XA: Leyland Atlantean, LT
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Notes About This Vehicle

The Leyland Atlantean, along with the Daimler Fleetline, had become the staple one-man-operated double-deck bus outside London by the mid-1960s. London Transport (LT) had experimented with a ‘forward entrance’ Routemaster, RMF1254, in 1962, though it never operated in passenger service in the capital.

In 1965 LT bought eight Fleetlines, designated XF, and fifty Leyland Atlanteans, designated XA. These were both genuine ‘front entrance’ buses, with the engine at the rear. LT specified a modified internal floor, staircase and seating arrangement, and the bodies had their then standard front and rear direction indicators fitted.

The external appearance of the XA and XF Park Royal Vehicles bodies were very similar other than at the rear, which had to be different to accommodate the engine units from Leyland and Daimler. At the front, the towing holes either side of the registration plate were also slightly differently located, to facilitate attachment to the anchor points for the Leyland and Daimler chassis. Being crew operated the XAs did not need the reversing light fitted to the XFs.

When sufficient XAs had been delivered they went into service from Chalk Farm in November 1965 and latterly other garages. LT had been used to the reliability of the RT, RF and RM classes, all of which had been designed, developed and maintained by themselves. The XAs (and XFs) broke this tradition; possibly LT’s internal prejudice against having these buses didn’t help, but the XAs had a higher level of mechanical breakdowns, sometimes making it difficult to have sufficient on the road for service.

At the same time the XFs were running out of East Grinstead garage in the Country Area and seemed to be performing better, both in mechanical terms and fuel efficiency; though their unladen weights were similar their operating conditions were not. A swap was therefore arranged in April 1966. For a short time green XFs could be seen in central London territory and red XAs outside, but without a noticeable change in performance levels in either vehicle type.

By July 1966 legislation permitted driver-only double-deck operation and LT was keen to try this. The XFs returned to East Grinstead; with a lockable gate preventing the use of the upper deck the buses could run as one-man, in effect mimicking a single-decker. The XAs remained crew operated.

For about two years further XF/XA Central/Country swaps took place at other garages from May 1967. Both vehicle types were being evaluated against the highly successful front engine rear-platform RML, which of course required both driver and conductor.

The XAs were converted to one-man-operation with XA22 becoming London’s first one-man double-deck bus, entering service on route 233 from Croydon garage on 22nd November 1969.

Colin Curtis (lead designer of the Routemaster and by now Vehicle Engineering Manager) was reported to have said that the first thing he did in the morning when he got to work when the XAs were in service was to ring their operational garages to see how many were serviceable and what spare parts were needed to make the remainder fit for the road. When China Motor Bus bought them all in 1973, he said LT couldn't get them to the docks fast enough.

Notes About This Drawing

The drawing is based on Chiswick Works general arrangement drawing XA.001.Z.1 dated 28th February 1967. This type of black & white sketch drawing, as implied by the name, is not intended to define detail but as a specification guide to builders.

An extensive number of detailed photographs was taken of XF1 in its restored condition. Reference to London Transport black & white press photographs was made and a few contemporary colour images of vehicles in service were consulted.

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 –January 2022
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