Routemaster Long - RML2588
72 (40 upstairs and 32 downstairs)
PA system which makes this bus ideal for tours of London.
One of the few RML’s that has been returned back from the modernised fleet to a more traditional feel. With original style seating and soft interior lighting reinstated, you have the ability to carry 72 people but in a really retro way. Another unique feature is that one side of the main exterior adverts is illuminated as they were earlier in the vehicles life and provides a great advertising opportunity to this day.
Routemaster Class History:
The Routemaster or RM is without doubt one of the most famous types of bus ever to run in the capital. The original necessity was for vehicles to replace the Trolleybus which was due for replacement in 1959. Following a lot of research it had been decided to increase the capacity of London’s buses from 56, such as the RT, to 64. Following numerous changes and nearly five years of development the RM finally entered service.
By 1962 the entire Trolleybus fleet had been replaced almost exclusively by Routemasters. In this period RM8-879 were all built and had entered service. Increasing the length and capacity of the RM was another contentious point, with both the Unions and Met Police being against the idea. However in 1961 a batch of 24, 30’ long 72 seat versions, known as the RML or Routemaster Lengthened, were built to trial. These took the numbers of RML880-904. Following this batch, whilst the trial continued with the longer versions, production continued on the standard length RM producing numbers RM905-1452.
The next version was the batch between RMC1453-1520, which were built as Routemaster Coaches (RMC). These had such delights as deeper more comfortable seats, Green Line livery, powered rear doors, twin headlamps and interior luggage racks and were far quicker.
Following this batch production again returned to the standard RM which ran through from the number RM1521-2217 which became the very last standard length RM built.
Following the success of the RMC’s the next batch to be built, which were by many, seen as the zenith of RM design being the RCL’s. These took the numbers from RCL2218-2260 and were built to replace the Green Line RT’s on the busy (but declining) routes from Essex into Aldgate. Similar in comfort levels to the RMC they were a longer and more powerful version
Permission had now been granted to run the longer RML’s in Central London and the final production batch ran from RML2261-2760 were all built to this specification. Two batches of 50 of these RML’s were built for the Country Area and were delivered in Green being RML2306-2355 and RML2411-2460.
The final type of RM to enter service with London Transport was the RMA, or Routemaster Airport, version which originally ran for British European Airways bringing passengers to and fro between Central London and Heathrow before the Underground was extended there.
The Routemaster was gradually withdrawn from London in the 1980’s before a change of plan saw many of the longer versions (and some standard length ones) be refurbished in 1990-92 when they received new engines, lighting and seating. In 2000-01 some had another refurbishment where they were fitted with more environmentally friendly engines and new gear boxes.
However, the policy changed in 2003 and the final 20 routes were given warning that at next change of contract the vehicles required would not be RM’s. One by one these routes were withdrawn with the very last, the 159’s, finishing on December 9, 2005. However, such is the popularity of this type of vehicle that around 16 were retained for use on two heritage routes in Central London.
For more on this class why not visit Ian's Bus Stop
Following The successful experiment to operate a longer version of the Routemaster the final 500 were all built to this longer specification. RML2588 was one of these and was delivered new for service in October 1966 to Putney garage, where she would spend the next six years of her working life. Following an overhaul at Aldenham she was returned to service, moving from West to East London by moving to Upton Park gagare where she took up regular duties on the route 15.
In 1991 the vehicle received a refurbishment that saw it gain a Cummins engine and be returned to Tottenham garage where its regular route the 73’s became one of the final routes to have large numbers of Routemasters operating on it. When London’s bus were privatised 2588 being at Tottenham eventually became part of the Arriva London North fleet.
When the 73s were converted to new buses 2588 was placed in storage whilst its future was considered and was disposed off in 2005 to Ensignbus. Noting the historical significance of being only one of two RMLs to still boast the illuminated advert panel a good home was sought for 2588 and she joined the fleet of London Heritage Travel in 2006. Used for wedding and private hire work the vehicle received a full restoration in its time with LHT and when Ensign acquired the vehicles from the company in August 2012, 2588 was kept to operate within the Ensignbus heritage fleet as an additional unusual and high quality RML had been needed to cover additional work for sometime.