Two more articles – first Pro London cover the matter here, while Andrew Gilligan displays his big worry – that his arch-nemesis Peter Hendy and his evil Ken-worshipping coven will undermine Boris’s wonderful Routemaster with their sordid attempts to run London’s transport professionally for its users:

I know your game, Mr Hendy

Ominous, little-noticed words from the head of TfL, Peter Hendy, amid the euphoria of the new Routemaster designs last week. “The Routemaster is so good because it was developed over two decades,” he said. “What we should aim to create now is not just a Routemaster replacement, but a whole new generation of London buses that could affect the future of the entire industry. You can’t rush that … What we might end up with is something more radical than anyone has yet proposed.” Translation: “I’m going to try to string this process along until long after Boris has left office, run out of money or lost interest, and it’s going to be gradually watered down over that time until it looks like what I and my fellow bureaucrats want. You know what, how about a long, single-decker bus with a concertina-type bit in the middle?” I know what your game is, Peter — in fact, the development of the Routemaster took nothing like “two decades” — and I’ll be watching.

Ooeerr, scary.  What’ll you do, Andy, misquote them until they go away?

The two decades quote is interesting though, since Pro London picked up on it.  It was reported in Jonathan Glancey’s article here.  The full quote, which as usual Gilligan snipped to put his spin on it, was:

The Routemaster was so good,” says Hendy, “because it was developed over two decades. Specifications for the bus were drawn up in 1946, the first prototype was unveiled in 1954 and production models began regular work five years later.

Add in that the lengthened RML became the standard design after 1965 and a single front-door prototype was built in 1966 and you’ve got 20 years development from clean sheet of paper to first roll-out of the final version.  I’d say Peter Hendy’s case pretty much stands up here and Gilligan looks a twerp again for misquoting someone.  Hendy also sounds a lot more sensible than either Boris or Gilligan, since he recognises the importance of evolution and progressive improvement in design and understands that the state can have an active, but not controlling, role in this (after all, the bus builders have to make buses for other people, too, in a global market).  Particularly given the hybrid drive decision, not allowing the design to evolve risks missing the point completely – instead of something radical (or useful) you end up with the Betamax Bus – hybrid drive systems are in the constantly-evolving phase.  There’s another quote about the engineering being more important than conductors, too, which suggests that Mr. Common Sense is still at home.

Of course, if you take now as 1946, the first prototype wasn’t on the streets until eight years later, which would be 2016, with route conversion in about 2019.  Cripes!  Boris will be Prime Minister by then, probably launching a competition to design a new dreadnought, or something.

What Gilligan will never admit is that he needs Peter Hendy if the RM is to get anywhere.  That’s got to hurt.  I wonder if they’ll publish my comment this time.

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5 Responses to Routie Smackdown: Pro London v. Andrew Gilligan v. Peter Hendy

  1. prj45 says:

    “and I’ll be watching”

    He’s gone hatstand hasn’t he?

  2. Tom says:

    Remember, we’re the obsessive ones with the closed minds.

  3. Tom says:

    No, they didn’t publish it. Rotters. Fortunately we can indulge ourselves:

    “Peter Hendy is right about the 20 year development, as you would have revealed if you hadn’t, as usual, selected your quotation carefully to bolster your case. 1946 for the initial specification, 1966 for the last variation to roll out (though the last major variation, the RML, started full production in 1965). Twenty years. I think you owe him an apology.

    Interesting that you think it’s possible for Boris Johnson to run TfL out of money and get bored, though.

    Adam: if commuters really ‘returned to their cars’, who’s on the buses and why are there far fewer cars entering the central zone during charging hours?”

  4. Captain Deltic says:

    It’s always fatal to give engineers too much time. Britain’s best train ever, the iconic IC125 was conceived by engineers who saw an urgent commercial requirement for a next generation high speed train and wanted to get on with it.

    The Chief Engineer’s proposal went to the British Railways Board in February 1970: £70,000 was allocated for development of the concept at the May 1970 board meeting. At the August 1970 Board Meeting this was replaced by authorisation tof £800,000 to build a prototype. The prototype rolled out in June 1972. A year was lost due to union problems with the single seat cab, but test running started in June 1973. Production followed and the World’s first 125mile/h diesel train service opened in October 1976. And these were the fastest trains in the world apart from the Japanese shinkansen

    So how on earth could it take 20 years to develop something simple like a bus?

  5. [...] dieselhead Captain Deltic has fired a warning shot in the direction of Boris, Peter Hendy and TfL over the Routemaster [...]

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