The LONDON TRANSPORT Reliances: RC classThis page created 10th May 2001 by Ian Smith. Best on 800*600.
That the AEC Reliances were a disappointment is an understatement. The problem was that they did not live up to their name, like so many buses produced by UK industry at that time.
They were conceived by London Transport as a solution to the problem of the old-fashioned image of Green-Line.
By 1965 the original GreenLine RFs
were in their mid-teens, and looking dated,
while the excellent coach Routemasters
(RMCs and RCLs) were needed where loadings were highest.
The decision-makers and stock-brokers of Biggin Hill, Westerham and Brasted were deemed worthy of something rather
better for their morning and evening trundles to and from the office.
AEC would provide an underfloor-engined coach chassis - the Reliance 4U2RA -
while Willowbrook would fit them with 49-seater standard BET-style bodies
with coach seating.
That they were something new was emphasised by a new livery of silver grey
with a dark green cummerbund.
They were delivered in November 1965 and went straight into service at Windsor and Dunton Green on the 705 (Sevenoaks - Westerham - Bromley - Victoria - near Heathrow - Windsor) If they had worked properly they would probably have been the fore-runners of a whole-sale RF-replacement programme. But they didn't. They looked nice, but they were mechanically unreliable. London Transport went for RF modernisation instead.
After just two years, in December 1967, they were withdrawn into store, replaced by RCLs from Grays. The coaches were stored mainly at Garston, with some at Reigate and Northfleet. In the spring of 1968 they were repainted into Lincoln green with lime green cummerbunds, and a few emerged for fitfull service on the southern orbital 725, as duplicates and spares, with RFs as the front-line coaches. Northfleet and then Dartford struggled with them for a few months. Most of them went back into, or stayed in, store.
Someone had the bright idea that they would perhaps be better suited to the newish fast airports route down the western fringes, the 727 linking Luton, Heathrow and Gatwick. So the coaches lost six seats, gained large luggage racks behind the driver, and were fitted for single person operation. They took over on the 727 in May and June 1969. They lasted until September, when most went back into store. Dartford received a couple again, but soon got rid of them.
Grays (GY) was the next to give them a whirl, on the 723 (Aldgate-Tilbury Ferry), some being repainted into NBC green with a white band.
But in August 1974 they were all demoted to bus work and transferred en masse to Hertford (HG). They remained there until 1977, with some lingering on as trainers until 1979. All were sold for scrap.
They may not have been a success, but they did indicate that LT was thinking about its GreenLine image,
and their inauspicious debut was followed by the refurbishment programme for the old but reliable RFs,
and to London Country's order for 90 more Reliances, the RP class.