I have written before about Routemaster buses and the modern version introduced by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson and built by Wrightbus in Ballymena. I mentioned that the original buses were still being used on the heritage route No.9. Tower Transit are the operators since June 2013 and the buses run from Kensington High Street to Trafalgar Square.
I was therefore delighted to spot RM 1204 all on its own in a corner at Westbourne Park garage (X) in West London, as I strolled along the towpath alongside the Paddington arm of the Grand Union Canal, a walk I described yesterday. I should explain that I did not enter the garage at any stage but remained on the public footpath in order to take these photographs.
Buses on the route operate every twenty minutes and the journey from start to finish takes up to half an hour. Kensington High Street (Holland Road) – High Street Kensington Station – Royal Albert Hall – Knightsbridge Station – Hyde Park Corner Station – Green Park Station – Pall Mall – Trafalgar Square. On 13th November 2010, route 9H was extended from the Royal Albert Hall to Kensington High Street and curtailed to Trafalgar Square (instead of running from Aldwych). The extension was at the request of the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which wanted to boost the number of visitors to the High Street (source: Wikipedia).
As I looked into the garage from the towpath I could see that major engineering works are in progress. It seems that the multi-million pounds Crossrail project has for the past four years taken up a large proportion of the Westbourne Park yard for its huge tunnel-boring machines, Phyllis and Ada. This is the exit where the spoil is taken away by rail for disposal elsewhere. Crossrail’s seven giant tunnelling machines are (November 2013)approaching 25 kilometres out of 42 kilometres of new train tunnels that will link east and west London. Another 14 kilometres of new passenger, platform and service tunnels are being constructed below the new Crossrail stations.
The rolling stock and depot contract is expected to be awarded in Spring 2014. Delivery and testing of trains is scheduled to start in 2017 ready for the opening of the new Crossrail tunnels to passengers in late 2018. It will transform train travel across London and South-East England, delivering faster journey times, boosting London’s rail capacity by 10% and bringing an additional 1.5 million people to within 45 minutes travel of the capital’s major business centres. Over 200 million passengers will travel on Crossrail each year. Meanwhile along the canal opened in 1801, many boats are tied up for the winter.