Reading Mainline Routemasters

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English: Reading Mainline was a public transport bus operator based in Reading, Berkshire. It operated for 6 years from 1994 to 2000 using a fleet of vintage Routemaster buses, the open platform conductor operated bus originally built for London Transport in the 1950s and 1960s.

History[edit]

English: Using a red & cream livery, the company intended to use the Routemaster to compete with the more modern one-man-operated buses of the incumbent council-owned operator, Reading Transport. Set up on 23 July 1994 with one route, Route A, it soon expanded to introduce (in chronological order) Routes B, E, H, F, X, C and J. All routes except C were cross town routes. It sourced its buses from several places, both from London Buses aswell as several other post-deregulation operators who had built up second hand Routemaster fleets much earlier, with 12 coming from the Blackpool Transport Routemaster fleet in 1997. At its peak, based from a depot in Cardiff Road, Mainline had 44 numbered Routemasters in its fleet, plus 1 without a number, and 1 loaned Leyland National used for driver training. After competitive counter-measures from Reading Transport, aswell as driver shortages, began to take their toll, the company eventually agreed to a sale to the incumbent in 1998. As part of the takeover, Reading Transport promised to continue to operate the business as a separate operation for 2 years, although some route renumbering and rationalisation followed. By 1999, when the company's depot lease ended, just 24 operational Routemasters were left, and they were moved to Reading Transport's depot in Great Knollys Street. On 22 July 2000, with the operation having reduced to a peak weekday service requirement of 10 buses, the Mainline services were finally withdrawn. Many of Mainline's disposed buses entered preservation or private hire use with other operators. At least two buses have retained their Reading Mainline identity and livery, Past Time Bus's RM1859 (ex-No. 17) and Reading Heritage Travel's RM999 (ex-No. 15). All the buses remaining at final close of operations were bought by Transport for London, the successor to London Transport, forming the biggest single source for their new policy of buying back old RM class buses, refurbishing and re-engining them, and then putting them back into use in London. When those operations ended, many were selected for the further use on the London Buses Routemaster Heritage Routes, route 9 and route 15. [1][2][3]

Fleet[edit]

The full Reading Mainline RM fleet was as follows:

RM No. Reg. Original reg. New Bought From Into service Out of service Service notes Subsequent fate
RM23 23 JFO 256* VLT 23* 1959/06 1995/02 dealer (PVS Carlton), ex-London 1995/09 2000/07 * bought as LGH 31T, last bus on Line D refurbished for further London service; private sale; exported to Russia
RM26 28 XSL 220A VLT 26 1959/06 1994/06 Strathtay Scottish (621) Never n/a cannibalised, hulk 1998 scrapped 1998/4
RM44 07 VLT 44 VLT 44 1959/08 1994/02 Southend Transport (via Clydeside 2000) 1994/07 ? delicensed 1998/10 preserved 2000
RM45 12 AST 415A VLT 45 1959/08 1994/06 Strathtay Scottish (SR23) 1998/09 2000/07 missed last day due to mechanical failure refurbished for further London service; preserved 2006
RM104 32 LDS 280A VLT 104 1959/10 1996 BTS 1996/12 1998/08 entered service still in BTS livery exported to Argentina
RM172 10 WYJ 857 VLT 172 1959/12 1994 dealer (Brakell), ex-Southend Transport 1994/08 1998/06 accident damaged, repaired by Leaside Buses in 1996/05 exported to Argentina
RM180 20 XVS 830 VLT 180 1959/12 1995/02 dealer (PVS Carlton), ex-London 1996/05 2000/07 last day bus refurbished for further London service; preserved 2006
RM191 11 AST 416A VLT 191 1960/01 1994/06 Strathtay Scottish 1995/03 2000/07 refurbished for further London service; private sale; cafe bus (regained VLT 191)
RM244 19 XVS 839 VLT 244 1960/02 1995/02 dealer (PVS Carlton), ex-London 1995/05 2000/07 dealer sale (Hawkins); re-registered VLT 250 2003/04
RM316 14 WLT 316* WLT 316* 1960/04 1994/07 Strathtay Scottish (SR25) 1995/05 2000/07 * bought as WTS 33A and returned to original registration soon after entering service dealer sale (Hawkins)
RM577 06 WLT 577 WLT 577 1961/02 1994/02 Southend Transport (via Clydeside 2000) 1994/08 1999/01 preserved 1999
RM621 16 WLT 621 WLT 621 1961/04 1994/10 Routemaster Bournemouth (on loan from Shaftesbury and District) 1994/10 1998/08 exported to Argentina
RM790 09 WLT 790 WLT 790 1961/07 ? Blue Triangle 1994/12 1998/10 exported to Argentina
RM838 22 XYJ 440 WLT 838 1961/07 1995/03 dealer (PVS Carlton), ex-London 1995/12 2000/04 refurbished for further London service; preserved 2006
RM848 40 WLT 848 WLT 848 1961/07 1997 Blackpool Transport (522) Never n/a repainted but unused refurbished for further London service; re-registered 448 UXS; private sale; preserved 2007
RM871 26 NRH 803A* WLT 871* 1962/01 1995/03 East Yorkshire (803) 1997/04 2000/07 * regained WLT 871 in 1999 refurbished for further London service; retained for London heritage route 15
RM879 41 WLT 879 WLT 879 1962/01 1997 Blackpool Transport (527) 1998/05 ? exported to Poland
RM917 27 WTS 102A WLT 917 1961/11 1994/06 Strathtay Scottish (620) ? ? in store 1995, cannibalised, hulk 1998/04 ?
RM931 24 MFF 580 WLT 931 1961/11 1995/03 London Buses 1996/10 2000/07 last day bus refurbished for further London service; Henry Cooper Coaches (Cramlington)
RM937 05 WLT 937 WLT 937 1961/11 1994/02 Southend Transport (via Clydeside 2000) 1994/07 1999/03 exported to Canada
RM938 31 WLT 938 WLT 938 1961/11 1996 preservation 1996/09 1999/07 provided on long term loan basis, used on private hire work only, rallied in Czech Republic as #100 preserved 2000 (in Reading Mainline livery)
RM949 03 XVS 319 WLT 949 1961/11 1994/02 Southend Transport (via Clydeside 2000) 1994/07 1999/03 exported to Poland
RM993 02 WLT 993 WLT 993 1962/05 1994/02 Southend Transport (107) 1994/08 1999/03 dealer sale (PVS Carlton)
RM999 15 WVS 423 WLT 999 1962/01 1995 preservation 1995/01 ? operated until at least 1999/10, sold to RHT 2000/05 Reading Heritage Travel (in Reading Mainline livery)
RM1017 08 YTS 973A 17 CLT 1962/01 1994/07 Blue Triangle 1994/07 1998/12 exported to Argentina
RM1018 18 PVS 828 18 CLT 1962/01 ? dealer (PVS Carlton), ex-London 1996/05 2000/07 last day bus refurbished for further London service; private sale; Carters Coaches; Travel with Hunny
RM1143 13 WTS 186A 143 CLT 1962/05 1994/07 Strathtay Scottish (SR24) Never n/a cannibalised, hulk 1999/04 ?
RM1357 34 357 CLT 357 CLT 1962/12 1996 Blackpool Transport (528) 1997/03 2000 Sea Scout bus; preserved 2009
RM1583 39 583 CLT 583 CLT 1963/05 1997 Blackpool Transport (521) 1997/09 2000/07 Fleetmaster; Walkabout Inns promo bus; preserved 2003
RM1627 38 627 DYE 627 DYE 1963/06 1997 Blackpool Transport (523) 1997/05 ? sold 2000 refurbished for further London service; retained for London heritage route 9
RM1640 35 640 DYE 640 DYE 1963/06 1996 Blackpool Transport (524) 1997/04 2000/07 last day bus refurbished for further London service; retained for London heritage route 9
RM1650 37 650 DYE 650 DYE 1963/07 1997 Blackpool Transport (525) 1997/10 2000/03 refurbished for further London service; retained by First London as a showbus (as Silver Jubliee bus SRM3)
RM1653 none NILE 1 653 DYE 1963/07 1995/05 Egypt tour bus Never n/a bought for spares ?
RM1735 36 735 DYE 735 DYE 1963/10 1996 Blackpool Transport (526) 1997/04 2000/07 Christmas Bus 1999, last bus of last day refurbished for further London service; retained for London heritage route 9
RM1859 17 859 DYE 859 DYE 1964/02 1994/11 St. John Ambulance 1995/09 1999/05 Past Time Bus (in Reading Mainline livery)
RM1948 29 ALD 948B ALD 948B 1964/06 1995/11 Centrewest 1996/06 1999/03 exported to Poland
RM1966 44 ALD 966B ALD 966B 1964/07 1997 Blackpool Transport (529) ? 1999 in store 1997/10 McKindless; preserved 2004; The London Bus Company 2008
RM1989 33 ALD 989B ALD 989B 1964/08 1997 Blackpool Transport (530) 1997/03 2000/03 preserved 2000; London Heritage Travel 2007
RM1990 25 ALD 990B ALD 990B 1964/08 1995/03 East Yorkshire (811) 1995/04 2000/07 preserved
RM2011 04 ALM 11B ALM 11B 1964/09 1994/02 Southend Transport (118 ) 1994/07 1999 dealer sale (Lister)
RM2034 01 ALM 34B ALM 34B 1964/09 1994/02 Southend Transport (110) (via Clydeside 2000) 1994/07 1999/04 dealer sale (PVS Carlton)
RM2037 30 ALM 37B ALM 37B 1964/10 1997 preservation 1996/11 2000/05 preserved 2000
RM2071 42 ALM 71B ALM 71B 1964/11 1997 Blackpool Transport (531) 1998/01 2000/07 last day bus refurbished for further London service; retained for London heritage route 15
RM2089 43 ALM 89B ALM 89B 1964/11 1997 Blackpool Transport (533) 1997/11 2000/07 refurbished for further London service; retained for London heritage route 15
RM2201 21 CUV 201C CUV 201C 1965/04 1995/02 dealer (PVS Carlton), ex-London Never n/a was prepared for service but then put up for sale, stored and finally cannibalised dealer sale (PVS Barnsley)

Images[edit]

Reading Mainline[edit]

Reading Transport[edit]

In preservation[edit]