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In early 1950s, London Transport, AEC and Park Royal, a subsidiary of the ACV group, had been experimenting with a new double decker, the Routemaster. It had light alloy chassisless construction, but a conventional front-engined layout. The first pyototyope appeared at Earls Court Show in 1954. The mechanical units were designed to be rapidly removable for major overhaul. The engines and ancillaries were contained on one sub-assembly, and the rear axle on another, a wheelbarrow type suspension frame. There was independent front suspension with coil springs thoroughout. In the direct operating epicyclic gearbox, gears were selected electrically and changed hydraulically, requiring only a brake and accelerator in the cab. An air-operated hydraulic braking system was developed, even though the previous generation of London buses had air system. 64 seats were provided in the 8.23m by 2.5m Park Royal body. The gross vehicle weight was 6.75 tons. All but two Routemasters were bodied by Park Royal. The two buses were powered by Leyland O.600 engines with Eastern Coach Works bodies. One was them, SLT58, was resold to London Bus Preservation Group, while the second, registered SLT59, was a prototype double-deck Greenline coach with luxurious body (CH32/23RD). There were 576 Leyland engined Routemasters built in early 1960s, with 50 forward entrance buses for Northern General Transport in 1964-65. The rest of the Routemasters were fitted with AEC engines. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, more than 2,000 rear entrance Routemasters were purchased by London Transport. It has become a symbol of London. After London Transport contracted out all its routes in 1996, some of these buses have been retained. The European Union requires all public buses have to provide wheelchair access by 2016. London phased out these characteristic buses in September 2005 in order to comply with this rule. Only two heritage routes provided limited Routemaster service.
Four Park Royal bodied Routemasters R2RHs were sold to Citybus of Hong Kong in mid-1980s. One of them was dismantled in 1993 and had not entered into service. They were converted to open top 64 seaters. Fleet Nos 1 and 2 (HK 1931 and ES 4007) were rebodied by Citybus in 1989 and 1990 respectively to give an more classical outlook. However, fleet No. 3 (EZ8347) had its Park Royal body retained. The operator used it to provide free shuttle bus service between Peak Tram Terminus at Garden Road and Edinburgh Place in Central in early 1990s. Now they could only be seen in functions and filming works. In addition, No.1 was made in 1964, No.2 in 1962 and No.3 1963.
Apart from these four buses, a few more were bought by Citybus and sent to China as a promotion gift of double deckers. They played an important role in the introduction of second-hand double-deckers in China.
Specification (Citybus Routemasters):
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Page created: 16 January 1999
Last updated: 12 June 2011