellio London had opted to allocate hybrid buses to a suburban route of such a short distance of three miles. Seven buses are in service from the Haven Green off Ealing Broadway to Greenford via the Gordon Road, Drayton Green and Greenford Avenue.

Our earliest question was answered when 2445 (SK14 CUA) was photographed accelerating down the M6 at Wreay, Cambria, the official new Abellio London moquette clear in view with its royal red seating brightened by the medium yellow handrails, balanced out by the light grey seat headrests and bodywork. The E1 would be the beginning of service changes involving the introduction of ADL hybrids Abellio had ordered for this year, hence answering why the hybrid option for the route, not forgetting Transport for London's almost forgotten scheme to make every new London bus of predominantly hybrid technology.

2444 (SK14 CTZ) and 2445 (SK14 CUA) made a surprise entrance onto route 350 a week preparatory to route E1 becoming a fellow housemate. Following a weekend and Bank Holiday Monday interlude, both buses returned to the 350 before the next day saw 2444 exit again for driver training along the E1 routeing as 2449 (SK14 SYY) took its place, the bus the first to enter service with the new infamously limited hybrid branding. I boarded both buses in service on that day, both administering speeds that attempted to exceed the bus' limiter. However, due to all hybrid buses having a limiter because of their immeasurable acceleration, it was discontenting feeling the pace of the bus be stopped by going evidently capably faster down the fast roads of Hayes, Stockley Park, West Drayton and Heathrow, where the bus would only occasionally need to stop for a moment to collect or allow passengers to alight. Notwithstanding this limitation, entering the bus was immensely welcoming and it filled me with happiness to be finally onboard a bus of such luxurious calibre. The journeys were still fun, and even switching from 2444 to 2449 made no difference. The seats were comfortable; I dare not have slept or I surely would have missed a slick manouevre, a fast turn-in or an adrenaline charged bobble on a rough patch of the road.

I might as well not have covered the buses introducing route E1 to Abellio London the approaching Saturday: I just could not see how this could have been bettered, except for taking away the speed limiter! And indeed, Saturday arrived and nothing was bettered. It was a bit of a been here, done that experience and worse: not only did a driver reject us from boarding, in which we later learned it was due to another bus following a minute behind him, but when he did try to pull away from us, the driver would stay at a bus stop, continuing to reject passengers from boarding but allowing us to continue catching up with him. The worst part is that every time we did stop and then got ready to depart and overtake, the driver would then accelerate and leave us staring at the backside of his bus! It was not impressive, as it spoilt the suburban view of the short route and slowed us down slightly, passing through roads made narrower by parked cars on either side of the curbs and very acute turn-ins before escaping into Ealing Broadway and its rather busy but tranquil Haven Green. It was still rather fast, but the buses performed much better on the 350 - let's hope their appearances on the routes were temporary and won't be made common by Hayes (WS).

Metroline West had 09-reg Alexander Dennis Enviro400 buses allocated to the E1 before Abellio London took over its service. On its last day at Greenford (G), they put on a 12-reg Enviro400 on the route, a nice sight but nothing compared to the route's new prestigious allocation. So, if you have not been on the E1 before, make a trip as wherever in London you are located it will be worthwhile and here's to a five years with promising operator Abellio London!

1 comment:

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