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Forum: Web Site
Topic: Diary of a Webmaster

Review of 2013
Sat 04/01/14, 02:07
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Here is a review of SVs and LTSV in 2013.

A significant event early in the year was the phasing out of the Tube Lines identity. Launched in 2003 as one of two infrastructure maintenence consortia (the other being the ill-fated Metronet), Tube Lines was brought back under LUL control in May 2010 but retained its separate identity until early in 2013. New support vehicles delivered since then have carried the standard LUL livery of white with a blue skirt and red stripe. Given that most vehicles are leased for about 3 years, there seem to be no plans to rebrand the existing fleet, although one or two examples have been noted. The heavy lorry fleet (which have rather longer lives) would seem better candidates for re-liverying but none had been reported by the end of the year.

Two new ''standard'' liveries were first seen during the year. London Overground has two VW Golf estate cars in the orange-striped variant of the white/blue livery. Although new in 2010, they were first seen in early 2013 and may have initially operated anonymously. The green-stripe livery worn by Tramlink trams was applied to a new Ford Transit dropside truck in mid-year.

A rare case of a contracted service being brought back in-house was the termination of the Powerlink contract in August 2013. The maintenance of LUL's electrical power network is now undertaken using LUL-liveried vehicles, most of which were new deliveries. At least one existing van was retained and repainted, providing a very rare example of a second-hand vehicle joining the leased fleet.

There were plenty of interesting happenings across the London bus companies, including the division of First London between Metroline and new-entrant Tower Transit, and also the entry into service of the first production ''New Bus for London'' vehicles. However, these had little impact on the support vehicle fleets.

It was another slightly disappointing year for public access ''behind the scenes'', despite the celebrations for 150 years of underground railways. There were the usual handful of bus garage open days, but a planned event at Neasden railway depot was cancelled. Stratford Market depot did have an ''open house'', and though the pre-booked, guided tours were excellent, they bypassed the area where the many service vehicles are kept.

369 vehicles were added to the LTSV database during the year, compared with 2,258 in 2012. However, the latter figure included 1,683 London Transport cars from the period 1927 to 1980. Similarly the 2013 total included 31 vehicles from the 1980s and 1990s. Considering just the vehicles taken into stock during the year (or a bit before), the figures are as follows (2012 totals in brackets):
Additions: 338 (539), of which 239 (366) were central fleet vehicles, including 193 (342) numbered vehicles in the range 7310 to 7790 (7053 to 7609). The 239 (366) central fleet vehicles were from 13 (17) different manufacturers. The order of the top 3 makes was Ford, Renault, Volkswagen in both years. Rather surprisingly, Ford delivered slightly more vehicles in 2013 than in 2012, meaning it went from supplying a third of the fleet additions to just over half. The totals for Renault and Volkswagen both dropped in 2013, roughly halving their share of deliveries. Most significantly, we are not aware of any Vauxhall vehicles being added during 2013, the first time this has happened for many years. The size of the central fleet (not including unmarked cars) remained roughly the same at a little over 1,000.

Additions to the bus company fleets amounted to 99 (173), with Ford slipping into 2nd place thanks to a large delivery of Mercedes minibuses for the Go-Ahead group. In 2012 Ford had supplied over a third of the additions; in 2013 it was nearer a quarter. Vauxhall remained in the top 3 with about a fifth share.

The above figures do need to be taken as approximate. Since we received no official fleet information during the year, everything is based on observations. The stats for the bus companies are also skewed by the fact that many additions are second-hand. Despite this, it does seem clear that most operators are cutting back on fleet renewal, the reductions being about a third across the board. Some of the reduction for the central fleet may have resulted from economies made by recombining functions latterly split between Tube Lines and Metronet.

Staying with statistics, here are some on the website in general. 6 new members joined LTSV in 2013 (8 in 2012), while the whole membership logged 9,002 vehicle sightings (9,104). I uploaded 295 (474) new photographs to the website but the main activity came late in the year when over 9,000 ''history'' records were added. This followed a decision to postpone the development of a whole new database structure (LTSV3) and instead incorporate some of the proposed changes into the existing site. The main improvement was to be the inclusion of data from the many LT archive documents which have become available over the past few years.

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