Saturday, 22 July 2017

Latest London Bus Contract awards

The latest awards have recently been announced by Transport for London as follows


99       (Woolwich & Bexleyheath)  Awarded to Arriva London North using existing fleet 2011-2013 Euro-V diesel double-decks currently on route 253. Currently operated by Stagecoach Selkent with ADL E40D and E40H double-decks from Plumstead (PD) Garage (contract start date 20th January 2018)
269     (Bexleyheath & Bromley North Station) Awarded to Arriva London North using existing fleet 2011-2013 Euro-V diesel double-decks currently on route 253. Currently operated by Stagecoach Selkent with Dennis Trident double-decks from Bromley (TB) Garage (20th January 2018)
401     (Thamesmead & Bexleyheath) Awarded to Arriva London North using existing fleet 2011-2013 Euro-V diesel double-decks currently on route 253. Currently operated by Go-Ahead London Central with ADL E40D and Volvo B7TL double-decks from Bexleyheath (BX) Garage (20th January 2018)
422     (North Greenwich & Bexleyheath Garage) Awarded to Stagecoach Selkent with a mixture of existing fleet 2011 Euro-V diesel double-decks from route 99 and new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks. Currently operated by Go-Ahead London Central with ADL E40D and Volvo B7TL double-decks from Bexleyheath (BX) Garage (20th January 2018)


423     (Heathrow Terminal 5 & Hounslow)  Re-awarded to London United using existing fleet 2011 Euro-V ADL E20D diesel single-decks (3rd March 2018)


635     (Brentford & Sunbury, schooldays-only) Re-awarded to London United using double-decks type to confirmed (13th January 2018)
B14    (Bexleyheath & Orpington Station) Awarded to Stagecoach Selkent with new Euro-VI diesel double-decks. Currently operated Go-Ahead London Central with ADL E20D single-decks from Bexleyheath (BX) Garage (3rd February 2018)
B16    (Kidbrooke Station & Bexleyheath Garage) Re-awarded to Go-Ahead London Central using existing fleet 2010 Euro-V diesel single-decks (20th January 2018)
H22    (Manor Cross, Richmond & Hounslow) Re-awarded to London United using existing fleet diesel single-decks (3rd March 2018)
H28    (Hayes & Osterley) Re-awarded to Abellio using existing a mixture of existing fleet 2012 Euro-V ADL E20D diesel single-decks and one new Euro-V diesel single-deck (24th February 2018)
H37    (Hounslow & Manor Cross, Richmond) Re-awarded to London United with single-deck buses type to be confirmed (3rd march 2018)


H98    (Hayes End & Hounslow) Re-awarded to London United using existing fleet 2011 Euro-V ADL E20D diesel single-decks, plus a small number of existing fleet 2014 electric-powered ADL E20D single-decks. Route to become 24-hour at weekends (17th March 2018)

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

Friday, 21 July 2017

Rail electrification projects cancelled

New improvements for rail passengers in Wales, the Midlands and the North


The Department for Transport announces plans for new bi-mode trains for passengers with more seats and better on-board facilities.
The government today also published the consultation for the next East Midlands franchise, which will deliver reduced journey times for intercity services and more seats for long distance passengers at peak hours, as well as dedicated services and more capacity for commuters coming into London. The franchise will maximise the benefits of the upgrade of the Midland Main Line — the biggest investment in the route since it was completed in 1870.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:
We are making the biggest investment in the railways since the Victorian era and upgrading services across the country, including in Wales, the midlands and the north.
Passengers expect and deserve high quality rail services and we are committed to using the best available technology for each part of the network, delivering significant benefits for those who use our railways.

Benefits along the specific routes include:



Cardiff to Swansea

From Autumn 2017, passengers in Wales will benefit from new Intercity Express trains which will each deliver over 130 extra seats, faster journey times and improved connectivity for South Wales to London with 40% more seats in the morning peak once the full fleet is in service.
Network Rail will also develop additional options to improve journeys for passengers in Wales. These will include:
  • improving journeys times and connections between Swansea and Cardiff, and South Wales, Bristol and London
  • improving journeys times and connections across North Wales
  • direct services from Pembroke Dock to London via Carmarthen on new, state of the art Intercity Express trains
  • station improvements at Cardiff Station
  • station improvements in and around Swansea including looking at the case for additional provision
The Secretary of State also welcomed a proposal for Wales’ first privately funded railway station at St Mellons. The department will work with the promoters of the scheme as they develop their plans to the next stage.
The first new Intercity Express trains will enter service from this Autumn and once the whole fleet is introduced and electrification to Cardiff is complete journey times between Swansea, London and other stations along the route will be approximately 15 minutes shorter.

Midland Main Line

The next operator will be required to deliver modern, fast and efficient intercity and commuter trains, including a brand new set of bi-mode intercity trains from 2022, maximising the benefits of the largest upgrade of the Midland Main Line since it opened in 1870. This will improve journeys sooner, without the need for wires and masts on the whole route, with further investment to come to ensure Sheffield is ready for HS2.


Benefits include reducing journey times on long distance services from Nottingham and Sheffield by up to 20 minutes in the peak and delivering over 1000 additional seats an hour in the peak into London, an increase of more than 50%.

Oxenholme to Windermere

Passengers in the Lake District will benefit from 4 direct services a day in each direction between Windermere and Manchester Airport from May 2018.
The government has announced plans to ensure passengers enjoy brand new trains from December 2019. Journeys between Windermere and Manchester Airport will be improved sooner and with less disruption to services and local communities. It also means there is no need to construct intrusive wires and masts in this National Park.

Thursday, 20 July 2017

Great Western Railway

First Great Western passengers could see train delays cut by 15 per cent thanks to system update



Train delays could be cut by 15 per cent thanks to a system upgrade, Network Rail has said.
A new “traffic management system”, designed to better monitor trains and flag up disruption, is being introduced on the Great Western main line from London Paddington to Bristol.
A one-year trial of the system is due to be launched between the two destinations in June 2018.
It is being paid for by an innovative funding agreement between Network Rail and British technology firm Resonate.
The latter will pay most of the cost of installing and running the system. If the expected reduction in delays is achieved, Network Rail will pay less compensation to train operators and share the savings with Resonate.
It should make it easier for the rail company to act to minimise knock-on delays.

David Waboso, group managing director for Digital Railway at Network Rail, said: "Thousands of passengers will benefit from the introduction of this cutting edge technology that could reduce train delays by up to 15 per cent on the main lines out of London Paddington.
"We need our partners in the supply chain to be 100 per cent invested in the products they provide for us, so why not share the costs and share the benefits? That's the way to produce first-rate improvements to the railway."
Services between London and Bristol are operated by Great Western Railway.
The rail firm also operates trains to Ealing Broadway, Redhill, Heathrow and Gatwick Airport.
Almost a quarter of its long distance trains failed to arrive at their final destination within 10 minutes of the scheduled time between May 28 and June 4.
Rail minister Paul Maynard said digital railway technology will "allow us to safely and securely put more trains on our network".
He added: "This means more service, more space and more choice for passengers."

NOW SEE THE LATEST ON THE NEW FOCUS FLICKR SITE


Another day another town. This time it is Newbury in Berkshire which recently became the focus of attention. A selection of buses and coaches have been added to an album and can now be viewed by clicking  here

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

London to get switched on with more electric buses

TfL and the Mayor announce more fully-electric bus routes to cut toxic emissions


"These three new fully electric bus routes will make a real difference cleaning up the air in busy parts of central London, and are another step along the way to fulfilling my ambition of making all London's buses zero emission by 2037"
TfL and the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, have announced three more electric-only bus routes - the latest in a series of bold measures to tackle London's toxic air. The routes being converted to fully electric buses are:
  • Route 46: Paddington to St. Bartholomew's Hospital via King's Cross
  • Route 153: Finsbury Park to Moorgate via Angel
  • Route 214: Highgate Village to Moorgate via Camden
The 56 new buses will be built in the UK in a partnership between British manufacturer ADL and Chinese company BYD, and the routes will be fully electric by mid-2019.

Largest electric bus fleet in Europe





London already boasts the largest electric bus fleet in Europe with more than 2,500 hybrid electric buses running across the Capital.
The addition of new fully electric buses on routes 46, 153 and 214 will bring the total number of electric buses in London to over 170.
This includes route 360, which will convert to fully electric buses later this year, and routes 70 and C1 are set to follow in spring 2018.
Just last week, the Mayor announced a new £86.1m programme to cut harmful emissions from London's existing bus fleet.

Cutting pollution



Around 5,000 buses - more than half of the fleet - are set to be upgraded to meet the latest ultra-low Euro VI emissions standard, cutting pollution by up to 95%.
The Mayor also set out in his draft Transport Strategy that by 2037 at the latest, all 9,200 buses across London will be zero emission.
The electric routes are part of a major transformation the Mayor has asked TfL to deliver to reduce emissions from London's bus fleet.
Other innovative measures to clean up the capital's bus fleet include the phasing out of diesel-only buses and a commitment to purchase only hybrid or zero-emission double-decker buses from 2018.

Determined to improve air quality


Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: 'London's buses have been one of the biggest contributors to harmful pollution coming from our transport network, and I'm proud that we continue to take some of the boldest action of any city in the world to clean up our bus fleet.
'These three new fully electric bus routes will make a real difference cleaning up the air in busy parts of central London, and are another step along the way to fulfilling my ambition of making all London's buses zero emission by 2037.
'We've already opened the first of our 12 Low Emission Bus Zones, and we'll only be procuring hybrid or zero-emission double-decker buses from 2018.
'London's air quality is a direct cause of illness and premature death across our city, and TfL will continue to lead the way tackling our air pollution crisis head-on.'
Christine Lovett, Chief Executive of the Angel Business Improvement District, said: 'Electric buses fit perfectly with our cleaner air agenda at Angel - we are determined to improve air quality for everyone who lives and works here.
'Route 153 goes right through the heart of Angel and we all appreciate TfL's efforts to tackle toxic air.'
Kay Buxton, Executive Director at The Paddington Partnership, said: 'Paddington is synonymous with transport heritage, the first Underground and bus journeys began here, Brunel and now Crossrail have continued that innovation.
'The Mayor of London's announcement that Route 46, one of the Paddington's most cherished bus routes, will be fully-electric reinforces the ethos of the area.
'Improving air quality and reducing pollution are cornerstones to future-proofing Paddington and we are proud that Route 46 will play a role in achieving this.'
Simon Pitkeathley, Camden Town Unlimited Chief Executive, said: "We're delighted to see the Mayor's brave efforts to tackle air quality issues further. I take the 214 bus regularly myself, and it's significant to see it transferred to electric-only. At Camden Town Unlimited, we are acutely aware of the effects of pollution and the need for drastic measures. This is a great step forward for London."
TfL's Managing Director of Surface Transport, Leon Daniels, said: 'Electric buses produce zero exhaust pipe emissions and with less noise and fewer vibrations, they offer a more comfortable ride for our customers.
'We're looking forward to introducing more of them across London and will continue to do all we can to improve air quality in our city.'


Colin Robertson, CEO of Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL), said: 'The ADL/BYD partnership goes from strength to strength.
'We're pleased to be delivering vehicles which not only respond to the stringent operational requirements set by TfL, but improve air quality and passengers' on-board experience.'
Isbrand Ho, Managing Director at BYD Europe, said: `We are delighted with the Mayor's decision to convert three more routes to pure electric buses. This is a real vote of confidence in the strength of the BYD/ADL partnership. The first fleet we supplied in London has performed well and now Londoners will benefit from more of our zero pollution and cost effective electric buses.'
In 2016, routes 507 and 521 became central London's first fully electric routes, part of the Mayor's commitment to have 300 zero-emission single-decker buses serving the centre of London by 2020.
Other measures to green the Capital's bus fleet include:
  • Making sure all double-decker buses operating in the central Ultra Low Emission Zone comply a year earlier by 2019, meaning each of the 3,100 double-deck buses operating in the zone will be Euro VI Standard
  • Expanding the ULEZ retrofit programme to up to 3,000 buses outside the central zone by 2020 (up from 800) and to 4,200 by 2020 (more than 5,000 in total)
  • Procuring only hybrid or zero-emission double-decker buses from 2018
  • The introduction of 12 Low Emission Bus Zones, operational by 2020, that will see NOx emissions along particular routes fall by more than 80%
In March, TfL opened the first of 12 Low Emission Bus Zones on Putney High Street, where only buses meeting the toughest emission standards are permitted to run.
With the addition of even greener buses to the fleet, bus customers can help to reduce emissions while reducing congestion on London's roads.
Travelling on buses in London represents very good value for money, with a single fare costing £1.50. Since the introduction of the 'Hopper' fare in September last year, passengers can change onto another bus or tram for free within one hour of touching in.


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

NOW SEE THE LATEST ON THE NEW FOCUS FLICKR SITE


The latest album on the site features a selection of buses and coaches from the Wiltshire City of Salisbury. This album can now be viewed by clicking  here

Monday, 17 July 2017

Crossrail & HS2

London's new 25,000-home neighbourhood: huge Old Oak Common regeneration zone is set to become a Crossrail-HS2 transport hub

New striking images show an emerging city, with 25,500 homes; 65,000 jobs and a transport hub bigger than London Waterloo.

The first Crossrail trains are entering service
London’s newest neighbourhood, where 1,600 acres will be transformed, is a regeneration hotspot equalled only by the Royal Docks and Beckton Riverside in the east of the capital.
The regeneration of Old Oak Common and Park Royal to the north-west of the capital will be a major new place for Londoners to live and work, with 25,500 new homes and 65,000 new jobs over four decades.

Transport is the key 
Like the late 1800s, which saw London’s main railway termini developed in a ring around the capital’s centre, Old Oak in the 21st century will renew connections with the Midlands and the North, but from a station located further out that will drive new development in north-west London and suggests a larger dimension for the city — as Victorian stations did, and as Heathrow did in the post-war era.

nholdoak3.jpg

Key to the future: at the heart of the grand design for Old Oak Common and Park Royal will be the interchange station for Crossrail, Great Western Main Line and High Speed 2
The development potential of giant industrial sheds, swarms of low-rise industrial buildings, rail marshalling yards, a tangle of Tube, local and national rail lines, threaded through by the Grand Union Canal, a remnant of a previous era of growth, will all be unlocked by the arrival of Crossrail — the Elizabeth line — and High Speed Two (HS2).
An estimated £26 billion-worth of development is focused around a new interchange, larger than Waterloo, where the Elizabeth line and HS2 will meet in 2026.
Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation — the OPDC — the mayoral body in charge of the area, claims the level of development will contribute “£7.6 billion annually to the UK economy”. New chairman of the OPDC, Liz Peace, says: “Londoners should be thinking creatively about what Old Oak and Park Royal have to offer. The opportunities will be amazing when you think about the advantages and connections the new transport infrastructure will bring to the area.
It is an enormous project, but I’m going to be focusing on some of the smaller things so we make early progress and a difference in the next two or three years to bring new homes and jobs. That’s the way we will make a difference, which London Mayor Sadiq Khan is very interested in.”

First new homes
The first new housing projects will be around the HS2/Crossrail terminal to the eastern end of the area and immediately north of Wormwood Scrubs.
The Mayor stamped his involvement on future development by persuading Queens Park Rangers Football Club and Genesis Housing Association to increase the number of affordable homes in their Oaklands scheme on the Grand Union Canal.
The Greater London Authority increased its grant to the 605-home development so that 40 per cent of the homes, up to 242 from 200, will be “affordable”. Oaklands, the first major scheme off the blocks in Old Oak, will include a mix of social and affordable rent and shared-ownership homes.
Residents will move in from 2019. Office and commercial space is included for small and local businesses.
The football club is still looking for a new ground so it can relocate from Loftus Road, but seems to have dropped plans to acquire land from local business and major landowner Car Giant, which plans a major mixed-use redevelopment scheme on its own 46 acres in the north-east corner of the OPDC area.
Old Oak Park, a joint proposal between Car Giant and developer London & Regional, envisages 6,500 new homes and commercial space for 8,000 jobs. An outline planning application will be made once a proposal to build a new viaduct over the rail tracks to the north of the site, creating a link to Willesden Junction station, has been agreed.

Huge new rail hub
The core of Old Oak, the new HS2, Crossrail and Great Western Main Line interchange station is due to open in 2026, by which time it is expected some 12,500 homes will either have been built or will be under way. About 60,000 people will be living across the area by 2047. The current population is only 4,000.
Two new Overground stations are also proposed: Hythe Road will open in the early 2020s and Old Oak Lane will open in 2026.
Huge mixed-use development is expected around the new interchange. A new town centre, in effect, will be developed off the back of £2.5 billion of infrastructure, of which a proportion will be funded by taxes on development in the form of the Community Infrastructure Levy and Section 106 contributions paid by developers.
But this isn’t putting them off. Aurora was one of the first developers to pursue a scheme in Scrubs Lane, which runs north-south along the eastern boundary of Old Oak.
It received planning permission for 47 new homes on a former light industrial site, including 14 for shared ownership and one to let at a London Living Rent. Work starts next year.
Aurora also has proposals for a 22-storey tower further south in Scrubs Lane with 164 new homes alongside two lower-rise blocks.
City & Docklands, meanwhile, has applied to build 200 homes for rent and other uses. The developer says North Kensington Gate will form a “new gateway” to Old Oak and Park Royal at Mitre Yard, also in Scrubs Lane. Caf├ęs and restaurants will line a currently inaccessible stretch of the Grand Union Canal.
Make Architects says its concept for the one-and-a-half-acre site is an “exceptional new place for residents, employees and visitors”, which achieves the “highest standards of design” in buildings of up to 19 storeys.
The Hammersmith Society does not share that opinion, however, claiming the tower is “unremarkable” and will loom over views from Wormwood Scrubs.
The society should probably expect more tall buildings as HS2 approaches — and Londoners should certainly keep an eye on the capital’s newest neighbourhood.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

CAF to Build Trains and Trams in UK


Three hundred jobs will be created at a new train and tram factory that is to be built at Newport.
Spanish company Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) is investing £30m in the new plant, described as a centre of excellence for the manufacture of UK rolling stock.

More than 100 locations in the UK were considered for the plant, with the Celtic Business Park in Newport chosen from one of four potential sites that were short listed.

CAF is a major international rolling stock manufacturer with plants in Brazil, Mexico and the US as well as Spain.
Founded in 1917, it specialises in the manufacture of light rail, rapid transit and railway rolling stock.

The Newport factory is being designed so that CAF can build a range of different trains, including diesel multiple units, electric multiple units, trams and high speed trains.
It will enable the company to assemble, test and commission new vehicles and have capacity to undertake future manufacturing projects as well as maintenance and servicing activities.

 One of the new Northern trains being built by CAF in Spain

Richard Garner, CAF’s UK Director, said: “CAF is an established supplier to the UK market, and we now have solid economic basis for further increasing our footprint in the UK.

“The establishment of this facility will serve CAF’s long-term aspirations to dominate the UK market for many years to come.”

CAF has had a presence in the UK rail market since the 1990s, supplying units for the Heathrow Express link from the airport to Paddington in that decade.
More recently it has supplied trains to Northern Ireland Railways and trams for the cities of Birmingham and Edinburgh.

Last year it signed a contract to supply sleeper cars for the London and Glasgow-Edinburgh routes, as well as units for Arriva Rail North and the FirstGroup’s TransPennine Express franchise.

 TransPennine have ordered 12  five car sets of Intercity EMU trains from CAF

Also announced this month is that CAF are acquiring the engineering company BWB Consulting, on of the most prestigious consulting companies in the United Kingdom, will allow CAF to consolidate their presence in the country whilst strengthening their position as a comprehensive rail service supplier.

 In 2015, CAF signed a contract for approximately € 200 M for the supply of the Caledonian Sleeper cars that will operate between London and Glasgow-Edinburgh. In 2016, the Company also secured a number of important deals. Among these, the contract signed with the Arriva Rail North Limited operator for the manufacture of two fleets of 43 electric trains and 55 diesel trains respectively, as well as the First Group Operator project for the supply and maintenance of 66 passenger cars and 12 5-car electric units deserve particular attention. Both projects stand at a total of close to € 1 billion.

 The interiors of the new Caledonian Sleeper coaches

 This confirms how strategically important the United Kingdom is for CAF. In the words of Josu Imaz, Director of Filiales y Desarrollo Corporativo (Subsidiaries and Corporate Development) of the CAF Group, "for us, BWB Consulting is an example of British engineering at its best. We have ambitious plans to diversify our business, to broaden out turnkey engineering activities, and we foresee that BWB will play a particularly significant role in this strategy."

"We are already committed to substantial investment in the United Kingdom through CAF Rail UK. With BWB, we will provide the resources required to appropriately develop their own strategy and also to work in collaboration with CAF to explore new markets and opportunities."

With this agreement, BWB Consulting, one of the 30 largest British engineering consulting companies, sets about the implementation of significant expansion both in the United Kingdom and abroad, as it forms a part of CAF, a large Group dedicated to providing comprehensive transport systems.

 CAF has had a presence in the UK rail market since the 1990s, supplying units for the Heathrow Express link from the airport to Paddington in that decade

BWB's administration and head offices are located in Nottingham whilst other officers are strategically located up and down England in cities such as London, Birmingham, Manchester, Leeds, Cambridge and Northampton.

With an annual turnover or 22 million pounds, BWB comprises a workforce of over 300, having undergone significant growth over the last few years as a result of its successful business model.

BWB has received awards on a number of occasions in honour of their excellence in terms of work performance and rendering of engineering services. It has also been included in the list of top British engineering companies for the second year running, in the awards ceremony held last June by the Association of British Engineering and Consulting Companies.

BWB will carry out activities with CAF TURNKEY & ENGINEERING, a subsidiary of the CAF Group, in charge of heading up Turnkey Projects and a benchmark in the railway engineering sector.

This operation will provide CAF with the chance to extend its portfolio of services by strengthening engineering in the fields of infrastructures, the environment and construction and also Project Management It obtains direct standing in the British market and lays the foundations to render international comprehensive engineering services. BWB can also implement their plans for growth by means of the business opportunities in their strategy plan together with the synergies created with the CAF Group, which includes new markets, technological advances and future society trends, such as Smart Cities.

BWB will play a major role in CAF's plans to diversify and extend the Group's presence in English-speaking markets, as well as to expand their transport engineering services on an international scale.

Saturday, 15 July 2017

New Cumbria Open Toppers for Stagecoach



Stagecoach are preparing their new fleet of Lake District open toppers for the road. The seven new Volvo B5TLs with Wright Gemini 3 bodywork are scheduled to enter service on Monday 17th July. They carry a new ‘Lakesider’ livery from Ray Stenning and Best Impressions and have white LED destination screens.
Fleet numbers are 13801-07 and registrations are BV17CTE/F/K/O/U/X/Y.
They will replace the current Trident open-top buses used on the Lakes 599 service and be allocated to Kendal depot.


The core open top route runs between Bowness Ferry Pier and Grasmere via Ambleside. However, positioning runs to Windermere and Bowness from Kendal bus station operate in the morning at 08.10, 08.50, 09.10 and 09.30 giving an opportunity to extend time spent on the open top vehicles.
The open toppers return from Windermere to Kendal in the evening between 17.12 and 19.45 adding to the trips operated by the recently introduced closed top vehicles on the 555 service.


Recently introduced vehicles operate on the 555 service through the Lake District between Keswick and Kendal and then on to Lancaster. In the mornings and evenings this service is boosted by positioning runs using the open top vehicles.

Friday, 14 July 2017

National Express

National Express reveals previously unseen archive material ahead of its 45th birthday

The coach firm has clocked up a staggering 3.5 billion miles since it was formed in 1972.

National Express turns 45 this year, and to celebrate the company has raided the archives and dug out a string of old photographs and marketing material.
The rare, previously unseen images, one of which shows the eight-strong customer service team at work at the firm’s Birmingham HQ in 1974, give a fascinating insight into the origin of the much-loved brand.


 
Staff at National Express HQ
Since the company launched National Express coaches have clocked up a staggering 3.5 BILLION miles.

The famous intercity coach operator traces its origins to 1972 when scheduled coach services run by the National Bus Company were united under one brand known as ‘National’.
Some of the images date back to 1966 when coaches came under the National Bus Company’s umbrella.
Managing Director Chris Hardy said: “National Express is turning 45 and like any good birthday we thought it would be fun to ‘open the family album’ and lift the lid on our archive – including some previously unseen material – in a bid to make people smile.


One of the earliest National Express coaches is tested on a track
“People have grown up with National Express and we’ve made memories by connecting people all over the country with their friends and families.
‘’We’re proud to be a fixture of the UK’s roads and play our part in the journey of people’s lives.
“It’s happy birthday to National Express and thank you to the millions of people who’ve come along for the ride”.


An iconic frog badge
Today National Express has over 900 stops across the UK and operates 19 million journeys a year.
Fuelled by the explosion of low-cost flights, around a third of all journeys are now to airports.
Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Leeds are now the most popular cities to visit by National Express outside of London.


The company has over 9000 stops across the UK
National Express coach driver Mike Davies covers the company’s longest direct service route from Edinburgh to Plymouth, and is believed to be Britain’s most-travelled driver with over 40 years and three million miles to his name.
Mike added: "National Express is a British institution and it’s impossible to travel any distance on the UK’s motorways without spotting one.



The National Express is a British institution
“Everyone has a memory of a National Express and there aren’t many companies you can say that about.
I've seen it all over the years and coaches have really changed – scratchy velvet seats went out years ago – it's all leather now and technology has been a real game changer.
"It’s amazing to think the company is 45 and exciting to think about what the coming years will bring."



Passengers enjoy the service in the 70s

TEN THINGS YOU NEVER KNEW ABOUT NATIONAL EXPRESS

  1. National Express coaches have covered the A-Z of the nation’s roads, travelling 3.5 BILLION miles – more than NASA’S International Space Station which completed its 100,000th orbit last year
  2. Now a coach ticket is purchased every FOUR SECONDS
  3. All manner of weird and wonderful items have ended up in lost property, from false legs to Indian head-dresses and even a live crab
  4. The longest service is the 588 from London to Inverness – a whopping 582.3 miles
  5. A National Express 49-seater coach takes up to one mile of car traffic off the roads
  6. Coach spotters are 'a thing' - you will often see them at major events or popular junctions taking notes of registration plates
  7. 1,600 drivers currently work for the company
  8. National Express has pioneered many transport industry ‘firsts’, including the introduction of wheelchair lifts to all its coaches
  9. Drivers cannot start up a National Express coach engine without taking a breathalyser test, which is set much lower than the UK legal limit
  10. Coaches are most commonly used for commuting, day-trips or going on holiday but more than one bride has used a National Express coach to get her to the church on time.

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Network Rail disruption

Bank holiday travel chaos in August as Waterloo and London Bridge shut


A major clash of engineering works will cause one of the biggest ever closures of London rail services over a bank holiday weekend.


The £800 million redevelopment of Waterloo mainline station will coincide with the Thameslink project at London Bridge halting many mainline services to and from the capital over the August holiday.
Much of Waterloo mainline station will close from August 5-28 while Charing Cross, London Bridge and Waterloo East stations will shut from August 26 to September 2, covering the bank holiday weekend and the week when many people return to work following the summer break.
Cannon Street station will be closed on the weekend of August 26-27.
People were advised to work from home if possible or find other ways to and from the capital as business chiefs condemned the multi-line closures.
Colin Stanbridge, chief executive of the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said: “We do understand that maintenance work needs to be done and operators see the bank holiday as an opportune time to do that, but they also need to be aware that not only must London be open for visitors and commuters, but it must also be seen to be open and coinciding closures do not give that message. What Londoners really need are commuter trains that work to timetable throughout the year.”


A Southeastern spokesman told passengers: “We strongly recommend you consider changing your normal journey to work on these three days as we will not be able to provide as many trains as we normally do and our services are likely to be very busy.
“Even if your route is not directly affected by the work, the times of trains may be different or your services busier than usual with passengers diverted from London Bridge.”
Transport Focus, the national passenger rail watchdog, said it was unable to comment in the run-up to the general election.
Network Rail (NR) defended the joint closures saying services would be increased from Victoria and Blackfriars stations.
A spokesman said: “Our work over this August Bank holiday, and the days either side, are a vital step in the delivery of some major key projects that will deliver hundreds of new services and tens of thousands of new seats for the people of London and beyond.
“There is never a good time to carry out these huge improvement projects but at bank holidays there are many fewer people travelling.”

NOW SEE THE LATEST ON THE NEW FOCUS FLICKR SITE


Bristol RELL / ECW previously number 864 in the Southern Vectis fleet is now operated by the Mendip Mule Motorbus company. This bus operates a variety of special services and excursions, one of which was on the Isle of Wight over the weekend of the 8th/9th July. Visits were made to several locations on the island including the Island Line railway and at one stage were joined by a rather privately-owned and preserved Herbert Taylor bodied Reo Safety Bus. Brian Bell took the opportunity to join the weekend events and has provided a selection of pictures. These have been placed into an album which can now be found by clicking  here

Brian has also provided a link to the fulsome itinerary of the weekend, which can be accessed by clicking here

AND FINALLY

Staying sort of on a vintage theme something a little different but a worthy cause. We have covered here buses, coaches, boats and trains, so why complete the whole transport theme with a plane.



Next month Ian Beardsley is trekking across Iceland in a bid to raise funds for the Vulcan to the Sky Trust. Details can be found at https:www.justgiving.com/fundraising/ian-beardsley.

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

The Dragon bows out of Hong Kong

Kowloon Motor Bus company's very last step entrance, the Dennis Dragon finally came to a end on the evening of the 6th July in Hong Kong. Huge numbers of local bus enthusiasts gathered at Star Ferry to gave it a farewell send off. ADS235 (JD4215) was the last one of the batch to retire and used on route 8, carried a full loading of enthusiasts.



Photograph was taken at Yeung Long, Hong Kong 6th May 2014 along with details, courtesy of Jimmy Sheng


ADS235 (JD4215) has another significance for being the last of the type within the fleet. KMB took a trio of tri-axle Dragons way back in 1982, and went on to take a total of 1,326 examples. Remarkably, this quantity exceeded the total number of Dominators - the 2-axle version that the Dragon originates from - that Dennis ever built (which include 40 examples that KMB acquired to its fleet in mid-80s).



ADS235 is seen on the 64k, once a haunt of the type, at Tai Po, New Territories on 17th December 2014. Photograph and details courtesy of  Tin Wong

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

A reality or pie in the sky





New super-shuttle could travel from London to Edinburgh in just eight minutes






New super-shuttle could travel from London to Edinburgh in just eight minutes
 
 
 
Passengers will travel between London and Edinburgh in just eight minutes (Picture: Caters)
 
If you’ve ever wanted to visit Edinburgh, but couldn’t face the seven hour drive from London, you may be in luck.
Why? Because a new 4,000mph super-shuttle could be set to whisk passengers there in just eight minutes.

Meaning you could literally commute to Scotland in less time than it would take someone else to get from Liverpool Street to Tottenham Court Road on the Central Line.
If built, the Hyper Chariot will use rollercoaster-type technology to catapult car-sized capsules through airless concrete tubes at five times the speed of sound.
And if everything goes to plan… it could be fully operational by 2040.




New super-shuttle could travel from London to Edinburgh in just eight minutes
 
 
 
The Hyper Chariot uses rollercoaster-type technology to catapult car-sized capsules through airless concrete tubes (Picture: Caters)
 
Hyper Chariot’s President Matthew Modine, said: ‘With Hyper Chariot, we are aiming to bring nothing less than space travel on Earth, connecting cities and even countries in a way never before possible.
‘It may seem like something out of science fiction but the technology is now available for travel through airless tubes at 4,000mph to become not only a reality, but a daily occurrence for passengers and cargo.

‘It will also be the safest form of transport by far. Most injuries during travel are caused by human error or adverse weather conditions.
‘Hyper Chariot is self-driving, monitored from a central command centre, and is contained within a tube so the infamous British weather can’t cause any disruptions.’
The super-shuttle will accelerate from 0 to 1,000mph in just 60 seconds, if built, and will reach an astonishing top speed of 4,000mph.
A spokesman for Hyper Chariot said tickets for the eight minute journey would be ‘highly competitive’, with fares for London to Edinburgh costing around £100.




The same 332-mile journey would take more than seven hours by car, at least four by train, and one hour and 10 minutes by plane.
And the shuttle’s ultra-powerful electric linear motors will provide nearly double the sensation of acceleration as a Boeing 747.

It will take three minutes and 100 miles for the pods to reach 4,000mph, and a similar time and distance to decelerate.
Passengers will experience relatively small G-Forces, but will be unable to stand for the duration of their trip because of F1 car-like seating positions.
Individual pods will be able to interchange like cars on a motorway, allowing the passengers to travel to different destinations with ease…
Or even stop for a loo break en-route.

Alternative travel ticket offers in London

Ticket offers three unique ways to get around London

A unique ticket will offer visitors to London three exciting ways to travel around the city, using the Emirates Air Line, MBNA Thames Clippers and Santander Cycles for less.


Visitors can now enjoy an all-day ticket that offers scenic trips on MBNA Thames Clippers' high speed vessels along the River Thames, relaxing rides on Santander Cycles and a breath-taking flight on the Emirates Air Line cable car. Customers will save money by buying these combined offers as opposed to buying the tickets individually.
Visitors will be able to glide along the River Thames on an MBNA Thames Clippers catamaran with a hop-on, hop-off ticket, cycle round the city on a Santander Cycles and soar 90m above the river for stunning views of London, for a combined price of £25 offering a total saving of 20 per cent. The ticket offering Santander Cycles and MBNA Thames Clippers only will cost £16.70, which is also a saving of 20 per cent.
Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL, said:
'The Explore London ticket combines three superb ways to travel around the city and enjoy the sights, all at a discounted price.
'Whether you're a visitor to the city or a Londoner you'll enjoy a high-speed trip along the River Thames, a relaxing ride on a Santander Cycle and the breath-taking views from the Emirates Air Line cable car.'
Tickets will be available via the MBNA Thames Clippers site for six months from 27 June, visit tfl.gov.uk/explore-london-tickets for more information.


  • The Explore London combined tickets includes:
  • An Emirates Air Line cable car Discovery Experience ticket (this includes a 360 round-trip, in-flight guide and free entry to the Emirates Aviation Experience exhibition)
  • An all-day hop-on, hop-off MBNA Thames Clippers River Roamer ticket
  • A Santander Cycles promo code which gives you unlimited Santander Cycles rides of up to 30 minutes for 24 hours so you can make the most of exploring London by bike
  • Every bike journey up to 30 minutes is free
  • Longer journeys cost an extra £2 for each additional 30 minutes
  • The Explore London joint ticket includes:
  • An all-day hop-on hop-off MBNA Thames Clippers River Roamer ticket
  • A Santander Cycles promo code which gives you unlimited Santander Cycles rides of up to 30 minutes for 24 hours so you can make the most of exploring London by bike
  • Every bike journey up to 30 minutes is free
  • Longer journeys cost an extra £2 for each additional 30 minutes (or less) you hire a bike
About Santander Cycles

Santander Cycles now covers 100 square kilometres of London, making it the second largest cycle hire scheme in Europe. Since launching in July 2010, more than 60 million journeys have been made, with 2016 breaking all records, with hires reaching an unprecedented 10.3m - 4.4 per cent up on 2015. Santander Cycles can be hired from as little as £2 a day for an unlimited number of 30 minute journeys.
For more info visit tfl.gov.uk/modes/cycling/santander-cycles or follow @SantanderCycles


About Emirates Air Line
The Emirates Air Line is the UK's first and only urban cable car and has welcomed over 8.3m visitors since it opened in June 2012. Spanning just over 1km across the Thames between the Greenwich Peninsula (near The O2) and the Royal Docks (near ExCeL London), it takes around 10 minutes for a single crossing and offers unique views of the city. Passengers can enjoy spectacular views of the capital including St Paul's Cathedral, the Gherkin, Thames Barrier, Maritime Greenwich and the Olympic Park as they fly 90 metres above the River Thames.
For more info visit tfl.gov.uk/modes/emirates-air-line/ or follow @EmiratesAirLDN

About MBNA Thames Clippers
MBNA Thames Clippers is the leading River Bus service on the River Thames running a 20 minute frequency between key London piers including North Greenwich for The O2, Greenwich, Canary Wharf, Tower, London Bridge, Westminster and London Eye for Waterloo, as well as several residential piers, a total of 21 piers across the capital.
Co-founded in 1999 by Sean Collins (CEO) and Alan Woods (former Chairman), the company began with one boat servicing 80 passengers a day between Greenland and Savoy piers. Now 18 years on, numbers have significantly risen to over 4 million passengers in 2016. Making travel by river even easier, passengers are able to use contactless payment and Oyster pay as you go with MBNA Thames Clippers.
In 2006 AEG, owners and operators of The O2, acquired the majority stake in the company and since then the fleet has substantially grown to 15 vessels. River Bus Express for The O2 is an additional fast direct service between London Eye, and London Bridge to The O2 at North Greenwich on arena event nights.
For more info visit the website mbnathamesclippers.com or follow @ThamesClippers

Monday, 10 July 2017

Stagecoach in Kent open toppers








The open top route 69 was revived during 2016 and used ALX400 bodied Dennis Trident fleet number 17529 (LX51 FON), originally TAS529 in the Stagecoach East London fleet, the bus shown here at Ramsgate bound for Broadstairs last August.

Calling at:
1. Stone Bay
2. Broadstairs, Queen's Road
3. Broadstairs, Victoria Parade
4. Dumpton Gap
5. Granville Theatre
6. Ramsgate Harbour
7. West Cliff, Boating Pool
Calling at:
1. Margate Rail Station
2. Marine Gardens
3. The Parade, for Turner Gallery
4. Winter Gardens
5. The Lido
6. Palm Bay Ave, Bethesda Surgery, or Eastern Esplanade
7. Palm Bay, Primary School



And finally by comparison, a blast from the past.



Back in the late 1960s early 1970s, East Kent route 69 ran the North Kent Coast service with a small fleet of converted Park Royal bodied Guy Arabs. One such was 376 (FFN 376) here on a breezy day in July 1970 as it passed through Palm Bay on way to the terminus at the Hoverport.

NOW SEE THE LATEST ON THE NEW FOCUS FLICKR SITE


Another relatively small but nicely formed bus event was that held on Heath Common nearby to Wakefield, is portrayed by a selection of pictures in the latest album on the flickr site. These can now be viewed by clicking  here

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Overground joins Underground on Night Service

Night Tube services to be extended to cover Overground this year


The capital’s 24-hour transport network was expanded again today after it was announced the London Overground will run through the night from December.
The East London route will operate all night on Fridays and Saturdays between New Cross Gate and Dalston Junction, then extended to Highbury & Islington next year.
It means passengers will be able to travel across even wider swathes of the capital 24-hours a day as it will also connect with Canada Water station on the Jubilee line.


The Night Tube — which has seen 6.5 million journeys since it began last year — already operates on the Central, Victoria, Jubilee, Northern and Piccadilly routes.
The extended “orange line” serves a culturally diverse part of the capital including museums, galleries, restaurants, bars and night spots.
It will also help those working in East London’s thriving hospitality and service sectors, and those who live in outer zones by reducing journey times.
City Hall estimates the 24-hour Tube network is boosting the capital’s economy by £77 million a year and supporting around 2,000 permanent jobs.  Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “Our Night Tube services have been a real success right across the capital, so I’m delighted to announce that we’ll be bringing the night Overground to the East London line later this year.
“It will provide huge benefits to Londoners and visitors to our city, helping those working hard through the night and all those out enjoying everything London has to offer, as well as creating jobs and boosting our economy.”
Alan D Miller, chairman of the Night Time Industries Association, said: “London is making significant strides to become a smart, future-oriented 24-hour city in which transport is a vital component.”
Henry Dimbleby, co-founder of Leon and London Union, added: “The ‘orange line’ is the artery that connects London’s most vibrant areas. The opening of the night service will not just boost the local economy, it will further feed the creative spirit of east London, the culture epicentre of Europe.” The section of the route between New Cross Gate and H&I is managed by TfL meaning weekend services can operate there. The rest is operated on Network Rail tracks.
New 24-hour Overground services will not call at Whitechapel station until September 2018 as a result of Crossrail work.  TfL hopes to extend the Night Tube to parts of the Metropolitan, Circle, District, and Hammersmith & City lines at some point after 2023.

Saturday, 8 July 2017

Free Weekend Buses in Wales

A pilot bus service offering free weekend travel to passengers across Wales has been launched by the Welsh Government.


It covers buses using the TrawsCymru network across Wales. Economy and Infrastructure Secretary Ken Skates called it a "ground-breaking" project designed to boost visitors.
It began today (Saturday 8th July) and will run every weekend until May 2018.
A budget of up to £1m has been set aside for the initiative.
"From Bangor to Cardiff, Fishguard to Wrexham, I hope to see this scheme provide the perfect excuse for people from across Wales and beyond to jump on the bus and spend their weekends enjoying the diverse beauty of Wales," Mr Skates said.
"The free service is subject to availability, but we have also provided additional funding to local authorities to ensure operators are able to deploy more buses to meet increased demand if necessary," Mr Skates added.
The pilot applies to all buses on the TrawsCymru network:
  • TrawsCymru T1 Aberystwyth - Lampeter - Carmarthen (operates seven days per week)
  • TrawsCymru T1C Aberystwyth - Lampeter - Carmarthen - Swansea - Cardiff (daily except Sundays)
  • TrawsCymru T2 Bangor - Porthmadog - Dolgellau - Abersytwyth (operates daily)
  • TrawsCymru T3 Wrexham - Llangollen - Dolgellau - Barmouth (operates daily
  • TrawsCymru T4 Newtown - Brecon - Merthyr Tydfil - Pontypridd - Cardiff (operates daily)
  • TrawsCymru T5 Aberystwyth - New Quay - Cardigan - Fishguard - Haverfordwest (operates daily - Sundays during summer only)
  • TrawsCymru T6 Brecon - Ystradgynlais - Neath - Swansea (operates daily)
  • Cardiff Airport Express T9 services (operates throughout the day - seven days a week)
Arrangements are also in place to reimburse operators of other bus services if they experience any reduction of passengers as a result of the pilot, although the Welsh Government is "optimistic" it will have the opposite effect.


It is hoped the scheme will act as a "catalyst for bus travel in Wales", boosting passenger numbers and the wider use of TrawsCymru routes.
The Welsh Government said it would use the pilot to get a better understanding of how such reductions affect wider demand for public transport before deciding on its future beyond May 2018.