Wednesday, 17 October 2018

Rural bus service threat

‘Too many older people’ with free bus passes threatens future of Coasthopper, says boss

A popular coastal bus route is among a host of rural services under threat because there are too many people using it with a free bus pass, the firm’s boss claims. The Coasthopper service between Wells and North Walsham in north Norfolk is run by Sanders Coaches whose owner Charles Sanders said it may no longer be viable.

During early 2018 Sanders Coaches acquired ten Wright Eclipse Urban bodied Volvo B7RLE from Go-Ahead South Coast. Retaining blue and red livery their 'MORE' livery vinyls were applied as shown here on fleet number 509 on the approach to Cley-Next-the-Sea during September, on the eastern section between North Walsham/Cromer and Wells-Next-the-Sea.

In England you can get a bus pass for free travel when you reach the female state pension age, whether you’re a man or a woman. Mr Sanders is calling for more funding for the service from central government. He told BBC Radio Norfolk: “My company is badly disadvantaged by where we are based, as we are the second highest retirement area in the UK. Everyone is talking about the Coasthopper service, but I don’t care two hoots about that service. My whole network is at risk here; the whole lot could go. We’ve got routes that are 90pc concessionary bus fares. With only 20pc of my customers paying, there are 70 to 80pc I cannot get another penny from. We always try and provide enough capacity to cope with everybody but we want a fairer deal from central government. If it does not come through, then we could have to review our whole network.”

Norfolk County Council subsidises the route and Martin Wilby, chairman of the council’s environment, development and transport (EDT) committee, said: “We work very closely with all the bus operators across Norfolk. There are 188,000 bus passes and nine million journeys were taken using bus passes in the county last year. It costs the council £11.7m a year to reimburse bus companies for this. We get £8m from central government, so we have a shortfall of nearly £4m.” He added: “Bus passes are extremely important for elderly people, especially those living in rural areas who rely on public transport to go about their everyday lives such as going to the supermarket or visiting the doctor. This funding gap is not exclusive to Norfolk, it’s a national problem. But we’re not prepared to sit back and let it continue without a fight. It’s vital that we work closely with districts and bus operators to lobby central government. And I will be writing to all of our Norfolk MPs on behalf of EDT committee to spur them into carrying out a review.”

The Coasthopper bus service has operated on the Norfolk coast for more than 21 years.
It was re-launched in April with extended services through Overstrand, Trimingham and Mundesley and on to North Walsham.

The route, which passes through many otherwise isolated rural communities, had looked under threat after operator, Stagecoach East, announced it was slashing its Norfolk routes.

The previous incumbent of the Coasthopper route was Stagecoach East who operated the route out of their King's Lynn depot with a fleet of ten ADL E20D Enviro200 and six Optare Solo SR single-decks. One of the latter 48032 passes through the scenic village of Salthouse in September 2016.

But in March Sanders Coaches and King’s Lynn-based Lynx stepped in to run different parts of the route, with Lynx providing the service from Wells to King’s Lynn.

As Stagecoach withdrew Lynx of King's Lynn took on the western section of the route as far as Wells-Next-the-Sea, where one of their fleet of secondhand Optare Tempo single-decks was bound in April 2018. Number 6 in the fleet near Burnham Overy Staithe had originally operated with Marchants of Cheltenham.

Report from the Eastern Daily Press

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Proposed new Thames crossing revealed

Lower Thames Crossing to be 'biggest road project since M25'

A new road linking Kent and Essex would almost double capacity across the River Thames, Highways England has said.
The route of the new road tunnel under the river would also almost halve the northbound crossing times at the Dartford Crossing, the agency said.
A 10-week public consultation on the latest designs for the Lower Thames Crossing has opened.
It is claimed the scheme will be the largest road upgrade project since the building of the M25.
The planned new 14.5 mile (23km) long three-lane dual carriageway would connect the M2 near Rochester and the M25 in Essex between North and South Ockendon and include a 2.4 mile (3.8km) tunnel between Gravesend and Tilbury.
Adam Holloway, the Conservative MP for Graversham in Kent, previously described the Lower Thames Crossing as "a crazy idea" and "a disaster for the people of Dartford".
Opponents raised objections to the route saying it would cut through greenbelt land, and was too close to homes and schools.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "The Lower Thames Crossing will help transform journeys, create new business opportunities in Kent and Essex and unlock productivity across the UK."
A spokesman for Highways England said the new tunnel would be the longest road tunnel in the UK - and at over 50ft (15m) wide would become the third-largest bored tunnel in the world.
He said the updated designs "include significant changes to minimise the impact on local communities and the environment".

Tim Jones, project director for the Lower Thames Crossing, said: "For too long the Dartford Crossing has been the only way to get across the Thames east of London. It is a vital gateway but carries more traffic than it was ever designed for and drivers there suffer from regular delays.
"The Lower Thames Crossing is the most ambitious project of its kind ever in the UK and the biggest single road upgrade since the M25 was completed more than 30 years ago.
"It would almost double road capacity across the Thames."
Public information events are being held in Kent and Essex between 20 October and 5 December.

Monday, 15 October 2018

Developments in Dublin

From Transport for Ireland

Route Switchover Signals Substantial Increase in Bus Services in Dublin

New livery, new operator for bus routes 45a, 59, 63 and 75
Four bus routes have switched from Dublin Bus to Go-Ahead Ireland from Sunday October 7, in a move that will see improved services, not just on these routes, but in other parts of the network too.

Passengers on these routes will see immediate improvements in frequency and service levels and on about 20 other routes being transferred to Go-Ahead in the weeks and months ahead.

In addition, the switchover of routes will free up resources which has allowed NTA to approve a major programme of service enhancements including significant frequency improvements on 25 Dublin Bus routes.

For more information visit


Two more albums have been added to the site, both provided by Paul Gooderson who recently holidayed in Portugal.

One focuses on trams in Lisbon and Oporto and can be viewed by clicking  here

The other shows off buses used on the tourists trails in the same two locations and they too can be viewed by clicking  here

Sunday, 14 October 2018

New CAF Built Trains Shown by Northern

Northern has unveiled the first two trains in a £500m new fleet that will set new standards for customers using local rail in the north of England.

The first of the state-of-the-art new trains arrived in the UK last month and have now been unveiled by David Brown, Northern’s Managing Director and Jake Berry, Northern Powerhouse Minister, at a special event in Liverpool.

Due to start entering service by the end of the year, the new trains will mean a step-change in quality for customers, with features such as free customer Wi-Fi, air conditioning, at-seat power and seat reservation systems."

David Brown said: “I was lucky enough to see the trains in production in Spain earlier in the year, but its’ even better to see them here in Liverpool – just weeks away from entering passenger service.

“The quality of what has been delivered is a real landmark for Northern and our customers, and to be able to demonstrate that quality to colleagues and stakeholders today is an incredibly proud moment for me.

“Now it only remains for us to share these fantastic new trains with our customers, so that they can experience the comfort and the benefits all the new on-board features bring.”

The launch event was hosted by Northern at Alstom’s Edge Hill depot and was supported by train manufacturer CAF and owners Eversholt Rail.

Jake Berry MP said: “These spacious, comfortable and modern new trains are a clear demonstration of both the Government and train operators commitment to the Northern Powerhouse and putting passengers at the heart of everything we do.

“We are investing in the biggest modernisation of our rail network since Victorian times, ensuring people receive the faster, more reliable and more frequent services they deserve.

“Over the next few months we will see these brand new, state-of-the-art trains start replace the out-dated Pacer trains, providing more seats and better journeys for passengers across the Northern Powerhouse.”

Steve Timothy, Client Relations Director at Eversholt Rail, said: “We are delighted to see our new Class 195 DMU and Class 331 EMU trains built by CAF in Liverpool today, on the verge of entering passenger service with Northern. We hope Northern’s customers will enjoy travelling on them in due course.”

Richard Garner, CAF UK Director, added: “The official launch of our trains is the culmination of a successful collaboration between our company, Northern and Eversholt Rail.

“It is extremely gratifying to know that in just a few months' time the first customers will experience our high-quality, high-performance trains on this important and busy rail network across the north of England."

The new trains are just part of the improvements Northern is making to transform its customers’ rail experience.

Last month Northern launched its first fully refurbished train – a Class 158 - which boasts many of the same features as the new trains and will be the blueprint for the refurbishment of the rest of the Northern fleet.

And the train enhancements will continue to be complemented by further investment such as an increase in services and improvements at more than 400 Northern stations.


Two albums record some of the vehicles on show and taking part in the Autumn 2018 Wirral Bus & Tram Show.

The first from Russell Young can be viewed by clicking   here

The other from Richard Delahoy by clicking  here

Saturday, 13 October 2018

Latest London Bus Contract awards

The latest awards recently announced by Transport for London as follows:

211 (Waterloo & Hammersmith) LBSL contract awarded to RATP London United using existing 2016 Euro-VI New Routemasters transferred from the incumbent company. Currently operated by Abellio with said NRM from Battersea (QB) Garage (contract start date 29th June 2019)

272 (Grove Park, Chiswick & Shepherd’s Bush Green) LBSL contract re-awarded to RATP London United with new Euro-VI diesel single-decks (25th May 2019)

406 (Kingston & Epsom) LBSL contract re-awarded to RATP Quality Line with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks (29th June 2019)

440 (Chiswick & Stonebridge Park) LBSL contract re-awarded to RATP London United with new Euro-VI diesel single-decks (25 th May 2019)

681 (Hammersmith & Teddington School, schooldays-only) LBSL contract re-awarded to RATP London United with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks (6th July 2019)

E3 (Greenford & Chiswick) LBSL contract re-awarded to RATP London United using existing fleet 2012 Euro-V hybrid double-decks already upgraded to Euro-VI emission standards (1st June 2019)

E10 (Greenford & Northolt) LBSL contract awarded to RATP Abellio West London with new Euro-VI diesel single-decks. Currently operated by RATP London United with DE-class ADL E20D single-decks from Hounslow Heath (HH) Garage (1st June 2019)

E11 (Greenford & Ealing Common) LBSL contract awarded to RATP Abellio West London with new Euro-VI diesel single-decks. Currently operated by RATP London United with SDE-class ADL E20D single-decks from Park Royal (RP) Garage (25th May 2019)

Want more information on the full London bus scene, then why not have a look at the London Omnibus Traction Society's website at
Better still why not join and gain the benefits of the regular monthly newsletter along with other useful publications


Two further albums have been added to the site quite contrasting in the subjects. One focuses attention on the Lynton Lynmouth Cliff Railway courtesy of Mike Harris. The other is a set of pictures from the Showbus event held at Donongton Park and kindly provided by Steve Maskell.

This set can be viewed by clicking  here

 And this set by clicking  here

Friday, 12 October 2018

Scotrail Inter7City HST Services Will Start on 15th October

Following our posting in August here about the arrival of the first refurbished HST arriving in Scotland, ScotRail have now announced that services will commence from Monday 15th October.

Branded the Inter7City train, which will run initially between Aberdeen and Edinburgh, is the first of the upgraded high-speed trains that will connect Scotland’s seven cities - providing a boost for commuters, tourists, and business travellers.

Key features of the high-speed trains include:
More seats
Increased luggage space
At seat power sockets
More toilets

Better on-board hospitality

ScotRail is leasing from Angel Trains 121 Mk III vehicles and 54 MTU-engined power cars displaced from Great Western services by the introduction of Class 800 electro-diesel trainsets under the Intercity Express Programme. 
These will be formed into nine sets of 2+4 and 17 of 2+5. The trailer vehicles have been fully refurbished by Wabtec with power-operated doors to meet accessibility requirements and controlled-emission toilets.

The upgraded train will offer better connections for customers and will help deliver ScotRail's improved timetable from 9 December 2018.

 ScotRail Alliance MD Alex Hynes

Following a VIP preview run on October 10 ScotRail Alliance Managing Director Alex Hynes said:

“This is another major milestone in our plan to build the best railway Scotland has ever had.

“Our Inter7City service will provide more seats, better services, and more comfortable journeys for our customers.

“The investment we are making in these iconic trains is a clear sign of the ScotRail Alliance’s commitment to building a bigger and better railway for the whole of Scotland.”

Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure, and Connectivity said:

“The entry into service of the first fully upgraded high speed train (HST) is to be welcomed and I look forward to seeing more follow in the months ahead.

“Passengers have looked forward to the arrival of the fully refurbished HST fleet which will bring significant improvements for travellers on our inter-city routes between Scotland’s seven main cities. ScotRail and Wabtec, its supplier, have given assurances they remain focused on ensuring the full fleet is in service as quickly and efficiently as possible, meaning even more passengers will soon benefit from faster trains which have the latest standard of comfort, accessibility and catering provision.

“The boost in seating provision will help support the overall 23 per cent increase in capacity being delivered during 2019 as rail continues to grow in popularity across Scotland.”

 Driver training on the power cars is taking place using trains formed of unrefurbished coaches. One of the sets is seen here at Dundee.

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Light rail proposal for Bournemouth

COUNCILLORS have agreed to push ahead with work exploring the possibility of building a light railway or monorail system in Bournemouth.

Members of Bournemouth council’s environment and economy scrutiny panel agreed to further investigate the feasibility of a conurbation-wide light railway system.

Discussions have been held with potential Chinese investors with councillors admitting that it would be difficult for the local authority to fund any scheme. Following a request from the panel’s chairman, Cllr Mark Anderson, a feasibility report was produced on alternative transport systems which warned that any such project could be a “time consuming and costly affair with no guarantee of success”.
However, it did say that previous research had found that a light rail system “would fulfil a role” in the town’s transport network.
Considering the issue on Tuesday, members of the panel said that it could help alleviate traffic issues across the conurbation.
Cllr Ian Lancashire said: “The roads are becoming more and more congested.
“Getting into the hospital is almost impossible and it seems to me that it would be worthwhile looking further into this because it could serve the hospital, the airport and the university.
“One of the most important aspects could be a park and ride scheme from around the airport where there is a lot of empty space.
“It’s not just one thing, it’s got lots of different uses and I think this is something we are really going to need in the future.”
Cllr Eddie Coope said that he had been in discussions with private investors who could be interesting in helping to fund a project.
“There’s interest from the Chinese, who are experts in light rail, in doing something within the conurbation and it may even extend to looking at our wider rail network,” he said.

A recommendation by Cllr Anderson that further investigation work be carried out and that the council approach the Local Government Association for help in securing funding sources for the project was agreed by the panel.

Councillors also backed his suggestion of contacting Spelthorne Borough Council to find out about the process behind its plans for a light railway system connecting to Heathrow Airport.


Kind of 'back to the future' with two albums of preserved and vintage buses and coaches. The first a small set of pictures by Shayne Howarth of his recent visit to Malta, where some of those lovely old vintage buses are still kept in splendid condition.

The other the 2018 Wirral Bus & Tram Show held in Birkenhead with a small selection from Russell Young.

Both albums can now be viewed by clicking  here  and  here


Wednesday, 10 October 2018

First in Glasgow

First Glasgow to invest £100m on low emissions zone

Glasgow's biggest bus operator has said it is facing a bill of £100m over the next five years in order to meet strict new rules on air pollution.
First Glasgow revealed the cost as it prepared to unveil the first of a fleet of new buses designed to operate in the city's planned Low Emission Zone (LEZ).
The LEZ is due to phased in from the end of this year.
It involves mandatory cuts to exhaust emissions, to protect people from dangerous airborne pollution.
First Glasgow is due to unveil the first batch of 25 buses which have been fitted with Euro VI low emission systems ahead of the launch of the zone.
They will start operating in the city from Wednesday, with the first service due to run from Castlemilk to Milton.
A further 50 compliant vehicles are due to be delivered by November. First Glasgow is investing £14m in the new fleet this year alone.
During phase one of the LEZ, 20% of a bus operator's fleet is required to be compliant. A target of 100% has been set for the end of 2022.
First Glasgow will be required to invest millions of pounds each year in order to meet that target.
It includes the cost of retrofitting other buses in its 850-strong fleet over the next few years.

Transport Scotland said the Scottish government was investing £10.8m this year in implementing low emission zones, which are due to be set up in four Scottish cities by 2020.
A spokesman said: "Almost 70% of this will be used to support the bus industry through the Bus Emission Abatement Retrofit Programme which will be launched soon and will allow more than 500 buses to be retrofitted.
"£2.8m is being made available this year to support local authorities as they plan to introduce LEZs with applications for funding currently being considered by Transport Scotland.
"In addition, our Green Bus Fund also supports the take-up of new low emission buses.
"Operators in Glasgow and elsewhere have benefited from grants so that they push beyond standard diesel buses to greener technologies.
"Over seven rounds, grants totalling £16m have been awarded assisting in the purchase of 361 new low carbon emission buses across Scotland.
"The eighth round is expected to provide a further £1.7m to support the introduction of more buses in future, including 125 new low emission buses for First's Glasgow operation."
Proposals to introduce Scotland's first LEZ were agreed by the city council in September last year.
The scheme is due to be extended to other vehicles in stages.


The annual country bus running day usually held centred on Amersham, had to be changed at the eleventh hour this year. Instead it was based on nearby Chesham, and with glorious weather appeared to have a been a success. Organised by the Amersham & District Motorbus Society, once again vintage London Transport buses ran through the highways and byways and John Scragg has kindly supplied a flavour of the day with a set of pictures, which can now be viewed by clicking  here

Tuesday, 9 October 2018

Rolls-Royce and Porterbrook Launch First Hybrid Rail Project in the UK with MTU Hybrid PowerPacks

Rolls-Royce and Porterbrook, the UK’s largest owner of passenger rolling stock, have agreed the delivery of MTU Hybrid PowerPacks that can convert Class 168 and Class 170 ‘Turbostar’ DMUs from diesel-only to hybrid-electric operation. Hybrid technology allows for the cleaner and quieter operation of trains in stations and through urban areas.

The Letter of Intent, which was signed at rail industry trade show Innotrans, covers the delivery of hybrid systems for installation on two test trains. Following trials, Porterbrook aims to offer hybrid conversion to a range of customers operating existing Turbostar fleets.

This is the first agreement for the delivery of MTU hybrid drive systems in the UK.

Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook, said: “Porterbrook is committed to reducing the emissions and carbon footprint of our existing diesel powered fleets. We hope our investment in this trial of MTU Hybrid PowerPacks will enable us to offer wider fleet fitment of this technology, so that our customers can reduce both emissions and operating costs, as well as improve air-quality along urban corridors. Hybrid trains have the added benefit of operating with very little sound when using battery power, offering additional benefits to the railway’s near neighbours.

“This is one of several initiatives that Porterbrook is undertaking to address the challenge, set by Rail Minister Jo Johnson MP, of removing diesel-only trains from the UK rail network by 2040.”

Warren East, CEO of Rolls-Royce said: “We are pleased to be helping to write a new chapter of environmentally friendly, quieter and more efficient rail travel in the UK. With the innovative MTU Hybrid PowerPacks, Rolls-Royce and our partner Porterbrook will be setting new standards on the UK network; helping to reduce emissions, increase fuel efficiency and improve the lives of people who live near train stations.”

Rolls-Royce will initially deliver two MTU Hybrid PowerPacks based on type 6H 1800 engines to Porterbrook. These will be fitted into a Turbostar DMU in the beginning of 2020 which will then be trialled for a period of six months during regular operations. The agreement includes an option for the retrofitting of a second DMU with two MTU Hybrid PowerPacks. Based on the performance of the Hybrid fitted units, Porterbrook hopes to offer customers the opportunity to convert their existing Turbostar fleets into HybridFLEX trains through the installation of MTU Hybrid PowerPacks.

The MTU Hybrid PowerPack is an environmentally friendly drive system which combines the advantages of diesel and battery-powered rail traction. The version for Porterbrook incorporates an MTU diesel engine which fulfils future EU Stage V emissions regulations; plus an electric machine, which can be used either as an electric motor or generator; and an MTU EnergyPack battery system, which stores the energy recovered during braking. This enables very low-noise, emissions-free battery-only electric operation in urban areas and around stations.

Noise emissions in stations are cut by around 75 percent (20 dB(A)). Fuel consumption and CO2 emissions are reduced by up to 25 percent. NOx emissions can also be reduced by up to 70 percent and particulate emissions by around 90 percent. The total operating costs of rail vehicles with MTU hybrid drives are also significantly lower, and even brake pads and discs experience reduced wear due to energy recuperation during braking. As a result of the additional power of the electric machine, train operators also have the option to improve journey times through better acceleration.

Drive systems from Rolls-Royce already play an important role in the British railway system. More than 1,100 MTU PowerPacks and engines already power railcars and locomotives across the UK and Ireland, including over 550 PowerPacks in Turbostar DMUs which are in service with seven operators.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Wrightbus order

Wrightbus wins orders for more than 200 buses

Wrightbus, the Ballymena-based bus manufacturer, has won orders for more than 200 buses from customers in Hong Kong.
The buses will be made at the company's new facility at the former JTI Gallaher factory.
It comes after a difficult year for the firm which saw a big drop in profits and two rounds of redundancies.
The group made a pre-tax profit of £1.5m in 2017 compared to £10.7m in 2016.
It said there had been "challenges" in both UK and overseas markets in 2017, but chief executive Mark Nodder said "significant strides" had been taken to open up new international markets.

The Hong Kong orders are 150 double-decker vehicles for Kowloon Motor Bus and a further 10 for its sister company LongWin Bus.

Hong Kong City Bus has ordered 46 vehicles with a further seven to go to New World First Bus.

Group business and product development director John McLeister, said Wrightbus was "honoured to receive these two new orders from our long-standing customers in Hong Kong".
"Working closely with our partners Volvo, we have supplied almost 1500 double-deckers for operation in Hong Kong since we shipped the first bus in 2001," he added.
North Antrim MP Ian Paisley said the order was encouraging but called on the Northern Ireland secretary to find some mechanism that would allow Translink to procure buses in the absence of a Stormont minister.
He said: "Overseas orders are fantastic news and are a cherry on top in many cases but local and national bus orders are where the big prize rests."

Sunday, 7 October 2018

New Glasgow Underground Train Shown at InnoTrans

Stadler, in a consortium with Ansaldo STS and alongside Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, publicly revealed one of the new trains for the Glasgow Subway. This order for 17 vehicles sees the Swiss rail manufacturer rise to the challenge of building trains for unusually narrow track and tunnels gauges.

The £200 million contract awarded in 2016 by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport to Stadler and Ansaldo STS is for the supply of new rolling stock and control systems. It includes new signalling, telecoms, a control centre, as well as depot modifications and new screen doors on platforms.
With a maximum speed of 58 km/h, the new trains will be the same length and size as existing rolling stock, but made up of four-car sets, as opposed to the current three-car sets.

They will feature open gangways to maximise the space available, as well as dedicated areas for wheelchairs, making the trains more accessible for all.
Dating back to 1896, Glasgow Subway is the third oldest underground metropolitan network in the world, after London and Budapest. It operates solely within its original Victorian tunnels, and the track gauge of  4ft (1.22m) and tunnel gauge of 11ft (3.4m) diameter make it the world’s smallest-size underground system.
The tunnels comprise twin running circles, each 6.5 miles (10.5km) in length and there are 15 stations on the network. The new trains will be equipped for fully-automatic, unattended train operations (UTO), and it is the first time that Stadler is manufacturing trains for a driverless system.

Peter Jenelten, executive vice president for sales and marketing at Stadler, commented: “Stadler prides itself on its versatility, creativity and ability to find solutions. The historic nature of the Glasgow network has certainly put our skills to the test, but we were thrilled to secure this contract a couple of years ago and look forward to the successful roll-out of this ground-breaking fleet.”

Gordon Maclennan, chief executive at Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, added: “The delivery of new rolling stock and control system is a key part of our plan to modernise the Subway for generations to come. We are all aware of the proud rail history of the Subway as the third oldest in the world and our plans for modernisation will ensure that the Subway continues to be an essential component in the transport network of the future.

As a contrast one of the original 1896 Glasgow underground cars has been preserved and is on display at the Museum of Transport.


Saturday, 6 October 2018

Douglas Bay Horse Tramway

Special events will be held on the Douglas Bay Horse Tramway to mark the final day of service on the historical track this October.

The horse tram season will end earlier than usual to "allow work to start" on the Douglas promenade refurbishment, the Manx government said.

Opened in 1876, it hosts the world's oldest horse-drawn passenger tramway.

Jason Moorhouse MHK, member responsible for public transport, said the horse trams "will be back" in 2019.

Attraction 'a burden'

In 2016, the service was transferred to the government after Douglas Borough Council reported an annual loss of more than £260,000.

At the time, the council said the tourist attraction was "no longer financially viable" and "a burden on the rate-payer".

Plans for a new horse tram service in a £20m revamp of Douglas promenade were submitted in January.

Events on 21 October will include tours of the stables and the last tram service will leave at 17:30 BST.

Friday, 5 October 2018

New Great Northern 717 Trains

Great Northern gave passengers on its suburban route a sneak preview of their new £240 million air-conditioned train fleet on Friday morning (28 September).
Driver Michael DeVries and passenger Samantha Radford at Gordon Hill on the first new Moorgate train in passenger service 
The 25 six-carriage Class 717 trains will replace mainland Britain’s oldest electric trains, the 40-year-old Class 313s, with a phased introduction due to run from late autumn this year to spring next year.
As well as air conditioning, Wi-Fi and power points, the new trains, built by Siemens with innovative funding by Rock Rail, will provide a 27% increase in capacity to address the near-doubling of passenger numbers on Great Northern in 14 years.
The new fleet will operate between Moorgate and Hertfordshire, to and from Stevenage, Hertford North and Welwyn Garden City. Friday’s trip left Moorgate from Moorgate to Gordon Hill.
First passenger on board, Samantha Radford of Gordon Hill, said: “This is better for commuting, it’s so spacious. I will probably favour this with its air conditioning and better layout over the Underground; I think the air conditioning is a huge comfort issue, especially for anyone with small children or a health condition – it is going to make a massive difference. I also like the Wi-Fi and the fact you can charge your phone.”
Gerry McFadden, Director of Engineering at Great Northern’s operator Govia Thameslink Railway, said: “These spacious new trains are a key part of our RailPlan 20/20 programme to modernise services in the South East. The Class 717s will transform journeys for passengers on our busy metro services into Moorgate.
“They will all be the maximum length for this route and feature air conditioning as well as power points, Wi-Fi and real-time passenger information screens to make travelling with Great Northern a much more comfortable and convenient experience.

“Wide doors and spacious interiors will help address the huge increase in passenger numbers into Moorgate, and also help passengers board and alight promptly, helping us keep trains running on time.

“We will maintain these trains at our Hornsey depot, where a multi-million pound investment is providing the new facilities and equipment.
“We took the first units on lease only the day before, and we are delighted to have achieved this important milestone of our first preview passenger service within a day. Doing so is a testament to the incredibly good collaboration between Siemens, GTR and Network Rail on this project and the very effective new train introduction project management team we have in GTR.”
GTR has introduced more new trains into passenger service in the past three years than all other operators in the UK combined.
William Wilson, Managing Director of Siemens Rolling Stock UK, said: “Siemens has built these trains with one goal in mind – to transform passenger journeys to and from London by ensuring that services are reliable, and offer as much pace as possible. The Class 717 has modern carriages with increased capacity for passengers and is equipped with air conditioning, Wi-Fi and power points.”
Mark Swindell, Chief Executive Officer of Rock Rail, said: “This first preview run of the Class 717 train with passengers represents an exciting milestone in the successful delivery of the first of the fleets owned by Rock Rail and equity partner Aberdeen Standard Investments.
“We are proud to be part of a collaboration with Govia Thameslink Railway and Siemens and with our investor partners to drive better value for the UK tax payer and government and to deliver step changes in improved capability, services and travelling experiences for passengers on the Great Northern services between Moorgate and Hertfordshire.”

Thursday, 4 October 2018

Woolwich Ferry

TfL announces final stage of Woolwich Ferry upgrade

Work will take place between 6 October and the end of the year to replace the berths to accommodate the brand new boats

"The ferries will improve accessibility, provide separate waiting areas for pedestrians and cyclists and carry more vehicles. The boats will also be powered by a hybrid engine, which will greatly reduce emissions and noise" David Fisher Head of London River Services at TfL

TfL is replacing the Woolwich Ferry with new, modern, low-emission boats that will start operating in January.

The new ferries will have increased capacity, cycle-specific facilities and use a quieter, low-emission engine, all helping to deliver the Mayor's ambition to grow river transport and improve air quality.

The construction of the new berths, which are required for the new, larger ferries, began in June 2018. The next stage of this complex work will require closure of the service from 6 October until the end of the year while the berths are being replaced.

During this period drivers will need to use alternative routes and can plan their journey through TfL's website. The Woolwich Foot Tunnel will remain open for foot passengers and cyclists throughout the work.

David Fisher, Head of London River Services at TfL, said: 'We are really excited about the benefits that these new ferries will bring to Londoners and we will do our best to limit disruption during the essential work.

'We recognise how important this service is, particularly to local users, and thank everyone for their patience. The much needed new ferries will replace the current boats, which have given London excellent service for the last 55 years.

'We are also installing brand new berths that will include an enhanced auto-mooring system. The ferries will improve accessibility, provide separate waiting areas for pedestrians and cyclists and carry more vehicles. The boats will also be powered by a hybrid engine, which will greatly reduce emissions and noise.'

The new ferries will provide 14% extra space than the current vessels and will be able to carry 150 passengers, with a total of 210 metres of space for vehicles and dedicated cyclist spaces across four lanes.

The boats will be powered by a hybrid-propulsion engine, providing greater fuel efficiency and low noise. They are fitted with equipment to reduce emissions to 90% less Particulate Matter and 70% less NOx than legal standards.

The new berths incorporate high-tech auto-mooring systems, which will secure the vessels in the berth using magnetic technology.

This removes the need for engine power while mooring is taking place and helps reduce emissions further. It also makes the vessels more stable, improving the ease of boarding and alighting for customers.

The new vessels have been named 'Ben Woollacott', after a former deckhand who sadly died while working on the ferry in August, 2011 and 'Dame Vera Lynn', after the legendary singer from east London.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Go-Ahead launches pollution-busting bus to clean up urban air

The Go-Ahead Group one of the country’s largest bus and rail operators, has recently unveiled the UK’s first air filtering bus that makes the air around it cleaner as it travels – allowing the surrounding community to breathe easier.

The Bluestar bus operated by Go-Ahead, is fitted with a specially designed filter that removes ultrafine particles from the air and traps them as the bus moves through streets. The filter then allows the bus to blow out more pure air so that the air behind it is cleaner than that in front of it.

Go-Ahead has chosen Southampton to pioneer the prototype, as earlier this year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed that the city is at its limit of unsafe air pollution.

“We want this pilot to show that buses should be looked at as not just the solution to congestion in cities, but also as a solution to the air quality problem,” said Go-Ahead’s Chief Executive, David Brown. “As the bus removes the ultrafine particles from the air as it travels along the route, it is helping solve the air quality problems of the city. This bus will clean the air on its route 1.7 times a year to a height of 10 metres, imagine the change we could make to air quality if all buses had this technology.”

According to feasibility studies conducted by Pall Aerospace – the filter’s manufacturer – this pilot bus will clean the air on its route 16 times per year, to a height of 10 metres.

If all Bluestar buses were fitted with this air filtering technology it would clean the air in the Southampton area 2.4 times a year to a height on 10 metres, not only making an important change to air quality, but to people’s lives.

The associated health problems of outdoor air pollution are linked to 4.2 million premature deaths worldwide, according to the WHO. In the UK, the Department for Environment Food and Rural Af-fairs (DEFRA) estimates that particulate air pollution reduces the life expectancy of residents by six months on average.

“Our team is proud of the results on the filtering bus project, and we are excited to see it in action with our partner Go-Ahead,” said Pall Aerospace’s Senior Director of Marketing Steve Simpson. “We used our knowledge of aerospace filtration to design and build a product that will help clean the air of the cities in which we live by removing the particulates that are a major component of air pollution.”

The filter, which is fitted onto the roof of the bus, is made in an engine barrier-type filter construction which is designed for particle removal efficiency of 99.5 percent without any impact on the passenger or travel experience.

The Go-Ahead Group launched the prototype at 10:30am on Thursday, 27 September at Guildhall Square in Southampton.


The Plaxton Pointer body style has now been around for a couple of decades and derives from that at the Reeve Burgess bodybuilders in Derbyshire. Many have been produced since then and a selection can now be viewed by clicking here