Thursday, 17 August 2017

Rail fares increase again from January 2018

Rail fares face biggest rise for five years

Millions of rail users in the UK will see the price of regulated rail fares rise by up to 3.6% in January.
The permitted increase - which is taken from the Retail Prices Index (RPI) inflation measure for July - will be the highest since January 2013.
Passenger groups said commuters would be worst-hit, and suggested that the RPI measure should be scrapped.
The most widely watched and used measure, the Consumer Prices Index (CPI), was unchanged at 2.6%.
The fare rises will affect "anytime" and some off-peak fares as well as season tickets in England and Wales.
In Scotland, it is mainly commuters who will be affected, with off-peak fares rising by a smaller amount. The Scottish government currently limits rises in off-peak fares to RPI minus 1%.
There are no plans for increases in Northern Ireland.
Unregulated fares, which include super off-peak travel and advance tickets, will be set in December.
Transport Focus, which represents the interests of passengers, said rail users were already fed up with getting poor value for money.

David Sidebottom, director of Transport Focus, said: "Yet again, passengers, now majority funders of the railway, face fare rises next January. Commuters do not give value for money on their railways a high satisfaction score - just one third according to our latest survey.
Transport Focus also queried the use of the RPI measure to determine fare increases: "Why is the Government not using its preferred measure of inflation: the one that is used to determine wages and pension increases, and one which is often lower than RPI? Why not use the Consumer Prices Index for rail fares too?"

Justified rises

The CPI measure has gradually replaced the RPI over the past few years as the benchmark for changes to most government-controlled funding.

James Tucker from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said it was not in favour of using RPI as a benchmark: "We know there will be a focus on the RPI this month, but the National Statistician has been clear it is not a good measure and we do not recommend its use."
The Department for Transport rejected the idea of using CPI, saying RPI was used across the rail industry - for example in calculating the cost of running train services.
The government said fare increases were justified by improvements to the network.
"We are investing in the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century to improve services for passengers - providing faster and better trains with more seats," a spokesperson for the Department for Transport said.
"We have always fairly balanced the cost of this investment between the taxpayer and the passenger."

Sample season ticket increases - if implemented fully in line with RPI

  • Reading-London currently £4,308 would rise to £4,464
  • Bournemouth-London currently £6,500 would rise to £6,736
  • Gloucester-Birmingham currently £3,968 would rise to £4,112
  • Loughborough-Leicester currently £1,084 would rise to £1,124
Source: Transport Focus

'Increasing proportion'

Since 2007 it has been explicit government policy for passengers to pay more of the overall cost of running the country's rail system, and for taxpayers as a whole to pay less via subsidies.
The coalition government continued the policy of shifting the financial burden to the wallets of passengers, though with less aggressive price increases than before.
A research paper, published earlier this year by the House of Commons Library, cited earlier figures from the rail regulator in March 2016 showing that "passengers have contributed an increasing proportion of the rail industry's income relative to taxpayers over the past four years - up from 55.6% in 2010-11 to 65% in 2014-15."

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Concerns over slowdown in travel by bus in London

Urgent action needed to make buses in London quicker and more reliable

From London TravelWatch

London’s independent passenger watchdog has written to the Mayor of London asking for urgent action to make buses in London quicker and more reliable.

The performance of London’s bus service has deteriorated over the last few years. Buses have got slower and less reliable and a number of performance statistics show that many bus routes are falling below their contracted minimum reliability standard. In 2012/13 and 2013/14 relatively few high frequency bus routes performed below standard - about 60 out of the 380 high frequency routes. But in the last couple of years, 2015/16 & 2016/17, this figure has risen to around 120 routes. We also know buses have got slower with average speeds down from 9.6mph three years ago to 9.2 mph today.
Stephen Locke, Chair of London TravelWatch commented: 'This is extremely concerning. Passengers arrange their lives around having a quick and reliable bus service, but by any measure, London’s bus services are getting slower and more unreliable.'

Stephen continued: 'Our monitoring shows that the deterioration in bus performance has happened over the last few years. We can see some stabilisation in performance, but this is not good enough - performance must return to its contractual levels. Running London’s bus services reliably has to be one of the most important things TfL does because millions of passengers rely on them every day. So I have written to the Mayor today to ask that he takes personal responsibility for driving up bus performance. We will, of course do everything we can to assist in this and have suggested some short term actions.'
Suggestions made by London TravelWatch include:
  • Buses should have priority on all the roads that they use – waiting restrictions should be reviewed
  • Operational hours of existing bus priority should be extended
  • Considering congestion charging for Private Hire Vehicles as this would improve the performance of bus services in central and inner London
  • Bus services in central and inner London could also benefit in the evening and on Saturday and Sunday if congestion charging was applied for longer hours.
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

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

And now for something completely different - Veni vidi vici !

The Roman Empire’s 250,000 Miles of Roadways Imagined as a Subway Transit Map

University of Chicago sophomore Sasha Trubetskoy spent a few weeks designing this amazing subway-style transit map of all the roads in the Roman Empire circa 125 AD. As Kottke notes, Rome constructed 250,000 miles of roads starting in 300 BC—over 50,000 miles of which were paved with stone—linking a total of 113 provinces from Spain to modern day Britain to the northern tip of Africa.
Trubetskoy pulled data from numerous sources, but took liberties where the history is fuzzy. “The biggest creative element was choosing which roads and cities to include, and which to exclude,” he shares. “There is no way I could include every Roman road, these are only the main ones. I tried to include cities with larger populations, or cities that were provincial capitals around the 2nd century.”

Monday, 14 August 2017

A Phoenix rises from the ashes

Africa bus destroyed in A11 Cambridge blaze replaced

A double-decker bus has been donated to a pub to replace its vehicle that was destroyed in a fire.
The original bus was on its way to Norfolk when it was engulfed in flames on the A11 near Cambridge in July.
Eunice Jokrassett, landlady of The Crown, and other villagers in Smallburgh, Norfolk, had been fundraising for the bus since February.
It was to be turned into a library, and taken to Ms Jokrassett's home country, the Ivory Coast.
An anonymous businessman, who heard the £6,000 bus had gone up in flames, stepped in and donated a replacement vehicle.

The bus will be packed up with books and school equipment that had been collected by local people.
In September, it will begin its two-week journey to the Ivory Coast.
Once there, it will travel to schools in and around Abidjan.
"It's like an English resource centre, and will allow the children to learn about England, there are loads of books on board for children to learn the English language", said Ms Jokrassett.
In November, she and 20 people from Smallburgh will fly to the Ivory Coast to see the bus in use.
The original bus was destroyed after a blaze started in the engine compartment, the fire service said.

The bus back in June 2004 at the Elephant & Castle, when in service with Arriva London

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Steam back on the London Underground

Vintage steam trains to make grand return to Metropolitan line

Vintage steam trains are to return to London’s Metropolitan line next month.
A host of steam locomotives will run on the line between Amersham and Harrow-on-the-Hill for one day only on 9th September
Train enthusiasts will have the chance to ride the Metropolitan No.1 steam locomotive, Steam Locomotive No. 9466, two class 20 diesel locomotives and the 1950s ex-British Rail coaches resplendent in their red livery.

Tea and cakes will be served from vintage crockery to day-trippers during some of the journeys.
London was the first city in the world to have an underground railway and the initial section built by the Metropolitan Railway ran between Paddington and Farringdon.
The idea was put forward by Charles Pearson, the Solicitor for the City of London, who saw it as a way of reducing traffic on the capital’s congested roads and enable people to live in suburbs.
Now part of the Circle line, the first section opened in 1863 with the trains hauled by steam engines.

For nearly 40-years the Circle, Metropolitan and District lines were operated by steam locomotives, the only underground railway in the world to ever use them.
The locomotives were replaced by electric trains in the early 1900s, but steam engines were still used to haul freight and works units until 1971.
The ‘Vintage Summer Steam’ event has been organised by the London Transport Museum.
The first train will depart from Harrow-on-the-Hill to Amersham at 10.20am, while the last will leave Amersham at 3.27pm and arrive in Ruislip at 4.11pm.
Ticket prices range between £5 and £25 and can be bought here.
On Sunday, passengers can take a free heritage bus ride from Amersham Station to Amersham Old Town for the town’s annual Heritage Day.

Saturday, 12 August 2017

Dublin bus routes award

NTA Announces Go-Ahead as preferred bidder for bus routes in Dublin

Chief Executive of the National Transport Authority Anne Graham said:
“This is ultimately about improving bus services for Dublin and NTA is confident that passengers will benefit from this decision.  We believe that a new operator in the market will bring a fresh dimension to the way that services are offered. Introducing new providers encourages everybody to focus on their customers’ needs and it encourages innovation and improvements to service quality.

“It has also been the experience internationally that introducing some level of competitive tendering into PSO services like this, usually results in a better deal for passengers and for the public in general.
“Under the provisions of the tender, not only will service levels on the routes in question be maintained, they will actually be increased by about 35%. So passengers in areas served by these routes have absolutely no reason to worry about this change. Matters such as fares, frequency and scheduling for the service will all be set by the NTA, and not the operator.
“The contracting model that we are putting in place is the same as the arrangement that we have had in place for years for Luas. Luas is owned by the state and run by Transdev. These routes will be owned by the state and run by Go-Ahead.
“It is also important to note that there is no threat to the Dublin Bus company, or to its workers arising from this decision. There will be no redundancies in Dublin Bus associated with the result of this tender competition.

“As Go-Ahead begins to operate these routes and as Dublin Bus withdraws, the NTA will be building on the frequency of the remaining Dublin Bus routes, something that is needed to meet growing demand. The details, timing and sequencing of these improvements will be a matter for discussion between Dublin Bus and NTA, but there’s absolutely no reason why these changes could not take place in parallel with the transfer of routes to Go-Ahead.
“So ultimately, over the next two years, bus customers in Dublin are going to see a large increase in the number and range of services.”
Go-Ahead were selected as preferred bidder under a competitive public procurement process. Under this process the Most Economically Advantageous Tender (the “MEAT” tender) is identified through detailed assessment which includes a weighted score for price and quality. The weighting ratio between quality considerations and price considerations was 35:65. This was considered by the NTA as the best fit for this competition.
Go-Ahead is an experienced transport operator with operations primarily in the UK. The company is one of the largest bus operators in London and is recognised as one of the most successful consistently achieving high scores in customer service surveys by TfL.
Go-Ahead was established in the late 1980s in North East England with the privatisation of the National Bus Company. It grew through the acquisition of a number of bus companies and expanded into the rail market in the 1990s.
The company’s three core divisions are: Regional UK bus services, accounting for 7% of the UK market; Go-Ahead London services operated on behalf of Transport for London; and Rail.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Abellio wins West Midlands franchise

ABELLIO has won the West Midlands franchise, ending a decade of control by Govia. The London Midland franchise began in November 2007, and has been extended several times beyond its original termination date of September 2015.
The new operator is a joint venture of Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Mitsui.
The routes between London, the West Midlands and Liverpool are set to receive an investment of almost £1 billion, said the Department for Transport.
The fleet will be boosted by 400 new vehicles, which are to be in service by 2021. The larger fleet will offer space for 85,000 more passengers on rush hour services, according to the DfT.
The new nine-year contract includes compensation for delays of more than 15 minutes, in line with the DfT’s policy of progressively introducing the 15-minute trigger as new franchises are agreed.

The franchise also marks a step towards more devolution, because trains on local routes in the West Midlands will be jointly managed by the Department for Transport and West Midlands Rail, a consortium of 16 local councils.
Transport secretary Chris Grayling said: "This is great news for passengers using West Midlands services – with new trains, more space, more regular services and easier access for disabled people.
"We are improving the whole travelling experience with live train crowding information, compensation for people delayed by 15 minutes or more, smart ticketing and better value tickets for part-time workers. This shows we are delivering on our commitment to build a railway that works for everyone."
Abellio UK managing director Dominic Booth said: "We are delighted to have been announced as preferred bidder for the West Midlands franchise, driving growth in one of the most exciting regions in the country. We will be investing nearly £1 billion into the network, delivering new trains, better stations and a whole host of other benefits for passengers."

Majority Govia shareholder Go-Ahead Group said it was ‘disappointed’ to have lost the franchise, which it will now hand over in December.
Go-Ahead chief executive David Brown said: “London Midland and its people have been part of our Group’s rail business for ten years. In that time we have delivered significant improvements across the entire network which have seen London Midland transformed into an award-winning franchise with high levels of employee engagement and customer satisfaction.
“I would like to thank everyone involved in London Midland for their hard work and contribution to the company’s successes.”
West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: “We want to see a new golden era for our local trains and today’s announcement is an important step towards that.
“Having the ability to use our local knowledge and understanding to shape what West Midlands Trains will deliver for passengers and businesses has been a real game changer.
“When it comes to our local train services we have not had this level of local influence and management before and it fits with the wider powers and responsibilities currently being transferred from Whitehall to the West Midlands.”

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Temporary increase in coach services due to rail disruption

National Express rides to the rescue during August rail chaos

National Express is adding thousands of extra seats to services this August after demand for coach travel has soared, with rail passengers facing a month of chaos.
Throughout much of August from the 5th to 28th, Waterloo Station is partially closed for works causing widespread disruption on rail services in the South including: Bournemouth, Portsmouth, Poole, Winchester, Salisbury and Southampton.

National Express has seen advance bookings rise significantly in these areas due to the disruption, with sales up by as much as 100 per cent year-on-year on certain routes (Salisbury – London), and to cope with the extra demand the coach operator is adding more than 2,000 extra seats to services.
Additionally during the Bank Holiday weekend 25th-28th August, London Euston station will be closed due to planned engineering works affecting West Coast mainline services, while work to the Great Western mainline is also due to take place.
This means rail passengers in the North West, Midlands and South West face significant disruption over the weekend and Network Rail has advised people not to travel to London by train.
As a result National Express has seen advance booking figures increase by 90 per cent year-on-year on West Coast mainline routes over the Bank Holiday – and as much as 175 per cent on certain routes (Liverpool – London) - and it is pledging to add thousands of extra seats to services so as many people as possible can still travel.
The extra coach capacity will no doubt come as a relief to Rugby League fans in the North West looking to travel to Wembley Stadium for the Ladbrookes Challenge Cup Final on Saturday 26th August, who face the prospect of no direct rail services.

Rail disruption:
Euston Bank Holiday closure: The shut down will affect all West Coast mainline services including Virgin and London Midland trains serving areas including: Liverpool, Manchester, Wigan, Coventry, Birmingham and Wolverhampton.
Waterloo closure (5th-28th August): South West Trains services from areas including Bournemouth, Southampton and Portsmouth will be affected with the company advising people not to travel to London over the Bank Holiday weekend.
Great Western Line: Electrification of the line near Swindon will disrupt services from Cardiff, Swansea, Newport and Bristol over the Bank Holiday weekend causing coach bookings to rise by as much as 50 percent. National Express will be adding more than 1,000 seats as a result.
National Express is pledging to keep adding capacity to services so that as many people as possible can still travel by public transport during the disruption.
National Express Coach Managing Director Chris Hardy said: “With widespread chaos on the rail network this August that threatens to spoil the Bank Holiday weekend, we are riding to the rescue of people who want to visit friends, family, or go on holiday, and we pledge to keep adding capacity according to demand.”

The UK’s largest coach operator also offers passengers a guaranteed seat, air conditioning, WIFI and onboard entertainment with its new system - VUER – offering hours of free TV, Film, news and magazine content during the journey.

North York Moors Railway

North Yorkshire Moors Railway awarded £4.6m lottery grant

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway (NYMR) said the funding represented half of a planned £9.2m sustainability project which aimed to secure the railway's future.
The railway, which runs steam trains between Pickering and Whitby, attracts 350,000 passengers a year.
Owned and operated by a charitable trust it employs 100 people.
It also relies on about 1,000 volunteers and NYMR claims it contributes around £30m to the regional tourist economy.

The 18 miles (29km) of railway has more than 30 bridges and the charity already invests around £1m a year maintaining the route and the 50- to 100-year-old vehicles it operates.
John Bailey, chairman of NYMR, said the grant would allow the organisation to begin essential projects and start raising the matching funding through a public appeal.
"This should ensure that 50 years hence, people will still be learning from and enjoying the experience of steam across the moors," he added.

Planned improvements

  • Renew and repair worn-out iron bridges around Goathland (£2.67m)
  • Improve access for passengers (£770k)
  • Construct a covered stable for up to 40 carriages at Pickering (£4.16m)
  • Better serve school groups and families with a dedicated education carriage at Grosmont (£330k)
  • Create a new volunteer hostel at Grosmont (£450k)
  • Develop initiatives to recruit new generations of volunteers (£170k)
  • Build a railway apprenticeship programme (£470k)
  • Place new emphasis on the care and management of the 18 miles (29km) of lineside (£170k).

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Alternative fuel project

London should embrace vegetable oil engines, charity behind Kindness bus says


Charity volunteers who converted a Sixties Routemaster to run on vegetable oil called on others to follow their example today.
The Kindness Offensive drive their No 42 bus — destination: Kindiverse — around the capital, offering free journeys to pensioners, disadvantaged young people and refugees new to London.
Co-founder Robert Williams said: “More Londoners should definitely go for vegetable oil engines. You immediately pay half as much on fuel. Many vehicles can be converted to vegetable oil — it’s an efficient fuel and leaves you with a cleaner engine.
“The bus actually runs two miles per hour faster now. Its maximum on a clear road used to be 42 miles per hour, and now it does 44.”
His co-founder David Goodfellow said: “There is not even a huge cost involved to convert your engine — it costs less than £1,000. We are planning to convert our small donated fleet to vegetable oil engines within 18 months, including a 1985-era ambulance.
“We are proud to have the greenest, kindest and comfiest Routemaster on the road.”
Mr Williams said he believed more of London's transport being fuelled by substances such as chip fat was  “inevitable”. “The Government have set out a plan so that in 2040 there will be no more diesel and petrol engines in the UK,” he said. “They’re going to have to do something. “They are not just going to put all vehicles on the shelf, and this is a very easy and simple thing to do.
“It is not revolutionary, the technology is already there — we are using something already proven to work, and it’s a nice feeling to know you’re not polluting.”

Routemaster RCL 2259 in an earlier incarnation on the Round London Sightseeing Tour as it crossed over Lambeth Bridge during the early 1990s

Monday, 7 August 2017

Red Arrow Derby & Nottingham

Derby City Council ends red arrow free rides for pass holders

From (today) Monday 7th August, free bus pass holders will now have to pay to use the non-stop red arrow coach service from Derby to Nottingham, due to Derby City Council withdrawing the route from those it funds.
The end to free rides from Derby for customers holding an English National Concessionary Travel Card follows a similar move by Nottingham City Council which took effect from April 2016.
Derby’s exclusion of red arrow was announced back in March and Sunday 6th August was the last day for pass holders to travel to Nottingham for free.
Jeff Counsell, managing director of trentbarton, said: “red arrow and trentbarton still very much value our customers who travel with a concessionary pass.
“We hope many of them will value the red arrow experience, wish to continue using it and become paying customers.
“For those who wish to carry on using their passes, we will continue to provide them with free travel between Derby and Nottingham on our indigo and i4 routes.”
Derby City Council had also wanted to exclude the X38 express service between Derby and Burton, which trentbarton runs jointly with Arriva. But that proposal has been dropped and the X38 remains available to pass holders.

Saturday, 5 August 2017

Saturday 26th August - Imberbus

In 2009, a group of bus industry professionals achieved a long standing ambition to run a vintage bus service from Warminster in Wiltshire, to the abandoned village of Imber on the Salisbury Plain. It proved to be so popular that it has now become an annual event, with most journeys continuing across the Plain to parts of Wiltshire rarely seen by ordinary public transport users.
There are only a few days each year on which the road through Imber is open to the public and so this year the Imberbus service will operate on
Saturday 26th August 2017
with several former London Transport Routemaster buses (plus a few newer ones) providing a bus service from Warminster Station to Imber and to other isolated locations on the Salisbury Plain. As the buses will be operating an ordinary bus service, there is no need for passengers to book in advance – just turn up and pay the conductor on the bus.
For details of this year’s event, please click here to visit the Imberbus 2017 page and download a copy of the timetable. You can also find out more information about Imber and Imberbus by checking out the other pages on their website.


Far away from the flat plains of Wiltshire, the town of Hunstanton lies up in the top left hand corner of Norfolk, where The Wash meets the North Norfolk coastline. Two bus companies vie for passengers in the town, Lynxbus and the Stagecoach East subsidiary, especially on the routes 10, 11 and Coasthopper CH (Stagecoach) and 33, 34 and 35 (Lynxbus), which operate by various routeings between Hunstanton and King's Lynn. Both operators have bases in the latter town. Stagecoach's Coasthopper CH route also continues a considerable way along the coastline via Well-Next-the-Sea and Sheringham to Cromer. A selection of images have been placed into the latest album which can now be viewed by clicking  here . Oh yes, and look out for one other wheeled oddity, which drives up and down the coastline just below the waterline.

Commuter fares

London rail commuters pay fares FOUR times higher than Europeans

London rail commuters pay up to four times as much for their ticket compared with those using transport networks in European cities such as Berlin, Rome and Brussels, new research reveals today.
The fares “gap” is set to worsen with UK passengers paying even more as prices were labelled “the great British rail rip-off.”

Passengers on Southeastern services from Maidstone to Charing Cross and Cannon Street, a distance of 35 miles, pay £412.50 a month. In comparison, those travelling from Luckenwalde to Berlin, 36 miles, pay £99.80 (111.67 Euros).

Those travelling from Milton Keynes (London Midland) to Euston, 48.5 miles, fork out £482.70 a month whereas passenger in Italy travelling from Orte to Rome, 50 miles, pay £116 (130 Euros).

From Basildon (c2c) to Fenchurch Street, 27 miles, the monthly fare is £264.60 but in Belgium those travelling from Antwerp to Brussels, 28 miles, pay £127.80 (143 Euros).
Research was carried out by the RMT rail union which launched a bitter attack on the government accusing it of treating passengers as “nothing more than self-loading cash cows.
RMT leader Mick Cash said: “Anger is mounting over the government’s indifference to the plight of commuters and rightly so.
“The way this minority administration turns a blind eye to the great British rail rip-off is an absolute disgrace.
“It is a national scandal that UK passengers pay the largest proportion of their salaries in the EU just for travelling to and from work and are forced to endure unreliable and rammed out trains as part of the deal.”
Commuters will learn in two weeks’ time if they face fares increase from January of up to four per cent. The RPI for July, on which forthcoming rail ticket prices are based, will be published on Tuesday 15 August and is forecast to be between 3.6 and 3.9 per cent.
That is far higher than salary rises for millions of public sector workers, capped at one per cent, and also for many private sector employees.
A 3.9 per cent increase would mean commuters travelling from Theresa May’s Maidenhead constituency would see the cost of their annual season ticket to Paddington rise by £116.50 to £3104.50; passengers from Home Secretary Amber Rudd’s Hasting constituency would need to find an extra £182, taking their annual season ticket to £4,850.
Passenger Focus, the national rail watchdog, revealed last week that passengers in London and the south-east believe they suffer the worst service in the country.

Southern, beset by 16 months of strikes, Thameslink, Southeastern and Great Northern, come bottom of the passenger satisfaction list of operators across the UK.
The price of train tickets remains a key issue with fewer than half – 47 per cent –  of all passengers saying their believed they received value for money.
Just 48 hours after the survey it was revealed that eight of the 10 most overcrowded trains serve London commuter routes; heading the list of shame is the 7.16 am (Southern) East Grinstead to London Bridge which regularly carries 1366 passengers, more than double the official “capacity” of 640.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group representing all the train operators said: “The RMT isn’t comparing like with like because it ignores that passengers here often have more frequent trains and better journey times.
“Investment in rail, especially in London, is improving journeys and connecting the country better now and for the long term. Government, which sets increases to season tickets, expects passengers as well as taxpayers and train companies to contribute to funding this. “