Arriva Hybrids Move from Maidstone to Merseyside

Arriva Hybrids Move from Maidstone to Merseyside
A former Arriva Kent & Surrey Greenway branded Wrightbus Gemini 2 bodied Volvo B5LH in Liverpool.Macauley Pugh

In its environmental quest for Destination Green, Arriva North West has bolstered its hybrid bus capacity in Liverpool by transferring 11 vehicles from its Arriva Kent & Surrey division in South East England.

On 14th March 2013, Arriva Kent & Surrey launched 11 new Volvo B5LH Electric Hybrid buses with Wrightbus Eclipse Gemini 2 bodywork. At the time, it represented an investment of over £3m, made possible due to a partnership with Kent Council Council and funding from the Government’s Green Bus Fund.

The 11 diesel-electric hybrid buses ran the 71 service between Maidstone, Larkfield and Snodland. Significantly, it reduced emissions along the London Road, where the significantly-reduced engine emissions of these buses helped to further improve air quality both in the suburbs and in Maidstone town centre.

As part of Arriva North West’s commitment to its environmental ‘Destination Green‘ agenda, it has recently moved 11 existing Volvo B5LH double deck hybrid buses from Manchester to Birkenhead, 11 from Maidstone to Speke as well as introducing 51 brand new Wrightbus Gemini 3 bodied Volvo B5LH’s which entered service throughout February and March 2017.

The buses are quite similar to the batch of 44 Volvo B5LH Electric Hybrid buses already operated by Arriva North West. They feature the attractive leaf-strewn economical green and teal livery which helps to promote the green credentials of the vehicles. Internally the South East examples slightly differ from the North West examples, mainly by having moquette covered seating, instead of the E-Leather.

All eleven examples have now made the journey north, and have primarily seen use on services 80/80A and 82 between Liverpool City Centre and Speke. These routes were previously operated by a range of different vehicle types, including integral Wrightbus Gemini 2 and Alexander Dennis Enviro400 double deckers and Wrightbus Commander bodied VDL SB200LF saloons.

In exchange for these hybrids, Arriva North West transferred eleven of the VDL DB300 with Wrightbus Gemini 2s which were initially purchased for routes 79 and 82 in 2011. The “new” hybrids are around 18 months newer than the vehicles they have replaced, although they seat slightly less passengers (66, compared to 70) due to the different layout on the lower saloon.

For those interested, the Gemini 2s which have transferred to Southern Counties are as follows: MX61 AYJ (4450), MX61 AYL (4452), MX61 AXS (4455) MX61 AXW (4459), MX61 AXY (4460), MX61 AYB (4463), MX61 AXD (4464), MX61 AXJ (4468), MX61 AXK (4469), MX61 AXM (4470) and MX61 AXN (4471).

Arriving in the North West are Volvo B5LH/Wright Gemini 2s: KX62 JXU (7001), KX62 JXY (7002), KX13 AVJ (7003), KX13 AVK (7004), KX13 AVL (7005), KX13 AVM (7006), KX13 AVN (7007), KX13 AVO (7008), KX13 AVP (7009), KX13 AVR (7010) and KX13 DHA (7011).

The new arrivals will be refurbished internally to bring them up to the latest specification, with the moquette seating being replaced with E-leather in addition to the installation of WiFi and USB charging points. It is however unknown if they will be given new fleet numbers to fit in with the North West’s numbering scheme or they will retain their original numbers from their time with Arriva Southern Counties.

In addition to these hybrids, it has recently being confirmed that Arriva North West’s Speke Depot is in the process of receiving seven Volvo B5LH hybrids from Birkenhead depot, however, it is unknown what routes they will be deployed on at the time of writing.



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