by Omnibuses’ Northern Correspondent
“A little help from my friends…” is a Beatles pun
Anyone expecting RMs to appear on the streets of Liverpool will, of course, have been disappointed but not surprised. This being Merseyrail, whose parent company is Serco-Abellio (formerly Serco-NedRailways), the vehicles used are all NedRailways’ subsidiary Abellio London cast-offs, operated in partnership with Selwyn’s of Runcorn. So much for a fleet of “famous double-decker buses”. They’re basically 11-year-old ALX400s delivered to Connex and the only thing iconic about them is their colour and that’s stretching a point. Still, the headline probably grabbed people’s attention even if the real thing’s somewhat more ordinary. Indeed, inside, the vehicles show that they’ve been in front line London service, seeing thousands of feet and bottoms.
Friday afternoon at the peak period would normally see Central station alive with passengers... just look at it now
If anything, another London icon might’ve been better suited to these services: the articulated bus. If only they could easily pull into the Great Charlotte Street bus stop. But Liverpool already has former London articulated buses and it’s these, if anything, that could reasonably be called London “icons”.
Of the expected incoming artics, one senior politician was moved to say, “We need to challenge the need and the rationale for Arriva wanting to introduce them. I have never been a fan of bendy buses, I have seen them abroad and in this country and they do not strike me as safe.”
He was only saying what everyone else was thinking. There’s a general perception that artics are dangerous. The fact that London is deliberately now rid of them adds to that perception. In reality, they’re more manoeuvrable than an 11m and, from my own London observations at a tight junction near Oxford Street, it was the artics rather than the double decks that sailed through. The near wheels of the deckers got very close to the kerbline whereas there was more than a comfortable margin for the artics.
The artics have been with Arriva now since 2011 and are used on the Liverpool Airport to Liverpool South Parkway shuttle 501, Liverpool to Liverpool Airport 500 and the 699 Liverpool University halls. Plans for the Shiel Road circulars (The Belt) were dropped.
What’s more, they appear to have nicked the image off Wikipedia.