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Sunday, 24 May 2015

Streetdeck v E400 MMC Comparison

On Monday, before heading up to Scotland I went in entirely the opposite direction and went to Brighton to try out Brighton & Hove's new Wright Streetdecks. It wasn't good weather to say the least. High winds and driving rain greeted me and it felt more like January than May. However I made my way down to the City Centre (caught a bus) and very soon found myself on one of the new Streetdecks heading for Newhaven.

Brighton & Hove 925 Wright Streetdeck BX15 OMY at Newhaven
First impressions were good. The Streetdecks are comfortable, smooth, far, far quieter than the E400's with no noisy air chill system to bang your head on either. Acceleration is impressive and the braking nothing like as rough as the Streetlites. It also didn't rattle.

The rear view of 925
It wasn't the sort of day to hang around for long, plus I had a booked train back to London to catch, so after half hour in Newhaven I caught another Streetdeck back to Brighton, and it was on this journey a few doubts started to spring up. The trouble is I can't put my finger on exactly what those doubts are. As I mentioned it was a rough day, and on the way back along the coast road from Seaford to Brighton we were getting blown all over the place. Yes it was windy but not exceptionally windy, and I started thinking of the Acle Straight and how the Streetdecks would cope in the wind there. I reached the conclusion they probably wouldn't cope that well, and this really sums up my fears.

I just don't think the Streetdecks are rugged enough to challenge for the major routes up and down the country. Obviously time will tell and I'll be going back down there in 6 months or so to see what they are like then. They may prove me wrong - I hope they do but I'm not confident. I asked the driver what the general impression was and he said not good. The cab is cramped and he noticed they didn't handle wind well.

Brighton & Hove 940 back at Brighton
There are still some Scanias on the 12 - B7H 661 YN55 NFE next to the Streetdeck
And so I jumped back on the fast train to East Croydon, where after a fine tea I caught the 109 to Brixton. The 109's are operated by 64 reg E400 MMC's, and I was eager to sample one in service to see if I thought it better than the demonstrator I caught in Bury a few weeks ago. The answer was apparent very soon - yes I did! In fact despite the noisier air chill I soon preferred it over the Streetdeck. It was in the middle of the evening peak and the bus was full. However it never got hot, there was not a rattle in evidence, again decent acceleration on the rare occasion the driver could utilise it, and being a hybrid the electric motor was quiet and the transition to diesel engine seamless.

The seats were comfortable and at last I think Alexander Dennis might have a decent product. Again I'll try them again in 6 months to see how they are lastng but I deliberately chose the route with the 64 reg MMC's which have been on the road a bit as opposed to the new 15 reg ones on the 415. Unfortunately Brixton was heaving when I got there and pics were hard to get and this is the only one I managed.

Abelio 2509 E400 MMC YY64 TZJ at Brixton
So I have to say the conclusions are rather inconclusive, and further study is required. I'm not bowled over by the Streetdecks although apart from the flimsy feel about them there was nothing really to criticise. The MMC on the other hand I really liked, and I'll be definitely going on them again soon as my latest eye operation is coming up and I'll have to go through Croydon a fair bit in the coming weeks. A decent Chinese buffet and MMC's will make it worth stopping off there!

3 comments:

  1. "As I mentioned it was a rough day, and on the way back along the coast road from Seaford to Brighton we were getting blown all over the place. Yes it was windy but not exceptionally windy, and I started thinking of the Acle Straight and how the Streetdecks would cope in the wind there. "

    Hmm. While I'd probably have reached the same conclusion as you did with the wind, I do wonder if it may not be a specific issue with the model itself, but rather a more general issue with it being lightweight. Reason I mention this is because I remember the same issue (the wind) being discussed when the E400s first turned up on the X1.

    As you say though, time will tell.

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  2. Rumour hath it that the Mercedes Benz Wright Streetdecks are already showing signs of wear and tear with metal turning up in the oil when it is changed. They may be taken off the coast route - shame about the branding (it always was a bit 'Arriva') - as it is too hilly and from remarks above, they are too prone to wind problems.

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    Replies
    1. Very interesting - cheers for that,

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