Sunday, 30 September 2012

National Express celebrates 40 years of service to the British public

National Express is celebrating its 40th birthday this autumn – marking four decades since Britain’s first ‘national’ coach timetable was published in 1972. The guide made coach travel across Britain easily accessible to the public for the first time.

Watch a video about the 40th birthday of Nat Ex 
To celebrate the landmark birthday National Express has released promotional footage and photos from the 70’s showing classic seaside days out and on board snacks served by hostesses. 
The UK’s largest coach company launched four decades ago with around 300 vehicles carrying 13 million passengers annually. The most popular destinations were London, Bournemouth and Blackpool but half the services operated at weekends only and a further quarter were seasonal.
National Express has clocked up over two billion miles on Britain’s roads since 1972 and the nation still loves a good coach trip – with five million more passenger journeys now taking place annually.
Andrew Cleaves, Managing Director of National Express coach, said: “We’re proud to have carried millions of Britons on day trips, holidays and visit to friends and family during our forty year journey.
“The way Britain travels has changed dramatically in this time. In 1972 half of our services were seasonal as people took holidays at distinct times, such as factory fortnight. Today a third of the network runs to airports and over half our tickets are sold online.”
To help celebrate forty years of coach travel National Express is appealing for the nations’ memories and stories of coach travel since 1972. Stories can be shared at with the best tales will receive a year’s free coach travel.
National Express by numbers:
·         Around 13 million passenger journeys
·         Working patterns meant that people travelled at distinct times, such as factory fortnight and summer holidays
·         52% of the network operated on weekends only and 22% was seasonal
·         People took holidays in Britain and seaside destinations were very popular
·         The most popular routes were London, Blackpool and Bournemouth
·         Customers bought their tickets from bus stations
·         Around 300 coaches were in operation across Britain
·         The coaches had hostesses, but no toilets!
·         Coach travel is more popular today with over 18 million passenger journeys
·         People take more short breaks and spontaneous trips
·         A third of the network operates to airports, less than 5% is seasonal
·         Most popular destination in London, closely followed by Bristol, Birmingham and Bournemouth
·         We operate over 550 coaches across the UK
·         Over half our sales are taken via the website 
·         We operate a successful events service, taking over 25,000 to music festivals in 2012 alone
·         All coaches have air conditioning, leather seats, toilets and real time arrival/departure information

Key dates:
·         1968: Transport Act brought about an integrated public passenger transport system across Britain
·         1969: National Bus Company formed and takes control of majority of operators in market
·         1972: First ‘National’ coach guide published listing all British express coach services in one place for the first time. Company starts painting all coaches white
·         1973: Brand name “National Express” used for the first time
·         1980: Deregulation of coach industry opened up market to competition and saw National Express launch a number of innovative marketing campaigns and new products
·         1984: National Express makes Birmingham it’s official home
·         1992: National Express bans smoking on services
·         1994: Dedicated airport services form major part of network
·         1996: launched
·         2000: Last hostess service operates
·         2002: First wheelchair accessible coach launched
·         2011: National Express call centre bucks trend to go 24/7
·         2013: National Express on track to become Europe’s largest fully wheelchair accessible coach operator 

Saturday, 29 September 2012

East Coast Boosts Profits

East Coast, which runs services from London to Yorkshire, the North East and Scotland, has reported increased profits and an improvement in passenger satisfaction.
 Directly Operated Railways (DOR), which was temporarily re-nationalised by the Government three years ago and took over the running of the East Coast line from National Express, said its operating profit increased by 7% in the year to March to £7.1 million.
Turnover for the year amounted to £665.8 million, an increase of £20 million, leaving a profit before tax and service payments to the Department for Transport of £195.7 million, an increase of £13 million.
Passenger journeys at East Coast increased by 2.1%, while customer satisfaction rose by 2%, and the latest punctuality figures were its best since records began in 1999.
DOR chairman Doug Sutherland said: "During the year, we made further very good progress with the business turnaround of East Coast, and continued to invest in our infrastructure assets, our people, and the delivery of significant improvements in customer service.
"Our assets have been worked harder, and a solid financial performance has been achieved in a challenging economic environment.
"The major challenge in May 2011 was the introduction of a comprehensive timetable change across the entire East Coast network.
"Despite being the biggest change on the East Coast Main Line in 20 years - and 10 years in the making by the industry - the new timetable was introduced seamlessly by East Coast. I want to thank everyone who helped to make that possible."
DOR said it anticipated that the franchise will transfer to a new private operator around the end of 2013.

Friday, 28 September 2012

A visit to West Ham bus garage.

A group of Chesterfield enthusiasts travelled to Stagecoach London's West Ham bus depot last weekend (22/09/2012) where access had been granted to the general public. Shayne Howarth was one of the visitors and has kindly let us use some of his photographs.
Details of the depot can be found 
Shaynes photos can be seen

Thursday, 27 September 2012

Ipswich Transport Museum 1

Members of the Ribble Vehicle Preservation Trust visited Ipswich Transport Museum recently. Here's a selection of pictures taken during the visit.

 1930 Morris Commercial Coach VF 8157 ex Mulleys
GNG 125C Eastern Counties Bristol LFS125 and on the left, the rear of
CDX 156 1954 AEC Regent 3.
Built by Railless Ltd and fitted with a 30 seat body by Shorts of Rochester, this trolleybus, registered
DX 3988, entered service with Ipswich Corporation
Ipswich tramcar 33 built in 1904
 1950 AEC Regent III with pre select gearbox and 9.6 litre diesel engine. Park Royal bodywork.
Our transport to Ipswich was 1974 Leyland Leopard PSU3B/4R/Duple ex Ribble Motor Services.
It is seen facing 1949 KAH 407 ex Eastern Counties Bristol L
 KAH 407 Bristol L4G, and in the distance ADX 63B AEC Regent 5 with Massey bodywork which was one of the last rear entrance buses delivered to Ipswich Corporation.
The Bristol must feel somewhat underpowered with it only having a four cylinder engine!
 Interior of Bristol L KAH 407 

More pictures of our visit in due course.

Wednesday, 26 September 2012

New buses for Barnsley launched.

Barnsley DJ launches six new Stagecoach buses

September 2012 by Natalie Harrison
(L-R) Simon Hirst, Paul Lynch, managing director, Stagecoach Yorkshire, and Sue Hayes, operations director, Stagecoach Yorkshire at the launch of the new Townlines buses in Peel Square.A fleet of six new Stagecoach buses costing £700,000 have taken to the road in Barnsley.
The single decker Townlines-branded buses were launched by award-winning Barnsley-born DJ Simon Hirst at a special event in Peel Square, Barnsley.
The ADL Enviro 200 buses have been introduced on Stagecoach’s service one Barnsley – Wakefield Road – Mapplewell – Staincross.
As part of Stagecoach’s commitment to providing disabled passengers and wheelchair and buggy users with the highest standards of comfort and accesibility, the buses are low-floor for easy access.
Bus lover Simon, who presents Hirsty's Daily Dose on Capital FM, said: “The new buses look really smart. It is great for the people of Barnsley to be able to travel around the town and nearby where I grew up on such modern public transport.”
At the launch event, members of the public were entertained by Barnsley musician Dave Cherry, stilt walkers and jugglers. They could also pick up Stagecoach goody bags, tour the new buses and find out more about Townlines services.
Paul Lynch, managing director, Stagecoach Yorkshire, said: “We are extremely proud to launch these fantastic new buses in Barnsley.
“Not only do they have a modern, welcoming and comfortable interior, but the low entry and wide gangway make it much easier for passengers in wheelchairs or those travelling with buggies to access this service.”
It brings Stagecoach’s investment in new vehicles in the last two months to £2.7milion. Earlier in September, the leading operator unveiled eight new buses for service 25 in Sheffield costing almost £1million. In August, £1.1million was invested in six new buses fitted with free Wi-Fi internet access for route 43, which connects Sheffield and Chesterfield via Dronfield.
For more information about Stagecoach services visit
Natalie Harrison

Natalie Harrison

Account Manager

 More Barnsley pics Here

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Sheffield Bus Partnership

Bus and tram services in Sheffield have joined forces to form the 'Sheffield Bus Partnership', who are working together to plan the network and co-ordinate timetables. 

The result is 'Simplicity'. It will be much easier to travel around the city, with a new range of tickets that can used on any bus and tram in Sheffield.

How will this help travel in Sheffield?

  • Simpler bus network
  • Co-ordinated timetables
  • A new range of tickets that can used on any bus or tram in Sheffield
  • More services on many routes
  • Fewer changes to timetables
  • More buses with low-floor access.

Who’s in the Sheffield Bus Partnership?

  • First
  • Sheffield City Council
  • Sheffield Community Transport
  • South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive
  • Stagecoach Bus and Supertram
  • TM Travel.

New tickets

There will be a new range of tickets called Sheffield CityWide tickets. These can be used on all bus and tram services in Sheffield. CityWide tickets mean more travel options, better value for money and less waiting around.

This information is from the Travel South Yorkshire Simplicity web page.

Focus Comment. This appears the way forward for large cities. Operators offering tickets that can be used on all buses and trams and services and timetables that are co-ordinated. South Yorkshire PTE and the other parties involved are to congratulated on their efforts to form this partnership.

Monday, 24 September 2012

Free Bus Passes Encourage Activity

Free bus passes encourage the over-60s to be more physically active, whether they are poor or wealthy, say UK researchers. 
Free bus travel for over-60s in England was introduced in 2006 but there is pressure for the scheme to be scrapped.
In a study, in the American Journal of Public Health, researchers analysed data on the travel habits of 16,900 people over four years.

They say the scheme "may offer value for money" among older people.
The Imperial College London study examined data from the National Travel Survey from 2005, the year before free bus passes were introduced, until 2008. They looked at the travel diaries of 11,218 people with a free bus pass and 5,693 without a pass.
The percentage of respondents with a free bus pass increased from 56.8% to 74.7% between 2005 and 2008.
Over the same period there was an increase in the percentage of bus pass holders walking three or more times a week and the study found that these people were more likely to undertake any 'active travel' - which was defined as walking, cycling or using public transport.
After analysing different sub-groups of bus pass holders, the study found that women over the age of 70 and living in London or in urban areas were significantly more likely to use buses and walk three or more times a week than those without bus passes.
Spending pressure
Free bus passes for people aged 60 years and over were introduced in England in 2006. They entitle holders to free local bus travel after 09.30 on weekdays and all day on weekends and public holidays.
However, pressures on public spending may mean that the free bus travel scheme, which costs £1.1bn a year, could be ended, or bus passes could become means-tested.
Sophie Coronini-Cronberg, who led the study from the School of Public Health at Imperial College London, said the public health benefits of the scheme should be taken in to consideration when deciding its future.
"Although the costs of the scheme are considerable, it may offer value for money as it seems to promote physical activity among older people, thereby helping to reduce inactivity-related mortality and morbidity."
The study found that the health benefits of the policy could be maximized by looking at other barriers to public transport use such as "poor access and inconvenience, ease of car use, and poor pedestrian access of neighbourhoods".
Although the number of people with free bus passes has increased since 2006, the study found a reduction in overall bus use and walking.
This suggests that there is still a downward trend in physical activity and public transport use among people with free bus passes and those without.

Sunday, 23 September 2012

More on T&W Quality Contract Proposals

The war of words continues on the proposals to impose Quality Contracts in the Tyne and Wear area.
Bus companies say they will not rule out taking legal action over plans to change the way services are run and financed in the region.
The Tyne and Wear Integrated Transport Authority (TWITA) says it wants to run services on particular routes and be paid a set amount by bus companies for doing so.
The authority say the Quality Contracts scheme would "simplify" bus fares and make them "more affordable".
But bus operators say the idea is "flawed" and want to try and block it.
 Stagecoach, Go North East and Arriva have invested heavily in the Tyne & Wear area. Go North East and Arriva continue to do so but Stagecoach have ceased buying new vehicles until the threat to their business is removed. This is one of the recently introduced Volvo B9TL's recently introduced by Go North East.
Under the new scheme, the five councils that make up the transport authority will keep the fares collected, but they will then have to make up any shortfall between this money and the cash paid out to bus companies.The authority also claims the idea would enable some loss making routes to be kept open.
The North East Bus Operator's Association (NEBOA) says the Quality Contracts idea is "flawed".
Chairman Kevin Carr said: "The quality contracts are going to be very very expensive.
"They do rely on passenger growth and if passenger growth is not there then it could be very very expensive and the ratepayer will have to subsidise the difference."
He added that legal action could be a possibility if the two sides cannot agree.
"At the end of the day the business would be at risk and we just couldn't afford to lose a business within the north-east of England and therefore we'd have to do everything in our power to ensure we maintain our operation," said Mr Carr.
Houghton and Sunderland South Labour MP Bridget Phillipson has set up a petition to drum up support for the Quality Contracts idea, collecting hundreds of signatures.
She says councils in the region are already putting tens of millions of pounds into financing bus travel and wants them to have more control.
She said: "What this system would deliver is greater transparency about how that money's being spent but also it would give local people more of a voice because they are frustrated that there isn't one simple ticketing system, that they don't have a say when routes are cut."
However, not all politicians are convinced that the Quality Contracts idea, which is already operating in London, is the best way forward.
The Integrated Transport Authority is also considering another idea - a new partnership between bus firms and councils.
Some think adopting this idea could be a middle way and end any danger of legal action.
Newcastle Lib Dem Councillor Greg Stone is a member of TWITA.
He said: "What could be achieved by a voluntary partnership arrangement between the public and private sectors would lead to better results for both sides on this.
"I think the way we're going is going to lead to a war between the transport authorities and the bus companies.
"That will only end up hurting the passenger in terms of the cost to the taxpayer and the cost of a legal battle which I think is looming large on the horizon now, and with the way the Quality Contracts proponents want to go I can't see the bus companies taking this lightly."

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Feet off the seats please!

Rear facing seats are an open invatation for passengers to put their feet on, this is well known.

A Stagecoach Chesterfield X17 passenger gets comfy for his 45min journey

Arriva Yorkshire are pressing home the message. When will other companies take note.

More   Click Here

Friday, 21 September 2012

London Reflections

Well, my London trip is over and I'm taking time to reflect on an interesting few days spent in the capital. London has certainly got it right on the public transport front, passengers need have no fears about getting around on the many transport choices available.
The bus routes at first seem quite daunting, but with the help of one of the excellent LT bus maps routes can easily be planned. Most routes run services at intervals of between five and ten minutes so it's just a case of turn up and go. Buses do get held up at busy times but the view from the top deck makes the journey so interesting. Holders of concessionary passes can travel any time of day or night. No views much from the tube but journey times are much quicker. The Docklands Light Railway is interesting to ride on with some interesting views, the driverless trains seem strange at first.
Docklands Light Railway trains at Royal Victoria station
A London Transport zone1 to 4 travel pass can be bought for £7.70 and a zone 1 to 6 costs £8.50. These can be used after 9.30am so if you make an early start and have a bus pass, use buses until 9.30 and then move to the tube if required. These passes also allow travel on the 'Overground' which incorporates routes such as the North London Line which now have new trains and upgraded track and stations and have become well used since being incorporated into the overall London Transport network.
 Massive investment has taken place in the rail services
that are run by LT using the'Overground' name.
New trains and refurbished stations have transformed the services.
Most interesting methods of transport must be the 'Emirates Air Line' cable car followed by the New Bus for London, followed by the various hybrid vehicles in service on varying routes.
Interesting that the hydrogen powered buses don't seem to be in service since they disappeared just before the Olympics and rumours are that they won't return to the streets of London and might end up in service in Scotland.

During my travels I managed a trip on a Wright StreetLite, a vehicle still rare in the UK and very rare in
London. The only service they can be found on is the 462 which runs between Ilford and Hainault.
 The 360 is a route normally operated by Wright bodied hybrids but on this occasion on 17th September
an Optare Versa hybrid demonstrator is on duty on Prince Consort Road.

The news yesterday that LT have ordered 600 more 'New Bus for London' vehicles is a major move towards hybrids. The current vehicles are operated with the rear door open with a member of staff on-board to supervise loading and unloading. That means 600 extra staff x two shifts to crew the new vehicles?

Thursday, 20 September 2012

600 NBfL Order

The delivery of up to 600 New Bus for London vehicles over the next four years has been approved today (Thursday 20th September) by the Transport for London (TfL) Board, in line with the Mayor's election promise. This will represent the largest order of hybrid buses ever placed in Europe and will deliver significant environmental benefits.
The 600 buses represent a 200 per cent increase in the current hybrid bus fleet which is set to grow by a further 180 vehicles already on order. When the final batch of new bus for London vehicles is delivered in 2016 more than 1000 hybrids buses will be in service on the streets of London. The first batch of 30 buses, enough to convert a full route, will enter passenger service in April next year.
The decision takes forward Mayor Boris Johnson's election pledge to introduce 600 of the new Routemaster-inspired vehicles that resurrect the iconic hop-on hop-off rear platform by 2016. The new bus for London incorporates the most innovative and cutting edge hybrid technology and is the most environmentally-friendly bus of its kind, benefiting air quality and reducing carbon emissions.

'Emirates Airline' Cable Car

The 'Emirates Airline' is an aerial cable car system between North Greenwich and the Royal Docks. It was opened as an attraction for Olympic visitors and was a popular method of crossing the Thames during the time the games were in in existence.
I tried it out yesterday travelling from south to north, alighting from a tube train at North Greenwich and strolling across to the ticket hall which was almost deserted now that the Olympics have finished. By showing my off peak day travel card I received a discount and paid my £3.20 to the friendly ticket office clerk.
The cable cars keep moving slowly around a central hub at the boarding station, giving plenty of time to climb aboard before accelerating upwards. It was a lovely warm sunny day so the views were perfect as we headed up towards our maximum height.
The many tracks of the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) were in full view as was the Dome and in the distance the tall buildings of the City. Looking to the east, London City Airport was in view but sadly no planes were using the runway. The route of the cable cars appear to be close to the flight path of the planes, but obviously that can't be the case and the planes must take a steep climb to avoid them.
The ride was over and done with very quickly and I couldn't help noticing that around half of the cars were travelling empty. Maybe TfL should offer some incentives to travel on this clever piece of engineering. Although it duplicates the route of the DLR and the Jubilee Line it is worth taking a trip and I would certainly recommend it.

 The ticket hall at North Greenwich was almost deserted

 Well, here we go, David Hunter - my local guide for the day, looks a bit apprehensive
as we wait for the doors to close and a member of staff takes our picture

 The London City Airport terminal can be seen top left, with the runway just to the right

 The Dome now the O2 Arena with the tall buildings of the City in the background

Above and below, DLR trains can be seen as we enter the Royal Docks terminal