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Forum: Miscellaneous
Topic: Trip Reports

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Night trip report - 200 SVs in one outing!
Sun 25/09/11, 20:16
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Ray and I joined Steve on one of his regular night outings earlier this week. The aim was to see as many vehicles as possible, so we decided to target the three biggest locations first, starting at Acton at 21:30. This was a bit early for the main run-out from the works, but 41 vehicles were seen over the next hour anyway. You really need to stand near the works entrance here, as vehicles come and go both ways on Bollo Lane. As the vehicles are seen on the move, photography is not possible. Departures included three dustcarts starting their rounds (along with the recently added Ford Transit BN07YAV) and 7 lorries, many of which we were to see again. More interesting were the vehicles going into the works, most likely to sign-in and/or load-up before heading out later. Among them were many vans and cars that are only seen at night, including a variety of Ford Transits and Vauxhall Combos, and two thirds of the Peugeot Partners delivered earlier this year. A further six vehicles were identifiable in the staff car park, although I did have to return the next day to confirm one of particular interest (new Combo LN11RKO). Three or four LBSL Honda Civic cars were there, although the only one identified was the one from Eltham that we already knew about. Getting the others would have been helpful to suggest where the latest delivery of red Toyota Prius cars have been allocated.

We then drove down to Griffith House and got out to walk the surrounding streets. Griffith House is perhaps unique in having an 'allocation' of about 50 vehicles yet having space on-site to park only 5 or 6. The rest only visit briefly at night, parking wherever they can find space, before heading out to work sites. Old Marylebone Road, Homer Street and Harcourt Street all had many vans parked amongst the resident's cars, while Seymour Place was notable for an un-broken line of 8 vans. We were on a tight schedule so I didn't get my camera and tri-pod out this time, but this location is perhaps the best for night photography of service vehicles. The short-wheelbase Ford Transit crew van is king here, with most of the recent batches being seen, along with a variety of other vans and just two cars (a further Partner and a Ford Focus). 42 vehicles were recorded in a visit of perhaps 15 minutes.

Back in the car we circuited Baker Street station (6 vehicles) before heading to Lillie Bridge. Arriving shortly before midnight, we stood at the bus stand on Lillie Road for the next hour and a half and recorded a further 69 vehicles, mostly coming out of the depot. You get a long view down the depot road here, so you can see when something is coming. However, the vehicles often came out in clumps of three or more. I was using my Blackberry to furiously tap in the numbers but perhaps an old-fashioned notebook might have been easier, or even a voice recorder. Contractor's vehicles have always been a common sight here, but I would say their numbers have reduced. The only ones seen in quantity were white Transit dropsides and vans belonging to Cleshar. Among the proper SVs seen, five were lorries that we had already noted leaving Acton. One of the former LBSL Honda Civic cars was a surprise sight, 6298H operating in anonymous maroon. Also still anonymous were several of the Renault and Peugeot vans in the 6627 to 6646 number range. No fewer than seven vehicles were seen still carrying Metronet branding, the newest being silver/blue 6261F. Representing more recent developments, the two Ford Transits converted into generator carriers both came out, sadly without their trailers, as did a total of seven brand-new VW Caddy crew vans. I was quite pleased to see three of the seven newish Smart cars as well.

When the Lillie Bridge run-out petered out we headed back to the car for a bit of a drive around. Naturally a proportion of the vehicles seen during the rest of the night were ones that had already been noted at Acton, Lillie Bridge or (particularly) Griffith House.

Central Line vehicles are often the most elusive so we headed first to White City Station. Seven vehicles were found here, including a lorry with crane, which appeared to be lowering or lifting something from the track below. Tracking back inwards, there was nothing much at the Central Line stations so we diverted to Paddington (5 vehicles) then along the route 205 passing Edgware Road, Baker Street, Regents Park and Euston stations to Kings Cross. At each of these, deviations were required to check the back-roads where SVs are often parked, and about a dozen SVs were found. We then back-tracked again, via Warren Street, Regents Park, Baker Street and Marylebone, picking up another dozen or so, then down to Marble Arch. The work at Green Park station is virtually complete but five SVs were among a larger number of contractors vehicles still present. Onwards via Trafalgar Square and Charing Cross to Embankment, then over the river to Waterloo, Lambeth North, Elephant and Kennington. There was not so much down this way quantity-wise but some of the vehicles seen were still rather interesting.

It was by now about 03:30 and I think we had all had enough. On the way home we called in at Mandela Way and Eltham Bus Station, adding 9 LBSL vehicles to the total.

When I got home (and had some sleep), I went through my notes and found that we had recorded a total of 208 different service vehicles. This represents just over a fifth of the current fleet, not bad for one night's 'work'.

I would like to thank Steve for driving us around all night, and Ray for remembering numbers until I had a chance to tap them in!


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