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[GB/IRL] 10 Years On - Volvo B7TL


Early this year we celebrated the 10-year anniversary of the Dennis Trident. This time it's the turn of its biggest rival of its era - the Volvo B7TL.

The B7TL was conceived after Volvo tried - and failed - to pitch the double-deck version of the in-line engined B7L to the UK market. With its dominance of the market - achieved by the Olympians over the 90s - under seige by the Dennis Trident and DAF DB250LF, Volvo went back to the drawing board and come up with the transverse-engine B7TL. The very first operator to put the type into service is Travel West Midlands, who took an initial batch of 102, with 4023, seen here, being the first.

In its first couple of years in production, the B7TL was comprehensively outsold by the Trident, which enjoyed nearly a year of head-start. Volvo did help by some of its loyal customers like Go-Ahead London, who stuck with the order despite the delays. In fact, Go-Ahead London would become the biggest operator of the type, taking a total of 790 examples during the type's 7-year in production.

The fortune of the B7TL improved significantly in 2001 when Wrightbus stepped into the double deck body market. The striking Eclipse Gemini bodywork was initial offered exclusively to the B7TL and, coupled with Wrightbus' renowned build quality, added much needed momentum to the type and mounted a very serious challenge to the then market-leading Trident. The success of this partnership eventually prompted ADL to respond with the Enviro 400 in 2005.

In London, the B7TL benefited massively from the drive to convert all London bus services into low floor operation. Although deemed more reliable and economical to run, the B7TL and Trident are so closely matched that many London operators, such as Metroline and First, would end up dual-sourcing their double deck requirements from both types.

TfL-owned East Thames Buses also took a fleet of B7TLs for its services in South East and East London. The type was prominently featured in TfL and London Buses publicity materials at that time.

However, the type's fortune took an abrupt turn for the worse in 2006, when, plague by problems with its radiator, it (along with its successor, the B9TL) was banned from being ordered for London operations. By then, over 2,000 B7TLs were operating in the capital. The effect was catastrophic for Volvo, as ADL and Scania handily took up the London market. It would take Volvo 2 years to finally fix the radiator problem and have the ban upheld, and until this year to win a major order for the B9TL from First and Go-Ahead London.

Outside London, the B7TL - along with Scania's N94UD - became increasingly successful to dominate the Trident towards the middle of 2000s, with First being the most enthused user of the type, taking a substantial fleet for its operations across England and Scotland.

It also gained order from some of the most respected operators in the country, such as EYMS:

and Blazefield:

Blazefield is a particularly proactive group which, from 2004, introduced a string of high spec B7TL/Geminis in its operations in Yorkshire and Lancashire in a bid to lure customers out of their cars. The strategy became such a success that it is increasingly common across the industry.

Most significantly for Volvo  though, is the B7TL's success to lure some existing Trident operators to the type. Two of the most notable coups are Go North East:

And the much respected Lothian Buses. The operator took a batch of 7 B7TLs for evaluation back in 2000, but took Tridents instead until 2006, when they surprisingly took an eventual fleet of 125 Geminis. The latter are of the long wheelbase 11.3m version, with Lothian being the only operator of this version.

One of the B7TL operators, oddly, never ordered the type from Volvo - Stagecoach took up an significant number of B7TLs following its acquisition of Strathray and Lincolnshire RoadCar in mid-2000s.

Comparing to the Great Britain, Volvo had a much earlier life selling the B7TL to operators in Ireland (the island, not just the country). Northern Irish operator Metro and Ulsterbus both have a significant number of the type in their fleet:

Bus Eireann also have a small number of the type operated in Republic of Ireland:

The largest operator by far is Dublin Bus, who took some 648 examples - all of which on the ALX400 bodywork, as their mainstay type.

And of course, there are the 150 examples in South Africa, which I have never seen in person.

A small number of B7TLs were sold as new open-toppers:

and an even smaller number were sold for non-passenger carrying purposes:

Production of the B7TL finally ended by the end of 2006, and the final examples entered traffic in early 2007. By then, over 4,500 examples have been built, marginally overtaking the Trident built up to that point to become the leading double decker in the British Isles. Volvo nearly blundered with the original B7L and was in grief danger of losing the double decker market it once so dominating to the excellent Trident, but the B7TL acquired itself well enough that honour was essentially even between both types, and saved Volvo from potential disaster in the UK market.


  • 2# ATE22
  • 2009-10-25 02:59

Are all Volvo B7TL with EuroIII emission standard?

  • 3# ML29
  • 2009-10-25 14:07

Really miss these powerful engines in UK...
I prefer B7TLs to Tridents in terms of the comfort on board.

[ 本帖最後由 ML29 於 2009-10-25 14:09 編輯 ]

B7TL have also exported to Jo'burg  in South Africa
While a small number of 2-axle Tridents can be found in Spain and Turkey.


What happened to their radiators leading London banning the B7TL for that long?

B7TL in South Africa with Marcopolo body (interest)


Dennis Trident in Spain 2009


  • 7# ATE22
  • 2009-10-26 00:34

I prefer Dennis Trident more than Volvo....
There is too many Volvo double deckers in my area



有人話香港有d trident係洗衣機,其實香港果d少少震真係小兒科,比唔上b7tl....

  • 9# ATE22
  • 2009-10-26 21:58

回復 8# 的帖子

其實香港個d dm躉算係小兒科,d歐3 ISBe Dart震得仲激,Optare Solo仲癲,打冷震到外面都睇到d玻璃窗震,d扶手都震埋一份,所以我對Optare Solo冇乜好感
  • 10# ML29
  • 2009-10-26 22:10

引用: 原帖由 ATE22 於 2009-10-26 21:58 發表
其實香港個d dm躉算係小兒科,d歐3 ISBe Dart震得仲激,Optare Solo仲癲,打冷震到外面都睇到d玻璃窗震,d扶手都震埋一份,所以我對Optare Solo冇乜好感

上次坐了35分鐘出city centre,腰骨痛了半天……



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