Request ID: FOI-0391-2122 Date published: 14 June 2021
I have a Freedom of Information request about the mid-life refurbishment program for the New Routemasters.
1. Can you release research papers and reports in relation to the mid-life refurbishment for the New Routemaster?
2. Are there plans to convert the existing 1,000 New Routemasters to full zero-emission EV by removing the diesel engines and replacing them with new batteries? If possible can you release research in relation to it?
3. Can you list the new features added to the New Routemaster as part of the mid-life refurbishment program?
4. Will the refurbished New Routemasters contain USB charging ports in which the new electric buses have?
5. Can you release information about the rear door modifications of the New Routemaster in which the first batch of 516 NRMs have inward opening doors? Is it part of the mid-life refurbishment program?
6. What is the total cost of the NRM refurbishment program?
7. How many NRMs out of 1,000 have already been refurbished?
8. When London Buses expect to complete the NRM refurbishment program?
TfL Ref 0391-2021/22
Thank you for your request received by Transport for London (TfL) on 25 May 2021 asking for information about New Routemaster buses. Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information Act and our information access policy. I can confirm that we hold some of the information you require.
Your questions and our replies are as follows:
1. Can you release research papers and reports in relation to the mid-life refurbishment for the New Routemaster? We do not hold research papers and reports on mid-life refurbishment of buses as this is a routine activity that non-NRM buses go through and is arranged and managed by the operators on our behalf. The New Routemaster Aesthetic Midlife Refurbishment was recorded in a meeting for the Programmes and Investment Committee under Bus Renewals and Enhancements. You can access the document here: https://content.tfl.gov.uk/pic-20200305-public-agenda-documents.pdf. Please note that the scheme of work has evolved since March 2020 .
2. Are there plans to convert the existing 1,000 New Routemasters to full zero-emission EV by removing the diesel engines and replacing them with new batteries? If possible can you release research in relation to it? Currently we have no such plans. Our Financial Sustainability Plan aims to make the fleet zero emission no later than 2037 which options for bringing this forward as early as 2030 if external funding becomes available. As the NRM fleet was built from 2012 to 2017, most if not all would be due for natural replacement by the end of 2030. Until we have certainty on our funding position from Department for Transport beyond 2021, our wider plans cannot be taken further. 3. Can you list the new features added to the New Routemaster as part of the mid-life refurbishment program? Vehicle refurbishment tends to cover the cost of repainting and replacement of components approaching life expiry such as new seats rather than the addition of new features. If there are any generic enhancements being considered for new buses closer to the time the work is placed, we may look to include them in refurbishments. 4. Will the refurbished New Routemasters contain USB charging ports in which the new electric buses have? No, see answer to question 3 above. 5. Can you release information about the rear door modifications of the New Routemaster in which the first batch of 516 NRMs have inward opening doors? Is it part of the mid-life refurbishment program? There were changes to the door specification which required the manufacturer to mark the rear door floor area in maroon and change the air pressure system so that a passenger could push the door and make it retract. Prior the doors opening, an automated voice announcement would also ask passengers to stand clear of the opening door. This change was built into buses being rolled out to route 453 onwards and was retrofitted to NRMs already in service. The specification for buses not yet manufactured in the 600-vehicle contract was changed from an inward-gliding door to a plug-slide door. Both sets of changes were at zero cost to TfL. 6. What is the total cost of the NRM refurbishment program? In accordance with the FOI Act we are not obliged to supply the details we hold on our potential budget or estimated final costs as this is subject to a statutory exemption to the right of access to information under section 43(2). In this instance the section 43(2) exemption has been applied as disclosure would be likely to prejudice our commercial interests.
The total cost is not yet finalised, and is still subject to commercial discussions. Until those are concluded it would not be in TfL’s interests to disclose this information as to do so would prejudice our ability to obtain best value from these discussions and in any future negotiations.. The use of this exemption is subject to an assessment of the public interest in relation to the disclosure of the information concerned. We recognise the need for openness and transparency by public authorities but in this instance the public interest in ensuring that we are able to obtain the best value for public money outweighs the general public interest in increasing transparency of our processes.
7. How many NRMs out of 1,000 have already been refurbished? None have been refurbished to date. 8. When London Buses expect to complete the NRM refurbishment program? Because of the number of vehicles involved, this is likely to take around five years.
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Sara Thomas FOI Case Management Team General Counsel Transport for London