Monday, 30 November 2015


Fleets of 'poo buses' planned for Bristol area

Fleets of buses powered entirely by human and food waste could be rolled out in Bristol after the success of a pilot service.
A 40-seat "Bio-Bus", which runs on biomethane gas generated from sewage and food waste, has been running a full service since March.
Operator First West of England now wants to run 110 gas-powered double-decker buses in Bristol.
It has submitted a proposal to the government to run the expanded service.
First West of England's Jenny MacLeod said: "If we are successful we will be leading the way in creating a fully sustainable public transport network that can really make a difference to people in and around Bristol."

How do you power a bus with waste?

  • A single passenger's annual food and sewage waste would fuel the Bio-Bus for 37 miles (60km)
  • Compressed gas is stored in dome-like tanks on the roof of the Bio-Bus
  • The gas is generated through anaerobic digestion - where oxygen starved bacteria breaks down biodegradable material to produce methane-rich biogas
  • To power a vehicle, the biogas undergoes "upgrading", where carbon dioxide is removed and propane added
  • Impurities are removed to produce virtually odour free emissions
  • Compared to conventional diesel vehicles, up to 30% less carbon dioxide is emitted

Rival operator Wessex Bus
and partners Geneco have also applied for a government grant to run 20 bio-buses in the city by 2019.
The two companies have submitted a joint bid to the OLEV (The Office for Low Emission Vehicles) Low Emission Bus Scheme for a grant of £2.5 million to support the project.
The biomethane gas for the buses is generated at Bristol sewage treatment works in Avonmouth run by GENeco, and the company hopes to build a permanent refuelling station at the site.
Antony Goozee of Wessex Bus said: "This is a great opportunity to increase the number of gas-powered buses on the streets of Bristol and surrounding area, which will significantly improve air quality.
"We believe this would be the most sustainably fuelled fleet in the UK, as it will be the only fleet where the buses are actually powered by treatment of sewage and inedible food waste from the local community."

Sunday, 29 November 2015


Virgin East Coast plans £21m train refurbishment


Virgin Trains is to spend £21m refurbishing its fleet of 45 trains which run on the east coast mainline between London and Edinburgh.
The company said all 401 carriages used on the route would be overhauled with more than 20,000 seats replaced and new carpets and curtains fitted.
The work will be carried out at depots in London and Edinburgh.

An additional £16m is also being spent on fitting 35 new engines to Virgin's diesel High Speed Train fleet.
David Horne, managing director of Virgin Trains on the east coast route, said the investment would benefit customers ahead of the introduction of the new Super Express Trains as part of the Government's InterCity Express programme in 2018.
The first refurbished train will enter service on 14th December, Mr Horne said.
Virgin Trains East Coast, which is owned by the Virgin and Stagecoach Groups, was awarded the franchise to run the east coast route in 2014 and is committed to investing £140m over eight years.
The route serves key cities including London, Peterborough, Doncaster, Leeds, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Inverness.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

New French megabus Depots & Christmas Operating Plans

New legislation agreed over the summer means that people in France can travel more freely by coach between cities in France. The new ‘Macron Law’ allows operators to offer domestic services on any routes that are over 100km, including journeys that are part of existing international routes.

As a result has announced the opening of two new bases in France as it continues to expand its growing inter-city coach network in the country.
15 new domestic journey options, delivered from a new operating base in Bordeaux as well as a crew base in Nantes, has created employment for more than 50 staff.
Eight locations - Bordeaux, Poitiers, Rennes, Nantes, Le Mans, Tours, Angers and Chatellerault – are being added to the network for the first time.
All tickets were priced at €1* for travel on the first five days of the new services (18, 19, 20, 21 and 22 November).

To support the latest expansion, a €2.7million fleet of 10 new state-of-the-art leased Scania single deck coaches will operate the new services.
It means that now offers around 40 domestic journey pairings in France, covering 21 locations, with fares from just €1*. 
The company now operates a fleet of 27 vehicles in France and employs more than 125 staff. 
By the beginning of 2016, expects to have a fleet of 35 vehicles based in France offering more than 50 journey options across the country.
Tickets for the new routes are on sale now at
From today, domestic travel will be available between the below locations:
Paris – Bordeaux
Paris – Tours
Paris – Poitiers
Paris - Le Mans
Paris – Angers
Paris – Rennes
Tours – Poitiers
Le Mans – Rennes
Le Mans – Nantes
Bordeaux – Poitiers
Bordeaux – Tours
Paris – Nantes
Paris – Chatellerault
Bordeaux – Chatellerault
Nantes - Rennes already offers domestic travel between the following French destinations:  
Paris - Lyon 
Lille - Lyon
Paris – Limoges
Paris - Brive-la-Gaillarde
Amiens – Limoges
Amiens - Brive-la-Gaillarde
Amiens – Toulouse
Limoges – Toulouse
Brive-la-Gaillarde - Toulouse
Paris - Lille
Paris – Toulon
Paris – Marseille
Paris – Avignon
Marseille – Lyon
Toulon – Avignon
Toulon – Lyon
Paris – Toulouse
Mulhouse – Lyon
Mulhouse – Avignon
Mulhouse – Montpellier
Mulhouse – Perpignan
Lyon – Avignon
Lyon – Montpellier
Lyon – Perpignan
Avignon – Perpignan
Montpellier - Perpignan Managing Director Edward Hodgson said: “This is another exciting step in our expansion of domestic coach services in France. Our aim is to open up more affordable travel opportunities for people than they have ever had before and we believe our low-fares and good quality services can deliver that. 
“We know from our experience in the UK that both coach and rail industries can thrive as part of a wider public transport network and we look forward to welcoming even more people in France on to our services in the near future.”
All services operate using state-of-the-art vehicles with free Wifi, power sockets, air conditioning and a toilet. previously announced the opening of a base in Belleville-sur-SaĆ“ne, north of Lyon, with the creation of 75 jobs. The new operating base near Bordeaux is located in Floirac. 10 vehicles will be parked at the base under a partnership with local company Chalavan & Duc. There will also be a crew base in central Nantes. 
There are now almost 160 destinations on the megabus,com network in Europe, including London, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Lyon, Toulouse, Barcelona, Lille, Luxembourg, Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Rome, Milan and Naples. carries more than 15 million passengers a year across Europe and North America. The number of passengers using the company’s growing coach network in Europe is up more than 330% in the past year. The current average fare on the network in mainland Europe is around €10*. offers French,  Italian, German, English, Spanish and Dutch language websites. Services are popular with families, students and tourists looking to save money on travel and spend extra on entertainment when they arrive at their destination.
All drivers undertake a detailed operational and customer service training programme. It includes route familiarisation and driving assessments and this is in addition to meeting all of the EU standard qualifications for professional bus, coach and lorry drivers. ensures full compliance with relevant EU working time legislation and has stricter maintenance standards than legal requirements as part of its commitment to safety.

The success of’s services has seen it create more than 500 jobs over the past decade in the UK and Europe and a further 1,000 jobs in North America.

megabus at Christmas plans to keep passengers connected this Christmas by running coach services throughout the festive season across the UK and mainland Europe.
The company will run its services during the whole period, helping people travel across the country to enjoy seasonal festivities. will again run services on Christmas Day this year, serving 20 locations across England and Wales including London, Milton Keynes, Rugby, Coventry, Birmingham, Leicester, Loughborough, Derby, Sheffield, Manchester, Liverpool, Huddersfield, Leeds, Bradford, York, Cardiff, Newport, Bristol, Swindon and Cwmbran.
On all other days throughout Christmas and New Year, including New Year’s Day, will operate a near-normal service on most routes across the UK.
The company’s 50 services within mainland Europe will also operate throughout the whole Christmas and New Year period.

On New Year’s Eve, will operate special services departing London after the New Year celebrations which will provide links to Norwich, Sheffield, Newcastle, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Dundee, Bristol, Exeter, Plymouth, Newquay, Redruth, Manchester, Coventry, Birmingham, Cardiff, Swansea, Milton Keynes, Rugby, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham, Sheffield, Leeds, Middlesbrough and Sunderland.
Cross-channel services between the UK and mainland Europe will also run throughout the festive season, with some timetable alterations to apply on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. overnight sleepercoach services will also continue to run throughout the festive season including Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years' Eve and New Years' Day, although a slightly reduced service will run on those days.
All passengers using services during the festive period are advised to double check the times of their specific journeys as there may be slight changes to some routes or timetables compared to other times of the year.

Edward Hodgson, Managing Director of, said: “Christmas and New Year can be a busy and costly time of year for many people. We are pleased to be playing our part to helping people access good travel links and save money by offering great value coach travel throughout the festive period. We hope our services will make it easier for people to visit family and friends and to enjoy the festivities.”, part of Stagecoach Group in Scotland, has operated since 2003. It expanded from the UK to North America in 2006 and has served mainland Europe since 2012.
There are now almost 150 destinations on the megabus,com network in Europe,  including London, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Lyon, Toulouse, Barcelona, Lille, Luxembourg, Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Rome, Milan and Naples. carries more than 15 million passengers a year across Europe and North America and offers French, Italian, German, English, Spanish and Dutch language websites.

Friday, 27 November 2015

UK Bus Awards

The results of this year's competition are set out below.
UK Bus Operator of the Year sponsored by Arthur J Gallagher & QBE Insurance

  • Winner, Gold Award: , Reading Buses
  • Winner, Silver Award: , Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company
  • Winner, Bronze Award: , Safeguard Coaches

Engineer of the Year sponsored by IRTE

  • Winner, Gold Award: Anthony Lowe, Arriva Yorkshire
  • Winner, Silver Award: Daren Coppin, Stagecoach London
  • Winner, Bronze Award: Frank Clasen, Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company
  • Finalist: Dave Foot, First Solent
  • Finalist: Ian Chadwick, First Manchester

Environment sponsored by Volvo Bus

  • Winner, Gold Award: Electrifying Nottingham, Nottingham City Council and partners
  • Winner, Silver Award: Diesel into Hybrid, Ensign Bus Company and Vantage Power
  • Winner, Bronze Award: To planet Reading and beyond!, Reading Buses
  • Finalist: Electric buses and New Poppleton Park & Ride, First York and York City Council
  • Finalist: Delivering a greener fuel blend, Stagecoach Group

Innovation sponsored by Alexander Dennis

  • Winner, Gold Award: Diesel Into Hybrid, Ensign Bus Company and Vantage Power
  • Winner, Silver Award: Bus passenger counting and occupancy screen, Transport for London
  • Winner, Bronze Award: The Greater Manchester Young Person's mTicket, First Manchester
  • Finalist: The Arriva Bus App: A Smarter Way to Travel, Arriva UK Bus
  • Finalist: The Gallery Bus, Yellow Buses

Local Authority Bus Project of the Year sponsored by The TAS Partnership

  • Winner, Gold Award: Improving Inter-urban Buses in Darlington, Darlington Borough Council
  • Winner, Silver Award: Castleford Bus Station, West Yorkshire Combined Authority
  • Winner, Bronze Award: Partington Local Link service, Transport for Greater Manchester
  • Finalist: Bus Satisfaction Working Group, Centro
  • Finalist: Improving Bus Quality in South East Wales, Monmouthshire County Council

London Bus Garage of the Year sponsored by Transport for London

  • Winner, Gold Award: Alperton, Metroline West
  • Winner, Silver Award: Holloway, Metroline
  • Winner, Bronze Award: Stamford Brook, RATP Dev London
  • Finalist: Twickenham, Abellio London
  • Finalist: Bromley, Stagecoach London

Making Buses a Better Choice: the Peter Huntley Memorial Award sponsored by Heathrow Airport

  • Winner, Gold Award: Upgrade to the Fastway service, Metrobus
  • Winner, Silver Award: Coaster - delivering a viable alternative to the car for visitors to the Isle of Wight, Southern Vectis
  • Winner, Bronze Award: The Arriva Bus App: A Smarter Way to Travel, Arriva UK Bus
  • Finalist: Taking bus travel to the MAX, Arriva North East and Yorkshire
  • Finalist: Improving services between Barnsley and Pontefract, Stagecoach Yorkshire
  • Finalist: Peak Line 218 - Peak Performance, TM Travel

The Award for Marketing Initiative of the Year sponsored by Bus & Coach Buyer Magazine

  • Winner, Gold Award: Buses on Ice and more!, Reading Buses
  • Winner, Silver Award: County Durham and Tees Valley Direct Marketing Project, Darlington Borough Council
  • Winner, Bronze Award: The Greater Manchester Young Person's mTicket, First Manchester
  • Finalist: Posh & Double Decks, Arriva Merseyside
  • Finalist: The Arriva Bus App: A Smarter Way to Travel, Arriva UK Bus

Putting Passengers First sponsored by Euro Bus Expo

Winner, Gold Award: Accessible travel for our city, Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company
  • Winner, Silver Award: Coastrider X7, Stagecoach East Scotland
  • Winner, Bronze Award: Live Chat: It's good to talk, Arriva UK Bus
  • Finalist: Dementia Training - "Understanding Dementia", East Yorkshire Motor Services
  • Finalist: yLink, Translink

Services to the Industry sponsored by Buses Magazine

  • Winner, Gold Award: Dr William Wright, Wrightbus

The Award for Sustained Marketing Excellence sponsored by Exterion Media

  • Winner, Gold Award: Claret 21 - marketing investment and partnership for sustained success, Reading Buses
  • Winner, Silver Award: Creating and Sustaining Bus Passenger Growth in Sheffield, Stagecoach Yorkshire
  • Winner, Bronze Award: Listen - Target - Go!, Go North East
  • Finalist: Marketing strategy, National Express West Midlands
  • Finalist: Tweet, Tweet - Keeping Customers 'App-y through Digital Marketing, Nottingham City Transport

Top City Operator sponsored by INIT Innovations

  • Winner, Gold Award: , Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company
  • Winner, Silver Award: , Stagecoach Manchester
  • Winner, Bronze Award: , Go North East
  • Finalist: , National Express West Midlands

Top National Bus Driver: the Chris Moyes Memorial Award sponsored by Traffilog

  • Winner, Gold Award: Carole Hind, trentbarton
  • Winner, Silver Award: Denis McMahon, Abellio Surrey
  • Winner, Bronze Award: Phil Rowson, Nottingham City Transport
  • Finalist: David Skitt, Arriva Midlands
  • Finalist: Daniel Curry, Arriva North East
  • Finalist: Zachary Narvaez, Brighton & Hove Bus and Coach Company
  • Finalist: Chris Richmond, Konectbus
  • Finalist: Keith Renshaw, Transdev Keighley & District

Top Independent Operator sponsored by Wrightbus

  • Winner, Gold Award: , Safeguard Coaches
  • Winner, Silver Award: , Ensign Bus Company
  • Winner, Bronze Award: , Courtney Buses
  • Finalist: , Compass Travel (Sussex)

Luke Rees Pulley Charitable Trust Award for Top London Bus Driver sponsored by Luke Rees-Pulley Charitabe Trust & Transport for London

  • Winner, Gold Award: Viva Aikins, RATP Dev London
  • Winner, Silver Award: Kingsley Tomlin, Metroline West
  • Winner, Bronze Award: Peter Growns, Go-Ahead London
  • Finalist: Ezeta Coleman, Abellio London
  • Finalist: Myat Han, Abellio London
  • Finalist: Richard Burton, Abellio London
  • Finalist: Abdullah Bin Masood, Arriva London South
  • Finalist: Yvette Singh, Stagecoach London

Top National Bus Depot sponsored by Personal Group
  • Winner, Gold Award: Sunderland, Stagecoach North East
  • Winner, Silver Award: Crawley, Metrobus
  • Winner, Bronze Award: Birkenhead, Arriva North West
  • Finalist: Newcastle, Arriva North East
  • Finalist: Halifax & Todmorden, First West Yorkshire
  • Finalist: York, First York

Top Shire Operator sponsored by Ticketer

  • Winner, Gold Award: , Reading Buses
  • Winner, Silver Award: , trentbarton
  • Winner, Bronze Award: , Stagecoach South West
  • Finalist: , Metrobus
  • Finalist: , more bus

Unsung Heroes Award sponsored by Backhouse Jones

  • Winner, Gold Award: Martin Davis, RATP Dev London
  • UKBA Special Commendation for Outstanding Service: Darren Kendrew, East Yorkshire Motor Services
  • UKBA Special Commendation for Outstanding Service: Clive Norman, Stagecoach West
  • UKBA Special Commendation for Outstanding Service: Mike Saul, Yellow Buses
  • Highly Commended: Kevin Richardson, Arriva North East
  • Highly Commended: David Ellam, Centro
  • Highly Commended: Jean Scott, First Glasgow
  • Highly Commended: Stephanie Daniel, RATP Dev London
  • Highly Commended: Bob Jackson, Stagecoach South
  • Highly Commended: Albert Gibson, Transdev Harrogate & District
  • Highly Commended: Natalie Bessaad, Transport for Greater Manchester
  • Specially Commended: Neil Rettie, Stagecoach

Young Manager of the Year sponsored by Chartered Institute of Logisitics & Transport

  • Winner, Gold Award: Martin Gibbon, Stagecoach South
  • Winner, Silver Award: Jessica Mills, Arriva Yorkshire
  • Winner, Bronze Award: Will Pare, Arriva North East
  • Finalist: Rob Hughes, First Manchester
  • Finalist: Laura Smith, Stagecoach North East

Thursday, 26 November 2015

West Coast Railway Co Banned Again

“The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has temporarily prohibited West Coast Railway Company Ltd from operating steam trains on the mainline rail network, to protect the safety of its staff, volunteers, passengers and members of the public.

“The enforcement action follows an initial investigation into an incident near Doncaster on 2 October 2015, which found staff on-board locomotive 45231 had turned-off its Train Protection and Warning System (TPWS) isolation equipment, designed to apply an emergency brake if the driver makes an error.

“ORR will not allow the company to run trains where there are not effective controls in place for key safety systems. The regulator is working with the company to make the required improvements before services resume.”

The prohibition came into effect at 23.00 November 24th. Diesel power operations are not affected.

Investigations are also still ongoing concerning the March 7th incident when a West Coast steam special over-ran a red signal near Wootton Bassett and as a result Network Rail banned WCRC . The Rail Accident Investigation Branch opened an investigation into the incident, which it called a "dangerous occurrence". The incident was rated the most serious SPAD in the United Kingdom since December 2010. Following improvements made by WCRC, the ban was lifted.

 West Coast Railways run steam specials under the the Fellsman banner. Here Jubilee class 45699 Galatea arrives at Appleby after which it will run to Carlisle.

The prohibition applies from 2300 on November 24, and WCR must seek formal approval from ORR before moving any steam locomotives. The notice does not affect operation of the company’s diesel trains.
ORR continues to investigate the serious incident where a West Coast Railways’ steam-hauled train passed a signal at danger near Wootton Bassett Junction on March 7 2015. - See more at:

The album of images can be viewed by clicking  here
“The Office of Rail and Road has made West Coast Railways aware of a problem with certain steam locomotives operating on the main line,” said WCR Managing Director Pat Marshall.
“WCR is working with the ORR and locomotive owners to resolve this problem. We will continue to operate steam charters on the main line with locomotives that are not affected by this problem. This issue has the potential to affect all other operations of steam locomotives on the main line.”
The statement followed the ORR prohibiting all WCR steam locomotive operations on the main line as of 2300 on November 24, unless approval was sought to run locomotives where there are effective controls in place for key safety systems.
- See more at:
“The Office of Rail and Road has made West Coast Railways aware of a problem with certain steam locomotives operating on the main line,” said WCR Managing Director Pat Marshall.
“WCR is working with the ORR and locomotive owners to resolve this problem. We will continue to operate steam charters on the main line with locomotives that are not affected by this problem. This issue has the potential to affect all other operations of steam locomotives on the main line.”
The statement followed the ORR prohibiting all WCR steam locomotive operations on the main line as of 2300 on November 24, unless approval was sought to run locomotives where there are effective controls in place for key safety systems.
- See more at:

“The Office of Rail and Road has made West Coast Railways aware of a problem with certain steam locomotives operating on the main line,” said WCR Managing Director Pat Marshall.
“WCR is working with the ORR and locomotive owners to resolve this problem. We will continue to operate steam charters on the main line with locomotives that are not affected by this problem. This issue has the potential to affect all other operations of steam locomotives on the main line.”
The statement followed the ORR prohibiting all WCR steam locomotive operations on the main line as of 2300 on November 24, unless approval was sought to run locomotives where there are effective controls in place for key safety systems.
- See more at:

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Serious Concerns Over Rail Investment

A damning report by MPs into Network Rail’s aborted five-year investment plan has warned that the public will foot the bill for “staggering and unacceptable” cost increases after the government and industry agreed to pay for work that could never have been delivered in time and on budget.

In an assessment that will put the future of the rail regulator further in doubt, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said it had serious concerns over rail investment following the admission of further delays and overspending in the £38.3bn programme of rail works.
MPs on the committee said the track and signalling operator Network Rail had “lost its grip” and demanded clearer accountability for project costs and management. They also questioned if the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), the regulator that signed off the “unrealistic” programme, was fit for purpose.
It said that even after the planning and budgeting failures, there remained far too 

much uncertainty over the costs and delivery of major rail electrification works on the TransPennine route and the Midland Main Line, and that more projects could be delayed to balance the books. Electrifying the Great Western Main Line from London to Cardiff is now expected to cost £2.8bn, rather than the £1.6bn estimated a year ago, the committee found.
The PAC called for a fundamental review of the regulator’s role and effectiveness in planning rail infrastructure, noting: “We are concerned that the ORR lacks the capability to robustly scrutinise Network Rail’s plans.”
Meg Hillier, chair of the PAC, said: “Network Rail has lost its grip on managing large infrastructure projects. The result is a twofold blow to taxpayers: delays in the delivery of promised improvements, and a vastly bigger bill for delivering them.
“The government has identified rail infrastructure as a vital part of its economic plans, for example in establishing what it describes as a ‘Northern powerhouse’. It is alarming that, in planning work intended to support these plans, its judgment should be so flawed.
“Our inquiry has found that the agreed work could never have been delivered within the agreed budget and timeframe. Yet Network Rail, the Department for Transport and the regulator – the Office of Rail and Road – signed up to the plans anyway.
“Passengers and the public are paying a heavy price and we must question whether the ORR is fit for purpose.”
The first public admission from the government that the £38.3bn plan was going off the rails came in June, when the government replaced the chairman of Network Rail and announced three reviews into its investment plan and structures. The first, Sir Peter Hendy’s assessment of how much work can realistically now be conducted by 2019 for the budget provided, is expected to be published next week.

Responding to the report, Network Rail said it had now made significant changes to planning and budgeting. A spokesperson said: “It is clear that we, as an industry, have been overly ambitious about what could be accomplished with the funds and resources available. Network Rail has successfully delivered over 5,000 projects over the past five years, but our understanding of how best to plan and deliver major new electrification schemes was not good enough.”
A transport department spokesperson said: “We are proud to have a hugely ambitious investment programme, but agree that lessons should be learned on all sides. We are committed to seeing the £38bn programme through and delivering the railway that passengers deserve.”
The ORR said it welcomed the report. A spokesperson said: “We need to learn the lessons, and agree with PAC’s recommendations that uncertainties in key projects need to be addressed differently.
“With the changes to Network Rail’s ownership and finances since it became a public sector company, ORR agrees that a review of its own role in major projects is appropriate.”

Electrification of three major routes was at the heart of rail upgrades described as vital by Network Rail and promised in the Conservative party manifesto. But just weeks after the election two of the three schemes were paused by the government, while the Great Western scheme will be delayed, potentially incurring further costs associated with new trains on order from Hitachi.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Extensions to Midland Metro Announced Following Queen's Opening of New Street Station

Following the Queen's visit to Birmingham last week to open the new Birmingham New Street Station, extensions to Midland Metro have been announced which will provide good connections with HS2. The extensions are part of an £8 billion investment in the West Midlands.

Transport schemes worth almost £2 billion are included in the investment, which has accompanied a major devolution deal signed between the West Midlands Combined Authority and the Government.
A new 'HS2 connectivity package' will include new tram lines from the HS2 station at Birmingham Curzon Street to Birmingham Airport via Bordesley Green and Chelmsley Wood, and between Wednesbury and Brierley Hill -- a destination which was an aspiration of local Metro planners even before the first section opened in 1999 between Snow Hill and Wolverhampton St George's.
Other aspects of the package include potential improvements along the existing West Coast Main Line through the West Midlands and also a 'Sprint' rapid transit network. It is also hoped to improve other rail links, particularly with the East Midlands, as part of the Midland Connect partnership of local authorities and businesses in the region..
Councillor Roger Lawrence, chair of the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority, said: “This is the biggest devolution deal done to date.

“It gives the West Midlands the powers and the funding to provide a real step change in our transport infrastructure and supports our wider ambitions to grow the economy, provide new jobs, improved skills and quality housing.”
The agreement will see Whitehall make an annual contribution of £40 million for 30 years to support investment worth £8 billion, which it claimed will support the creation of more than half a million jobs.
Cllr Lawrence continued: “This is fantastic news, both for public transport in the West Midlands region but also for freight and other users of the road and rail network.
“We can put in place schemes to help drive the regional economy forward, tackle pollution and congestion and get people to where they want to go.
“We will be working closely with the Government to look at ways to reduce congestion on the strategic road network. We will have additional powers  on critical issues such as bus franchising, integrated ticketing, safety and air quality ensuring that decisions are made locally.”

Sunday, 22 November 2015

Picture Selection

The Focus team are always out and about gathering information and pictures to use on this website. Although we normally update the site on a daily basis there might be a few gaps in the normal service so please bear with us on this.

Today is one of those days, but here's a short selection of pictures to fill the gap, taken yesterday 21st November 2015 on the day the York opened their Christmas Festival which runs until 23rd December. The main difference for coach operators is that coach parking charges are increased to £60. There were plenty of spaces in the coach park so I assume that many coach operators had decided they would avoid the rip off charges.


Saturday, 21 November 2015


First Look At Crossrail Train Designs

Transport for London (TfL) has unveiled the final look for the new Crossrail trains, which are expected to start coming into use from May 2017.
According to TfL, the trains will have free Wi-Fi onboard, and people will have access to 4G — which we think means that even in tunnels you'll be able to get signal and internet connection.

The Crossrail trains will be fully accessible and have Wi-Fi and 4G service

Each train will provide space for 1,500 people in nine interconnected, walk-through carriages. At over 200m long, they are over one and a half times longer than the longest tube train

The first new trains will operate on the Liverpool Street to Shenfield part of the Crossrail route from May 2017 — although initially use shorter seven-carriage versions. The full-length nine carriage version will be first introduced between Heathrow and Paddington from May 2018. All the trains will become nine carriages by the end of 2019.

There will be four wheelchair spaces on each train, plus spaces where seating can be tipped up to accommodate prams or luggage. And a rather natty purple moquette.

Another view of the interior of the train, with a different seating configuration.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Megabus Free Seat Promotion

Market leading low-fares coach provider is reducing the cost of travel even further by offering thousands of free seats on its services across Europe.

The budget coach operator – which is part of Stagecoach Group - is offering 50,000 free seats on its coach networks in the UK and mainland Europe between 12 January 2016 and 12 February 2016 in a huge giveaway.
The free seats are available for travel every day of the week during the promotional period and can be booked now by visiting the website*
There will be free seats available on every single journey during the promotional period.
The first tickets are available now at*. Thereafter, tickets will be made available around 60 days in advance of travel, allowing passengers new opportunities every day to get their hands on a free ticket.
In the UK, offers fares from just £1 (plus 50p booking fee) and operates to dozens of destinations across England, Wales and Scotland**.  The company also serves almost 50 locations within mainland Europe, with fares from €1*.

Managing Director of Edward Hodgson said, “All of our fares offer excellent value for money but this is a great chance for our customers to grab even more of a bargain and beat the winter blues. We’re delighted to be offering this promotion – it’s a great boost for our existing customers and we also hope it will encourage new customers to give our services a try and make the switch to greener, smarter and better value coach travel.
“We’re offering free seats on every single journey across Europe during the promotional period and would advise customers to book quickly to take advantage of this special offer.” has operated since 2003. It expanded from the UK to North America in 2006 and has served mainland Europe since 2012.

There are now almost 150 destinations on the megabus,com network in Europe,  including London, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Paris, Amsterdam, Brussels, Lyon, Toulouse, Barcelona, Lille, Luxembourg, Cologne, Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, Rome, Milan and Naples. carries more than 15 million passengers a year across Europe and North America and offers French, Italian, German, English, Spanish and Dutch language websites.

Thursday, 19 November 2015


What happened to the passenger hovercraft?

It is 60 years since the British inventor Christopher Cockerell demonstrated the principles of the hovercraft using a cat food tin and a vacuum cleaner. Great things were promised for this mode of transport, but it never really caught on. Why?
The hovercraft slides down a concrete ramp and into the Solent. Its engines, propellers and fans hum as it crosses from Southsea, in Hampshire, to Ryde, on the Isle of Wight, travelling 4.4 nautical miles in under 10 minutes.

The journey is more than twice as quick as the catamaran from Portsmouth to Ryde and more than four times as quick as the Portsmouth to Fishbourne ferry.
Hovercraft cross the sand to arrive on the concrete landing pad near the centre of Ryde, the Isle of Wight's largest town. This amphibious mode of transport, with its rapid disembarkation - not needing the building of a pier or port - was seen as the future once. But the Solent is now thought to be the only place in western Europe where a full passenger service operates.

The cross-Channel service from Dover to Calais closed in 2000. The two vessels, the Princess Anne and the Princess Margaret, could carry only 52 cars. Larger ferries and cheaper-to-power catamarans, as well as the Channel Tunnel, proved too much competition. Routes in Japan and Sierra Leone have also since ceased.
"The problem militating against expansion has always been the noise for residents, who have to hear the hovercraft all day, 365 days a year," says Warwick Jacobs, who runs the Hovercraft Museum, at Gosport, Hampshire. "The sound can travel quite a way, depending on the wind speed. We could have had hovercraft running on the Thames, for instance, but they'd have been too noisy."
Recent models are quieter than their predecessors because of more efficient engines, while plans are in place to build electric-powered hovercraft, which will reduce the decibel count even further, Jacobs says.
The Hovertravel service between Southsea and Ryde survives because hovercraft are best suited to short routes like those across the Solent, says Robin Paine, co-author of On a Cushion of Air, a history of hovercraft. "There is also a need because the tide at Ryde goes out half a mile - hence the reason for Ryde Pier to accommodate conventional ferries, whereas the hovercraft can deliver people straight into Ryde."

It's 60 years since inventor Christopher Cockerell demonstrated the principle of hovercraft travel - discussed in abstract terms since the 18th Century - in an eccentrically British way. He experimented with vacuum cleaner tubes and empty cat food and coffee tins, finding that when placing a small can inside a larger one and blowing air through the smaller can, it hovered above the bottom surface of the larger object. A working prototype was ready by 1955, which Cockerell called the "hovercraft", obtaining a patent in 1956.
A cushion of air is created by a large fan underneath. A "skirt" surrounding the craft prevents too much air from escaping. Because the craft is moving through air rather than water, it can go faster than a conventional boat of similar power. It can also travel over land and sea.
At first, the government classified hovercraft as "airborne" rather than seagoing craft, meaning "strict requirements" on operating hours, says Bill Moses, director of the maritime consultancy firm FMS. He argues that this restricted growth of the use of hovercraft in the UK.
But in June 1962 shipbuilder Vickers launched the UK's first commercial hovercraft service across the estuary of the River Dee. In 1965 another short-lived line began on the Clyde, linking Glasgow with locations including Largs and Rothesay. In the same year, the Isle of Wight service started.
Larger craft began operating across the English Channel from 1966 - the SRN-4, capable of carrying cars as well as foot passengers, started in 1968.
But there were setbacks. In 1972, five people died when a Ryde to Southsea SRN-6 overturned in a gale.
In 1974, Liberal Party leader Jeremy Thorpe took an electioneering tour of coastal towns on a hovercraft. This was struck by a large wave when leaving Sidmouth, in Devon, causing irreparable damage. "We are going to get another hovercraft on Monday for our tour of the south coast," Mr Thorpe said. "This is a great British machine. If the British hovercraft has any future, then we must continue to use it."
Hovercraft maintained some of their early glamour, featuring in James Bond films. In 1979's Moonraker a Venetian gondola sprouts an air cushion, allowing 007 to escape his pursuers by mounting steps and speeding through St Mark's Square. There is a two-hovercraft chase scene in 2002's Die Another Day.
This is the stuff of fantasy, but organisations such as the British Royal Marines, the Swedish coastguard and Lithuania's border police make use of these craft when transporting personnel and supplies to difficult-to-access locations, including rough beaches and swamps.
Since 2002, the UK's RNLI has used hovercraft for rescues on tidal mudflats, sand too soft to support land vehicles and water too shallow for boats.

"A resurgence of passenger hovercraft is easily possible," says Jacobs. "Running costs have fallen."
For now, though, the Southsea to Ryde passenger service, which celebrated its 50th anniversary this year, pays a lonely homage to Cockerell. Hovertravel has invested £10m in two new hovercraft - the first passenger models to be built and used in the UK for a decade.
"We will be a shop window for any existing or potential ferry operator who wants to be fast and frequent like us," says Loretta Lale, Hovertravel's commercial manager. "Our service has always attracted global interest and when the world sees what a 21st Century hovercraft can do we anticipate considerable interest."

Sir Christopher Cockerell
  • Born the son of a museum curator in 1910, he studied engineering at Cambridge
  • He helped make the first radio direction finder, used by British bombers during World War Two
  • Cockerell also worked with the team at Marconi that developed radar
  • He was knighted in 1969 and died in 1999


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