Short BCIs reach Ensign

Ensignbus has taken delivery of the 10 two-axle versions of the BCI Enterprise double-decker it ordered last year for its awardwinning local bus network in Thurrock.

The 10.8m vehicles, built in China by an Australian-owned business, carry typical Chinese model designation FBC6108BRZ1, whereas the four 12.5m tri-axle vehicles in Ensign’s rail replacement and private hire fleet and a fifth supplied to Aintree Coachline are FBC6123BRZ2.

The body is essentially a shortened version of that on the 98-seat tri-axle buses, complete with nearside kerb-view window beneath the windscreen, but there are no seatbelts or air conditioning and all the full-length side windows have opening vents.

Part of the attraction of working with BCI was its willingness to fit a compact angled staircase that leaves space for more seats.

As shipped to the UK, they have 81 seats — 51 on the top deck — but Ensign wants to provide additional space for wheelchairs and buggies and expects to reduce lower saloon seating from 30 to 24.

Like the tri-axle, the engine is in-line rather than transverse, with a T-drive arrangement into the rear axle and not a potentially less fuel-efficient angle-drive.

The engine again is by Cummins, but while the tri-axle has an 8.9litre ISL unit, for local bus work this has the six-cylinder 6.7litre ISB, the same engine as drives the straight diesel version of the Alexander Dennis Enviro400.

Once certified and registered, Ensign hopes to place them in service in late April or early May.