Hoisting its colours firmly behind those who are calling for partnership rather than franchising in Greater Manchester, the substantially enlarged group says the replacement of nearly two thirds of its Diamond fleet in Bolton demonstrates operators’ willingness to put their own money into improving the city region’s bus networks. ALAN MILLAR reports.

With just over 700 vehicles and nearly 1,800 employees, Rotala still functions on a much smaller scale than the big five groups, but it is a player of increasingly significant size. And its announcement of a £30million order for 163 vehicles in February (Buses last month) shows that it is a PLC with influence, one whose business is important to manufacturers with factories to fill.

Besides the 143 full-height Wright StreetDecks that Diamond North West operates or has on order, it has acquired lowheight ex-demonstrator 40714 (SL16 YPH), which had been on long-term loan to Arriva.

Of added significance is that all these vehicles will be built before the end of the year by Wrightbus in by far the biggest contract gain for the last UK-owned bus manufacturer since industrialist Jo Bamford rescued the Northern Ireland-based company from administration last autumn.

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