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It makes a rare change to be able to include a bus on a TfL route that is not in plain red livery, and route ELW is unique in having a form of route branding (apart from odd buses still carrying branding from earlier schemes now discontinued). This is one of two temporary routes operating while the East London railway line is closed for rebuilding and conversion from London Underground to National Rail standards. The track and signalling is being completely replaced, as well as many bridges and structures being renewed, necessitating a lengthy closure. This is particularly unfortunate, as the line had to be closed during the 1990s to allow for refurbishment work on the old Thames Tunnel between Rotherhithe and Wapping.
Having initially been specified for double deckers, the ELW has now been converted to Dart operation – just weeks after the new double deckers ordered for it arrived! DMS41258 (T258 JLD) is an 8.8m Marshall Capital-bodied Dart SLF and was seen setting down passengers outside Whitechapel station, the last stop, on Wednesday 13th August. As noted above, orange route branding is carried, matching the line colour of both the old East London Line and the eventual London Overground service. The side advert frames show a class 378 Overground train.
|Photo © Brian Creasey.|
As is typical with such services, few of the former ELL users have switched to the rail replacement buses, having found other means of travel instead, particularly as the buses cannot provide the crucial cross-river link that the trains do, thus rendering the remaining sections largely superfluous. Thus Darts are adequate for the loadings, and their smaller size has also allowed the service to take a shorter routeing, and to be extended from its original purpose.
The Whitechapel-Shoreditch section of the ELL had closed first, and a shuttle numbered ELS was laid on between these points, using Optare Solos from Travel London. As with the trains it replaced, the ELS only ran during Monday-Friday peak hours and Sunday market hours.
The ELW covered the Wapping-Whitechapel section when that closed in December 2007. The single decking, from 19 July 2008, allowed its extension to Shoreditch replacing the ELS, albeit with only a half hourly service provided, a far cry from the trains which ran (and will run) every 5-6 minutes! The same restricted periods of operation apply as with the ELS, although the London Overground trains that will eventually replace it will provide a daily service to Shoreditch High Street (which replaces the old Shoreditch station in a slightly different location) and on to Dalston.
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