Private Hire RFsThe RF Story

Part 2 - A standard bus?

Page last updated 24 December 2014
Short RF6, looking a little worse for wear, works from Chalk Farm garage with another Private Hire RF.
RF6 was based at Chalk Farm between 1958 and withdrawal in 1963.
Photo © Paul Redmond
Despite the desire for standardisation, there was substantial diversity in the RF fleet.  When the RF was designed, the maximum permitted length was still 27'6", to which size the first order was built.  These were the 25 Private Hire RFs, with glazed roof panels.  They were required urgently for the Festival of Britain in May 1951, finally replacing the loss of all but one of the sightseeing TF buses in the blitz.  They carried 35 seats and were distinguished by glazed cant panels in the roof. 
Delivered simultaneously with the first RFs, but first with the newly-permitted 30' length, were the 8' wide RFW class touring coaches.  These fifteen Regal IVs with spacious Eastern Coachworks bodywork, again with glass roof panels and also opening roofs, were unlike anything previously seen in the LT fleet.
With approval now given for the operation of single-deck buses of 30' length in London, the remaining RF deliveries took advantage of this and carried an additional row of seats.  Capacity therefore increased to 39 on the Green Line RFs and 41 on the buses, which achieved this by carrying two long seats over the front wheels, for four passengers on the offside and five on the nearside.  The Green Lines had only one sideways-facing seat and also were fitted with deeper cushions.
The magnificent man in his flying machine
Not all RFs were alike under the paint, even when new.  Different specifications applied to the Green Line coaches, the Central Area buses and the Country buses, the most obvious apart from the seating being the doors.  The Metropolitan Police would not permit platform doors on red buses, as they were considered to slow down boarding and therefore impede traffic.  Externally, Central buses had a route-plate holder fitted over the entrance, whilst Green Line coaches carried side route boards.  Internally the copaches had luggage racks, and heaters from new. 
The initial delivery of the 675 30' RFs comprised 263 Green Line coaches (September 1951 to October 1952), then 225 Central buses (September 1952 to March 1953) and finally 187 Country buses (March to December 1953).
Not quite an RF, but a Regal IV operated by London Transport on behalf of BEA.
The BEA coaches carried no fleet numbers; this is MLL721.
Photo © Paul Redmond
The final variant in the Regal IV story were the BEA airport coaches, which were operated by London Transport and ran between London and London Airport (Heathrow).  These were 'one-and-a-half deck' coaches, with a raised rear saloon over a large luggage compartment but a straight roofline that gave a high and very airy front saloon.  These 65 coaches had 37-seat bodywork built by Park Royal to a width of 8'.  They ran from 1952 until most were replaced by Routemasters with luggage trailers in 1967.

LT did not use manufacturer’s model numbers, but had its own system for coding the version of both chassis and body, which enabled modifications to be identified.  This was of the form xRFy, where x was the chassis version and y the body version.  Minor variations used sub-codes, such as 1/2RF5/3, which is what RF486 is now.  2RF refers to the second, 30-foot long RF chassis type, 1/2RF to the modification of the differential ratio to 4.57:1. Delivered as RF2, a 30 foot body without doors, most red RF bodies were fitted with doors and became RF5/3 (RF5 being the original classification of the OMO Country RFs).  The private hire RFs were 1RF1s, RFWs were 3RF3s and the BEA coaches 4RF4s.  More details of the classification are given in the Appendix.

Back to Index
Part 1 - Development

Part 3 - Into service

Part 4 - Rejuvenation

Part 5 - Maturity