Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Hyperloop - Test Track Taking Shape

Hyperloop track is taking shape and pictures of test track built in the middle of the Nevada desert have been released.

The California based company Hyperloop One, has ambitious plans to transport people or cargo between cities at near-supersonic speed.
The Hyperloop test structure, which has a diameter of 3.3 metres, is located around 30 minutes from Las Vegas.
Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One, shared a bird's-eye view of how construction is progressing at the world's only Hyperloop test site.
'While technology is revolutionizing many facets of our lives, we have not seen a radical change in transportation since the Wright brothers introduced air travel over 100 years ago,' said Mr Lloyd.
'Tying together the Middle East region would produce greater virtual density, without congestion and pollution, spurring innovation, productivity, job growth and more powerful sharing of knowledge, labor and investment. 
'Building a Hyperloop would vastly impact the economy and make any major city in the Middle East accessible within one hour.' 

Hyperloop One, the Los Angeles-based company set up to bring Elon Musk’s vacuum maglev concept to market, has announced the locations of the 35 semi-finalists for its Global Challenge, which were whittled down from 2,600 applications.
The challenge began in May 2016 as an “open call to individuals, universities, companies and governments to develop comprehensive proposals for using Hyperloop One's transport technology in their region to move passengers and freight point-to-point, swiftly, and on demand”.
The semi-finalists are from 17 countries, with the US producing 11 teams, India five and the UK four. Twenty proposals come with commitments of support from local, state and federal governments and agencies.
The proposals include links between London and Edinburgh, Corsica and Sardinia, Seattle and Portland, Mumbai and Delhi, Buenos Aires and Cordoba, and Mexico City and Guadalajara.
The remaining teams will now be reviewed by Hyperloop One’s panel of experts in transportation, technology, economics and innovation.

Hyperloop One expects to announce a “handful” of finalists by May.
View a list of the 35 semifinalists here.

See the previous Focus Transport Hyperloop article here

Monday, 20 March 2017

The Big Lemon

You’re hired! Former MP takes the helm at bus company

You're hired! Former Lewes MP shakes hands with The Big Lemon chief executive Tom Druitt

You're hired! Former Lewes MP shakes hands with The Big Lemon chief executive Tom Druitt

He was once MP for Lewes, but now Norman Baker has been appointed as managing director of Brighton bus company The Big Lemon.

The Liberal Democrat - who lost his parliamentary seat in 2015 - has turned his back on politics, to work at an eco-friendly firm which runs its buses on cooking oil. Mr Baker said: “I am delighted to be joining The Big Lemon, which has gone from strength to strength in recent times. I feel particularly at home with its strong environmental approach, showing you can run a successful business in an ethical manner.”
Tom Druitt, the founder and chief executive of The Big Lemon - and a Green councillor in Brighton and Hove - welcomed the appointment.
He said: “Norman has dedicated his life to his community, serving the people of Lewes for many years as their MP, and more recently bus users across the country as transport minister and latterly as chair of Bus Users UK. We’d be hard-pressed to find a stronger campaigner for better and more sustainable bus services to lead our organisation in Brighton and Hove, and we’re very much looking forward to working together.”
Mr Baker was MP for the Lewes area from 1997 until 2015 when he lost his seat to Conservative Maria Caulfield.
He was a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport from 2010 to 2013, and took on the role as Minister of State of the Home Office in 2013, resigning just a year later.
Since leaving politics, Mr Baker served as chair of Bus Users UK, working closely with chief executive Claire Walters in raising the profile of bus users. Mr Druitt said the former MP had helped to steer the organisation towards becoming a more diverse and representative body.
Mr Baker’s new full-time job at The Big Lemon offers a salary of between £40,000 and £45,000 and involves overseeing 16 full-time staff and a fleet of ten buses and coaches. He is set to start work on Tuesday March 21st.
The Big Lemon runs bus routes and coach hire services in and around Brighton and Hove using waste cooking oil from local restaurants, and is launching two electric buses in April which will be powered by solar energy generated on the roof of the bus depot.

Mr Druitt said the appointment is part of The Big Lemon’s ambition to develop a national network of locally-owned social enterprises providing affordable public transport, with zero-emissions vehicles powered by renewable energy.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

First Class compartment changes

First class 'to be scrapped' in radical overhaul of Southeastern's London commuter trains

First Class on London commuter trains is facing the axe under a rail revolution to tackle overcrowding, delay and poor service, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced today.
He proposed radical reforms in the Government’s next franchise blueprint for one of Britain’s worst performing rail services, Southeastern, as the population in London and surrounding travel-to-work areas is set to soar by 3.4 million by 2030.

The series of measures includes:
  • Considering removing First Class to make more room for passengers which would be “important” during peak hours.
  • New Metro-style carriages with fewer seats to create more space to meet growing passenger numbers.
  • Running existing trains faster and more often which could “hold down fares”.
  • An automated system for passengers to claim compensation when they suffer delays of more than 15 minutes.
  • Smarter payment systems including by mobile phone.
  • Possible new routes including a “London orbital service” connecting Ashford, Tonbridge, Redhill and Reading, to take pressure away from the M20.
  • Extending Metro trains to 12 carriages.
  • Reducing the number of central London stations served from certain locations at particular times, for example all Metro services on the north Kent, Greenwich and Bexleyheath Lines would only terminate at Cannon Street.
  • Operating High Speed services between St Pancras, Hastings, Bexhill and Rye via Ashford International.
Mr Grayling said: “Services on the Southeastern rail network have been unacceptably poor for far too long.
“Passengers have endured disruption, overcrowding and delays, particularly during redevelopment work at London Bridge Station, and they deserve better.
“Appointing a new franchise operator from 2018 provides us with a great opportunity to sort out the problems which have plagued Southeastern, and deliver the high quality of service that customers expect.”

The consultation on the future of the South Eastern network, currently run by a Go-Ahead Group consortium, is the first franchise to come up since Mr Grayling’s keynote speech in December when he outlined his vision for the rail industry, so it has implications for other routes across the country.
In particular, the Transport Secretary is demanding better working between the train operator and Network Rail to increase reliability of services and cut delays.
Smaller franchises could also be allocated in future to allow new entrants into the rail market to boost performance.
Several of the measures are controversial including ditching First Class, fewer seats and less choice of London destinations.
The consultation document states: “We recognise that First Class tickets remain popular on certain routes, notably on the Southeastern Main Line to Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.
“However, removing it would create more room for passengers, which would be important during peak hours.”
Ministers are also considering reducing the number of First Class carriages on the West Coast Main Line, but not axing it altogether.
The new franchise for Southeastern, which would run from 2018 to around 2025-28, also kills of London Mayor Sadiq Khan's hopes of seizing control of parts of the network, which delivers 640,000 passenger journeys on 1,900 train services every weekday.
A spokesman at Southeastern said: “We’re focused on delivering our current franchise and will continue to invest over £70million in improvements in the areas that matter most to our passengers.
“Our recent National Rail Passenger Survey customer satisfaction scores have risen, reflecting that passengers are noticing the improvements being made; but we know there is still more work to do and we will continue to work with Network Rail to improve the experience passengers have when travelling with us".


Another set of driver trainer buses and coaches has been placed into an album. This time they are the first of a series that feature vehicles used out in the provinces. These can now be viewed by clicking   here

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Stop-start Technology for Stagecoach Park & Ride Fleet in Cambridge

Stagecoach East’s new Park & Ride fleet has been fitted with the very latest stop-start technology to help reduce nitrous oxide emissions and improve air quality in Cambridge city centre.

The cutting-edge technology prevents buses from ‘ticking over’ whilst loading and unloading passengers at bus stops. Instead, it automatically switches the engine off as soon as the driver activates the handbrake and opens the doors – thereby reducing pollution by restricting the discharge of particulate matter and nitrous oxide emissions* during these times.

The leading Euro 6 technology also features an ongoing safety system whereby, if a bus is giving out more emissions than it should be, it goes into ‘limp mode’ and effectively shuts the vehicle down. Previous Euro 1-5 standards only test at new and are not on-going.

The 22 new  ADL (Alexander Dennis Limited) E400 MMC buses - which all feature the redesigned colour-coded Park & Ride livery - represent a £4.7 million investment by Stagecoach East, and are now officially the greenest in Cambridge.

Andy Campbell, Managing Director of Stagecoach East said: “This is the very latest technology and was only just available when we ordered the new Park & Ride fleet. The principle is a simple one: Turn the engine off when the bus isn’t moving and it will use less fuel, improving overall economy and, very importantly, lessening emissions.

“We see this as being a positive step forwards and a significant contribution towards improving air quality in congested Cambridge, reducing our environmental impact and hopefully encouraging more customers to opt for our greener, smarter travel.

“Looking after the environment is an important consideration for us as we have frequent bus services running every 10 minutes. When we look to invest in future vehicles, we will be looking to buy in the same technology or whatever future enhancements are available. We are committed to investing in our services as we aim to deliver the highest standards of public transport in our city, both now and in the future.”

As well as improved engine efficiency and a higher standard of emissions, the new Park & Ride fleet provides on-board Wi-Fi, USB sockets and improved comfort for passengers.

* The new stop-start system promises to reduce fuel consumption by between 4%-7% (depending on duty cycle) and cut nitrous oxide emissions by 30%-40%.

Friday, 17 March 2017

737 Max 9

Boeing rolled out the first 737 MAX 9, the second variant of the re-engined 737, at its Renton, Washington facility March 7.
The 737 MAX 9, which is 138 ft. and 2 in. long, has a maximum capacity of 220 passengers and a range of 3,515 nm. The aircraft’s first flight is expected “in the coming weeks,” according to Boeing. The CFM International LEAP-1B-powered MAX 9’s debut comes just over 13 months after the MAX 8 achieved its first flight.

The 737 MAX 8 is expected to enter service this summer with Norwegian Air Shuttle. Southwest Airlines, which placed the launch order for the 737 MAX, is expected to place its first MAX 8 into service Oct. 1.
The first 737 MAX 9 prototype “now begins system checks, fueling and engine runs on the flight line,” Boeing said. The 737 MAX 9 is scheduled to enter service in 2018.

Boeing has secured more than 3,600 orders for 737 MAX family aircraft from 83 customers, including more than 400 orders for the MAX 9.

The new 737 MAX 8 will deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market with 20 percent lower fuel use than the first Next-Generation 737s – and 8 percent per seat lower operating costs than the A320neo.  The 737 MAX will extend the Next-Generation 737 range advantage with the capability to fly more than 3,500 nautical miles (6,510 km), an increase of 340 - 570 nmi (629-1,055 km) over the Next-Generation 737. The 737 MAX family has 3,072 orders from 62 customers worldwide.

Also see http://www.focustransport.org/search?q=737+max

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Raildar - Trains Visible in Realtime

We have had our attention drawn to another website that shows public transport movements in real time. This one is called Raildar which tracks all passenger train movements in the UK.

Zoom in and you will observe coloured icons that show all active trains in that area. Click on an icon and a list of timings for that particular train appears together with any delay minutes.
The site is uncomplicated and seems to work well with pages loading quickly.

The website can be found here

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Crisis at Crich

Crich Tramway Village collection hit by winter mould

A number of trams from a "world renowned" collection have been severely damaged by an outbreak of mould.
Crich Tramway Village, which is home to the country's biggest collection of trams, said the damage was caused by insulation problems at their depot.

Museum bosses said the outbreak of mould was "heartbreaking and devastating".
The Derbyshire-based attraction said it needed to raise £200,000 to carry out improvements to the depot.
It's thought about "five or six" trams need attention following the winter mould.
Bosses at the museum, which reopens to the public at the weekend, said they believed the mould had affected the trams because there had been a warm and damp winter and moisture had got into the depot.
"Personally it makes me want to cry," Neil White from Crich Tramway Village said.

"We spend anything up to half a million pounds restoring something and then we put it away in conditions that you wouldn't want to.
"You say each vintage tram is worth like three vintage Ferraris, you wouldn't just spend your money on that and store them in the conditions that we have so far."
The museum was awarded £100,000 earlier this year by the government towards the cost of insulating the depot, which houses the trams, some dating back to the late 1800s.
It's thought they will need a further £200,000 to fully upgrade the 1960s building.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Free Ride in the Lake District

The A592 between Bowness in Windermere and Newby Bridge in Cumbria is subject to a long term closure.

 The south bound shuttle service starts at Windermere Railway Station 

As a result a free mini-bus bus service has been put in place between Windermere and Newby Bridge using a series of minor roads. The service, which takes 46 minutes, is being operated by Stagecoach using a fleet of Mercedes mini-buses.

I sampled the service on the 4th March catching the 12.56 from Windermere Railway Station. The route initially follows the A592 south to Bowness, traffic was reasonably quiet so we were able to pause for time at the steamer pier at Bowness for a minute or so before proceeding again at 13.06 along the A592. The bus travels as far as the actual works being carried out before turning around and heading north again until a right turn is made onto a minor road which climbs away from the lake.

The route passes the point at which the road is closed
 to normal traffic

From here a series of minor roads are used to bypass the road closure, the route becoming very scenic as the bus climbs up and over the minor roads.  Eventually views of the southern part of lake Windermere are apparent as the route drops down and regains access to the A592.

 The roads are definitely more suited to mini-bus operation
We reached the terminus of the service at 13.45 a couple of minutes late but with plenty of time for the mini-bus to turn around and wait for the X6 Barrow to Kendal service with which it is timed to meet. The Kendal bound X6 arrived a few minutes late at 14.13 and I took the opportunity to hop on board in order to return to Kendal.
The free service is certainly worth trying, allowing passengers to travel on picturesque roads which don't normally have bus services running on them. It hasn't really been advertised as tourist service due to lack of capacity on the mini-buses, but it is there for anyone to use and comes highly recommended.

 Views of the southern part of lake Windermere 
 The terminus at Newby Bridge.
 The shuttle service connects with the  Barrow / Kendal X6
Scania - ADLEnviro 400 PX61 CVK is operating on the Barrow bound service.


Monday, 13 March 2017

Heritage station Sign for Upwey

A small crowd gathered on the down platform at Upwey station recently to see the new heritage style station sign being unveiled. A celebration cake was on offer to the those present.
Railway stations used to have such boards in Victorian times – large signs at the top of the platform to let passengers know the train was ‘running in’ to its destination.

The Heart of Wessex Rail Partnership, which looks after stations on the Weymouth to Bristol line, has been reviving this tradition with the help of funding from different partners and the skills of Exeter-based Rydon Signs.
 As well as showing that stations, particularly unmanned ones, are being looked after and appreciated, the big signs aid passengers with sight problems who may find small signs difficult to read, and those with a hearing impairment who may miss train announcements.

Upwey is the latest station to get a board, the design of which was meticulously researched, so it could mirror the board which originally graced the station in the early part of the twentieth century when passengers changed for the Abbotsbury branch.
Members of the Friends of Upwey Station – including its newest recruit Budmouth College student Jamie Downs, 14 – South West Trains (SWT), Dorset County Council and the HoW rail partnership gathered to celebrate the new addition and enjoyed a cake made for the occasion. The project was initiated by the Friends of Upwey, and jointly funded by the rail partnership and station owner SWT.
The voluntary Friends support both the rail partnership and SWT’s community rail initiatives, working to keep the station welcoming by tidying up, planting flowers and reporting incidents.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Closure of Exeter Bus Station Delayed

Exeter City Council has revealed that it is putting plans to close the bus station on hold.
The council said it needs more time before appointing contractors to create its part of a major new redevelopment at the bus station site.

It had planned to start construction on the state-of-the-art new leisure complex St Sidwell’s Point, and a new Exeter Bus Station, at the end of March. Completion was due in December 2018.
But due to the nature of the tender returns submitted by contractors bidding for the contract, the council has announced that it needs more time to conclude the procurement process.
It means the current Exeter Bus Station will not now need to close at the end March, as was originally planned. It will continue to operate as normal until further notice.
Stakeholders, including the bus operators and groups representing passengers, have been informed.
Much of the work to provide temporary bus facilities in the city centre is nearing completion, and the final works, which can only be undertaken immediately prior to use, will be completed so that the facilities will be ready when needed.

Shops and businesses located near the temporary bus facilities in Sidwell Street have been informed of the delay, and the parking will be reopened for use.
Details of the tenders will remain confidential while the discussions are ongoing, due to their commercial sensitivity.
Cllr Phil Bialyk, lead councillor with responsibility for the bus station redevelopment, said: “The tendering process is taking longer than we had predicted. We won’t sign contracts or appoint contractors until we are absolutely sure that we get the best deal for Exeter.
“We are naturally disappointed that we can’t get on with building these key developments as quickly as we would have liked.
“But we will not rush this process and it is right that we take our time. Contracts will only be signed when we can be sure that Exeter is getting the best value for money, and the best development possible.”
The city council’s developments are only one part of the major transformation planned at the bus station site.
Private sector developer the Crown Estate has outline planning permission to create a £75m development including a cinema, shops, restaurants, cafes and public open space at the top end of the bus station site.
A detailed application by the Crown Estate is expected to be discussed by the council’s planning committee shortly. Outline permission for the scheme was granted in January 2016.
The council has stressed that the timetable for the overall redevelopment of this important site in the city centre hasn’t changed and therefore won’t impact on the delivery of the wider scheme.

DATE FOR THE DIARY - Sunday 19th March - Exeter

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Bus lane fines

Bus lane cameras make £31m in a year for councils

Almost 4,000 motorists a day are fined for driving in bus lanes, with the most lucrative camera making £6,000 every 24 hours.
BBC England contacted 160 authorities responsible for highways in England, 64 of whom had bus lane cameras.
Motoring organisation, the RAC, said the cameras had become a "cash bonanza" for local authorities.
Councils say cameras are clearly signed and they expect income to fall as drivers learn to stay out of the lanes.

In total, the local authorities revealed an estimated combined income of £31m for 2015-16. The figure is likely to be higher as some councils were unable to break down figures by individual cameras or lanes.
The most lucrative bus lane in England is on the northbound section of John Dobson Street in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
The council revealed that between 23 February and 31 October 2016 it resulted in 62,975 penalty charge notices, making a total of £1.5m, equivalent to £5,960 a day.
About 5,100 drivers caught in the first two months were then given refunds after it was found that signs were "inadequately lit" during the hours of darkness.
Drivers and opposition councillors have said the road layout is "confusing".
However, Newcastle City Council stressed bus lane cameras were not there to make money and the number of fines had dropped "dramatically" over the past year.
A spokeswoman said the bus lane was correctly signposted.
She said: "Each year, nine million bus passengers travel along John Dobson Street, where services have seen a 14 per cent improvement in journey time reliability since enforcement started.

Fines for driving in bus lanes

£130.00p in Greater London
£60.00p outside London
  • £65 in Greater London if paid within 14 days
  • £30 discounted rate for early payment outside London
"We would firmly stress that bus lanes are not there to generate income - they are there to help us to manage our road networks efficiently."
In Wolverhampton, a camera installed to stop people using a bus lane as a short cut was making on average £4,750 a day.
The council said people had been misusing the lane when coming in and out of the rail station but that it expected the number of fines to fall following a recent change in the road layout.

RAC spokesman Simon Williams said: "Bus lane cameras are fast becoming a new 'cash bonanza' for councils. The amount of money being raised by them in fines is frightening.
"Rather than just rubbing their hands together and taking the money councils should be asking questions as to why so many motorists are being caught driving in bus lanes."


Another album from the archives, this time a random selection of buses and coaches from the National Bus Company during the 1970-1985 period. These can now be viewed by clicking   here

Friday, 10 March 2017

Latest London Bus Contract Awards

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

45              (Clapham Park & King's Cross St.Pancras Station) Awarded to Abellio with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks. Currently operated by Go-Ahead London Central with ADL E40D and Volvo B7TL double-decks from Camberwell (Q) Garage (new contract start date 11th November 2017).

90              (Feltham & Northolt Station) Re-awarded to Metroline Travel with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks (2nd September).
176/N176  (Tottenham Court Road Station & Penge) Awarded to Go-Ahead London Central with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks. Currently operated by Arriva London South with Volvo B7TL double-decks from Norwood (N) Garage (11th November).

188/N188  (Russell Square & North Greenwich Station) Awarded to Go-Ahead London Central with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks. Currently operated by Abellio with ADL E40D, E40H and Volvo B7TL from Walworth (WL) Garage (11th November).
222            (Hounslow & Uxbridge Station) Awarded to Metroline West with new Euro VI hybrid double-decks. Currently operated by London United with ADL E40D and Scania double-decks (16th September).
243/N243  (Wood Green Station & Waterloo Station) Re-awarded to Arriva London North with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks (19th August).

Interested in further details of all that occurs on the bus network in the London and close Home Counties area? Then why not visit the London Omnibus Traction Society's (LOTS), website. This can be accessed at www.lots.org.uk or by directly clicking here

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Rail Franchise news 2

East Midlands rail franchise: 3 firms make the shortlist

Train operating companies in the running for key ‘engine for growth’ East Midlands franchise down to final 3.
The names of the 3 train operating companies in the running for the next East Midlands franchise competition were on the 1st March by the Department for Transport.

After submitting an expression of interest, the following have been successfully shortlisted:
  • Arriva Rail East Midlands Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Arriva UK Trains Limited
  • First Trenitalia East Midlands Rail Limited, a joint venture company wholly owned by First Rail Holdings Limited and Trenitalia UK Limited
  • Stagecoach East Midlands Trains Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of Stagecoach Transport Holdings Limited
Rail Minister Paul Maynard said:
A flourishing rail network brings real growth and prosperity to the region it serves. That is why we are making the biggest investment in the national rail network in more than 100 years to deliver the safer, faster and more comfortable journeys that passengers want.
At the same time, Network Rail is working on improvements which by 2019 will enable the next East Midlands franchise to deliver more carriages and faster journeys over the whole route, including almost twice as many seats into London St Pancras in the peak hours.
I am delighted that all these first-class companies have demonstrated their confidence in our vision for the future of the rail industry in Great Britain by bidding for this key franchise.
The new franchise is vital in supporting government ambitions to make the Midlands region an engine for growth by improving connections within and outside the region and supporting the East Midlands industry and leisure economy.
In particular, ministers want to improve the quality, frequency and timings of journeys on the east of the franchise network and to seek to develop new services and connections.
The new franchisee will also be expected to satisfy predicted growth in demand, in particular into London St Pancras, but also for local crowded services like Derby-Crewe.
Though the current franchise, operated by East Midlands Trains Limited, is due to end on 4 March 2018, the Secretary of State has powers to extend it further by up to a year.