This post is about the Hounslow Road Run on 11th February 2018. Enjoy!
What was supposed to happen
The plan for the day was to recreate four routes in the Hounslow area with RF486. It would come from Chertsey Station in the morning as a 237, then run a return 211 trip to Hampton, before finishing the day by heading to Leatherhead Garage as a 202 as far as Richmond, Dee Road, then as a 71 to the Garage.
Hounslow is easy to get to, just a long way away. I hopped on a c2c to Fenchurch Street, walked to Tower Hill and took the District line to South Kensington. After that, it was just a rather long way on the Piccadilly Line to Hounslow East, which happens to be closer to the Bus Station and the centre of Hounslow than Hounslow Central or Hounslow stations.
The Road Run
Upon arrival at the rather grand Hounslow East Station, I consulted my watch and discovered that I had 45 minutes to spare. With this spare time, I decided to have a look around, but RF486 was already arriving by the time I made my way back to the Bus Station
|RF486 on the final leg of its route 237 trip from Chertsey.|
By the time I arrived back at the aforementioned Bus Station, RF486 was already parked up, but another bus – RF406 – had decided to come along for the ride as well and had just finished unloading outside the Bus Station.
|A little bit of a surprise!|
They had arrived a little earlier than expected, so had around 25 minutes on stand instead of the expected 15. The blinds were changed to ‘211 Hampton Station’ and they performed a rather complex manoeuvre to pull into the Bus Stand.
|Quite a nice stand at Hounslow!|
I decided to board the grey-banded RF406, as I had heard it would return to Chertsey later in the day, instead of working to Leatherhead with RF486. It is immaculately preserved and the moquette must have been recently changed, as it was pristine! RF486 was just ahead of us for a while, but red lights and traffic meant we lost it after about 10 minutes! Luckily, the crew stopped in a layby and we were soon on our way again, in convoy, towards Hampton. With pretty much no clue as to where we were going, the driver just followed the leading RF through the housing estate’s twisting roads.
|Not the most scenic route!|
Soon after, we had arrived at Hampton Station, where cars and vans had to squeeze between the parked cars and the RFs. Nevertheless, our bus quickly reversed for a photo with the other.
|Blocking up the road!|
Everybody swapped onto RF486 here, so I assumed that RF406 would be heading home. As a result, I took 486 back to Hounslow too. We had a few minutes on the other side of the station, before departing for Hounslow. We meandered back through the estate with RF406 still in tow (although with barely any passengers!) Bang on time at 13:00, we arrived back at the stop outside the Bus Staiton.
|RFs - always on time!|
Again, both buses turned into the Bus Station, but this time ran into the Garage itself.
|Time for lunch!|
After an hour at Hounslow, RF486 turned back out of the garage and into the stand. Luckily, I got a seat with a friend I had made earlier that day (it was 2 ¼ hours down to Leatherhead). A short while out of Hounslow, in Nelson Road, we stopped for a quick photo.
|Strange place for a photo!|
After a speedy run through Twickenham and Richmond Town Centre, we arrived at Dee Road – just outside the centre of Richmond. There, the blinds were changed for Route 71 to Leatherhead, in a hailstorm that really hurt!
Then we were off again, back through Richmond (where we exchanged garage codes, now displaying Kingston) and to the Bus Station, where we paused for another quick photo.
|Not that busy on a Sunday!|
It was a pleasant run to Sandy Lane in Ham, where we were able to get more photos!
|Not very Sandy, and with no Ham!|
Only a relatively short hop to our next major location, Kingston’s Cromwell Road Bus Station, and our RF ride was almost over – only 4 hours after it had begun!
|This, or an Omnicity?|
However, there was still a little way to go yet! There was a rather large gap between photo stops here, as we sailed down the A243 past Chessington World of Adventures (formerly Chessington Zoo), through Malden Rushett and under the M25. Soon after exiting the A243, the conductor left the bus at Park Rise, leaving us to run O.M.O. to the Garage… or so I thought. Upon departure, he announced that we could continue all the way to Dorking Station if we wished! We paused briefly outside Lloyds Bank for a photo, where we met a Dorking-bound 465…
|Wait for me!|
…and the driver tried to set off without us! Luckily, we were able to stop him again, just in time! Either it was a genuine mistake, or he didn’t like us. Probably the latter. The 465 that we met in the Town Centre followed us for the short trip to the Garage (now a leisure centre) and the official terminus for the trip. Arrival there was a little early, allowing for most of the passengers to transfer to the Kingston-bound 465.
|Not the end!|
I decided – obviously – to continue all the way, along with 5 or 6 others. This section was really fast, as RF486 made the journey down the A24 from Leatherhead to Dorking in around 20 minutes – faster than the OVs do on the 465, the modern equivalent. Then, sadly, our time on the RF was up. We said our goodbyes and exited for the 465.
|Bye for now!|
It departed from the other side of the road after about 30 minutes’ wait in the snow. Oh well, I got to Surbiton! From there, a SWR train whisked to into London and I got home ok, if a little late at around 1930.