LT kills Titan . and ECW?
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THE FUTURE of Leyland's coachbuilding subsidiaries has been cast in doubt by London Transport's decision to buy no more Titan double-deckers after 1984, writes ALAN MILLAR.
LT has secured Greater London Council transport committee approval for a £50.6m 1984/85 new vehicle programme, bringing another 725 rear-engined double-deckers into the fleet, but a major change of buying policy is on the horizon.
Only 240 integral Titans, the design produced for LT fn the Seventies and built•at the Workington bus plant after production problems led to the closure of the Park Royal factory in London in 1980, will be delivered next year. No more will be bought as LT considers it to be too expensive for its future needs.
Next year's deliveries will also include another 150 Metro-Cammell Weyman Metrobuses, and another 335 of these will be bought in 1985, completing the replacement of the Daimler Fleetlines bought in the Seventies, and possibly more Routemasters if one-man operation is extended.
LT has been under pressure from both Leyland and MCW for some time to buy their Olympian and Metrobus 2 models, which are cheaper to build, and it intends to test both of these types before arriving at a final decision on fleet requirements after 1985.
The GLC, which wants lower step heights and more space for shopping and prams on the new buses, is also unhappy about LT's plans to extend o-m-o. Transport committee chair Dave Wetzel said that o-m-o buses were disliked by passengers and car users, and that they would lead to the loss of 1,000 conductors' jobs.
Leyland, while unhappy about losing such an important share of the British bus market, is pinning its hopes on the Olympian finding favour with LT in future, but will probably scrap the Titan as Reading Borough was its only other customer.
A spokesman acknowledged that it would be difficult to pick up equivalent business elsewhere, and indicated that "some plant rationalisation" and job losses were likely in 1985.
That trimming back is unlikely to be at Workington which, like the Farington factory at Leyland, has a key role with Leyland Bus. Closure of either Eastern Coach Works at Lowestoft or Charles Roe at Leeds (the plant where the Royal Tiger Doyen premium coach is built) would enable the Workington plant to take on additional pre-fabricated body assembly using semi-skilled labour.
It is easy to see the attraction of transferring Olympian body assembly from ECW to Workington, where its underframe is already assembled.
• Leyland has won a repeat order for 200 Atlantean doubledeck chassis for the 3,300 vehicle Singapore Bus Services fleet.
The order will be delivered from October.