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Route H26
13 December 2012

The H26 is rather unusual, in that it does not serve any major town centres – and consequently is a little hard to track down! Half the route runs through the bleak wastelands to the south of Heathrow Airport, with a brief respite as buses pass through Bedfont, before entering some more substantially built up areas around Feltham. At the other end, Abellio London 8103 (LJ56 YSU) spins round at Hatton Cross on Thursday 24 February 2011. These Enviro200Darts replaced the previous allocation of Dennis/Plaxton Mini Pointer Darts following tender renewal in 2010, and were transferred from route C1 in July that year.

Photo © John Bennett.

The H26 started life in August 1993 with sponsorship from London Borough of Hounslow, the rationale being to provide a bus service to the Bedfont Lakes area. Buses ran from Hatton Cross to Sparrow Farm Estate in Feltham via Heathrow Terminal 4, Bedfont Green, Bedfont Road and Feltham High Street. The Sparrow Farm section was taken over from route H25. Although the terminals remain the same, buses now run via Hatton Road, thus missing out Terminal 4, and have also been diverted via some extra side roads in the Feltham area.

The route was operated by Capital Coaches of Heathrow, this being its first London Transport bus route contract, and indeed its only one for several years. The company’s main business was coaching and airside work at Heathrow and Gatwick Airports, but three wheelchair accessible Mercedes minibuses were bought for the H26, with an older 609D as backup. The company retained the route on re-tendering in November 1996, and a few months later the route was diverted via the Guildford Avenue area of Feltham.

In October 1997 Capital Coaches purchased Whyte’s Airport Services and renamed itself Capital Logistics. Capital Logistics was itself bought up by its rather smaller neighbour Tellings-Golden Miller in June 1999, and the Capital Logistics identity and livery was eventually eliminated. Then, in June 2005, TGM sold its entire London bus operation to Travel London, part of the National Express group, which in turn sold the business on to Dutch group Abellio. So the H26 has passed through more than its fair share of company takeovers!

From the start buses had run on Mondays to Saturdays only, but there was some limited demand for transport to the Feltham Young Offenders’ Centre in the middle of Bedfont Road, so from March 1998 Sunday afternoons-only route H24 was added. Buses ran between the Centre and Feltham Station, where they were timed to connect with trains – a rarity in London. Capital Logistics provided the bus. In November 1999 a further new contract for the H26 was commenced, and the opportunity was sensibly taken to incorporate the H24 into the H26, the H26 thus becoming daily. In addition the route was diverted via Hatton Road as mentioned above, and the new Darts were introduced within a few months.

(As an aside, in London timing points have unique 6-letter codes for internal use. Some wag at TfL decided that the code for the Young Offender's Centre, off Bedfont Road, should be YOBORD!)

See also routes C1, H20, H25

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