Green Line RF in original conditionThe RF Story

Part 3 - Into service

Green Line RF276 in original condition at New Malden, operating from Windsor to Dartford on route 725.
Photo © Jim Andress
Before the first RFs arrived in 1951, London Transport's fleet of large single-deckers ranged from the 1T1s and Scooters from the days of the General to the post-war stop-gap Ts and TDs, and comprised 86 LTs, 24 LTCs, 359 pre-war and 80 post-war Ts, 228 Qs, 76 TFs and 131 TDs, a total of 984.  In addition, there were 74 Cs and 46 CRs, which were replaced in the Country Area by the GS class of small single-deckers, but not replaced in the Central Area as one-man operation ended (for the time being) with the Cubs in 1949.
Not counting engineering spares and private hire coaches, the operational requirement of large single-deckers at the start of 1951 was 812, made up as follows:
         Class     Central     Country Green Line Total
  LT 82 - - 82
  Pre-war T 31 100 144 275
  Post-war T 50 30 - 80
  Q 87 71 26 184
  TF - 6 54 60
  TD 131 - - 131
  Total 381 207 224 812
Within four years, this diversity had given way to 700 RFs plus the post-war Ts and TDs.  The last LT Scooters were replaced on the 208 at Dalston by RFs on 31 Jan 53, an advance allocation before this mainly Q-operated route was fully converted a week or two later.  31 Jan 53  was also the last day in service for the venerable 1T1 class, which had been retained at Kingston due to a weak bridge at Walton, replaced by red 10T10s themselves replaced by RFs at Sidcup.
RF399 stops at Sutton Granada
RF399 sits deserted at Sutton Granada when brand new.
Photo Peter Gomm collection
The 10T10s had been ousted from the Green Line by RFs in 1951, along with 6Q6s, some of which were also painted red.  Other coaches displaced from Green Line service, including TFs, went to replace 4Q4s, 9T9s and 11T11s in the Country Area.  The last 6Q6s in service were replaced by RFs in October 1952 on conversion of the first red route to RFs, the 210.  The original red Qs, the 5Q5 class, were the last buses replaced by red RFs, from the 241 at Sidcup in March 1953.
The following month saw the end in scheduled service of the original Country Qs, the 4Q4s, replaced at Reigate by the first Country RFs.  Three months later, July 1953 saw the end of scheduled TF operation, leaving only the large class of former Green Line 10T10s from the pre-war fleet.  The red ones had already gone, replaced at Kingston in May by TDs displaced by double-decking at Enfield, but 29 green 10T10s continued in service after the delivery of the last green RFs.  Double-decking and downsizing to one-man GSs dealt indirectly with these, the last running on 6 Jul 54.  
Key dates of RF introduction were the following:
 25 Apr 51: RF2, the first Private Hire RF licensed for service, to Camberwell for driver training.
 4 May 51: first day of the Festival of Britain, with 5 Private Hire RFs and 3 RFWs in service.
 1 Oct 51: first Green Line RF (RF26) enters service from Tunbridge Wells (TW) on route 704.
 7 May 52: first BEA 4RF4 (MLL713) licensed at Victoria (GM).
 10 Sep 52: first three red RFs (RFs 289, 291, 293) licensed at Muswell Hill (MH), entering service on route 210 the following day.
 26 Mar 53: first two Country RFs (RFs 514 and 516) licensed at Reigate (RG) for routes 406C/440/A/447.
 3 Mar 54: first OMO 'large saloon' service commenced from Leatherhead (LH) on Epsom local route 419, using RFs 517, 647 and 700.  Apart from these three buses, the whole of the RF class was in service by December 1953.
RT introduction was also completed in 1954; standardisation was complete.  Or was it?  In the single-deck fleet, apart from the small GSs, there still remained in addition to the RFs the 211 post-war single-deckers.  Disposal of the crash-gearbox red 14T12s started in 1954 and was completed in November 1958, when red RFs became available as a result of the double-decking of the Sidcup routes, 228 and 241.  A few TDs went at the same time, but most had to await the next batch of RFs to come available, being those released by the long-sought double-decking of the busy 212.  These smaller buses held on at Kingston, where the 215A was not thought suitable for RFs, and at Edgware on the 240A
Meanwhile, in the Country Area, the first of the 15T13s, which with their pre-select gearboxes were much more refined than the Central Area 14T12s, had become surplus in the summer of 1956 by service changes in the northern area.  Four were loaned to Kingston to cover for RF overhauls, at the same time as spare green RFs went to Sidcup.   Reduced requirements in the Country Area saw the withdrawal of the 15T13s until the last left Crawley in September 1962.  Within a month, the RFs would be the sole large single-deckers in the fleet.
In the Central Area, it was inevitable that almost as soon the end of the TDs came, a surplus of RFs arose, resulting in some going into store.  With approval for RFs on the 215A given in 1962 and the first double-decking of the Uxbridge RF routes, the last TD ran at Edgware on 9 Oct 62.  Completion of double-decking at Uxbridge (bridge works at West Drayton) and the double-decking of the 213 (bridge works at Worcester Park) brought about the surplus in 1963.
Back to Index
Part 1 - Development
Part 2 - Diversity

Part 4 - Rejuvenation

Part 5 - Maturity