X55 and X81: Ensignbus Running Day
Saturday 7th December 2012
Prepared by Ian Smith, 21st December 2013.
X55: Gravesend to Bluewater (RTL 453)
I joined RTL453 for the journey back to Bluewater. We circulated up the hill and round past the Clock Tower and into the centre of Gravesend. We were allowed through the bus gate, and paused at the station stop. Then we headed for the high road through Northfleet. We met RLH61 coming the other way, then passed Northfleet Church and descended to Swanscombe. We climbed again, crossing over HS1 before descending again to Greenhithe. Turning left there, we descended into Bluewater, where I alighted.
I watched the RTL depart, then headed into Marks and Spencer to find lunch in their cafe.
BluewaterA half-hour later I returned to the bus station, with half-an hour to go until the RLH was due. There was plenty of activity amongst the regular bus services.
3822, one of Arriva's 12.0m Volvo B7RLE/Wrightbus Urban Eclipse 41 seater saloons for Fastrack services was on route A to Dartford.
Transport for London stretches out beyong the Greater London boundary to reach Bluewater with several services, including the 96, run by Stagecoach, and the 492, by Arriva Kent Thameside. Stagecoach's four-year old Scania OmniCity 15096 headed for Woolwich. Arriva's 2011 EnviroTrident 6463 was going to Sidcup on the 492.
Resting between duties was much older Volvo Olympian 5936, dating from 1997. This had been on the 489, serving Perry Street, Southfleet, New Barn, Longfield and New Ash Green, essentially the old GS / RF 490 route with the 489 ending. Rather bigger than a GS! However, it does seem to have suffered along the roof-line from local foliage.
Bluewater also attracts custom - and buses - from the Medway valley. Arriva Southern Counties Tridents 6447 and 6417 set off on the 703 to Maidstone and the 701 to Luton & Walderslade.
The 477 from Orpington to Bluewater has also received new rolling stock, in the shape of heavily branded Wrightbus Streetlite DFs, such as 4220.
EnviroDart 4001 brough a welcome splash of red to Bluewater, taking on the crowd that had been waiting quite a while for the 428 to Erith. Then, in the fading afternoon light, RLH61 arrived to take me back across the river...
Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.