.com - London Transport Service Vehicles on the web
21 fleet news items posted in 2021.
45 site news items posted in 2021.
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Yet more on the Stagecoach swaps. North Street (Romford) is now reported to have a 70-reg Transit Connect van ex Stagecoach South East, Transit Custom MD16SWN presumably having gone the other way. Rainham is still shown as having Custom van MD16SXL. On the latest list, Bow garage is shown as having Ford Transit van 90713 (MA69GKX) rather than Transit Connect 90742 (MJ18PVE). I have not added the former as I believe it to be incorrect, fleetnumber 90713 belonging to Transit van SP69YVT with Scotland East. Reports of any white Stagecoach vans seen in London would be welcomed.
More details of the Stagecoach van swap have come to hand. At least five garages have sent their high-roof Ford Transit Custom vans away to Stagecoach South East garages, receiving the latter's Ford Transit Connect vans in return. The replacement vans are all slightly newer, and presumably compliant with the expanded ULEZ. The new vans are also smaller, and they should be noticeable due to carrying white livery. London garages involved in the swaps are Barking, Bromley, Bow, Leyton and West Ham. Catford and Plumstead already had newer vans, which means that just Rainham and Romford (North Street) retain their 16-reg Transit Custom vans, and these may be deemed far enough from the ULEZ to not require replacing.
A Volkswagen Crafter dropside truck seen at the Bedfont dealership in November 2020 has turned out to be a service vehicle after all. Licensed in Feb 2021, RE70HYN may have been delivered then, though it was not reported until seen at Acton Works in November. Still in all white but with TfL/LUL logos, it had fleetnumber 9142VW. Elderly Ford Transit dropside 7589F was still in use with Trams in mid-2021 but it appears to have finally been withdrawn. If correct then only two Mk7 Transits remain in the central fleet (facilities vans 7674F and 7675F).
A 15th MB Vito minibus for Go-Ahead London is RX71SZO, and the allocations of some of the earlier minibuses have been changed. Reports would be welcomed. Yet another hired VW Transporter minibus has turned up with Arriva London at Dartford (GL68HGY), while we now know of two additional service vehicles with Tower Transit at Westbourne Park, though their liveries are yet to be confirmed. VW Transporter SM70OFW is listed as grey while Ford Transit Courier BL19YKG is white. The operations at Westbourne Park are due to be transferred to a new joint-venture company called RATP Dev London Transit Ltd. As the name suggests, this involves both Tower Transit and RATP Dev.
Stagecoach has started swapping some service vehicles between its London and provincial operators, so as to put vehicles with better emissions performance into London. 16-reg vans from Leyton and Bromley are reported to have gone to Stagecoach South East, though details of the replacements are not yet clear. They are likely to be slightly newer and carry white livery, with Ford Transit Connect MK67MJE possibly being the new Leyton van. Again, reports of observations would be appreciated.
The new batch of Mercedes Vitos for Go-Ahead London numbers at least 14, with the reporting of RX71SZN working from Orpington. If you see any of the 'hired' VW Transporter minibuses still in use, please let me know, otherwise I will mark them as withdrawn. Arriva London has also had a couple of hired VWs, with GL69SHJ newly reported at Dartford.
I haven't added them to the database yet but three more MB Vito minibuses have been reported (WP21YCZ and WP21YDA at Silvertown or Henley Road and RX71SYY at Orpington). Having mentioned last time that the new batch might total only 10 (to replace the 10 oldest Vitos), I realised that I had forgotten to consider the various hired minibuses that have also been in use recently. There are (or were) at least 8 Volkswagen Transporters and 1 Ford Tourneo. So, best to wait and see how many new Vitos eventually turn up!
Six more Go-Ahead London Mercedes Vito minibuses have been reported, including three which were only delivered a few days ago. WO21PFE is (probably) at Orpington, WO21PFV at Northumberland Park, RX71SYR/SYS/SYU also at Northumberland Park and RX71SYV at Croydon. Now it just so happens that there are/were 10 existing Vitos with 62, 13 or 64 registrations, so that might be the lot for now. The next oldest examples are 67 reg. However, the distribution of the 10 new Vitos does not quite match that of the 10 oldest, with NP getting 2 more than it had and MB 2 less.
Staying with Go-Ahead, something odd is going on with their 64-reg Transit Connects. EK64CDZ and EK64CFY were reported as withdrawn in spring 2020 (based on licensing data), but both have been seen at GAL garages recently (SW and C respectively). The existing vans at these locations (EU64SRY and EK64CFZ respectively) have not been seen for a year or more, though they remain licensed. Similar EU64SZR at Orpington appears to have been recently withdrawn.
A few bits of vehicle news this week, all from the bus companies. The first 71-reg service vehicle to be reported was unmarked red Ford Transit Custom minibus AY71JDZ, delivered to Potters Bar Garage today. A couple of weeks older is WO21PFG, the fourth new Mercedes Vito minibus for Go-Ahead London and based (with WO21PGK) at Northumberland Park Garage. The only other 21-reg addition to note is EA21KFK, a smartly-liveried Ford Transit Courier van with Falcon Buses. Falcon have also acquired another second-hand Vauxhall Corsa van (EY62UCN, which is also in livery), and appear to be using BF16MHV, a Ford Fiesta van still in Balfour Beatty white/blue with yellow stripe. GL68HHN is yet another VW Transporter minibus, but this time with Metroline at HT - all previous GL68xxx minibuses have been used by Go-Ahead, though Arriva have GL69TTV. This makes me wonder if the provision of these vehicles was arranged centrally by TfL/LBSL. By the way, similar GL69SFK was seen in Romford a while back and I assumed it was working from Stagecoach's Rainham garage (even though they had recently taken four Mercedes Sprinter minibuses). SFK has since been noted at Arriva's Grays Garage, which makes more sense.
Not previously reported are WM69GEJ/JFA, a pair of grey/silver Nissan E-NV200 minibuses at Tower Transit's Lea Interchange Garage. The Mercedes Vito minibuses latterly used from LI have been off the road since mid-2020, so the Nissans may have been here for a while. Licensing data shows that they were new in February 2020 but changed ownership in September/October that year. They are unmarked save for a white Buses roundel on each side. Finally, LOTS reports that Go-Coach of Sevenoaks has acquired three LTI TX4 taxis to support the bus services to the new Amazon distribution centre in Dartford. Reports of whether LL07CXD, LL08XAM and LO59KVD are lettered or re-liveried would be welcomed.
Please note that the vehicle database has not yet been updated with any of these changes.
A third new Vito minibus for Go-Ahead London has been reported, this being WO21PGK at Northumberland Park (not yet added to the database).
A couple of things to report today. Firstly, a new batch of Mercedes Vito minibuses for Go-Ahead London has started arriving, with two reported so far, both in the Croydon area. These were WP21YCV and YCW, in the usual unmarked red. I would not be at all surprised if more were to follow.
My Potters Bar correspondent reports that crew ferry provision has recently returned to pre-pandemic arrangements. The hired and loaned vehicles have been returned. It remains to be seen whether this also applies to other company garages that have hired vehicles, for example Northumberland Park and Southall (Great Western).
A letter was received (quite a rarity), giving details of over a dozen cars being used as crew ferries at various Arriva operations around London. These were at Luton (Shires), Bluewater (presumed to be Northfleet-ASC), Lakeside (presumed Grays-ALon), Guildford (ASC) and Watford (Hemel Hempstead-ASC). Predictably, the cars were all unmarked. However, as quite a few of them were registered in batches (such as more LD69xxx DS3 cars), I felt it was OK to add them to the database.
Finally, our man at Acton reports some newly-delivered vehicles seen there today. LL21KPR was a Transit dropside, not yet marked-up. More interesting were four Transit vans (9157F to 9160F) lettered for LUL Point Care. What was unusual about these was that they were registered in March 2020 (with AY20xxx marks). Have they been sitting at a dealership for the past 18-months? Four other Point Care Transits (9153F to 9156F) were actually licensed a few days after the new batch, but they were delivered and entered service (at Arnos Grove) by July 2020. Also, the new vans have a full set of markings (including the red stripe), but they lack the blue skirts. The livery has hence been shown as white/red. A new standard, or a temporary one-off (or four-off)?
A couple of small items of fleet news today. Seen working in Croydon was a VW Caddy van in Trams livery, fleetnumber 9163VW (RJ20HAA). This seems to have arrived shortly before similar 9164VW last year, but has not previously been reported. Another red Seat Leon car has turned up with Arriva London North (CX70LTY), although it was seen at Edmonton Garage rather than Palmers Green. Most of the AD cars were actually at EC that day (a Saturday), though they were parked separately from the home-based crew ferry cars. Could it be that AD is short of space at weekends? This is also similar to the observations a while ago of Norwood ferry cars being parked up at Thornton Heath.
The other fleet addition today is yet another hired car for Arriva at Dartford, FP70OMM being a Toyota C-HR, a type not yet seen as a service vehicle. Photo to follow in due course. Another of Go-Ahead London's Mercedes Vito minibuses has been reported with a number, this being RF19UZK, now FV20, and apparently only just seen for the first time. All the minibuses reported with FVx fleetnumbers have been based at Silvertown, and they are being numbered in age order within each allocation. Hence, Silvertown's RJ19HSY and RJ19HTA are likely to be FV18 and FV19 respectively. An upshot of this is that it is impossible to predict what numbers will be assigned to minibuses at other garages, and as yet there is no sign of the numbers being carried.
Still not very much to report. A fifth Seat Leon car with CX70Lxx registration is with Arriva (at Palmers Green), and a couple more Ford vans with Metroline have been reported (Connect AV20BXX and Custom AY21KKH). A 16-reg Ford Fiesta van has turned up with Go-Ahead London (EU16KWR) - where has this been hiding?! Other than those, most additions continue to be hired minibuses and cars. I was quite pleased to be able to 'withdraw' three of the large Dartford contingent, based on licensing data. Unfortunately a further three new hired cars have turned up!
Interesting news about locations is that South Harrow Station is now home to three of the four staff welfare facilities vans from Acton, a small fenced-off area having been created in the car park. Although this is likely to only be temporary, the vans have been there for at least 6 weeks. As such, I have resurrected the SHS code for this location (it was used as an Emergency Response Unit base in the 1990s).
Very little news on the central fleet recently, except that Renault Kangoo van 8594R has finally been seen after nearly 4 years. It is (as expected) in LUL white/blue/red. At Acton Works, demountable box body DB14 appears to have had a recent repaint, still all white.
Quite a bit to report on the bus companies. A fourth new red Seat Leon (CX70LVU) was seen working from Dartford. This suggests that the three CX70Lxx Seats seen at Palmers Green are indeed Arriva vehicles and they have been added to the database. Not added to the database is another Seat car in unmarked white seen working for Stagecoach at Rainham. Given that they have recently gained three additional minibuses, its use seems odd. Yet more hired cars have also been noted working from Dartford, and a couple of these are now listed. The accuracy of the database here has to be taken with a pinch of salt. For example, we are currently listing 31 service vehicles as being allocated to Dartford. In truth, many have likely returned off hire, though such changes are obviously rather hard to track.
Staying with Arriva, a new Transit Custom van (AJ21CPX, lettered) has been noted in the Croydon area. It is assumed to be based at TC. An older and unmarked Vauxhall Combo van (FD17KKH) has been seen a couple of times working from Norwood. Abellio at Beddington Cross has a few additional vehicles. A Ford C-Max and three Vauxhall Astras have been noted, all with company logos. Have they gone off Ford Fiestas? Also at BC is another nearly-new Peugeot Export van (KV69NNP). This has been given full livery and fleetnumber 6910. We now need to find the missing 6904, 6905 and 6908, although two of these numbers may be on LB17YAD at Southall and MJ17USE at Walworth.
A handful of central fleet vehicles that were delivered last year have been reported. These are two Transit dropsides at Lillie Bridge (LL20DVK and LL20DVN, fleetnumbers not yet known) and Transit van 9037F at Edgware Track Depot (registration and body details yet to be confirmed). A more recent addition is 9136F, the first hybrid-electric Ford Transit Custom van for the fleet. Abellio has added a Vauxhall Astra car (making a change from their favoured Ford Fiesta), while at least three white minibuses are on hire to Stagecoach at Rainham. Unusually, these have been given company labels, most recent hired vehicles having been anonymous. Talking of which, I have a policy of sorts regarding these. Any vans and minibuses that are reported will be listed in the database, but cars will only be added if they are seen to remain in use for more than a few weeks. Today's batch of photos includes two cars that are probably hired and these have not (yet) been added.
One of Bob's recent outings answered one long-standing question but raised a couple of others. Firstly, he visited the London Highways Alliance depot at Picketts Lock. We know that this location did take some of the LBSL Infrastructure vans from Stratford a few years ago, and I was kind of hoping that this would be where some of the 2019 deliveries of TfL Toyota Yaris cars would be based. However, Bob reported that no obvious SVs were visible. So, the allocations for the Yaris cars remains unknown.
Over at Palmers Green Garage, three further Seat Leon cars were seen, all in unmarked red like existing GK70COH. These were CX70LTZ, CX70LUB and CX70LWC. These are almost certain to be Arriva vehicles, perhaps to replace the five DS3 Crossback cars (which have not been seen lately). However, I will wait for further reports before adding them. It sounds odd but Edgware bus station is a good place to see Palmers Green cars!
Finally Bob reported a mystery (and rather elderly) Mercedes Sprinter van seen in Edmonton. FX58ZRO was apparently new as a private fire engine at Humber refinery! It now has Engineering Support lettering, LT roundels and a fleetnumber E01. But we are not really sure who actually uses it. Any ideas?
A total of 46 'new' vehicles have just been added to the database, though I should point out that the majority actually came and went about 90 years ago! Ray has been going through the Vehicle Record Cards that I published last year and he reminded me that some of the subjects were not yet in the database.
Added so far are 30 'private' cars, including previously unseen makes of Arrol-Aster, Ballot, Hupmobile, Lanchester, Moon and Unic. Many of these were acquired by LPTB from independent operators in 1933/1934 and disposed of fairly rapidly. Also added are 10 un-numbered lorries/vans, and there are a handful of numbered vehicles still to be done.
The other six vehicles are more recent and coincidentally also include a make not previously included in the database. Ray noted two white BMW 218 cars in use as crew ferries from Arriva London's Dartford garage last year. I ignored these at the time, as it was assumed that they belonged to members of staff. However, they appear to have recently been replaced by a pair of newer BMWs, this time the similar 216 model, with 21-registrations in the same series. This suggests that they are 'company' vehicles, although they are most likely only hired and they are of course unmarked (greyish-black or blackish-grey!). Also at Dartford is an unmarked VW Transporter minibus GL69TTV. As with the numerous 68-reg examples with Go-Ahead London, this is presumed to also be on hire.
That leaves just one vehicle that is a 'proper' service vehicle with lettering. MJ20UVH is a Ford Transit Custom van new to Stagecoach London's Plumstead garage last autumn. As it happens, I saw this drive past here just after I had added it! Photos of most of the 'new new' vehicles will be added shortly. Photos of the 'old new' vehicles are obviously far less likely to ever be seen....
Two new Toyota cars with LUL have been added to the database. 8911T is a 21-reg Prius at Rickmansworth, numbered amongst vehicles that arrived almost 2 years ago. Conversely 9113T is a 69-reg Yaris which was new (with 9111T and 9112T) in January 2020 but which had not previously been reported.
The database has been updated with reported changes, including a pair of 21-reg Transit Dropsides seen today at Acton Works (on the first visit in over 4 months). 9027F was in LUL livery but 9110F was in Trams white/blue/green. A previously unreported LUL Transit van seen at Lillie Bridge was probably new last November (LS70TVC - fleetnumber unknown). LUL lorry WX08KUW is now confirmed as having been sold last year. Renault Kangoo vans 8498R and 8737R are likely to go soon, both being stored at Acton with accident damage.
Bus company vehicles added include a black Vauxhall Combo van with Arriva at Grays, two more Fiesta vans with Falcon at Byfleet and a Transit Mk8 with Sullivan Buses.
Not a great deal to report today. The fourth new Nissan Leaf (9100N) has finally entered service at Eltham, seemingly after over 7 months sitting at Acton Works. And two Go-Ahead London service vehicles have now been reported with new fleetnumbers. Transit Custom Van EF19HFT is ES11, while Vito minibus RJ19HSX is FV17. The 'class' codes are presumed to relate to Engineering Support and Ferry Vehicle respectively.
A second 21-reg Ford Transit Custom minibus has arrived at Potters Bar (AY21KKT) and it is confirmed that these have replaced similar AV16CNY and AV16CNZ.
More happenings at Potters Bar! I'm sure stuff is going-on elsewhere but this is where I seem to be getting most reports from recently. Arriving last week was a new Ford Transit Custom minibus (AY21KFT, the first 21-reg SV). Photos to follow. Also added is another hired Mercedes Vito (grey KN70SXK, similar to black KN70SXP which remains in use). Across at Northumberland Park, Go-Ahead London has taken four hired VW Transporter minibuses to add to its native Vito crew ferry fleet. These are registered in the same GL68xxx series as the pair at Orpington.
Not surprisingly there is still very little to report. The merry-go-round of crew ferry vehicles at Potters Bar has continued, with hired white Ford Tourneo MT19CZH replaced by similar MT19CZG. Latest arrivals are a pair of red Honda Jazz cars, one of which tows an advertising trailer. It is believed that these two cars were acquired new by Metroline in January 2020, perhaps as replacements for earlier Nissan Note cars.
Two more Citroen Dispatch vans with Abellio have been reported. LB67UZS at Hayes is white with fleetnumber 6909. LB17YAD at Southall (Great Western) is silver and the fleetnumber is not known.
I have withdrawn the last eight of the 78xxM LBSL Incident Response Units. Three have been relicensed (suggesting that they have been sold), while the other five have been SORN (off the road) for several months. It is possible that some are still 'in stock' at Acton Works awaiting disposal. That just leaves one-off (accident replacement) 8212M (WR66UDT). Although not reported since last October, it is still licensed and does not appear to have been sold.
Staying with 'old' vehicles, a couple of the RATP Ford Fiesta vans have been seen around, despite having been replaced by new Dacia cars last year. FF24 (LS15CZY) was at Fulwell in February, while FF26 (LS15DXO) was at Hounslow also in February but now appears to have gone.
Just before Christmas 2020, three unmarked minibuses arrived at Metroline's Potters Bar Garage for use as crew ferries. They replaced the three cars that had been based here and were most likely as a temporary measure due to the COVID situation. KJ69BVH is a grey MB Vito, KN70SXP also a Vito but in black and MT19CZH a Ford Tourneo Custom in white. As they were still in use in late January 2021, I have added them to the database. A couple of LTI TX4 taxis have also been reported in use, borrowed from one of Comfort Delgros taxi firms.
Also in the far north, and also perhaps temporary, Waltham Cross Bus Station appears to have gained a 'permanent' allocation of IRU van 9092VW. This could be for 'social-distancing', by reducing the number of staff working in the Turnpike Lane office. I have shown it as a transfer, which has required the creation of a new allocation code of WXB.
Apart from a couple of withdrawals, the only other news concerns RATP. Renault Master R70030 appears to have replaced similar R70034 as the regular Hounslow (AV) engineers van. The garage in Epsom (EB) is due to close later this year, with routes transferring to other RATP garages (mainly Tolworth) or being reassigned to Go-Ahead London.
As promised, I have created a downloadable PDF document containing photos 6501 to 7000 (all published in the past year). A link to the 161 page file can be found on the Downloadable LTSV Documents index page.
Another 40 photos have been added, including the Plumstead open day, service vehicle models, country area garages and visits to the wild west. This update takes the number of photos on LTSV to 7014, and this means it is time to make up another downloadable content file. A PDF containing photos 6501 to 7000 (published in 2020 and 2021) should be available in the next week or so.
I have just updated the vehicle database, for the first time in exactly a month. Still, there is not a great deal going on with the fleets at present....
A batch of 39 photos has just been uploaded. The first 17 are 'older', but not really what you could call 'vintage'. They focus on the relatively small number of Ford Ranger pick-ups used as service vehicles since the type was introduced in 1998. The remaining 22 photos are more topical, all being taken in the last couple of months. Thanks (as always) to everyone who has contributed.
Here is another progress report on LTSV3.
I have been feeling quite pleased with myself recently, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, just as I was about to embark on a major exercise converting all the date fields in the main vehicles table to text format, I realised that this would result in the filters in the 'Advanced' fleet data pages not working. The plan (based on one successfully used on LTSV-RailData) had been to use a single text field for each date entry, rather than the rather 'fudgy' three fields that I originally used for this site. But, while this could handle vague dates (which date fields cannot), and sorted results more-or-less in order, it did not work so well with comparison operations (such as 'before 26th January 2001'), so it looks like I was right the first time! That's one job avoided.
Secondly, I worked out a way to show either the existing vehicle icon or the new one (which is larger and with a white background). As the screenshot below shows, the main vehicle list page is shaping up to be very similar to the existing one, but with some improvements in terms of navigation, layout and in the underlying code. One other change is that, when you hover over the (tiny) vehicle icon, a larger copy will pop out. As the lower half of the image shows, the older icons are smaller and have grey backgrounds, but they still work OK.
The screenshot below is not final. Click on the screenshot to view it full-size. This will open in the same window, so use the back button to come back here.
Also visible in these screenshots are what I call 'smart page jumps'. At present, the list pages will allow you to jump to any numbered page (for example page 40 of 60), but you won't know what is on that page until you get there. The new page jumpers show a summary of the range of records on each page. This was very complicated to code, having to take into account the sort order and any filters that had been applied. It still needs a bit of work.
Having saved myself one job, I soon found another one when I decided to add operator details to the records in the history table. This is worthwhile as it will allow the capturing of changes of operator, which are currently rather easy to lose. The main vehicle table holds one operator per vehicle and thus cannot show any previous operators. Hence, if you search for 'First London' vehicles, those that passed to Metroline, Go-Ahead and Tower Transit will not show up. The change will also eventually* allow for an improved 'fleet-at-date' view (* Once all vehicles have had history records added). At present this shows the vehicles in stock at the selected date, but not the operator and allocation at that time. So, worth doing, but quite a big job to add the operator to each of the 43,000 entries in the history table. Many are easy ('LT' covers most things between 1933 and 1984) and I have so far done two thirds.
Yet another sizeable data-entry task that I have added to my list is to do with historical documents. I wanted the new site to somehow integrate these with the vehicle database. This covers both the documents that have already been published on LTSV-LTA (which are mainly Variations in Rolling Stock sheets) and the various other documents that I have copies of (such as Vehicle Record Cards and Miscellaneous Vehicle Registers). Designing and coding the means to reference and display these documents was fairly easy, but I now need to list the vehicles that are shown on each document. Easy enough for Vehicle Record Cards, a bit more time-consuming for the 19,700 Variation sheets!
I am in Project Management mode today, trying to get a sense of how far I have got (and how far I still have to go) with the development of the replacement for this website. To do this, I broke the project down into 6 main tasks. Figures in brackets show the percentage completed to date.
1. Plan and build database (70)
The planning is complete and several of the the tables are already built. The rest will not take long.
2. Adapt existing data for new database (50)
Most of the tables are being changed, some drastically. The existing data needs to be adapted to fit, and I am now using a back-up taken a couple of days ago as the basis. When complete, I will then just need to add the records that have been added or edited since that back-up.
3. Resize all photos (78)
I have been working on this for a while, going back to the source images to make larger versions of the published photos. The plan is to complete this before launch.
4. Resize all icons (0)
I wanted to feature larger vehicle icons, though I am now thinking I will stick with the existing ones for the time being. They may look a little odd since they have grey backgrounds while the new website is based on white backgrounds.
5. Make display pages (20)
These pages are relatively easy to produce. So far done are the news and photos pages.
6. Make editing pages (10)
Unsurprisingly, the pages that allow users to change things (such as adding a sighting) are a lot more complex. The log-in page is done as are the pages to add and edit news items.
There are two other side-projects which, although not directly related to LTSV3, are being worked on concurrently.
Adding web IDs to photo filenames (72)
This makes it much easier to see which photographs have already been published. It has already proved useful, as I have found a few older photos which could do with being shown.
Adding info to title attribute of all filed photos (2)
I mentioned this here a few weeks ago. It is hugely useful in terms of finding/filtering photos and it is also beneficial from an archival point of view. However, it is a little bit time consuming so, for now, I am only applying it to newly received photos. The other 26,100 I will save to do on a rainy day/week/month!
Another batch of 40 photos has just been uploaded and, once again, these are of the contemporary scene, most being taken during September. My plan to alternate between current and 'vintage' photos has been put on hold while I still have lots of new ones to add.
Having unearthed some spotting notes from my teenage years, I have added some 1980s sightings, including those from open days at Aldenham Works (in 1983) and Chiswick Works (in 1984). Remarkably, one service vehicle seen at the latter event remains in stock over 37 years later, with trailer CT36 having been reported at Acton a couple of weeks ago.
The database has been updated with 14 recent additions (all with the bus companies, as mentioned in Fleet News yesterday) and some withdrawals and other changes. The number of vehicles in the database now stands at 14,070. Recent photos are to follow soon.
A new batch of 30 photos has just being uploaded, all having been taken over the past 3 months but coming from an impressive 11 different contributors. Thanks to you all, and to everyone who supplied photos that have not (yet) been used. For a change, the photos are presented in the order in which they were taken, rather than by the subjects.
The vehicle database has been brought up to date with reported additions and withdrawals. The latter include some stuff that went a long time ago but which I had not got around to updating. These are mainly Sovereign Recovery vehicles.
My internet service was reinstated (a day early on Sunday in fact), though I have been fully occupied with family matters all this week. As for the little security issue, nothing more seems to have come of it. I would still urge anyone with any problems or concerns to get in touch. I have decided to accelerate the development of 'LTSV3', the next version of this website. I had been using the fact that quite a lot of photos still need re-doing to put-off the 'hard' work of actually coding the pages. However, I think the coding should now be prioritised. This will be done alongside a smaller job of tightening up the code on some of the pages on the existing site, specifically the pages that allow users to add info, comments or sightings. These changes should be 'invisible', but I will post an update when they have been implemented, so that users can let me know of any unintended side-effects.
A new problem - unconnected to the one on Thursday - is that my street lost its broadband service yesterday afternoon (just after I had completed a site update luckily). Until it is repaired (estimated Monday), I have very limited website access (using my phone) and no e-mail. Ho hum.
I have updated the vehicle database with some additions, disposals and lots of allocations.
The batch of new photos is now ready and totals 30, all but one of which were taken in London over the past couple of months.
There was a security breach this morning, when an existing member's account was used to make a couple of spurious entries containing code relating to uploads. I deleted these as soon as I detected them, although on reflection I should have saved a copy so that I could determine what the code did and hence whether any damage had been done. I have long been aware that the current webpages are somewhat lax when it comes to security and what users are allowed to post. The new version of the website will address these issues but is still some way off. As such, I might make some small changes to the existing pages. In the meantime, please get in touch if you have noticed anything unusual, or if you have any questions. It might also be a good idea for users to change their passwords now and then.
Behind the scenes
As will be evident, I regularly receive quite a few photos, usually by e-mail but sometimes on CD-ROMs in the post. The current rate is about 20 photos a week, slightly lower than a few years ago but still enough for a steady supply of additions to the website. I don't deal with photos straight away. Instead, about every 4-5 weeks I have a filing session, adding the details (subject, location, date, photographer etc) to a spreadsheet and renaming each photo to suit. I then keep most new arrivals in a separate folder until I decide whether or not to use them on the website. After that, they get moved into the main filing system, with a folder for each block of fleetnumbers or registration year/s as appropriate. The overall collection currently stands at 26,383 photos.
I have recently started adding information to the 'title' attribute of received JPGs, this covering the subject, location, date and photographer. Although this adds a bit of time to the filing process, it does enable improved searching and filtering. For example, if I wanted to see all the photos I have of Ford Cargo lorries, I could use the spreadsheet to give me the filenames, but these files would be spread across several folders (eg LT2300-2399, LCBS, BusCo/Prefix/A-N, etc). With titles added, you could enter 'Title:Cargo' in a Windows File Explorer search box and it will find them. Or at least it would if I had added titles retrospectively. Doing this for all 26,383 photos is a rather massive task, and not something I need right now! As an aside, when preparing photos for publication, what are in effect new copies of each photo are made. However, attributes such as the title are carried over. This has a benefit in that, if a visitor saves a photo from the website, the information about where and when the photo was taken would still be accessible.
Choosing which photos to use is quite an enjoyable task, and I take into account several factors. Repeats (ie showing the same vehicle for a second time) are generally avoided, unless there is some change or difference to show. Likewise, photos that are not of suitable quality are rejected. If I have two photos that are broadly the same I will often give priority to the one from the newer contributor. Talking of contributors, it is interesting how some names change and some stay the same. In the latest period (which was stretched to 7 weeks for various reasons), Ray Monk retained his normal position as the most prolific supplier, helped by his regular access to Acton Works. Two relative newbies (Andrew Lidinson and Peter Terry) were in second and third, while a total of ten different people have sent in photos. I am very grateful for all such contributions.
The processing of the photos has become quite a quick job, with the quality of modern cameras meaning that less tweaking (of brightness, contrast etc) is required. With most, all I have to do is crop the image and resize it to the (recently introduced) standard size of 1200x800 pixels. I also sometimes blur the faces of drivers and/or passengers, where they might otherwise be recognisable. When the source image allows, I also now save a 2400x1600 pixels copy, for use on the next version of this website.
Getting the photos onto the website is also quite a streamlined process. Using a local copy of the website (which sits on a server on my home PC), I add the basic details of each photo, then the details of each subject (one photo can have several subjects). Then the one time-consuming task - writing the captions. Once that is done, the new database records are exported to a text file, the photos are uploaded using FTP, and the data from the text file is uploaded into the live database. Bob, as they say, is your uncle.
There is one more job that is essential but 'invisible', this being backing-up. At present I take a back-up of the website (specifically the 23 tables that make up the live database) once a month. Every few months I use the live back-up to update my local copy of the database, thus synchronising the two. When I am writing captions I am usually using the off-line copy, and it helps if this includes recent sightings etc. Also every month I make two complete external back-ups of all my data and photo folders. Service vehicles account for about 125GB, split almost 50/50 into photos and documents. Other stuff (including e-mails, railway photos and data, document scans, personal photos, music etc) brings the total up to 400GB, with the whole process taking a couple of hours. In between full back-ups, I may make several mini back-ups, only covering files that I have recently been working on.
The 'early July' batch of photos has finally been published, and comprises quite a nice selection of 25 views taken between 1961 and 2001. As a result of the delay, the 'late July' batch (which will cover more contemporary photos) will now become an 'early August' batch, or perhaps 'mid-August'....
Apologies for the delay in adding the next set of photos. I actually prepared a batch of 25 from the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s at the beginning of the month but I have had some distractions and the captions are not yet complete. For example, during the glorious weather of the past week, I have been out several times to photograph trains for my other website. No fewer than 346 new photos have been published this week, but of course they don't have individual captions (other than detailing the workings).
A set of 20 new photos has been added, these covering recent developments. The vehicle database has also been updated.
A batch of 25 new photos has just been added. As you may have noticed I have recently been alternating between current and 'vintage' photos, and today's are all from the 1970s or early 1980s. As usual I have included some lengthy captions with details of the vehicles, liveries, locations and fake door handles!
Transport books for donation I have taken possession of the late Steve Howard's large collection of transport books and magazines, with a view to finding good homes for them if possible. Most are bus or train spotter's books including;
If you would like any of these items, or you require further details, please get in touch by e-mail to email@example.com. There will be no charge for the items, unless posting them is the only way to get them to you. Collection from Abbey Wood (London) or nearby would be preferred. Any items that remain at the end of July will probably end up being recycled.
A set of 26 photos has just been uploaded, all having been taken in the past couple of months. Thanks to everyone who has contributed. My captions are verbose as usual...
I have brought the database up to date with some recent changes. A couple of the vehicles added are minibuses that are likely to only be on hire. Two new locations have also been added. These are Henley Road (North Woolwich) Bus Garage, coded DS for Docklands and being used by Go-Ahead London to run route 69, and Penton Street (Islington) ERU, our code PSE. The latter location is the former PCO and Cycle Hire depot and took over the North London Emergency Response Unit allocation in February, following the closure of Camden (Pratt Street) last November.
I have added a small bundle of vehicle allocations and transfers, many resulting from a fruitful night visit to Stratford by one of our reporters this week! The allocations information on LTSV is based almost entirely on observations. Normally I would want to see two sightings of a vehicle at a given location before deciding it was actually allocated there. However, with the lower numbers of sightings being reported recently, I have made some allocations based on a single report.
There is more! I have completed (for now) the downloadable LTSV docs, with the addition of part 3c with 500 photos originally published in 2005/2006. You can get this from the index page.
A batch of 21 new photos has just been uploaded, this covering another dip into the archives with views taken in the 1970s and 1980s.
Recent changes allowing people to get out and about a bit more have resulted in the flow of new photographs picking up. In fact, even being rather selective, I ended up with a set of 30 photos to publish, all having been taken during April. As such, I have not included any 'vintage' photos this time, but there will be more soon. Oh and I have not yet updated the vehicle database with some of the information from the new photos. This will be done shortly.
I have now corrected all the spelling and grammatical mistakes in the photo captions (at least those that appear in the download documents added over the last week). If you find any udders, please let me know.
Second update: I have churned out another download document, part3m covering photos 6001-6500 from 2019/2020. This one has 157 pages and the layout is not quite so neat due to some of the captions being very lengthy and running across page breaks. On the plus side, the spellchecker only found 19 errors that I cannot dispute. Anyway, you can get this (and all the other sections) from the index page. There is just one photos part left to do (3c with 2005/2006) but I think I will go a bit crazy if I try and do any more straight away....
Yet another downloadable document has just been added, part 3b containing photos 501 to 1000 (published to LTSV in 2004/2005). My spelling and grammar seemed to have been improving at the time, although nearly 50 errors were discovered while producing this document. These will be fixed in the web pages shortly. The 147-page PDF can be viewed and downloaded from the index page.
Further to my comments yesterday about service vehicle photos on other websites, there is an excellent site that you should look at it if you have not already done so. Flickr is the main repository for on-line photos at present, and finding particular subjects there can be a bit hit and miss. Fortunately there are also groups where photos on a given subject can be collated and curated. User RTW501 (Les) has run a group called London Transport Service Vehicles (not connected with this site in any way, despite the shared name) for the past 10 years. At present the group contains 2,574 photos, including many unique and interesting views. Coverage is from the earliest days of London Transport (with a few even older pictures), right up to the present day. Well worth a look, you can find the group at https://www.flickr.com/groups/london_transport_service_vehicles/.
A few years ago (crumbs, it was actually in 2014!) I added a feature to LTSV whereby 'external' photos could be displayed. These were photos from other websites or printed books/magazines, which would be shown only in 'thumbnail' size with links or references to where the original could be viewed. I never really developed this feature, as I had some concerns about copyright issues. There was also the facility to add text-only links to photos on other websites, which seemed a safer way to do it. When planning the next version of this website, I had thought that the external photos should be dropped.
However, I have had a change of heart. The feature has several benefits, including allowing the photos to be more integrated with other parts of the website. As such I have just added a further set of 15 external photos, these all being of vehicles not previously shown on LTSV. If the use of this feature is to be continued, I would not seek to add all such photos, but focus instead on items that are not currently covered. Any thoughts or feedback on this would be welcomed.
As shown above, this latest batch have been added at 300 pixels wide (instead of 150 pixels). As such you can see the general configuration of the vehicle but you will need to use the (supplied) link to view the details. This change will also help with the move to version 3 of this website, since all thumbnails there will be 300 pixels wide. All external photos will be clearly marked as 'EXT'.
Confession time: There has been quite a lot of new content on LTSV and LTSV-RD in the past week or so. However, I am procrastinating somewhat as all of this is a way of avoiding the more challenging work of coding the pages for LTSV-SV3, LTSV-LTA, LTSV-RD and LTSV-tba!
Another downloadable document has just been added, and I decided to go back to the beginning with part 3a covering photos 1 to 500 (originally added to LTSV in 2003/2004). This latest addition runs to 150 pages, even though most of the captions were shorter back then. The cause is the non-standard aspect ratio of many of the photos, meaning that only 3 (or sometimes even just 2) fit on a page, compared to 4 of the standard-sized photos.
Please help 'preserve' LTSV by downloading this document. It can be found on the relevant index page. A couple of points have arisen from this exercise, as listed below:
1. There were a lot of typos.
The process of making these documents is rather tedious and involves copying and pasting each photo and caption into a Word table, then revising any hyperlinks. A by-product of the process is that Word has a spellchecker, and it found a lot of errors in the first 500 captions. There were in fact close to 100, although a third of these were just errant apostrophes in it's. I have since learned when its use is required and when it's not! The errors were fixed in the downloadable document, and will be fixed in the web version shortly.
2. I am very reliant on contributors.
Only about a tenth of the photos on this website were taken by me. The rest were supplied by an army of contributors, some of whom sent in a single photo while others have submitted many hundreds. I am very grateful to everyone for every one.
3. Many of the captions could be expanded.
My early caption writing was often quite brief, and I keep seeing things (either in the main subject, something in the background or to do with the location) that I could now add. However, rather than change the existing captions, I think it would be best to make any additions as comments. By doing so, regular visitors will be able to see the changes more easily.
4. There are lots of photos still to use.
As well as individual submissions, I also got my hands on several 'collections', or at least parts of collections. A lot of the photos have not yet been published, partly because I thought I should keep some back for future projects or for the proverbial 'rainy day'. I think the time has now come to start mining these resources.
Second update: Another part of the Downloadable LTSV document set has just been completed and published, this being part 3l containing photos 5501 to 6000 (originally published to LTSV between 2017 and 2019). The 143-page document can be viewed and downloaded from the index page. Next up should be part 3m, with photos from 2019/2020, or perhaps I should belatedly tackle parts 3a/b/c, which will contain photos from the first three 3 years of LTSV (2003-2006).
The latest batch of 15 photos has now been uploaded and they represent quite an interesting and varied range of subjects. I did neglect to change the date though so they are marked for yesterday.
A new batch of photos is on the way. Comprising a mixture of recent and 'vintage' shots, I have prepared an initial set of 15, so that writing the captions won't take so long! These should be up either later today or tomorrow. First though, the next version of this website was 'born' a couple of weeks ago and I thought it might be interesting to show you the (limited) progress made so far.
For various reasons, a completely new version of this website is needed, and work on this has recently started. Although essentially similar to the current site, there will be some functional and cosmetic changes, mainly based on things tested on my 'LTSV Rail Data' website.
The first section to be tackled is the photo gallery. The screenshots below are not final. Click on any screenshot to view it full-size. This will open in the same window, so use the back button to come back here.
^ The thumbnail images have been doubled in width (up from 150 pixels to 300 pixels), and there are additional options for filtering and sorting. The filters now include the vehicle model, photographer name, 'tags' and a search for words or phrases within the caption. In the example shown, all photos with the tag 'Line-up' are shown, these being photos that show 3 or more vehicles. The code for this page was complex due to the fact that each photo can have multiple subjects. For example, if you sort by 'date added' or 'date taken', you would expect each photo to only appear once. However, if you sort by 'vehicle ID' or 'registration', a photo showing three vans should appear three times. The HD icon in the corner of some photos indicates that a High-Definition (extra large) copy of the photo is also available.
^ The layout of the gallery is more responsive to screen sizes. On my large monitor, 9 thumbnails can fit on each row.
^ The photo view page is still being worked on but should look something like this. Below the main image are links to adjoining photos. Unlike the current 'previous/next' text links, these are based on the filtering/sorting that has been applied. The default photo size will be 1200 pixels wide. Existing photos on LTSV are mainly 900 pixels wide, with some older ones at 800 or even 600. Resizing these photos is rather a mammoth task. I am going back to the source images, and also taking the opportunity to make improvements to the cropping and light/colour balance on many of the photos. Just over half of the existing 6,600-odd photos have been dealt with so far.
^ After re-sizing the first 1,000 or so photos, I decided it would be good to also add a third photo size option. This is set at 2,400 pixels wide, and is only being added where the source image is suitable. When viewing the normal size photos, the image will (if required) shrink to fit the screen available. For the extra-large photos I have disabled this feature. The photos thus appear full-size, meaning that you will need to scroll around a bit to see everything. Or of course you can right-click and save the photo to your PC.
I am hesitant to give an estimate for when this new website will be launched. There is still a lot of work to do on LTSV-RD (Rail Data), plus a few tasks outstanding on LTSV-LTA (London Transport Archive documents). And I am also working on the (as-yet unannounced) fourth LTSV website, although work on this has been delayed. I decided to make some fundamental changes to the way the data for this is handled which meant scrapping the pages I had created so far.
I realised today that I have somewhat neglected the 'Downloadable LTSV documents' since the initial bundle were uploaded a few years ago. This will be addressed over the next few weeks, starting with a new photos document which is available now. Part 3k covers the photos 5001 to 5500, which were originally published to LTSV between 2015 and 2017. The full captions are included, along with any comments, and the document runs to 137 pages. You can view and download it from the index page.
As a sort of post-script to the photos published yesterday, I have just added a further three images. One is of the second 21-reg minibus at Potters Bar, the other two are views from Google that I think may be of interest.
A batch of 19 new photos has just been uploaded (dated for yesterday), all of which were taken in the last month or so. I have been a lot less selective than usual and I have used almost everything that I have received. Hence for example there are three photos of the newest minibus at Potters Bar! I know the 'vintage' photos have proved popular so rest assured that there will be lots more of those to come next time.
The vehicle database and Fleet News have been updated.
Running a few days later than planned, a batch of 23 new photos has finally been uploaded. The majority are vintage views (1970s) as I continue to work my way through the numerous recent contributions from Derek, Phil and Ian. There are also a few bits of fleet news to report and I will add these either later tonight or tomorrow.
The LTSV 'community' has suffered a major loss with the news that Steve Howard died last week. Steve was involved with LTSV almost from the start, sending in information on service vehicles that he had seen. He liked to drive around central London at night, when the tube lines were closed and maintenance work was undertaken. Because of this he found many vehicles that nobody else had seen. I joined him for several of these night trips over the years, and we became good friends. I will greatly miss his regular contributions, his amazing attention to detail and his wry sense of humour.
The database has been brought up-to-date with a few additions and departures.
Another batch of 20 photos has just been added, most of which are from the 1980s with just a couple of recent views included. Not surprisingly, reports and photos are still very much down due to the COVID-19 lockdown. Happily I have been receiving yet more 'vintage' photos, so I am at no risk of running out of things to show. More soon. As for data, I have a couple of small updates to make to the database, and these will be done shortly. I seem to be spending most of my time tweaking the 'new' rail website.
The photos for 1st of February have been uploaded a couple of hours early! There are 20 in total, from five different decades and including some real gems.
Due to the latest 'lockdown' I have not been receiving much in the way of reports or photos. However, I have just updated the database and Fleet News with a few items. Photos will be added on Monday and will feature some brilliant new views from the 1970s and 1980s.
A batch of 20 photos has been just been uploaded. Most were received in the last few weeks but they cover a variety of periods and subjects. Fleet data will be updated soon.
There may be no updates this week either, though I have received very few photos or reports anyway. My new website was launched as planned on 1st January and I am still busy with testing and tweaking. If you are interested in UK trains, please take a look at https://www.ltsv.com/rd/index.php.