The Green Line RFsThis page created 15th December 1997, updated 7th February 2002.
The original coaches: 2RF2/1
RF26-RF288, Total 263Green Line received the second series of ordinary RFs, the first 30ft long by 7ft 6in wide RFs. It was not that Green Line were in greatest need of new buses, but their arrival on Green Line services would mean that older types could be cascaded onto bus duties, particularly in the Central Area. There was a cunning plan, that carefully switched buses around, with repaints and overhauls where necessary. Of course, like all well-laid plans, it fell victim to circumstance and was modified substantially. (There is an excellent account in Ken Glazier's book "RF", for those who would like the story in detail.)
The first problem was that the new RFs were late arriving, whilst Chiswick's maintenance programme was geared to a prompt turn-round of displaced 10T10 buses into Central red livery, starting in June 1951. Green Line would not allow the red buses to continue operating Green Line express services in the interim, so a juggling act was done, with the red buses operating on Country routes while green Country buses operated the express services.
But better late than never. The RFs entered service on route 704, from Tunbridge Wells to Windsor, from 1st October 1951, four months late. They were well received. The 10T10s had been good, but these were better, from both passenger and staff view-points. They were faster, quieter and more comfortable.
Further deliveries soon replaced all other types on Green Line work, apart from the double-deckers used on the high density traffic from Aldgate to Romford. so that by July 1953 Green Line was virtually a mono-culture service.
The new coaches were 39 seaters, with 38 forward facing seats and 1 sideways seat behind the driver.
They had luggage shelves above the seats, below the curve of the high ceiling.
The original coaches were, (in sequence):
RF 26-RF125, LYF 377-476 RF126-RF225, MLL 513-612 RF226-RF288, MLL 763-825
RF271, in unmodernised GreenLine form in preservation.
|Old numbers||Old type||Work done||New numbers||New type|
|RF 16-25||Private Hire||Repaint, roofboards, racks||RF 16-25||Green Line|
|RF 289-294||Central Bus||Repaint, doors, roofboards, lights, lino, seats, racks||RF 289-294||Green Line|
|RF 295-313||Central Bus||renumber only||RF 514-532||Central Bus|
|RF 514-516||Country Bus||Repaint, roofboards, lights, lino, seats, racks||RF 295-297||Green Line|
|RF 517||Country Bus||OMO conversion||RF 697||Country OMO|
|RF 518-532||Country Bus||Repaint, roofboards, lights, lino, seats, racks||RF 299-313||Green Line|
|RF 647, 649||Country Bus||OMO conversion, renumbered||RF 698, 699||Country OMO|
|RF 682-696||Country Bus||OMO conversion||RF 682-696||Country OMO|
|RF 697||Country Bus||Repaint, roofboards, lights, lino, seats, racks||RF 298||Green Line|
|RF 698, 699||Country Bus||renumber only||RF 647, 649||Country Bus|
|* RF 533-538||Country Bus||transferred (still green)||RF 533-538||Central Bus|
The Green Line RFs then settled down to steady, persistent, long-running hard work, trundling back and forwards from one rim of the LT Area to the other, meeting all kinds of traffic conditions from Central Westminster ( I hesitate to say London; did any Green Lines penetrate the City?) through motorways to Country lanes. To add extra richness to their diet, it was common practice to give them an early morning Country duty before mid-morning dashes through the hurly-burly.
There was a mild flurry through the class in 1956 as they received their trafficators and double rear arrows, but for the main they continued in much the same way. Some were unofficially relegated to bus work, then received back into the GreenLine fold as bus duty patterns changed.
In 1960 two lighter shades of green made their appearance,
on RFs from Reigate (RG) and High Wycombe (HE) on the 711,
with black relief on the wheels. It didn't catch on generally,
but the lighter relief colour gradually spread through the class.
Coaches with the light green were:
RF 33, 36,41, 42, 51, 52, 55, 58, 69, 71, 72, 86, 126, 271, 309, 313.
But in 1962 the RF's near-monopoly of coach operations was shattered by the arrival of the fleet of double-decker Routemaster Coaches. CRL4, the prototype, had been around for a few years by then, but it had been thought that just as RTC1 had been a failure, and the GreenLine RTs never more than repainted buses, that single-deckers had the express bus market for themselves. The RMCs displaced RFs on a more than 1 for 1 basis, being used for maintenance of route capacity at the expense of frequency (a daft economists' idea if ever there was one). Many Green Line RFs were suddenly surplus to requirements. The ex-Private hire RFs were sold, and a batch of 24 longer RFs eventually sold too. The 40 seater ex-Country bus RFs (RFS 298-313) were relegated officially to bus work, and re-converted to OMO bus specification (although retaining the forward-facing seats). A year later the front nearside seat was removed to make way for a parcels rack, making them 38 seaters (2RF5/4) The ultimate losers were the remaining GS buses, which were displaced by bus RFs and sold.
(Note that these RFs were not those BOUGHT by BEA.
Ten redundant coach RFs had been bought by BEA
in 1963 for use as "Airside Coaches" between plane and airport terminal.
They were painted BEA grey,
and stayed at Heathrow, on the apron.)
Externally it received a broad lime green band around the mid-rif, like a cummerbund, edged with polished aluminium beading (The consultants said this emulated steel, associated in the public mind with modern technology(!)). The headlamps were replaced with the then fashionable dual clusters, and the London Transport bullseye was removed from the radiator filler flap, which was discretely hidden in the design. The front number plate was moved down to the bottom , giving an entirely different look to the front.
At the back the number plate and inadequate lighting /indicator arrangements were swept away,
replaced by modern lighting clusters and a narrow number plate below the emergency door.
The roofboards were retained, but painted yellow, a welcome streak of vivid colour, which complemented the fleetname picked out boldly in yellow on the lime green band, and the new style LT bullseyes.
On the prototype the rectangular style wheel-arches were replaced with narrow semi-circular ones, although this feature was not adopted for the main batch of modernisations.
Internally the decor was changed to a fashionable grey with everything, with fluorescent lighting tubes replacing the traditional round Chiswick bulbs.
The "modernised" coach was well received, and 174 other coaches still dedicated to GreenLine service went through the process. They were recoded 1/2RF2/3
At the same time London Transport was progressing rapidly with single-manning of the Country fleet, and the opportunity was taken to prepare some of the modernised Green Line coaches for this. They received the internal modifications to allow the driver to handle money and tickets. Externally they received the standard OMO fittings of reversing spotlight and warning indicator at the rear, plus the modified drivers window. This incorporated the two panes into a hinged unit that could be used as an emergency door if necessary. These OMO coaches were coded 1/2RF2/4, and were put to use on the new GreenLine route 724, Express between Romford and High Wycombe.
Another variation was for the coaches on the 727 airports orbital service, from Luton to Gatwick via Heathrow. These OMO-fitted coaches needed extra luggage space, for which the rear pairs of seats were replaced by luggage racks. These 35-seaters were coded 1/2RF2/5.
The remaining 34 unmodified Green Line coaches were downgraded to OMO buses by July 1967, becoming type 1/2RF5/5.
But RFs hung on to scheduled Green Line work until 1975, when in October the last full scheduled RF routes were converted to Leyland National operation - a rude shock for their passengers! They continued as Green Line spares, duplicates and late-running covers, but they were going fast. Some garages seemed to withdraw one a month (did they withdraw them instead of servicing them?).
The last two were RF 221 and RF202. The former, a un-modernised coach,
operated from Chelsham in NBC bus livery
(green with white trim and coloured NBC logo), but succumbed in October 1978.
The last survivor was RF 202, a modernised coach,
which Northfleet turned out in NBC green with white cummerbund and coloured logo
- but with GREEN LINE in white on the roof!
It saw fairly frequent excursions on the orbital 725 and 726,
until it expired with gearbox failure in July 1979.
The passenger service days of the RF in London Country were over - almost. RF 202 was preserved by London Country and its successor in the south-east, Kentish Bus. Overhauled and repainted into original livery, it was kept as a preserved service bus. (A picture of RF202 as restored can be seen on the London Country Vehicles pages)
But another phoenix arose in the shape of preserved RF255. Decked in the deep blue and yellow of Metrobus of Orpington, RF 255 was to be seen during 1994 and 1995 operating the summer Sunday 746 route between Bromley and Tunbridge Wells, connecting to such tourist high-spots as Westerham, Chartwell and Penshurst. (A specific history of RF255 and more pictures can be found on the Wealdsman pages.)