Routemaster Airport Coach
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Notes About This Vehicle

For some years a fleet of deck-and-a-half coaches had operated non-stop between Gloucester Road and Heathrow Airport and it was decided to replace these with what turned out to be the final evolution of the basic Routemaster design in London. On 28th October 1966 the first of what would eventually be a fleet of 65 bespoke Routemasters was licensed for service by British European Airways. The last of the batch arrived in May 1967, interrupting the production of the final batch of RMLs.
The somewhat ‘white elephant’ experimental forward entrance RMF1254 had been trialled on this route and the BEA production run was strongly based on it. There were however a lot more external differences than may be apparent at first glance. Most notably, the RMF was the length of the 30ft RMLs whereas the BEA vehicles were that of the shorter standard RM, owing to the then legislation governing the towing of luggage trailers, which were an accessory (not illustrated here) built at the same time.
Other than the many minor differences, noticeable ones included: non-opening cab front window; opening and non-opening side windows differently sequenced; additional nearside large mirror; black wheels; jack-knife door windows more rounded top and bottom.
The introduction of the BEA buses caused the defunct Chiswick tram depot to come back to life, when it was re-styled Stamford Brook bus garage and used to house them.
The BEA buses had 56 seats, compared with 64 on RMs. As these vehicles only existed to ferry passengers between central London and the Airport, luggage racks were also provided. Further luggage capacity was gained by the use of a fleet of 88 trailers and the towing facility can be seen on the rear of the bus; this was the reason for the additional nearside mirror. The need for revised seating arrangements, coupled with a greater bias towards luggage capacity, caused other external differences, as a knock-on effect.
Mechanically, they were capable of over 60mph, for use on the M4 motorway.
The striking white-out-of-red BEA emblems with aeroplane icons on all four sides were enhanced, being illuminated on the sides. The livery was changed radically in 1969 to a garish tangerine which did the buses no favours.
These 65 Routemasters and their trailers replaced the earlier deck-and-a-half coaches until the service became superfluous with the extension of the Piccadilly Line to Heathrow in 1977.

Notes About This Drawing

The drawing is based on a Chiswick Works general arrangement drawing ‘BEA. 401Z.1’ from 1967. These types of black & white sketch drawing, as implied by the name, are not intended to define detail but as a specification guide to builders.
All the fine detail has been interpreted from several black & white and colour photographs of sufficient quality that could be found and attempts to show the vehicle as closely as possible to how it looked when it entered service. None of the detail can be regarded as definitive.
It should be understood that all four elevations are seen here as one would see each part of the vehicle at a truly perpendicular angle. In real life this is of course impossible.
 
drawing copyright Douglas Rose March 2018
 
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