XF: Daimler Fleetline, LT
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Notes About This Vehicle

The Daimler Fleetline, along with the Leyland Atlantean, 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 XF and XA Park Royal Vehicles bodies were very similar other than at the rear, which had to be different to accommodate the engine units from Daimler and Leyland. 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 Daimler and Leyland chassis.

The XFs entered service in Country Area green from East Grinstead garage in September 1965. Though capable of one-man operation, legislation of the time prohibited it for double-deckers and so these XFs had conductors. A lockable gate was fitted at the bottom of the staircase, the intention being to run the XFs in driver-only configuration, legally, as single-deckers. One-man agreements had already been in place with the unions for single-deckers in the Country Area.

At the same time the Leyland XAs were running in the Central Area, with the customary red livery, out of Highgate garage. The XFs seemed to be performing more reliably and with better fuel efficiency than the XAs, though the conditions in the two areas were not comparable. 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 but chose to run them as one-man with the upper deck locked out of use, in effect mimicking a single-decker. This caused logistical problems and ceased in April 1967.

XF and XA front and rear roof domes were of fibreglass and small metal plates may be observed in this drawing showing where the internal grab rails were secured at the front. Also of note is the red reversing warning light, and light itself, fitted in anticipation of there being no conductor to aid the driver with such manoeuvres. The XAs neither needed nor had them, being intended for crew operation.

The National Bus Company (NBC) was formed on 1st January 1969 and London Country Bus Services Ltd (LCBS) became part of it on 1st January 1970. All LT Country Area operations and vehicles were transferred to LCBS, including all eight XFs.

Three XFs were branded as ‘Blue Arrow’ and started operating on 29th December 1969. For just three days the vehicles carried the London Transport Board legal lettering, despite having LCBS fleet names.

This was a pre-booked service with no cash fares. Passengers were picked up and set down where required, so there were no fixed bus stops. There was just one route and season ticket holders had a guaranteed seat. Buses displayed either A1 or A2, allegedly for season ticket holders to board the right bus for their reservation. Running from Stevenage garage, A1 carried the running number SV61, while A2 ran as SV62.

XFs 6, 7 and 8 carried Blue Arrow livery. When replaced by ‘Superbus’, and returning to having fixed bus stops, XFs 6 and 8 were painted in the second green and yellow LCBS livery, with XF7 going straight to the later NBC colour scheme, along with the other five in due course.

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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