London launch for new Wrightbus SRM on Volvo B5LH
Wrightbus has unveiled its new SRM double-deck body which utilises design features from the New Routemaster but is built on a Volvo B5LH chassis. The new model follows a challenge from TfL to all manufacturers to build on the design elements of its New Routemaster, which it regards as a new icon on the capital’s streets, in developing the next generation of double-deck buses.
The SRM resembles the look of the New Routemaster, but is built to a shorter overall length of 10.6m and features two doors and a single staircase, rather than three doors and twin staircases. The vehicle features Volvo’s class leading fuel efficient B5LH Euro 6 hybrid chassis.
“The look of the side structure, roof and floor are the same as the original New Routemaster along with a number of other important design features in order to preserve the style of its already iconic predecessor,” says Ian Downie, Wrightbus managing director – sales & Customcare. “From a body perspective, we also sought to achieve a high level of commonality of spare parts, so that the aftermarket support can be optimised.
“Aside from the chassis, the main difference between the Routemaster and the SRM is the moulded fibreglass dome. This is an additional structure to the rest of the vehicle, whereas on the New Routemaster it is part of the structural integrity of the bodywork.”
The first vehicle unveiled is one of six ordered by RATP Dev-owned London United, part of a larger order which also includes 50 B5LH/Gemini 3s. The SRMS will be deployed from September on route 13 from Golders Green to Aldwych, replacing the previous generation B5LH/Gemini 2s.
The first model is due to be weighed shortly and Wrightbus is predicting it will be slightly heavier than a comparable Gemini 3 with a passenger capacity one or two less at 87 including 21 standees, but with four more seats than the New Routemaster.
“The New Routemaster is consistently ahead in all our passenger surveys,” says Leon Daniels, TfL managing director for surface transport, “ and we expect the SRM to follow suit.
“This latest addition to the Wrightbus/Volvo Bus partnership will form an important part of our drive to provide the best in passenger transport around our city. Wrightbus has certainly risen to the challenge we set them.”
Daniels notes that the new SRM will be bought and owned by operators rather than TfL, pointing out that the New Routemaster had been acquired by the public body only because of the fact that a three-door, two-staircase model would not be applicable outside the capital and therefore a less attractive proposition for fleets which have the need to cascade vehicles in their second life.
Phil Owen, Volvo commercial sales director for UK & Ireland, adds: “This new Volvo Bus/Wrightbus combination gives operators a wider choice of body options from Wrightbus with the class-leading B5LH Euro 6 Hybrid chassis.”
Ian Downie points out that the second life of the vehicle has also been taken into consideration with the inclusion of a conversion kit to take the bus from two doors to one door if required. A provincial version with a single-door is also in development.
The launch vehicle does not feature opening windows, a subject that has been a matter of controversy with the New Routemaster, although Downie says that Wrightbus is looking at adapting future versions of the SRM to include this facility.