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Friday, 10 May 2013

Boris in Ballymena

The Mayor Boris Johnson returned to Northern Ireland today. During his previous visit, he personally drove the first New Bus for London off the production line. Today he opened the brand new chassis plant where all the chassis for these vehicles and the single-decker Streetlite are now being assembled. The new site is in Antrim, some 15 miles from Wrights’ HQ in Ballymena.

The Mayor, accompanied by Secretary of State for Northern Ireland Teresa Villiers, toured the facility. Walking around he spoke to numerous Wrights employees involved in the building of the New Bus for London fleet before making a spectacular speech from the platform. This wasn’t any platform, of course, it was the open platform of LT17 which was positioned in the factory for the occasion. Afterwards he unveiled a plaque commemorating the occasion. 

The entourage then boarded a brand new vehicle and we all headed to the main Wrights facility. On arrival the Mayor walked the production line and gave numerous media interviews. 

Our next stop was at a local country house hotel where 200 members of the Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce had assembled together with numerous members of the NI Assembly and other dignitaries. 

Once again the Mayor’s speech made some hard-hitting remarks including forceful commentary on local, national and international issues whilst simultaneously charming and entertaining the audience.

In particular he reminded the audience that investment in London ripples through the economy of the whole country bringing jobs, investment and confidence. Whilst much of the NBfL is built in Northern Ireland, the engines are made in Darlington, the flooring in Cornwall, the destination equipment in Manchester and so on.

Production of the New Bus for London is now in full swing with two lines producing vehicles. The vehicles for route 24 – due to be converted on 22 June – are now all complete and the batch for the second route is well underway.

It can now be revealed that the buses will be registered in Northern Ireland and carry consecutive registrations in a special series granted to us by the authorities. They will all be registered in a series commencing LTZ1001 which includes the reregistering of all of those which have previously been registered with UK marks for testing and training purposes.

The allocation of these marks – some 20-30 years ahead of when they might have appeared naturally in the system – is thanks to the co-operation of the DVLA in both Swansea and in Northern Ireland.


  1. Good article. I hope the other operators around the world be able to buy the New Routemaster. :)

    Well done to the workers as well for building the Iconic London Bus.

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