London

Model of new Routemaster London bus unveiled

A full-scale model of London's new Routemaster bus has been unveiled.

London mayor Boris Johnson said the buses, which will come into service 2012, were a combination of "nostalgia" and the "latest technology".

The fuel-efficient bus will be quieter than its diesel-run predecessor and have a platform offering passengers the traditional hop-on hop-off service.

Wrightbus is making the vehicle, which went on show at Acton Transport Depot in west London.

The vehicle was designed by Thomas Heatherwick, with its interior inspired by the old Routemaster.

The new bus will return to the driver-and-conductor model - a key feature of the original version.

The old Routemaster was withdrawn from regular service in 2005.

'Delectable bus'

Mr Johnson said: "Standing on the rear platform of this delectable bus brings back a sense of nostalgia but conversely also demonstrates the quintessence of the latest technology and design, making this bus fit for the 21st Century.

"It is wonderful to see those two-dimensional designs we unveiled in May have been forged into this amazing bus and I cannot wait to be launching the buses when they first enter public service in 2012."

Mark Nodder, managing director of the manufacturer's parent company Wright Group, said seeing the design come to life was "a real thrill".

Jo deBank, of pressure group London TravelWatch, said while innovations in design were welcome, her organisation had concerns about passenger safety on the open platform at the rear of the vehicle.

"We also question the cost of two-man operated buses at a time when Transport fo London's budget is under real pressure, and we already have concerns about a reduction in services," she said.

A prototype will be delivered by next year and the first five new buses will be seen on the roads by early 2012.

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