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Route 328
12 August 2009

Route 328 was born, in May 1999, out of the northern end of route 28 and the southern end of route 31. Those two busy routes were said to be difficult to operate reliably due to their orbital nature, which meant they crossed many heavily congested radial corridors out of London. Shortening the routes would make them more reliable. The 28 took the biggest hit, being cut almost in half as it was curtailed at Westbourne Park, with the section north to Golders Green going to the 328. The 328 only ran as far south as Kensington, providing a short overlap, though journeys between Kensington and Kilburn could still be made on the 31. The 31 was also trimmed back to Notting Hill Gate from Camden Town, making it actually quite a short route at 6 miles. Its traditional southern terminus of Chelsea was taken over by the new 328.

Initial operation was using new low floor Dennis Darts, as were also used on the 28 and 31. The unhappy background to this choice of vehicle has already been explained on the route 28 page. But contract renewal in 2004 presented the opportunity to convert the routes to double deck at last, and a large batch of Wright Eclipse Gemini bodied Volvo B7TLs fulfilled the requirements, along with odd examples of other types. Thus typifying the main allocation is VNW32389 (LK04 HZX) in Elgin Ave, Maida Hill (by 'The Elephant & Castle') on 14 June 2005.

Photo © John Bennett.

Early enthusiasm for hybrid vehicle technology, in which all or part of the motive power is provided by electricity rather than directly by the engine, saw a number of small batches of experimental vehicles ordered. One of the routes selected for trials was the 328, and has gained five Wrightbus Gemini 2 HEV "integrals," a new type which also has a pure diesel version. It is understood to be based on VDL components VDL, and their predecessors DAF, had supplied many of the early low floor double deckers, but dropped out of the market in 2005. Wrights also dropped out soon afterwards, as they did not build bodies for any chassis which was available for London use.

Photo © Sunil Prasannan.

One of these machines, WNH39005 (LK58 ECZ), is seen on Sunday 26 July 2009 passing its home garage at Westbourne Park, a modern garage located under the A40 Westway (behind the bus) and next to the Great Western railway line out of Paddington (underneath the bus!). The revised styling contrasts with the "Mark 1" Gemini in the previous photo.

Short wheelbase TN class Tridents formed part of the official allocation to the 328, and a number are still allocated to Westbourne Park for other routes, and frequently appear on the 328. Although this particular example has since moved to Northumberland Park, TN32970 (X613 HLT) represents the class in an earlier era, on the same date and location as the VNW above. Only later members of the class now remain at Westbourne Park, but their external appearance is similar, although the white and yellow relief has now fallen out of favour.

Photo © John Bennett.

See also routes 28, 31

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