Saturday, 30 July 2016

Low Emission Bus Scheme - Results

In March 2015 the Low Emission Bus Scheme was announced, with £30m being made available for local authorities and operators in England and Wales through a competitive bidding process.

This new scheme was intended to build on the success of the Green Bus Fund, which ran from 2009-2013 and delivered around 1,250 low emission buses onto England’s roads. 

The Low Emission Bus Scheme has the following three primary objectives:

• Increase the uptake of low and ultra-low emission buses, speeding

up the full transition to an ultra-low emission bus fleet in England

and Wales, and reducing the need for subsidy support;

• Support the improvement of local air quality. Buses are a significant

contributor to the UK's air quality problems on some of its most

polluted roads; and

• Support OLEV’s (The Office for Low Emission Vehicles)  commitment of attracting investment to the UK.



The Department has assessed bids against the following criteria: ambition,

deliverability, air quality and value for money.


List of the winning funding bids for buses and infrastructure  




https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/low-emission-bus-scheme-2016-to-2017-successful-bidders

 42 hydrogen powered buses are scheduled for London and Birmingham.
London have been running vehicles of this type for some years now

 Gas powered buses are proving popular in the UK, Reading have been awarded
 funding towards 16 bio-methane vehicles
 As battery technology improves electric buses are becoming ever more popular

 Hybrids have been around for some years and now manufacturers are improving the
product by installing new features such as stop-start and the ability to run through
low emission zones on 'battery only' mode
.

Friday, 29 July 2016

Broadway Station

In 2013 the Gloucester Warwickshire Railway ran a successful share issue raising more than £500,000 which was used to restore the 5 bridges on the line to Broadway in 2014.
Since then volunteers have continued building the station and extending the line northwards, now within 1 mile of Broadway, using the railway's own funds.
Now £1,250,000 is needed to complete the Railway over the last mile and open Broadway Station in 2018.
By linking Broadway, often referred to as 'the Jewel of the Cotswolds' with Cheltenham, itself styled 'Cultural Centre for the Cotswolds' the railway will, for the first time since 1960, provide a rail link between these important centres of culture along a line of outstanding natural beauty.

It is anticipated that the opening of this link in 2018 will create a major new market for tourist travel between these important locations and bring significant economic benefits to the local area and community.
Click here to see what is to be achieved.

Work to bring trains back to Broadway station continues, all of the required major construction work is now complete - only the steps, footbridge and the adjacent platform building work is outstanding.
David Gambles called in at the Broadway station site during July to see the progress being made. On arrival he was made welcome and given access to the viewing platform which provides a safe area to observe what is happening on the station building site.

 Looking south. The track is within one mile and will eventually reach Broadway Station when funds allow
 Looking north construction of the station buildings is taking place and beyond the footbridge is under construction

 Broadway signal box is complete and awaits connection to signals and pointwork

 Construction of station buildings and footbridge is well underway


 A good view of the site from the safety of the observation platform
The railway hosts various events throughout the year, on the 10th July a bus rally took place where 45 vehicles visited, some of which operated services. See here here for more details and pictures.
On 29-31st July the railway's popular Summer Heritage Diesel Festival takes place, when no fewer than 10 locomotives from the 1960s and 1970s will be in action. Much anticipated will be the debut of English Electric Type 3 (Class 37) D6948 freshly turned out in its as-new condition in BR green.

We wish the railway well in their efforts to reach Broadway and will bring you updates on the progress being made.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Nat Ex Half Year Results 2016

The Group has made strong progress in the first half of the year with results in line with expectations. Both revenue and profit are up year-on-year on a constant currency basis.

The start of  German rail operations and recent North American and Spanish acquisitions contributed to the 10.4% increase in revenue in constant currency. The diversified portfolio of cash generative businesses provides a stable source of revenue and profits, with two thirds of earnings generated outside the UK and with no one contract contributing more than 4% of Group operating profit. The strong operational and financial position enables us both to invest in growth and deliver attractive returns to shareholders, with a 5% increase in the interim dividend. The Group remains on track to deliver its profit, cash flow and gearing targets for the year.
Financial highlights




*Unless otherwise stated, all operating profit, operating margin, operating cash flow, asset return and EPS data is stated before the amortisation of intangible assets as defined in note 18 of the interim financial statements.
  • North America delivered revenue growth of 15% on a constant currency basis reflecting a successful bid season which produced an average price increase of nearly 4% across the entire portfolio and a 7% price increase on those contracts up for bid and renewal. This strong bid season was augmented by the bolt-on acquisitions made over the last year.
  • Record passenger numbers in both Spain and Morocco of over 153 million journeys in the first half, supporting revenue growth of 4% on a constant currency basis.
  • Strong growth in Rail with passenger growth of 8% at c2c, benefitting from the introduction of a new timetable in December 2015, together with the first six months of our German rail operations.
  • Growth in revenue, profit and margins in both UK Bus and UK Coach.
  • The Bahrain bus operation is now carrying over one million passengers per month in only its second year of operations.
Generating superior cash and returns
  • On target to generate £100m of free cash flow for the year.
  • Declared an interim dividend of 3.87 pence (2015: 3.685p): an increase of 5%.
  • North American acquisitions are generating above average margins and return on invested capital, with the two acquisitions purchased in the first half of last year delivering a ROIC of 23%.
Creating new business opportunities
  • Completed three acquisitions in North America during the period, adding 420 school buses and 80 transit vehicles. This included the strategic acquisition of a planning and scheduling software provider in the paratransit market, strengthening service credentials.
  • Submitted a bid for the Manchester Metrolink, an up to ten year contract starting in July 2017.
  • Completed a small acquisition of a regional bus business in Ibiza, providing the first entry onto the island.
  • Further growth opportunities in Morocco, including a recently won sight-seeing contract in Marrakech and new bid for the Casablanca Tramway.
  • Actively looking at attractive growth opportunities in a number of new markets, with bid preparations underway in one new market.
Dean Finch, National Express Group Chief Executive, said:
“We have made a good start to 2016 and despite subdued growth in the UK we remain on track to deliver our expectations for the year. The diversity of our cash generative, international portfolio of businesses where two thirds of our earnings are generated outside of the UK, is a key strength that allows us to grow and to declare a 5% increase in the interim dividend.

“Our strong cash generation provides us with options and we will continue to look to deploy capital in those parts of our business where we believe it will generate the best returns for shareholders. We have been particularly pleased with the performance of the North American businesses we acquired last year which are generating strong returns, both in terms of profit and cash, validating our strategic decision to increase our investment in this attractive market. We will continue to seek attractive growth opportunities, including new markets, where we can draw on our international reputation for operational excellence and the successful mobilisation of new operations, to deliver further shareholder value.”

Wednesday, 27 July 2016

London Bus Contracts



This is the first of a new set of postings which we hope will keep readers up to date with the ever changing scene of the London Bus Route Network.
Transport for London oversees all such stage services in the Greater London Area awarding mostly 5-year Quality Incentive Contracts which, if certain performance is maintained throughout, may be extended from 5 to 7-years.
Figures published on the 9th July indicated that the Peak Vehicle Requirement during Monday to Friday was 8,097 buses and trams, and were operated by 22 individual bus companies. That said several are under the umbrellas of Arriva, ComfortDelgro, Go-Ahead RATP and Stagecoach.


A bumper bundle to with as we catch up on the contracts awarded over the past few months with their new or retained contracted company, vehicle type and dates of commencement.

10/N10 (Hammersmith-King's Cross St.Pancras Station) Retained by London United with existing fleet LT-class Wrightbus Routemaster double-decks (28th January 2017).

38/N38 (Victoria Station-Clapton Pond/Walthamstow) Retained by Arriva London North using existing fleet LT-class Wrightbus Routemaster double-decks (12th November 2016).

42 (Liverpool Street Station-Denmark Hill) Retained by Go-Ahead London Central and converted from single-deck to new Euro-VI hybrid double-deck operation (1st October 2016).


59 (King's Cross St.Pancras Station-Streatham Hill) Retained by Arriva London South using existing fleet LT-class Wrightbus Routemaster double-decks (28th January 2017).

76/N76 (Waterloo-Tottenham/Northumberland Park) Awarded to G-A London General with new Wrightbus Routemaster double-decks. Currently operated by Arriva London North with HV-class Volvo B5LH and DW class DB300 double-decks (28th January 2017).

89/N89 Lewisham-Slade Green Station and Trafalgar Square-Erith) Retained by G-A London Central with existing fleet Euro-V diesel engined double-decks (28th January 2017).

108/N108 (Stratford-Lewisham) Retained by Go-Ahead London Central using existing fleet Euro-V diesel engined Mercedes-Benz single-decks currently on Red Arrow routes 507,521 and double-decks on route 321, the latter for the section south of the Blackwall Tunnel (1st October 2016).


133/N133 (Liverpool Street Station-Streatham/Mitcham) Retained by Arriva London South with a mixture of new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks and Euro-V HV-class Volvo B5LH double-decks (21st January 2017).

152 (Pollards Hill-New Malden) Awarded to Go-Ahead London General using existing fleet diesel engined single-decks, the type yet to be confirmed.  Currently operated by Abellio with ADL Enviro200 and Dennis Dart single-decks (3rd December 2016).

157 (Crystal Palace-Morden Station) Awarded to Arriva London South using existing fleet Euro-V diesel engined double-decks. Currently operated by Abellio London with Volvo B7TL double-decks (3rd December 2016).

221 (Edgware-Turnpike Lane) Retained by Arriva London North using existing fleet Euro-V diesel engined double-decks (5th November 2016).


235 (North Brentford-Sunbury) Awarded to Metroline with new Euro-VI diesel engined single-decks. Currently operated by Abellio London with Dennis Dart single-decks (7th January 2017).

237 (White City-Hounslow Heath) Retained by Metroline with existing fleet 2010 Euro-V diesel engined double-decks (7th January 2017).

259 (King's Cross St.Pancras Station-Edmonton Green) Awarded to Arriva London North with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks (pvr 22). Currently operated by Go-Ahead London General with WVN-class Volvo double-decks (25th March 2017).

333 (Elephant & Castle-Tooting) Awarded to Arriva London South with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks. Currently operated by Go-Ahead London General with existing fleet ADL E400 and Volvo double-decks 21st January 2017).

413 (Sutton-Morden) Awarded to Quality Line, Epsom with new Euro-VI diesel engined single-decks. Currently operated by Go-Ahead London General with ADL Enviro200 single-decks (3rd December 2016).

436 (Lewisham-Paddington Station) Retained by Go-Ahead London Central using existing fleet Euro-V hybrid double-decks (19th November 2016).


476 (Euston Station-Northumberland Park) Retained by Go-Ahead London General with existing fleet Euro-V diesel engined double-decks (28th January 2017).

655 (Mitcham-Raynes Park, schooldays) Retained by Go-Ahead London General using existing fleet Euro-IV diesel engined double-decks (3rd December 2016).

696 (Hayes-Ruislip Manor, schooldays) Retained by London United with existing Euro-IV diesel engined double-decks (21st January 2017).

931 (Crystal Palace-Lewisham, Fridays) Retained by Abellio using existing fleet Euro-IV diesel single-deck, cross-linked from other routes (3rd December 2016).

H26 (Feltham-Hatton Cross) Retained by Abellio London using new Euro-VI diesel engined single-decks (7th January 2017).

Many routes do achieve the additional 2-year extension to their initial 5-year contract and during this period of contract awards, includes the following list of routes

3/N3 (Oxford Circus-Crystal Palace/Bromley North)(Abellio)

12/N12 (Dulwich-Oxford Circus)(Go-Ahead London Central)

73/N73 (Victoria Station-Stoke Newington/Walthamstow)(Arriva London North)



452/N452 (Wandsworth Road-Kensal Rise)(Abellio)

453/N453 (Marylebone Station-Deptford Broadway)(Go-Ahead London General)

Further contract results will be published as and when they are announced. However, in the meantime more in depth information and useful links are available from the London Omnibus Traction Society, their website available by clicking on http://www.lots.org.uk/

Alternatively by becoming a member much more detail of London area companies and the operations by Transport for London are available on a monthly, quarterly and yearly basis through their various publications, and details of which are available by also clicking here

Of course to offer balance, other London-centric media, publications and societies are available, but LOTS does tend to reach the parts some enthusiastic organisations do not.


Tuesday, 26 July 2016

New Buses and Lower Fares for Doncaster


Martin Arrand visited Doncaster recently and below we feature a small selection of pictures taken on the day.
The recently-formed Doncaster Bus Partnership – a voluntary agreement between First South Yorkshire, Stagecoach, Arriva, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and Doncaster Council - has introduced a revised bus network alongside new, lower-priced multi-operator tickets, following public consultation last year.



‘DonConnect’ Day (£4.50), 7 Day (£15.50) and 28 Day (£54) tickets from TravelMaster will offer value-for-money travel on any bus in Doncaster and savings of up to 30% on current multi-operator tickets. Single operator day, weekly and monthly tickets are still available. Price increases for all single operator bus tickets in the borough will be limited to once a year.
As part of the bus partnership First South Yorkshire has introduced 14 new single-decker buses in a £2.8m investment which coincided with the new network launch. This follows a recent investment of £7m in newer and more environmentally friendly buses by Stagecoach on service 22X & First South Yorkshire on the X78. 



Information about bus service changes, new timetables and maps can be found at travelsouthyorkshire.com, at bus stops and on buses, in Travel South Yorkshire Interchanges or by calling Traveline on 01709 51 51 51.

SYPTE Executive Director, Stephen Edwards, said: “Working together, Doncaster Bus Partnership has used valuable feedback from public consultation to consider all commercially operated and supported bus services to create a new, joined-up bus network that offers a quality, sustainable and reliable service for the town.
“Better co-ordination of services by different operators aims to reduce congestion and pollution along common sections of route, and some buses have been re-routed to improve access to employment, education and community services, to help support economic growth.
“We hope that Doncaster’s new bus network, along with reduced price multi-operator tickets, will be welcomed by both existing and new bus users.”



Andy Simpson, First South Yorkshire Head of Business Performance, said: "In partnership we have been able to deliver new connections, state-of-the art buses and even better value for money tickets for customers. I'm sure the new Doncaster Bus Partnership will play a successful role in encouraging people to use public transport."
Stagecoach  Director, Paul Lynch, said: “This is a new start for bus services in Doncaster that has the potential to grow the number of people using buses by offering an improved network. We hope it will persuade more people to make the switch from cars to buses.”
Doncaster’s bus changes were agreed by Sheffield City Region Combined Authority Transport Committee and form part of a package of local transport objectives drawn in the Sheffield City Region Devolution Deal.




..

Monday, 25 July 2016

North Norfolk Railway news

"All aboard for Cromer"

The anticipated operation of steam hauled trains from the North Norfolk Railway eastwards to Cromer is eagerly awaited as August approaches.
On Wednesday 9th August the inaugural first train will use the level crossing which links the railway with the Network Rail line to the east of Station Road and High Street in Sheringham. Diesel hauled by on loan Class 20 227 it will take the line the four miles on to Cromer where it will terminate.
The train will run in between the regularly scheduled Abellio Greater Anglia diesel service along the line that takes trains to and from Norwich.
The return journey will be hauled by the preserved line's own British Railways Standard Four 2-6-0 steam engine number 76084, which has been suitably configured to comply with the strict guidelines laid down by Network Rail.


76084 steamed into Weybourne Station during early July with the Class 20 hitched up to the red and cream carriages that will form the first ceremonial train.


Earlier in June the on loan Class 20 227 in London Underground livery arrived into Sheringham Station with one of the regular seasonal services.

After a couple of further 'invitation only' runs on the 7th and 8th September, it is anticipated that others will follow over the coming months, but is dependent upon the good will of all parties concerned.
And as for Norwich....................................


Sunday, 24 July 2016

New Glasgow Airport Express Fleet

Passengers travelling to and from Glasgow Airport have the opportunity to travel on the recently launched Glasgow Airport Express fleet, which links the Airport with the city centre.


The service is operated by First Glasgow, which has invested £2.1 million in 10 state-of-the-art vehicles and re-branded the service that will transport passengers to their destination in both comfort and style.

The buses, supplied by Alexander Dennis Limited in Falkirk, have been designed in a bespoke eye-catching new livery with a distinctive new logo. Their matching premium interiors include luxury leather trimmed coach-style seating with extra legroom, air conditioning, contemporary wooden-effect flooring and under-seat airline style lighting. The seats feature specially designed fabric that is exclusive to the Glasgow Airport Express service.




The Glasgow Airport Express buses also feature the latest technology including complementary 4G Wi-Fi, USB charging points that will enable customers to charge their phones and tablets while on the move and cutting-edge audio-visual display screens providing a tailored welcome video combined with next stop information and announcements.

First Glasgow has also upgraded Stance 1 at Glasgow Airport, where customers board the service. Benefits include improved signage and a new quicker queuing system with customer agents helping passengers, answering questions and selling tickets at the stance to speed up boarding times.

The fleet’s dedicated team of staff have been issued with smart new branded black and white uniforms accented by neck scarves and ties in same signal violet shade that forms the basis of the new bus livery.

The vehicles, built at Alexander Dennis Ltd in Falkirk, feature some of the industry’s most advanced engineering including the latest Euro VI engines, which produce 95% less oxides of nitrogen compared to buses with Euro V engines and will help to improve air quality in Glasgow.

Previously known as the Glasgow Shuttle, the Glasgow Airport Express is the fastest link to and from Glasgow Airport, transporting passengers from the airport to the city centre in just 15 minutes. Buses operate around the clock, 24 hours a day seven days a week for 364 days of the year with a main day frequency of up to 10 minutes.

Passenger numbers on the airport service have risen from 12,000 to 15,500 per week – an increase of almost 30% - since First Glasgow began operating the route in January 2011. At the beginning of the year, First Glasgow’s contract to deliver the route was renewed until 2021.

Fiona Kerr, Managing Director of First Glasgow, said: “We’re really excited about the launch of our new Glasgow Airport Express fleet - it’s brilliant news for our customers, who we’re sure will enjoy these specially designed sleek, modern and comfortable vehicles fitted with the latest technology.

“Our sophisticated new fleet is designed to give customers an experience that reflects the very best in quality, design and comfort, which together with excellent customer service represents outstanding value for money. I’m really delighted with the look, feel and added extras that we’ve fitted to the vehicles.

“I believe that the re-brand coupled with the state of the art new vehicles makes the Glasgow Airport Express the best bus service in Scotland.

“I’m very pleased with the strong growth we’ve already achieved on the Glasgow Airport route and as our investment in our next generation Glasgow Airport Express fleet shows, we’re determined to build on our success and encourage more people to use the service.”

She added: “As a Scottish-based business, I’m extremely proud that our Glasgow Airport Express buses were manufactured in Falkirk by another Scottish-based business, Alexander Dennis Ltd and who worked closely with us to deliver a bus designed around our specific requirements. By investing in Scottish engineering, we are supporting jobs and skills that will help to maintain our country’s world-leading reputation for innovation.”

John McConnell, Head of Commercial at Glasgow Airport, said: “With air passenger numbers continuing to grow at Glasgow Airport, we welcome First Glasgow’s investment in the Glasgow Airport route and its commitment to encouraging more travellers to use the service. The sleek design and enhanced facilities offered by the Glasgow Airport Express will help to improve the air passenger experience and boost connectivity to Glasgow and the wider Central Belt region.”

Colin Robertson, Chief Executive of Alexander Dennis Limited, said: “We are delighted that ADL is First Glasgow’s sole bus supplier this year.  We take this as a ringing endorsement of our product quality, aftermarket support and partnership with the team at First Glasgow.

“We have collaborated closely to deliver these brand new vehicles which combine the latest Euro VI engines with cutting edge smart technology to further reduce CO2 emissions and optimise fuel economy. The premium interior specification with high back luxury seating, ambient lighting and USB ports at all seats will contribute to a first class passenger experience.”

The superior technology available on the Glasgow Airport Express fleet reflects the commitment by First Glasgow to deliver a customer centric service that is simple, smart and seamless, with all customers able to use their mobile phones as bus tickets through the company’s m-Ticket option. The company’s drive for innovative customer friendly improvements will continue through 2016/17.

The Glasgow Airport Express connects the Airport with the city centre calling at Central Station, Queen Street Station and Buchanan Bus Station. Services operate 24/7 and at peak times every ten minutes. The journey from the Airport to the city centre takes just 15 minutes and to Buchanan St Bus Station, 25 minutes. For more information about the service visit www.firstgroup.com/glasgow.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Rallying Around

We take this opportunity to reflect on a few of the bus related rallies which the team have attended during the first half of the year. These can all be found by going to the New Focus Flickr site by clicking  here


A rather mixed bag of weather greeted attendees and visitors for the annual Easter weekend event held by the Eden Valley Commercial Group at Kirkby Stephen and Brough.


Another mixture was this time of vehicles ancient and modern on the Metrocentre coach parking area in Gateshead. 


A different location for a bus rally was the Britannia Stadium, home to Stoke City Football Club. 


And finally a once regular event on the rally calendar was the New Year's Day event organised by Friends of King Alfred, now has an alternative running day held during later months at Winchester.

All these come highly recommended, especially when they allow visitors the opportunity to sample rides on a variety of interesting vehicles. 

Friday, 22 July 2016

Tea Time Treats on the Tube Train


Vintage Summer Steam on the Metropolitan
Heritage train trips and pop-up tea room
Saturday 10th and Sunday 11th September 2016


Combine nostalgic steam train travel with tea and cake for a late summer treat. Customers can travel back in time on a beautifully restored steam train and enjoy a pop-up vintage tea experience at Amersham station on the weekend of 10th and 11th September 2016.
London Transport Museum has teamed up with ‘Jam and Tea’, organisers of bespoke vintage tea parties, to create a colourful retro pop-up tea room at Amersham station which is on the famous Metro-land route of times gone by.
Delicious tea and cake presented on charming vintage crockery will be served on the station platform by ‘Jam and Tea’ staff dressed in vintage floral pinnies and country tweeds for steam day-trippers who have purchased a special combined tea and steam event ticket. Music from the 1940s will add to the atmosphere while children will have their own paper tea sets, tasty treats and a range of drinks to choose from.
Tickets are limited for this special event so those wishing to sample this unique tea are recommended to book early.
On Sunday 11th September passengers can take a free heritage bus ride from Amersham Station to Amersham Old Town where the town’s annual Heritage Day is taking place. Expect live bands and performances, market stalls, a children’s area and fairgrounds.





The steam train will be pulled by Met No.1, which was used during the 150th anniversary celebrations of the London Underground, and L150 on a journey to or from Amersham Station.






 
Customers will be able to choose from the following journeys:

·         Wembley Park to Amersham
·         Two return journeys from Amersham via Harrow-on-the-Hill
·         Amersham to Harrow-on-the-Hill
Journey 1
Wembley Park – 10.34 depart
Amersham – 11.14 arrive
Tea room sitting 1
11.20 – 12.10 (after journey)
Journey 2
Amersham – 11.42 depart
Harrow-on-the-Hill – 12.10 arrive
Harrow-on-the-Hill – 12.22 depart
Amersham – 12.50 arrive
Tea room sitting 2
13.00 – 13.50 (after journey)
Journey 3
Amersham – 13.42 depart
Harrow-on-the-Hill – 14.10 arrive
Harrow-on-the-Hill – 14.22 depart
Amersham – 14.50 arrive
Tea room sitting 3
14.55 – 15.45 (after journey)
Journey 4
Amersham – 15.26 depart
Harrow-on-the-Hill – 15.55 arrive
Tea room sitting 4
There is not a tea & cake ticket available for this journey

Ticket prices:
Steam train ticket only
These prices apply to Journey 1, 2 & 3: 
·         1st Class Jubilee Coach 353: Adults £30, Children 11 – 16 £10 (please note children under the age of 11 are not permitted to travel on this coach)
·         1st Class 4TC Coach (1950s ex British Rail): Adults £25, Children 3 – 16 £10, Under 3s: Free
·         Standard Class 4TC Coach (1950s ex British Rail): Adults £20, Children 3 – 16 £5, Under 3s: Free
These prices apply to Journey 4:
·         1st Class Jubilee Coach 353: Adults £15, Children 11 – 16 £5 (please note children under the age of 11 are not permitted to travel on this coach)
·         1st Class 4TC Coach (1950s ex British Rail): Adults £10, Children 3 – 16 £5, Under 3s: Free
·         Standard Class 4TC Coach (1950s ex British Rail): Adults £5, Children 3 – 16 £5, Under 3s: Free

Vintage Summer Steam train trip and tea
Tea and Steam ticket: additional £10 for adults and children (3 – 16 years old).
Further information about tickets and prices is available at www.ltmuseum.co.uk/steam