X55 and X81: Ensignbus Running Day
Saturday 6th December 2014
Prepared by Ian Smith, 13th December 2013.
Getting to GreenhitheIt was a very cold, very frosty morning. The cars in the street were covered in beautiful frost flowers. The first bus to come along was a 126, so I caught it. Metrobus' EnviroDart 759 took me to Mottingham, where I bought a ticket to Greenhithe. As I crossed the station bridge my Gravesend train, headed by 466006, rolled in. Excellent timing! That rolled me comfortably east to Dartford, and on to Greenhithe.
X55: Greenhithe to Lakeside (RM 1843)At Greenhithe I had a wait for my first heritage bus. Ensign's Optare Olumpus 112 passed through on its way to the shopping emporia at Bluewater.
Just as last year my first ride was on a bus newly back into service, so it was this year. It was RM1843, repatriated last year after twenty-eight years in the USA, and restored to pristine condition. It was full. Standing room only - and that only just. So there were no pictures on the way north to the Dartford tunnel, nor eastwards to Lakeside. The Leyland engine sounded excellent.
X81: Lakeside to Grays (RML 2588)I intended to wait at Lakeside for the next X81 to Grays, and expected to wait nearly half an hour. But RML2588 was running late, so I hopped off RM1843 straight onto the RML. At least I hjad a seat, immediately behind the driver. We pulled out past RT3251, which was heading south for Gravesend on the X55.
There had been some traffic problem in Lakeside, so instead of circulating clockwise round the inside perimeter of Lakeside we climbed back up for an anti-clockwise evolution round the outside of the pit. We were still held up by traffic queuing to get into the shopping pit.
We passed Arriva's EnviroDart 4070 heading in to Lakeside on the 370 from Romford
There were other buses along the way, mostly in Ensignbus blue and silver. Olympus 115 squeezed past as we waited in a traffic jam. We passed through West Thurrock and headed east into Grays, where our driver missed a turn in towards the station, and instead took us round the town and back into the station from the east.
Grays Bus Station was busy, with First Essex and Ensignbus services. These included EnviroDart 708 heading east for Tilbury on a 66.
I alighted to get a picture or few while RML2588 was at Grays Station, then climbed back aboard for the trip to Shenfield..
Photos by Ian Smith. Click on any of them for a larger picture.