Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith,
This page created 7th January 2017.

DAF Ikarus buses

The DAF SB220 chassis appeared on the British Bus market in 1988, and was stylishly bodied by Optare as the Optare Delta. It was also offered throughout Europe with bodies by Ikarus, unremittingly square, but with a hint of character in the front design. Power is provided by a rear-mounted 11.6 litre engine, cooled by a front radiator. Seating is up to 53 with a single doorway and quadruple seats over the wheel arches.

The 726 Expresslink buses: DP44F

DK1 London Coaches livery The 726 was regarded by London Regional Transport as a bit of an aberration. It was the relict of the old 725 Green Line route from Dartford to Windsor via Bromley, Croydon and Kingston, now truncated to Heathrow Airport. It was awkward for operators because of its length, which brought it into the category of routes falling under EU legislation relating to drivers' hours and experience. It had until now (February 1992) been worked under the Green Line banner by Luton and District (Slough) and Kentish Bus (Northfleet). But it was popular, providing direct links between Dartford and Bromley, Bromley and Croydon, Croydon and Kingston, (all awkward journeys by service buses), as well as providing south London access to Heathrow (still not resolved a quarter-century later). But LRT was not keen on the idea of express services, nor of subsidising what it deemed to be coach services. Anyway, as a rather unloved child it was retendered for early 1992, and the contract was won by London Coaches.

Ten new DAF Ikarus dual-purpose buses were acquired, and operated from London Coaches' Northfleet and Wandsworth garages. They were given a distinctive livery: white roof, front and sides, with a dark grey skirt and a deep red band along the sides. 726Expresslink was in large gold and white on the sides, and in small black and red on the front. Blinds were a three-roller number blind (unusually with white separators) and destination blind. They were numbered DK1 - DK10.

In May 1992 London Coaches was privatised through a management buy-out, with the London sightseeing Routemaster operation and the DAF Ikarus 726 Expresslink. Livery remained unchanged.

In May 1994 a further three identical buses (DK11-13) were obtained, now seating 42 to match the earlier buses, which at some stage had been downseated from DP44F to DP42F.

In September 1996 all the 726 buses were concentrated at Northfleet.

London Coaches handed over operation to Capital Logistics of West Drayton in April 1998, along with the ten original buses. West Drayton was a long way from the eastern end of the route, so Capital Logistics sought an outstation. They tried Harris Bus at Belvedere, then the Bexley Council depot in Crayford, then Swanley Garage (Southlands Coaches), and finally their own site at Croydon.

The route was shortened to being just Bromley South Station to Heathrow Central, presumably to avoid the irksome EU driver legislation and improve its economics, at the cost of customer convenience. Traffic problems, with severe congestion in the traffic nodes along the route, led to chronic unreliability - not of the buses, but of the service.

A further two Ikarus buses (L511EHD, M806RCP) were acquired by Capital Logistics , presumably in an attempt to fulfill the tendered headway requirements. They operated in white, with 726Express logos. They had 48 bus seats, unlike the others.

Capital Logistics was taken over by Tellings-Golden Miller in 1999. T-GM replaced the Ikarus buses on the 726 by new Volvo B10Ms with Alexander ALX300 bodies in April 2000. All the Ikarus buses were returned off-lease to Arriva Bus & Coach in Cleckheaton. All went on for further service with a variety of operators.

The Grey-Green buses 926-931: B48F

Grey-Green took on several north-east London routes during spring 1992, all with double-deckers except the 167 (Debden Station - Ilford) which had a low-bridge requiring single deckers. For this route Grey-Green acquired six 48-seater Ikarus buses, which appeared in the company's smart grey, green white and orange livery. They operated from their Barking garage (DX).

They remained with Grey-Green on the 167 until March 1997, when they were replaced by low-floor ADL-class Darts.

The Lea Valley buses 926-928: B48F

Three DAFs (926-928) moved within Arriva to County Bus, where they were repainted red for the 310 / 310A service, based (I think) at Ware. They were labelled as Lea Valley in white and black. These three became Arriva East Herts & Essex numbers 4336-4338 and in 2000 were transferred to Harlow (except 4338, which was scrapped). 4336 and 4337 moved on within Arriva to Colchester in March 2001 and subsequently moved to Arriva Northumbria.

Tramlink 1: DIB1-6: B48F

The three other Grey-Green buses, (929-931), were transferred to Croydon to operate the Tramlink 1 (West Croydon - Wimbledon) service whilst the railway line was being converted to a Tramlink line. They were painted in red and cream, and carried TL1 route numbers. They were numbered DIB1-3 (D1-D3 on the front). Four more similar buses were leased from DAF-Hughes, DIB4-7. DIB4 and DIB5 had been with The Birmingham Coach Co. DIB6 (J56GCX) was ex-Strathclyde. DIB7 was from Stuart's, Hyde. DIB6 and 7 quickly went to County Bus, being replaced by a Dart as TL1 spare.

When the job was done DIB1 went to join its sisters at Arriva Herts & Essex, as 4339 at Harlow, and went with them to Arriva Colchester and then Arriva North-East. DIB2-5 went direct to Arriva North-East, to the Darlington area. DIB 6 was moved fairly early to Ware to join the others on the Lea Valley route. It gained the branding for that while retaining its TC "garage plates" and South London numbers of D6 on the front and DIB6 at the rear. After a spell at Ware it moved to Harlow as 4335 in turquoise/cream, then moved on to Colchester, where it worked with Network Colchester and Burton's for some years.

MTL London DAF539: B50F

In 1995 the MTL group brough three DAFs from Ogdens to London. Two were Optare Deltas, and one was a DAF/Ikarus. This 50-seater was located intially with R&I Tours, then joined the two Deltas with MTL London at Potters Bar. There the trio operated the 310/310A (Hertford - Enfield, in parallel with the Lea Valley buses. They also worked the Saturday commercial 310B (Enfield - Harlow). Livery was dark red, with MTL flashes at first, then red with cream roof and 310 branding later, in a joint promotional venture with County Bus.

In 2000 the 310 was double-decked with Metrobuses, and the Ikarus was sold to Isle Coaches, of Owston Ferry, where it worked until 2009.

Harris Bus 315, 316: B48F

Harris Bus of Grays bought a pair of 48-seaters from Strathclyde to operate services to the new Lakeside shopping pit in Thurrock, including the L4 across the Dartford link to Dartford and Welling. They were repainted into Harris Bus' Birmingham style livery of navy blue and pale cream. Later they were treated to their less conservative lime-green and blue livery, with large orange/white Thurrock Link branding.

Harris Bus went into receivership at the end of 1999, and one of the buses was acquired by NIBS for use in south-west Essex.



Ian's Bus Stop DIK main text. DIK histories. DIK photos. DAF Optares.