Wednesday, 30 November 2016

Bus stops designed to fight killer pollution in London

Pollution-fighting bus stops have been designed to zap exhaust fume particles and pump out fresh air for pedestrians.
Airlabs, a Piccadilly-based start-up, believes adding its oxidation filters to bus stops, the sides of buildings and on Tube platforms could help people breathe more easily and save lives.
It is claimed that the technology,  costing from £4,000, is most effective in high-density areas with the worst  pollution, such as Oxford Street and Farringdon Street in the City.



The system has been installed in European factories and at the Danish embassy in Beijing, and Airlabs believes it could be used to fight toxic air on London streets.
The start-up is backed by SGO, whose chairman Lord Malloch-Brown is among speakers at today’s 2016 Global Innovation Summit event, by Imperial College and the Global Federation of Competitiveness Councils.
Airlabs chief executive Sophie Power said their technology is particularly beneficial for people close to exhaust level on the road, neutralising harmful chemicals and providing clean air.
She said: “We take in air through the unit, which is then passed out to provide clean air where people need it.
“This method is low energy and low maintenance, so well suited to city infrastructure.”


The system is effective against pollutants in exhaust fumes, including nitrogen dioxide and PM2.5, particulates which have been linked to respiratory diseases that contribute to the deaths of nearly 9,500 Londoners every year.
Independent tests on the Airlabs  system were conducted in Marylebone Road by the Environmental Research Group at King’s College London.
David Green, who led the research, called results from the kerbside tests “promising” after they showed 87 per cent of NO2 was removed from the air.
Ms Power said the units have been tweaked to now remove “almost all” nitrogen dioxide.
A further test unit is planned for Oxford Street, where pollution breached the legal limit for a whole year after just four days in 2015.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

South West of England railway news

Government announces £10 million funding for rail resilience in the South West




Additional £10 million to help strengthen the resilience of the railway line from Exeter to Newton Abbot via Dawlish confirmed.
The government has recently (17 November 2016) confirmed an additional £10 million to help strengthen the resilience of the railway line from Exeter to Newton Abbot via Dawlish.
The funding comes as Network Rail publish a report which sets out their proposals for strengthening the route, which was significantly damaged by extreme weather in the winter of 2014.
A section of the sea wall was washed away, leaving the tracks hanging in space, and there was also a major landslip on the cliffs at Teignmouth while the line was closed. The closure of the line was estimated to cost the South West economy more than £1 billion pounds.
The funding is for Network Rail to carry out further planning for how to keep the track better protected from extreme weather.
Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:
It is vital that we do all we can to prepare our transport system for extreme weather.
Never has the impact of nature been better demonstrated than at Dawlish and it is important that we make our railways strong enough to weather any storm. The further funding we have today announced will help to make sure that this vital link remains open.
 

In their report Network Rail identify 3 priority areas where action is needed to prevent the main Exeter to Plymouth railway line being blocked by further extreme weather. These are:
  • the risk of landslip from the steep cliffs between Teignmouth and Parson’s Tunnel which would block the main Exeter to Plymouth railway line
  • rock falls from the cliffs above the Parson’s Tunnel north entrance
  • flooding from the sea of the railway and the road at Marine Parade between Dawlish station and Kennaway Tunnel
 

The £10 million funding will allow Network Rail to continue their development work on mitigation against these risks from 2017, when the current funding comes to an end.
Mark Langman, Network Rail’s managing director for the Western route said:
Keeping the South West connected to the rest of the country by rail is vital to the economy of the region.
We very much welcome the additional £10 million in funds announced today to help us build on the work we’ve already done to prevent this crucial line being blocked in the case of extreme weather.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Sheffield to Rotherham tram-train scheme delayed further


The UK's first tram-train scheme has been delayed until summer 2018, the BBC understands.
The £58m pilot project will enable trams to run on existing train tracks between Sheffield and Rotherham as well as on tram lines on the city streets.
The service was due to start in 2015 but has been subject to a number of delays.
Richard Wright from the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce said he was "pretty disgusted" by the latest delay.


He said: "This is going on and on. We're trying to join the region up.This is one of the good pilots that would have done that and instead of talking about what more trams we want the around region, we're actually talking about delays on the first bit we've done to try and take it out of Sheffield."
In a statement, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) said: "Network Rail, in discussion with the Department for Transport, is in the process of completing a thorough review of the current programme of works needed to adapt infrastructure to operate tram-train vehicles between Meadowhall South and Rotherham Parkgate.


"SYPTE hopes to receive confirmation on the rescheduled programme and an expected passenger service start date from Network Rail before the end of the year."
Network Rail said that the "next steps will be announced in due course".
SYPTE added that the seven train-tram vehicles, which were delivered last November, would run on the existing tram lines from Spring 2017.

NOW SEE THE LATEST ON THE NEW FOCUS FLICKR SITE


The annual Lincolnshire Road Transport Museum's open day in 2016 took place on the 6th November. Weather was mixed and decidedly wet at times, but did not appear to dampen the spirits of the many visitors to this event. The usual mix of LVVS-owned and visiting vehicles provided much interest, and many were used on a variety of services throughout the day.
Two new sets have been added to the albums and can now be viewed here and here

Sunday, 27 November 2016

London Underground disruption






Piccadilly Line delays: Chaos to continue for days as trains taken out of service


Passengers fear delays and cancellations on the Piccadilly Line could last for days as work continues to fix faulty wheels caused by wet leaves.
Commuters have faced major delays on the Tube as one in two trains on the Piccadilly Line were taken out of service.
Transport for London said wheels on trains serving the Underground’s fourth busiest line had been damaged as a result of slippery rails.
When tracks become too slippery wheels on Tube trains lock while braking, causing excess wear and rendering them unsafe to use.


Although fixing a wheel is a small job, the intricacy means the task is time-consuming, TfL said.
The problems on Friday morning meant trains between Acton Town and Uxbridge were cancelled and severe delays hit the rest of the line after a week of disruption.
It was not known when the line’s trains will be back in service but TfL warned delays could stretch into next week.
A spokesman told the Standard repairs have been happening all week but Friday had seen the worst of the problems. He added it is not known when the trains will be back in service.
The Tube trains are currently being repaired at depots at Cockfosters and Northfields.
A spokesman for TfL said it “sincerely apologises” to customers for the disruption.
Tony Matthews, general manager for the Piccadilly Line, said: “We have had to take some Piccadilly Line trains out of service to repair their wheels, which unfortunately means we do not have a full fleet available.
“We’re working around the clock to fix the trains so that we can return to a good service as quickly as possible.”
Delays plagued the Piccadilly Line repeatedly this week, with commuters taking to social media to complain.

Tube drivers on the Piccadilly Line are set to walk-out in a 24-hour strike on December 6 and 7.
A TfL spokesman said the Piccadilly is the only Tube line affected by the wheel locking problem from wet leaves. The trains spend a lot of time overground and are older so more susceptible to the problem, he said.

The Focus Transport's own potential disruptions to service appear to have passed without incident, and hopefully normal service will continue uninterrupted.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Hyperloop Moves Forward With Additional Funding

Hyperloop One, which is developing technology for a futuristic transit system, said it had raised an additional $50 million as it prepares for a full-scale test of a Hyperloop system in the first quarter of 2017.


A Hyperloop involves using magnets to levitate pods inside an airless tube, creating conditions in which the floating pods could shuttle people and cargo at speeds of up to 750 mph (1,200 kph).
The concept originated in a paper by Tesla Motors Chief Executive Elon Musk in 2013, who envisioned it whisking passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 30 minutes.

Hyperloop One got its latest round of funding from DP World Group of Dubai. 
The $50 million takes its total funding to $160 million.
DP World Group, whose chief executive is also joining Hyperloop One's board, signed an agreement with the company in August to explore a Hyperloop system to move containers from ships docked at its flagship Port of Jebel Ali to a new inland container depot in Dubai.
Los Angeles-based Hyperloop One has previously got funding from the likes of 137 Ventures, Khosla Ventures, the French National Rail Company and GE Ventures.


Former Uber Chief Financial Officer Brent Callinicos was also appointed as a full-time adviser to Hyperloop One Chief Executive Rob Lloyd and the board.
There are currently no functioning Hyperloops anywhere in the world, and skeptics wonder if the technology can ever make the leap from science fiction to reality.
Musk has encouraged third-party firms to develop the technology.
These firms include Hyperloop One and Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT).  

If the plans go ahead, and the technology proves successful, people could travel the 67 miles from Dubai to Fujairah in 10 minutes. 
This currently takes just over 2 and a half hours to drive.


London to Manchester in 18 MINUTES: Radical Hyperloop system that travels at 740mph could be coming to the UK

  • Futuristic transport network would slash journey times in northern England
  • It would use magnetic pods to reach 760 mph through a series of tubes
  • Two of the firms racing to make Hyperloop a reality spoke with the UK
  • The government showed interest in the concept for the north of England 
Hyperloop, the radical technology which transports passengers at close to the speed of sound, could be heading for the UK.
The UK government has shown its interest in concept, which could link cities in the north of England and cut the journey time to London to a matter of minutes.
Both of the firms competing to build the futuristic transportation network – Hyperloop One – have reportedly held conversations with the government and private firms regarding bringing the concept to the UK.

Details of the discussions emerged as part of an extensive report from Wired, in which firms and the government’s own Innovate UK showed interest in the technology.
The brainchild of billionaire and head of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk, Hyperloop will use magnetic train-like pods to shuttle passengers and freight around a network of tubes at close to the speed of sound.
While the technology is still largely at the concept stage, early tests have been carried out on the propulsion technology, which could ultimately transport passengers at 760 miles per hour (1,220 kph).
According to Wired, talks with UK firms centred on the potential for a Hyperloop system linking Manchester to Liverpool, which would overcome existing transport issues linking the two cities, creating a true ‘northern powerhouse’.

The head of Hyperloop One said travelling at such high speeds could enable passengers and freight to make the journey from London to Manchester in 18 minutes (pictured)
The head of Hyperloop One said travelling at such high speeds could enable passengers and freight to make the journey from London to Manchester in 18 minutes (pictured)

Friday, 25 November 2016

Kinchbus is first with contactless cloud fares

From Wellglade Kinchbus




50 Kinchbus and Skylink customers will trial the UK’s first cloud-based contactless payment system that guarantees the best fare on every trip.
By simply tapping their contactless cards when they get on and off the bus, customers’ accounts will be charged overnight with the cheapest possible fare for their exact journeys. Customers can check what they’ve paid via an app or our secure website.
During the December trial volunteers will be able to use their contactless debit or credit cards (initially, Visa and MasterCard branded) to make contactless payments on:
• Kinchbus 2 linking Loughborough, Charnwood villages and Leicester
• Then Kinchbus 9 between Loughborough and Nottingham
• And the skylink route linking Derby, Loughborough and Leicester with East Midlands Airport.
Each person taking part in the trial will be given additional discounts on their bus travel for providing feedback on the new system.



Alex Kerr, general manager at Kinchbus, said: “We believe this is the first of its kind on buses in the UK. It’s as simple as touch on, touch off, and the system works out the best value travel for our customers.

Whilst some contactless trials elsewhere have used standard card readers for buying fixed fares and tickets, we are going the extra mile with contactless touch-on, touch-off, as it’s a quick, convenient method of paying for everyday transactions such as bus fares.

Customers won’t need to remember to have cash or to pre-select a ticket – the best value fare will be worked out for them based on their precise journeys each day.”
Two university students have already been road-testing the contactless payments. One is Nipunika Silva, 20, a natural sciences student at the University of Leicester, who said: “It’s an easy way to pay. You don’t have to have sufficient change or go to an ATM or fish around in your bag. If you’re in a rush to catch the bus, then it’s a great way to pay. Since I started the test I no longer pay in any other way.”
Alex said: “Testing has gone very well so far. Once we have run November’s trial we will be able to see if it is a popular success. If customers love paying with contactless cards, we can consider whether we should roll it out further.”
A UK Cards Association spokeswoman said: “Bringing contactless payments to buses in this trial will make travel more convenient for passengers, who will be able to use the bank card already in their pockets to pay their fare.”
Alexander Peschkoff, CEO of TEDIPAY, the company that provides that game-changing smart ticketing solution, said: “Bus fares are an ideal purchase for contactless payments. Kinchbus is a pioneering partner working with us to bring the benefits to their customers.”

NOW SEE THE LATEST ON THE NEW FOCUS FLICKR WEBSITE 


Whilst in the Midlands with this posting we may as well stay here with a couple more albums from the 2016 Showbus event held at Donington Park adjacent to the East Midlands Airport. These can now be viewed by clicking here for a selection of preserved full front double-decks, and here for half-cab double-decks.

FOCUS TRANSPORT APOLOGISE FOR POSTINGS THAT MAY BE CANCELLED, DELAYED OR DISRUPTED OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS. No leaves on the line or the wrong kind of snow, just major engineering at the home hub. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Thursday, 24 November 2016

Latest London Bus Contract Awards

The latest awards have recently been announced by Transport for London as follows:



143    (Archway Station & Brent Cross Shopping Centre) Re-awarded to Metroline Travel using existing fleet Euro-V diesel engined single-decks (new contract starting date 24th June 2017).



195    (Charville Lane Estate & Brentford County Court) Awarded to Abellio with new Euro-VI diesel single-decks. Currently operated by Metroline West with DE-Class ADL E200 single-decks from Greenford (G) Garage (15th April 2017).
260    (White City Bus Station & Golders Green Station) Re-awarded to Metroline Travel with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks (24th June 2017).


302    (Mill Hill Broadway Station & Kensal Rise Station) Re-awarded to Metroline Travel with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks (24th June 2017).
350(U5)  (Uxbridge Station & Hayes & Harlington Station) Awarded to Abellio as revised route 350 with new Euro-VI diesel engined single-decks. Currently operated by Metroline Travel with DE-class ADL E20D single-decks from Hayes (HZ) Garage (29th April 2017).

350 (currently Abellio) and U5 (currently Metroline West) To clarify, these two routes are restructured with their present routeings swapped between Hayes and Stockley Park.  The current contract on the U5 ceases from 29th April 2017 but the current 350 contract is not yet due.  The way it will work is that a new contract (as 350) is awarded to Abellio West London (pvr 5) between Hayes Station and Terminal Five with new Euro VI diesel single-decks.  The existing contract on the present 350 with Abellio West London is ’varied’ to run instead as U5 from Hayes to Uxbridge using the existing double-decks.

FOCUS TRANSPORT APOLOGISE FOR POSTINGS THAT MAY BE CANCELLED, DELAYED OR DISRUPTED OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS. No leaves on the line or the wrong kind of snow, just major engineering at the home hub. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

Leeds Trolleybus & Supertram


Leeds trolleybus and Supertram promoters had “unrealistically high ambitions”

 


The NGT New Generation Transport Leeds Trolleybus as it would have looked The NGT New Generation Transport Leeds Trolleybus as it would have looked Aisha Iqbal A planning expert has given a damning verdict on the role played by decison-makers in Leeds’s failed NGT trolleybus and Supertram schemes. 
Professor Peter Bonsall, Emeritus Professor of Transport Planning at the University of Leeds, was invited to offer his views to an inquiry panel which is investigating the city’s doomed duo of transport projects, which were developed over a period of 30 years in total before both were eventually dumped by the Government. And in his 18 page report to the cross-party panel, which meets for its first session next week, Professor Bonsall says: “The history of the Supertram and NGT schemes is a sad one. “It has involved considerable waste of public resources, decades of delay in addressing Leeds’s transport problems and consequent frustration for the city’s people and businesses. “It is tempting to blame Whitehall and Westminster for having seemed to encourage the projects and ultimately to have refused to fund them, but I believe that much of the problem lies closer to home.” He said “unrealistically high ambitions” were a key factor, adding: “The scheme for which funding was eventually sought was clearly larger than DfT were willing to accept and its business case was not sound. “These proved to be fatal flaws when combined with unfortunate timing - had a smaller scheme been brought forward while tram schemes were popular with Government then Leeds might have received funding for a scheme which might later have been extended.” 
Referring to the NGT trolleybus, he said its eventual rejection following a public inquiry was due to the “fundamental weakness of its business case”. He said opposition from local communities and businesses was “significant but would not have swayed the inspector had the Business Case been sound”. He added: “This weakness was, in my opinion, due to an over-hasty decision to pursue a trolleybus scheme as a kind of ‘supertram-lite’ and to implement the main part of the scheme in the A660 corridor - where segregation from other traffic is difficult to achieve.”

Read more at: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/leeds-trolleybus-and-supertram-promoters-had-unrealistically-high-ambitions-1-8245019

PLEASE NOTE THAT POSTINGS MAY BE DELAYED OR INTERRUPTED OVER THE NEXT FEW DAYS. No leaves on the line or the wrong kind of snow, just major engineering at the home hub. Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible.
Leeds trolleybus and Supertram promoters had “unrealistically high ambitions” The NGT New Generation Transport Leeds Trolleybus as it would have looked The NGT New Generation Transport Leeds Trolleybus as it would have looked Aisha Iqbal A planning expert has given a damning verdict on the role played by decison-makers in Leeds’s failed NGT trolleybus and Supertram schemes. Professor Peter Bonsall, Emeritus Professor of Transport Planning at the University of Leeds, was invited to offer his views to an inquiry panel which is investigating the city’s doomed duo of transport projects, which were developed over a period of 30 years in total before both were eventually dumped by the Government. And in his 18 page report to the cross-party panel, which meets for its first session next week, Professor Bonsall says: “The history of the Supertram and NGT schemes is a sad one. “It has involved considerable waste of public resources, decades of delay in addressing Leeds’s transport problems and consequent frustration for the city’s people and businesses. “It is tempting to blame Whitehall and Westminster for having seemed to encourage the projects and ultimately to have refused to fund them, but I believe that much of the problem lies closer to home.” He said “unrealistically high ambitions” were a key factor, adding: “The scheme for which funding was eventually sought was clearly larger than DfT were willing to accept and its business case was not sound. “These proved to be fatal flaws when combined with unfortunate timing - had a smaller scheme been brought forward while tram schemes were popular with Government then Leeds might have received funding for a scheme which might later have been extended.” Referring to the NGT trolleybus, he said its eventual rejection following a public inquiry was due to the “fundamental weakness of its business case”. He said opposition from local communities and businesses was “significant but would not have swayed the inspector had the Business Case been sound”. He added: “This weakness was, in my opinion, due to an over-hasty decision to pursue a trolleybus scheme as a kind of ‘supertram-lite’ and to implement the main part of the scheme in the A660 corridor - where segregation from other traffic is difficult to achieve.”

Read more at: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/leeds-trolleybus-and-supertram-promoters-had-unrealistically-high-ambitions-1-8245019
A planning expert has given a damning verdict on the role played by decison-makers in Leeds’s failed NGT trolleybus and Supertram schemes. Professor Peter Bonsall, Emeritus Professor of Transport Planning at the University of Leeds, was invited to offer his views to an inquiry panel which is investigating the city’s doomed duo of transport projects, which were developed over a period of 30 years in total before both were eventually dumped by the Government. And in his 18 page report to the cross-party panel, which meets for its first session next week, Professor Bonsall says: “The history of the Supertram and NGT schemes is a sad one. “It has involved considerable waste of public resources, decades of delay in addressing Leeds’s transport problems and consequent frustration for the city’s people and businesses. “It is tempting to blame Whitehall and Westminster for having seemed to encourage the projects and ultimately to have refused to fund them, but I believe that much of the problem lies closer to home.” He said “unrealistically high ambitions” were a key factor, adding: “The scheme for which funding was eventually sought was clearly larger than DfT were willing to accept and its business case was not sound. “These proved to be fatal flaws when combined with unfortunate timing - had a smaller scheme been brought forward while tram schemes were popular with Government then Leeds might have received funding for a scheme which might later have been extended.” Referring to the NGT trolleybus, he said its eventual rejection following a public inquiry was due to the “fundamental weakness of its business case”. He said opposition from local communities and businesses was “significant but would not have swayed the inspector had the Business Case been sound”. He added: “This weakness was, in my opinion, due to an over-hasty decision to pursue a trolleybus scheme as a kind of ‘supertram-lite’ and to implement the main part of the scheme in the A660 corridor - where segregation from other traffic is difficult to achieve.”

Read more at: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/leeds-trolleybus-and-supertram-promoters-had-unrealistically-high-ambitions-1-8245019
A planning expert has given a damning verdict on the role played by decison-makers in Leeds’s failed NGT trolleybus and Supertram schemes. Professor Peter Bonsall, Emeritus Professor of Transport Planning at the University of Leeds, was invited to offer his views to an inquiry panel which is investigating the city’s doomed duo of transport projects, which were developed over a period of 30 years in total before both were eventually dumped by the Government. And in his 18 page report to the cross-party panel, which meets for its first session next week, Professor Bonsall says: “The history of the Supertram and NGT schemes is a sad one. “It has involved considerable waste of public resources, decades of delay in addressing Leeds’s transport problems and consequent frustration for the city’s people and businesses. “It is tempting to blame Whitehall and Westminster for having seemed to encourage the projects and ultimately to have refused to fund them, but I believe that much of the problem lies closer to home.” He said “unrealistically high ambitions” were a key factor, adding: “The scheme for which funding was eventually sought was clearly larger than DfT were willing to accept and its business case was not sound. “These proved to be fatal flaws when combined with unfortunate timing - had a smaller scheme been brought forward while tram schemes were popular with Government then Leeds might have received funding for a scheme which might later have been extended.” Referring to the NGT trolleybus, he said its eventual rejection following a public inquiry was due to the “fundamental weakness of its business case”. He said opposition from local communities and businesses was “significant but would not have swayed the inspector had the Business Case been sound”. He added: “This weakness was, in my opinion, due to an over-hasty decision to pursue a trolleybus scheme as a kind of ‘supertram-lite’ and to implement the main part of the scheme in the A660 corridor - where segregation from other traffic is difficult to achieve.”

Read more at: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/leeds-trolleybus-and-supertram-promoters-had-unrealistically-high-ambitions-1-8245019
A planning expert has given a damning verdict on the role played by decison-makers in Leeds’s failed NGT trolleybus and Supertram schemes. Professor Peter Bonsall, Emeritus Professor of Transport Planning at the University of Leeds, was invited to offer his views to an inquiry panel which is investigating the city’s doomed duo of transport projects, which were developed over a period of 30 years in total before both were eventually dumped by the Government. And in his 18 page report to the cross-party panel, which meets for its first session next week, Professor Bonsall says: “The history of the Supertram and NGT schemes is a sad one. “It has involved considerable waste of public resources, decades of delay in addressing Leeds’s transport problems and consequent frustration for the city’s people and businesses. “It is tempting to blame Whitehall and Westminster for having seemed to encourage the projects and ultimately to have refused to fund them, but I believe that much of the problem lies closer to home.” He said “unrealistically high ambitions” were a key factor, adding: “The scheme for which funding was eventually sought was clearly larger than DfT were willing to accept and its business case was not sound. “These proved to be fatal flaws when combined with unfortunate timing - had a smaller scheme been brought forward while tram schemes were popular with Government then Leeds might have received funding for a scheme which might later have been extended.” Referring to the NGT trolleybus, he said its eventual rejection following a public inquiry was due to the “fundamental weakness of its business case”. He said opposition from local communities and businesses was “significant but would not have swayed the inspector had the Business Case been sound”. He added: “This weakness was, in my opinion, due to an over-hasty decision to pursue a trolleybus scheme as a kind of ‘supertram-lite’ and to implement the main part of the scheme in the A660 corridor - where segregation from other traffic is difficult to achieve.”

Read more at: http://www.yorkshireeveningpost.co.uk/news/leeds-trolleybus-and-supertram-promoters-had-unrealistically-high-ambitions-1-8245019

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

Bristol's 'poo bus' plan goes down the pan



Plans to roll out a fleet of "poo buses" have gone down the pan after the government turned down a funding bid.
The UK's first "Bio-Bus" launched on the number two route in Bristol, in March last year. The bus ran on gas produced by human and food waste.
Following a successful trial First Group and rival operator Wessex Bus had hoped to run fleets of bio buses.
However, the bid was rejected by The Office for Low Emission Vehicles.
The "poo bus" initiative was led by Wessex Water's renewable energy company GENeco to show how biomethane gas - produced during the treatment of sewage and organic waste - could be used as a sustainable alternative to traditional fossil fuels to power vehicles and homes. First West of England had applied for a grant to run 110 gas-powered double-decker buses in Bristol.
Wessex Bus and partners GENeco had also put in a £2.5m bid to fund 20 bio-buses in the city by 2019.
The gas produced by Bristol sewage treatment works in Avonmouth, run by Wessex Water's renewable energy company GENeco, is now instead injected into the national gas network.
First Bristol confirmed that the number two "poo bus" service is no longer running.
Ian Drury, from GENeco, said while the firm was disappointed the bids were unsuccessful, the pilot project "started a global debate on how biomethane buses running on renewable sources could significantly reduce air emissions in cities around the world".
He added that more than 70 biomethane buses were given the go ahead by The Office for Low Emission Vehicles to run in other areas.

NOW SEE THE LATEST ON THE NEW FOCUS FLICKR SITE:




The now annual Vintage Bus Running Day at Kingsbridge was held during September. Roger Kaye visited the event and a set of images are in the latest album which can now be viewed by clicking here

Monday, 21 November 2016

Crossrail station news


Huge new station planned for Ilford ‘to meet Crossrail demand'




Plans for a huge new glass-fronted station at Ilford were submitted today as part of a package of improvements for the start of Crossrail services.
A new ticket hall flooded with natural light and designed by architects Atkins will replace the Cranbrook Road station, which has been criticised as a “ghetto” by some passengers.
There will also be new lifts for step-free access to all platforms from street level, longer platforms, improved lighting, signage, customer information points, CCTV and overhead information screens.
Network Rail's proposed improvements come after Transport for London opened a new ticket hall in York Road as part of its station upgrades.
The first Crossrail trains on the new Elizabeth line will start passing through Ilford from May next year with up to 12 services an hour into central London by May 2019.
Matthew White, Crossrail surface director, said: “These major improvements will make travelling through Ilford station a vastly better experience for the many thousands of people who use it every day.
"The proposals for the striking fa├žade and new, spacious ticket hall are designed to underline the importance of the station and of the Elizabeth line to the local area.”
Jas Athwal, leader of Redbridge council, said: “The arrival of the Elizabeth line will represent a game-changing moment for Ilford. Commuting times will be slashed and the Elizabeth line will rapidly link us to the City, West End and Heathrow airport.”

Sunday, 20 November 2016

The New Focus Flickr Site

Two years ago to the month in November 2014 the New Focus Flickr site was created. A few days ago we passed the 1-million mark of viewings, so it looks like we may be doing something right. Since then we have hopefully provided an eclectic mix of subjects within the many albums now on the site, which can now be found by clicking here

Scroll down and there are two pages of albums to peruse, the first two a selection of buses and coaches found on the island of Malta in late 2014. These two are able to be viewed by clicking here and here





Prior to this the original Focus Flickr site has since been archived and can be accessed by clicking here
Once again there is a further mix of subjects that include planes, trains, buses, coaches and the ship. These stretch back as far as February 2011, the first of which being closer to home with trains through the Hope Valley in Derbyshire. This can be viewed by clicking  here




Saturday, 19 November 2016

DATE FOR THE DIARY - Saturday 3rd December - Essex & Kent





NOW SEE THE LATEST ON THE NEW FOCUS FLICKR SITE



By contrast three more albums have been added to the site, this time of modern buses and coaches present at the Showbus 2016 event. These can now be viewed by clicking here, here and here



Friday, 18 November 2016

FirstGroup Half Year Results

FirstGroup have published their half year results summary as follows:-

·       Overall trading as outlined in the results in June continued during the first half

·       Encouraging performances by North American business were partially offset by 
more challenging trading conditions for the UK operations

·       Significantly improved cash performance in the period

                                    Adjusted1                           Statutory

                H1 2016       H1 2015        Change     Change in   H1 2016    H1 2015
                     £m            £m                    constant        £m         £m
                                                        currency2

Revenue         2,564.7       2,440.9         +5.1%        (1.0)%   2,564.7    2,440.9

Operating          89.0          88.4         +0.7%        (1.7)%      77.9       58.5
profit

Operating          3.5%          3.6%       (10)bps          flat      3.0%       2.4%
profit margin

Profit/(loss)      21.9          22.4        (2.2)%                    11.1      (7.5)
before tax

EPS                1.4p          1.2p        +16.7%                    0.7p     (0.4)p

Net debt3       1,491.5       1,588.0        (6.1)%        (9.3)%

Financial performance:

·       Group reported revenue +5.1% with First Student and First Transit growth and 
favourable currency translation, offset by route remapping and end
of subsidy on TPE and lower Greyhound and First Bus demand. Group revenue (1.0) 
% in constant currency

·       Flat adjusted operating profit margin in constant currency, with rebased First Rail 
margin on new contracts holding back Group margin
improvement

·       Favourable currency translation of North American profits was offset by higher 
dollar-based UK fuel costs in H1; however the second half-weighted
profile of First Student earnings will result in positive net impact for the full year if 
recent currency trends continue

·       Adjusted EPS increased by 16.7% with no non-controlling interest in the new 
TPE franchise

·       Seasonal net cash outflow is an improvement of £103.8m compared with prior period, 
primarily driven by working capital performance; net debt: EBITDA
reduced to 2.4x compared with 2.6x in September 2015

Divisional summary:

·       Robust First Student bid season with 7.3% average price increases and solid contract 
retention; margin improved in the period and well positioned for
the full year following a successful school year start up

·       First Transit growth and margin performance affected by lower Canadian oil sands shuttle 
activity and cost headwinds in the period; secured some
important contract wins for future growth
·       Greyhound revenue decreased 3.9% as competing transport modes benefited from cheaper fuel; 
resilient margin performance from cost
control and growing benefits of our business model changes

·       First Bus passenger revenue decreased by 1.3% as a result of ongoing industry-wide demand 
challenges; cost actions partially
mitigated the impact of currency fluctuations on fuel 
·       First Rail passenger growth of 0.7% reflects slowdown seen across the industry and major 
GWR infrastructure upgrade work; trading
margin rebased towards industry norms as previously indicated
 
Looking ahead:

·       Overall trading in the first half has been consistent with the expectation of good progress 
in the current year, recognising likely currency
tailwinds but an uncertain UK macroeconomic backdrop

·       First half cash performance supports the objective to significantly increase free cash generation 
for the 2016/17 financial year

Commenting, Chief Executive Tim O'Toole said:

"Our overall trading performance as outlined at the start of the financial year continued during the first half, 
with encouraging performances by our North
American business partially offset by tough trading conditions for our UK bus and rail operations. 
In the second half we will benefit from our normal
seasonal bias as well as our ongoing focus on executing our strategy. We continue to expect good 
progress for the Group in the current year, recognising
we will likely benefit from currency tailwinds from our substantial North American operations but will 
also face uncertain economic conditions in the UK
for the foreseeable future. Our cash performance in the first half affirms our confidence in generating 
significantly increased cash flow for the full year.

"I am shocked and saddened by the incident on Tramlink last week. On behalf of everyone at FirstGroup 
I would like to express our condolences to the bereaved
families and friends and to those injured in this incident. We are working with Transport for London and the 
authorities to provide assistance in any way
possible to those who have been affected and to the ongoing investigation."
 
APOLOGIES FOR THE PRESENTATION of this posting but we encountered some technical 
difficulties with the house style, when loading it today. Hopefully normal service will be resumed 
tomorrow. 

Thursday, 17 November 2016

Councils warn bus service cuts isolate passengers






Wednesday, 16 November 2016

VDL to Supply Arriva Netherlands

Public transport company Arriva Netherlands has signed a contract with VDL Bus & Coach for the delivery of 228 Citeas, to be put in service in the southern and eastern parts of the Netherlands.


The order consists of 151 VDL Citea LLE-120s, 14 VDL Citea SLF-120 Electrics and 4 articulated VDL Citea SLFA-180 Electrics. A further 19 VDL Citea SLF-120s, 28 VDL Citea LLE-99s and 12 VDL Citea LLE-99 Electrics are also to be deployed in Limburg.
The Citea LLE-99 is 9.9 metres in length, making it a new length variant of the VDL Citea LLE, and it recently also became available in a fully electric version.


The 12-metre-long Citea LLE-120 is distinguished by its extremely low net weight, with major advantages being significantly lower fuel consumption in comparison to conventional buses and lower maintenance costs. The fuel savings not only means lower operating costs but also significant reduction of the CO2 emissions.


The low floor construction at the entry and exit doors provides optimal accessibility for wheelchair users and passengers with baby buggies. This accessibility is further enhanced by the lack of any floor height changes between the entry and exit doors. The new, shorter variant, the VDL Citea LLE-99 (9.9 metres in length), has been specifically designed for sparsely populated areas and for scheduled services with clear peak and off-peak times.



In areas with lower demand for transport the deployment of smaller buses contributes to a greener image. The Citea SLF (Low Floor), with its completely flat floor, compact dimensions and great manoeuvrability, is the ideal city bus. 
For its electric buses VDL Bus & Coach offers the opportunity to choose from various electric drive systems, battery packs and charging systems so the most ideal and optimal combination can be selected for every deployment area, without affecting accessibility, interior layout or comfort. As a result, passengers are taken to their destination in a low-noise and environmentally friendly manner, but also in a comfortable manner. For the West Frisian Islands and the city services in Maastricht Arriva has opted for 14 VDL Citea SLF-120 Electrics, which are 12 metres in length, and 4 articulated VDL Citea SLFA-180 Electrics, which are 18 metres in length. In Venlo 12 VDL Citea LLE-99 Electrics, which are 9.9 metres in length, will also be deployed.


All electric Citeas are fitted with a rapid charging system using a pantograph.

 Arriva Netherlands is part of the Arriva Group, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn. Arriva is operating in 14 European countries. In the Netherlands Arriva employs 5,000 staff in the provinces of Drenthe, Flevoland, Friesland, Gelderland, Groningen, North Brabant, Overijssel and South Holland. In addition to train and bus service, Arriva operates the waterbus in South Holland in partnership with Koninklijke Doeksen and is active in the Dutch touring coach sector under the name of Arriva Touring.




Tuesday, 15 November 2016

'Delay Repay 15' Compensation Scheme Announced

Rail passengers will soon be able to claim compensation if their train is more than 15 minutes late under an improved compensation scheme announced  by the Department for Transport (DfT).


‘Delay Repay 15’ will be introduced within months on Govia Thameslink Railway services, including Southern, and then rolled out across the country.

Passengers will be able to claim 25% of the cost of the single fare for delays between 15 and 29 minutes. The existing compensation thresholds will apply for delays from 30 minutes with passengers able to apply for compensation through the train operating company.




Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:
We recognise that, above all else, passengers want a reliable train service, but when things do go wrong it is vital that they are compensated fairly. ‘Delay Repay 15’ is a major improvement for passengers and we are working with train companies to make it as easy as possible for passengers to claim their rightful compensation.
Together with the Consumer Rights Act, this policy shows we are putting passengers first and making sure they receive due compensation for poor service.
Following its introduction on GTR services, ‘Delay Repay 15’ will be rolled out across the network starting with the new South Western, West Midlands and South Eastern franchises.
All franchise competitions let by the department will include requirements to introduce this policy and the department will explore opportunities to roll this out for all DfT franchises this Parliament.
‘Delay Repay’ is currently operated by the majority of operators and a number of existing franchises, including Virgin Trains West Coast and c2c have also taken steps to introduce automatic compensation for certain ticket types.
The existing ‘Delay Repay’ thresholds are as follows:
  • 50% of the single fare for delays of 30 to 59 minutes
  • 100% of the single fare for delays of 60 minutes or more
  • 100% of the return fare for delays of 2 hours or more

As well as ‘Delay Repay’, the introduction of the Consumer Rights Act on 1 October 2016 strengthened the right of passengers to claim compensation for poor service.

Monday, 14 November 2016

Showbus 2016

Now that the days are short and the nights longer, the bus rally and Running Day season in the main, draws to a close for another year. So the Focus website will take the opportunity to hopefully brighten a few of the grey days with several albums on the Flickr site from the rather splendid Showbus event held during September.


 

From humble beginnings way back in January 1973 the event has grown year on year to the major national event that we have today. And surely for such an event it should be held somewhere in ‘Middle England’ in order that it be within the reach of as much of the bus world following as is possible.

Dr.Martin Isles has been through many highs and lows since 1973, one of the lowest probably Woburn in 2015, where had he said that’s enough, who could have blamed him. But no, he stayed loyal and found Donington Park at the western end of the East Midlands Airport’s runway.

Located within reach of the M1/A42/A50 road network, access to and from the site was easy for vehicles and a frequent bus service linked in to the rail network at East Midlands Parkway. Car parking was more than adequate especially when one considers that there are thousands of spaces available for major events on the adjacent motor racing circuit.
Given the space allocated and to fit in several hundred vehicles on hard standing, yes there were some parked close beside one another, but they had been arranged so that when the sun shone, and boy it did so in the afternoon, most vehicles were positioned facing the brighter conditions.
But it is not all about photography, other visitors were there to look at and ride on a variety of buses around the local area.



That said the finest hour for some was from 3 o’clock onwards as the vehicles departed, when Martin and his team’s plans came together to provide a splendid run out of all but a handful of entrants, as they drove down the hill to the exit and passed by the massed ranks of appreciative photographers. Despite one short rogue shower and some cloud, the day was blessed with glorious sunshine.

NOW SEE THE LATEST ON THE NEW FOCUS FLICKR SITE

The first of several albums can now be viewed on the Flickr site by clicking  here and here
These two include the special feature of the Barton collection from nearby Chilwell and various other line-ups during the day. More will follow.

Date for the 2017 diary

Showbus 2017 - Sunday 17th September back at Donington

Sunday, 13 November 2016

London ULEZ Proposals


Sadiq Khan plans to create Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London by 2019



The Mayor has published detailed plans to bring in an Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London a year early, in 2019.
He also asked Londoners if they want the ULEZ, which will operate 24/7, to be expanded in three years’ time to stretch between the north and south circulars for cars, vans and motorbikes.
A London-wide ULEZ for lorries, buses and coaches could come in as early as 2019 as well.
Mr Khan also launched a consultation to introduce a £10-a-day “T-charge” - toxicity levy - in central London for the most polluting vehicles from October 23 next year.


The Mayor, who suffers from adult-onset asthma, said: “Toxic air in London is a health emergency that requires bold action, including introducing charges for older polluting vehicles and expanding the ULEZ.”
The central London ULEZ is currently scheduled to start in September 2020, though City Hall recently proposed bringing this forward a year.
The Mayor said toxic air in London is a health emergency
Cars, vans and motorbikes not meeting set emission standards would have to pay £12.50 a day to enter it, and lorries, coaches and buses £100.


The standard for cars is Euro 6 for diesel and Euro 4 for petrol.
Motorists who drive more polluting vehicles could have to pay hundreds, possibly even thousands, of pounds in ULEZ and T-charge levies, or to upgrade to cleaner models.
But the schemes aim to significantly cut nitrogen dioxide and tiny particulate pollution, estimated to cause a death toll of up to 9,400 in the capital a year.
More than 440 schools are in areas exceeding legal air quality levels, with diesel vehicles significantly blamed for NO2 fumes.
New research shows people living in London’s most deprived communities, often by busy roads, are on average exposed to 25 per cent higher levels of NO2 pollution.
City Hall stressed if ULEZ was introduced in central London in 2019, there would be a 25 per cent reduction in NOx in 2018 as people started to comply early, then a 40 per cent reduction in 2019 on top of what would have been achieved by ULEZ implementation in 2020.
The proportion of people living in central areas exceeding air quality limits is expected to fall by around 70 per cent.
Mr Khan also sought views on introducing the expanded ULEZ in 2019, or in one of the subsequent four years.


City Hall suggested the charge could be lower for light duty vehicles than in central London given that it would cover such a wider area.
A 40 per cent reduction in road transport NOx emissions is estimated in the zone between the circular roads and central London if it is implemented in 2019.
There are 254 primary schools, 57 hospitals and 84 care homes in areas exceeding legal NO2 limits in this zone.
The “T-charge” would apply to all vehicles, diesel and petrol, with pre-Euro 4 emission standards, broadly those registered before 2005.
Officially called the Emissions Surcharge, it would be levied on non-compliant vehicles entering the Congestion Charge zone.


Both schemes would operate weekdays, 7am to 6pm.
There would be a discounted T-charge rate of £1 for residents in the central charging area.
Around 7,000 cars are expected to be impacted by the levy, 2,000 vans, 400 lorries, with 4,000 more vehicles receiving discounts or exemptions.
The T-charge is only expected to cut NOx emissions from car by around two per cent but it is being billed as a stepping-stone towards ULEZ.