To start with, I'd probably say the new front/rear styling is very welcome. The Enviro400 looked the part when it was introduced in late 2005/2006, but has since been outdated by designs like the MCV DD103 and Wright Gemini 2, leaving the E400 looking a wee bit basic. The new Enviro400MMC boasts a design that is like none other, with a similarly shaped top deck windscreen, but slightly less wide which then curves down at the sides to from a nice wrap around bottom deck windscreen, improving drivers visibility and updating the whole design. Another thing I like is the new bumper, which incorporates a black metal bit which holds the reg plate, making the bus look more premium. The front lower panel leaves a generous space for operators names and branding. Reading have painted their examples up into the very smart "Claret" livery, which is the branding for the Town Centre - University - Kilnsea Drive route. The rear has also been re-designed.
|Low spec Stagecoach E400 (Thanks to Ben Sweeney)|
|Rather high class looking E400MMC interior|
|Re-designed wheel arch seats|
|The emergency door looks like that on|
an East Lancs Myllenium
|Nice clean lines on the re-designed rear. Also it looks a little bit like |
the MCV DD103
The Enviro400MMC is powered by a Cummins ISBe6 engine ,and in the case of Reading's, coupled to a ZF Ecolife gearbox making for a quiet ride (and for me, quite boring), though the ZF whine can just about be heard. Just like other modern buses, the engine management is way too intrusive. The gear ratios are really short on the ZF Ecolife (and these days, on the voith option too) leaving the bus with very little power on hills and reluctance to change down to gain more power. I overheard a driver saying how "gutless" the MMC's are, and I've heard similar reports about the older Enviro400s too.
I was quite surprised to see that Reading's examples are full diesel, after years of buying the E400 Hybrid. It could be the case that the E400MMC isn't yet available as a Hybrid. I'm not too sure if I'm honest.
|The "oldies", Enviro400 Hybrid that the MMC's are replacing|
|YX64VRR is seen in Reading at night.|
As an avid Volvo/Wright combination fan, you'll probably be wondering why I've not been comparing the Enviro400MMC to the new Volvo B5/Wright Gemini 3. Unfortunately, I've not yet got round to sampling the Gemini 3 on the Euro 6 Volvo range however I hope to this week. I usually much prefer the Volvo/Wright products to ADL's offerings, but with the MMC being such a huge step up from the previous Enviro, and Stagecoach having just ordered 18 Volvo B5LH/Enviro400MMC's for it's Dundee operations, it could well be a new favorite modern bus for me, who knows?
|One of the 12m Scania N94UD's at Whitley Wood|
Reading's oldest deckers in the service fleet, the 54 reg super-length 12m Scania N94UD/East Lancs Omnidekka's still soldier on in service on the " Mint Green" 5 & 6 alongside some Scania N270UD/East Lancs Olympus'. It's surprising that at 10 years old the N94's are still in service at Reading, despite the sale of much newer Wright Solar's and Scania N230's. These N94UD's have to be my favorite deckers at Reading because of their sheer size, and the engines on them are pretty thrashy! Perhaps the E400MMC's will oust these out.
A surprise catch on Tuesday was this ex-Lothian Dennis Trident/Plaxton President W558RSG which although is owned by Reading Bus, it's liveried up in Greenbus colours for use on schools and football shuttles. However, for some reason unbeknownst to me it shot round the corner in the evening marked up for the 26 Reading-Calcot, so I ran to the nearest bus stop and went for a bash on it. I just had to being the big Trident veg I am. The Cummins C220 engine is certainly an unusual sound thrashing through Reading Town Centre and although I was just 4 minutes from missing my train, it was certainly worth a bash!