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Thursday, November 27, 2008

VRL Pune to Bangalore Volvo service

I have taken VRL volvo buses on earlier occasions (Read HERE and HERE).
I am taking the 5pm VRL volvo from Pune (the Pune-Bangalore serive, newly started, Rs 945) today in sometime for Bangalore. Seat no is 3, though i would have loved to get seat No 1 (right behind the driver). I will update this post once i reach Bangalore tomm morning..

The VRL bus left sharp at 5pm - on time, from their office near Swargate. We were just 19 passengers (may be it was a weekday, thats why...). We hit the new Katraj bypass at 5:25pm, stopping for a ten minute tea break at 5:55pm. The next stop was somewhere after Satara to pick up three passengers.
We reached outskirts of Kolhapur at the VRL campus at 8:45pm. That is 215km in 3hr 45min including three stops (fuel,snacks,passengers - 20min). 215km in 205min is quite good.

We stopped for dinner before Belgaum for 25min, but the bus entered Belgaum for some reason, thus wasting 15min! After Belgaum, i went to tbe back of the bus to sleep properly, not before using my GPS test device to see how fast the bus was going. The driver kept the bus around the 90km/h mark (true speed, probably around 95 on the speedometer). A high of 108km/h (true speed according to my test device) was achieved on a downhill.

I slept after that, waking up when the bad roads started near Haveri. We reached the outskirts of Bangalore at around 6:45am - the bad roads, i guess construction work going on. I got off at Anand rao circle at 7:45am

So, basically a 830km trip in less than 15hours. If u take out the stops (snacks,fuel,passengers,dinner,belgaum), that will be 830km in 13.5 hours or an avg driving speed of 62km/h. This can surely improve if the roads are repaired in parts of Karnataka.

Today, i take the night VRL non-volvo bus to Davanagere, 265km from here.

Till then, see the new Swaraj Mazda-Isuzu luxury bus HERE
To book your Volvo bus ticket, click HERE

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

New Swaraj Mazda Isuzu LT 1 Bus


Swaraj showcased their luxury buses at the Auto Expo. The bus, with an Isuzu engine, is now being used by various operators including KSRTC and Sree Kaleshwari travels.

It no where looks as good as the new Volvo B9R, B7R or the Mercedes buses, but still is a value buy. Here are the specification of the bus


Swaraj Mazda Isuzu LT 1 Bus Engine Specifications

Model 6 Hk1-TC EURO-III Compliant Rear Engine
Type Four Cycle, 6 Cylinders, OHC(over head cam) Direct Injection, Water Cooled Turbo Charger with Inter Cooler & EGR
Displacement (cc) 7790
Max. Power 230 PS @ 2500 RPM

Type 24 volts
Battery 2 Nos 12 V, 150 AH
Alternator 24V, 110A

Cushioned Single Plate, Dry, Hydraulically Controlled, Air assisted.
7 Forward 1 Reverse, Synchromesh with overdrive

Front Axle Reverse Elliot”I” Beam Section
Rear Axle Full Floating

Type Power Steering, Re Circulating Ball Type with Hydraulic Booster

Front Air Suspension with 2 Bellows
Rear Air Suspension with 4 Bellows

Service Brakes
Full Air, Dual Circuit, S-Cam Type with Auto Slack Adjuster
Parking Brakes Spring Actuator on Rear Wheels, Failsafe
Exhaust Brakes
Electro-Pneumatic with butterfly Value in Exhaust pipe. Inter Locking Actuator for exhaust Brake & Foot Brake with canceling switch
ABS Provided
Retarder Provided

Wheels 10 Stud Wheel Discs
Nos .of Tyres 7(including 1 Spare Tyre)
Size 11-R22.5-14 P R (BS)

Capacity 280 Ltrs

Max. Speed 115 KM/ HR
Gradeability 34%

No. of Seats 40 + 1
Type Push back, Reclining Comfortable Seats with Padded Arm Rests and Foot Rest

Wheel Base 5700 MM
Turning Radius 9650 MM
Ground Clearance 250 MM
Overall Length 11400 + 50 MM
Overall Width 2500MM
Overall Height 3700 + 50 MM

Front 1980 MM
Rear 1790 MM

Interview with MD of Volvo buses
Mercedes Benz bus crash
Hyundai luxury buses - plan on hold
The new Volvo B9R bus

Picture of the Isuzu bus : India's leading car forum - Team-Bhp

Interview with Akash Passey Managing Director, Volvo Bus India Pvt. Ltd

ZW spent a day out at the Volvo Bus factory near Hosakote, Bengaluru, where he had a chance to catch up with Akash Passey, Managing Director, Volvo Bus India Pvt. Ltd and talk shop as well as get a download on the latest 6x2 multi-axle B9R 9400 inter city bus that Volvo has recently launched.

ZW : How do you see the bus market shaping up in India at the moment?

Passey : The marketplace is definitely changing and I feel it's for the better. Customer demands are going up as you have the aspiring middle class who have some level of global exposure and now want to have such facilities in India. On the other hand there are environmental concerns which revolve around depletion of natural resources as well as the congestion of cities.

All of this is resulting in people opting for high quality products that can offer great mileage as well as provide excellent comfort, yet help in the decongestion of cities.

Having said that, infrastructure is improving, new expressways are being laid everyday and the need for high end buses is what we are witnessing. A completely built bus offered by a global brand like Volvo means that customers get quality, comfort and safety in one single package.

ZW : What about the demand from Northern markets? Volvo has had a delayed entry there and your presence is still not as strong as it is in traditional bus markets like South India.

Passey : The North does not have a strong private player penetration in terms of inter city transport. Furthermore, the North has been an area that we did not consciously enter when we set up shop in the country. With the Southern markets already being ahead on their demands for inter city buses as well as the fact that we ourselves are located down South meant that it would be easier for us to support and cater to these markets.

Let me add that the Northern market might not be as big as the South market is today, but it is growing and we see demand flowing in from tour operators, especially on the Delhi-Agra-Jaipur circuit. Moreover we are gaining orders from state governments who are now opting for Volvo buses for state transport needs.

ZW : What do you have to say about the implementation of the various BRTS systems across the country?

Passey : There is still a need for an ideal BRTS system. By making two centre lanes in a road does not count as a BRTS system. A BRTS is a great system and can do wonders for in-city transport, but it requires a lot more than some bus corridors. There is need to integrate a complete IT based management system that can monitor signals as well as scheduled timings of buses on the route.

Incidentally Volvo has been a part of just about every successful BRTS system in the world and we will be a part of the Indian system as well. It's a challenge and there is much more that needs to be done.

ZW : Coming to Volvo buses in India. The company has been present for 10 years now. Where do you feel you stand?

Passey : Today we have 650 employees and are capable of manufacturing 440 buses a year. This figure is set to reach 1000 buses by 2010. We have grown steadily and have literally lead the market on luxury inter city buses and now are focusing on the in city bus business. Volvo has 38 service centres across the country, offers transport consultancy as well as runs a driver training program which has certified over 8000 drivers till date.

Volvo India literally changed the face of the bus industry in terms of offering a fully built bus, instead of a vehicle built on a truck chassis. Furthermore the concept of having a driver focus and optimizing that space has also been led by us. The ushering of safety and comfort features has also been driven by Volvo buses in India. As a brand we have brought in a sense of aspiration and feel that the possibilities that lie ahead are endless.

ZW : Could you elaborate on the product mix that Volvo has as of now?

Passey : Volvo in India offers two ranges of vehicle. You can either opt for a city bus or an inter city coach. The city bus, namely the BRLE, is a low floor bus that offers easy ingress and egress for passengers, plus it comes fitted with an automatic transmission, which makes it easy for the driver to manage in congested conditions. For inter city travel, Volvo offers the B7R which has dominated the luxury coach class in India till date. Now we have added the 6x2 Multi Axle B9R 9400 which is another step forward in the luxury coach market and just happens to be India's largest and most powerful bus till date.

Till recently we were producing around 90 per cent inter city coaches and 10 per cent city buses, but as of today and thanks to some government push the balance is more at a 50:50 mix of both products.



Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Delhi to Manali Volvo bus : How to...

Manali is a favorite hill station with not only Indians but foreigners as well. As the place is in hills, there is no train connectivity. Flying by air turns out to be expensive. The only option is to take a bus. Both Volvos and non A/C Indian buses go to Manali.

Here are some details on the same:

1. Swagatam Tours and Travels
This the latest agent to start Volvo buses to Manali from Delhi. They also run a non-ac India bus.
The Volvo costs Rs 800, and non-ac Rs 400. The Volvo leaves Chandra lok building, Delhi at 6pm, reaching Manali at 8am the next day. As for the non-ac, it leaves Delhi at 4:30pm, reaching Manali at 7am.
For more, visit their website HERE

2. Raj National Express Volvo
Raj is one of the biggest Volvo operators in India. They run a 5:30pm Volvo from Delhi (from Imperial hotel), reaching Manali at 8am. The cost of the Volvo ticket is Rs 900
For more, visit their website HERE

3. Blue World Tourist Volvo
Blue world tourist also runs a 5:30pm Volvo (from Rama Krishna Metro Station) that reaches Manali at 8am. The ticket cost is Rs 750. For more, visit their website HERE

Book your Manali Volvo ticket now!
Volvo B9R bus power, engine
Sharma transports picks up the Volvo B9R
Top speed of Volvo / Kinglong buses

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Mercedes Benz Bus crash in India


Mercedes recently launched their inter-city buses in India. Sharma travels was one of the first few operators to pick up the bus. But recently, the Mercedes bus met with a ghastly accident on the Mumbai-Bangalore route.

Here is a picture taken from the famous automotive blog

The website says that one guy, the co-driver, was killed in the accident.

Click on picture to enlarge it!

Also see
KPN Volvo B9R crash
Volvo B9R bus power, engine
Sharma transports picks up the Volvo B9R
Top speed of Volvo / Kinglong buses
Volvo B7R crash enroute Chennai