Prepared on Notepad by Ian Smith, This page created 26th June 3012. Best on 800*600.

Ensignbus: Dennis Dart SLF

Urbanstars for the X80: 701-5, 710, 761, 783

Ensignbus got back into local bus work in 2004, starting a X80 service linking Chafford Hundreds with Lakeside, and over/under the Dartford Link to Greenhithe Station, Bluewater and Gravesend. It used step-entrance Darts and B6s to start it, available from the previous contract for railway replacement between Gravesend and Strood while the railway tunnel was rebuilt.

In December 2004 Ensignbus acquired six Dart SLFs with UVG Urbanstar bodies that had been in service with Natrional Express Airport. They were repainted in Ensignbus blue and silver, and given buggy-bus symbols and branding for the X80. The numbers reflected the registration marks, some of them replacing similar numbers on the displaced step-entance single-deckers.

710 at Lakeside, Dec 2007 703 at Lakeside, Dec 2005

710 and 703 on the X80 at Lakeside, December 2007, 2005 respectively.
The X80 was re-equipped with four Optare Deltas in July 2006, which meant the Urbanstars lost their X80 branding so that they could start Thurrock routes 77 and 83 (Lakeside - West Thurrock - Grays - Chadwell St.Mary - Tilbury / Brentwood Rd Estate) in competition with Arriva Southend's 377 and 383.

705 was damaged by a reversing crane in Gravesend in July 2006, which peeled off part of the roof, necessitating a repair! The damaged Dart was substituted by a loaned SLF from the sales fleet.

Two more Urbanstars were acquired in May 2007, becoming 761 and 783.

703 at Lakeside, Dec 2005 UVG Urbanstar

761 at Lakeside, December 2007.
Most of the Urbanstars were sold in early 2009, 783 to Travel with Hunny, 701-5 and 761 to Arriva Midlands. The last, 710, stayed until July 2010, before going to Renown in Bexhill.

711, X80 branded

Ex-Metroline Plaxtons: 711, 712, 782, 777

Ensign Bus - the dealers - had acquired several of the Metroline single doorway DL-class Darts during 2005. In August one was transferred to the bus fleet to boost the X80 contingent. DL1 became 711. It was given route branding for the X80 (later changed to the 77 and 83).

In December 2005 two more were taken into the bus fleet, this time to operate route 64 - the old 364 - which was taken over from Town & Country. These two were ex-Metroline DL2 and DL82, and became Ensignbus 712 and 782. 712, like 711, was a "shoebox" 10.0m Dart SLF, while 782 was a 10.1m Pointer2.

They lasted in operation until October 2008, when they were replaced by Volvo B9TLs, and sold to AM-PM Travel in Birmingham.

Another Pointer2 was added in January 2006: DL77, now 777 was fresh from service with Metroline. However, it did not last long, being shunted from behind by an articulated lorry on the Queen Elizabeth II bridge in April 2006, and written off.

The loaned Centra Plaxton: DP41

DP41 Ensign Bus was storing some of the ex-Centra, ex-Mitcham Belle Darts on behalf of Dawson Rentals. When 705 suffered roof damage in July 2006, DP41 was taken on as a "temporary loan" during the repair, and used on route 64. Somebody must have liked it, for the temporary loan became an extended loan. It did gain blue Ensignbus fleetnames on its red livery. It was slated for withdrawal in October 2008, along with other elderly Dart SLFs.

Another Plaxton Pointer: 700

A further Pointer2 was taken on by Ensignbus in April 2006, third-hand from Scotland. It was returned to its original registation (V800 CBC), and was numbered 700.

It lasted in operation until October 2008, when it was replaced by a Volvo B9TL, and sold to AM-PM Travel in Birmingham.

Ex-Metroline Dart/Marshalls: 719-727, 729-732 and 738

ex DML In September 2006 Ensignbus not only took on more of Town & Country's routes when that company ceased operating public bus services, but also started routes 55 and 66 (Lakeside - Grays - West Thurrock - Tilbury - Chadwell St.Mary) in its own right. It used step-entrance DTs on the ex-T&C routes, but for the new routes took into operational stock the first four of many ex-Metroline Marshall Capital-bodied SLFs. 720, 721, 724 and 738 were these first four, which had been DML 520, 521, 524 and 528. They were treated to blue and silver company livery, three with route 66 branding along the sides. The Buggybus legend appeared on the front of these too. They were upseated from Metroline's 31 seats to 37.

Then in October two more were used, DML519 and DML527, in red, as maintenance cover. 730 and 731 were added in Novemnber, in blue and silver. 719 was formally added to the bus fleet in December, as well as 726. The remaining six of the DML519-532 batch that had gone to Ensign Bus now entered the operational fleet by February 2007, with repaints into blue and silver. With Ensign the complete batch were 719-727, 729-732 and 738 (738 having been DML528).

They gradually began to disappear from the fleet in 2010, being sold here and there as opportunity arose.

Ex-London General Plaxton Pointer: 753

After selling off a step-entrance Dart in October 2007, Ensignbus took a replacement from the sales stock, in the shape of a one-time London General 10.0m "shoebox" Pointer, once LDP20 but since those days elsewhere. Ensignbus reregistered it with a RM registration: WLT 753. It lasted a year in operation, until October 2008, when it was registered back to its original mark, replaced by a Volvo B9TL, and sold to AM-PM Travel in Birmingham.

More Metroline Marshalls: 764, 766, 768, 770-2, 776, 777, 792

Ensignbus converted some of the two-doorway Metroline Marshalls to single doorway, and took them into the operational fleet at the start of 2008. These were ex-DML34 and 46, (now 764 and 776).

These were followed in May by 792 (ex DML12).

766 and 768 (ex DML36 and 38) were temporary loans from sales stock.

770-2 and 777 (ex DML40-2 and 47) were converted to single doorway and upseated, and taken into the operational fleet in June 2009.

This batch were all sold in early 2012, some going to Valero Energy in Pembroke Dock.

East Lancs Spryte 714

The Nottingham Spryte: 714

An oddity acquired from the sales stock in July 2008 was an ex-Nottingham East Lancs Spryte. It stayed for just over a year, before being sold to Arriva Midlands in September 2009.

Ex-Metroline MPDs: 653, 654, 656, 657 and 659

MPD In February 2011 Ensignbus took on five ex-Metroline 8.8m Mini-Pointer Darts for Thurrock local contracts. They received silver and blue livery, and stated a new number sequence for Ensignbus, in the 6** range, becoming 653, 654, 656, 657 and 659. They went to work in April on Thurrock Council tendered routes 373 (Grays - Orsett - Stifford Clays) and 374 (Grays - Stanford-le-Hope - Basildon). Two did not stay long: 653 and 654 went off to ACE Travel in Liverpool in November.

Ex-Stagecoach ALX200s: 780-2, 739, 742-4, 774

ex Stagecoach SLD Over the summer of 2011 Ensignbus took into its fleet five Alexander-bodied 10.8m SLDs from the Stagecoach London fleet, followed by 743 at the end of the year, replacing many of the now-elderly Dart Marshalls. 729, 731, 744 and 774 followed in the spring of 2012.

731 near Lakeside, Dec 2012 731 at Lakeside, Dec 2012

731 at Lakeside, December 2012.

Borrowed SLFs for Central Line Blockade: 801-814

For ten days in October-November 2012 the Central Line of the Underground was out of operation. Ensignbus used fourteen SLFs from the sales fleet - thirteen ex-Metroline DLDs, one ex-Stagecoach SLD - and used them in red existing paint schemes with Ensignbus fleetnames and temporary numbers in the 801-814 series.

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