Long before the start of the 2014 Euro Bus Expo held in Hall 5 at the NEC in Birmingham, Wrights has hinted at a new Gemini3 bodywork style. A few days before the event computer drawn images were offered to preview papers for publication at the show, which gave clues to the new shape of Gemini3 body. It was quite the surprise to see the new integral StreetDeck vehicle on display at the NEC in full Arriva Sapphire livery. Arriva were to acquire the Streetdeck, for use on the high profile 38 Derby-Sinfin, which was one of many Sapphire standard bus routes launched by Arriva during 2014. However after the show the bus returned to Wrights and prepped for service with Arriva, which duly arrived during December 2014 as the bus arrived at the Derby bus depot.
It was here that the Arriva team then took the bus into a brief training routine for drivers and engineers until early January 2015, when on the 14th day 4600 entered revenue earning service on the 38. This new vehicle is powered by the Mercedes/Daimler OM934 5.1 litre 4 cylinder diesel engine rated at 231hp/1400rpm. I assume that 4600 has got the Voith Diwa.6 four speed gearbox for transmission, which has a integral retarder. The bodywork is also built to European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval (ECWVTA), with class leading weight and capacity plus fuel economy savings. Naturally Wrights have taken onboard customer feedback regarding the new style of bodywork and the internal fixtures and fittings.
On Monday February 2015, your author decided to pay Derby a visit to sample the new StreetDeck and the square shaped bodywork. Arriva purchased a batch of ADL E400 double deckers for the new 38 and 110 midlands bus services, 6 vehicles for the 38 and the remainder for the 110 Birmingham-Tamworth service. The Derby 38 service serves on of the main estates around Derby city, this route also passes three local areas outside the city then finally Sinfin. At the Asda superstore the 38 takes a circular route around the main road around Stenson fields and Sinfin, which allows the bus to pass the superstore before returning to Derby.
Having sampled the StreetDeck at Birmingham in early November 2014, your author took a chance to hop on to 4600 (FJ64ETZ) at stop A6 Osmaston Road, then forward until a right turn into Walbrook Road. First impressions were how bright and airy the interior is on the bus, with various shades of blues and greys all formed from plastic moulded parts. The Esteban Civic2 e-leather seating is a vast improvement on the standard Arriva cloth patterned seats. One interesting point of note was the windows, with opening hoppers, which indicated that the air-cool system used on the NRM vehicles in London is not in use on this bus, it could be a forced air system. The upper deck windows are still shallow for reduced sun glare, which will help passengers enjoy summer time journeys. While travelling on the upper saloon towards Sinfin, there were plenty of rattles, which were also apparent when 4600 was idle at traffic lights and junctions.
The picture above shows off the different style of vents which are blown air vents, which are controlled by internal temperature controls. Each head rest has the Sapphire brand sewn into the e-leather making the seats look the part in the bus. You can also see the opening hopper windows towards the rear of the bus, the roof line is smooth and clean with saloon length lights, giving passenger good interior illumination. The lower saloon also has the full saloon lights, with wheelchair and buggy zones which comply with DDA requirements for a PCV. In order to gain some shots at Sinfin, your author alighted at the Asda superstore and waited for 4600 to return back to Derby. This time travelling in the lower saloon, your author noticed that the air blow system was on the off-side. The glazed staircase allowed more light into the saloon near the wheelchair bay and the stairs. Overall the StreetDeck performed well along the route, even the start delay seems to have been master by the Arriva driver at the wheel for this mid afternoon duty on the 38. The return journey saw more passengers heading into Derby, with 4600 collecting a good load of passengers from the bus station, back to Sinfin.
Here are my personal views on bus activity in my area and beyond