Wright Eclipse Gemini

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Wright Eclipse Gemini
*The Sunlight Hurts My Eyes!* (13984215837).jpg
Selkent Wright Gemini 3 on Whitehall in May 2014
Overview
Manufacturer Wrightbus
Production 2001 - Present
Assembly Ballymena, Northern Ireland
Body and chassis
Doors 1 or 2
Floor type Low floor
Chassis Volvo B7TL
Volvo B9TL
Volvo B5LH
Volvo B5TL
Volvo Super Olympian (Explorer)
Volvo B8L
Related Wright Eclipse
Wright Pulsar Gemini
Powertrain
Engine Volvo D7C (Volvo B7TL)
Volvo D10A (Volvo Super Olympian)
Volvo D9B (Volvo B9TL)
Volvo D5E (Volvo B5LH)
Volvo D5F (Volvo B5LH)
Volvo D5K (Volvo B5LH/B5TL)
Volvo D8K (Volvo B8L)
Transmission Voith
Volvo I-Shift
ZF Friedrichshafen
Dimensions
Length 10.4 m (34 ft 1 in) dual-axle or
12.0 m (39 ft 4 in) or 12.8 m (42 ft 0 in) triple-axle
Width 2.52 m (8 ft 3 in)
Height 4.23 m (13 ft 11 in) or 4.4 m (14 ft 5 in)

The Wright Eclipse Gemini is a low-floor double-decker bus body built by Wrightbus since 2001, based on the single-deck Wright Eclipse design. The second-generation Eclipse Gemini 2 was launched in 2009, followed by the third-generation Gemini 3 in 2013. Additionally, the body was available on Volvo Super Olympian chassis in Hong Kong between 2003 and 2005, marketed as the Wright Explorer.

The original Eclipse Gemini was launched in 2001 on Volvo B7TL chassis; from 2006, the body was also built on the replacement Volvo B9TL chassis and, from 2013, on the B9TL's replacement, the Volvo B5TL. Since 2008, the body has also been available on Volvo B5LH hybrid chassis.

Wright Eclipse Gemini bodied buses were mass-introduced on London Buses services from 2001. It has also been popular with FirstGroup, who have purchased over 1,200 into service. Dublin Bus and Bus Éireann have also acquired a large number of Volvo B9TLs with Wright Eclipse Gemini bodywork.

First generation (2001–2009)

Transdev in Burnley & Pendle Volvo B7TL with pre-facelift Eclipse Gemini body

The Eclipse Gemini was launched in 2001, initially on Volvo B7TL chassis, as a double decker version of the existing Wright Eclipse body. The original Eclipse Gemini, and all versions up until the facelifted Gemini 3, have both the upper and lower deck front windscreens forming part of a single oval shape, with the destination blind in between.

In London, as with most buses, Eclipse Geminis often have two doors for passenger loading, one at the front and one in the centre; elsewhere, a single door at the front is more common. Also on London examples, the staircase is situated across from the centre entrance, while on single door variants, the staircase is located at the front, directly behind the driver's cab. The staircase itself differs from other modern buses as rather than simply having a banister, the Eclipse Gemini features a glass panel underneath the handrail, giving a stylish appearance.

All Eclipse Geminis are fitted with LED rear lights. Although London and Lothian Buses models retain calico blinds, most Eclipse Geminis are fitted with LED destination screens. As is common on most new buses, stop request buttons appear on both floors and should these be pressed, the word "Stopping" appears in green on a black glass effect panel, much more streamlined than the traditional box housing. The interior of the Eclipse Gemini features curves similar to its exterior, and continues the modern feel.

2006 facelift

Finglands Coachways Volvo B9TL with post-facelift Eclipse Gemini body

In 2006, the Volvo B7TL chassis was superseded by the Volvo B9TL; at the same time, Wrightbus launched a facelifted version of the Eclipse Gemini on the new chassis. The updated styling was largely confined to the rear of the body, where it has a more rounded appearance compared to the original and a central LED route number panel, housed within a smoked glass effect panel underneath the upper rear window. Other external modifications included the relocation of the rear number plate from its integrated position with the upper rear window to a more conventional siting at the bottom of the bus.

Internally, the facelift consisted of an extension of the driver guard panel to include the on-bus vault (passengers now must put their hand through a gap in the panel to reach the vault) and a slightly modified staircase separation wall, which featured a glass panel, presumably to improve the view of passengers sitting in the seat directly in front of the wall.

The Eclipse Gemini was also made available on the hybrid Volvo B5LH chassis in 2008. The first six hybrid Eclipse Geminis were delivered to Arriva London in 2009.[1]

Of the 2,555 produced between 2001 and 2009, FirstGroup purchased 1,133, Go-Ahead Group 281, Arriva 244, National Express 231 and Lothian Buses 225.[2]

Wright Explorer

Kowloon Motor Bus Wright Explorer bodied Volvo Super Olympian

Between 2003 and 2005, Wrightbus bodied 100 Volvo Super Olympian chassis for Kowloon Motor Bus in Hong Kong; these received a modified version of the Eclipse Gemini body, marketed as the Wright Explorer. The bodywork was modified to fit the Super Olympian chassis, with the most noticeable difference being the tri-axle layout. The last Volvo Super Olympian to roll off the production line received Wright Explorer bodywork.

Subsequently, the Super Olympian was replaced by a tri-axle variant of the Volvo B9TL. Wrightbus offered similar tri-axle bodywork, which was unnamed and had slightly different rear styling, to the chassis. After the introduction of Euro IV-engined Volvo B9TL, this bodywork became known as the Eclipse Gemini tri-axle, but no bodywork carrying this name were known to have been built.

Second generation (2008–2018)

Oxford Bus Company Volvo B5LH with low-roof version of the Wright Eclipse Gemini 2 body

The second generation Wright Eclipse Gemini, called the Eclipse Gemini 2, was launched in 2008 on Volvo B9TL and B5LH chassis. The Eclipse Gemini 2 features front and rear ends facelifted to match the Eclipse 2 single-decker, as part of Wrightbus' new design philosophy.

A low-roof version was introduced in 2012. In March 2015, Delaine Buses took delivery of both the last Eclipse Gemini 2 and the last Volvo B9TL to be built for the United Kingdom and Ireland.[3] Dublin Bus purchased 160.[4]

Like the Explorer, the Eclipse Gemini 2 was sold in Hong Kong, including a tri-axle variant that replaced the Explorer. Citybus, Kowloon Motor Bus, MTR Bus and New World First Bus purchasing examples.[5][6][7] In 2014, Kowloon Motor Bus purchased two extended 12.8 metre long demonstrators.[8][9] In 2017, the first demonstrator Volvo B8L for Kowloon Motor Bus was fitted with an Eclipse Gemini 2 body.

Between 2010 and 2017, Go-Ahead Singapore, SBS Transit and Tower Transit Singapore took delivery of 1,606 Eclipse Gemini 2s, being delivered as knock-down kits and locally assembled by ComfortDelGro.[10][11][12][13]

Third generation (2013–present)

Tower Transit facelifted Wright Gemini 3 bodied Volvo B5LH in April 2016

The third generation Wright Eclipse Gemini, now called simply the Gemini 3, was launched in 2013 for the new Volvo B5TL chassis, the eventual replacement of the B9TL. The Gemini 3 also remained available on Volvo B5LH hybrid chassis.

Some design features were taken from the New Routemaster, another Wrightbus design. The two most noticeable aesthetic changes were a substantial redesign of the rear end and the introduction of smaller upper deck windows to save weight; the front light clusters were also slightly redesigned, in order to incorporate separate LED daytime running lights for the first time. Dublin Bus purchased 369.[4]

2014 facelift

In 2014, to coincide with the launch of the integral Wright StreetDeck, the Gemini 3 underwent a facelift. Both the front and rear ends were substantially redesigned to match the StreetDeck. However, both the pre- and post-facelift versions of the Gemini 3 remain on sale concurrently. As at May 2018, Lothian Buses have purchased over 170 including 31 built as open top buses.[14][15][16] The first three-axle Volvo B8L delivered to SBS Transit in Singapore in 2017 received Gemini 3 bodywork.

Preservation

The first Eclipse Gemini purchased by London General, WVL1, has been preserved by the London Bus Museum, Brooklands.[17]

References

  1. ^ Volvo hybrid double-deck handed over at historic venue Fleet Ireland 11 July 2009
  2. ^ Wright Eclipse Gemini Bus Lists on the Web
  3. ^ "Last Gemini 2 enters service with Delaine" Buses issue 721 April 2015 page 11
  4. ^ a b Dublin Bus Fleet Dublin Bus
  5. ^ Ballymena's Wrightbus to build flatpack buses for Hong Kong Belfast Telegraph 6 March 2014
  6. ^ Wrightbus to assemble in Malaysia Bus & Coach Professional 6 March 2014
  7. ^ "World News" Buses Worldwide issue 208 April 2018 page 45
  8. ^ KMB introduces Hong Kong's First and More Eco-Friendly 12.8 Metres Long Bus Kowloon Motor Bus 2 June 2012
  9. ^ Higher Capacity Double Deck Evaluation Vehicle Delivered to KMB Wrightbus 10 June 2014
  10. ^ First for Wrightbus Bus & Coach Professional 24 September 2010
  11. ^ Doing the Wright thing in asia Wrightbus 21 November 2012
  12. ^ Wrightbus International and Volvo Bus win fourth consecutive contract from SBS Transit Singapore Route One 9 July 2014
  13. ^ 415 Volvos for Singapore Bus & Coach Buyer 11 July 2014
  14. ^ New look - New buses Edinburgh Bus Tours
  15. ^ Lothian Buses invests in new tour fleet Edinburgh Reporter 18 August 2016
  16. ^ Fresher air on top Bus & Coach Buyer 23 August 2016
  17. ^ "LBM Low Floors" Bus & Coach Preservation February 2018 page 70

External links

Media related to Wright Eclipse Gemini at Wikimedia Commons

  • Product description in Wrightbus website
  • Eclipse Gemini pictures at britishmodelbuses.com
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