Saturday, 22 September 2018

Return of a Duchess


Duchess of Sutherland back in action after overhaul


With all pictures courtesy of Simon Kerry




A 1930s steam locomotive, once used to pull the Royal Train, is back in action after a £150,000 overhaul.

The 80-year-old Duchess of Sutherland, which has been repainted in its original crimson livery, left Swanwick Junction Station in Derbyshire en route to Kidderminster in Worcestershire.

In 2002, it became the first steam locomotive to haul the Royal Train for 35 years when it transported the Queen as part of her Golden Jubilee.

The engine is operated by The Princess Royal Class Locomotive Trust.






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This set features a selection of buses and coaches that attended the Trans-Lancs Transport Show in Heaton Park during September. Kindly provided by Steve Maskell they can now be viewed by clicking  here

Friday, 21 September 2018

Stagecoach Trading Statement September 2018


Stagecoach Group plc has issued a trading update in respect of its financial year ending 27 April 2019, ahead of a series of meetings with analysts.

The company say they are pleased to have made a good start to the year and the forecast of the Group's adjusted earnings per share for the year is broadly unchanged from when the full year results were announced in June 2018.

Revenue growth

Like-for-like revenue growth for the financial year to date in each of the Group's main businesses is provided below.

UK Bus (regional operations) - sixteen weeks ended 18 August 2018 3.2%

UK Bus (London) - sixteen weeks ended 18 August 2018 (2.2)%

North America - four months ended 31 August 2018 (3.8)%

UK Rail (excluding Virgin Trains East Coast) - sixteen weeks ended 18 August 2018 2.1%

Virgin Rail Group - sixteen weeks ended 18 August 2018 5.3%



UK Bus (regional operations)

The UK Bus (regional operations) Division has performed well during the period, which is believed to be partly attributable to the favourable summer weather throughout the country. The company have also benefitted from revenue earned from providing additional bus services to replace train services that were affected by planned re-signalling work at Derby railway station. The expectation is that revenue growth will moderate over the remainder of the year, reflecting the one-off benefits in the year to date.

Like-for-like vehicle miles operated were 1.4% lower than in the previous year, consistent with the plan set out in June. Like-for-like revenue per vehicle mile grew 4.7% and like-for-like revenue per journey also increased 4.7%.



UK Bus (London)

The reported revenue decrease for the UK Bus (London) Division is in line with expectations and reflects the impact of contracts lost in the prior year. Operating costs are higher than budgeted due to the lag in fuel price rises being reflected in contract revenue, higher operating costs during the hot weather and the start-up costs of a new sightseeing service. 


Stagecoach are disappointed with performance on current year tenders for Transport for London contracts, which will result in an increase in the rate of revenue decline later on in the year. Nevertheless, they continue to see positive opportunities to improve the revenue and profitability of the Division over the longer term and they will maintain the discipline in bidding for new contracts.

North America

The like-for-like revenue decline of 3.8% for the Division includes 1.8% decline for megabus.com North America. megabus revenue per mile for the period was up 3.8%. Trading at the other businesses in North America remains in line with expectations. Like-for-like revenue at these businesses decreased by 4.7%, reflecting the benefit in the equivalent period last year from rail replacement contracts linked to train disruptions on New Jersey Transit and Long Island Rail Road.







UK Rail and Virgin Rail Group

The financial performance of the rail businesses is broadly in line with expectations with continued good profitability at both East Midlands Trains and Virgin Rail Group's West Coast Trains.

As expected, revenue growth at the East Midlands Trains franchise has been suppressed, due to the effects of both the reduced services to accommodate changes to the Thameslink network effective May 2018 and the current year re-signalling programme at Derby railway station.

Interim results

The next planned update is the announcement of the Group's interim results for the half-year ended 27 October 2018 on 5 December 2018.

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Three albums have been added to the site all from a recent weekend of events down in the South West. Two focus on the 11th Kingsbridge Bus Running Day, whilst the third illustrates a small number of buses used on a private run across Dartmoor. These can now be viewed by clicking  here  here  and  here

Thursday, 20 September 2018

Hitachi Begins Manufacture of Hull Trains New Fleet


Work to construct the first shell of Hull Trains’ new hi-tech Hitachi fleet has been completed, new pictures have unveiled.



The new trains, set to run from December 2019, form part of a £60 million investment Hull Trains is making to improve its services for customers. The operator will replace its current fleet of Class 180s with five new intercity Class 802 trains, financed by Angel Trains.

These hi-tech trains will operate using both diesel and electric traction, which means that Hull Trains customers will benefit from the East Coast Mainline’s electrified track. Hitachi has used its Japanese bullet train technology to make the trains light and aerodynamic. 



The trains speed and bi-mode capability contributes to reduced journey times and higher top speeds of 225 km/h. Customers will also benefit from 20% more seating capacity compared to current services, as well as new interiors for greater customer comfort.

Decisions have also been made to ensure the interiors are brighter, more spacious and streamlined, further adding to the positive experience that is the main focus of the Hull Trains team.

The new fleet will also be quieter and more environmentally friendly - the new trains reduce harmful emissions by up to 90% compared to other trains using the East Coast Mainline.


Louise Cheeseman, managing director of Hull Trains, said: “We’re very excited to confirm this latest development in the investment of our new fleet. Now that the body of our first Class 802 is complete, we can show passengers a first glimpse of what our new services will look like.

“These trains will really transform travel from Hull and East Yorkshire to the capital and we are delighted to see the progress made so far – the images bring the trains to life from the concepts that have been released.”

The shells of the new trains are being built at Hitachi Rail’s manufacturing plant in Kasado, Japan. The trains will then be completed at Hitachi’s site in Pistoia, Italy before being tested and shipped to the UK for use on the East Coast Mainline next year.

Louise added: “Following this investment we will be able to boast some of the most technologically advanced, fastest and most comfortable trains on the UK rail network. It is great news for our customers, who are always at the centre of our focus, and means we will provide more in terms of service, as well as potentially reduce journey times.”

REVISED DATE FOR THE DIARY - Sunday 7th October - Chesham






Wednesday, 19 September 2018

New Greater Anglia Vehicles on Test

Greater Anglia is replacing every single train with brand-new trains, which will start to come into service from summer 2019. In the meantime, people have been invited to visit five stations across the network to “step on-board” one of the new trains via a virtual reality headset. This has given people the chance to experience its brand-new trains through virtual reality, with a series of roadshows at some of its stations. 



Through the headsets, people have been able to walk onto a station platform where three of the new trains are parked – a Bombardier train and two Stadler trains.

The Bombardier trains will replace commuter trains which run to Liverpool Street from Essex, Hertfordshire, Cambridge and Ipswich. The Stadler trains will replace trains on the Intercity, Stansted Express and rural services.



Once “on board”, passengers have been able to look around and see the new seats, carpet, plug points, interior layout/d├ęcor, large picture windows and even visit the toilet. Accessibility arrangements have been on view and an opportunity to visit the “bistro” on the Intercity train and walk through the airy carriages.



 One of the completed Bombardier trains

Mike Kean, Deputy Managing Director, Greater Anglia, said: “We’re spending £1.4 billion on brand- new trains to replace every single train on our network. This major investment is going to transform rail travel in East Anglia.

“We’re really excited about this huge upgrade and we’re confident that when people experience our new trains through virtual reality they’ll be looking forward to their arrival as much as we are.”

Greater Anglia has involved customers and stakeholders, including rail user groups and accessibility groups, in deciding and finalising the design of the new trains. An online consultation saw over 1,000 people respond.


Greater Anglia has released photos showing their brand new trains on test at the Velim Rail Test Track in the Czech Republic.


 Above & below a Stadler Train on the Velim Rail
Test Track in the Czech Republic.

Stadler is building 58 new trains for Greater Anglia. However, before they are put into passenger service, they must be put through some thorough tests to make sure they are safe and are working well.

The bi-mode trains will run on regional routes in Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire and Essex, while the electric trains will replace the current Intercity and Stansted Express trains.


Once the trains are in the UK, people will see the trains around East Anglia for many months before they enter passenger service. This is to allow train crews to learn how everything works before allowing passengers onboard.



The first train is expected to enter passenger service in the middle of next year.

Jamie Burles, Managing Director of Greater Anglia, added:

“It’s really exciting to be able to see the first of our Stadler trains in action. We’re sure that these trains will transform train travel in East Anglia.

“With more seats, and all the facilities you expect on a modern train, they are definitely going to make travelling by rail a very attractive option across our region.”

Martino Celeghini, Project Manager for Stadler, said:

“Each of the 58 trains we are supplying are from the latest generation of our best-selling, highly successful FLIRT family. The FLIRT is Stadler’s flagship product, featuring low floor and level boarding for improved accessibility, passenger comfort and safety. The testing phase signifies a critical landmark in the process of making and finishing the trains, and it’s only by effective collaboration with our client that the project has been able to make such good progress.”
 

Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Sheffield Bus Survey


The views of bus passengers in Sheffield are being sought as part of an inquiry into the decline in the number of people using public transport across the country.

Sheffield MP Clive Betts, who recently said the cost of public transport was a ‘major problem’ in the city, is part of the all-party House of Commons Transport Committee.

The group of MPs have launched an inquiry into people’s experiences and expectations about bus services and Mr Betts said it was ‘important that the voices of Sheffield and South Yorkshire people’ were heard.





The committee will look at reliability, how bus services are financed and examples of best practice.


Mr Betts said: “Local media has published a number of articles, including the views of local users, operators and politicians (including myself) about bus services in recent weeks.

“Now, the all-party House of Commons Transport Committee has launched an inquiry into people’s experiences of and expectations about bus services throughout the UK. It is important that the voices of Sheffield and South Yorkshire people are heard in this consultation.

“I invite everyone who is interested in trying to improve our local bus services to contribute.”

The Joseph Rowntree Foundation (JRF) called for a redesign of the Government’s transport, housing and economic policy, after its research revealed public transport was 'holding back' low-income families from achieving a better standard of living.





Transport was consistently highlighted as a 'significant barrier' to work once the trade-off between the cost, reliability and speed of local public transport; and the prospect of low-wage, insecure work was considered, the study by researchers from the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University found.

One of its authors Ed Ferrari, director of the centre for regional economic and social research at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “The report was very much about drawing up experience of bus users in Leeds, Manchester and Glasgow because these were the case studies, many of the issues are transferable not just across north but any part of the country outside London.

"The issues are particularly problematic in cities that have been most impacted by job losses over the last 20 years and you can certainly say Sheffield has.

"One of the issues we draw attention to in the report is that in most cases, city centres have become more vibrant in terms of employment but most are high-tech jobs and these kind of workers drive.

"Most low-paid jobs are now out of city centres on industrial estates and business parks and the bus services are poor and expensive."

Announcing the inquiry, chairman of the committee Lilian Greenwood said: “There are a number of reasons for the sharp decline in bus use in England outside London over the past 25 years.

“Congestion, car ownership, an increase in online shopping, and reductions in local authority subsidies all play a part.

“Our inquiry seeks to gather evidence about the health and future of the bus market.

“We will look at operational factors including the impact of congestion and reliability. We'll be asking about the most effective models for bus companies.

“The financing of buses, investment in services and value for money and progress since the Bus Services Act 2017 in metro and non-metro areas will all come under consideration.

“Buses are a vital lifeline in many communities but with funding streams falling and fares rising, their availability and attractiveness to the travelling public is under threat.

“A successful bus market can cut congestion, reduce social isolation, help the environment and offer a variety of economic benefits. I would encourage anyone with insight into this sector to submit evidence."

To take part in the consultation visit https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/transport-committee/news-parliament-2017/health-of-bus-market-inquiry-launch-17-19.

The deadline for submissions is Monday, September 24.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Edinburgh Enviro400 Hybrids to be Converted to Conventional Power


Energy-saving hybrid buses have been withdrawn from a busy city route because Edinburgh’s hills were proving too much for them.
The fleet of 15 electric-diesel double-deckers, on Lothian Buses’ No 10 route from Western Harbour to Bonaly and Torphin, were recently withdrawn and replaced by diesel buses.

Sources in the company say the hybrid buses were having “battery issues” with the “hilly” route and most are now being retrofitted with diesel engines. The battery packs are expensive to replace so it is more cost effective to convert them to conventional diesel power.



 The hybrids were launched in 2011

The buses, the first hybrid double-decker fleet to operate in Scotland, were launched at Holyrood in 2011 by the then Transport Minister Keith Brown.

The fleet cost £5 million, of which £1m was funded by the Scottish Government’s Green Bus Fund and they were said to cut carbon emissions by 30 per cent.






The hybrid electric buses are driven by battery powered motors which are charged by a conventional internal combustion engine system. The batteries are also topped up by means of regenerative braking. When the brakes are applied energy is collected which is then re-used via the battery drive. The aim is to achieve better fuel economy and performance than a conventional vehicle. The models used in Edinburgh were Enviro 400H diesel-electric buses, manufactured by Falkirk-based Alexander Dennis.




 Route 10 is now being served by conventional diesel buses

In the first  year after introducing the Alexander-Dennis Enviro 400 hybrid double-decker electric-diesel buses, Lothian Buses said its hybrid buses had saved over 600 tonnes in CO2 emissions but also an estimated £200,000 in running costs.

Route 10 is now being served by conventional diesel buses.

Lothian Buses said the buses now operating on the No 10 route were the same age as the previous ones – and although they were diesel, their engines met higher pollution standards.

A spokeswoman said more than 76 per cent of their fleet is Euro 5 standard or higher with a mix of diesel, hybrid diesel and pure electric, including an investment in 99 additional hybrid diesel vehicles purchased since 2011.


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A small but perfectly formed event with pictures kindly supplied by Russell Young can now be viewed by clicking  here

Sunday, 16 September 2018

Arriva Trains Wales

Backlash over lost wallet return charge


A rail firm is changing its policy following a backlash after a passenger was charged 10% of the cash found in his lost wallet for its return.
Adam Howells had to pay £8.60 commission - as well as a £2 administration fee - to have his wallet returned after he left it on a train.
Arriva Trains Wales said it would return the commission to him and change its policy immediately.
It comes after the fee was described as "outrageous" on social media.
The rail operator initially said its lost property charges were in line with other rail operators but a further statement issued on Friday said it was taking action following "feedback".
Mr Howells, 28, who left his wallet on a journey from Cardiff to Lydney in August, said: "I received a letter stating they had found my wallet and there would be a £2 release fee.
"It was only when I picked it up that they told me the money had been removed, put in their till and they would take 10%.



"I understand there's a set release fee but it's odd why there's a different charge if you have more money.
"A wallet with £2 inside and a wallet with £100 go through the same process.
"I think people are shocked by their [train operators'] policy."

Arriva Trains Wales said: "Our customers' feedback is really important to us and, following recent feedback on this issue, we will now be changing our policy with immediate effect.
"In this instance we are happy to refund the percentage that was charged to the customer who brought this to our attention.
"We are happy to begin the process of reviewing the Lost Property policy with customer groups and rail industry regulatory bodies.
"Tens of thousands of items are lost on the railway network every year.
"At Arriva Trains Wales, we charge the minimum amount possible and have done since the franchise began.
"In addition any unclaimed items that we receive are donated to charity or are recycled appropriately."
The company faced criticism on social media with many rail users unaware of the charges.

Lost property charges


Provided by Arriva Trains Wales
  • In addition to any courier or postal service fee, a lost property release fee will also be payable, varied depending on an item.
  • 10% of any cash recovered (Minimum of £2 up to a Maximum of £10)
  • Laptops £25
  • Camcorders £25
  • Mobile Phones £10
  • Small Bags £2
  • Rucksacks £3
  • Suitcases £3
  • Walking Sticks £2
  • Watches £3
  • Bracelets £3
  • Pushchairs £3
  • Bikes £3
  • Cycle Helmets £3
  • Skateboards £3
If a courier is requested to collect any item lost property charges will apply, as well as any courier fee (which has to be arranged independently).

Saturday, 15 September 2018

New route to Luton Airport given clearance for take off

Italian flair links London to the air

 


Italian flair links London to the air

Young Italian-born entrepreneur, Tazio Puri Negri, is setting up a shuttlebus service between north London and Luton Airport.
The operation, entitled BlueBus, was founded by Tazio and business partner, Joan Rodes. Work on setting the service up took place in December 2017. Tazio said: “I realised there was no really comfortable, direct way to the airport from London. And the taxi is super-expensive.”
The operation is due to go live in October and, staying true to his Italian roots, Tazio chose Fiat to lease the vehicls. Iveco Daily minibuses are to be used on the service: “On big buses, people don’t feel so comfortable,” said Tazio. “These are great minibus shuttles we have and they will drop you off as near to your home as we can.”
An Uber-style app is used by passengers to book the transport, matching customers to the closest pick-up point. All payments are made through the app, no cash is handled aboard the vehicles. The fare starts from £7.99. Tazio said: “We want it to be high quality, but accessible to all.”
Tazio has previous business experience working in the beauty and finance industries. The 25-year-old has chosen a specially designed uniform for BlueBus drivers, which is inspired by WWII aviation suits.
In setting up the operation, the most challenging thing for Tazio was gaining the licensing required. The plan is to expand the operation to other airports in the vicinity of the capital, including Stansted. Tazio said: “I’m very excited. It’s been a lot of hard work, but it is coming together slowly.”

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Keeping the wheels on the ground and staying in London, the latest album focuses on that colourful period during the 1980s and 90s, when there were a variety of colourful liveries around on the LRT route network. The pictures can now be viewed by clicking  here

Friday, 14 September 2018

Glider Launched in Belfast


Following the official launch event for the new Belfast Rapid Transit Glider service, passenger services began on Monday 3rd September using the new Van Hool Exquicity vehicles.



The Department for Infrastructure has invested £90 million in the new innovative mode of travel, which will encourage people to use public transport.

Speaking at the launch event at Belfast City Hall, David Sterling, Head of the Northern Ireland Civil Service said: “The Belfast Rapid Transit Glider service is all about customers and connectivity. It offers an enhanced customer experience and a joined up service.

“The current patterns of transport and our dependency on the private car are simply not sustainable. Working together we can reduce emissions and congestion levels. That’s why we have a very clear commitment in our Outcomes Delivery Plan to increase the percentage of journeys we make by public transport, walking and cycling.

“The new Glider service will offer quick, modern and efficient access into and across the city. It will also improve the city’s image and help to open up new development opportunities along its routes, linking and regenerating communities and transforming neighbourhoods.”





Glider offers a modern, high-capacity and high-frequency rapid transit service which integrates into the existing Translink bus and rail network. It also marks the first stage in delivering Translink’s new Future Ticketing System with off-board ticketing – another first for Northern Ireland.

Chris Conway, Translink Group Chief Executive, said: “We’re transforming local public transport, providing modern, efficient services, vital for our economy to prosper, for social inclusion and the environment. With a record 81 million passenger journeys delivered last year, the highest in 20 years, Glider is a further significant step towards making public transport your first choice for travel in Northern Ireland.

“Glider is the new face of public transport in Belfast. The Eco Hybrid vehicles will help improve air quality in the city and can each carry up to 105 passengers, offering convenient features like free Wi-Fi and USB charging facilities. The new off-board ticketing system will facilitate faster journeys and offer the same excellent value tickets as Metro.

“Today marks the culmination of years of research, planning and development and I’d like to thank the Department for Infrastructure for the leadership necessary to deliver this major project, also Belfast City Council and the many stakeholders who have worked with us to deliver Glider for the City of Belfast.

“I’d like to pay tribute to everyone for your interest, enthusiasm, patience and support. We now look forward to welcoming all our customers on board their new Glider service from Monday,” said Chris.

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Deirdre Hargey, said: “The introduction of the Glider is good news for Belfast and for Belfast City Council – it will help us as we work to achieve the aims of our Belfast Agenda the long-term development plan for the city.

“By 2035, our council aims to increase the number of residents in Belfast by 70,000, and create 50,000 more jobs. Fast, efficient public transport is vital to the success of the Belfast Agenda ensuring people can move freely and easily across the city. It is also essential in helping to attract companies to invest in Belfast so we are delighted to see that the service is ready to go live,” added the Lord Mayor.

Following the event key stakeholders involved in the major transformational project stepped on board Glider for special ceremonial journeys along the cross-city route that travels between east and west Belfast, linking into Titanic Quarter via the city centre.

Glider customers are encouraged to pick up a ‘Guide to Glide’ and service timetable online, in-station or from the Glider teams helping customers at halts during the first week of service. For more information on Glider visit www.translink.co.uk/gliderbelfast/ and follow @Translink_NI #GliderBelfast.


Glider facts

They are 59ft (18m) long and have three doors
They can carry 105 passengers
The service will operate every seven to eight minutes throughout the working day
More than 100 Glider halts have been installed
There are 30 vehicles servicing the route with free onboard wifi and USB charging facilities

Thursday, 13 September 2018

32 New Enviro's for Southampton Unilink



A MULTI-MILLION pound fleet of new low emission buses will be taking to the streets of Southampton on 19th September in a bid to help clean up pollution.

Unilink, which is operated by Bluestar, will welcome 32 brand new buses after investing £7 million in order to bring the firm up to speed with the new clean air zone restrictions.

Each of the Alexander Dennis E400 MMC vehicles has a smart new look and is fitted with the latest Euro 6 low emission engines.

The investment comes as Southampton City Council announced it was reviewing its clean air policy after being asked by the government to assess pollution in the area.
The city council has considered charging vehicles which do not adhere to clean air policies £100-a-day to enter the city.

However, the new buses will be within the regulation, dodging any potential fee to drive through Southampton.
Andrew Wickham, managing director of  Go-Ahead owned Bluestar, said the buses would comply with Southampton’s Clean Air Zone targets, which are being introduced in 2019.

He added: “We’re very proud to be operating this new fleet on behalf of the University of Southampton and we hope those who travel with us will agree that they offer a superior level of comfort.

“The aim is to make sustainable transport a more attractive proposition, in order to entice people out of their cars. One full double decker bus can take up to 75 cars off the road - and this investment is a huge step in that direction, as there will now be 32 double deck vehicles in the Unilink fleet.”

The buses will have glass roofs, creating more light for passengers travelling upstairs, as well as on-board technology like free WiFi USB charging points and contactless payment facilities.

The fleet will be launched on September 19 and will be attended by representatives from local councils and from businesses across the region.

University of Southampton transport manager, Adam Tewkesbury said: “Unilink has been a real success for the university.

“They will offer additional comfort for every passenger travelling on our services - and they will also carry the latest low-emission engines, making them greener than ever.”

Councillor Jacqui Rayment, deputy leader and cabinet member for transport and public realm at the city council, said: “One of Southampton City Council’s key visions for the future of the city’s transport is to make Southampton a space where people can travel around easily on high quality public transport vehicles.

“The council is therefore delighted to see the continuing investment that Go South Coast are making in delivering new vehicles for the Unilink bus services across the city.”



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A second small helping from the Reshaping Plan event held recently at the Epping & Ongar Railway with pictures kindly supplied by various photographers. These capture some extra vehicles that attended including some fine Green Line coaches. All can now be viewed by clicking  here

 

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

ScotRail 385's Launched on North Berwick Route






Further sets of the new ScotRail Hitachi Class 385 units have become available, allowing the new trains to be introduced onto the North Berwick and Dunbar route.
As many as 15 services will operate throughout the week, with a further 12 on Saturdays. The new electric six-carriage trains were introduced on Monday, 10 September.
  The new trains have been delayed due to the need to re-design the curved windscreens
which were causing reflections
The trains are part of ScotRail’s £475 million rolling stock investment, following the £858 million electrification of the line between Edinburgh and Glasgow by Network Rail. Some of the new fleet are already operating between Edinburgh and Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High.
It’s the latest in a range of improvements to services in East Lothian, with many of the trains on the route already operating with six carriages, and the majority of peak-time trains expected to run with this increased capacity by the end of the year. Further class 385 trains are due to be introduced on the North Berwick line before the end of the year.



ScotRail's Chief Operating Officer Angus Thom said:
“I am delighted that we are able to introduce another brand new Hitachi class 385 train, this time to the North Berwick route. We know that our customers will really notice the difference.
“This is another step forward for ScotRail as we continue our commitment to building the best railway Scotland has ever had.
“The introduction of these trains will benefit customers all across the country, as they will allow us to move existing trains on this route out across the network. This will help us to deliver faster journeys, more seats, and better services for our customers.”

Transport Scotland’s Director of Rail Bill Reeve said:
“This latest introduction of the class 385 fleet brings the benefits of our new electric trains to North Berwick and Dunbar services and is just the start of delivering more seats across peak services and improved facilities to passengers along this route.
“This is all part of an ongoing Scottish Government commitment to ensuring Scotland’s railways are a popular choice and demonstrates the real benefits of our extensive programme of electrification. Work continues to deliver the remainder of the fleet which, once in service, will increase overall seating capacity by more than 23% across the Scottish network.”

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Ryanair in Essex expansion



New London Southend Base to Open in Summer 2019 

Ryanair recently announced it will open a new base at London Southend, from April 2019, with 3 based aircraft (an investment of $300m) and 13 new routes to 8 countries, including those with cities such as Alicante, Barcelona Reus, Bilbao, Brest, Corfu, Cluj, Dublin, Faro, Kosice, Malaga, Milan Bergamo, Palma and Venice, within their boundaries, which will deliver 1m guests annually at London Southend Airport.

Ryanair’s new S2019 London Southend base will deliver:

– 3 based aircraft ($300m investment)

– 13 new routes: Alicante (5 wkly), Barcelona Reus (2 wkly), Bilbao (4 wkly), Brest (2 wkly), Corfu (2 wkly), Cluj (3 wkly), Dublin (2 daily), Faro (5 wkly), Kosice (3 wkly), Malaga (5 wkly), Milan Bergamo (4 wkly), Palma (4 wkly) & Venice (4 wkly)

– Over 55 weekly flights

– 1 million guests p.a.

– 750 “on-site” jobs p.a.



Ryanair’s Chief Commercial Officer, David O’Brien said:
“We are pleased to add London Southend Airport to our UK base network. Ryanair guests travelling to and from London and the Essex area can now enjoy low fares on a choice of 13 routes through London Southend’s exceptionally passenger friendly terminal.

Southend Airport’s train station will deliver direct services from the terminal to London Liverpool St and also the new Crossrail service (opening in 2019), making the airport even more accessible from all parts of London.

To celebrate we are releasing seats for sale on these new routes from £24.99 for travel in April and May 2019. This offer is available for booking until midnight on Friday (15 June). Since these amazing low fares will be snapped up quickly, customers should log onto www.ryanair.com and avoid missing out.”

Warwick Brady, CEO of Stobart Group said:
“We are delighted to welcome Ryanair and its guests to London Southend in S2019. We have a clear and focused strategy to grow our airport to welcome over 5m passengers a year by 2022. This news will help us achieve that aim, and Ryanair will be a valuable partner to Stobart Group in developing London Southend airport with 13 routes and 6 new destinations, allowing us to play a key role in solving London’s capacity crisis. We look forward to delivering a great service to Ryanair guests to ensure we support the extraordinary growth of Ryanair operations out of London.”


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From up in the air to down on the ground and from one end of Essex to another. The Epping Ongar Railway recently celebrated 50-years since London Transport commenced its major Reshaping Plan of the London bus route network. Keith Valla has kindly supplied a flavour of the day with a set of pictures, which can now be viewed in an album by clicking  here 

Monday, 10 September 2018

£500m Leeds Railway Station Development

Major plans to develop the South Bank in Leeds city centre have been formally adopted by Leeds City Council, paving the way for a £500m renovation of the Railway Station in the city.
The South Bank regeneration, ambitious plans which aims to double the size and economic impact of Leeds city centre by delivering 35,000 jobs and 8,000 new homes, has now been approved by the City Council.
Amongst the plans is a £500m cost of transforming Leeds Railway Station, as well as a new city park that will be part of the major development plans which will stretch 253 hectares across Leeds city centre.
It is hoped the renovation to Leeds Station will create a transport hub that will accommodate HS2 and Northern Powerhouse Rail in the coming years. The integrated station will aim to be “one of the most used and important transport interchanges in the entire country,” according to the proposal’s planning framework.
The framework added: “Leeds council is now part of the team delivering an integrated long term-plan and design solution for Leeds Station. The solution seeks to integrate HS2, Northern Powerhouse Rail, the TransPennine and Northern franchise commitments, capacity improvements to the existing network, and improved concourse areas and interfaces with surrounding streets and public realm.
“The Leeds HS2 Station will act as a catalyst for development of the area around the new station and will be a gateway for the entire region and nation,” the framework noted.
The regeneration framework also said the station will be able to handle the massive influx of passenger passing through the city: it is predicted that Leeds Station will be busier than London Gatwick Airport currently is, with a 143% passenger growth forecast. Not only this, but the HS2 connection to regions in Leeds, Sheffield, Nottingham, and Birmingham will link into an economic zone comprising of over 10 million people.

Cllr Richard Lewis, Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport, and planning, said: “The shared vision for the South Bank is for it to be a place not only for people to live, learn, work, create and spend time but also for it to be a leading economic driver for Leeds and beyond and a place of global significance for business and investors.
“This Supplementary Planning Document sets down key elements to be followed when making all major planning decisions for the area, so together with the station masterplan this step is an important one to help ensure the vision is realised for the benefit of everyone in Leeds and the wider region.”

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A small but perfectly formed bus running day was organised by National Express West Midlands and operated on the 1st September. This was to mark an extension of route 10A to/from Lichfield and was run with a mixture of modern and vintage buses pertinent to the area. A set of pictures have kindly been supplied by David Heath, Stephen Whiteley and Russell Young, which can now be viewed by clicking  here

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Go-Ahead Results


"Results are ahead of expectations"


Full year results for the year ended 30 June 2018 



Business overview

Good progress made in all three strategic pillars: protect and grow the core; win new bus and rail contracts; prepare for the future of transport


Overall results ahead of expectations


Bus operating profit pre-exceptional items at £91.4m (2017: £90.7m); regional bus achieved highest ever passenger satisfaction score (91%)


Rail operating profit at £44.5m (2017: £59.9m), due in part to the expiry of the London Midland franchise in December 2017


GTR impacted by industry implementation of May timetable change; reliability significantly improved since subsequent July timetable amendment


Southeastern rail franchise extended to 1 April 2019; shortlisted for the replacement franchise


Further progress towards the international target; won second bus contract in Ireland and fourth rail contract in Germany


Successfully launched UK’s largest demand responsive bus transport service
Maintained full year dividend of 102.08p (2017: 102.08p)


David Brown, Group Chief Executive, commented:

“I’m pleased to report full year results that are ahead of our expectations. Our bus operations performed resiliently with profits slightly up on last year despite a challenging market environment. Rail profits fell partly due to the expiry of the London Midland franchise in December, but one-off disposal gains at the end of the franchise and some cost improvement benefits at Southeastern led to a better performance than originally expected.


“Our regional bus business received customer satisfaction levels of 91%, the highest ever recorded in the sector. Our London bus business also improved its operational performance with punctuality levels 12.5% better than last year. In rail, the timetable change in May was the largest in decades and will deliver substantial customer benefits. In Southern, the timetable change supported continuing improvement, with services now operating at the highest level of reliability since before the start of the current franchise.






“In Thameslink and Great Northern, collective industry failures over the timetable change resulted in a period of service performance which was severely below our expectations and those of our customers. We are sorry for the significant disruption that the change caused to our passengers and are working very hard with the rest of the industry to improve the service. The interim timetable that has been in place since mid-July is providing a much improved train service in terms of both reliability and punctuality. More services will be introduced over the coming months.




“Our international strategy has progressed well with two further contract successes – a second bus contract in Ireland and a fourth rail contract in Germany. Annualised revenue from the seven international contracts secured to date is now around £250m, and there is a good pipeline of upcoming opportunities in our target markets. We remain on track to meet our target of generating 15% to 20% of Group operating profit from international operations by 2022.

“As we look ahead, we recognise that future transport needs of customers and society are changing, and we are actively pursuing initiatives to further benefit our customers. Projects include the launch of the UK’s largest demand responsive bus transport trial of high-quality minibuses in Oxford, working with logistics partners on utilising our spare depot capacity, environmentally friendly car sharing schemes, developing Mobility as a Service apps for end-to-end journeys, and launching a business accelerator programme for start-up and scale-up businesses looking to shape the future of transport.

“Go-Ahead is one of the UK’s largest providers of public transport and we have a crucial role in building a thriving economy, connecting people and communities, reducing congestion and improving air quality. We are focused on doing business in the right way and strive to deliver value for all our stakeholders – great services for our customers; an attractive workplace for our people; sustainable returns for our shareholders; effective partnerships with government and suppliers; and connecting communities.

Outlook

“For the Group overall, we expect to deliver a robust performance in 2018/19, taking into account the expiry of the London Midland franchise last year which contributed positively for the first six months of 2017/18. We expect free cash flow generation to be strong, resulting in a further reduction in net debt excluding restricted rail cash.

“Looking forward, we remain confident that we are in a good position to deliver long term value for all our stakeholders and deliver our vision of a world where every journey is taken care of.”


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A second set of pictures from the Derby Railway Station blockade during July and August, has now been added to the albums. This again illustrates the northern section of the Rail Replacement Service as Stagecoach tri-axles from around the group plied their way along the A61 from between Chesterfield and Derby railway stations. These can now be viewed by clicking  here