Monday, 30 June 2014


Sunday 22nd June 2014 found Regent Street in Central London closed for one of the most interesting reasons in the history of the city's public transport.

And a very good reason it was too, as around 50-odd examples of public transport were on display between Oxford Circus and Piccadilly. Buses of all ages and types (almost), from the past 100-years or so were represented, the majority of which gathered there under their own steam.

Most of the vehicles arrived having taken part in a cavalcade through the city's centre and few images now illustrate the flavour of the day.

Further images and text can be found now on the Focus Transport Features site - see below.

Mark Lyons was at the beginning of the cavalcade in Lambeth Palace Road........

........Rick Godfrey was positioned as they passed through Parliament Square......

................................and Brian Bell was in Piccadilly as they approached Regent Street.

Once in Regent Street and with the road closed off to all other traffic the exhibits were parked for the general public to get up close and personal with them. Two images below from John Scragg. Further images can be found on his Facebook site here

And finally a couple more from Regent Street by Steven Hodgson. Further images of the event from Steven can be found here

Once again a reminder that a more detailed report can now be found on the Focus Transport Features site by clicking here

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Royal Blue Run

Ken Jones has kindly sent us the following pictures from the recent Royal Blue Run.

Between 1971 and 2009 Ken took colour slides but moving to digital in 2009 enabled him to take hundreds of pictures of buses, many of these being donated to rally organisers, museums and drivers. Friends have suggested he puts some of his pictures onto the SCT61 site so that others can enjoy them.

Saturday, 28 June 2014


Passengers in London and Essex set for host of benefits under new rail deal

c2c to operate and improve passenger services on the Essex Thameside rail franchise.

A fleet of new trains will roll out on key lines through East London and Essex, delivering tens of thousands more seats and better journeys, after Rail Minister Stephen Hammond announced the intention to award the Essex Thameside franchise to the current operator c2c.
The 15-year contract will support the government’s multi-billion pound investment in Britain’s railways, allowing c2c to build on the impressive performance of the franchise and improving journeys between London and the commuter hubs of Barking, Basildon, Southend and further afield.
View the individual station benefits of the agreement.
As part of the deal, c2c, which is managed by National Express, has committed to rolling out a host of passenger benefits costing around £160 million. These include:

  • an additional fleet of 17 brand new trains providing almost 4,800 extra seats
  • more than 25,000 additional seats for morning peak time passengers every week by the end of the contract
  • free wi-fi at stations and on board trains
  • an enhanced compensation system, meaning customers who use smart tickets will automatically receive compensation if their train is delayed
  • over £30 million invested in improving stations, including Fenchurch Street and Barking
  • complete step-free access at all stations, providing improved accessibility for people with limited mobility and parents with buggies and push chairs
  • more than 200 new car parking spaces and £457,000 invested in improving cycling facilities and accessibility at stations
The operator has also committed to hitting tough new targets for punctuality, which means more than 90% of services will be required to reach their destination within 1 minute of the timetable by December 2018.

Essex Thameside rail franchise: passenger benefits

Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said:

This deal is all about putting passengers at the heart of our railways. Brand new trains, thousands more seats and millions of pounds invested in stations will mean significantly improved journeys for those passengers who use these services every day. It’s further proof that our long-term economic plan is on track with the taxpayer getting more than £2 billion out of this deal.
The rigorous new processes we have put in place means passengers can have every confidence we have got the right bid for the franchise. The operator is ready to deliver and build on the high standards that customers have rightly come to expect from these vital services.
The Essex Thameside franchise is one of the highest performing operators across the network with around 97% of its trains running on time. It is in the top 10 for overall passenger satisfaction. During the last 14 years c2c has increased the number of passengers it carries by 42%, from over 26 million to around 37 million passengers a year, with the majority of journeys during the morning and evening peak as commuters travel to and from London.
The deal will mean the total number of vehicles serving the franchise will increase to 364 by 2024. The current fleet will be fitted with wi-fi technology and will also be refurbished.
The Essex Thameside franchise follows the successful award of the Thameslink,Southern and Great Northern franchise earlier in the year. It is the second franchise the department has let since the re-launch of its franchising programme in March last year. This followed an independent review into franchising by industry expert Richard Brown, who concluded franchising was the right way to secure passenger services.
Richard Brown, chairman of the Rail Franchising Advisory Panel, said:

The successful award of these competitions demonstrate the progress the department has made in its franchising programme. They go to show that skilful public sector specification married with excellence in delivery produce real benefits for passengers, with both innovation and a focus on efficiency.
The new franchise will run until November 2029.

Friday, 27 June 2014


Manchester Airport Metrolink tram line completed early


Construction of a tram line to Manchester Airport has been completed over a year early, the city's transport executive has said.
The nine-mile (14.5km) line, which runs to the airport via Wythenshawe from Chorlton, was due to open in 2016.
However, Transport for Greater Manchester said "early delivery" of other lines had allowed work on it to be brought forward.
Testing of the line, which should open by December, began on Monday 23rd June.
Sir Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester City Council, described the opening of the line as "a tremendous boost" for the city.
"For Wythenshawe, it will be a pivotal moment in the town's regeneration [and] for the airport, it will provide another attractive transport option."
The construction of the line, which also passes through Northern Moor, Baguley and Benchill, has seen the building of a viaduct over the Mersey Valley and two bridges over the M60 and M56.
The 15-stop service will also see a 300-space park and ride facility opened at Sale Water Park.

Nottingham tram extension opening to be delayed


New tram design  

Nottingham's tram extension will be delayed until early 2015, the contractors building the two new lines have admitted.
A spokesman said "rigorous" testing of the lines was needed to ensure the safety of the £570m extension.
Nottingham City Council said it was disappointed the project would not be completed by Christmas.
The authority urged the firm to open sections of the lines to Beeston and Chilwell as soon as possible.
Loss of trade
Project director Paul Harris, spokesman for contractors Taylor Woodrow Alstom, said: "We were planning that this phase of work would be completed during December but we have now briefed the city council that the testing programme is likely to go beyond this point."
The spokesman said the "disruptive" part of the project would be substantially completed by the end of the summer.

Clifton tram works  
The extension to the tram system has caused some disruption along the new routes
Businesses and residents in many areas along the two new routes have complained about loss of trade and disruption during the construction work.
Council spokesman Jane Urquhart said it was disappointing the tram services would not fully open to the public in December.
However, the council was pleased the delay was "only slight", she said.
The extension of the city's tram network will see two new lines running from the city centre - one to Chilwell via the Queen's Medical Centre and Beeston, the other to Clifton via Wilford.

Thursday, 26 June 2014

Stagecoach Group plc – Preliminary Results for the year ended 30 April 2014

Financial results in line with expectations
  • Adjusted earnings per share* up 5.7% to 26.0 pence (2013 restated: 24.6 pence)
  • Full year dividend per share up 10.5% to 9.5 pence (2013: 8.6 pence)
  • Net debt+ down £76.4m to £461.6m (2013: £538.0m)
  • Current trading in line with management expectations
UK Bus
  • Market-leading financial performance and customer satisfaction
  • Orders for over £110m of new greener buses for 2014/15
  • New contract wins in London driven by good cost control and operational performance
UK Rail
  • New West Coast Trains franchise agreed
  • Extension of South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance
  • £9m invested in pursuing new rail franchise opportunities
North America
  • Over 80% increase in operating profit
  • inter-city services driving growth in revenue and operating profit
  • Progress in resolving legal cases at Twin America sightseeing joint venture
Growth opportunities ahead
  • Focus on customer service improvements to support modal shift
  • Development of product and footprint
  • Planned extensions or direct awards of South West and East Midlands rail franchises
  • Shortlisted for InterCity East Coast rail franchise in partnership with Virgin, with pipeline of other new rail opportunities in UK

 Commenting on the results, Chief Executive, Martin Griffiths, said:
“We have met our expectations for the year. Across the Group, we have a strong set of locally-managed businesses which are improving services for our customers, supporting the economy and communities, and adding value for our investors.
“For many years, we have built a sustainable business and attracted more people to greener public transport through a successful combination of low fares, continued investment, innovation, financial discipline and high customer satisfaction. By working together, we believe the public and private sector can best provide high quality bus and rail travel.
“In the UK, we have placed record orders for new vehicles at our regional bus networks in 2014/15, which is a sign of our confidence in continuing to get people out of their cars and back on board the bus. We have the lowest fares of any national bus operator and the highest customer satisfaction. In London, we are winning and retaining contracts on the right terms and our customers are benefitting from improved operational performance.
“Stagecoach is one of the UK’s premier rail operators and we see new franchising opportunities ahead. While we were disappointed not to secure the new Thameslink, Southern and Great Northern rail franchise, we are very pleased that Virgin Rail Group has agreed a new West Coast rail franchise and that we have extended our innovative alliance with Network Rail at South West Trains. Positive discussions are continuing with the Department for Transport with a view to agreeing franchise extensions or direct awards at South West Trains and East Midlands Trains. Our objective is to achieve agreements which will collectively benefit customers, taxpayers and our shareholders.
“Our growing business is continuing to expand and is leading a resurgence in good value, high quality inter-city travel options for people in the UK, mainland Europe and North America. In North America, in particular, we have significantly extended our footprint with new hubs, including in Florida. We believe there is a huge opportunity to encourage motorists to switch from the car, and our expansion plans are well on track. Our other wholly-owned operations in North America are performing satisfactorily and we are also pleased to have made progress in resolving the way forward for our Twin America sightseeing joint venture.
“The fantastic response of our professional and committed people to the prolonged extreme winter weather in parts of the UK and North America illustrates how central they are to our success. The Group itself has a strong financial foundation. I am confident we have new ideas and new opportunities ahead to deliver further sustainable growth in our business.”
Copies of this announcement are available on the Stagecoach Group website at


Wednesday, 25 June 2014


What happens when you take a bus......


..... a bridge......

.... and a train and mix them together?

Over the weekend of the 13-15th June the North Norfolk Railway held its annual Summer Diesel Gala (see also the Features site here ). 
Go-Ahead subsidiary Konectbus operate an hourly open-top bus service between Cromer and Sheringham, and is extended four times a day through to Weybourne and the Muckleburgh Military Collection near Kelling. For around a mile or so from Sheringham the route parallels the railway until the line crosses over the A149 near to Weybourne.
On the Saturday afternoon as the bus headed west on the 1420 departure from Sheringham one of the trains was also headed in that direction.

With a visiting Colas liveried Class 37 at the front and a Class 20 at the back, bus and train ran side by side.

Gradually as the line and road came closer to one another.........

.....and they approached the bridge.......

....the Titfield Moment was re-created.

For those who are probably wondering to what on earth this all refers, there will be others of a certain age who will remember the first showing of a particular film back in 1952.

60-odd years ago the famous Ealing Studios produced and released the “The Titfield Thunderbolt”, the first Ealing Comedy filmed in Technicolor (r).  The storyline centred round the decision made by British Railways to close a branch line to the village. The villagers joined together to run and save the railway and gain a Light Railway Order, but the local bus company ‘Pierce & Crump’ had other ideas. During the film there was a sequence where the train and the bus raced each other between the fictitious stations of Titfield and Mallingford and at one stage encountered one another at a bridge.

However, in 1952 the vehicles were quite different being a small tank engine and a Bedford OB coach.

But back to 2014. The bus is timetabled to depart from the Muckleburgh Collection back towards Sheringham at 1430. And once again quite by chance encountered the same train on its return from a short run to Weybourne Station. However, this time there was no repeat of the 'Moment'.

The train had already crossed the bridge and was on the way back to Sheringham.

But the bus caught up with the train, this time with the Class 20 in the lead.

And then ran alongside with drivers and passengers of the respective vehicles acknowledging one another (mind the telegraph pole!)

Eventually the bus overhauled the train as it slowed down for the approach to Sheringham alongside the local golf course. One wonders whether the sight put any of the golfers off of their swing though?


After 15-months preparation a celebratory weekend was held on the North Norfolk Railway back in June 2012 with the re-creation of a number of elements of the original film. Included was a similar Bedford OB operated back then by Messrs Pierce and Crump. Two images below illustrate the suitably adorned OB (on loan from Lodges), bound for ‘Mallingford’ (Sheringham) from ‘Titfield’ (Holt) in one direction, and back the other, where a pure luck shot caught the bus and train together. 




The full set of images and text can now be viewed here

Tuesday, 24 June 2014


1. Bombardier wins Virgin Trains maintenance contract


A £103m deal has been struck to continue maintaining part of Virgin Trains' West Coast Main Line fleet in Staffordshire.
It follows news of the an extension to Virgin's franchise on the line extended until March 2017.
Bombardier has maintained Virgin's 20 Super Voyager trains in Burton upon Trent for a number of years and has now agreed a new deal until March 2019.
The firm said it would safeguard some 340 jobs at the depot.
Des McKeon, commercial director UK for Bombardier Transportation, said by the end of the contract the firm will have maintained trains for Virgin for almost 20 years.
On Thursday, Virgin announced it would spend £35m to update trains and £20m to modernise stations along the West Coast Main Line.
In February, Derby-based Bombardier signed a £1bn deal to provide trains for London's Crossrail scheme.

2. West Coast line: Branson to bid again in two years

Sir Richard Branson has told the BBC that he will bid again for the West Coast Main Line contract, despite the botched franchise process in 2012.
Two years ago Virgin challenged a decision to award the rail franchise to First Group, saying it was mishandled.
The government has now awarded Virgin a contract to continue operating the route from London to Glasgow.
"In two years' time when this temporary contract comes to an end, we will be in there bidding," the Virgin boss said.

Virgin will invest a further £35m to update trains and provide an extra 5,500 standard-class seats each day.
It will also invest more than £20m to modernise stations and improve waiting rooms, seats and shelters.
Sir Richard said: "[Customers] will see some extra services, they will see a lot of extra seats. From the taxpayer point of view, they will get a lot of extra money."
The train operator will now also "start work to secure new direct services between Shrewsbury, Blackpool and London from December," the Department of Transport (DfT) said.
At the start of the year, Virgin scrapped a plan to provide direct services to Shrewsbury from London.
Virgin had planned to start the service in May, but said proposed time slots were not "economically viable".
In order to provide the additional standard-class seats, Virgin is converting 21 first-class carriages to standard class,
Free wi-fi will be offered at stations and improved coverage provided across the entire fleet.
Virgin will also invest £2.5m to improve the interiors of its Pendolino trains and £2.75m on improving catering facilities.
The train operator will pay more than £430m to run the franchise.
Legal challenge
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin said: "This deal will provide thousands more seats and better journeys for the tens of thousands of passengers who use these services every day.
"The West Coast provides a vital artery between London and Scotland and it is crucial we do everything we can to improve services on this much-used route."
The franchise award comes two years after Virgin launched a legal challenge to the decision by the DfT to award a 13-year franchise for the West Coast Main Line to First Group.
The government eventually scrapped the award claiming there were "significant technical flaws" in the bidding process because of mistakes by DfT staff. Three civil servants were suspended. 

Transport correspondent Richard Westcott writes:
This deal is part of a much bigger process to avoid a repeat of the West Coast franchise catastrophe in 2012.
That deal collapsed because a swamped Department for Transport got its figures wrong and didn't follow the rules.
The timetable for handing out other deals looked like it might overrun the government and they can't afford another mess.
So they're using short-term deals and extensions to stagger the whole process out.
When I spoke to Richard Branson a couple of years ago, just after he thought he'd lost the West Coast deal, he told me he was so disillusioned he might leave the railway business for good.
Now, his company will be running that same line until at least the spring of 2017.

Virgin has operated trains services on the West Coast Main Line since 1997.
Patrick McCall, Virgin Trains' executive co-chairman, said: "We're delighted to have reached a deal after some tough negotiations with the DfT. It puts the problems of 2012 firmly behind us and shows the clear benefits of a well-run franchise system.
"This deal is great news for passengers and taxpayers, with significant benefits for our customers, as well as a big increase in the money we pay to government."

Monday, 23 June 2014

New Megabus Link to Toulouse

A new coach service offering fares from €1 is set to transform European travel options and boost tourism in the south-west of France. is introducing a new low-cost coach link to and from Toulouse, which will allow people to travel to key destinations across Europe with prices starting at less than the price of a cup of coffee., which already carries more than 15 million passengers a year in other parts of Europe

and North America, will start running services to and from Toulouse from 7 July southbound and 8 July northbound. Tickets are on sale from today at
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. Passengers travel on state-of-the-art coaches featuring free wi-fi so they can stay connected on the move. The coaches, which have some of the greenest engines in Europe, are also equipped with air conditioning and a toilet.
The network already includes more than 100 destinations in the UK and mainland Europe, including major cities such as Paris, London, Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Brussels and Cologne.
A new route is being launched between London, Paris, Toulouse and Barcelona. Passengers in Toulouse can access European destinations in the north via an interchange in Paris.
There will initially be one service a day in each direction on the new route. Journey times between Toulouse and London will be from 19 hours, including a break in Paris and a ferry crossing. Travel from Toulouse to Barcelona will take five hours 30 mins.’s low fares will bring a major improvement in affordable transport options for people in Toulouse, the fourth largest metropolitan area in France and an area with the third-largest university campus in the country.
However, today called for a change to current cabotage** regulations which restrict people using its low-cost coach services for point to point trips solely within France.
Earlier this year, the French competition authority, the Autorité de la concurrence, made a number of recommendations to modernise the rules and to open up the coach market to allow more choice and better value travel for people in France.
The report issued by the authority in February said: “Coach travel can be developed to the benefit of consumers and contribute to driving up overall transport demand in France. The Autorité de la concurrence recommends implementing a regulatory framework which is more open, transparent and simple.”*’s Elizabeth Esnouf said: “Toulouse has a reputation for innovation. It is home to the European aerospace industry, it is spearheading medical research and the city has Europe’s largest space centre.
“Our innovative coach service has transformed travel in other parts of Europe and North America, providing new and affordable travel options as well as creating new jobs. We are delighted to bring our well-recognised brand of high quality travel to Toulouse and look forward to welcoming local people on board.”
Ms Esnouf added: “We could do so much more to improve travel in the south-west of France and other parts of the country if we were not blocked by outdated rules. At present, we can take people from Toulouse to other European countries such as the UK, Spain, Belgium, Netherlands and Germany. But we are restricted in taking passengers from the south to the north of France.
“This seems a crazy situation and we support moves by the French competition authorities to bring coach travel in France into the 21st century. It would bring more tourists to Toulouse, boost the economy and transport, and help us create jobs in Haute-Garonne, Midi-Pyrénées and other regions of France.” - part of international transport company Stagecoach Group - was launched in the UK in 2003 and expanded its services to North America in 2006. In 2012, the company started running services between the UK and a number of destinations in mainland Europe. The network already includes Paris, Lille, Boulogne Amsterdam, Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp, Rotterdam and Cologne.
Last year, introduced a fleet of 10 new 72-seat coaches to operate on its network in Europe. A further six new coaches are set to be introduced on the European network.
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 French, Dutch and German language websites, which allow customers to book and pay in Euros. The company is also due to launch a Spanish language website at the end of June.

The success of’s services has seen it create more than 400 jobs over the past decade in the UK and Europe and a further 1,000 jobs in North America.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

B5TL Euro 6 Demonstrator with Go North East

Steven Hodgson, Sean Blair and Keith Lee have sent us pictures of the Lothian Buses liveried Wright Gemini 3 bodied Volvo B5TL demonstrator that is now in service with Go North East.
It has a H45/28F + 29 standing layout and will initially be based at Gateshead Riverside.  During the first week it will be used on the 'Toon link' 11, 31 & 47 services, then it will be based at Crook for the second week and be used on the 'Pronto X21'.   Go North East have given it the fleet number 9131.

Above & below. The vehicle was shown at the Album Conference in May in Edinburgh. The event was hosted by Lothian Buses. 

If you spot any demonstration vehicles in use anywhere in the UK or mainland Europe please send us photographs.