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Saturday, 1 November 2014

A New Bus From Wrightbus

© Wrightbus
The Streetdeck by Wrightbus

I thought I would start off the 11th month of the year by relaying a press release from Wrightbus, unveiling its new Double Deck model called The Streetdeck.

Wrightbus has unveiled its new integral double deck bus - the StreetDeck. Fully European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECVWTA) compliant and with class leading weight and capacity, unmatched serviceability and whole life costs, a stunning new exterior styling and excellent interior comfort for passengers and driver alike, StreetDeck is in every sense the complete double deck bus. The Wrightbus StreetDeck has been designed to deliver outstanding fuel economy and emissions through a combination of low weight, efficient driveline configuration and technology advances that reduce auxiliary power consumption.

The new vehicle is set to become an important part of the Wrightbus Euro 6 product line up, using many of the technologies and materials developed for the highly successful New Routemaster, nearly 300 of which are already in fare paying service. The chassis for the new vehicle is assembled at the dedicated Wrightbus EN-Drive chassis facility in Antrim, with the body manufactured and built at the main Wrightbus vehicle assembly facility at nearby Ballymena. 

The StreetDeck uses the familiar Gemini double deck body style, which has been further developed for Euro 6. With 73 seated passengers and 26 standees, StreetDeck has an overall capacity of 99 to TfL specification. A single door variant is also available for provincial operation. With an overall length of 10469mm, the StreetDeck has an overall width of 2520mm and a height of 4395mm. The driveline on the new vehicle features the new Euro 6 Daimler OM934 5.1 litre 4 cylinder diesel engine, rated at 231hp and a maximum torque of 900 Nm at 1,400rpm.

There are three gearbox options for the new Wrightbus StreetDeck - it can be specified with either a Voith Diwa .6 four speed, a ZF Ecolife six speed automatic gearbox, both of which feature integral retarders. It can also be specified with the new Daimler G90 AMT gearbox. The inherently robust Daimler engine is designed to deal with extremely high combustion pressures and has 20% longer maintenance intervals. Twin turbo performance and a constant power curve across an extremely broad engine speed range gives exceptional driveability characteristics, whilst engine oil and Adblue consumption are 50% less than the engine's Euro 5 predecessor. 

A unique longitudinal driveline layout achieves improved efficiency, has less weight and lower noise than conventional transverse engine configurations typically found in double deck buses. Mounted on a demountable "skid" - a system originally developed for the StreetLite single deck range - gives excellent accessibility for servicing and maintenance. Reduction in auxiliary power consumption is achieved by having separate coolant and charge air radiators with electric speed cooling fans. 

The new StreetDeck has been developed using, as building blocks, a significant part of the technology developed for the New Routemaster Double Deck bus. For instance, it shares the same front and rear modules, including front and rear axles, steering mechanism, steering, brakes and suspension units. The ride characteristics of the new StreetDeck are excellent thanks to advanced axle and suspension systems. The front axle and suspension unit is the ZF RL75 EC independent suspension, incorporating double wishbones with king post assembly, twin air springs and twin telescopic dampers. It has a 53 degree lock angle. The rear unit is the ZF AV132 drop centre axle with 2 upper and lower radius rods. 4 wide spaced air springs and 4 telescopic dampers are mounted to bespoke suspension arms. An anti roll bar is incorporated to give a high-roll stiffness. 

Serviceability has been a major area of focus on the new StreetDeck and significant enhancements have been made in a number of key areas. This has included a reduction in the amount of different fixings to gain access to service areas, side engine doors opening through a full 180 degrees, ease of access to the Adblue tank, destination boxes and headlamp units and ease of removal of heater box filters. StreetDeck has been launched with a stunning new look, giving the new vehicle extra 'street appeal'. By basing the body on the existing and highly successful Gemini 3 body style, Wrightbus have been able to incorporate important customer feedback and operating experience into the overall vehicle package.An improved airflow throughout both salons has been achieved, along with reduced solar gain in the upper saloon. Whilst improvements in areas such as cab door lock design, wireless bell pushes and revised handpole fixings illustrate the attention to detail that has characterised the whole product development programme. 

Speaking ahead of the public launch of the new StreetDeck at the Euro Bus Expo show at the NEC Birmingham, Chairman & Chief Executive Mark Nodder said, "Innovation is at the heart of everything we do at the Wrights Group. So, like every new product development, the new StreetDeck has been designed and engineered with a passion and determination to be more than a bit special." He added, "We are leaders in the field of minimising fuel consumption, through weight reduction by design, the use of advanced materials and efficient driveline technology. All this, and more, is focused on achieving exceptional levels of quality, performance and safety, whilst delivering exceptional whole life cost value. With the new StreetDeck, we have harnessed all our group-wide resources, expertise and experience to bring to the market what, I truly believe is, the complete Double Deck bus."
© Wrightbus
First pre production Streetdeck being assembled in Ballymena


Excerpt from Route One

With its integral single-decker product, the StreetLite; and its bespoke London ‘decker, the New Routemaster, on behalf of Transport for London (TfL); the StreetDeck will complete the present line-up. And, while visitors to next week’s Euro Bus Expo will have their first chance to see a completed vehicle ready for delivery to a major operator, it has also announced the receipt of its first order for the design, ahead of the vehicle’s official launch at the show. Go-Ahead-owned Brighton & Hove has ordered 24, to be delivered between February and April 2015, with a specification of 81 seats and an overall capacity of 90-plus. It has specified a Voith gearbox. Says Go-Ahead Group Engineering Director Martin Harris: “We had the opportunity to see the vehicle in various stages of its development and have been particularly impressed by the design approach and fuel-efficient combination of the new technologies and lightweight materials. 

StreetDeck has been developed using, as building blocks, a significant part of the technology developed for the New Routemaster. For instance, it shares the same front and rear modules, including front and rear axles, steering mechanism, steering, brakes and suspension units. In between is a new lightweight mid-section. 

The StreetDeck uses the Gemini double-deck body style, further developed for Euro 6. With 73 seated passengers and 26 standees, StreetDeck has an overall capacity of 99 to TfL specification. A single-door variant is also available for provincial operation and both are 10.47m long, 2.52m wide and 4.4m high.

The driveline uses the new Euro 6 Daimler OM934 5.1 litre 4-cylinder diesel engine, rated at 231hp and a maximum torque of 900Nm at 1,400rpm. There are three gearbox options: a Voith Diwa.6 four-speed auto, a ZF EcoLife six-speed auto (both with integral retarders) or the new Daimler G90 automated manual. The engine is designed to deal with “extremely high” combustion pressures and has 20% longer maintenance intervals. Twin turbo performance and a constant power curve across an extremely broad engine speed range gives “exceptional driveability characteristics,” says Wrightbus, while engine oil and AdBlue consumption are 50% less than the engine’s Euro 5 predecessor. 

StreetDeck is been launched with a striking new look, giving the new vehicle extra ‘street appeal’, says Wrightbus. By basing the body on the existing and successful Gemini 3 body style, Wrightbus has been able to incorporate customer feedback and operating experience into the overall package.

An improved airflow throughout both saloons has been achieved, along with reduced solar gain in the upper saloon. Improvements in areas such as cab door lock design, wireless bell pushes and revised handpole fixings illustrate the attention to detail that has characterised the whole product development programme.

The glass panels on the staircase are an option, as Wrightbus recognises that some operators want space for ‘T’ ads. Enhanced driver visibility is offered thanks to a one-piece wrap-round windscreen and an improved signalling window. LED lighting, inside and out, is standard.
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I think the new exterior of the 'StreetDeck' is very modern and looks similar to the Alexander Dennis Enviro400 MMC (Major Model Change) exterior. Some features of the bus are based on the New Routemaster such as the glass panels on the staircase, the small upper saloon windows and the lower deck curved windscreen at the front of the bus.

Having window panels on the staircase is indeed an option for bus operators as there are a fleet of Gemini 3 bodies using Volvo B5LH (hybrid) chassis operating in London and whilst there are a small handful of Gemini 3 StreetDecks (diesel), they don’t have window panels on the staircases but hopefully future orders will have them.

2014 has been a year where manufacturers such as  Optare, Alexander Dennis and Wrightbus have unveiled their new double deck bus types. I don't see these designs as conventional but they are trying to make the designs lightweight in order to make the buses more economical, also making them a competing icon design for London.

What TFL and Wrightbus need to do is to unveil the two door (front and middle door, without rear staircase) version of the New Routemaster, so that TFL will then be able to use it as an option for tender renewals enabling new operators to order them instead of TFL buying it for them.

I would like to say well done to Wrightbus for unveiling its new exterior for their new double deck model and also for incorporating some elements from the New Routemaster design.

So what do you think of the new exterior? Why not let me know in the comment section below.

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