NCT has a long relationship with Scania and with a new vehicle order this is set to continue

Nottingham City Transport has long been a customer of Swedish manufacturer Scania and it is an association that dates back more than 30 years. Around a decade ago an examination was made of ‘whole life costs’ of products from a range of manufacturers which identified Scania as the most suitable. As a result the vast majority of ‘big bus’ orders from the council-owned operator have been placed with Scania and most of the manufacturers most recent products feature somewhere in the fleet.

That relationship looks set to continue with recent vehicle orders. The vast majority of new double deckers in recent years have featured Scania chassis with bodywork by East Lancs and its successor Optare. The council-owned firm is the largest operator of the Scania OmniDekka in the UK and first introduced the model into its fleet in 2003. Today they account for almost half of the 340-strong vehicle fleet and other Scania types also feature strongly, including the OmniCity and OmniTown single deck models. But with Optare ending double deck production following the closure of its Blackburn plant, and plans for a new double deck model not yet wholly confirmed, NCT has maintained its partnership with Scania, but moved to Falkirk-based manufacturer Alexander Dennis for its latest order.

This calls for 40 Enviro400 double deckers that will be built on Scania’s N230UD chassis, a combination that follows recent orders for this vehicle type from Stagecoach and Go Ahead fleets. Deliveries will commence in December 2013 and it is anticipated that the vehicles will be introduced into the Nottingham fleet at a rate of five per week with the final vehicles being received just before the end of February.

Gary Mason, NCT’s engineering director, says that he’s delighted to be continuing a long-standing relationship with the Swedish manufacturer. “Scania’s well-proven vehicles have been serving the travelling public in Nottingham for more than 10 years now,” he says. “From an engineering perspective, maintaining our relationship gives continuity backed by the excellent technical support service that comes as part of the Scania package.”

The 40 double-deckers comprise a combination of fleet replacements and fleet additions. While the majority will operate out of Parliament Street in Nottingham’s city centre, the new fleet will be spread around NCT’s operating area in order to serve a number of routes.

They will feature Scania’s 230 horsepower, Euro 5, nine-litre DC9 30 engines coupled to ZF 5HP504C Ecomat fully automatic gearboxes. The vehicles will seat a total of 75 passengers with 28 seats on the lower deck and 47 in the upper saloon. All of the seats will be finished in two-colour E-leather and optional interior equipment includes under-seat mood lighting.

In an unusual move the vehicles will feature full height bodywork, rather than the low height bodywork that has been a feature of Enviro400 vehicles for Stagecoach and Go Ahead’s provincial operations. “The big groups tend to favour low height bodywork so that they can move them from operating location to operating location and not have to worry about things like low bridges,” explains Mason. “Luckily we don’t have any bridge issues in Nottingham and the low height means that a tall person really has to stoop down in the upper saloon, so the full height version has obvious advantages for our passengers.”

Although the vehicles are the first Scania double deckers to feature ADL bodywork in the fleet, recent deliveries of ADL Enviro 200 midibuses mean that the manufacturer isn’t an unknown quantity. Mason says that relationships are now well established and the introduction of the vehicles is likely to be extremely smooth. Meanwhile, with 40 new vehicles entering the fleet, this will have a significantly positive effect on the average fleet age, reducing its to around 5.1 years.

“Our target average fleet age is six years, so this order with Scania will bring the average fleet age well below that,” Mason adds.

The order cements the long-standing relationship between NCT and Scania and it seems likely that this will continue in the future. “We’re really seeking reliability,” concludes Mason. “It’s what our passengers expect and the Scania product really does what it says on the tin.”


Scania backs NCT apprenticeships

Training and development of staff is essential for any business and Nottingham City Transport has prided itself in recent years by offering apprenticeship places for young people interested in a career in automotive engineering.

Since the operator commenced its apprenticeship scheme, all of the company’s trainees have progressed on to full-time jobs with NCT once they have completed their training. On-the-job training is to the highest standard thanks to excellent links that have been forged with Swedish bus manufacturer Scania and Tile Hill College in Coventry. This ensures that apprentices are taught the most up-to-date industry practices. This ensures that the success rate is high, with each gaining vital qualifications and hands-on experience.

“Our apprentices are vital members of the whole team here at NCT and we find we get just as much back from them in terms of fresh ideas and suggestions, as they do from us and our industry training,” adds NCT’s marketing manager Anthony Carver-Smith.


This article appears in a special supplement on Nottingham City Transport, published with Passenger Transport this month.
Click here to view the supplement!