Belgium, Ulster to get B21
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LEYLAND Vehicles has so far sold over 20 B21 singledeckers — the separate underframe version of the Leyland National for specialist customers — most of them in Belgium.
Belgian State Railways took most of the Bristol-built vehicles, which have semi-self supporting underframes, but prototypes have gone to New Zealand and Australia, and EGGED in Israel wants several. The model was developed for customers which are tied to local bodybuilders but which would opt otherwise for the National as a city bus.
As reported in CM last week, Ulsterbus is interested in taking B21 as an alternative to the Bristol RELL which Leyland has continued to build to its special order due to the strong ties between the operator and coachbuilder Walter Alexander of Belfast.
The company says it is satisfied with the basic running gear in B21, although it would prefer a Gardner engine to the Leyland 510, but it does not want to be the only supporter of development costs associated with a new semiintegral body.
Alexander was prepared to build a body based on its present body-on design, but this would need to be of a much stronger structure and would be much more expensive.
Ulsterbus says it is surprised that Leyland did not design B21 as a separate chassis.
Both the company and Leyland are committed to continued RELL supply, but they recognise that a decision on• future vehicle policy must be reached soon as RELL spare parts are bound to become scarce eventually.
The RELL is the only British body-on floor chassis still in production and the only right-hand drive possibilities available to Ulsterbus are a German MAN and a Japanese Hino, neither of which it really wants to buy.