Breath of Abellio

This post is long overdue but other things in life take priority over this hobby of mine. I do sincerely apologise for its delay and I hope you enjoy reading this as much as I did writing it.

Friday the 29th of April marked the final day of Go-Ahead London operation of route 345. A route they have had under their operation since privatisation of London buses in 1996, further back if you want to include the old London Central as the route operated under today's Go-Ahead garages since 1983 when the 45A was formed from trunk route 45. The route is now operated by Abellio London with a batch of Euro 4-engined Euro 5 with AdBlue Alexander Dennis Enviro400 bodied Dennis Trident 2s, coded 9428-9455.

The 345 is a route I have spent my whole life on, growing up with it, it has grown to me and become a personal favourite of mine along with its long-time operator, Go-Ahead. It came as a massive shock to me last year when it was announced the 345 would be moving to Abellio, it was something I could not quite fathom and refused for months. However, now that the change has happened I look at it like a breath of fresh air, it's a new start and a new batch of buses for me to love. Fortunately for me, the current buses are almost the same as the old batch of buses that roamed the route for 7 years.

The 345 runs between South Kensington, Natural History Musuem and Peckham Bus Station via Chelsea, Battersea & Clapham Junction, Clapham Common, Stockwell, Brixton, Loughborough Junction and Camberwell Green! It has a fairly high PVR of 26 and operates out of Abellio London's Walworth WL Garage.

Enough of me, let's look at the route's history. As I mentioned earlier, the 345 is just the renumbering of the old 45A which itself was just a section of the 45 renumbered to reduce the length of the route. The 45 once ran from South Kensington all the way to King's Cross with a Sunday extension to Archway via the current 345 and 45! Imagine that in today's traffic, hectic. Eventually, this was then cut short with the 45 being divided into two sections with the western end gaining an A at the end and running between South Kensington and Elephant & Castle and the eastern end staying as the 45 and running between King's Cross and Brixton, both routes operated out of Camberwell Q Garage with mostly Titans. A few developments later saw both routes altered, the 45 being extended to 'Streatham Hill, Atkins Road, now known as Clapham Park, and the 45A being withdrawn between Camberwell Green and Elephant and being sent to Peckham, forming the 345 we know today.

A few years after, September 1995 to be precise, the 45A was renumbered to the 345 and it then underwent a few garage allocation switches and most stupidly a single-decker conversion. Somebody thought it was necessary for a long-standing double-decker route to lost half its capacity overnight, I'm still unsure why and I doubt I will ever find out why so if you do know please let me know in the comments. Anyway, with this single-decker conversion came a batch of Dennis Dart SLF/Plaxton Pointer 2s and multiple garage transfers/allocations with a record 9 in the 2001 calendar year, these garages were New Cross NX, Peckham PM, Stockwell SW and Camberwell Q. These LDPs is where I record my earliest memory of the 345, years back on an 8.9m Dart, our driver had stopped too close to a 10.2m Dart in front of us which prompted my driver to reverse the bus and then overtake - the experience for me as a very young enthusiast was amazing and it still remains one of few times I have had a bus reverse whilst I was on it.

Moving on, the route re-gained its double-deckers in May 2002 and it introduced the first thirteen of two-hundred and seventy-two Wright Eclipse Gemini bodied Volvo B7TLs to Stockwell SW Garage as well as a further twelve Transbus President bodied Dennis Trident 2s. These buses were great, I have many memories of both batches and they definitely had a large influence in me remaining a bus enthusiast going into my early teens. Sadly for me and I'm sure many others, the PDLs were withdrawn in 2009 as they were no longer required due to fleet upgrades in Stockwell SW, the 345 being one of them, as it gained its third batch of new buses in 12 years in E100-128, the last Euro 4 Enviro400s delivered to the company.

  • My last 345

    E121 prepares for its final 345 trip.
  • Second to Last

    With only WVL262 behind, this was the last southbound 345
  • WVL143

    Decent 4-speeder.
  • WVL258

    06-reg WVL as standard
  • Rare Enviro400

    E67 making a rare 345 appearance, nice bus this was.
  • B9TL 345

    Extremely rare B9TL working, at the time.
  • PVL 345!

    PVL328 making a rare appearance
  • BEST til last

    One of the best buses to work the route, WSD1 SN64CTV.

Now I know I have just said that the previous 345 allocation had a role in my enthusiasm, but the Enviro400s most definitely had a larger role in retaining my interest into my early adult years, haha! Competing with the batches on the 156 and 344, E100-128 were amazing to use on a daily basis, I love these buses, their difference in sound to most other ZF Euro 4s and their overall performance. They were the perfect buses to succeed the Euro 3 vehicles. In April 2012, the 345 transferred to Camberwell Q Garage and subsequently, London Central, in a move that made space for the 19 at Stockwell SW. This reunited the 345 with the 45 but it did mean that the variety on the route would be withdrawn with just the odd 68/468 WVL making an appearance, which wasn't a problem as these are excellently maintained and were a pleasure to ride on.

Nearly two years later, the 53-reg WVLs from Stockwell SW transferred from route 11 to the 185 at Camberwell Q with these immediately finding themselves on the 345. Not as good as the existing WVLs but it was the variety that was needed on the route, even if we were only peaking at 4 non-Es a day. Further reinforcements followed with the 61-reg Alexander Dennis Enviro400s from route 453 transferring to the 68 and a bit of the 468 in late 2014, bringing a return to the Euro 5 Enviro400 workings the 345 used to see at Stockwell SW - however, like the WVLs, the 61-reg were not dominant on the route straight away UNTIL the first tube strike of 2015, a turning point in the 345 allocation, that day saw the route operate with unallocated buses and this became a thing for a few months after with 90% of its allo
cation being unallocated - it was the variety I had so long desired for, however this meant that my journeys on its allocated buses became very limited. They do say be careful what you wish for...

Progressing into the year, the 345 tender result was nearing and to be honest, I never really had any doubts that the route would change operator, I made myself believe it was impossible because of its history and how well the route operated despite the many traffic hotspots, this alone had me hyped for the possibility of new hybrids for the route, a fourth batch lucky, maybe? Not quite, on the 18th of August 2015, it was announced the 345 would move to Abellio London with EXISTING vehicles found on route 35 and 40, with the 35 and 40 gaining NEW HYBRID vehicles with Go-Ahead. I think the hardest thing to accept was the fact that the route would gain the beaten buses on the 35 and 40 whilst they gained brand new hybrids, I refused to believe it all. Eventually I began to accept the change and instead looked at the positives from the mood such as having MMCs and eVoSeti's a few minutes away and the possibility of MMC workings on the 345 from route 415, hybrid workings from the QB-transferred hybrids for route 381.

few months of Go-Ahead on route 345 were hard to take and I tried to enjoy every journey possible, of course, these months went ridiculously quick as it's now June and I remember the day I read the tender for the first time like it was yesterday. The final week approached and I boarded a 345 every day whenever I could just to soak it all in for the last time with my last journey being E128. At this point in time, it was now over and soon after, 2420 arrived on the second-but-first-to-reach-Kensington 345 and that became my first 345 under Abellio and my first since Go-Ahead, it was quite a difference and the ride was surreal, it had not fully sunk into my mind that my beloved buses had left me for good.

One month on, I'm in love with my new 345, everything I had hoped for leading up to the change has happened; excellent refurbished buses, heavy Euro 5 hybrid workings and MMCs. I guess I can look at this change as a sign that my childhood is over with no buses that I grew up with left. The future is bright for Abellio and their start has been promising, I look forward to these next 7 years with them. I hope you enjoyed this post and as a thank you, I have provided a fleetlist and a video below - thanks:

9428 LJ09CAA
9429 LJ09CAE
9430 LJ09CAO
9431 LJ09CAU
9432 LJ09CAV
9433 LJ09CAX
9434 LJ09CBF
9435 LJ09CBO
9436 LJ09CBU
9437 LJ09CBV
9438 LJ09CBX
9439 LJ09CBY
9440 LJ09CCA
9441 LJ09CCD
9442 LJ09CCE
9443 LJ09CCF
9444 LJ09CCK
9445 LJ09CCN
9446 LJ09CCO
9447 LJ09CCU
9448 LJ09CCX
9449 LJ09CCY
9450 LJ09CCZ
9451 LJ09CDE
9452 LJ09CDF
9453 LJ09CDK
9454 LJ09CDN
9455 LJ09CDO

And on the subject of things being over, I would like to use this post as my farewell. I've been debating with myself over these last few weeks and I have decided that I will call it a day with blogging. It's not a decision I made easily but as my life progresses, I'm finding it harder to find the time to fit buses - I've enjoyed my time working with LondonBusBreh, LondonBuses72 and WVL10/Rush on London Connected and I wish them all the best and I'm sure they will continue to provide you all with quality posts. I would like to thank LondonBuses67 for first giving me the opportunity to work on his blog those years ago and without him I do not think I would have had the opportunity to contribute to this amazing blog today and I also want to thank GloriousWater for his contributions and support over the years. Last but not least, EastLondoner, thank you for everything and it has been an utmost pleasure to work alongside you for the last three years and as I mentioned above, I'm sure he will, along with the other admins, continue to prove why London Connected is the best bus blog on the web.