DAF SB220 Plaxton Prestige
This page created 30th September 2012 by Ian Smith
Green Line PDL201-209 (later 3441-3449)In December 1997 Arriva East Herts & Essex took delivery of nine DAF SB220s with Northern Counties/Plaxton Prestige bodies for the cross-suburban Green Line route 724 (Harlow - Hertford - St.Albans - Watford - Heathrow). This was a Northern Counties bus design, taken over and badged by Plaxton. In terms of Green Line travel it was a step back from the high-floor coach policy of previous years, but more suited to the mostly urban and suburban route taken by this route. A substantial luggage rack occupied the bay behind the driver. They were numbered PDL201-209, and operated from Ware and Harlow depots.
PDL206 and 203 in Hertford on the 724, September 2000.They were renumbered 3441-3449 in the Arriva The Shires & Essex common numbering scheme. There were small variations in livery at repaints, the black under-dash going green and the Green Line logo following the brand's fashion changes.
3445 in Hertford on the 724, June 2001, 2002 respectively.
3443 and 3448 in Hertford on the 724, June 2002.They worked the 724 for eight and a half years, becoming increasingly unreliable, so that substitutions by whatever was available became increasingly commonplace, bringing Varios, step-entrance Darts and even Metrobuses to the 724. Eventually, in mid-summer 2006 they were replaced by new Mercedes-Benz Citaros. Redundant and unwanted, they were refurbished and repainted in interurban blues, and transferred to Hemel Hempstead for the 500, and to Aylesbury (with posh black leather seats) for the 100. It took some time for them to be acceted and taken into service on these prestige bus routes.
3446 at Watford Junction, April 2004. 3444 in St.Albans, January 2008, now in interurban livery.
The Gas Buses: 3269-3279, 4426-4429, 4490-4491Liquid Propane Gas was the high-tech fuel of the future in 1999, and some of the DAF SB220s were engined to run on it. They needed large gas tanks to carry the fuel, and these were installed on the roof in a pair of pods.
Ten (3270-3279) came to Arriva the Shires in October 1999, to work Watford local routes (those that could accommodate 12m long buses), from Garston garage.
Another was added in November 2000. 3269 came from Arriva Scotland West, where it had operated on the Glasgow Airport shuttle. It too was gas-powered. Two more came from Arriva Scotland West in September and November 2001, becoming 4490 and 4491. (Arriva the Shires had run out of 3*** series numbers for single-deckers).
Gas-powered 3270 at Watford Junction on its intended 321, April 2004. The rear carries explanatory information.
Four more arrived in early 2004 from Arriva Cymru, where they had been used on the Chester Park & Ride service.
They were numbered 4426 to 4429. These went to work on the 321 (Uxbridge - Luton),
where they joined some of the indiginous buses that had received 321 route branding.
Gas Buses Re-engined to DieselProblems with the gas engines continued, and in November 2003 the first was fitted with a Cummings Diesel engine by DAF at Thurrock. This was 4490. The gas tanks were removed too, naturally. All the remaining gas buses were so treated during the next two years.
3269 was repainted into Green Line livery to match the batch on the 724 when it was re-powered in June 2004. It was transferred to Ware, and actually remained there as the 724 spare even after the Citaros had taken over. Then in November 2006 it was transferred to Stevenage, where it was used mainly on contracts. But in March 2007 it was taken into Garston with a chassis defect.
Most of the original batch were repainted into interurban livery - blue with dark blue skirt and cream horn - during 2006-8, but 3279 lasted much longer in the old turquoise/cream. The imported buses lasted longer in the turquoise/cream too, having been repainted when first received and converted. Some stayed in the old livery until withdrawal. Others received advertising liveries: 4490 spent more than four years in a white/blue ad for Lakes TV, while 3278 raised eyebrows when painted overall purple in November 2008. An overall ad for Herts Radio was added in February 2009 and removed in August 2010. The purple bus was then repainted red in December 2010, with an overall ad for Hearts.
At the time of writing a few have fallen by the way-side: 3276 caught fire in July 2009, 4491 was withdrawn in October 2009 and then cannibalised, and 4426 was cannibalised after a fire in March 2010. 3269 was resurrected using parts from 3446, which was written off after an accident in August 2010. 3269 was repainted again in interurban blues and went to Aylesbury for continued service.
The others remain in service, mainly at Garston, but with some at Hemel Hempstead, Aylesbury and Wycombe.
3270 passes through St Albans - both directions - in January 2007, showing the different branding on the two sides of interurban livery on route 321.