Thursday, June 2, 2011


David Jefferis reports
London’s new double-decker bus is coming along nicely by the looks of things. A few days ago London Mayor Boris Johnson test-drove the prototype around a test track, and in his typically ebullient form, praised it like a brand-new toy - which in a sense it is, as he was the man who gave the green light to the concept development.

Past-perfection returning with new style
I loathe hugely-long bendy buses, so I’m all in favour of a return to two decks, if only for the views from up top. The new bus will have an open platform at the back too - no more being trapped by closed doors when you are a couple of metres from the bus stop! And with the swooping glass areas, even going up and down the stairs ought to be an eye-opening experience, though I guess ladies in short skirts might have to check their modesty from the gaze of street-smart oglers, even through tinted panels.

Reduced exhaust emissions
As planned, the new design will be a green machine, with an eco-aware 40 percent drop in emissions, so with the first production machines due in service by March 2012, it looks like a win all round, but especially for us bus passengers.

Revell kit due later in 2011
As for models, we don’t yet have a kit of this new prototype - and are unlikely to see one until the design is finalized - but Mat Irvine gave us the lowdown on an upcoming model of its predecessor, the RM Routemaster, back in February. This is the Revell 1:24 scale RM double-decker plastic kit (link below) that should nicely partner the existing Revell Cityliner coach kit to the same scale. The RM is due after summer, so could make an extremely pleasing project for those chill Autumn evenings. Pity we have to wait though!

RM Routemaster from Sun Star to 1:24 scale.

Diecast alternatives
Keeping to 1:24 scale, Sun Star from China produces beautiful ready-built 1:24 scale RMs in a variety of marking schemes, though these of course are diecasts, not kits. The ‘Last Routemaster’ is a particularly nice model, and one that really benefits from the detail that can be packed into this large scale.

Sun Star's 1:24 model of the RT double decker.

Other big scale Sun Star buses include the earlier RT bus, again an extremely fine diecast model. And if it’s single-deckers you want, then the range also include retro-style Bedford coaches and Volkswagen’s classic hippie-bus, the Samba.

London buses and VW Samba here.

See Mat Irvine’s article here.

If you’re visiting London, the London Transport Museum is well worth a visit here.