Saturday, 18 November 2017

£4m Investment in New Merseyside buses

Bus giant Stagecoach says it is investing £4m in new Merseyside buses – including more Gold buses to Wirral with hand-stitched leather seats.
Stagecoach is adding 18 new buses to its fleet in Merseyside, Cheshire, and South Lancashire.

Eleven of those buses will operate on the X2 route from Liverpool to Preston via Southport, while the remaining seven “Gold” buses are now running services between Liverpool and Heswall.
The X2 buses will include table seats with USB ports where people can charge phones and other devices.
The Gold buses are based at Stagecoach’s Birkenhead depot and operate on the 471 and 472 routes.
Pictured on one of the new Stagecoach buses are, from left, Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram, Rob Jones of Stagecoach and Merseytravel's Cllr Liam Robinson 

Rob Jones, managing director of Stagecoach Merseyside and South Lancashire, said: “Stagecoach is committed to continually investing in our fleet in the Liverpool city region – ensuring we deliver sustainable, comfortable, high-specification vehicles to our customers; providing them with a first-class experience.
“The new buses being introduced on the X2 route are a first for the business and we’re delighted to be launching them. We have worked closely with the design and engineering teams to incorporate a range of new features, which will make the passenger experience even more pleasant and comfortable. We’re expecting the table seats to be a real hit, both with commuters who want to work on the go and with families or friends who want to sit together socially as a group.
“The new features will also enable people to use their time on the bus more productively, with LED reading lights, tables and free on-board Wi-Fi making it easier than ever to stay connected or, particularly with the dark mornings and nights as we head into winter, just relax and read on their journey.
“I am delighted that we are also growing our Gold bus outreach in the region, adding to existing Gold buses that currently run between Liverpool and Chester.”
Stagecoach Bus is one of the UK’s major employers, supporting around 24,000 jobs across the UK and 1,209 jobs in Merseyside and South Lancashire. Over 200 people have completed apprenticeships with Stagecoach since 2004 and the company currently employs around 150 apprentices. All Stagecoach vehicles are fitted with eco-driving systems which lower emissions and the company has shown the biggest commitment to using 100 per cent biofuel of any UK bus operator.
Stagecoach is part of Liverpool City Region’s Bus Alliance, a partnership between Liverpool’s biggest bus operators and Merseytravel. The Alliance is focussed on quality of vehicles and customer service, value for money journeys and straightforward travel from simple fare structures to easy to understand journey planning and a clear, simple bus network.

Friday, 17 November 2017

FirstGroup Half-yearly results for the six months to 30 September 2017



Commenting on the results, Chief Executive Tim O'Toole said: "The overall trading performance and significantly increased free cash generation of the Group in the first half was consistent with the plans we outlined at the start of the financial year. 
Solid performances from most of our businesses are partially obscured by the impact of the recent severe hurricane on our operations in Puerto Rico. 


In the second half we will benefit from our normal seasonal bias, our ongoing focus on cost efficiencies and from additional business which commenced in the period, including the South Western Railway franchise. We expect to make further progress and deliver substantial free cash generation for the year as a whole."





Operating and financial review Group revenue in the first half increased by 8.1% reflecting the impact of First Rail’s new SWR franchise and translation of US dollar-based businesses into sterling at more favourable rates than the prior period. Group revenue increased by 0.9% in constant currency and after adjusting for the new SWR franchise, with revenue growth on this basis in all divisions except First Student, where pricing strategy continues to result in a smaller but higher returning portfolio of contracts. 


Group adjusted operating profit in the first half increased modestly to £89.4m (H1 2016: £89.0m), with growth, ongoing cost efficiencies and favourable currency translation offset by the impact of the recent severe hurricanes, particularly for First Transit in Puerto Rico, fewer First Student operating days in the first half as expected and the initial impact of the SWR franchise, which commenced during the Waterloo platform upgrade in late August.
Adjusted profit attributable to ordinary shareholders was £22.4m (H1 2016: £16.3m) with higher adjusted profit before tax and a loss attributable to non-controlling interest due to the start of the SWR franchise partly offset by a higher effective tax rate of 30.0% (H1 2016: 25.1%).


Tim O'Toole further commented
"Our overall trading performance and free cash generation in the first half was consistent with the plans we outlined at the start of the financial year, with solid performances from most of our businesses partially obscured by the impact of the recent severe hurricanes, particularly on our operations in Puerto Rico. First Bus delivered encouraging like-for-like passenger revenue growth overall in the period, though industry conditions remain uncertain. Margin in the period mainly benefitted from our systematic programme of management actions to maximise patronage, increase efficiency and reduce cost, including the recent closure of three depots. We anticipate an acceleration of efficiencies and savings in the second half, as we focus our investment only on those local markets where our stakeholders recognise the value to the community of successful bus services, and where our ability to generate sustainable value is strongest.
First Rail revenues increased significantly, reflecting the inclusion of the South Western Railway franchise for the first time as well as passenger revenue growth in our pre-existing businesses. Our plans for each of our franchises are based on improving the experiences of our passengers through fleet upgrades, timetable improvements and performance enhancements, though some of these are reliant on infrastructure upgrades managed by our industry partners, particularly in GWR, which are progressing at a slower pace than originally envisaged.
In the second half we will benefit from our normal seasonal bias, our ongoing focus on cost efficiencies and from additional business which commenced in the period. Notwithstanding some of the challenges faced in the first half, we expect to make further progress over the full year, while our cash performance so far affirms our confidence in generating substantial free cash flow for the year as a whole.


Last Thursday 10th November marked one year since the fatal derailment of a tram we operate on behalf of Transport for London in Croydon, a tragedy which continues to weigh heavily on us. We continue to provide our full support to the ongoing investigations into the incident, as it is absolutely essential that the reasons for the derailment are established.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Class 700's Introduced on Great Northern Routes

Commuters between Peterborough and London are now able to travel directly to St Pancras station on new trains which will also open up links to Gatwick Airport.

The new Class 700 Thameslink trains give passengers the latest Tube updates and let them know where there is space on the train.
One of the new trains
The two new trains hit the tracks on Monday (November 6).
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) engineering director Gerry McFadden said: “These first new Thameslink trains on the Great Northern route are a shape of things to come and feature the latest in technology.
“Their introduction is part of a broader fleet modernisation programme that has seen most of our older trains withdrawn and new trains introduced to Cambridge, Peterborough and King’s Lynn. This will continue into next year with new trains on the Moorgate line.
“At GTR we’re modernising the railway and starting in May we’ll be giving passengers longer trains and more services to provide vital added seats on a route that has seen a 70 per cent increase in passenger numbers in just 14 years.
“This increase in capacity, coupled with trains to new central London stations, Crossrail and Gatwick Airport, will transform the lives of thousands.”
For now, the trains will continue to run on two peak hour services to and from King’s Cross, but from May 2018 they and many others operating to Peterborough and Cambridge will start to operate through new tunnels to St Pancras.
This will give passengers quicker, direct journeys to new central London stations and Gatwick Airport, with thousands more seats in the peak times.
Inside one of the new trains
GTR is introducing the Siemens-built trains as it delivers its modernisation upgrade through the government-sponsored Thameslink Programme.
GTR is replacing 75 per cent of the fleet on Great Northern bringing in modern, air-conditioned trains. The new Thameslink trains are some of those trains that GTR is replacing.
Improvements include
• Information systems which give passengers London Tube updates and tell them where to find more space on the train
• Wider doors and aisles to make getting on and off easier and quicker
• Fully accessible toilets for disabled passengers and those with pushchairs or needing baby changing facilities
• Spaces for full sized bikes in the off-peak; storage for fold-up bikes in the peak
From May next year this train and others like it will start to run through new tunnels to join the cross-London Thameslink route to give passengers:
  • new direct services to the following central London stations:
  • St Pancras International
  • Farringdon (connections with Crossrail’s Elizabeth Line to Heathrow and Canary Wharf from December 2018)
  • City Thameslink (for the City)
  • London Blackfriars (for the City, the South Bank, Tate Modern and Globe Theatre)
  • London Bridge (for connections to Kent and south London)
  • New links to Gatwick Airport
  • A quicker and more efficient travel experience, saving passengers’ time by reducing the need to use the Tube

Rail minister Paul Maynard said: “Improving rail services is a priority for the government, which is why we are making the biggest investment in the network since Victorian times - including £7 billion expanding the Thameslink network which will transform north-south travel across London and the south east.
“This new fleet of modern trains will provide more space and comfort for passengers and greater access for disabled passengers, while cutting-edge information systems will inform passengers where there are unused seats on the train.”
Railfuture East Anglia branch chairman Nick Dibben said: “Many commuters will have seen these new trains in the sidings in recent months so will be looking forward to trying them out in real life.
“The new information screens will help people find a seat and I look forward to the new cross London services and extra seating that will be provided from next May.”
Vernon Barker, managing director for Rail Systems at Siemens, said: “The Class 700 trains are some of the most advanced trains operating in the UK and are increasingly delivering more comfortable and reliable journeys in and out of London.
“With the launch of these additional routes more passengers will be able to experience the full benefits of these modern and innovative trains.”

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Chariots of Hire

Ford gears up to bring its Chariot commuter shuttle service to London




Ford's commuter shuttle bus network could soon be coming to the capital.
The firm's Chariot service uses a fleet of Ford 15-seater transit vans to ferry passengers along popular routes in the likes of San Francisco and Austin, Texas, as well as New York. It looks to supplement public transit bus routes and local trains with commuter routes that are not as well served by the existing options.
And according to a job advertisement online, Chariot is on the hunt for a general manager in "our first international location, London" to "help us revolutionise transit".

Ford, which bought ride-sharing startup Chariot in September last year, confirmed the plans today, saying in a statement:
We continue to explore additional markets as part of our expansion plans, with London being one of them. We have applied for the relevant licences to operate a commuter microtransit service in London that would complement the existing public transport system.
We are now awaiting a response from TfL regarding our applications for London Service Permits.
Passengers can check the app to find commuter routes near them, reserve a seat, and also use the app to pay with their smartphones.
Former Ford boss Mark Fields had said in January that the service would be expanded to eight new cities this year, including one outside the US.
And Chariot could make for an interesting new challenger in the capital amid the likes of ride-hailing apps like Uber, and existing taxi and minicab firms.
New entrants though, have expressed frustration at delays to obtaining permission to operate in the capital.
Ride-hailing challenger Via said in September it had been waiting months for a licence from TfL.
The transport body has said "rigorous regulations" must be met, and its regulation of London's taxi and private hire trades is designed to ensure passenger safety.
Uber meanwhile, is in the midst of a battle to hold onto its licence in London, after TfL decided not to renew it in September, saying Uber was "not fit and proper to hold a private hire operator licence".
Talks have since been held in an effort to address the concerns, and last month, Uber launched its appeal against the loss of the London licence. The tech giant has said it hopes to continue having "constructive discussions with Transport for London", which could resolve the situation without the need to go to court.
Uber's drivers in the capital can continue to operate there until the appeals process is exhausted though, which could take months, or even years.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Ten Years of East Midland Trains

Stagecoach is marking 10 successful years of running train services at its East Midlands Trains franchise.
The 11th November marked 10 years since the launch of the first East Midlands Trains service, which was the 06.41 Derby to St Pancras.


Over 235 million passenger journeys have been made on East Midlands Trains services, helping to connect people with jobs, housing and leisure opportunities as well as bringing business closer to their customers and helping local communities thrive.
Customers have benefitted from travel on the UK’s most punctual long distance services, a record held by East Midlands Trains for more than eight years of its franchise.
Customers have also seen millions of pounds worth of investment with over £12million invested in station improvements such as better toilets and waiting facilities as well as major station programmes including the multi-million pound transformation of Nottingham, carried out in partnership with Nottingham City Council and Network Rail. In addition, 2,500 new cycle spaces and 1,000 extra car parking spaces have been installed across the network.
Well over £30million has been spent on refurbishing all 94 trains in the fleet and the Class 158 trains operating on the local routes are in the process of being refurbished again with extra features such as at-seat USB points.

Three new stations have opened at East Midlands Parkway, Corby and most recently, Ilkeston, where passenger numbers are already higher than forecast since its opening in April this year.
Additional services have been launched on many routes, with a brand new weekday and weekend timetable on the Nottingham to Lincoln route and the launch of an extra train each hour between Sheffield and London.
A member of the East Midlands Trains team is now available for customers to talk to around the clock with the launch of the 24/7 Customer Contact Centre, which links through to every station on the network via a specially installed help-point.
East Midlands Trains employs over 2,000 people working in a variety of customer-facing and support roles, and as one of the biggest employers in the region, has recently been named as a Top Employer by the Top Employees Institute and as one of the UK’s Best Employers for Race by Business in the Community. East Midlands Trains customers also remain happy, with the latest independent passenger survey stating that 89% of people were satisfied with their East Midlands Trains service, a 10% improvement since the start of the franchise.
Jake Kelly, Managing Director of East Midlands Trains said, “As we celebrate 10 successful years of East Midlands Trains, I’d like to pay tribute to the 2,000 plus strong team of colleagues who show a huge amount of professional commitment day-after-day, both in the good times and in more challenging circumstances.
“We’ve achieved a huge amount together over the past 10 years and delivered some fantastic improvements for customers, but as well as looking back over what we’ve done, it’s also important that we remain focused on the future. We’ll carry on running this franchise until at least 2019 and there’s still plenty of work to do before then, including the major upgrade of Derby station, and working with Network Rail to deliver the infrastructure improvements needed to improve journey times on the Midland Main Line route.
“We’ll also continue talking to the Department for Transport about the replacement of our High Speed Train fleet, as well as looking at how we can secure some extra carriages for our local routes.”
Tim Shoveller, Managing Director of Stagecoach Rail, added: “I am very proud of the huge amount of work that’s been done over the past decade to improve rail services for customers travelling with East Midlands Trains.

“As one of the biggest employers in the region, we have also invested significantly in the skills of our people at East Midlands Trains, providing opportunities such as apprenticeships and encouraging new people into the industry through our train into work programme.
“As one of the country’s biggest and most experienced rail operators, Stagecoach has developed extensive experience of running some of the UK’s most important commuter, regional and inter-city rail services which has given us unrivalled insight into the needs of all of our different customers. The improvements we have delivered on East Midlands Trains are testament to this and we will continue to work with our partners to make sure the huge investment going into the railway delivers the best future for customers, communities and our workforce.”


Monday, 13 November 2017

Salvaged in Herefordshire

Seventy-year-old bus salvaged from behind hedge

From the Herefordshire Times


The bus that was pulled from a hedge and is now on its way to being restored

A SEVENTY-year-old bus has been salvaged from behind a Herefordshire hedge and is en route to being restored by enthusiasts in South Wales.
Built back in 1947 by a Caerphilly-based company, the old double-decker, which once kept to a timetable for Rhondda Transport, had languished in a yard near Pembridge.
With the aid of a winch and airbags, the bus has been removed and towed by breakdown lorry to Barry, where Cardiff Transport Preservation Group is getting to work to return it to its former glory.
Numbered TG6311, the vehicle is described by the group as “quite a special bus and certainly a very Welsh one”.
Built on a 1933 AEC Regent chassis, a 1947 prototype Welsh Metal Industries body was added on.
This company was set up for aircraft production during the Second World War, and later made bus bodywork using a significant amount of aluminium which resulted in a resistance to corrosion.
Eventually the bus was sold and acquired for service in Herefordshire by Yeomans Motors.
Later it was converted to a caravan and sold on to a new owner near Pembridge where it had remained for 50 years.
When the old bus has been restored, it will join a prized collection looked after by the preservation group at a former bus depot in Barry.
Visitors are welcome on Saturdays between 10am – 4pm.

Sunday, 12 November 2017

Happy Birthday to London Overground

The Overground is ten - as London is poised for the service to start running all night


The East London Line - a northbound train approaches Hoxton station
The East London Line - a northbound train approaches Hoxton station TfL
The London Overground is celebrating ten years of service, marking over one billion customer journeys since it began operating.
The UK’s third biggest rail operator, affectionately dubbed the “orange line” by Londoners, serves some of the city’s best attractions, including Crystal Palace Park, the Olympic Park and the Harry Potter Studio Tour.
But as well as conveying millions of sightseers to London’s not-so-hidden gems, the Overground is also responsible for ferrying thousands of Londoners to work every day. And as one of the most reliable train services in the country, it tends to get them there on time.
Here's how the London Overground has changed over the last decade.

Expansion


The Overground has seen huge expansion since its launch in 2007, when there were just 400 trains on the line per day. In 2017, this number has increased nearly fourfold, to 1,500 per day.
And it seems Londoners, a third of whom live within walking distance of an Overground station, have never been happier with the service. Customer satisfaction is currently at 85 per cent, the highest ever level, according to Transport for London.
More and more people are opting to use the Overground: since 2007, the number of passengers has grown by 470 per cent. 189 million journeys were made on the Overground in the year 2016/17, compared to just 33 million in 2007/8.

Improvements 


The completion of the link between Dalston Junction station and the mainline track to Canonbury (TfL)
The introduction of an additional fifth carriage, walk-through trains and air-conditioning have been popular moves with customers, helping to boost capacity in recent years.
TfL has built six new Overground stations since the line first launched, opening up areas of London that were previously difficult to access like Dalston Junction, Hoxton and Imperial Wharf.
As passenger numbers increase, the Overground continues to make improvements: next year will see the launch of 45 more air-conditioned walk through trains on lines out of Liverpool Street and the upgrade of ticket machines across the network.
Meanwhile the extension of Gospel Oak to Barking line to the Barking Riverside development continues, meeting access demands for 10,800 new homes in the area by 2021. The line itself will be electrified, enabling the introduction of cleaner and more reliable trains with twice as much space for passengers.

What's next?



The new Out and about on the London Overground guide showing the best spots near the rail line (TfL)
TfL hopes the Overground will continue to expand and improve. Will Rogers, Managing Director of Arriva Rail London, which operates the London Overground on behalf of TfL, said: “Since 2007 our teams in stations and on trains have worked tirelessly to transform the service for our customers and communities.
“They have played a fundamental role in making the London Overground one of the most popular and reliable railways in the UK.
“As we celebrate 10 successful years, we look forward to delivering further improvements and working closer with the communities we serve.”
TfL’s Director of London Rail and Sponsored Services Jonathan Fox said he wants the Overground to take on even more: “We would love to bring the benefits of London Overground to more Londoners by taking on responsibility for other rail lines in London in future.”

The Night Overground


The anniversary comes as Sadiq Khan is expected to announce the launch date for the Night Overground, a 24-hour service operating Fridays and Saturdays like the Night Tube. This will first run between New Cross Gate and Dalston Junction, and will be extended to Highbury & Islington next year.

Saturday, 11 November 2017

Armistice Day - 11th November




We will remember them....................


Despite what some might purport it to be, the poppy is not a political or religious symbol. It is a message of Remembrance and Peace.


Why do we have Remembrance Day?


Remembrance Day is an opportunity to pay respect to and honour those who lost their lives serving their country. It also gives the public a chance to remember family and friends who lost their lives fighting wars. Finally, it gives people a chance to consider the cost of war.


Why do we wear poppies on Remembrance Day?


Scarlet corn poppies (popaver rhoeas) grow naturally in conditions of disturbed earth throughout Western Europe. The destruction brought by the Napoleonic wars of the early 19th Century transformed bare land into fields of blood red poppies, growing around the bodies of the fallen soldiers. In late 1914, the fields of Northern France and Flanders were again ripped open as World War One raged through Europe's heart. Once the conflict was over the poppy was one of the only plants to grow on the otherwise barren battlefields.


The significance of the poppy as a lasting memorial symbol to the fallen was realised by the Canadian surgeon John McCrae in his poem In Flanders Fields. The poppy came to represent the immeasurable sacrifice made by his comrades and quickly became a lasting memorial to those who died in World War One and later conflicts.






The poppy was adopted by The Royal British Legion as the symbol for their Poppy Appeal, in aid of those serving in the British Armed Forces, after its formation in 1921.






As the years have progressed, so has the wearing of the poppy, not only by the population but also in other ways. One impressive fashion is the overall displays applied to buses, especially in London, along with larger versions of the traditional poppy on the frontal aspects of other vehicles and modes of transport.


Today we wear the poppies and often read the poem each November in memory of those who served in war.

The poem "In Flanders Field" 
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.


Friday, 10 November 2017

Leeds - Manchester Cityzap Launch

The stunning backdrop of The Tetley centre for contemporary art and learning in Leeds provided the backdrop for a Guy Fawkes Night-themed celebration, under the title “Pride of the North” –reflecting major investment worth millions of pounds which is already making a big impact on bus travel across the region. The night blazed with colour and excitement as a fantastic fireworks display lit up the sky around a gleaming Cityzap bus, which carried its first passengers between the great Northern cities on November the 5th.
As VIP guests were treated to a spectacle to remember, they were also given a glimpse into the future of public transport in Yorkshire, shaped by Transdev’s bold five-year vision delivering investment worth millions of pounds to revolutionise travel across the region.
Among those invited to join the celebration were Dave Pearson, Director of Transport Services at West Yorkshire Combined Authority; Alison Chew, Interim Head of Bus Services at Transport for Greater Manchester; and Peter Molyneux, Strategic Road Network Director at Transport for the North.
Dave Pearson, Director of Transport Services, West Yorkshire combined Authority told guests at the event:
“We’re hearing lots about the government’s Northern Powerhouse, which for the most part is focussing on investing in rail and the long term associated infrastructure. With the Bus 18 initiative of which Transdev is part of, we’re focussing on what we can do now. How do we connect Leeds and Manchester, with more and better options? Cityzap is here now, not in 2025 – we’re already doing it today”.
The launch of the Cityzap express between Leeds and Manchester this Sunday (5 November 2017) followed the huge success of Transdev’s award-winning first Cityzap route between Leeds and York, which carried a quarter of a million passengers between the Yorkshire cities in its first 12 months on the road.
Alison Chew, Interim Head of Bus Services, Transport for Greater Manchester said:
“It’s great to see the investment represented here today. Cross boundary routes such as Cityzap are crucial to the economy and for bringing people into Greater Manchester, where 1 in 4 journeys to work are made by bus.”
Peter Molyneux, Strategic Road Network Director at Transport for the North said:
“Transport for the North welcome Transdev’s investment in Cityzap. The more that we can demonstrate that there are flexible, reliable options for travelling between our major cities, the more we can free up capacity on our road network. Cityzap represents a real alternative to driving, offering people a real opportunity to give up their cars”
PIC: Charlotte Graham
Transdev CEO Alex Hornby said: “We’re very excited about the launch of our second Cityzap route, which fulfils our vision to improve city to city connections across the North.
“We created Cityzap following extensive customer research across the UK and Europe, which revealed that customers’ view of bus travel suffered due to the perception that even though buses linked major cities, the number of stops served along the route made it difficult for the bus to compete effectively against the car and the train.

“The launch of Cityzap complements our other investments across the North this year. We’ve launched a staggering 12 new and revitalised brands across Yorkshire and Lancashire, with 44 brand new buses representing a £6.82million investment in vehicles in 2017 alone.
“We’ve just increased our booming 36 route between Leeds and Harrogate to run every 10 minutes on weekdays, adding another three luxuriously-appointed twin deck buses to the service. We’ve also introduced VAMOOZ, an entirely new idea in the UK bus industry which allows customers to choose destinations and use a dedicated app to crowdfund trips – so the more who pay, the less it costs to ride.

“And we’ve just launched a bespoke designed smartphone app, ‘Transdev Go’, which brings easy to use ticketing, live real-time bus departures and up to the minute travel updates to the palm of your hand. 
“But for us, this is just the beginning – we want to create a desire to travel, with people wanting to be seen travelling on our buses. 
“Earlier this year we set out our five year vision for the North, and committed to invest £7.1 million in dozens of new and revitalised buses – an ambitious programme filled with new ideas to create a complete upgrade in the quality of service for thousands of customers every day.
“In Harrogate, we’ll begin introducing a 100% electric, zero emissions bus fleet in 2018, powered by opportunity charging – a first in the UK.  And in York, we are converting six City Sightseeing open top buses to 100% electric power, creating the UK’s first fully zero emissions sightseeing service.
“We’ve also formed a forward-thinking partnership with the Government and local authorities to fit nitrous oxide particle-reducing exhaust after-treatment technology to more of our buses, creating one of Britain’s greenest bus fleets.”
Mr Hornby told guests that the company, which employs over 1,200 staff across six depots in Yorkshire and Lancashire, has been recognised with several national awards, including the ‘Making Buses Better’ prize at the industry-leading UK Bus Awards – and it’s in the running for more, including UK Bus Driver of the Year for York-based Cityzap driver Dale French.
He said: “As always, our people are at the very heart of all we do. We’re fortunate to have fantastic people welcoming customers onto our services every day, and their hard work plus our far-reaching investment programme is a powerful combination.
“We’re all about creating amazing journeys, and this year our customers across the North are already seeing a significant rise in quality on our branded services, developed using new ideas driven by innovative customer research. For us, the journey’s only just begun.”
The all-new Cityzap express between Leeds and Manchester started on Sunday 5th November 2017, with an amazing deal to encourage people to try the new route – for its first week, all one-way journeys was just £1.

There are also special discount fare deals for students, university staff and NHS workers – and concessionary passes will be valid for free travel throughout, subject to the usual restrictions on times of use on weekdays.
The new service whisks passengers between Leeds and Manchester city centres in as little as 75 minutes – at fares costing less than a third of the price of an anytime return on the train.
Each Cityzap bus provides First Class travel with coach leather seats, USB power points at every seat and fast and free Wi-Fi, at economy prices. The service is also expected to be popular with those making connections by bus at both ends of the route, opening up a huge range of journeys right across the North.
Full details of the new Cityzap service are available online at: http://www.cityzap.co.uk

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Hydrogen Buses for Birmingham

Cleaner, greener and cheaper hydrogen fuelled buses will soon be picking up passengers on the streets of Birmingham through a new £13.4 million pollution busting scheme.
City council bosses are set to approve the pilot project to buy 22 new zero-emission buses, costing £500,000 each, to run on key routes throughout the city.
It is the latest measure to help combat Birmingham’s lethal levels of nitrogen dioxide which leads to 900 premature deaths every year.
A small number of Hydrogen buses have 
been in operation in London for some years
The cost of the buses will come from the Office for Low Emission Vehicles (£1,474,000), the Fuel Cells and Hydrogen Joint Undertaking (£4,080,800), the Greater Birmingham and Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (£2,156,000) and the yet to be appointed bus operator will make up the rest through a lease agreement. The city council is running the pilot project.
The costs include the development of refuelling facilities, which will be set up at the new Tyseley Energy Park, as well as the buses themselves.
Expected to be brought into service by March 2019, these will be the first hydrogen fuelled buses on the roads of Birmingham and it is hoped will lead to further investment in zero-emission technology.
Hydrogen fuel cell buses are currently running in London and Aberdeen.
Cllr Lisa Trickett , Labour cabinet member responsible for air quality, said: “Air pollution is a major public health issuing affecting us all. We 
are clear that every single person in Birmingham has the right to clean air.

“While we recognise that we face a significant challenge in meeting air quality compliance standards in the city, the introduction of hydrogen fuelled buses as part of this pilot is a hugely positive step forward in supporting the work we are doing towards achieving that.”
And city transport chief Stewart Stacey added: “Public transport plays a key role in encouraging people to leave their cars at home and choose alternative methods of travelling around the city, which in turn will help reduce both congestion on our roads and the impact of vehicle emissions on the environment.


“It therefore follows that we must look at ways to make public transport more environmentally friendly too, which is why this hydrogen bus pilot is so important. If successful, this could completely change bus travel in a way that will benefit the entire city.”
The buses are just one measure being considered to cut the city's pollution levels. A clean air zone, under which high polluting commercial vans, lorries and coaches will be taxed, is being developed around the city centre .

Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Sheffield Supertram


From Sunday 28th January 2018, Supertram will introduce a revised timetable which reflects the significant changes in the volume of road traffic over the past 15 years. By working with South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), a number of changes are to be implemented to help improve reliability for passengers using the Supertram network.
The new timetable has been designed to allow slightly longer, but more realistic journey times during off-peak periods, and takes into account the greater number of vehicles on the roads. It also allows slightly more time for trams at terminus points, so that, where delays may occur, trams can return to their timetabled slot more quickly.


The exact details of the new timetable have not yet been publicly revealed (this will follow in mid-December) but Supertram have given the headline changes in a special flyer:

Monday to Friday (Blue & Yellow)
Until 0700 – trams every 20 minutes
0700-0930 – trams every 10 minutes
0930-1600 – trams every 12 minutes
1600-1900 – trams every 10 minutes
Until end of service – trams every 20 minutes

Saturday (Blue & Yellow)
Until 0900 – trams every 20 minutes
Until 1900 – trams every 12 minutes
Until end of service – trams every 20 minutes

Tuesday, 7 November 2017

SMART Ticketing Kiosks for Leeds

Leeds City Council & WYCA (West Yorkshire Combined Authority) have teamed up with Castleford-based kiosk manufacturers Cammax Limited in a bid to tackle the city’s growing congestion problem and speed up public transport in the region.

The new SMART Ticketing kiosks, which can be found at various sites across Leeds including Elland Road Park and Ride and Boar Lane in Leeds city centre, enable bus passengers to purchase tickets via contactless card payment or top up their pass in seconds, reducing queue times and speeding up journeys.
Council leaders and transport executives hope that the new machines will encourage more travellers to ditch their cars and use public transport as fears continue to grow about the impact of air pollution and increased traffic in Yorkshire’s biggest city.

The move comes as national government suggested that tolls could soon be introduced on five Leeds roads deemed the dirtiest in the city. The A58, A643, A61, A58M and M621 in Leeds are among a list of more than 80 A-roads and motorways across the UK which breach acceptable nitrogen dioxide emission levels and require anti-pollution measures.


Talking about the new machines and Park & Ride initiative, Leeds City Council’s executive board member for the economy and development, Counsellor Richard Lewis, said : “It is so simple to park up and jump on a bus as well as good value. We hope motorists will take this opportunity to leave their cars safely behind and enjoy a stress-free journey…”
Cammax Limited was first given the opportunity to supply the WYCA back in 2013, under an agreement which serves 10 transport authorities. In June this year, SMART ticketing kiosks were rolled out at the brand new Temple Green Park & Ride site, followed by Leeds city centre a month later.


Public reaction to the new technology has been positive so far and it’s likely that other big Northern cities will follow suit as pressure mounts to ease congestion and improve air quality in our towns and cities.


..

Monday, 6 November 2017

Christmas rail delays


Capital braced for chaos as major stations and routes close for 10 days


Londoners are set to face festive travel chaos as several major rail routes out of the capital shut down for repair works.
Services from major transport hubs across London will also be cancelled as millions of people prepare for a Christmas getaway.
Major lines from Paddington, London Bridge, Liverpool Street and Charing Cross will shut down completely at points during in the two weeks spanning Christmas and New Year.
Airline passengers will also face disruption as journeys to both Gatwick and Heathrow Airport will be cancelled or timetables revised.
Thameslink, Southern and Southeastern customers using London Bridge will face carnage as lines shut down from December 23rd to January 1st.


Many stations across the capital will not be served by Southeastern while Thameslink services across London will be cancelled.
Thameslink and Southeastern services will not serve Charing Cross, Waterloo East and Cannon Street for the entire 10 days.
A number of platforms at Paddington will be closed for eight days of works between December 23rd and 31st. Some services will be re-routed through Marylebone.
The station will shut completely between December 23rd and 28th.


Greater Anglia services from Liverpool Street towards Essex will not run for the 10 day period.
The Gatwick Express and the Heathrow Express face temporary closures and the West Coast Main Line from London to Glasgow is set to be severed.




Passengers travelled to Scotland will be forced to use replacement bus services between Preston and Lancashire while Virgin East Coast services to Leeds will be slashed on December 27th.
In a statement posted on their website Network Rail said: “We are making another significant investment to improve and grow the railway.
'The railway is open for business this Christmas. The vast majority of the network will be unaffected by engineering work.”

NOW SEE THE LATEST ON THE NEW FOCUS FLICKR SITE



No such delays this past weekend on the East Lancs Railway, where they held a Railcar weekend. Keith Valla has kindly provided a splendid set of pictures from the event, which are now in an album and can be viewed by clicking   here

Sunday, 5 November 2017

A time of Remembrance & the Poppy Appeal

The annual period of Remembrance and the Poppy Appeal runs from 28th October to 12th November and is being supported by a number of bus companies up and down the United Kingdom. The following illustrates a selection of the companies and how they have decorated representative buses from their respective fleets to mark the occasion.


From Arriva London

 

Buses wrapped in poppies for the 2017 'Rethink Remembrance' Poppy Appeal


 




For the past number of years, TfL has asked its major bus operators in London to support their poppy appeal, by allowing some of their buses to be wrapped in the unique designed British Legion poppy appeal wrap.
Arriva London has always been proud to support this idea, and for this year have donated two of their double-deck vehicles to the process - one from its North London operation and one from the South.





The buses, which were recently on display on the South Bank opposite the Houses of Parliament, will be seen throughout London and the City until November 12th, as a mark of respect for the sacrifices made by London’s service men and women, past and present. They will all be out and about for London Poppy Day, which will also see uniformed personnel from the forces at forty Tube stations collecting donations, whilst military bands entertain commuters at Canary Wharf.
Commuters will also be encouraged by announcements from Dame Barbara Windsor and Shane Ritchie, recorded to encourage Londoners to give as much as they can.
This year also marks the 94th year of the London Transport Old Comrades Association, who will continue the tradition of marching alongside the Armed Forces and laying a wreath at the Cenotaph in the Annual Remembrance Sunday parade on 12th November. London's bus staff were given the right to march by King George V who granted this honour to the staff of the London General Omnibus Company in 1920, in recognition of the services rendered by the men who drove buses to the front line in France and Belgium from 1914 to 1918.




From Arriva Yorkshire

Poppy buses help support Royal British Legion appeal ahead of 2017 Remembrance Day services

From The Northern Echo newspaper

Arriva North East and Yorkshire are supporting the Poppy Appeal again this year with 12 specially-designed ‘Poppy Buses’ hitting the road to mark Remembrance Day.
Each depot in the North East and Yorkshire area will have its own ‘Poppy Bus’ and they will be out and about until Monday, November 13th.
These buses will operate on popular Arriva routes and will act as a mark of respect for the sacrifices made by service men and women both past and present.
The special buses feature giant poppies and dedicated artwork supporting The Royal British Legion, on the outside and inside of the bus. These custom vehicles have been created with the support of Logoshack and Exterion Media.


The company will also be transporting service men and women to Remembrance events across the region.
Recently soldiers from Catterick Garrison were transported to Leeds Poppy Day by Arriva Yorkshire and Arriva North East will perform a similar service for soldiers to an event in Stockton on November 7th.
Danielle Neighbour, Community Fundraising Manager for the Royal British Legion said: "We are incredibly grateful to Arriva for their support of this year’s Poppy Appeal and the parades they have agreed to transport soldiers too. The Royal British Legion’s vital work is entirely dependent on the public’s generous support to help anyone currently serving in the British Armed Forces, veterans, and their families.
"The Legion uses your donations in so many ways including providing crisis grants, offering the children of Armed Forces personnel adventure breaks, researching the impact of blast injuries on the body, lobbying the government on key issues, and advising on benefits and money problems."
Nigel Featham, regional managing director for Arriva North East and Yorkshire said: “We are proud to be supporting The Royal British Legion and helping commemorate the fallen heroes and those who currently serve. We hope the Poppy Buses will once again be popular with our customers and prove to be a fitting tribute to the Armed Force Community and we would like to encourage our customers to help support this cause.”
Over the course of the two weeks, Arriva’s twelve ‘Poppy Buses’ will cover more than 42,000 miles.


Network Warrington poppy appeal buses to hit the roads


From the Warrington Guardian newspaper






Network Warrington's poppy bus
Network Warrington's poppy bus

BUS drivers will be showing their support for the Royal British Legion as 30 decorated Network Warrington vehicles are set to hit the roads.
Staff from the company are also fundraising by selling poppies in the town centre this weekend ahead of Remembrance Sunday.
Managing Director Ben Wakerley said: “One of our drivers, Vincent Hawthorn, suggested we should proactively support the Poppy Appeal and I’m pleased to see colleagues playing their part.”
He added that the company has supported the appeal for many years.


Yellows and Echo back poppy appeal

From Yellow Buses & the Bournemouth Daily Echo



The Poppy Appeal has received a donation of £300 thanks to Yellow Buses and the Daily Echo.
Royal British Legion appeal organiser Wayne Morris visited the bus company to receive the cheque.
The Carbon Stoppers initiative is run by Yellow Buses and the Echo and has handed out nearly £20,000 to charities and good causes since its launch in 2008.
Each week the Yellow Buses holds a ‘Thank You Thursday’ when every trip taken by passengers on the day contributes to a separately administered Community Chest.
Yellow Buses is also displaying poppies on its fleet and has collecting tins at its headquarters and in its office in Bournemouth square.
Fiona Harwood from Yellow Buses said: “We always support the Poppy Appeal and display poppies on our buses.
“We have a number of veterans who work for us and we always ask our drivers to pull over for a minute at 11am on November 11th where it is practicably possible.”
Wayne Morris said; “We are very grateful for the continued support of Yellow Buses and for their passengers who give so generously.”
The Royal British Legion is asking the nation to ‘Rethink Remembrance’ by recognising the sacrifices made by the armed forces, past and present.
By wearing a poppy, people aren’t just remembering the fallen, but supporting a new generation of veterans and service personnel that needs support.







Buses to proudly display the Poppy




trentbarton will show its support for the men and women who have served their country with 185 of its buses and coaches proudly wearing a poppy in the run up to Remembrance Day. To mark trentbarton’s donation of £800 to The Royal British Legion’s annual Poppy Appeal, a bus and driver met members of the Legion’s Ilkeston branch at Ilkeston Market Place.
trentbarton driver Jon Hickman represented trentbarton – Jon served in the Army from 1988 to 1993 as an infantryman, including tours of duty in Northern Ireland, the Falklands and Cyprus.
Jon, who joined trentbarton six years ago, said: “I wear a poppy every day – I have two poppy tattoos. Having a poppy on the bus means a lot to me. Remembrance Day is a sombre day but I also remember the good times I had in the Army.
Jon, who lives in Beeston and drives the skylink route, added: “Quite a few of our drivers have served, and not just in the Army but in the Navy and the RAF too. I’m proud that trentbarton supports the Legion by backing the Poppy Appeal.”
The poppies – a symbol of remembrance for more than 90 years – will be given pride of place on the front of buses on several routes:
  • red arrow
  • the mickleover
  • the villager
  • spondon flyer
  • the allestree
  • H1
  • skylink Nottingham
  • indigo
  • i4
  • mainline
  • ilkeston flyer
  • rainbow one
  • the two
  • the threes
  • the sixes
  • the nines
  • calverton connection
Brian Brown, a local community support officer for the Royal British Legion, said “The Royal British Legion is asking the nation to Rethink Remembrance by recognising the sacrifices made by the Armed Forces community, past and present.
“By wearing a poppy, you aren’t just remembering the fallen: you’re supporting a new generation of veterans and service personnel that need our support. We’re pleased that a local company, like trentbarton, which has a presence in a lot of our communities, is backing the Poppy Appeal and helping to raise awareness.”
Jordan Kemp, marketing and communications manager at trentbarton, said: “The Poppy Appeal plays a key role helping people and organisations to remember the sacrifices made by members of the British armed forces, past and present.
“The Appeal also raises substantial sums of money which The Royal British Legion puts to excellent use for members of the Armed Forces community.
“Our drivers and buses are key parts of local communities across the East Midlands, many of our team members are ex-service personnel, so trentbarton is pleased to show our support and remembrance.”

And finally from Lothian Buses in Edinburgh

This year's Poppyscotland bus has been unveiled. We are supporting the charity again this November

 



We unveiled our annual Lothian 'Poppy Bus' at the opening of this years Remembrance Garden in Princes Street Gardens.
This year’s high impact design takes a modern turn featuring a creative of cascading bright red poppies set against an all-white background. The bus will run on various routes throughout Edinburgh and the Lothians during November.
To mark the occasion, Lothian invited former service personnel who now work for the company to attend the launch.
Gordon Michie, Head of Fundraising at Poppyscotland, said:
We are delighted to once again have such extensive and visible support from Lothian Buses.  The bus wrap is stunning and it is extremely heartening to see every single bus in and around Edinburgh displaying poppies.  As the fleet travels many miles over the coming fortnight, we hope it will encourage and inspire the public to go the #ExtraMile in their support of this year’s Scottish Poppy Appeal.
As well as the specially created ‘Poppy Bus’, each vehicle in the Lothian fleet, including East Coast Buses, Lothian Country and Edinburgh Bus Tours, will be decorated with an individual poppy vinyl to show our partnership with Poppyscotland and support of the campaign. We will also fundraise internally with poppies and pins and staff will be able to place wooden crosses in the Lothian area of the Remembrance Garden.
Gaynor Marshall, Lothians Communication Director said:
Edinburgh and the Lothians have a long-standing special relationship with our armed forces and Lothian has many former military personnel working across our business in a range of different roles.
Poppyscotland's annual fundraising appeal is very close to our hearts and is important to our staff and to our customers, which is why we make a particular effort every year to recognise and honour the armed forces. We hope that our Poppy Bus will once again be popular with the residents and visitors of the City and prove to be a fitting tribute for those who have given service to our country.
The theme of this year’s Scottish Poppy Appeal is #ExtraMile. While tin donations remain absolutely vital to help fund Poppyscotland’s life-changing support, the charity is encouraging supporters – existing or new – to go the #ExtraMile in their fundraising for this year’s Appeal. To do this they have been sharing the stories of some of their amazing fundraisers and Poppyscotland hope this will inspire others to do the same, whether that be a bungee jump or a bake sale. Every extra penny raised makes a huge difference. For more information visit www.poppyscotland.org.uk/extramile.



A further posting will appear on Remembrance Day itself, the 11th November.