Saturday, 3 February 2018

Tridents to Reading

Trident 349 is one of four heading to Reading. Here it passes the former Lytham tram waiting room in 2013  (Brian Turner)

Recently withdrawn new to Isle of Man Dennis Tridents 349 to 352 (E16BTS to E19BTS) have been sold to Reading Buses. 350 left on 25 January, with 349 leaving on 31 January and are being repainted at a contractor before delivery to Reading. They are expected to be used on football extras.

These are the latest buses to flow between Reading and Blackpool. This started in the 1996/7s. In 1994 a new local operator, Reading Mainline, introduced competing services using ex London Routemasters. Their fleet grew to around 40 buses and they acquired Blackpool's redundant Routemasters in 1997. 521 to 531/3 became Mainline 33 to 44, albeit not in order. Two (522/9) were not used, but the rest entered service in their red and cream livery - applied by BTS. 

Reading Buses responded with additional minibuses. This included five City Pacers purchased from Blackpool in late 1996. Pioneer 560 became 222, 556 to 558 became 223/19/21 and 566 became 218. This ran until late 1998 (except 556 which was withdrawn earlier). 

Reading Buses purchased Mainline in 1998 and progressively withdrew its inherited Routemasters, closing the unit on 22 July 2000. Ex Blackpool 526 became the last to operate.

Moving forward to 2008, Reading Buses was disposing its fleet of 64 Optare Excels after around 8 to 10 years service. 932 to 936 were sold to Blackpool Transport becoming 222 to 226. 225 became Blackpool's last Excel in 2016 and is now back in the home area with Morton's Travel of Basingstoke. 

Most recently Blackpool Solos 251/2/4/6/8/60 were sold to Newbury and District in West Berkshire.