Operation Overdrive (transportation)

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Operation Overdrive is the name of a series of improvement programmes carried out by Arriva in their UK bus operations. The original Operation Overdrive was done by Arriva Southern Counties in the Medway Towns (Kent) in 2004, with further operations occurring in Maidstone (Kent), Merseyside, Leicestershire, County Durham, and Southend-on-Sea (Essex).

Medway Towns[edit]

The original operation Overdrive involved the purchase of 61 new buses, upgrading 40 existing buses, upgrades to the route network, introducing GPS Brand new interactive timetables for every bus stop, depot upgrades including a vehicle wash, and introduction of a yellow liveried school fleet.[1]

New buses[edit]

The new vehicles were 12 Dennis Dart(8.8m) single deckers with Plaxton Pointer MPD bodies and 49 Volvo B7TL double deckers with Alexander ALX400 bodies. The new buses feature interior, linked to GPS tracking systems provided by Medway Council used for real time display at bus stops.[1] Many of the buses have since been moved after further new vehicles arrived in later years.

Existing fleet upgrade[edit]

Other existing vehicles in the Medway fleet were modernised to bring them into line with the new vehicles. This entailed refurbishment and repainting, fitting CCTV, changing destination displays from traditional roller blinds to scrolling LED displays and the introduction of GPS tracking systems to all vehicles.[1]

School buses[edit]

Six buses were painted in an allover yellow scheme for use on school services,[1] although the vehicles are often used on non-school services. These are double-deck Northern Counties bodied Volvo Citybuses

Network upgrade[edit]

Arriva significantly upgraded services in the Medway area with the rebranding and timetabling of routes and the introduction of new buses. The network was upgraded with five routes being increased to 10-minute frequencies and branded as the Red, Green, Purple, Blue and Orange Lines,[2] with appropriately branded buses allocated to these routes.[3] All but the purple line use double deck buses.

The specific colour branding of buses to a particular coloured line was later dropped in favour of a single Medway Mainline branding showing all of the coloured route numbers.[4]

Launch day[edit]

On the day of the new network launch, a convoy of 20 of the new buses was organised for the press, crossing the Strood tunnel twice, then running into the depot.[5] The class leader of the new buses, 6401 (GN04 UDM), was specially decorated in a promotional livery for the network launch[6] and headed the convoy. This bus was later repainted into a special network ticket promotional livery.

Complications arose as delays had occurred in removing old vehicles needed to make space in the depot for the arriving new vehicles. Several older vehicles were transferred to other Arriva South East depots, or to Arriva companies further afield. A number of MCW Metrorider minibuses were transferred to Arriva Northumbria, with a crew of drivers to take these buses to Peterlee having arrived in an Arriva single decker.[7]

Some of the new vehicles were also displayed alongside preserved Maidstone & District vehicles, the predecessor company of Arriva in Medway, at the Chatham Dockyard for the press and local dignitaries.


Overdrive 2 involved the refurbishment of several buses at the Maidstone depot in 2004/5. In 2008, four VDL DB250/East Lancs Myllennium Lowlander have arrived for route 71.

County Durham[edit]

In 2005 some new Alexander ALX400s[8] and 14 Scania CN94UB Omnicitys[9] were introduced in Durham and Darlington. Most vehicles have since been moved elsewhere.


In 2008 Arriva purchased many Wright Pulsars for Bootle and Green Lane depots. In 2009, 23 Enviro400s arrived for Laird Street depot. These were in Interurban livery and branded as 'Cross River Express' displacing many Palatines to other Merseyside depots. Further Pulsar 2s have been arriving in many depots including Green Lane, Bootle, St Helens and Runcorn. Laird Street are said to have Pulsar 2s arriving along with Pulsar 2s for Southport.


In May 2006 Arriva launched Operation Overdrive on services in Leicestershire which saw 54 new buses delivered to Arriva Midlands (Fox County) and numerous buses refurbished. All but eight of the buses were double deckers on VDL DB250 and Volvo B7TL chassis. The eight single deckers delivered were VDL SB200s. All buses delivered were bodied by Wrightbus.


In July 2008, Arriva Southern Counties sent some of Arriva Southend's Dennis Dart/Plaxton Pointers to their Gillingham, Kent depot for refurbishment, entailing repainting, fitting CCTV, and changing their destination displays from traditional roller blinds to scrolling LED displays. In mid-2009, the remainder of the older double decker fleet will be replaced by low-floor buses.


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