巨鷹珍寶 Fleetline with Eagle Bodywork
最後，要鳴謝好友K. H. Ng提供珍貴圖片，令本章節得以完成。
Daimler/Leyland Fleetline is one of the first generation rear-engined double decker available in the UK bus market and the first sample in Hong Kong is RLX1 (re-classsed as Sf1 later) introduced by CMB in 1972 with more than 700 33 ft.. long Fleetline. The Fleetline offered higher carrying capacity than the front-engined model and both KMB and CMB deployed the Fleetline on the cross-harbour route to meet the growing demand at that time.
Though substantial profits made by Fleetline, they cannot satisfy the need of operation environment in Hong Kong especially the poor performance of their cooling system. Buses is the most popular and important means of public transport during the commissioned of the Fleetline and overloaded is a common sight and accelerating their normal wear and tear. The Fleetline in KMB fleet did not equipped with power steering and more efforts were needed by the bus captain when they drive, which increased their chance of work injuries. After more and more rear-engined model with much advance design entered service, less importance of the Fleetline in the fleet and they started to withdrawn from service since mid. of 1980s.
Instead of some Fleetline converted as driver trainer after retirement from service, the remaining were sold to different dealers and at the same time, operators in the mainland China cannot acquire more new buses to meet the dramatic demand as a result of insufficient fund, many Fleetline were sent back and serving the commuters in China through the dealer. This was a mutual relationships as bus operators can have high capacity buses to meet the demand and all the fare paid by passengers while dealers benefited from the profit earned from allover advertisement as well as the compensation for spare parts.
Most of the Fleetline introduced still retained right-hand driving and cannot suit the operation environment of China and they become aging in early 1990s, their withdrawal was resulted and scraped in China. The story of Fleetline in China still continued afterward as Goodview in Guangzhou rebodied a batch of Fleetline with it Eagle low-height bodywork between 1997 and 98. The chassis was refurbished and rebuilt to left-hand drive.
Goodview intended to promote Eagle Fleetline to different cities within China, however, as the Fleetline already 20 years old and the change of operation environment, only 30 to 50 Eagle Fleetline produced and only serving Guangzhou and Shenzhen. Those serving in Guangzhou were later sold to Shenzhen after a short period of commission. As information gathered from different sources, about 27 Eagle Fleetline serving in Shenzhen with only 21 registration marks, indicated that one registration mark registered on more than one Eagle Fleetline. The Eagle Fleetline finally retired from revenue service between 2007 and 08 and some of them scrapped at Xi Li Lake, one of the terminus of route 226 used to serve by the Eagle Fleetline.
Many thanks to K.H Ng for providing his invaluable photos and let this chapter can be completed.
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