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Sunday, 17 October 2010

A pair of fives on the nines

Firstly what an amazing flood of visitors to this blog since Friday's news about East London - several records broken and lots of discussions about the future of the company stimulated. And I know the readership is growing - however one of my good correspondents (and respected industry journalist) wonders if there will be anything new left for my book!!

A different sort of day - one to blow away the stresses of the working week. Today, in a long planned event, RM5 and 1005 came together to work on route 9 between Royal Albert Hall and Aldwych. They both 'signed on' at Westbourne Park and ran in service during the day apart from a break for lunch.

Some invited guests were welcomed aboard and as the day (and the news) unfolded several of our other friends came along and joined in as well.

Peter Hendy and I had RM1005 whilst Arriva Directors Mark Yexley and Peter Batty were paired with Phil Swallow who conducted and indeed whose wife owns RM5 (so it is all thanks to her!). Later we would swap over which certainly reminded us all of the many differences between an original AEC Routemaster and a modern Cummins/Marshall one!

There are numerous photographs but here is RM5 overtaking RM1005 at Hyde Park Corner on a carefully orchestrated short working to make this possible.

So I've been driving and conducting, delivering first-class customer service of course, and enjoying a really busy sunny Sunday in Central London. It seemed like everyone was out enjoying some of the last sunshine of 2010. A sign of the times - we took hardly any cash at all all day. Everyone had an Oyster card, a Freedom Pass, or a one-day Travelcard. You know what that means? Those hand-held electronic ticket machines may be the last ones ever able to issue printed tickets!

Very soon route 9's heritage operation shifts westwards a bit and serves Kensington High Street for the first time so a new opportunity. Now I seem to remember about 5 years ago, some people said these Heritage routes were just designed to draw the fire from the end of ordinary Routemaster operation and when things had quietened down, they would be quietly dropped. Ah well, their second 5-year contracts start imminently!


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