Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Arriva Bus Tracker Launched

Arriva have launched their Bus Tracking website, showing UK buses positioned in real time.

Click on this link below to use
Type in the area name or a specific bus stop and the website will take you there, showing all Arriva buses with destination numbers and route details. A specific bus can then be tracked in real time - very handy if it happens to be running late. If it's 7 minutes late you go to the bus stop 7 minutes later than normal, very useful in current weather conditions!;


Tuesday, 30 December 2014


Great Central Railway's new bid for Leicester museum funding

The museum would adjoin the Great Central Railway, which spans Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire
A bid for £10m to create a railway museum "of national standing" has been resubmitted.

The museum would sit alongside the Leicester North station of the Great Central Railway, which spans the counties of Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire.
Some exhibits will come from the National Railway Museum in York, which said it is "delighted" to be part of the project.
The Heritage Lottery Fund turned down the previous bid for £10m in May.
Bill Ford, managing director of the Great Central Railway, said they had received "some really constructive feedback" and are "confident we have made this visionary project even better".
"Not only will the museum help people reconnect with their railway story, sitting right alongside our thriving heritage line it will be a unique attraction," he said.
Unlike other museums, steam hauled passenger trains will arrive alongside the exhibition halls.
The museum will be connected to the running lines to allow displays to be changed, and locomotives and carriages to be operated on the tracks of the railway.
The National Railway Museum in York is part of the project
The project, which is supported by Leicester City Council, is expected to cost £16m.
Leicester mayor Sir Peter Soulsby said: "This is a really exciting opportunity to create a railway experience of national standing in Leicester."
Exhibits will include V2 class steam locomotive Green Arrow, and the only surviving GCR passenger engine, Butler Henderson.
Paul Kirkman, director of the National Railway Museum, said: "Leicester had one of the world's earliest railways. It was also a hub of the Midland line.
"We want to put key parts of the national collection on display at the heart of the country for the first time.
"But just as important we hope to inspire a new generation to get involved in our nation's railway story."
Those behind the bid will find out if they have been successful in April.

The Great Central Railway is the UK's only double track main line heritage railway.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Go North East Steps In to Save Quaylink Service

The future of the Newcastle Gateshead Quaylink bus service has been secured thanks to Go North East.

Cllr Nick Forbes, leader of Newcastle City Council and lead chief executive on transport for the North East Combined Authority, has announced that the city council is withdrawing its funding for the service.

This follows a similar announcement from Gateshead Council, which also part funds the current service.

Now Go North East has stepped in to save the service, which links the Baltic, Sage, Gateshead College and St Peter’s Basin with Newcastle city centre and Gateshead Interchange.

Kevin Carr, managing director of Go North East, said: “With all our local authorities facing a funding crisis and some considering increasing council taxes, it’s inevitable that front-line services – including those buses funded by councils – will be hit.

“I’m pleased that we’ve been able to come up with a plan that will continue to provide a seven-day-a-week bus service to such an important part of Newcastle and Gateshead.

“But this must bring in to question the Combined Authority’s view that bus services are best controlled by local authorities – if they can’t guarantee a service as important as this, how can they guarantee improvements to the bus network?”

Focus Comment 
How indeed? It is obvious the the desperate attempts by local councils and Nexus to grab control of the bus services in the north east cannot proceed. They just don't have the long term finances to back their misguided scheme which will rob council tax payers of large sums of money just to secure this harebrained idea.
Massive sums of money have already been spent on trying to justify the adoption of quality contracts. This money could and should have been spent on supporting local bus services - including the Quaylink service which was to be cast aside without any thought for passengers. This shows the reality of what publicly run services would be like. It's all to do with power seeking officials who are desperate to grab control and stop public companies making money from their operations. On the other hand these people are quite happy to invest their pension schemes in companies that make profits. They would indignant if they were told that their investments had been confiscated because a group of bungling officials had decided they could do better and that they had presented some dodgy figures in a desperate attempt to prove their case.  

Designlines in service in Newcastle
The Newcastle - Gateshead Quaylink services were launched in a blaze of publicity with a fleet of battery powered hybrid Designline vehicles. By the time the contract approached the end of five years the vehicles had proved to be drastically unreliable and new Optare vehicles replaced the Designlines. 
Even though the vehicles were only five years old, Nexus and Newcastle / Gateshead councils who owned them were landed with the problem of what to do with them and issued statements saying that they were being sold for further use. They disappeared for a while and eventually one of our contributors found them stacked in a scrap yard - so much for further use!
 Designlines 'ready for further use' - as razorblades?
 June 2012 - Lined up at a Newcastle scrapyard, awaiting their fate

Left. Stacked with other scrap vehicles and ready for breaking and certainly no chance of ever being used again.

What a waste of public money!

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Preston Bus Station - New Plans Unveiled

A proposal for a £23m redevelopment of Preston's Grade II-listed bus station which would include a youth centre, have been unveiled.
The Lancashire County Council (LCC) and Preston Youth Zone (PYZ) plans include a sports hall, arts facilities as well as 36 new bus bays in the station.
The plan has been put forward after the station was protected from demolition by English Heritage last year.

A planning application will be submitted for consideration next April.
LCC and PYZ are funding the project with £7.4m being allocated to the bus station, £6m for the Youth Zone Plus and the remainder for repair and highway improvement costs.
Lancashire 'asset'
English Heritage said the Grade II listing would not prevent changes being made to the building, provided its architectural significance was protected.
Guy Topping, chairman of PYZ, said: "Preston bus station is not only centrally located it is also extremely accessible to young people, making it an ideal location for us to deliver youth services."
LCC said the the Youth Zone will be "located at the heart of the city" and will make a " huge... difference to the lives of thousands of young people".
Work will start in October 2015 if planning permission is granted.
County Councillor John Fillis, cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "The heritage listing made it clear that the bus station is here to stay and our proposals will ensure it becomes an asset to Lancashire for decades to come."

The bus station was assigned listed status in September 2013 by English Heritage who described it as "truly remarkable".

Saturday, 27 December 2014


Double-decker trains are being considered as a solution to overcrowding on London’s busiest rail services. Network Rail officials propose introducing double-decker trains during busy periods between Southampton, Woking and London Waterloo. 
Other measures include building “flyovers” to allow trains to bypass busy stations, a new terminus in London and greater use of narrow train seats. Network Rail has unveiled the proposals as solutions to increased overcrowding on rail services in the next 30 years. Passenger numbers on the country’s congested railways are projected to rocket in that period, with the total number of journeys doubling from 1.6billion a year to 3.2billion. The number of commuters arriving at Waterloo in London, the country’s busiest station, between 8am and 9am is expected to rise from 50,000 to 70,000 by 2043. 

 In 1949 Four-car double deck trains were introduced on the 
Southern Region. They were designed by Oliver Bulleid and 
lasted until 1971. They were said to be cramped and unpopular 
and were slow to load and unload. Click here and here to see videos.
A new double-decker train could be designed to take on the extra numbers, after it was decided that none of the trains used abroad would be suitable as Britain uses higher station platforms. The initial concept involves a train consisting of three 85ft carriages which could carry 50 per cent more passengers. Stephen Joseph, of the Campaign for Better Transport, told the Sunday Times there were potential “serious problems” with double-decker trains as it takes longer for passengers to get on and off. 
The consultation also proposes new platforms at Southampton station and a rail “flyover” at Woking, costing up to £100m, with one at Basingstoke costing up to £175m. Another scheme was to increase the number of carriages that cram five seats abreast, a move the report accepts would be drastically unpopular with the travelling public. 
A separate report outlines options for the Anglia rail network, including a proposal to build the first new rail terminus in London since Marylebone in 1899. The report suggests the station could be built next to Shoreditch High Street station in east London on land owned by Network Rail. The report also proposes more platforms at Liverpool Street station. 
A spokesman for Network Rail said: “It’s right that as part of our plans to increase capacity we fully examine the costs and benefits of double-decker trains, alongside traditional engineering enhancements such as flyovers at Woking and Basingstoke and new platforms at Southampton.”

Footnote:- One of the Bulleid double deck carriages survives at Northamptonshire Ironstone Railway Trust. See here.

Friday, 26 December 2014

Managing Director of Virgin Trains East Coast Appointed

The head of the new company which will take over responsibility for running rail services on the East Coast mainline next year has been confirmed by Stagecoach and Virgin. 

David Horne, currently Managing Director of Stagecoach-owned East Midlands Trains, has been appointed to play a leading part in the mobilisation and transition arrangements for the new InterCity East Coast franchise which is to be operated by Stagecoach and Virgin from March 2015.

He will take up the role from next month and, subject to the commencement of the franchise award as envisaged, would become Managing Director of Virgin Trains East Coast when the franchise starts.

David has more than 25 years experience in the rail industry, having started his career in 1988 as a ticket office clerk in Cornwall. He has also held senior positions within South West Trains and Virgin Trains.  

David led the successful bid on behalf of Stagecoach for the East Midlands Trains franchise in 2007.  In his time at East Midlands Trains, David has been responsible for delivering the UK's most punctual long distance services over a five year period which has also seen significant increases in customer satisfaction.  East Midlands Trains was named Passenger Operator of the Year at the National Rail Awards earlier this year.

David (42) currently lives in Nottinghamshire with his wife and two-year-old son. 

Patrick McCall, Senior Partner, Virgin Group, said: "We are looking forward to taking on the East Coast Mainline in spring next year and have a number of new initiatives ready to launch under the Virgin brand. The appointment of David Horne as Managing Director of InterCity East Coast will greatly help us accelerate these plans."

Speaking on his appointment, David Horne said: "I feel very privileged to be given the opportunity to lead this major new franchise.  I've travelled on East Coast on many occasions over the years and have seen first-hand the level of pride the team have and the focus on delivering a great service for customers.   

"Over 20 million journeys are made every year on this franchise which connects some of the UK's most important cities and it plays a key role in the local communities it serves.  There are some really innovative plans for the future which will see investment in our people, in delivering more for our customers and will provide better support for our local communities.

"I'm really excited about the future for Virgin Trains East Coast and I'm looking forward to meeting the team and getting started on the next phase of the journey.”
The new Virgin Trains East Coast franchise will start in March 2015 and is planned to run until 31 March 2023, with the option for a one-year extension at the Department for Transport's discretion.  Trains will operate under the ‘Virgin Trains East Coast' brand and the franchise will be managed by Inter City Railways, a venture between Stagecoach and Virgin.  Plans are now well underway to ensure a smooth transition to the new franchise, and it has recently been confirmed that the Head Office will remain in York.

Over £140 million will be invested in the new franchise delivering major improvements for customers. Stagecoach and Virgin have exciting plans to transform the on-train experience and deliver a more personalised service, with at-seat food ordering from the buffet car and hot food available to passengers in standard class.  A new Nectar loyalty scheme will be launched and it will be easier to buy tickets and make seat reservations. Passengers will also benefit from new trains, an improved timetable with faster journeys and better connections, more services to new destinations, better value fares, new technology and a range of station and accessibility enhancements.

Jake Kelly has been appointed Managing Director Designate of East Midlands Trains. He has previously worked as a director of the company and joins from the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance where he has worked since 2010 in the roles of Commercial Director, Customer Service Director and more recently as Development Director. 

Thursday, 25 December 2014



The Focus Team have had a busy year bringing you daily news and views from world of public transport. 
We recently passed the 750,000 page-view mark and by the time we reach our 4th Anniversary we should have reached 1 million.
Thanks to the regular visitors to our website and a warm welcome if you are a new visitor. 

 Christmas Day Posting Below 

New German Route for

Coach operator began operating a new route on 16th December which will help cut the cost of travel between German cities.
The route between Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, Cologne and Brussels, provides both international services and domestic travel. Fares on the route start at just €1 which is drastically lower than fares currently offered on other modes of transport and by other coach operators in Germany.
For the first time in mainland Europe, will provide domestic inter-city travel along the route. The new services will enable people to travel between any points on the route within Germany - Cologne, Frankfurt, Stuttgart or Munich. has announced that the new route is part of the company’s free seat sale which is currently underway across the UK and mainland Europe. As a result, hundreds of free seats have been made available on the new route for travel between 12 January and 12 February 2015.
The company also revealed that all seats on every service within Germany will be priced at just €1 for those travelling on the first three days of the new service (on 16, 17 and 18 December). Thereafter, has confirmed that there will be €1 seats on every journey. 
The services will also operate as normal throughout Christmas and New Year, including on Christmas Day.
The new route will cover some of the biggest population centres in Germany which have a combined direct population of more than 3.8million people. It also includes Brussels which is the capital of the European Union and has a population of 1.2million.
The new services will pick-up and drop-off at stops either right in the city centre or near convenient transport links into the heart of each city.
The new domestic transport options will make it even easier – and more affordable - for people in Germany to travel from city to city. In addition, the cross-border element of route to and from Brussels will help boost the number of people travelling from across Europe to key German cities. It will also open up a host of new transport options for people in Germany to travel to more than 110 destinations on the network across the UK and mainland Europe. Managing Director Edward Hodgson said: “It’s great news for people in Germany that we have introduced these services to cut the cost of inter-city travel across key parts of the country. We are the only coach operator in Europe to offer €1 fares on all services across all routes.
“We believe consumers make their travel choices based on low fares and high quality services over the long term and we aim to be number one on both. We look forward to attracting people on to our greener, smarter and better value coach services. “
Tickets for the new routes are on sale now at
The services are being operated from’s base near Brussels, which is the company’s first depot in mainland Europe.
The number of passengers using's growing coach network in Europe increased by more than 50% between 2012-13 and 2013-14 as the company continues to transform travel options for passengers. already carries more than 15 million passengers a year across Europe and North America. uses bigger coaches with more seats carrying up to 87 people, compared to standard coaches which tend to have around 50 seats. This allows the company to have a low cost per passenger & helps keep fares down to provide outstanding value for money. launched low-cost coach services between London and mainland Europe in 2012 and already links around 110 destinations in the UK and Europe. The European network already includes Paris, Boulogne, Amsterdam, Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Cologne, Toulouse, Barcelona, Brussels, Lille and Luxembourg.
Services have proved very popular with families, students and tourists looking to save money on their travel and spend extra on entertainment when they arrive at their destination. Coaches feature free wi-fi allowing passengers to stay connected on the move.
Three double deck Astromega coaches will operate on the route between Brussel and Munich. They are among nine vehicles based at the company’s depot in Belgium, representing an investment of over €4million. The vehicles have all been manufactured by Belgium based coach builder VanHool, and have free Wifi and power sockets. They also have onboard toilet facilities for additional comfort and convenience.In addition, all vehicles have two brand new safety features - Lane Deviation Warning and Adaptive Cruise Control technology - which have been introduced a year ahead of regulations.
All drivers undertake a detailed operational and customer service training programme, including route familiarisation and driving assessments. The training is part of an EU standard qualification for professional bus, coach and lorry drivers. ensures full compliance with relevant EU working time legislation and the company also has stricter maintenance standards than legal requirements as part of its commitment to safety. was launched in the UK in 2003 and expanded its services to North America in 2006. After launching services in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany, the company introduced a service to Barcelona, Spain, which has also proved popular.
All European locations are served daily, with routes to and from the UK operating during the day and overnight. An interchange at London Victoria Coach Station offers links to and from locations in Scotland, England and Wales. offers German, Spanish, French and Dutch language websites.

See also

Wednesday, 24 December 2014


Investment in new rolling stock for rail franchises in the north of England has been announced by the government.
The move is part of Chancellor George Osborne's ambition to create a northern economic "powerhouse".
It means the Northern Rail and Trans-Pennine Express routes will see the current "pacer" trains replaced with new and modern vehicles.
Mr Osborne said in his Autumn Statement announcement that the current rolling stock was "ancient and unpopular".

Pacer trains were built between 1980 and 1987, and were originally intended a short-term solution to a shortage of rolling stock, but remain in use today.
George Osborne: "Our ambition is to create a northern powerhouse as a complement to the strength of our capital city"

The Northern Rail franchise covers a large swathe of the north, operating both commuter and some longer routes from the north-west of England across to the north-east of the country.

Its services also extend to the midland counties of Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, and Staffordshire.

The Trans-Pennine Express service runs regular inter-city services between major cities in the north of England as well as to the Scottish central belt area.
In 2013 the franchises carried more than 110 million passengers, connecting the key strategic cities of Leeds, Liverpool, Sheffield, Manchester and Newcastle, and onwards to Edinburgh and Glasgow.
The franchises to run the two northern routes are going through their renewal process, with the winning bidders being announced by October 2015.
It had been thought there might also be some announcement from Mr Osborne on rail fares during the Autumn Statement, but there was no new development.
In September, it had been announced that regulated fares in England, which include season tickets and "anytime" singles, would rise by a maximum of 2.5% from January.
That was the level of Retail Price Index (RPI) inflation this summer. Normally the fares increase cap would be RPI plus 1%.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014


Hornby points towards Blazefield

Alex Hornby has been appointed managing director of Blazefield Bus Group with effect from 2nd February 2015. Hornby moves from Trent Barton, while Blazefield’s Martin Gilbert transfers to the position of executive chairman.

“We are delighted that Alex will be joining Transdev, bringing with him his fantastic track record of success,” says Nigel Stevens CEO of parent company Transdev UK and Ireland. “Alex will bring to Transdev his past experience developing Trent Barton into a benchmark business within the UK bus industry and, prior to that, his operational experience with some of the leading UK bus operators. We are confident that Alex's combination of experience, passion and creativity are exceptionally well matched to the ambition that Transdev has for Blazefield and that he is the ideal appointment to take the business on the next stage of its evolution.”

Hornby joined Trent Barton in 2010 as commercial director having started out as a graduate trainee with Stagecoach and then worked at Go-Ahead’s Blue Line business.
Gilbert’s role will see him overseeing business development of the Blazefield business and on other projects for Transdev, in both the UK and internationally.

Back in 2011 Alex kindly agreed to an interview for Focus Transport. That interview can be viewed by clicking here

Monday, 22 December 2014

Return of Direct London Trains from Blackpool

The first direct train from Blackpool to London in more than a decade departed on Monday 15th December.

The service set off at 05:25 GMT and travelled to London Euston, arriving at 08:34 GMT.
Blackpool has been campaigning for a rail link to London ever since the last direct service between the resort and the capital was scrapped in May 2003.
One train will now run each day on weekdays.
Permission to run the service was granted to Virgin Trains by the Office of Rail Regulation in September.
A new direct service from Shrewsbury was also announced at the time, with the first trains departing on the Sunday before.

The service calls at Kirkham and Wesham, Poulton-le-Fylde, Preston, Wigan North Western, Warrington Bank Quay, Crewe and Nuneaton.


The next set of recent visits to London is now available on the Flickr site and this time focuses on foreign coach visitors to the Capital. The set can now be viewed by clicking here

Sunday, 21 December 2014


Gaydon motor museum on 'exceptional cultural collection' list

A motor museum in Warwickshire has been added to Arts Council England's "exceptional cultural collections" housed in non-national institutions.
The Heritage Motor Centre in Gaydon claims to own the world's greatest number of historic British cars.
Others on the list include an archive of Churchill's work and a museum dedicated to the history of surgery.
Established in 1997, the Designated Collection scheme is aimed at making exhibits more accessible to the public.
The Arts Council, which described the selected displays as "telling significant stories from England's rich history", has invested more than £32m in the project over the past 17 years.

The Heritage Motor Centre features vehicles produced from 1800 to the present by manufacturers including Austin, Morris, Mini, MG, Wolseley, Riley, Triumph, Rover and Land Rover.
Curator Stephen Laing said he was "thrilled" by the recognition.
Arts Council England is funded by the government's Department for Culture, Media and Sport, and the National Lottery.

Focus comment:

Several members of the Focus Transport team attended the museum complex during July 2014, when a large bus related event was held at the venue. Organised by the monthly Buses magazine over 100 buses and coaches were present. It is understood that a similar event will take place on Sunday 23rd August 2015, and comes highly recommended


Also inside the main building one was able to view another fine vintage London General S-type London Bus.

Saturday, 20 December 2014


With the cessation of the Routemaster operated London 'heritage' route 9 (Trafalgar Square & Kensington High Street), from the 25th July 2014, the buses that ran the service have now all been placed on the sales list. 
Like the 'new' Routemasters they are owned by Transport for London and apparently proceeds from the sales will enable the other original Routemasters that operate 'heritage' route 15 (Trafalgar Square & Tower Hill), to be refurbished. This appears to be an indication that the 'heritage' 15 will continue after awards have been announced in the current round of tenders awaiting awards.

The Routemasters currently awaiting sale are RMs 1204, 1218, 1280, 1562, 1627, 1640, 1650 (the silver one classified SRM 3), 1735, 1776 and 1913.

The buses assigned to the route were initially operated by First London from their Westbourne Grove Garage located beneath the Westway in west London. Upon the break-up of the London subsidiary, part including Westbourne Park passed over to Tower Transit until the route was withdrawn. Illustrated below, some of the buses in use with First London back in 2007. The offside aspects of RM 1204 and the silver one RM 1650 at Piccadilly Circus, the nearside of RM 1218 at Hyde Park Corner.

Come in Number 9, your time is up

RM 1627 was selected to operate the very last journey over the route before it was withdrawn after service on the 25th July 2014. However, a chance ride on another Routemaster back in April 2014, found the photographer able to capture the very same bus in the last few weeks of operation. The image was taken from the top deck as the buses passed respectively along St.James's Street. In the background two of the 'new' Routemasters with London United, can be observed as they operated over the main number 9 route (Hammersmith & Aldwych).


Essex-based Ensignbus held another of their splendid Vintage Running Days recently at the beginning of December. A flavour of the day's events can now be viewed on the Features site by clicking here

Friday, 19 December 2014


Duck boat tours: 'Standards not met' in Liverpool and London incidents

Recent incidents involving Duck amphibious vehicles highlighted poor maintenance and a failure to meet standards, a report has found.
The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) said it was "extremely fortunate" no-one was hurt when a craft sank in Liverpool in June 2013.
It was the second vehicle to sink in Salthouse Dock in a three-month period.
Another Duck craft also caught fire on the River Thames in London in September 2013, with 30 people evacuated.
On both the sinkings, the report found the Ducks did not have the quantity of buoyancy foam required to provide the "mandated level of residual buoyancy".

Amphibious DUKWs - or Ducks
  • The DUKW - also known as a Duck - is a six-wheel-drive amphibious truck first made in the US in the mid-1940s
  • 21,000 DUKWs were produced for use during World War Two to move men and materials ashore where no port facilities existed
  • Many served on D-Day and in the Normandy landings, where 40% of supplies landed on the beaches were carried by DUKWs
  • DUKWs remained in service with the British and other armies into the 1970s
  • All four Duckmarine vehicles operated in Liverpool were built almost 70 years ago
Steve Clinch, chief inspector of the MAIB, said it became clear that other Ducks operating in the UK also did not have the quantities of foam required.
London Duck Tours made buoyancy amendments to their vessel, but Mr Clinch said the "foam was so tightly packed around machinery that it caught fire".

The MAIB said in the Liverpool incident in June the passengers and crew were not adequately prepared to deal with the emergency situation.
'Insufficient buoyancy foam' It also found the Maritime and Coastguard Agency's (MCA) periodic inspection regimes and their unscheduled interventions had been ineffective.
More than 20,000 DUKW vehicles were produced for use during WW2.
Mr Clinch said: "The sinking of two Liverpool DUKWs in quick succession highlighted extremely poor standards of maintenance, and that for nearly 14 years they had operated with insufficient buoyancy foam to keep them afloat should they suffer major damage.
"It was extremely fortunate when DUKW Wacker Quacker 1 sank in Salthouse Dock that none of the 33 passengers and crew on board were drowned or injured as they abandoned ship."

The 28 passengers and two crew on board the London Duck had to swim to safety and were rescued by other vessels
The MAIB said it was a concern it took two "potentially fatal" accidents to prompt a "framework for safely operating" the vehicles.
The report said that Liverpool Duck operators The Yellow Duck Marine was no longer operating, while London Duck Tours had made various amendments.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh were pictured taking a trip on a Duck in Liverpool when they visited Merseyside as part of the Diamond Jubilee tour in 2012.

....and staying with a 'yellow' theme!


A bit of an 'oooops' moment occurred on Saturday 13th December just gone, when a test train derailed at Hindlow near to Buxton, Derbyshire. The train was IQ20 Derby to Longsight and hauled by 97301 with 97303 on the rear. Front and rear of the train took different routes at the points, and our correspondent Roger Kaye was on hand shortly afterwards to record the result. All was restored to normality by the following day. A series of images can now be viewed by clicking here


Thursday, 18 December 2014


New public transport service as from January 2015

From the Times of Malta

The new public transport service will start in January 2015 after a court today turned down a request by Maltese consortium Island Buses Malta to stop the transport authorities from entering into any contracts or agreements with the Spanish company Autobus de Leon to run the bus service.
In a statement this afternoon, the government said it would continue working for the people to have the public transport service they deserved.
It said that the new routes will be entering service gradually as from January.

Madam Justice Jacqueline Padovani Grima turned down the request for a warrant of prohibitory injunction in a case filed against Transport Malta, the Transport Ministry, the Government and Malta Public Transport Services.
The court said that granting the Maltese consortium the injunction to stop the government from signing a contract with the Spaniards was “disproportionate”.
Madam Justice Padovani Grima ruled that the effects of the injunction on the government were far greater than the effect the signing would have on Island Buses.
The government, the court said, was forking out thousands of euros every day to keep the public transport service running and to honour the contract it had with Arriva.
She said Island Buses had other means to counter the effects the signing would have.
The judge further said that citizens of Malta had the right to a better public transport service and stopping the signing of the new agreement will affect them directly.
She said that the only effect the signing of this agreement with the Spaniards could have on the Maltese consortium is of a financial nature, through loss in earnings and this could be addressed with a court case in the appropriate forum claiming pecuniary damages.
She ruled that the elements to uphold a request for an injunction had not been satisfied, especially since Island Buses had not managed to prove on the need for the injunction to be issued.
Along with Spanish group Autobuses de Leon and Gozo First Travel, the Maltese consortium was one of the three bidders submitting an offer, following an expression of interest which closed on April 7.
In the request filed in court Island Buses argued that the tender was awarded to Autobuses De Leon when their bid did not respect the conditions laid down in the call for expression of interest (EOI).

Wednesday, 17 December 2014


Will Scotland's railways improve by going Dutch?

It has been a few weeks since the Aberdeen-based First Group was told it was losing the right to run Scotland's railways to the Dutch state-owned operator Abellio.
The franchise winner promised a raft of changes, from better public transport integration to Dutch-style bicycle hire.
But it will also be going Dutch with the profits; some will be reinvested, but the rest will be ploughed into improvements to the Netherlands' railways.
There are many obvious differences between the two nations, with the Dutch population being about three times greater but concentrated over a much smaller area.
And then there are the hills - or lack of them. But Abellio argues there is enough in common for it to directly lift some elements of its operation on the continent and transplant it to Scotland.
The punctuality of Dutch trains has improved
One ambition is for full transport integration, allowing passengers to seamlessly jump from one form of transport to another.
At Utrecht station, where the company has its headquarters, Abellio CEO Jeff Hoogesteger explains: "People don't want to travel from station to station but from door to door and we will introduce new products, new innovation such as the journey companion app, providing door-to-door information throughout all the different modes."
Smart card travel Mr Hoogesteger admits his plans are ambitious and will not "be done all in one day".
But in the Netherlands the firm is well on the way to achieving its goal.
Commuters use a single smart card, similar to the Oyster Card in London, whereby money is pre-loaded and the cost of each leg of the trip is deducted as passengers swipe through the barriers at stations.
The card can also be used to hire a bike, pay for a taxi and even buy a coffee.
Perhaps the first thing passengers want to see though is an improvement in punctuality.
Jeff Hoogesteger, from Abellio, says the plans will take time
Arrien Kruyt is president of the Dutch Rail Users Union, a fee paying organisation with 5,500 members.
He said: "Railway customers are not easy to please, they tend to complain about things, but thank goodness the statistics show that people are more satisfied than they used to be a couple of years ago.
"Punctuality has improved. People like to travel by train but they like to be on time and they hate it when a train arrives much too late and here a lot of things have improved.
"Another thing which has improved is the interconnection between trains, buses and other forms of public transport but I think the most important thing is attitude. It is most important if the directors of the company express in public and to their personnel that it is the passenger first."
The Dutch operator said the interconnection between bus and train was important to users
Trains are not the only thing the rail company operates in stations; food and retail outlets are also provided by the state-owned firm.
Profits are reinvested in the railways and the plan is launch similar outlets at some stations in Scotland.
But not all the profits from ScotRail will be reinvested. Some will be used to fund improvements to the Dutch network, owned by NS Railways.
Timo Huges, CEO of NS Railways, said: "We have made some promises that part of the money we generate in Scotland will be reinvested to increase the level of service we have promised. At the same time, there will be some money flown back to the Netherlands."
Abellio does already operate in other parts of the UK and Germany.
But this will be the first time it has taken over a nation's network and expectation, from the government and the passengers, is high.

Borders to Edinburgh railway: Abellio outlines route goals


Borders railway  

A director with Dutch firm Abellio has outlined its aims for the Borders Railway once it takes over the ScotRail franchise in April.
The line between Tweedbank and Edinburgh is scheduled to reopen in September next year.
Abellio's UK rail business development director Mike Kean said the route would be extensively marketed in advance.
He added that this would continue after trains returned - with the message that the railway was "here to stay".
Mr Kean said one of the company's aims was to make sure people from outside the Borders towns with stations - Galashiels, Stow and Tweedbank - could connect with trains as easily as possible.
"One of our goals as a transport company is to make sure people don't use the car and use the train instead," he said.
Passenger target He said that meant ensuring people had a "really good experience" while travelling by train and that services ran on time.
"We will be running extensive marketing campaigns leading up to the launch," he added.
"More importantly, after the launch, we will make sure people understand that it is here and it is here to stay and it is here to provide a service to the communities."
Earlier this month the then First Minister Alex Salmond said one million passengers a year could be using the Borders to Edinburgh railway within five years of it reopening.
Track laying along the 30-mile route is currently ongoing with rail services scheduled to return in September 2015.

Tuesday, 16 December 2014


On Monday 8th December the contract to operate the Docklands Light Railway passed over to a partnership of Keolis and Amey. The concession had up to then been with Serco for the previous eight years. The new operator, known as 'KeolisAmey Docklands', is now set to hold the contract until at least 2021, although it may continue until 2023 if all parties agree. The deal is worth at least £700 million,

Transport for London predicted that passengers will see the first significant change early next year, with the introduction of a five-minute off-peak service to Woolwich Arsenal and a five-minute service between Bank and Lewisham until 11.30pm, cutting waiting times in half. Three-car trains will also be introduced between Stratford and Canary Wharf at weekends. In the longer term, a five-minute off-peak service will be running on all DLR routes by 2017.

The DLR began operating in 1987, with 11 trains serving 15 stations. In its first year of operation it carried 6.7 million people. Today the railway, which is entirely step-free, has 45 stations, 38km of track and 149 vehicles. During the 2013-14 it carried a record-breaking 101.5 million passengers. That figure is expected to increase to 109 million in the current year.

The managing director of TfL London Rail Mike Brown said, “The increased services that the new operator will provide will help us meet growing demand and mean that we can continue to support economic development and growth. Our high standards of maintenance will continue and improve further, meaning cleaner trains and stations and other improvements that will make journeys for our customers even better.”


Isn't it strange. You wait for ages, in fact years for a visit to the English Capital, then just like London buses, three come along within the space of five months. This happened to a Focus Transport team member who made visits during April, August and September this year. By a strange coincidence his last visit before 2014 was in April 2009, and then again in the April just passed.
Thus the opportunity arose to give the Box Brownie healthy seesions of exercise, the results to be spread over several weeks with a number of albums placed on the Flickr site. 
So after yesterday's news item of the electric buses serving the town, the first of these is a set of images of buses and trams on Transport for London services at Croydon. They can now be viewed by clicking here

Monday, 15 December 2014


Croydon’s first pure electric ‘emission free’ buses hit the streets today
·         Buses deliver significant air quality benefits due to zero tail pipe emissions at point of use

·         Technology should deliver significant maintenance and running cost savings compared to conventional diesel single deck buses

Transport for London (TfL), Arriva and UK bus manufacture Optare today (Wednesday 10th December) introduced the latest electric buses to the capital’s fleet.
EMC 2 is illustrated here as it passes along Portland Road, South Norwood on the 10th December (Richard Godfrey)

The two Optare MetroCity buses are now in service on route 312, which is operated by Arriva, between South Croydon and Norwood Junction.  The bus route is used by around 4,700 passengers a day.  Passengers travelling on these buses will benefit from much lower noise and vibration levels compared to regular buses with diesel engines.
These new electric buses are the latest addition to Europe’s greenest bus fleet and will increase TfL’s experience and understanding of this relatively new technology.  The buses were built by UK bus manufacturer Optare, which is part of the Hinduja Group, based in Sherburn in Elmet, North Yorkshire.  They have zero tail pipe emissions at point of use, resulting in lower overall carbon emissions. 
Mike Weston, TfL’s Director of Buses, said: “We now have a total of eight pure electric buses in the capital’s fleet which will help increase our experience and understanding of this technology.  London has always been at the forefront of adopting and trialling new green technology and these buses are a welcome addition to the fleet.”
Enrico Vassallo, CEO at Optare, said, “We are delighted to be supplying a further two fully electric buses for the bus passengers of London.  We hope that the success of these vehicles in London and those already in service in London, York, Manchester and Nottingham will lead to more Optare electric buses in the capital helping to contribute to cleaner air for all.”
Peter Batty, Arriva London Commercial Director said: “Electric buses are at the cutting edge of transport technology to improve air quality and everyone involved with route 312 at our garage in South Croydon is looking forward to operating the buses in what is the Year of the Bus.”
Councillor Kathy Bee, Croydon’s cabinet member for environment and transport, said: "Croydon is a borough that aspires to be clean and green, so it is great news that we are to get our first electric buses.  We are London's regeneration borough, and equally we want to ensure that we are doing everything we can to reduce carbon emissions and improve the air quality.  I'm sure passengers on the route 312 will join me in welcoming the fact that their journeys will now be more environmentally-friendly."
The use of these electric buses will establish whether the technology can stand up to the rigours of operating in an intense urban environment such as London.  The manufacturer’s tests demonstrate that while the initial capital cost of these vehicles is more than that of standard diesel, the significantly lower running and maintenance costs would offset this within the typical lifetime of the vehicle. 
The buses take around five hours to fully charge overnight, or two hours using fast charge technology, and have a range of up to 100 miles depending on operating conditions.