RT2083 on 403, Hildenborough

Dunton Green Running Day

Sunday May 19th 2019

Prepared by Ian Smith, 1st June 2019.

Part 1: Getting to Sevenoaks

The trip to Sevenoaks started in the usual way, with a walk to Grove Park Station for the train south. It came on time, a 5-coach Electrostar, 376027. We headed south, through Elmstead Woods tunnels to Chislehurst, where the train terminated. There was serious track-work being done on the track between Bickley and Petts Wood, a key junction on the South-Eastern network.

Railway Replacement: Chislehurst to Orpington: Go-Coach 5012.

The railway replacement bus was standing at the station exit. It was Go-Coach Solo 5012, proudly displaying "Choo-Choo, I'm a train" on the front, with its destination at Sevenoaks, northern limit of main-line train working today, hiding on a South-Eastern board behind the windscreen wipers.

376027 at GRP Stn 5012 at Chislehurst Stn

376027 arrives at Grove Park Station. Go-Coach Solo 5012 waits at Chisklehurst.

After waiting time, the Solo set off. A Go-Ahead Citaro in commercial livery came in as we left. We turned right on Summer Hill, down under the railway, then up the other side of the valley . There we left the road to Bromley, and headed instead south down Blackbrook Lane, crossing the railway from Bromley and descending to the Crooked Billet at Southborough, early postwar terminus of the 94. There we turned left to head along into Petts Wood, where we made the station stop B on Queensway.

While we waited another Go-Coach Solo set off north towards Chislehurst from the stop opposite. Stagecoach EnviroDart 36582 took its place on the stop with the R7 service bus to Chislehurst. That was overtaken by Metrobus EnvoroDart SE144 on the local R3.

SE144 at Chislehurst Stn Petts Wood: SE144 on R3, 36582 on R7 Stn

SE 144 arrives at Chislehurst Station. Petts Wood: Metrobus' SE144 on R3 passes Stagecoach 36582 on R7.

Continuing on, we turned right into Crofton Lane, following the 208 route to Crofton, then turned left towards Orpington Station. On the way we passed Go-Ahead SE115 heading north as a train replacement. At Orpington Station we met WVL419 heading west on the 353 to Forestdale.

SE11 on Crofton Lane Orpington Station: WVL419 on 353

SE 115 heads for Petts Wood on Railway Replacement. Orpington Station: Metrobus' WVL419 on 353 to Forestdale.
I alighted on the west side of the station and walked through the station subway to the Bus Station. There I found Go-Ahead Citaro MEC16 standing off Railway Replacement, presumably on the Orpington to Bromley South service. It was in the cream and purple livery used for trainers and commercial contracts such as this.

5012 at Orpington Station West Side MEC16 in Orpington Bus Station

Railway Replacements: Orpington Station West: 5012 for Sevenoaks; East: MEC16 for Bromley South.

Orpington Bus Station.

There was almost half an hour to wait at Orpington before the bus to Sevenoaks. Time for some bus watching. Orpington Bus Station is a busy place, even at 0845 on a Sunday morning. EnviroDarts predominated: these RF equivalents - but low floor and whirry rather than purry, and rather cleaner in terms of emissions - are ideally suited to the high frequency Roundabout operations. Metrobus 170 was on R1 to St Paul's Cray. 159 was on R6 to St Mary Cray.

170 on R1 159 on R6

Orpington Roundabouts: Metrobus 170 on R1 to St Paul's Cray, 159 on R6 to St Mary Cray West.
The 51 trunk route was still in the hands od double-deckers: WVL417 was resting between turns. Some local flows require larger buses during the week, such as 10.8m EnviroDart 759 on the R9.

WVL417 on 51 159 on R6

Terminating here: WVL417 on 51, 759 on R9.
More EnviroDarts: SE144, that was at Chislehurst earlier, was now here on a train substitution duty to Bromley South. SEN10 on the R1 was one of those taken over from First at Northumberland Park. Now it is on the local R1 here, which justs does landings and take-offs at the bus station on its way between St.Paul's Cray and Green Street Green.

SE144 on train replacement SEN10 on R1

Full frontal: SE144 on train replacement to Bromley South, SEN10 on R1 to Green Street Green.
One of Metrobus' long-term success stories has been the 358, which meanders its way from Orpington Station to Crystal Palace, but fills sufficient local requirements to need big buses - single deckers because of Shortlands Bridge. Here came MEC63, one of the 2015 Mercedes-Benz Citaro K models that took over from the long low Scania OmniCitys.

MEC63 on 353

Newer model Citaro, 4-year old MEC63 on the 358.
There was still a quarter-hour to go. There followed a succession of small EnviroDarts: SE151 on train replacement; 164 on the R3 from and to Princess Royal Hospital; 188 on the R4, also to the hospital and 176 on the R1 to St.Paul's Cray.

431D: Orpington Station to Sevenoaks: RT1798.

Then, on time, our feeder bus appeared. Not the expected long low shape of an RF, but a double-decker. A red double-decker at that, as used by Dunton Green garage during the 1958 railway dispute. RT1798 came up Station Approach and made its way round to the designated stop in the Bus Station, ready for the 431D journey to Sevenoaks via Polhill.

RT1798 for 431D RT1798 on 431D

RT1798 at Orpington Bus Station on the 431D to Sevenoaks.
I climbed aboard, and took the opportunity for once of an upstairs front seat. We descended Station Approach, and turned left down to the War Memorial roundabout. A right turn took us towards Green Street Green. We soon approached the impressive road tunnel under the main line railway. EnviroDart SE214 emerged on an R11 bound for Queen Mary's Hospital, Sidcup. This is one of the few Roundabout routes that does not go via Orpington Station. I noted that Go-Ahead's SE214 has lost the "SE", becoming plain 214.

RT1798 on 431D

SE214 comes under the main line on R11.
We headed on into Green Street Green. SE118 came the other way, standing in for a train from Sevenoaks to Chislehurst. We went on, to the second roundabout, just past the R1/R11 terminus, and turned left up Sevenoaks Road, a glorious sweeping curved avenue of magnificent trees, a wonderful mix of green and red foliage. Superb. A treat. We passed Pratts Bottom, where the old 471 (and 47) route turned off for Knockholt Pound, and continued up onto the chalk Downs a little further, to the turnoff for Knockholt Station. We did not stop, but drove on purposefully up the long hill, past the turnoff for the main 431 route to Halstead, up to Badgers Mount, where the gradient eased. We continued on to Polhill, passing the restaurant with its LNWR dining car, and the erstwhile Polhill Arms. Then it was down. Down the sinuous A224, once the main A21, on a winding ledge clinging to a corner of this grand gap in the North Downs ridge. We turned across the M25 motorway, and sedately made our way down into Dunton Green. We passed the site of the old garage and crossed the line of the old Westerham Branch Railway. Then it was suddenly modernity, with garages, supermarkets and roundabouts to negotiate on our way to Riverhead. We made our way without trouble across the double junction where the old A25 used to clash with the old A21. RF308 came in from the Westerham Road on a 403 service.

SE118 on train sub, Green Street Green RF308 on 403, Riverhead

SE118 on a Sevenoaks to Chislehurst railway service, Green Street Green. RF308 on a 403 feeder, Riverhead.
The RF stayed ahead of us over the bumps of the morain field to Sevenoaks Station, and up St.Botolph's Road - another wonderful avenue of trees. We turned right at the War Memorial, and ran along the High Street to turn in at the Bus Station.

RT1798 at Sevenoaks

RT1798 on arrival at Sevenoaks Bus Station, right next to the excellent café .
It was ten o'clock. Time for breakfast in the welcoming bus station café!

Part Two: 403 to Tonbridge Station and back

Ian's Bus-stop One Two Three Four Five Six