Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Lothian Invests in New Pollution Busting Fleet

Lothian has launched a fleet of 30 brand new, low emission buses serving one of Edinburgh’s busiest roads, at an investment of over £7m. 

Presented to the city in a parade from Princes Street to Edinburgh Zoo, the new Euro 6 vehicles are operating on Service 26. 

This service connects communities from the west of the city to East Lothian, travelling along St John’s Road in Corstorphine, which is one of Edinburgh’s air quality management zones. Once hailed as the ‘most polluted road in Scotland’, Lothian will convert its final service along this corridor to Euro 6 by the end of 2018 and with this latest investment all its buses on this key artery into the city will meet a minimum of Euro 5 emission standards, providing its residents and commuters with the greenest fleet in the city. 

The service also travels through air quality management zones in Princes Street and Musselburgh High Street.

The engines on the new buses will have much lower CO2 emissions, with the combined reductions in the new fleet equivalent to that of 164 cars per year. 

The custom-built specification for Lothian features USB charging points, high-back seats, increased glazing for visibility and media screens with next stop audio and visual announcements all designed to enhance and improve the customer experience.

The Euro 6 Volvo double deckers, with Wrightbus Gemini 3 bodies manufactured in Northern Ireland will reduce Co2 emissions by 25%, nitrous oxides by up to 98% and particulates by around 75%, compared with the existing fleet.

Over 7.5m journeys were taken on Service 26 across 2016, an average of 150,000 journeys per week.

By the end of 2017, 76% of Lothian’s fleet will be at Euro 5 emission standards or above. Fully committed to measuring and improving the environmental impact of its operations the company plans to introduce 86 new vehicles this year in an investment worth £20.9 million.

 The new vehicles travelled in convoy from Princess Street to Edinburgh Zoo

Richard HallManaging Director, Lothian said: “We fully support the City of Edinburgh Council’s and the Scottish Government’s strategies to improve local air quality. St John’s Road has always been a main artery within the city that we had earmarked for improvement and investment. The introduction of 30 new low emission buses to this route, combined with our on-going fleet replacement strategy BUS2020, ensures that we as a business are doing our part to improve air quality across the city.

Buses are the lifeblood of the city and economy, transporting thousands of customers everyday"

Councillor Lesley Macinnes, Transport Convenor for the City of Edinburgh Council said: “We welcome this investment by Lothian, which will significantly impact emissions in areas of poorer air quality across the city as part of a continued effort to convert to cleaner, greener vehicles.

As a Council we are committed to improving air quality and reducing CO2 emissions via a range of measures, but it is only with the support of companies like Lothian that we will be able to achieve this.”

Barbara Smith, Chief Executive, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, added: “We are very excited to see the new fleet of Lothian's buses hit the road. The number 26 bus route is now synonymous with RZSS Edinburgh Zoo and it is great to see this vital transport link become even more environmentally friendly.

We believe that protecting the environment and promoting sustainability go hand in hand. Thanks to our partnership with Lothian, we hope to encourage plenty more visitors to help improve air quality and reducing emissions by travelling to the Zoo by bus.”

Emilia Hanna, Air Pollution Campaigner, Friends of the Earth Scotland added: “‘We welcome Lothian’s launch of a cleaner 26 route along the St John’s Rd corridor, which is Edinburgh’s most polluted street. Air pollution is still a public health crisis in Scotland, responsible for over 2500 early deaths each year. Buses are a key part of the solution to air pollution and are essential for the majority of Edinburgh residents who do not travel by car. 

One full double decker bus can hold the equivalent number of passengers as 75 cars can, so buses are a clear winner when it comes to tackling congestion and toxic air pollution, especially when they offer a clean and comfortable experience.”

Lothian’s environmental programme began in 2011 and has so far seen over £44million invested in hybrid and Euro 6 vehicles, with support from the Scottish Government’s Green Bus Fund. It currently has 85 hybrid vehicles and with the latest deliveries, will have 152 Euro 6 buses. 
A selection of similar Wright bodied double-deck buses already in the fleet can be viewed on the New Focus Flickr site by clicking here and  here

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

Rail time checks

UK rail firms bring in new system for checking punctuality of trains

Rail firms are introducing a new standard for train punctuality which they claim will be the most transparent in Europe.

Arrival times are to be recorded to the exact minute rather than the existing measure of whether services arrive within five or 10 minutes of the timetable.
There are also plans to note punctuality at every station on a train's journey instead of the current set-up which only sees the time recorded at the final stop.
Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), representing train operators and Network Rail, said: "By adopting the most transparent measure in Europe, we want passengers to know that rail companies are putting an even greater focus on ensuring that trains are meeting the timetable, arriving to the minute and at stations along a journey.
"We are pushing ourselves to drive better punctuality because it will help to deliver a more reliable railway for the whole of Britain."

Alex Hayman, a managing director at consumer group Which?, said: "This could be a positive first step for passengers but only if it results in rail companies making more trains run on time.
"Our analysis has found passenger satisfaction with the punctuality of trains is at a decade low."
Latest punctuality figures show that in the past 12 months 88% of trains arrived at their final destination within five minutes of their schedule for commuter services and 10 minutes for long-distance trips.
Separate right-time performance figures show 63% of trains were no more than 59 seconds late.
The new punctuality standard will display 10 measurements showing passengers how likely trains are to be: early; on time; within 3, 5, 10 and 15 minutes late; more than 15, 20 and 30 minutes late and cancelled.
National figures will be published on the RDG website and individual operators are expected to display their own performance online by April next year.
In April 2019 the data is expected to become one of the official measures of punctuality for Network Rail - which runs the railway infrastructure - when its next funding period begins.
Passenger watchdog Transport Focus welcomed the shake-up of how punctuality is measured.
Chief executive Anthony Smith said: "Passengers want a reliable, on time train service. How that performance is measured and reported should, our research shows, closely mirror passengers' real life experience, otherwise trust will not be built up.
"So it is good to see the rail industry reporting on time performance at many more stations."
Train punctuality can only be measured to the minute at around 80% of stations due to technological restrains, the RDG said.
Before the new measurement is adopted, the rail industry will work to improve this figure, including the possible use of GPS data from trains.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Air travel increases

UK air traffic controllers warn of over-crowded skies

Air traffic controllers are warning that UK skies are running out of room for record numbers of planes.
Friday 21st July 2017 was probably the busiest day of the year, with air traffic controllers expected to have handled more than 8,800 flights - a record number.
They have called for a drastic modernisation in the way aircraft are guided across UK airspace.
It comes as the government launches a discussion to shape the UK's aviation industry for the next 30 years.

Air traffic controllers expect to manage a record 770,000 flights in UK airspace over the summer - 40,000 more than last year.
But the ability of the the UK's National Air Traffic Control Service (NATS) to deal with this surge is being stretched to the limit, it is claimed.
NATS director Jamie Hutchison said: "In the last few weeks we have already safely managed record-breaking daily traffic levels, but the ageing design of UK airspace means we will soon reach the limits of what can be managed without delays rising significantly."
The Department for Transport estimates that, if airspace management remains unchanged, there will be 3,100 days' worth of flight delays by 2030 - that is 50 times the amount seen in 2015 - along with 8,000 flight cancellations a year.
The government wants the public to submit ideas on a wide range of subjects, from airport bag check-ins in town centres to noise reduction targets.
The six themes it will consult on over the coming months are:
  • Customer service
  • Safety and security
  • Global connectivity
  • Competitive markets
  • Supporting growth while tackling environmental impacts
  • Innovation, technology and skills
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said: "Our new aviation strategy will look beyond the new runway at Heathrow and sets out a comprehensive long-term plan for UK aviation.
"It will support jobs and economic growth across the whole of the UK.
"Our vision puts the passenger at the heart of what we do, but also recognises the need to address the impacts of aviation on communities and the environment."

Meanwhile, airport capacity is expanding way beyond Heathrow's new runway.
Friday also marked the start of a £1bn investment programme to double the size of Manchester Airport's Terminal 2.
The number of planes taking off and landing at Stansted has gone up every month for almost four years.
Cardiff Airport has seen an 11% rise in traffic, and Luton is recording growth of 7% this year alone.
The problem of volume has been complicated by shifts in travel patterns.
Destinations including Egypt, Turkey and Tunisia have lost out to Spain, Italy and the US, which means major changes in the flows of traffic into UK airspace.

NATS itself is rolling out a new £600m ($747m) computer system known as iTec that could result in more flights and fewer delays.
But Juliet Kennedy, Nats operations director, said: "What is needed is a clear and stable UK policy that recognises how important our airspace is as a critical part of our national infrastructure.
"It is essential that we are able to balance the needs of airspace users with the environment and, of course, with the communities who experience aircraft noise."

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Trams in London

Staying in London for today's posting, 65-years ago on the 6th July 1952, the last trams ran on the old system in London.

Some 92-years earlier the first horse-drawn trams were operated in the Croydon area, but it was not until 1863 that electric trams were tested on a route between Acton and Kew in west London. However, it took many more years before electric trams were introduced properly in the Croydon area from 1901. Electric trams were then introduced gradually over the whole system and were successful, that was until 1935 when diesel powered buses and electric trolleybuses began to phase out the whole system.

The very last tram was operated on the 6th July 1952, with huge celebrations as it entered New Cross depot.

Several examples of the London tram still exist and have been preserved in the London Transport Museum, Covent Garden, the East Anglian Transport Museum at Carlton Colville near Lowestoft in Suffolk and the National tramway Museum at Crich in Derbyshire.

A 'Last week of the Trams' ticket still owned by the rider, a member of the Focus Transport Team when but a callow youth, his identity not disclosed in order to maintain his guilt.

But the story does not really end there. By quite some quirk of fate, there is now modern day system that operates in the Croydon area where it all began. This commenced operation in May 2000 with lines to Beckenham, Elmers End, New Addington and Wimbledon and isoperated today under the auspices of Transport for London as London Tramlink.

Two types of modern tram are used the initial batch of twenty-four, Bombardier Eurorail CR4000 built in 1998/9, joined later between 2012-2015 by twelve Stadier Variobahn models.

A nice touch in the fleet numbering was the first 2530, which follows on in sequence from the last original tram's number 2529.

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
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."


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
Better still why not join and gain the benefits of the regular monthly newsletter along with other useful publications


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.


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


  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.”


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


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