Retired Stagecoach West Managing Director Ian Manning has made several trips to Australia and New Zealand to sample the transport delights there and he offers his personal perspective on what’s on offer
One of the great things about retirement is the ability to feel unconstrained about holidays, both in terms of quality and length, and the resultant scope to visit distant lands. The inability to seek, get and feel able to take even a three week holiday just evaporates!
Your Editor has called me back out of retirement to entertain you in this Christmas issue on transport just about as far away as you can get from these shores. You may feel encouraged to replicate some of what I have experienced in the past two winters on my trips ‘down under’ for two months’ and one month’s duration respectively if you like to visit countries with fantastic sights and an interesting transport heritage, some of which is still able to be enjoyed live.
Australia and New Zealand were, like so many places, great export markets for British transport products until we largely destroyed our manufacturing industry and also shamefully turned our backs on Commonwealth countries to join the EEC. Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne, Christchurch and Wellington were avid users of AEC models, Sydney and Perth became synonymous with Leylands, Christchurch took a large quantity of late example Bristol REs, though British Leyland’s price for what was for them an unwelcome order was to force the operator to have Leyland National 510 engines fitted, which sort of negated the exercise. Bedford was also a significant supplier of lightweight buses and coaches.
When I first visited the area in 2003, there were a few late examples of British vehicles in regular service with a number of (second generation) Leyland Tigers surviving until more recently.[…]
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