Thursday 27 October 2016

Scania E400 MMC's & Gas Bus Taster

Currently down in Kent providing post op care for the woman you can all blame for my existence, and had enough time to nip down to East Kent and finally ride a couple of the Scania E400MMC's I first saw in March - see here - and meet up with my old pal Matthew, who has gone up in the world yet again becoming Commercial Director of Stagecoach Southeast recently. Always a pleasure to catch up and it just doesn't feel like 35 years ago we were serving detention together for nattering about buses too much in Maths!

Anyway the main point of the afternoon was the MMC's, and so I parked up in Whitstable (Peter Cushing used to live there), and waited for the first "Triangle" bus to turn up. The "Trangle", as it suggests serves three towns, well two towns and one city, those being Whitstable, Herne Bay and Canterbury. My first journey was from Whitstable to Canterbury, and it wasn't long before Stagecoach Scania E400MMC 15283 YN16 WVZ pulled up.

Stagecoach Southeast 15283
These buses are nice places to be. Stagecoach haven't gone e-leather crazy like other operators, except for their Gold services, and even then they've got the leather and comfort right. the seats on these MMC's are the same seats you get on Megabus Plaxton Interdecks to Aberdeen or Barcelona, so a 25 min journey passes in extreme comfort.

Very comfortable seats on the MMC's
Note the low windows unlike the Streetdecks so young children can see out and sit properly. But what is the ride like? Well first of all I had to check with Matthew that these Scania Engines are Euro 6 - they are - because the acceleration and torque is by far and away the best I've ever experienced from a Euro 6 engined bus. There is a good reason for this. It's big. You can't let out the spare space in the engine compartment as a self contained flat on these like you can on some Euro 6 engine bays, and the results are pretty obvious. Smooth gearbox, gentle brakes, a quieter air chill unit, although still effective as my second bus got decidedly chilly.

15285 at Canterbury Bus Station
So we have a great bus so far, but the astute among you will have noticed I haven't mentioned rattles yet. This is because I'm not quite sure what to think. There were more rattles than I expected, and normally the scalpel would be out and I would be making some very cutting remarks. However, there are mitigating factors, as I shall explain. Most of you will know that in Norfolk I don't rate a bus until I've been down Gorleston High St on it, the worst road in East Anglia which rearranges your skeleton every time you go down it.

In the last couple of days I have realised that Kent has become a county sized Gorleston High St. The roads in Kent are APPALLING!! My car doesn't have a rattle on it, as you would expect, but even that has been shaking the life out of me since I've been down here. Kent's roads were never as smooth as glass but now they are scarily bad. So it's not surprising the MMC's are rattling more than expected. But it also occurred to me that the Olympians lasted 20 years on those roads and still weren't rattling at the end, and that thought only muddied the issue. But I'm going to side with the buses on this occasion. When there was a smooth bit of road the ride was quiet, and I could text perfectly easily. On the majority though texting was very difficult and it really wasn't very pleasant, but that was down to the roads. If something isn't done and soon then in another decade Kent is going to be impossible to drive in - thought the Southeast was meant to be rich!

Anyhow I completed the triangle on 15261, which I noticed wasn't branded, and drove home covering probably 5 or 6 more miles than necessary avoiding potholes.

15261 in Whitstable
On a side note I spotted a Streetdeck on the 700 Bluewater - Chatham service last night. Having made inquiries as to if Arriva had bought a fleet of them to replace the 04 reg B7tl's currently on the route I discovered the Streetdeck is in fact a demonstrator and isn't exactly covering itself in glory. Some of you will know I grew up here in the Medway Towns, which was considered so demanding National Bus Company sent their demonstrators/prototypes here for evaluation. Metro Scanias, Volvo Ailsas. Metrobuses, Dennis Dominators, Bristol VR's all successfully negotiated Medway's undulating landscape. It seems, though, that the Streetdeck has been unable to follow in those illustrious tyre tracks, and it's lack of power has seen it unable to cope with some routes. There's progress for you! Rather backs up my opinion on Monday of the Streetdeck currently at Borderbus.

Finally a little taster for you. I will be publishing at least a couple of  posts commemorating the recently departed gas buses, but I hinted I might have something a bit different and I'm pleased to say Dave Marshall, who was Chief Engineer at Anglian when the gas buses arrived has come up trumps, and sent me a mountain of pics of the gas buses in at the MAN factory in Portugal. It's going to take some time to sort through them all, which probably won't happen until I'm back in Suffolk, so here are a couple to whet the appetite. Dave you are a star, and I'm going to really enjoy compiling those posts.


  1. The residents of the South East may be rich but the councils aren't. Since these areas are supposedly affluent (there are some fairly deprived areas as well) the New Labour government didn't feel the need to give more money to these areas when they were being generous as they could get more money from their council tax payers but then proceeded to cap council tax increases which prevented the authorities from doing so. As such these authorities have been short on funds for years, the Surrey CC bus review started 18-months before the financial crash as they were already suffering budget pressures.

    On an aside, I suspect you will find the photos come from the Caetano plant if it is in Portugal. The gas buses were MAN chassis with bodies by Caetano so if they are showing the bodies being assembled then I would assume they are at the Caetano plant (though I'm not sure where the MAN chassis plant would have been)

  2. Yes pictures are from caetano plant you are correct .

    1. My deliberate mistake was spotted - well done :D

  3. Andrew Kleissner30 October 2016 at 08:30

    On paper there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference between the power outputs of the Metrodecker and the E400. The former produces 170kW @ 2200rpm with torque of 900Nm @ 1200rpm, while the latter gives 187 kW @ 2100 rpm and 1000 Nm @ 1200-1600 rpm. Perhaps it’s to do with the gearing, or the fact that the E400 has 6 cylinders instead of 4 – I wouldn’t know. There’s no difference in weight, so that’s not the reason.

    1. Do you mean a Streetdeck or a Metrodecker as a driver i have driven all 3 the Optare Metrodeckeris tops easy to driver no clutter on the dash board.Streetdeck has too many switches.E400 is also uncluttered