Coach Olympians

This page created 12th June 2005, completed (so far), 24th October 2005. by Ian Smith

LRC1-5: Kentish Commuters

green/white LRC Spring 1984 saw another attempt by Greenline to use double-deckers. Five stretched Leyland Olympians with 11 metre Eastern Coach Works coach bodies were bought by London Country for use on the 720 commuter service (Gravesend - London). LRC1-5 were stationed at Northfleet, arriving in March and April 1984. They kept company on their way into London along the A2 with Maidstone & District's Invictaway service which used similar coaches. They were instantly recognisable not just by their length (an extra bay compared with a standard Olympian) but also the enormous front upper windows. Greenline used the current NBC coach livery, with a white base, Lincoln green tween-decks and light green comb.

They started work in May 1984. From September 1986 they became part of Kentishbus, and in May 1987 were renumbered 301-305. But the type turned out not to be completely reliable, and Chris Green's revamp of Network South-East made huge inroads into their raison d'etre. So in 1988 they were swapped to Northumbria Motor Services, a considerable number of Metrorider midibuses coming south at the same time.

LRC6-10: Luton Flightline & Grays Commuter

green/white LRC Another batch of five followed in early 1985, this time branded for the 757 Luton Flightline service. They went to St.Albans. These only seated 69 instead of 72, giving extra luggage space for the airport service. Service began in March, but unfortunately LRC7 hit a railway bridge in Luton in April. It was despatched to Crawley for repair, and re-entered service in August.

1987 saw them being used on the 721-724 group of commuter services from Grays.

LRC6 was destroyed by fire in July 1988.

All was not well with London Country North East, which had a disastrous strike due to an imposed wage cut, in early 1988. The LRCs were proving unreliable on the airport run, and Luton & District, having started a rival 575 service during the strike continued to operate in competition, plus filling in any turns that LCNE failed to provide. Later in the year LCNE left them to it. The Grays commuter services also came to a halt in May 1988. Consequently LRC7-10 also went north, to East Yorkshire Motor Services, who seemed to make them work.

LRC11-15: Luton Flightline & Harlow Commuter

green/white LRC Meanwhile a third batch of three had arrived in June 1986, the last vehicles bought new for London Country. LRC11-12 went to work at Harlow on the 710 (Harlow - London) service, in Green Line livery, with a cream base, while the last three went to St.Albans for the 757, with a pale green based Flightline livery, with yellow comb.

The Harlow operation seemed to suit the buses, and they lasted longer on this route. LRC13-15 were transferred to Harlow in May 1988 after the loss of the 757 business. They stayed at Harlow as LCNE began to fragment, so became part of County Bus from January 1989. Eventually all five went to Northumbria, LRC11-13 in October 1990, and the final two in November 1991.

Other Operators' Commuter Coaches

Eastern National coach Olympian Defining what to include on this page is difficult: other operators were muscling in on traditional Greenline operations. Eastern National, for instance, operated double deckers on the 712 from Bishops Stortford to London, as well as on its Southend - London express service. Because of Southend Pier these were a batch of low-height Olympians (13ft 8in instead of 14ft 2in). Thamesway took them over when Eastern National was split up.

Alder Valley also operated into London from the west, using 14ft 2in high coaches in a smart black and red on white Londonlink livery, and Maidstone & District used some from the Medway Towns into London in green/white Invictaway livery.

Metrobus B688BPU

Metrobus coach Olympian Metrobus of Orpington bought one of them (Thamesway 4500) in May 1991, with a view to operation on National Express service 682 (Dartford - Ventnor, IOW). It was used on private hires, and also, on occasion, as a bus on routes 61 and 261.

After a short period of operation the panoramic front windows were replaced by a standard bus front. Eventually it was sold on, passing through Brentwood Coaches to Motts Travel. It was reregistered at some stage with pensioner registration LIL7230.

LC1-2: London Coaches

London Coaches Olympian London Coaches bought two long whhelbase coach Olympians in summer 1986 for a new service between London and Eastbourne. But rather than the ECW body they chose one by East Lancs, with their current droop front style. Livery was London red with gold lining and gold London Coaches fleetnames writ large on the side.

They went to work from Battersea in August 1986, but the service was not a success. The service was withdrawn in 1987, and the two coaches were used for private hireuntil 1990, when they were sold to Southampton City Transport.

Bus Stop Olympian index Coach index LRC bus histories photo refs