Thursday, 22 March 2018

London Elizabeth Line

Fares to match TfL Tube prices............ but Heathrow passengers set to pay £7 premium

Fares on Crossrail's Elizabeth Line will match Tube prices across most of London, but Heathrow passengers will be charged a premium, it was announced today.
Travelling between the airport and zone 1 in central London at peak times will cost £12.10 - £7 more than the same journey on the Piccadilly line.
Passengers travelling between zone 2 and the airport will pay a Heathrow premium of £4.50 compared with the Tube.
Crossrail journeys everywhere else within zones 1-6 will cost the same as pay-as-you-go fares on the Tube.
The Heathrow to Paddington peak Crossrail fare of £10.20 is less than half the cost of the £27 standard fare on the 15-minute Heathrow Express shuttle, though the Crossrail journey will take about 10 minutes longer.
Peak fares apply between 630am-930am and 4pm-7pm. Crossrail services between Paddington and Heathrow will replace the Heathrow Connect trains, and be 10p or 20p cheaper, depending on the time of day.

Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “I’m delighted to announce that the cost of travelling on the Elizabeth Line in zones 1-6 will be the same price as a similar journey on the Tube – fulfilling a key manifesto pledge to deliver truly world-class transport infrastructure which is also accessible and affordable for all Londoners.”
Crossrail, to be renamed the Elizabeth line when it opens under central London in December, will add 10 per cent capacity to the transport network and offer a quicker alternative to the overcrowded Central line.
Transport for London hopes it will boost revenues by more than £200 million a year but admits some Tube passengers will switch to the new line, which will eventually link Reading with Shenfield and Abbey Wood via two new tunnels under central London. There have been 44 million fewer journeys on the Tube in 2017/18, reducing TfL income £89 million below expectations.
The opening of the £14.8 billion line will mean Oyster and contactless fares will be accepted on rail services to and from Heathrow for the first time.
As with the Tube, children under 11 will travel for free. Londoners aged 60 and older will also travel free.
Daily fare capping means that someone arriving at Heathrow and using Crossrail to reach central London will pay only 40p more for the rest of their Tube and bus travel that day, as the daily Oyster or contactless charge will be limited to £12.50.
Heathrow Connect will switch to Crossrail on May 20, bringing the slightly cheaper fares and Oyster and contactless ticketing at the same time.
Transport for London commissioner Mike Brown said: “When Elizabeth line services through central London open in December, they will transform travel across London. The railway will provide many new direct journey options between Canary Wharf, central London and Heathrow Airport, and will cut journey times dramatically and ensure London remains a world-leading city.”
Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of business group London First, said: “London’s businesses have worked hard to support, and help pay for the Elizabeth line and we’re counting the days until it opens its doors.”

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

The Mendip Mule 2018


I always promised I would issue an update on our situation, after our shock withdrawal last September, so here goes. Please understand that, as you might expect, all planning is in a rather transient stage at present and I don't expect we will be in a state to make any firm announcements, and update the website accordingly, until around Easter. I am receiving frequent queries so I thought I would issue this statement in a Q&A format for ease of comprehension (you can then just read the section that interests you).

A decision has been made since Xmas to operate again this summer, however for a much shorter season than in 2017 to attempt to stem the considerable losses made in those wing periods. However - importantly - for this to happen we need to raise the £3,000 of our Crowd Funding appeal to cover the restart up costs, as the awful summer of 2017 left us in a financially depleted state (travel incentives, in excess of sums pledged, are being offered). On top of this, if our flagship single deck open top bus is to run this season, we need to raise a further circa £2,000 to cover some essential mechanical work to enable it to go for retest. We are hoping local councils may also be able to help us towards these two sums via their community grant schemes.

Yes, but only for the Summer school holiday period, with a special relaunch day on Sunday 22nd July, when a good part of the revenue will be donated to charity. The service is expected to run daily from Wednesday 25th July until Tuesday 4th September (the actual primary school holiday dates in the area). It will again be a two bus service, operating hourly from Newlands Holidays at Charmouth in the east, to Beer in the west, via Lyme Regis & Seaton. However we are exploring adding an extra ingredient for this season that would possibly involve a third bus.

Yes, we have run out of time with exploring external funding streams to be able to upgrade our fleet for 2018, so we will once again be operating the heritage open top fleet. We will still be exploring the upgrade for 2019, so this could well be our last season as a heritage operator. To mark this we will be holding an end of season Gala Day, to coincide with Seaton Carnival, on Saturday 1st September.

Yes, but with no layover time allowed at the stop there. Nor will our buses, under normal circumstances, be using the coach park there. This is to reduce our impact on local residents.

Yes, there will be specials and later services for Lyme Regis Red Arrows Day (tbc), specials for Beer Regatta Thursday, and a special to visit Sidmouth Red Arrows & Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Day.

Sadly no longer on a daily basis, but we won't forget the town completely as we will be offering specials from Colyton to Lyme Regis Red Arrows, Beer Regatta, Sidmouth Red Arrows, Gala Day Specials and Seaton Carnival. Plus we will be happy to talk about picking up any prebooked groups there.

Our new Operations Manager is working on this at present and it looks like he has found a suitable venue, as we will no longer be using the car park at Colyton Station as our base (to remove our impact on nearby residents). We also, just today, have information that a second site, closer still to the route, may be available.

With my announced partial retirement, due on my 65th birthday in May, the day to day reins will pass to our new Operations Manager, who we will be announcing shortly. He has operated his own heritage coach business in the past and now lives locally to the route. Such is his belief in the project that he has offered to work this season on an expenses only basis. Working closely alongside him will be Richard, returning for a second season in charge of PR and social media, and also generously giving his time on an expenses only arrangement. I of course will remain in overall charge, again taking no payment, and will be present on site on some days still, as well as reverting to a few days back behind the big wheel, and I am looking forward to getting back to basics (instead of daily hair tearing!).

Again we will be bringing together a pool of heritage open top buses to operate our services. Returning of course will be our own TDL 564K ("Eric") subject to the work mentioned above being carried out. Also we have an arrangement that returns our old faithful BJG 674V ("Baz") to the fleet, along with the same owners VDL 613S. Returning also is Steve Salter's UWV 614S ("Frankie"). I thank these owners for agreeing very generous rates. Also Rob Sly has offered us an amazing deal that could well see VDV 138S ("Illustrious") returning to the pack, along hopefully with perhaps a briefer stay from his soon to be reborn SWC 24K ("Dreadnought"). I must state that not every bus will be running, or even perhaps present, on every day of the season. There is also the possibility of a "surprise bus" for a few weeks as well.

Yes, I am afraid that overall our tour fares will have increased by an average of £1 per ticket. Put simply, we cannot risk a fourth season's loss in a row. Hopefully this has a chance of bringing us in at break even. I hope you will understand? I am sure however that Richard will again have some pop up social media special deals in store to enable you to save £££s.

I am pleased to say that most of our super team have confirmed that they will be returning in 2018. They are also coming aboard by accepting a slightly less advantageous financial deal (which, to face facts, was pretty modest for the responsibility even before). But such is their belief in the project. A few have even offered to work for further reduced rates, expenses only, a three days for two pay, or in one case nothing at all. I am truly humbled by this level of support from the team.

I had said last year that TDL 564K wouldn't be returning 'home' in 2018, thus meaning no Island weekend. However at that stage I had no idea that former Isle of Wight bus VDL 613S would be joining our fleet in 2018. This has prompted a rethink. I can now announce that we expect to run an Isle of Wight weekend with VDL 613S (with thanks to its owner) on 7th & 8th July. It is expected to be similar to the last two years, but with the itinerary swopped to offer a Closed Railways Tour on the Saturday and a Bus Enthusiasts Interest Day on the Sunday. The Saturday evening is expected to see a four hour "50 Years of the Isle of Wight Pop Festivals" Tour, which will visit the sites of the legendary festivals of 1968 (Hell Field, near Godshill), 1969 (Wootton) and 1970 (Afton, near Freshwater). On the evening tour there will be a pick up at Yarmouth for those planning on attending the Bournemouth Bus Rally earlier that day (with transport provided between Bournemouth & Lymington) and wishing to join our bus enthusiasts Sunday itinerary, which will also include a late afternoon ferry connection at Yarmouth.

We are solely supporting the Alton Bus Rally this year on Sunday 15th July. Our flagship single deck open topper TDL 564K should be present. There is also a chance that VDL 613S will be present, following its Isle of Wight appearance the previous weekend (in fact there is a remote possibility of both buses being together on the Island the previous day, Saturday 14th July). This pair running together again would be very appropriate as these are the only two buses ever to have carried Shanklin's Pony yellow and blue livery during their Isle of Wight lives.

Yes, we will have plenty of shifts to cover, especially if we run a third bus on many days. You need to be 25 to 70, hold a full PSV and Driver's CPC, a clean licence for the last five years, and have had recent PSV experience, and at some point heritage bus experience. Living locally to our Jurassic Mule patch would be a huge advantage, but we can help with finding accommodation. We will provide route learning etc and vehicle familiarisation. However, new for this year, we do ask that incoming members to our team are available for a minimum of 5 days during the season (these can be split). We can offer expenses/accommodation packages in lieu of a wage if preferred.
So there you have it. I think this answers the most often asked questions. Once again, we hope to be able to announce final details around Easter time (although the Jurassic Mule timetable may be a few weeks after that even). In the meantime can I thank absolutely all of our supporters for sticking with us, and keeping the faith, through what was a slightly sticky autumn. I think we have now turned the corner, but I would ask if you can please consider supporting our Crowd Funding appeal? Thank you.
Derek Gawn

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

DfT Proposals to Ensure Wheelchair Uses Can Access Buses

New measures to ensure that wheelchair users can safely access on-board wheelchair spaces on buses will be introduced by the government.
This follows a Supreme Court judgment last year concerning the ‘reasonable adjustments’ which bus operators should provide for passengers in wheelchairs, and will be aimed at challenging the barriers still faced by some people with disabilities when using bus services.

The Department for Transport has announced that it will begin developing proposals to ensure that wheelchair users can access buses and that drivers can fulfil the duties given to them by the courts.
Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani said:
Passengers with disabilities must have the same opportunities to travel as other members of society, and it is essential that the services they rely on are accessible and work for them.
Where people live, shop, go out, or park their car should not be determined by their disability and accessible transport networks are vital if we are to support those with disabilities to live independent lives and fulfil their potential.
This follows close engagement with representatives from passenger groups, and the government will continue to work closely with these groups and other stakeholders as plans progress. This will include drivers, disabled people and members of the public travelling with young children, in order to ensure the plans are informed by those most affected by them.
In order to fully understand the implications of the judgment for all passengers and for the bus industry, and to identify actions for the government and others to take to ensure that any adjustments can be provided on buses, the DfT established a stakeholder ‘task and finish group on the use of wheelchair spaces on buses’.
Keith Richards, Chair of Disabled Persons’ Transport Advisory Committee, said:
The committee welcomed the speed of the department’s response to the Supreme Court’s judgement on the use of wheelchair spaces.
Fighting for what is essential space should not be part of the day-to-day experience wheelchair users have when using buses. We hope the department will maintain its pace into the implementation phase, to ensure that wheelchair users no longer face these challenges or have to fight for facilities provided for them in law. Without a greater degree of certainty over the use of the space confidence in using public transport will be difficult to achieve.
The group considered the impact of the current situation on disabled passengers and the options available to address them, and we now need the jigsaw of interventions proposed to be put in place to make a meaningful difference for wheelchair users.
People with disabilities make 10 times as many journeys by bus as by rail, so accessible buses are crucial in supporting them to live independent lives and fulfil their potential.
The implications of the Supreme Court ruling are that passengers who do not require the wheelchair space should be required to move when it is needed by a wheelchair user.
Today the government has announced its acceptance of expert legal recommendations aimed at ensuring that wheelchair users can access bus services.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Isle of Wight railways

Newport and Ventnor railway lines could reopen as Beeching cuts reversed

We aim to bring interesting news items that are as up to date as possible. However, we missed this one so here goes.

THE old railway lines to Ventnor and Newport could be reopened as part of ambitious government plans to restore routes lost to the Beeching cuts.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said reinstating rail services axed in the 1960s could create jobs and economic growth.
Speaking in the Commons (back in November 2017), Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely asked if Island Line services could be extended from Shanklin to Ventnor, and from Ryde to Newport.
Mr Grayling agreed to work with him on the project, and said: "We'll be publishing in the New Year a new process for evaluating and moving into development of new projects, and I'll be very happy to talk to my honourable friend about the Isle of Wight and how that process will work and how he can get his projects into consideration."
Mr Seely, who has already spoken to South Western Railway (SWR) about extending Island Line services, welcomed the possibility of restoring the routes but warned it would not be easy.
"I am delighted at this announcement. This new rail strategy is very helpful. It makes clear lines closed in the 1960s and 1970s could be opened again," he said.
"I am delighted SWR accepted my suggestion and put in a question in the consultation about extending the line. I am talking now to transport and rail stakeholders on the Island about whether they would support extending Island Line.
"I believe there is potentially a strong case to extend the railway to Newport, to link the Island's two biggest towns and help ease traffic congestion, and also to link Ryde with Ventnor, supporting Ventnor's regeneration.
"However, both possibilities are not without difficulty.
"The route to Newport would require greater integration with the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, and I recognise their principal objective is to maintain a popular heritage route for visitors. However, the steam railway has long term aspirations to extend both into Ryde St Johns and closer to Newport, so there is certainly the potential for closer working and the extension of existing lines, subject to the current services provided by both Island Line and the steam railway continuing, as a minimum.
"Regarding Ventnor, getting the train back into the town would help the town and help connect it better with the east of the Island. However, there will be issues about potential routes through or around Wroxall, as well as access to the tunnel.
"The important thing is that, if there is a desire to see the routes extended, we should look to secure a feasibility study to offer an up-to-date assessment of the potential costs and opportunities of either extension."


The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway recently held their annual Spring Gala. In attendance was Simon Kerry who has kindly supplied the Focus website with a splendid set of pictures. These are now in an album which can be viewed by clicking  here

Sunday, 18 March 2018

North & North East Norfolk bus developments

Update from Lynxbus

From Sunday 29th April 2018 we’re making several changes to our bus services in and around King’s Lynn and West Norfolk. This includes making changes to some of our more established routes, as well as commencing new routes that would otherwise no longer exist as a result of Stagecoach in Norfolk’s withdrawal from most routes in the area.
As a relatively small, independent bus operator it has not been possible for us to replace all Stagecoach services on a like-for-like basis due to the relatively short timescales involved and also of the requirement to more closely match supply with demand, ensuring that routes are more sustainable in the longer term than had been the case. Demand on the new routes will be closely monitored over summer and changes made at a later date, where necessary.

A summary of our changes are as follows:

Service 34/35/36 (King’s Lynn to Hunstanton)
- There will now be up to four buses per hour operating in each direction on this route with an evening service introduced.
- Service 34 will be doubled in frequency (now up to every 30 minutes) to provide more buses to/from the Q.E Hospital. This route will now operate via Princess Drive in Hunstanton (not Oasis Way) and continue to operate via Mountbatten Road in Dersingham.
- Service 35 will operate hourly with the routing revised to replace most of the withdrawn Stagecoach Coasthopper R route. This route will now operate via West Newton, Sandringham and Dersingham Manor Road/Chapel Road.
- Coastliner 36 will operate hourly along the main road through Dersingham and Snettisham then Heacham and then continue at Hunstanton to Wells-next-the-Sea and Fakenham.

Coastliner 36 (King’s Lynn – Hunstanton – Wells – Fakenham)
- This will replace the King’s Lynn – Hunstanton - Wells-next-the-Sea section of the former Coasthopper route on an hourly frequency, 7 days per week (with extra buses at certain times to make the service up to every 30 minutes).
- At Wells-next-the-Sea the bus will continue onto Fakenham via Walsingham (also hourly) to provide a replacement for Stagecoach in Norfolk’s withdrawn Service 29.
- The Wells-next-the-Sea – Sheringham – Cromer section of route will be operated by Sanders Coaches. Information on Coasthopper tickets will be published at a later date.

Service 37 (King’s Lynn – Downham Market – Southery/Ten Mile Bank)
- There will be minor changes to the timetable of this service with buses at either end of the route departing five minutes earlier than currently.

Service 38 (King’s Lynn – Fair Green)
- No changes to route or times.

Service 39 (King’s Lynn – RAF Marham)
- Revised timetable with a slight reduction in frequency of buses on Monday to Fridays to reflect patronage of the service.

Service 42 (Fairstead Estate circular)
- Service introduced to replace withdrawn Stagecoach in Norfolk Service 1.
- Buses will operate every 20 minutes daytimes Monday to Saturday and every 30 minutes from 1800hrs to 2100hrs.
- On Sundays and Public Holidays the service will operate every 30 minutes.
- Unfortunately we’re not able to serve the King’s Reach section of this route due to the estates poor road design which means it’s not able to safely accommodate larger buses.

Service 43 (North Wootton – King Edward Academy School Bus)
- One return journey to/from school to replace the school bus 3 that was formerly operated by Stagecoach in Norfolk.
- The daytime North Wootton – Reffley – Gaywood – King’s Lynn service 3 will be provided by West Norfolk Community Transport.

Service 43A (Castle Rising to King’s Lynn)
- One Monday to Friday return shopping journey to town from Castle Rising and Wootton Road to replace part of the withdrawn Stagecoach Coasthopper R service which operated through Castle Rising village.

Service 46 (King’s Lynn – St Germans – Wisbech)
- Service introduced to replace Stagecoach in Norfolk Service 46 between Wisbech and King’s Lynn via St Germans.
- Service will operate hourly Monday – Friday and every 2 hours on Saturdays.
- The Wisbech to March section of the route will not be operated by Lynx. The Wisbech to Marshland High School journey is being operated by West Norfolk Community Transport.

Service X46 (Three Holes – Upwell - Outwell – Wisbech – CoWA)
- Service replaces withdrawn Service 67 with a revised timetable. The return journey from CoWA in the afternoon is numbered service 46.
- Revised route means that Emneth Hungate and Marshland St James are no longer served by this service. Norfolk County Council are looking to source a replacement service for this section of route.

Service 48 (King’s Lynn to Grimston)
- No changes to route or times.

Service 49 (King’s Lynn to Fakenham)
- Replaces King’s Lynn to Fakenham section of the former Stagecoach in Norfolk service X29.
- New timetable with buses running every two hours Monday – Saturday to reflect demand on this route.
- Fakenham to Norwich section of X29 will be operated by First.
Service 414 (Dersingham to Alderman Peel High School)
- No changes to route or times.

Please note that former Stagecoach in Norfolk services 2 (North Lynn), 3 (North Wootton), 4 (Pandora Meadows), 5 (Gaywood Park) will be operated by West Norfolk Community Transport. The Coasthopper services between Wells-next-the-Sea and Cromer will be operated by Sanders Coaches and Service X29 (Fakenham to Norwich) will be operated by First.


Four more albums have now been filled on the flickr site and focus their attention on the large presence of Go-Ahead North East in the city centre. These can all be accessed by clicking  here  here  here  and here

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Emirates Cable Car & Boris Bikes

Thames cable car set to be sold off and Boris bikes 'under review'

The boss of Transport for London has revealed that Boris Johnson’s cable car across the Thames is set to be sold off.

The former Tory mayor’s flagship bike hire-scheme could also eventually be phased out, Transport Commissioner Mike Brown said.
But he denied that TfL faced a financial crisis despite heading for a £1 billion operating deficit next year.

He insisted: “I’m very confident that we have a credible budget going forward”.
Mr Brown admitted there were tough times ahead for TfL, which is losing its £700 million grant from central government this year. However, it made savings of £135 million last year and is likely to cut even more this year.
He added that there was much to look forward to with the opening of the Elizabeth line later this year, station upgrades across the network and a £2.1 billion investment over five years in safer and healthier streets. He also insisted Crossrail 2 would happen despite the Government seemingly going cool on the idea.
Revealed that TfL’s “very best brains” were working on protecting the Underground from a cyber attack.
Claimed he had seen “positive evidence” of a change in tone from ride-hailing app Uber since revoking its licence.
Suggested relations with the unions had improved since Sadiq Khan had become Mayor with his “no strike” promise.
Mr Brown admitted he was prepared to make “tough” decisions about where the axe should fall to make ends meet. He has already “paused” upgrades of the Northern and Jubilee lines, scrapped all “non-essential” road repairs and is reviewing up to 6,000 jobs.
The flagship projects brought in by Mr Johnson, now Foreign Secretary, are set to come under review. The transport body could decide to scrap the Emirates cable car across the Thames, which opened in June 2012 in time for the Olympics, although it is marginally profitable. “That’s actually something we would consider but there is a timing issue,” he said.
He added that TfL would “absolutely” be prepared to sell the cable car, which has always had lower than hoped for passenger numbers, once it had paid back capital receipts on the project in 2021.  The £36 million, 10-year sponsorship deal agreed between Emirates and Mr Johnson expires at the same time.

Mr Brown also raised the prospect of phasing out the Boris bike hire scheme, if it had fulfilled its primary role of getting more Londoners cycling.
The decision will rest on the popularity of alternative dockless bike hire schemes and whether TfL feels it can continue to justify the cost, £21 million last year, of which TfL paid £3.6 million.
“It still fills a very important role but we have to keep this under review,” he said.


The first two albums from a visit to Newcastle are now in albums on the Focus Flickr site. They feature Arriva and a couple of other companies in one album and Stagecoach in the other. These can now be viewed by clicking  here  and  here

Friday, 16 March 2018

Important note on Tavistock Vintage Bus Running Day

The likelihood of heavy snowfall on Saturday night and Sunday has increased significantly in the last 24 hours, with a Met Office yellow weather warning in place for Devon.
Given the forecast is still a changing picture, we will be making a final decision on Saturday afternoon as to whether Tavistock Vintage Bus Running Day can go ahead on Sunday as planned, or will need to be postponed.
Please watch our Facebook page shown below as the first source of updates. Safety is our priority, that of the participants, the public and the vehicles. We apologise for any uncertainty this may bring to your weekend plans, but feel sure you'll appreciate that the final decision cannot be taken lightly.

Lothian Thank Public for Patience During Snow

As another 'mini-Beast from the East' is threatened..............................

More than 8500 queries were handled by Lothian on its social platforms during a 48-hour period at the peak of last week’s extreme weather, as well as 500 calls to its customer services team. Now, with all services back to normal after the snow caused by the ‘Beast from the East’ and Storm Emma, the company is thanking its customers for their patience during the disruption, as well as its staff for their efforts.

Lothian buses lined up at a depot during the snow
Richard Hall, Lothian’s MD said: “The extreme weather conditions on Wednesday brought in by the recent storm made driving conditions impossible and we’re extremely grateful for all of our customers for their understanding over the period.  We know that our bus services are vital - both as a lifeline for the people of Edinburgh and the Lothians and as a contributor to the wider City economy. However, we had to make the difficult decision to suspend the bulk of our network for the safety of our staff and our customers following the red weather warning and the advice given by the Scottish Government.

“I would also like to pay tribute to every single member of our team at Lothian from our engineering and operational staff, through to our dedicated communications and customer services teams, who have all worked tirelessly to keep our customers up to date and then get services back up and running as quickly as possible. Many of our staff have gone beyond the call of duty to work together to deliver a safe, reliable service to the hundreds of thousands of people who rely on us every day.”

Transport and Environment Convener, Councillor Lesley Macinnes, added: “Last week brought some of the worst weather conditions we’ve seen for almost a decade, posing a real challenge for people getting around Edinburgh. Throughout this period we worked closely with Lothian who, along with Edinburgh Trams, helped keep the city moving, providing vital public transport links and up-to-date information to the public.

“This is also thanks to the dedication of staff from across the Council, who worked round the clock to clear routes of snow and ice, making way for their safe use by public transport, which is so essential for getting people from A to B.”

Following the weather forecast and government advice on the afternoon of Wednesday 28 February, Lothian suspended its full network of services in the early evening with only vital links to the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh continuing into the night and Airlink 100 continuing to run on a reduced basis only connecting customers and staff from Edinburgh Airport to the City.

Throughout the morning of Thursday 1 March, Lothian continued to monitor road conditions on an hourly basis, before taking the decision for its customers and staff that no further services could run that day across the network safely. Services returned with the provision of a Sunday service on Friday 2 March from lunchtime, which ran throughout the entire weekend subject to local road conditions.

Lothian has one of the youngest and cleanest fleets of buses in the country. As of end of September 2017, 551 buses out of a fleet of 718 buses are either Euro 5 or Euro 6 standard:
319 are Euro 5 buses (25 hybrid)
232 Euro 6 (80 hybrid)
6 electric buses

Thursday, 15 March 2018

Mountain Goat Tours

Mountain Goat targets fresh pastures with expansion plans

With its fleet of minibuses, Mountain Goat Tours have been a regular sight on Cumbria's roads for more than 40 years. Ranked as one of the county's longest-running tourism operators the company is now expanding with new jobs and 10 extra 16-seater buses.
This year sees the Windemere-based business taking its private tours outside Cumbria with pick-ups from Manchester, Edinburgh, North Wales and Yorkshire, as well as Hadrian’s Wall and the Lake District.
It is also rebranding its Yorkshire day tours as ‘Mountain Goat York’ while continuing to offer trips to locations such as Castle Howard, Whitby,and the North Yorkshire Moors.
This means both private tours and daily scheduled services on Mercedes mini-buses are now available directly from York with a new batch of locally-knowledgeable drivers.
Meanwhile, in Cumbria Mountain Goat are launching scheduled tours which will pick up passengers from hotels and B&Bs in the Keswick area for the first time.

This will bolster the nine existing daily tours which already run daily from south and central Lakes,
Liz Chegwin, Marketing Manager at Mountain Goat, said: “Although Mountain Goat has been around for 46 years, we need to keep innovating and moving with the times.
"With new staff and new vehicles, we are able to radically expand the range of services we offer across a much larger geographical area.
"We are focusing on the north of England, but essentially multi-day private tours can start from anywhere in the UK, which gives us greater flexibility and allows us to create a more personalised service. This is a major benefit for international visitors in particular.”

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

DATE FOR THE DIARY - Saturday/Sunday 31st March & 1st April - Cumbria

Cumbria Easter Rally returns for special 20th anniversary event

THE schedule for the 20th Cumbria Easter Rally has been announced, with more than 250 vintage vehicles set to take to the county's roads this spring.
The UK’s biggest, free classic commercial vehicle rally celebrates the milestone occasion on Saturday March 31 and Sunday 1st, in and around Kirkby Stephen and Brough.

Held at locations in the Upper Eden Valley and in the Cumbrian North Pennines’ area of outstanding beauty and the newly-extended Yorkshire Dales National Park, the free annual event regularly attracts thousands of people to South East Cumbria over the Easter weekend.
Well-preserved and lovingly restored vintage lorries, buses, coaches, Land Rovers, military, utility vehicles, tractors and other farming vehicles, vans, wagons and old pedal bikes will be showcased across various sites across Kirkby Stephen and Brough with donation-only classic bus rides between them.
The classic bus route will start at Kirkby Stephen station on the Settle-to-Carlisle Railway. This delightful Victorian station will be the gateway to the event with a display of the history of the station and railway courtesy of the Friends of the Settle-to-Carlisle Railway and will include a refreshment café.
A highlight of the 20th Classic Easter Rally is the amazing road run through the fells taking place on the Saturday. The evening procession will delight the crowds lining the route as the fells of the Westmorland Dales create a spectacularly beautiful backdrop for professional photographers and Instagrammers alike to take pictures of the procession of classic trucks and buses.

Entry is free for exhibiting historic, commercial vehicles and the free, family-friendly event features a vintage funfair and other activities for children, plus local artisan craft and food stalls and extended parking to manage visitor numbers comfortably.
For some, the Rally is two days of nostalgia and for others it provides a fascinating visual history of commercial vehicles.
From 2018 onwards, Encounter Eden, a not-for-profit, social enterprise designed to give the area an economic boost with a series of events in the region, will co-ordinate the classic commercial vehicle rally.
The Rally was organised for the last 19 years by the Eden Classic Vehicle Group and the now-retired Hamer Family.
Speaking about her retirement, Ali Morriss (nee Hamer) commented: "It has been fantastic to see how the rally has grown in popularity over the years. I love the way local community organisations open their doors to visitors during the rally to sell teas, coffees, cakes and bacon butties, it is a fantastic opportunity to raise money for their clubs and societies.
"I’m absolutely delighted that Nanette Rigg from Encounter Eden has come forward to take over the coordination of the rally. It has always been a team effort and many of the rally volunteers have already committed to continue working with Encounter Eden so that the Rally will be around for years to come to maintain momentum and keep the wheels turning. And don’t be surprised to see a few of the Hamer family helping out too."
Nanette Rigg added: "Nineteen years ago Will and Claire Hamer and their family established and built a fantastic event for Eden and South East Cumbria. In 2017 the commercial vehicle exhibitors enthusiastically reporting that the Cumbrian Easter Rally is the best event of their season and the local people and businesses widely proclaiming the event as an important flagship for the area.
"Encounter Eden is looking forward to working with the communities in Kirkby Stephen and Brough to continue and build upon their much-loved tradition to host another special event in 2018."
Rally sites for the 2018 event:

  • Grand Prix yard in Brough – classic vehicles and stalls; parking across the road

  • Geoff Atkinson’s yard in Brough – The Bedford Enthusiasts Club

  • Jubilee Park in Brough – vintage pedal bikes

  • Kirkby Stephen Station on the Settle to Carlisle Railway – a café with coffee, hot chocolate, and ice cream, an exhibition by the Friends of the Settle to Carlisle Railway and the start of the bus service.

  • The Auction Mart in Kirkby Stephen – vintage vehicles and stalls. Limited camping for exhibitors.

  • Market Square and Market Street Kirkby Stephen – vintage vehicles displayed and craft/artisan and food stalls as well as stalls for motor enthusiasts.

  • The Mountain Rescue station in Kirkby Stephen – vintage military vehicles and hot drinks courtesy of the Rotary Club.

  • Kirkby Stephen Grammar School – event parking

  • The Kirkby Stephen Co-Op car park – displays on Sunday only.

  • Kirkby Stephen Parish Church – bric-a-brac and cafe

  • The Stainmore Railway (Kirkby Stephen East) – stalls, cafe and classical trains on display

  • Winton Craft Fair
The free bus service from Kirkby Stephen Railway Station to Brough runs in approximately 15-minute intervals. First bus is 10am and last bus is 4.30pm.
The Road Run on Saturday March 31 starts at 4.30pm, starting at Kirkby Stephen Railway Station and from Grand Prix in Brough. If you want to take a bus to join the route please be at Kirkby Stephen Station at 4.10pm.


Staying in the North with the Preserved Bus & Coach scene. A small but prefectly formed event was held in West Yorkshire hosted by the Dewsbury Bus Museum. It was their annual Spring transport fair and open day during mid-March, where a number of buses were used on runs around the local area. Russell Young has been kind enough to supply a small selection of the buses used, which are now in album and can be viewed by clicking  here

Monday, 12 March 2018

Vivarail D-Train Order for Marston Vale Line

Vivarail, the designers and manufacturers of the Class 230 D-Train, has entered into an agreement with West Midlands Trains to build three new D-Trains for use on the Marston Vale line between Bedford and Bletchley.
These will be the first trains to be introduced within the new franchise and will demonstrate West Midlands Trains’ commitment to providing high quality rolling stock throughout their tenure.  The new trains are scheduled to begin operation in 2018.
Vivarail’s CEO, Adrian Shooter, said “This is a big day for Vivarail.  We have invested considerable time and money to bring our innovative D-Train to this point and we are delighted to be working with West Midlands Trains to introduce them into passenger service.
“As a West Midlands based company it will be extremely gratifying to see our trains running on local lines and we look forward to passenger feedback.  Our trains will be built to the high standards West Midlands Trains has committed to and will provide the flagship service for the region.
“We congratulate the team at West Midlands Trains on their successful bid and look forward to working with them over the coming months.”

West Midlands Trains’ customer service director, Andrew Conroy, said “We are investing in almost £700 million of new trains for our passengers. The class 230s will be the first of over 400 extra carriages  we are adding to our network. 

These trains are ideal for Bedford to Bletchley route. I am sure our passengers will welcome the new look and feel of the carriages and the extra space. When the new trains come on stream in December we will also be adding extra early morning and late-night services on the Marston Vale line Monday to Saturday.”


Harpurs Coaches based in Derby held a mini tour day recently with a hand picked number of their buses. A small selection of pictures from the event have been kindly supplied by Chris Gaskin, which have now been placed in an album and can be viewed by clicking  here

Sunday, 11 March 2018

The Mother's Day bus

Today is Mothering Sunday or more as it is commercially known, Mother's Day.

Catch22Bus of Blackpool recently attired their former London Transport Park Royal bodied AEC Routemaster RML 2290 (CUV 290C), in a rather nice presentation livery for the occasion. With a nice big bow it appears to represent a large gift wrapped parcel and is currently parked up on the White Rose Shopping Complex outside of Leeds city, ready to provide mothers with a pampering session inside.
Stephen Whiteley has kindly provided a day and a nighttime shot of the bus as it stood on the complex and awaited custom.

Those with slightly longer memories may well remember a number of similar buses in the London fleet decorated in a similar fashion to celebrate the wedding of Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer back in 1981. However, unlike this 30-foot long version, they were all to the standard length of 27-foot 6-inches. London Transport Advertising as was back then, allowed various brands to promote themselves on the buses with messages of congratulations both inside and out. All the buses were concentrated on routes that served central London.

A small selection of them is featured here, as we recall the promotion and celebrate Mothers past and present.

Routemaster RM 490 (WLT 490) promoted the project and shown here at North Weald in Essex bound for a bus related rally event on the airfield.

Mothercare came on board with a promotion and congratulations with Routemaster RM 519 (WLT 519), seen here as it laid over between duties at the Oxford Circus terminal point. It was a regular on route 7 (Bloomsbury/Oxford Circus & Acton/Richmond).

Routemaster RM 559 (WLT 559) was a regular on the 9 (Mortlake & Liverpool Street Station) and had just entered Piccadilly from Hyde Park Corner as it made its way towards Aldwych on a short working of the route. The promoter this time was the electronics firm JVC.

And finally Heinz blew congratulations by using RM 595 (WLT 595) and mainly operated over route 12 (Norwood Junction & Willesden Junction). Here it headed along Whitehall on a southbound journey to Camberwell Green.

Saturday, 10 March 2018

Brussels to offer free public transport on high air pollution days

Brussels has moved to make the city’s public transport and bike share system free on the smoggiest days in a bid to drive down pollution levels and meet EU air quality directives.
After two consecutive days of high particulate matter (PM) levels – defined as surpassing an average of 51-70 micrograms per cubic metre of air – buses, trams and metros would have to open their doors completely free, under new city council rules.
Speed limits for cars would be also cut by about a third and wood burning for stoves would be banned under the law, which was forwarded for judicial review last week.
Officials say they expect it to enter into force by the summer.
Pascal Smet, Brussels’ mobility minister said the measures would redress tax and planning benefits that had benefited the city’s 350,000 daily car commuters over many decades.
“We need to create quality public space, research shows that the more space you give to cars, the more cars you attract. Indeed, the most car-friendly cities are also the most congested. By giving back space to pedestrians and cyclists, cities can create places where people meet and connect.”
The city’s failure to deal with its shifting pall of toxic air had embarrassed EU officials and diplomats who often spluttered their way to meetings where they discussed air quality in the bloc as a whole.
Last month, Brussels moved to address the problem with a strategy of low emissions zones that will progressively ban the most polluting cars from its streets. City buses will all be electrified by 2030.
Meanwhile, city residents will be able to check PM levels on a phone app or a real-time website to see when pollution limits are breached.
These kinds of blue sky actions may be watched closely by officials in London, which reached its legal yearly pollution limit last month. The UK as a whole has been in breach of the EU’s air quality directive since 2010.
Brussels planners are now attempting to create a child and family-friendly city, according to city officials. “The idea is not to ban cars from the city, but to find a new balance,” Smet said. 

Friday, 9 March 2018

London Night Tube & Overground

Full TfL Night Tube and London Overground map revealed as Highbury and Islington rail services link up with Victoria line

The full Night Tube map has been revealed following the announcement of a new service linking the Overground to Highbury and Islington and the Victoria line.
Transport for London say thousands more passengers will benefit from the extended Night Overground to Canonbury and Highbury and Islington stations, which will run from from February 23.

The new service will link up the Overground and Victoria line for the first time easing the journeys of people travelling to north and east London.
Since December last year, the Night Overground has run on Friday and Saturday nights, with 35,000 customers using the service between Dalston Junction and New Cross Gate.

The Night Tube line has been extended to Highbury and Islington (TfL)
This is understood to be the final amendment to the Night Tube map for the foreseeable future.
In its first year, it has seen more than nine million journeys, cut late night journey times by 20 minutes, created more than 3,600 jobs and contributed more than £170 million to the capital's economy, according to TfL.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “Following our hugely successful launch of the Night Tube, I’m delighted that we will be able to extend the Night Overground service to help even more Londoners.
“This extension will connect the Night Overground to the Night Tube.
“These night-time services are providing a huge boost to our economy and a safe and reliable way for people to travel across the capital, helping all those working hard during the night or out enjoying everything the capital’s nightlife has to offer.”
Jonathan Fox, TfL’s Director of London Rail and Sponsored Services, said: “The extension of Night Overground to Highbury & Islington will make life easier for thousands more Londoners and visitors, opening up a new late night connection between east and north London and boosting the night time economy.
“It builds on the great success of the Night Overground services we introduced last year, which have already seen more than 35,000 customers.”
The transport authority added that it hopes that the new service will support Islington's nightlife, with the area’s many restaurants, bars, theatres and cinemas expected to benefit.

Christine Lovett, Chief Executive of Angel.London, said: “Angel is home to a thriving night time economy; we have countless restaurants, cafes, bars, cinemas and music venues.
"We are thrilled to hear the Night Overground will link Islington and Angel up to south east and east London. It will provide affordable and safe transport for visitors, residents and staff who work in the local area.”

Thursday, 8 March 2018

Saviour of Flying Scotsman dies

A MILLIONAIRE businessman from Henley who rescued the Flying Scotsman has died.
Sir William McAlpine, who lived at the Fawley Hill estate with his widow Lady Judith McAlpine, passed away on Sunday, March 4th following a period of illness.
The 82-year-old, a former director of his family's construction company, purchased the famous steam locomotive from America in 1973.

It had been due to spend the rest of its days in a museum but Sir William brought it back to England and pressed it into service for day trips before selling it in the Nineties.
A keen rail enthusiast, he built a full-sized railway at his estate including the original station from Somersham in Cambridgeshire, which was closed during the Sixties.
Since 2004, Sir William and Lady McAlpine had hosted the Hambleden Valley's annual "railway nativity", a modern take on the story of Jesus' birth featuring children from the village and surrounding area.
The youngsters would arrive at Somersham platform on a full-sized steam train and give readings and sing carols before enjoying festive refreshments.
Sir William was born at the Dorchester Hotel in London, which his family owned, and educated at Charterhouse School before going straight into the family business.
He built his home at Fawley Hill in 1960. The estate also serves as an animal sanctuary housing a range of species including goats, deer, wallabies, reas, emus, peacocks, alpaca, meerkats and capybaras.
Sir William, who inherited his father's baronetcy upon his passing in 1990, was also patron of the Clan MacAlpine Society and served as High Sheriff of Buckinghamshire in 1999.


We venture abroad for our latest album, with a selection of buses, coaches and trams in Treviso and Venice. These have been kindly supplied by Steve Maskell and can now be viewed by clicking  here