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London United's new Decker...

As many will know, in late October a strange thing appeared at London United's Hounslow Garage in west London, however upon confirmation, that strange thing turned out to be an MCV bodied Volvo B9TL, probably the rarest bus body you can find in Britain today with only two examples in service.

The MCV bodied Volvo B9TL, dubbed 'D130RLE' is a double deck bus design that was first exhibited by Comfort Delgro Engineering work in Singapore in year of 2005, the body although dubbed 'comfort delgro engineering body work B9TL' is actually supplied by MCV and if you do a bit of research yourself into what the body looks like, you will notices major similarities between the two. Effectively the D103 is just a derivative of the body introduced in 2002.

As I'm sure you already know, the MCV D103RLE is a body that was introduced to England after export from Egypt in April 2010. The first body AE60 GRU was delivered to London General's Merton Garage on the 3rd of June 2010 for evaluation, however upon arrival, it was decided that the body was in fact too heavy and it did not match the TFL's specification criteria, so the bus left that same afternoon, before I could get a snap of it, I personally don't think its fair as I only arrived 24 hours late!

The body was promptly sent to MCV Ely, via Volvo Truck and Bus also in Ely  for conversion work as it would be officially unveiled at the Bus and Coach expo in November 2010. It was converted to single door, received Hanover LED displays and a high specification paint job which saw it sport Wessex Connect striking blue livery. The Bus entered service at their Gypsy patch lane depot, however after just merely a year in service it was de-roofed as it was crashed into a rail bridge. Many such as myself thought this would be the end of this beautiful vehicle as it had not yet entered production so a new roof could not be built. However good old Ensignbus came to it's rescue and it was salvaged and then converted to open top. It then entered service with Bath Bus company in Summer of 2012.

A second bus dubbed VM1 BJ11 XGZ was built to a whole type approval specification was delivered in May 2011 to Dockland's Buses Beckton garage in East London for appraisal of the Route 425, although it was commonly seen on the 474. The vehicle which I thankfully did get to photograph in my opinion was far superior to that of any E400 or the most upmarket  Gemini2, features such as lower deck level seating gave a clear and unrestricted view and air conditioning of both the upper and lower deck was a first for London Buses, so it made it that more appealing than any other bus I had sampled.

After the lengthy trials and no further news on any other orders for the vehicle, it seemed as if the vehicle's future was doomed which is why everyone's head turned when a new MCV B9TL BF62 UXU suddenly appeared at Hounslow Bus Garage one afternoon in October. The bus said to have arrived in the UK in late September, is on loan to London United for a six month trial where it will be evaluated for fuel readings and compatibility. During this six month trial it will also visit Shepherd's Bush and Stamford Brook Garages, however for now it will be rooted to the Route H32. Strangely it is also dubbed 'VM1' but has a few minor differences. The interior is built to London United's specification but samples the seat moquette used on London Sovereign's new E200s topped off with the bottom breaking Lazzerini seats.

Although this will probably be where the story ends...wait its not, as in November 2012 Golden Tours of London announced the first ever firm order for these buses, with 9 buses due in Early 2013, six of which will be open top. I along with other enthusiasts took to the news well and do look forward to seeing more of these things around London. Metroline were said to be looking at the vehicle, whether any firm orders are placed more than likely depends on the result of this trial by London United so I hope it goes well!

London United VM1 BF62 UXU 

Key Facts about the MCV D103RLE

  • Only three Buses have ever been built
  • Classed as a whole Volvo product with the body supplied by MCV
  • A deravative of the Comfort Delgro Engineering work B9TL introduced in 2005
  • Has a length of 10.3m
  • Air conditioning throughout the vehicle
  • Comfortably seats 63 passengers
  • First model imported into the UK in April 2010
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