Know Your Routes: Route 86

Today's post takes us out to explore one of East London's major trunk routes and one of the busiest routes in London. Route 86 runs between Stratford and Romford Station and is operated by Stagecoach London from their Romford garage with two morning journeys crosslinked from West Ham garage. 
17874 picks up at Stratford Bus Station to do a rounder to Romford
© EastLondoner
18476 arrives at Romford Station
© LondonBuses72
The routing is pretty straightforward. The route starts at Romford Station, Atlanta Boulevard and then continues down through to Western Road following on with the first exit from the roundabout onto Mercury Gardens. The route then follows onto St Edwards Way and exits onto London Road. From there it continues until Chadwell Heath where London Road turns into High Road, continuing in a straight line all the way through Chadwell Heath, Goodmayes and Seven Kings in a straight line. Then it reaches Ilford where it turns onto Winston Way before returning to High Road in Ilford Town Centre. Then it turns off into Clements Road and then once again returns to High Road. It then turns onto Chapel Road on Ilford Broadway until crossing the North Circular Road (A406) and using Romford Road all the way until Stratford Broadway. From there it turns off to go to stand at Stratford Bus Station.

17874 heading to stand after performing a short working to Ilford Broadway
© EastLondoner

18452 is seen alighting at Stratford Bus Station
© GloriousWater
Route 86 has quite a long history. originally running between Limehouse and Upminster Park Estate starting in 1959. Then in 1964 it was withdrawn between Upminster station and Upminster Park Estate however in 1966 the route was re-extended to Upminster Park Estate albeit only on Sundays. In 1972, it was further cut back with the eastern terminus becoming Romford Station like how it is today, further change saw it being cut back from the western end between Limehouse and Bow but this move was reversed in 1984 with the route returning to Limehouse. However a change in 1985 saw a variety of western destinations. The route would run between Romford Station and Stratford Monday to Saturday with the service being extended to Bromley by Bow during the peaks but on Sunday the whole service would run to Limehouse. In 1987 the peak workings to Bromley by Bow were altered to run to Mile End. 1993 saw the route withdrawn between Mile End and Limehouse just to run as far as Stratford all day and every day. 

18473 circles Stratford Bus Station to go to Stand
The route is currently allocated ALX400 buses, however during late evenings it is the norm to find Enviro400 vehicles on the route, as route N86 uses Enviro400 buses and a few journeys are generally crosslinked with the route. Something interesting about the batch of Tridents this route is allocated is that 17758 was part of the batch, for some of you that may ring a bell and rightly so because that was the bus involved in the 7/7 London Bombings while operating on route 30.

As I mentioned at the start of the article, two journeys are crosslinked from West Ham garage, this is from route 158 and they use the running numbers of WH#83 and WH#84. As these buses run from route 158s allocation ALX400s and Enviro400s are both equally liable to appear on the route, once there was even a Scania Omnicity!

10106 is seen displaying N86 blinds
©Mikey Busman
Now lets focus more on the night service running under the number of the N86 running between Stratford and Harold Hill, Dagnam Park Square. The routing between Stratford and Romford is identical to that of route 86 however it doesn't serve Romford Station and instead diverts away to provide a night service to part of Route 174 between Romford and Harold Hill. The route is officially on paper allocated with the same buses that the daytime 86 uses, but in practice the much newer Enviro400 buses kept at Romford garage (NS) are sent out on the service. The photo to the right, is however not a bus you'd find on route N86 as it is based at West Ham (WH) for route 238. However as I mentioned earlier the 86 does operate using West Ham's buses and when 86 is blinded on a bus, N86 is generally included on the blindsets. 

Sometimes Enviro400s do sneak out onto the daytime service as well whenever there are shortages of Tridents available.
10155 is seen at Ilford Hill going towards Romford Station
© grahamwalker007

17775 takes some stand time at Atlanta Boulevard, Romford
© London Bus Breh
I would include a fleetlist, but as with many Stagecoach London garages when allocations are shared between routes batches don't generally keep themselves separate. So therefore it's almost impossible to pinpoint which buses are allocated to route 86, especially considering its buses were ordered well over 10 years ago.

During the Olympics many of the route's buses were wrapped up in adverts for the event. The London Bus Breh managed to catch up with 17775 which was one of the buses wrapped up in a Samsung Galaxy S3 wrapper of which Samsung was an official sponsor for the Olympic Games. The route's buses have also seen multiple Vodafone wrappers in the past as well.

17854 (LX03 BZH) arrives at Romford Station on route 86.

We hope you have enjoyed this post, and found it informative. Let us know in the comments section about your thoughts on the route.


  1. I've been on the route 86 bus sometimes to Romford and I know it's a long route! next year when the contract renew in July and I've got an idea will be getting PVR 33 new Battery Hybrid double decker and retaining the route to Stagecoach London from Romford Bus Garage! i'm hoping it will order brand new Volvo B5LH Enviro 400 MMC Battery Hybrids and it will be nice and to oust the older Tridents from Stagecoach London! that's my idea on that one! see what you guys think on that!

    1. Yeah, it's a very long but useful route. I hope that it gets Hybrids next tender as well because of all the traffic it encounters. Will be sad to see the Tridents go though :( I would like to have MMCs on the route as well

  2. Where is the fleet list for this route? On other Know Your Routes posts, there's usually a fleet list for every route.

    1. The 86 has a case of it using any Tridents available in the garage. It's almost impossible to pinpoint what buses are allocated to the route as there are so many Tridents in the garage. Therefore it is not possible to include a fleetlist.

  3. Ok, understood. Thanks for that.