Sunday, 30 June 2013

Bittern Aims for 90mph

Train enthusiasts across the country got a treat yesterday, as a historic steam locomotive hit the highest speed for a its type in almost half a century.

Bittern, an A4-class engine which was built in 1937 and is almost identical to the world's fastest steam locomotive, Mallard, was expected to reach up to 90mph during its journey from London King's Cross to York.
On its journey along the East cast Main Line, it stopped off at Potters Bar, Hertfordshire, to pick up more passengers.
The run commemorates Mallard setting a record speed of 126mph near Grantham on July 3 1938 - a feat that remains unbeaten 75 years later.
Bittern, which was carrying 250 passengers, was granted special permission by authorities to exceed the 75mph limit for steam trains.
Richard Corser, general manager at organiser Locomotive Services Ltd, said: "Today is the culmination of a lot of months of preparation to make this happen, to go at a high speed and to give the passengers a bit of a flavour of what high-speed steam was like.
"This country's very famous for its engineering skills and steam was its cradle.
"We are very proud of steam heritage and railways in this country and this was shown again today by the support we have received."
Pictures here

It can be revealed that a month ago in the early hours of 29th May Bittern did reach a speed of 91.5 mph at Burnham on the GW main line during a trial run between Southall and Didcot and return. On the outbound journey 88mph was achieved, but it was on the return journey that the magic 90mph barrier was broken.
Can anyone confirm that 90mph was achieved on the journey yesterday? If so please contact Focus Transport at

Saturday, 29 June 2013

Stagecoach Kendal

Quiet on the news front at the moment so here's a few pictures taken in Kendal during the week. Still some step entrance buses in service with Stagecoach mixed in with the latest Scania  Enviro 400's.

Finally a glimpse inside the Stagecoach depot at Kendal showing two Tridents alongside a disused Routemaster. Will the Routemaster ever run again? It looks in a sorry state.

Friday, 28 June 2013

Outstanding Contribution Award for Sir Brian Souter

At the 2013 Scottish Business Awards Sir Brian Souter was presented with the Outstanding Contribution Award while Stagecoach Group was named winner of the Green Business of the Year Award.
Former US President Bill Clinton was keynote speaker at the Edinburgh ceremony which was attended by 1600 delegates including the First Minister, Alex Salmond and Scottish Minister, Michael Moore.
Sir Brian, who was awarded a knighthood in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in June 2011 for services to transport and the voluntary sector, is one of the UK’s foremost entrepreneurs.
His first job in the transport industry was as a bus conductor. He then co-founded Stagecoach with his sister, Ann Gloag, in 1980 with just two buses, and developed the company into a leading international transport group in the UK and North America with 35,000 employees and an annual turnover of nearly £2.5billion.
Sir Brian became Chairman of Stagecoach Group in May when Martin Griffiths, previously Finance Director, succeeded him as Group Chief Executive.
A significant supporter of charitable causes and the country’s leading public transport innovator, Sir Brian was honoured at the Scottish Business Awards ceremony at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) on Friday night.  Accepting the award, Sir Brian pledged £100,000 from the Souter Charitable Trust to the Scottish Social Business Fund that invests in social businesses and micro-finance institutions in Scotland and throughout the world.*
Speaking about the transport business he has helped shape for over 30 years, Sir Brian said: "I’m very fortunate to work in an industry that I care about and enjoy being part of. Transport affects the lives of millions of people every day. Over more than three decades, Stagecoach has transformed public transport through new ideas and continued investment."
"This has been achieved thanks to the vital contribution of many talented people across our group and this honour largely goes to them too, and I’d like to pay tribute to my team at Stagecoach Group led by Martin Griffiths, and at Souter Investments led by Andy Macfie."

Sir Brian also applauded the important work of Josh Littlejohn and the Scottish Social Business Fund, and recognised the important roles of entrepreneurs and of the positive impact they can bring to society and of the vital contribution they will make on both the Scottish the UK economies. He also noted that  "while we all strive for success we accept that part of that journey will be in learning from our mistakes and failures along the way", and he concluded that "it is acceptable to try in businesses and to encounter failure, but it is not acceptable if we fail to try."

Cheque Presented the Derby Royal Hospital by Kath Lomas

Founder of this website Richard Lomas suffered from Pancreatitis before his death. His widow Kath Lomas went to Derby Royal Hospital yesterday and handed over a cheque for £4000 in Richard's memory for Pancreatitis Research. The cheque was handed to consultant Mr Awan who looked after Richard. during his six months stay in hospital. Kath's daughter in law who works for Lloyds TSB has also presented a cheque to the hospital for the Intensive Care Unit. Kath would like to thank everyone who made a donation at the funeral, people who have bought some of Richard's transport memorabilia collection either at rallies, or on Ebay, friends in Tangent Ladies Club and anyone else she has failed to mention. The money for the Intensive Care Unit was used towards new sofa beds for the family bedsits available for intensive care patients' families at the hospital, which Kath and the family used on many fraught occasions when they were afraid to go home.

 Kath and hospital staff with the cheque, seated appropriately in front of a trent barton poster.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Russian Underground Train Runs with Open Doors

Ken Jones has sent this link to a video of a Russian underground train running with the doors open.
Passengers are seen walking to the open doors and peering outside at the tunnel walls!

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Good Results from Stagecoach

Stagecoach have announced their Preliminary Results for the year ended 30 April 2013 where they say they have produced 'Good performance for shareholders and customers'

  • Earnings per share* up 18.9% to 30.2p, ahead of market expectations
  • Dividend up 10.3% to 8.6p
  • Financial results underpinned by strong operational delivery, consistent investment, value-for-money travel, high customer satisfaction and effective partnerships
  • Current trading in line with management expectations

Well positioned for future growth
  • Consistent and successful strategy with evolution of management responsibilities
  • Strong financial position enables pursuit of new opportunities
  • Significant scope to secure additional value in UK rail market
  • Continued confidence in prospects for and acquired businesses in North America
  • Further innovation with development of new products (e.g. UK sleepercoach) and initiatives (e.g. rail alliancing)

Commenting on the results, Chief Executive, Martin Griffiths, said:

“This is another strong set of results, which are ahead of market expectations. We have achieved ten years of sustainable growth, reflecting our successful strategy of targeting organic growth in our bus networks, rail franchise opportunities and selected acquisitions.

"Stagecoach has secured a leading position in a range of growing markets in the UK and North America. Our innovation can deliver further growth in the commercial, deregulated bus market. We are helping the UK Government to deliver a new, improved rail franchise model and are shortlisted for two rail franchises. Our ground-breaking alliance at South West Trains with Network Rail is producing a more efficient, joined up railway at one of Europe's premier commuter rail networks. In North America, we are focused on converting the transformation our business has made in the inter-city bus market into profitable growth.
"People, technology and customer service are key to the future. We have strong management teams across our business, which understand their customers. Our investment in new technology also means that we are in a good position to capitalise on the commercial opportunities in the age of the smartphone.
"It is no coincidence that we have simultaneously delivered good financial results, strong operational performance, significant investment, value-for-money travel and high customer satisfaction. We are pleased to have played a leading role within the industry, developing strong relationships with government and transport authorities.

We have helped transform bus and rail travel for passengers, reducing costs for taxpayers and making a huge positive contribution to our economy, our communities and our environment.

"The public transport market has long-term fundamental strengths and a positive outlook. I am confident we can make bus and rail the travel modes of choice for increasing numbers of people in the UK and in North America."

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

8th July Start for megabusGold Services

Following the news in April that Stagecoach were introducing a new fleet of vehicles on their new megabusGold services here , they have now have announced that the first of its new overnight sleepercoach routes between Scotland and London will begin operating in July.

The first new service - which will serve Aberdeen, Dundee, Perth, Cumbernauld and London – will start on 8 July, providing overnight services every day of the week. Tickets for that service can be booked now on

Stagecoach announced in April that is introducing a network of overnight sleepercoach services to link London with Aberdeen, Aviemore, Cumbernauld Dundee, Dunfermline Edinburgh, Falkirk, Ferrytoll park and ride in Fife, Glasgow, Inverness and Perth.
All of the new overnight routes will be launched this summer, with detailed start dates for each service to be confirmed over the next few weeks.

The new services will all operate using a fleet of 10 specially designed coaches which have leather seats that can be converted into lie-flat beds.
Prices will range from £15 to £60 and the services will operate seven days a week.
The state-of-the-art double-deck coaches boast luxury leather seats and a toilet. The specially designed vehicles have 53 leather seats with tables, power sockets &free Wi-Fi. The seats convert into 42 beds.

Trials of the first new vehicle have achieved positive feedback from customers with the majority saying they will use the service again and recommend it to friends.
Customers using the overnight service receive complimentary refreshments during their journey as well as a sleeper kit which includes an eye mask, a toothbrush and toothpaste. In addition, as a pilot, passengers will also be given a choice of a blanket or a onesie to sleep in during their journey.
Elizabeth Esnouf, Managing Director of Stagecoach’s UK Coach division said:
“We know there are lots of people who are keen to try these new services and we look forward to welcoming passengers on board when they get underway this summer.
“Our sleepercoach vehicles are the first of their kind in the world and we’re excited to be using them to provide a great value, comfortable service for our customers that will allow them to go to bed in one city and wake up in another.”

The launch of the new sleepercoach network follows the huge success of a pilot route between Glasgow and London using refurbished vehicles fitted with bunk beds.

Specially designed and manufactured by Van Hool in Belgium, the new sleepercoach vehicles will operate under a new brand. All routes on the sleepercoach network will be operated through the Scottish Citylink joint venture between Stagecoach and international transport group ComfortDelGro. A new dedicated website will be launched later this year.

 A search of the megabus website revealed the above details of an available journey at
 a price of £35 on Monday 22nd July.
 Interior of one of the new vehicles

Monday, 24 June 2013

Arriva Drivers Wear Skirts

A dozen male train drivers in Sweden have circumvented a ban on shorts by wearing skirts to work in hot weather.
The workers, who operate the Roslagsbanan line north of the capital Stockholm, have been wearing skirts to work for the past two weeks.
Employer Arriva banned the drivers from wearing shorts after taking over the running of the line in January.
But the company has given the men its blessing to wear skirts, according to local newspaper Mitti.
"Our thinking is that one should look decent and proper when representing Arriva and the present uniforms do that. If the man only wants [to wear] a skirt then that is OK," Arriva communications manager Tomas Hedenius told the paper.
"To tell them to do something else would be discrimination."

Driver Martin Akersten told the BBC he and his colleagues came up with the idea to wear skirts after they were informed of the new company dress code in the winter.
"We have always said that when summer comes, we will get some skirts and wear them. It's very warm weather here so we would like to wear shorts but if we can't then we have skirts for comfort".
The male drivers have chosen only to wear skirts on hot days, opting for trousers in cooler conditions.

"The passengers stare at us but so far no-one has said anything - well, not to me, anyway. And I don't mind as it's more about comfort," Mr Akersten adds.

Sunday, 23 June 2013

DUKW Company in Administration

Pearlwild, the firm that runs amphibious vehicle tours in Liverpool has gone into administration nearly a week after one of its craft sank in Albert Dock.
Hale-based Milner Boardman has been appointed as administrator for Pearlwild Limited, which runs the Yellow Duckmarine attraction.
Thirty-one people, including children, were on board the craft when it sank on Saturday. Nobody was seriously injured.
Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) is investigating.
It was the second sinking involving one of the craft in three months.

The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) has withdrawn its certification on all of the firm's four vessels.
Pearlwild said on Tuesday it believed debris in the water resulted in "severe damage to the hull" of the vessel, which was one of a fleet of DUKW vehicles, the craft used in the D-Day landings.
The Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson has said the fleet should "not be allowed back in the water".
After one of the vehicles sank in March, all four Yellow Duckmarines were stopped from going into the dock. Three vehicles were declared safe to return to the water two months later.
The Queen and Prince Philip went on a trip around the dock on one of the vehicles during the Diamond Jubilee tour.
Pearlwild faces a separate investigation by the North West Traffic Commissioner amid concerns over the operation of the Duckmarines in 2012.
The public inquiry follows an investigation by the Vehicle and Operator Services Agency (VOSA) last year which found systems to be "unsatisfactory" with minimum standards not being met.

It will examine evidence from VOSA and Pearlwild.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

VOSA and Driving Standards Agency to Merge

The Driving Standards Agency (DSA) and the Vehicle Operator Services Agency (VOSA) are to merge, roads minister Stephen Hammond announced today. That means motoring services from driving tests to the testing of goods vehicles will be the responsibility of one organisation.
The single agency will come into being in 2014. A transitional board under the leadership of VOSA chief executive Alastair Peoples will start work next month to determine the structure of the organisation. Peoples will head the as yet unnamed new agency.
Rosemary Thew, the DSA chief executive, will be leaving her post at the end of June.
Stephen Hammond said: “We need to make sure that we continue to keep pace with customers’ needs and deliver services in a way which is both convenient and cost effective. These changes will put customers at the heart of the services they rely on and allow for a more coherent approach to service delivery. By bringing testing and standards services into a single organisation we will make life easier for customers and potentially reduce the fees we charge.

“Staff at the DSA and VOSA do a great job in delivering for customers every day and we will work closely with them to support them through these changes.”
 The news has been given a guarded welcome by the Road Haulage Association (RHA). Geoff Dunning, the RHA chief executive, said: “This move makes obvious sense to an industry that is surrounded by regulations from number of regulatory bodies. However, we are concerned that this is another case of the devil being in the detail and we would welcome the opportunity to contribute to the negotiations as to how the new system will actually work.
“We have always had a good relationship with both the DSA and VOSA and are confident that this will continue with the new, single, regulatory body.” 

Friday, 21 June 2013

Hulley's of Baslow, Bradwell shuttles.

Hulley's 22 on Winnatts Pass 19/06/2013

Hulleys have been operating a shuttle service to cover a road closure at Bradwell affecting services 68, 173 and 272 which involves a long diversion (scheduled for 27 minutes instead of the usual 10) and includes the scenic Winnatts Pass near Castleton.
Here's a selection of photos of the buses used, mostly a solo but the hired Enviro did do the first round trip (0630 from Bradwell and 0700 return from Castleton), as seen here Wednesday (19/06/2013) when it was still a bit murky.
Wednesday (19/06/2013) afternoon saw Solo 9 on the route and I also spotted the only service to now use this road, Smiths of Marple DCC subsidised 200 (Chapel en le Frith - Castleton).


Hulley's nos 4 & 9 in Castleton 19/06/2013

Hulley's no9 on Winnatts Pass 19/06/2013

Hulley's no9 on Winnatts Pass 19/06/2013

Hulley's no9 on Winnatts Pass 19/06/2013

Hulley's no9 on Winnatts Pass 19/06/2013

Hulley's 22 on Winnatts Pass 19/06/2013

Smiths of Marple Mercedes Vario V941 KAG on Winnatts Pass 19/06/2013

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Bedford in Dalkeith

A quiet news day so here's a look back to Derek Thomson's 1956 Plaxton bodied Bedford SBG

Derek Thompson's Bedford SB picks its way through Dalkeith having visited the Scottish Vintage Vehicle Museum Open Day at Lathalmond in 2005. This was the first outing since restoration and the vehicle is still in undercoat. The Bedford looks tiny compared to the modern coach which is approaching from the other direction. This years Lathalmond  event will be on the weekend of 17th and 18th August.  Details
 The Bedford was extensively restored by Derek Thomson. Amongst many items it received
 a new petrol engine.
 The vehicle received  a coat of white paint and a maroon band in the style it carried when in service with Swan's of Berwick. There are many shades of white and in this instance the white never seemed
to suit the vehicle.

 The Bedford at Belsay Hall in company with Derek's other restorations

Wednesday, 19 June 2013

Protests Continue over Proposals to Close NRM

A rally has been held at the National Railway Museum in York over its possible closure.
The protest followed a recent warning by its owners, the Science Museum Group (SMG), about further budgetary cuts.
It said either the National Railway Museum, the National Media Museum in Bradford or the Museum of Science and Industry in Manchester could close.
James Alexander, leader of City of York Council, said: "We need to be vocal and show cross-party support."
The SMG, which also owns the Science Museum in London, has said a further 10% reduction in government funding would leave it "little choice" but to close one of its northern museums.
Mr Alexander, a Labour councillor, said: "We can't be in the situation where we are just the north of England, we are ignored by the government because we are not in London."
He said he hoped the event would highlight the strength of public feeling in support of keeping the museum open.
Hugh Bayley, York Central's Labour MP, also spoke at the meeting. The rally took place ahead of a planned debate in Parliament about the future of the museums.
Dr John Sentamu, the Archbishop of York, said on Thursday he was "shocked" by warnings that one of three museums in the north of England would close if funding was cut any further.
York Council's Labour, Conservative, Lib Dem and Green group leaders have already written a letter to Maria Miller, culture secretary, about the impact of any reduction in government funding for the SMG.

The letter said the National Railway Museum played a "critical part" in attracting tourists, who contribute £443m annually, to the city.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Another DUKW Sinks at Liverpool Docks

Twenty-seven people were treated in hospital after an amphibious tourist craft sank in Liverpool's Albert Dock. The incident is the second sinking involving one of the vessels this year.
The North West Ambulance Service said 31 people including children were on board the craft when it went down just before 16:00 BST. Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said all passengers had been accounted for. Eighteen people were taken to the Royal Liverpool Hospital but have since been discharged.
The Yellow Duckmarine tour company said it was working with the coastguard and police to establish what had caused the sinking.

Library Pictures from Tony Wilson
All four Yellow Duckmarines were banned from going into water after one sank and passengers had to be moved on to a pontoon on 31 March.
In May, three of the vehicles were declared safe to take to the water again.

In 2012, the Queen had a ride on one of the buses when she visited the region as part of her Diamond Jubilee tour to celebrate 60 years on the throne.

The Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson refused to be drawn on the future of the yellow vessels until he knew everybody involved in the latest incident was safe.
He tweeted: "Albert Dock Duck incident, look I will not make any official comment on the future of these ducks until we know people are all OK [and] accounted for."

Yellow Duckmarine said the craft had a valid passenger-carrying certificate and has been moved to a secure location following consultation with the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).
A spokesman said: "Following the incident involving Quacker 1, we are working closely with our regulatory body, the MCA and Merseyside Police.

"Our team followed their emergency response procedure, ensuring the safe disembarkation of passengers on board.
"We are pleased that all of the passengers who were taken to hospital as a precaution have now been released."

Monday, 17 June 2013

In depth study???

We sent David Gambles to study public transport in Turkey and so far the only picture we have received is this one, with the caption "In the distance is a Turkish Taxi Boat"

Obviously we hope David will send us more conventional pictures, but the signs aren't good!