Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Bad news for the 'Borismaster'

Over 400 Routemasters to be recalled due to rear-door fault

Hundreds of London's New Routemaster buses are to be recalled because of a fault with the rear doors.

The problem was discovered in November when the door on one bus opened while the vehicle was moving, causing it to stop suddenly and injure a passenger.
Numerous issues have been found with the New Routemaster since it was introduced, including faulty batteries and overheating problems.
Transport for London (TfL) said it was not having to pay to fix the problem.
Manufacturer Wrightbus is carrying out a software update on 423 affected buses, with 200 already fixed.

The rear door of the Routemaster was originally meant to stay open between stops to allow passengers to hop on and off, but this was stopped when conductors were removed.
Gareth Powell, TfL's director of strategy and contracted services, said the fault only happens "at very low speed and if the driver doesn't follow the correct procedure".
In November, one driver repeatedly pressed the door close button, which overloaded the system and caused the door to open, he revealed.
As the bus was going slower than 5mph (8kph), the brake was applied.
Since a passenger was "slightly injured", it was reported to the Driver & Vehicle Standards Agency which issued the recall notice.
The hybrid buses cost £350,000 each.
TfL has bought 1,000 vehicles, but they have suffered from several issues since their introduction in 2011.

In 2015 it was discovered that faulty batteries meant that many were running only on diesel.
Following numerous complaints of overheating from passengers, opening windows were added to the Routemasters at a cost of £2m.
Nearly 500 New Routemasters also had to be recalled because of a problem with the steering.
Florence Eshalmi AM, Labour London Assembly spokesperson for transport, said it was "beyond farcical" the vehicles had been found to have another problem.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has announced that no more of the buses will be purchased.

Monday, 30 January 2017

York Clean Air Problems

 EXPERTS warned last year that York could not meet clean air targets unless all its Park&Ride buses were electric but the warning was not made public, it has been claimed.
Former councillor and transport boss Dave Merrett obtained copies through the Freedom of Information Act of emails sent by City of York Council officials.

He said the authority’s own air quality team said in an email to sustainable transport officers: “We not only need all six P&R routes to be fully electric, but most of the other regular bus routes as well, if we are to stand any chance of meeting the air quality objectives in the near future.”
They also said at a meeting with the transport team that the Clean Air Zone was ‘undeliverable’ without P&R being a ULEV (ultra low emissions vehicle) operation- but ‘the ability to achieve this would be dependent on a willingness to pay.’
He said the council’s own director of public health had not been involved in the tendering process for the city’s new Park & Ride contract, even though pollution was estimated to cause between 93 and 156 premature York deaths each year.

Mr Merrett said he planned to argue at a forthcoming executive meeting that members did not have all the facts about air quality in front of them at a meeting in December, and they should suspend the retendering exercise so an updated report could be brought back to them, incorporating the air quality team’s advice and the Public Health director’s views.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Government Releases Details of New West Coast Partnership Franchise

The government has released further details of a new rail franchise, which will combine the existing Inter City West Coast services with the development and introduction of services on High Speed 2.

The new franchise, West Coast Partnership rail franchise, will deliver services on the West Coast Main Line from 2019 as well as designing and then running the initial high speed services from 2026.
The Department for Transport has published a ‘prospectus’, providing information on this exciting proposition for companies interested in this unique opportunity.
Secretary of State, Chris Grayling said:
HS2 will be the backbone of Britain’s railways, creating more seats for passengers on the West Coast, and increasing capacity on the rest of the network.
We need world-class expertise to deliver this new chapter in modernising the railways. We are calling for bidder groups with a blend of skills including operating conventional rail services, high speed rail services, technical innovation and great customer service. We expect to attract highly experienced companies, which ultimately means a better deal for passengers both now and in the future.
HS2 will generate economic growth throughout the country and reduce crowding on the existing network. Phase 1, due to open in 2026, will see trains travel at high speed between London and Birmingham, and continue on to serve other destinations on the existing West Coast Main Line.
Chairman of HS2 Ltd Sir David Higgins said:
The partnership will be central to developing an integrated operating environment for future HS2 services - one that works with the existing network. By bringing all our skills, experience and ideas together, we will create the best railway in the world.
The franchise will be expected to deliver excellent services for West Coast passengers while collaborating with the HS2 construction project to develop the best service for passengers.

The new operator will need to build on the existing West Coast franchise to deliver a service which puts the needs of passengers first – driving up reliability and punctuality and improving connections to towns and cities along the route. West Coast passengers should see benefits before the introduction of HS2 passenger services, through the early introduction of the new technology being developed for the new railway.
The winning bidder will collaborate with HS2 Ltd to design, launch and operate the initial HS2 services and deliver the transition of the timetable on the West Coast Main Line as it is revised to take advantage of the extra capacity provided by HS2.
The new operator will also be expected to work closely with local transport authorities, Transport Scotland and the Welsh Government to ensure passengers receive the excellent experience they demand from the West Coast Main Line.

The completion of the first phase of HS2 will more than double the number of seats departing from Euston at rush hour from 11,000 to around 23,000. The majority of intercity trains will run on the high speed network, allowing more commuter services to run on the West Coast line.
The new franchise is scheduled to start 1 April 2019.

The delivery of the West Coast Partnership will require a new short term contract of approximately 12 months for the continued operation of services on the West Coast Mainline, following the end of the current franchise in 2018.

Saturday, 28 January 2017

Cumbria Classic Coaches to Operate Penrith Service

Cumbria Classic Coaches are adding another registered service to their portfolio of routes.
The 563 Kirkby Stephen to Penrith route operated by Grand Prix Services was abandoned from 16th December 2016 as it could no longer justify running the service without support from Cumbria County Council.
Cumbria Classic Coaches will now operate this as a Tuesday only service from Tuesday 31st January.

With the addition of the new service the list of Cumbria Classic services will be as follows

  • Route 571 Brough & Kirkby Stephen to Kendal every Monday (except Bank Holidays)  
  • New Service 574  Kirkby Stephen to Penrith Tuesdays
  • Route 569 to Hawes every Tuesday 31st May - 25th October
Route 572 to Barnard Castle every Wednesday via Middleton in Teesdale - Easter to end October
  • Route 570 Kirkby Stephen & Shap to Kendal every Thursday 
All services start and finish at Ravenstonedale Bus Depot

Concessionary passes are accepted on all services. 

Cumbria Classic Coaches specialise in private hire work for weddings and other events but since the withdrawal of County Council financial support the local registered routes are operated as a service to their local community.
A 1991 Leyland Olympian double deck coach is normally used on registered services with back up from the heritage fleet. However, the new service to Penrith on 31st January will be operated by a heritage vehicle as the Olympian will be going through pre MOT checks on this date.

Above 1955 AEC Regent taking a turn on the Kendal service in 2016

Above, on 11th January 2017 the A66 was closed to high sided vehicles so two single deck vehicles were used on the service to Barnard Castle, where they are seen here awaiting their passengers for the return journey.

The Grand Prix 563 service was withdrawn on 16th December 2016 due to lack of financial support

The poster informing passengers of the withdrawal of the 563 service

Not only have Cumbria County Council withdrawn financial support for bus services, they also fail to assist those operators who are trying to run services commercially. This poster displayed in the bus shelter at Kirkby Market Square gives misleading information with regards to the Cumbria Classic Coaches services.

The Barnard Castle service operates from this stop but the poster says that it operates from the bus shelter on the other side of the road. Also no proper times or details are displayed by the council for onward services.

Local passengers are being shabbily treated by the council to whom they pay their council tax.
Tourists are being let down by the shoddy information being displayed.

Finally, we are informed that Cumbria County Council received £480,000 in bus operators grant, 25% of which it didn't spend. They have given the £104,000 back to central government!


A latest album placed onto the new Focus Flickr site contains a set of images, which portray the Leyland Olympians operated in the former Central 'red' Area of London Buses from the 1980s. These can now be viewed by clicking  here

Thursday, 26 January 2017

30 metre Chassis Launched by Volvo

Volvo recently launched the world’s largest bus chassis at the FetransRio exhibition in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The new bi-articulated chassis, which  was developed in Brasil, Gran Artic 300, is 30 metres long and can carry up to 300 passengers.

The new Gran Artic 300 has been developed in Brazil especially for BRT systems – high demand transportation systems where buses run on dedicated lanes. The bus will be able to carry up to 30 passengers more than the preceding model. One bi-articulated bus of the model replaces three standard vehicles.

At the FetransRio exhibition Volvo also unveiled a new 22 m articulated chassis, the Super Artic 210. It has capacity for 210 passengers and is equipped with five doors. The extra door facilitates boarding and alighting and also enables a better passenger distribution inside the bus. The vehicle is built on three axles.
The high-capacity buses reduce the number of vehicles operating in the bus corridors, leading to an increased average speed of the system as well as reduced emissions.
Volvo claims to be a pioneer in the development of vehicles for BRT systems. The company has delivered more than 4,000 buses to the BRT-systems of Curitiba, Bogotá, Guatemala City, Mexico City, Santiago de Chile and San Salvador.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

London Tramlink news

Tram services to be suspended between Wimbledon and Mitcham for ten days

Tram services between Wimbledon and Mitcham will be suspended next month while tracks are replaced, Transport for London has announced.
There will be no services on the south-west end of London’s tram network from February 11th to 20th.
The work will involve replacing 750m of track between Morden Road and Merton Park as well as some signals.
Rory O’Neill, TfL’s Director of Trams, said: “Replacing the track and signals will reduce the need for further maintenance at these locations for many years to come and minimise future disruption for customers and local residents.
“In order to carry out our work safely and to keep the overall period of disruption to an absolute minimum, we need to close the Tram service between Wimbledon and Mitcham for the duration of the works. A bus replacement service will be in operation.”
Wimbledon, Dundonald Road, Merton Park, Morden Road, Phipps Bridge, Belgrave Walk and Mitcham stops will be affected by the closure.
A replacement bus service will call at Wimbledon, Morden Road and Mitcham Tram stops.

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

New Stagecoach operation in Kent

Stagecoach minibus Mercedes fleet set to launch in February in Ashford

From Kentonline

A date has been set for the long awaited Stagecoach minibuses to begin operating around Ashford.
The fleet of new Mercedes minibuses will hit the road from Sunday 12th February.

The ‘little & often’ service will be the only one of its kind offered by a bus operator in the UK, providing buses every five or six minutes along routes serving the hospital, town centre and rail station, Kennington and Park Farm.
The new 'little & often' service will operate across the town
Stagecoach has also promised ‘ultra-convenient’ payment options so that customers can use contactless payment methods in addition to cash to buy tickets.
‘Little & often’ buses will run from about 6am to 11pm every day, including Sundays and bank holidays.
Three buses an hour on the existing route B from Park Farm will become ten buses per hour, while Kennington and Willesborough will have up to 12 buses an hour running to and from the hospital.
Philip Norwell, Stagecoach South East managing director, said: “We’re always looking for better ways to help people get around town. That’s why, working with Kent County Council and Ashford Borough Council, we’re introducing little & often.
“What people want is convenience, and that’s what little & often is all about.”

Stagecoach have invested £2.8 million in the 30 Mercedes Sprinter vehicles with faux leather seats and Euro 6 specification low-noise engines, representing the latest clean engine technology.
It’s hoped that the new service will ease congestion as an alternative to driving the car.
In addition, bus times on routes A and G will be adjusted and route E will be extended to serve the William Harvey Hospital.
Routes B and C will become ‘little & often’. Kennington will be served by route B.
The ‘little & often’ routes will only be operated with the new Mercedes minibuses. Larger buses to cater for the school peak will continue to run.
Speaking about the new service, Cllr Gerry Clarkson, leader of Ashford Borough Council, said: “We know that frequent and well connected bus services help keep car use down.
“This new venture underlines the commitment we have as part of the town’s growth strategy to work in partnership with Stagecoach.
“Faster and more reliable bus journeys, fewer cars, and less pollution is better for everyone in and around our town.
“Ashford Borough Council therefore welcome this positive investment in Ashford’s transport network which is also the sign of another successful business investing in the borough."

For more information, visit www.stagecoachbus.com

Monday, 23 January 2017

New ticket hall and entrance open at Victoria Station

Journeys through Victoria Underground station are set to become easier as a new North ticket hall, a key part of the £700m project to upgrade Victoria Tube station, has opened. A new entrance on Victoria Street, at the junction of Bressenden Place, near Cardinal Place, is now open and leads to the ticket hall and Victoria line. ‎The entrance means that customers can now easily exit the station onto Victoria Street without having to cross the series of busy road junctions outside the station.
Victoria, the fourth busiest Tube station, currently serves more than 82 million customer journeys each year, linking major rail routes to the south of London with the Victoria, District and Circle lines. The modernisation of the station, which is being done in stages and will finish in 2018, will double the size of the station, ease congestion for customers and provide, for the first time, step-free access.
The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said:
'The opening of the new North ticket hall at Victoria is great news for the tens of millions of Londoners and tourists who pass through the station each year. It marks a significant step forward in a modernisation programme that will make journeys through this vital hub easier and more accessible for all.'
Mark Wild, Managing Director of London Underground, said:
'Opening the new entrance to Victoria is a huge step in the station's modernisation project, and will make journeys easier for many thousands of customers every day. Once completed, the new station will enable quicker journeys, allow people to move around more easily and make the station more accessible for everyone.'
The tunnels connecting the North ticket hall to the District and Circle lines will open in summer 2017.

The station will then become step-free in early 2018, enabling customers with accessibility needs to access the Victoria line, connecting with other mainline stations like King's Cross, St. Pancras, Vauxhall and Tottenham Hale, as well as central London via Green Park station. Similarly, the District and Circle lines will connect with Earl's Court, Westminster and Hammersmith.
The final part of the station to be completed, the expanded South ticket hall, will open in 2018. Once completed, the station will feature eight new lifts, nine new escalators and 20 new ticket gates and be double the size of the original station before work began in 2009.
Ruth Duston, Chief Executive Officer at Victoria BID, said:
'On behalf of local business, we are delighted the first phase of the Victoria Station upgrade has opened. It means safer and easier access to Victoria Street and the surrounding area for the 82 million customers that pass through every year.
'We're pleased the Underground station is being modernised, joining the rest of Victoria, which is undergoing rapid transformation.'

Images courtesy of Transport for London

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Birmingham Bus Lane Cameras

Ten bus lane enforcement cameras are to be installed along three busy Birmingham commuter routes - with councillors looking to collect £3 MILLION in fines.

But they have pledged lessons have been learned from the 2013 city centre bus lane debacle, in which a poorly placed warning signs led to 65,000 penalties being wrongly issued, causing uproar among motorists. 

Now cameras and warning signs are to be installed at a cost of £459,000 along the three routes Lichfield Road in Aston, Tyburn Road in Pype Hayes and B4128 Bordesley Green to enforce existing bus lanes.

The issuing and collection of fines, court action, maintenance and regular publicity campaigns to warn commuters of the enforcement will cost an estimated £3.3 million over five years - but councillors say this will be covered, as far as possible, by income from fines.

Bus lane fines are currently set at £60, or £30, if paid within 14 days.



An album with a difference inasmuch a selection of buses and coaches captured in service as they negotiated a variety of obstacles, mostly with a tight fit for the vehicles. This can now be viewed by clicking   here

Saturday, 21 January 2017

Mitsui Buys in to Greater Anglia Franchise

Abellio has agreed to sell 40% of its Greater Anglia rail franchise to Japanese firm Mitsui.
The line has been run by Greater Anglia since 2012 and the company renewed the franchise in August.

It says the deal will result in a £1.4bn investment over nine years, with new trains and average journey times reduced by 10%.
Abellio has refused to reveal the value of the deal, which is pending final regulatory approval.
Dominic Booth, managing director of Abellio, said: "With the introduction of Mitsui's knowledge and experience, we look forward to delivering significant improvements for Greater Anglia's customers."
Mitsui has yet to comment on the deal.
Last year both companies put in a joint bid to run the West Midlands franchise. A decision on who will operate that franchise is expected from the DfT in June.
A DfT spokeswoman said: "This sale is a commercial decision for Abellio. The government will only approve this partial sale once both parties have satisfied us that passengers will benefit from it."


Friday, 20 January 2017

French SNCF to Share in Running of New Metrolink Contract

Greater Manchester’s Metrolink network is set to be run by a new joint venture partnership starting from this summer up until 2027.
KeolisAmey, a partnership between transport operator Keolis and infrastructure specialist Amey – the same team in charge of London’s DLR – will assume responsibility for the service for the next 10 years when the current RATP Dev contracts end in July this year.
Keolis is 70% owned by SNCF – France’s state-owned railway operator – and 30% owned by Canadian pension fund, Caisse de depot et de placement du Québec.

The appointment follows a competitive bidding process led by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) and has been ratified by the region’s combined authority leaders.
Tony Lloyd, interim mayor of Greater Manchester, said that the leaders judged KeolisAmey on its plans for Metrolink, which include improved reliability and customer services, creating hundreds of new jobs and sourcing contracts from local suppliers.
“It is vital that our transport infrastructure connects and supports the new homes and jobs we need, helps the local economy to flourish and ensures residents can contribute to and benefit from our shared prosperity – and that is precisely what this new contract seeks to achieve,” Lloyd said.
“It is an ambitious approach, with a big focus on the customer and the community.”
Key features of the contract include a major focus on improving Metrolink’s operational reliability, customer service and security, as KeolisAmey has promised to provide an increased staff presence on the network, particularly in the evening and at weekends.
The JV hopes to create over 300 new jobs as a result of the contract and have committed to sourcing at least 40% of their supplier contracts from within 25 miles of the Greater Manchester area.
Cllr Andrew Fender, chair of the TfGM Committee, said that the appointment “firmly reinforces” TfGM’s commitment to delivering the best for passengers and realising the full potential and benefits of the growing the city’s tram network.
“After investing so heavily in transforming the infrastructure, this was always going to be a pivotal appointment without compromise,” Cllr Fender said. “What we have here is a long-term, affordable commitment to providing a world-class service.”

The venture marks expansion for KeolisAmey, which currently operates the capital’s DLR service. The service currently caters for over 117 million journeys a year.
Speaking on behalf of the JV, Keolis UK CEO Alistair Gordon praised Metrolink, arguing that it has made a “huge contribution” to Greater Manchester’s economic growth and will continue to do so in the future.
“KeolisAmey represents a proven combination of operational and technical excellence, which has succeeded in raising the already very high standards of punctuality and customer service on the DLR,” Gordon said.
“We’re confident that we can bring the same success to Metrolink, delivering the highest levels of performance and customer satisfaction for the benefit of Greater Manchester’s travelling public.”
The appointment comes at an exciting time for Metrolink as 2017 marks the 25th anniversary of the tram network, now the largest of its kind in the country. The year will also see the completion of its Second City Crossing, which will allow for more frequent services and the extension of Manchester Airport services to Deansgate-Castlefield.

Last week enabling works began on a brand new Metrolink line to Trafford Park which is expected to be operational by 2020/21.


Thursday, 19 January 2017

First DID NOT Discriminate Against Disabled Passenger

The Supreme Court have given a ruling in the case concerning whether wheelchair passengers have a right over able bodied bus passengers. First Bus have issued the following press release.

Following the Supreme Court’s judgment today on the priority use of wheelchair spaces on buses, Managing Director of First Bus, Giles Fearnley said:

“We welcome today’s decision from the Supreme Court.

“It has ruled that bus drivers are not required to remove customers from vehicles, which was a key issue for us. This provides welcome clarity for bus operators, our drivers and our customers.

“This was clearly a difficult case for the Supreme Court with six different judgments, and we look forward to receiving further clarity around the decision when the Court publishes its Order. In response, we will implement any necessary changes.

“We recognise how important it is that bus services are accessible for all customers and we lead the industry in improving bus travel for customers with all disabilities.  We are therefore also pleased that the Supreme Court found that we did not discriminate against Mr Paulley.”

However, the BBC seem to be putting a somewhat different slant on the verdict and are reporting

A disabled man has won a Supreme Court case after a dispute with a woman with a buggy over wheelchair space on a bus.
It means bus drivers will have to do more to accommodate wheelchair users.
Wheelchair user Doug Paulley brought his case after he was refused entry to a FirstGroup bus in 2012, when a mother with a pushchair refused to move.
First Bus said the ruling meant drivers would not have to remove customers from its vehicles, while Mr Paulley said the ruling would make "a major difference".
The court said the company should consider further steps to persuade non-wheelchair users to move, without making it a legal duty to move them.
It ruled that FirstGroup's policy of requiring a driver to simply request a non-wheelchair user to vacate the space without taking any further steps was unjustified.

However, the judgement fell short of making it a legal requirement for bus companies to compel non-wheelchair passengers to move from the space.
Welcoming the ruling, the company said bus drivers would not have to remove customers from buses, which it said was "a key issue for us".
The firm said it was pleased the Supreme Court found it did not discriminate against Mr Paulley.
Disability charity Scope said the ruling was "an important milestone".
Penny Mordaunt, the Minister for Disabled People, Work and Health, said she would be talking to the Department for Transport about "clarity, good practice and the powers of transport providers to ensure this ruling becomes a reality".
Wheelchairs or pushchairs: Who should take priority?
The case was triggered when Mr Paulley, from Wetherby, West Yorkshire, attempted to board a bus operated by FirstGroup which had a sign saying: "Please give up this space if needed for a wheelchair user."
Mr Paulley was left at the stop because a woman with a sleeping baby in a pushchair refused to move out of the designated area when asked by the bus driver. She said the buggy would not fold.
He had argued FirstGroup's "requesting, not requiring" policy was discriminatory.

So, different views of the verdict. Who is right?
Can you ever imagine the scenario of passengers being ejected from a bus to allow a wheelchair passenger to board. Would it be a case of last on - first off?
Would the driver issue ticket refunds to those being asked to leave?
Would they leave?

The ruling hasn't clarified anything.
Why did the BBC say "disabled man has won a Supreme Court case" when obviously he hasn't? 
More questions. How much has this ruling cost? Have the judges ever travelled on busy buses?

Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Local Bus Fleet Investment for Scarborough

£½Million Investment In Locally New Builty Buses For Scarborough

Scarborough and District buses are running four new single deck buses representing about £½million out of a total investment of £1.6million in ten new buses for the EYMS Group fleet.

The other buses are six double decks which are going into the East Yorkshire fleet in the Hull and Withernsea area, but the four new buses for Scarborough have been locally built by Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) at its Plaxton factory and they will replace much older similar size buses in the Scarborough and District fleet.
The four, each seating 30 and built to the very latest exhaust emission requirements, will be used on local town services in Scarborough.
Peter Shipp, chairman and chief executive of EYMS Group, which owns Scarborough and District buses, said “Naturally we are delighted to have been able to “Buy Local” and I am also able to announce that we are just about to place an order for five more similar buses which will also be built at Plaxton in Scarborough next year.”
“Times are extremely tough for bus operators at the moment, particularly independent private operators such as EYMS, mainly due to central and local government funding cuts and the damaging effect of ever increasing traffic congestion.  However we still need to do as much as we can afford to update our fleet which would otherwise simply get progressively older and more expensive to maintain. And, of course, we want to provide as many modern buses as possible for our passengers to use and our staff to drive.”
Arthur Whiteside, MD UK Sales at ADL, said: “These new Enviro200 buses will deliver the environmental benefits and low cost of ownership that makes this model the UK’s best-selling midibus. Built in our factory in Scarborough, they are a double boost to the local economy and we look forward to continuing our long standing successful relationship with EYMS Group with the new order for another five Enviro200.”

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

Grayling to Meet Brighton Main Line 2 Representatives

Secratary for State Chris Grayling has agreed to meet and discuss with the Brighton Mainline 2 consortium. A group of investors have agreed to provide funding for the project which will link Brighton with Canary Wharf. 
Grayling has acknowledged the viability study report submitted in 2015 had been on the table for far too long and promised that he would publish the government findings very soon.
The project involves reinstating the former double-track main line rail links into both Tunbridge Wells (West) and Lewes via Oxted. Additionally, BML2 includes constructing Ashcombe tunnel (1.5 miles / 2.4km) beneath the South Downs to provide fast, direct access into the City of Brighton and Hove via Falmer. Thus, the all-important second route to the Sussex Coast is achieved and delivers all the much-needed additional capacity which is required. Altogether, Eastbourne, Seaford, Newhaven, Lewes, Brighton, Bexhill, Hastings, etc, would equally gain an additional, direct fast main line to London and beyond. Consequently, this would see greater additional capacity between the Sussex Coast and the capital.

In recent months particular interest in BML2 has been shown within Canary Wharf. This is because subsequent enhancements to the original concept have substantially increased its potential. Precise details are expected to be disclosed in the coming weeks, but the plan would provide superior connections in the Stratford area and bring many benefits.


Monday, 16 January 2017

Channel Islands News

Guernsey bus passenger numbers hit 20-year high

The number of people using Guernsey's bus service is at its highest level in 20 years.
Latest figures from the States of Guernsey show a 10% increase in the 2016 figures, taking the annual total to more than 1.6m.
Deputy Barry Brehaut - whose committee is responsible for the bus service - called the figures "extremely encouraging".
The replacement of the current bus fleet is due to start in the spring.

The figures are highest collected in the current format, which started in 1996.
Other than January, every month of 2016 saw an increase is bus usage - leading to the extra 146,927 passengers.
The Committee for Education, Sport and Culture has put the record numbers down to a mix of factors, including a free service for students, cruise ship passengers and a new bus app.

Sunday, 15 January 2017

Steam Operated Northern Services on S&C

Timetabled Northern services are to be steam operated on the Settle to Carlisle route for three days during February 2017. In a partnership between Northern, Network Rail, DB Cargo, the A1 Steam Locomotive Trust and Friends of the S&C together with Rail Magazine, steam hauled trains will replace diesel hauled services on 14th - 16th February.

Normal diesel powered trains will be replaced by Mk 2 Carriages hauled by A1 Pacific 60163 Tornado.
These will be the first ordinary scheduled mainline services to be steam hauled for 50 years, no special fares will be charged and passengers buying tickets in advance or from National Rail Ticket offices will be allowed to travel.
The 10.45 ex Skipton and 15.07ex Appleby will be steam hauled supplemented by morning and evening extras, running in the reverse order.
The through route on the S&C has been severed since February 2016 and should re-open again on 31st March of this year. In the meantime it is hoped that this February steam scheme will help to revive the economic fortunes of the line which has seen a dramatic drop in passenger numbers since the landslip closure.
One of the current promotions on offer is the Settle & Carlisle Day Ranger ticket which offers unlimited travel for £15 and less 1/3 discount for railcard holders.
The Day Ranger ticket can only be purchased at any staffed station ticket office or from the conductor on the train.



Saturday, 14 January 2017

More Capacity for Thames Valley Commuters

Over 13,000 more seats are available on GWR rail services following the completion of engineering work in London and the Thames Valley.

The opening of new bay platforms at Hayes & Harlington station means that GWR are able to run more frequent services with brand new electric trains. The eight carriage Electrostar trains have 262 more seats per service than the two carriage trains they are replacing; providing 6,550 more seats a day in each direction.

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: “The Thames Valley is one of the most popular rail corridors in the UK.  We have promised the current fleet would be upgraded to provide much needed additional capacity and more comfortable, quieter journeys.

“We started to run our first new electric trains in September and with the most recent work completed, on time, I am delighted to say that we can now deliver even more of those improvements – with our half hourly services between London Paddington and Hayes & Harlington.”

New Electrostar trains will deliver consistent, high quality travel for customers across the Thames Valley, offering at-seat power sockets, air conditioning, extra luggage space and free WiFi for customers.

The move is part of the biggest fleet upgrade in a generation on the Great Western network, helping to drive improved journey times, increased capacity and greater comfort.

As the Electrostar trains gradually replace the diesel Turbo trains currently in use in the region capacity will increase even further.

Now, a new, half-hourly electric service now operate between Hayes & Harlington, replacing direct services between Greenford and London Paddington. With electric trains unable to operate on the Greenford branch line, diesel Turbo services will continue between Greenford and West Ealing.
The first four of 45 Class 387, or GWR Electrostar, four-carriage trains were introduced in September and provided an additional 1,400 seats between Hayes & Harlington and London Paddington at the busiest times every day for commuters.
Existing diesel Turbo trains will be cascaded to other parts of the GWR network, providing additional capacity where it is needed most. 

Friday, 13 January 2017

Latest London Bus Contracts Awards

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


131            (Kingston & Tooting Broadway)Awarded to Go-Ahead London General using existing fleet 2010 Euro-V diesel double-decks. Currently operated by RATP London United with a mixture of ADL Dennis Tridents and Volvo B7TL double-decks from Tolworth (TV) Garage (new contract date commences 30th September 2017).
411            (West Molesey & Kingston) Re-awarded to RATP Quality Line with new Euro-VI single-decks (30th September).

465            (Kingston & Dorking) Re-awarded to RATP Quality Line using as yet to be advised single-decks (17th July).

605            (Edgware & Totteridge, schooldays-only) Awarded to Sullivan Buses using existing fleet 2009 Euro-V diesel double-decks. Currently operated by RATP London Sovereign with a mixture of Scania or Volvo double-decks from Edgware (BT) Garage (2nd September).
628/688     (Kingsbury & Southgate Station, schooldays-only) Re-awarded to Sullivan Buses using existing fleet 2009 Euro-V ADL Dennis Trident or Volvo B7TL diesel double-decks (2nd September).
632            (Kilburn Park Station & Grahame Park, schooldays-only) Re-awarded to Metroline Travel using existing fleet 2009 Euro-IV diesel double-decks (14th October).
653/683     (Kingsbury & Friern Barnet or Muswell Hill Broadway respectively, schooldays-only) Re-awarded to Sullivan Buses using existing fleet 2009 Euro-V ADL Dennis Trident or Volvo B7TL diesel double-decks (2nd September).


A new set of images have been added to the new Flickr site and focus on the Isle of Wight's transport during the 1970s. These can now be viewed in an album by clicking  here

Thursday, 12 January 2017

Vivarail Fire

The trial of Vivarail’s innovative D-train on the Coventry to Nuneaton (NUCKLE) line has been postponed, as the firm’s test train caught fire over the festive season.

On 30 December 2016 ten members of Vivarail staff were forced to evacuate from the three-car Class 230 passenger train near Kenilworth station after its engine set on fire during a test run.
No passengers were aboard.
The fire disrupted services as it caused trains to be cancelled between Coventry and Leamington Spa and affected services from Manchester to Bournemouth.
“Whilst undertaking a test run today a fire started in one of the detachable engine modules on one of the power cars.  There were no passengers on the train and Vivarail staff were able to get off the train without a problem,” a Vivarail statement confirmed last week.

“Until it is possible to access the engine module the cause of the fire cannot be determined. A thorough investigation will take place in conjunction with the [RAIB] and whatever steps necessary will be undertaken.”
Following last week’s incident, Vivarail’s spokesperson confirmed that the train was moved to the engine depot at Tyseley and that the planned trial of the train on the NUCKLE line will be postponed until further notice.
Coventry City Council, Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership, London Midland, Warwickshire County Council and the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) have now jointly announced that they will no longer be able to support the project.
A WMCA spokesperson told RTM that the issue was one of timing.
The fire investigation means that Vivarail will not be able to begin the eight-month trial of the Class 230 in February as planned, the last date possible before a new operator takes over the West Midlands franchise in October.

“There’s no way that they can get the trial up and running by the end of February,” the spokesperson said. “We’ve got no choice but to stop it.” However, they added that WMCA could still be interested in the D-Train “going forward”.

The D-train uses the bodyshells, bogies and motors from surplus London Underground District Line trains. The bodyshells are made from corrosion-free aluminium, and are re-engineered to give additional collision protection. The “flexible frame” bogies – which are specifically designed for lower-quality track – are barely 10 years’ old.
The existing electric motors – which are amongst the most reliable on the Underground – are powered by new underfloor-mounted low-emission diesel engines, equipped with the latest automotive “stop-start” technology. Modern electronics have replaced the existing heavy and maintenance-hungry electro-mechanical control equipment. A high power to weight ratio and purpose-designed control characteristics combine to give a high rate of acceleration, making D-trains ideal for routes with frequent station stops.

D-trains can be supplied as 2-, 3- or 4-car units. They can be fitted with all the signalling interface systems needed for operation on Network Rail, and will have all relevant approvals and certification in place.


Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Temsa Avenue EV Announced

Temsa has announced the electrically powered 'Avenue EV'.
Temsa, part of Sabancı Holding, has joined forces with Turkey's leading defence industry company Aselsan, to develop the Avenue EV.

It provides continuous charging with short charging times at stops using the fast charging feature that can reach full charge in 8 minutes. According to Temsa "The environmentally friendly bus with electric traction system and zero carbon emissions is also quiet, comfortable, equipped with high performance and state-of-the-art technology. The air conditioning systems and passenger cabin offer the option of internet and data connection as well as comfortable travel in both cold and hot weather." The Avenue EV can carry 35 seated passengers, 52 standing and 1-wheelchair.
The vehicle is fitted with an efficienct, lightweight electric traction system developed by Aselsan. The bus can travel 50-70 km on a single charge. The innovative and comfortable Temsa brand vehicles developed by Turkish engineers are exported to 66 different countries. Aselsan’s and Temsa’s cooperation heralds the beginning of a new era in the history of Temsa.

The Aselsan developed electric traction system has a a new multi-phase motor and motor drive, vehicle control computer, High Power Distribution Unit DC / DC converter units. Representatives of both companies stated that they planned to work together on other projects where the Aselsan traction systems could be used.
Since it was founded in 1968, Temsa has become one of the leading bus manufacturers in Turkey. The company has a total production capacity of 11,500 vehicles in a single shift per year, including 4,000 buses and 7,500 light trucks. It exports to 66 different countries and has sold the diesel powered Temso Avenue to Arriva UK . It employs more than 1,500 employees at its production facilities in Adana.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Cross Country Abolish Fees for Amending Advance Tickets

Rail passengers from Aberdeen to Penzance are set to benefit from the abolition of fees for amending Advance tickets.
CrossCountry, which serves England, Wales and Scotland from its hub in Birmingham, has abandoned the £10 administration charge that is common across the rail industry for such changes.

Passengers who book online direct with the train operator and who later alter the time or date of travel will pay only any increase in fare compared with their original train. If the replacement service is cheaper they will get a refund of the difference.

The deal does not apply to tickets bought in person from stations nor online through third-party operators such as Trainline. In addition, tickets printed by the passenger, and “m-tickets” obtained through the CrossCountry app, cannot be changed.
Passengers who need to amend their trips must buy a new ticket at least 24 hours before departure of the original train. It should cover exactly the same journey. The traveller will subsequently claim back the full cost of the original.
If the passenger decides not to travel, no refund is available.
Mark Smith, the rail guru who created the Seat61.com website, said “Abolishing the £10 charge has got to be a good thing. But it would be far more useful if you didn’t have to give 24 hours notice, as it’s often on the day that things happen and you want to change your reservation.

“Even so, this could be the way forward for all operators – though we need to preserve the concept of flexible walk-up travel too.”

Monday, 9 January 2017

New China to UK Rail Link

First China-U.K. Freight Train Departs as Xi Seeks to Lift Trade

  • London trip will span 18 days and more than 12,000 kilometers
  • ‘Silk Road’ service to transit Asia, Europe and Channel Tunnel
China has initiated a rail-freight service to Britain as part of President Xi Jinping’s efforts to strengthen trade ties with Europe.

The first train departed Yiwu in eastern Zhejiang province on January 1st and will cover more than 12,000 kilometers (7,500 miles) in about 18 days before reaching London, China Railway Corp. said in a statement Monday. The service, carrying garments, bags and suitcases among other items, will pass through Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Belgium and France.
London becomes the 15th European city with direct trains from China following the unveiling of Xi’s so-called Belt-and-Road initiative in 2013. The plan put transport links at the center of efforts to create a modern Silk Road and boost commercial ties to markets across Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Europe.
While the train can carry about 200 containers, versus 20,000 on a large cargo vessel, the trip takes about half as long as a 30-day sailing between East Asia and northern Europe. That will make rail a competitive option when maritime shipments are held up or miss the booked departure, especially compared with airfreight, which costs twice as much, according to Michael White, operations director at Brunel Shipping, the U.K. booking agent for the service.

Brunel is also involved in the operation of a China-Madrid freight train that’s run for more than a year and ranks as the world’s longest rail service, ahead even of the Moscow-Vladivostok trans-Siberian passenger route. The Spanish train carries olive oil back to China, and White said in an interview that the U.K. operation, which will unload in Barking, east London, needs to tap a similar export flow, possibly of British designer goods.

China has initially set aside about $40 billion in a fund to finance roads and railways abroad under President Xi’s strategy, while trade with countries along the corridor could reach $2.5 trillion in about a decade.
Railways are one of the top priorities of Xi and only last month, the country announced that it plans to spend 3.5 trillion yuan ($503 billion) to expand the national system by 2020.
A high-speed rail network will span more than 30,000 kilometers under the plan, according to a State Council Information Office briefing in Beijing Thursday. The distance, about 6.5 times the length of a road trip between New York and Los Angeles, will cover 80 percent of major cities in China.
China has also used railways as a diplomatic tool overseas. Chinese domestic train manufacturers have targeted emerging markets in Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia for rail-related orders while also bidding for high-profile contracts in the developed world.
China’s economy is on pace to meet the official growth target, posting 6.7 percent expansions in the first three quarters of 2016.

Sunday, 8 January 2017

Welsh ticketing scheme proposal

A bus discount scheme for young people will be scrapped just 18 months after it was launched

The decision will impact on thousands trying to travel to jobs, education and training

Thousands of young people face a hike in travel costs this spring because the Welsh Government has decided to axe a discount bus scheme which helps them reach jobs, education and training.
While unlimited free bus travel will remain available to anyone aged 60 and over, the MyTravelPass scheme for people aged 16 to 18 will end on 31 March – just 18 months after its launch.
At least 8,000 young people have applied for a pass, which gives them one-third off adult fares on all Welsh buses.

The mytravelpass.gov.wales/ website
Promoting the scheme in 2015, First Minister Carwyn Jones said: “It is vital that our young people are able to access jobs and training opportunities in Wales more easily. We recognise that travelling costs can sometimes be a barrier, and this scheme aims to change that by making it easier and cheaper for 16 to 18-year-olds to travel around Wales.

“It underlines our commitment to supporting our young people into work and education opportunities.”
The scheme had a budget of less than £10m for this financial year.

The free travel scheme for older and disabled people has a budget of about £63m per year and allows free travel at any time of the day, without the time restrictions which apply in England. Whereas eligibility for an English pass is linked to retirement age, free bus travel in Wales is available to people aged 60 and over, including many who are in full-time employment.

A Welsh Government spokesman said no changes would be made to that free bus travel scheme on 1 April.
Explaining the withdrawal of the 16-18 discount, he said: “At the time that MyTravelPass was announced, it was confirmed that the Welsh Government’s funding for the pilot scheme was only ever for the period to 31 March 2017.
“The Welsh Government has undertaken an initial analysis of the MyTravelPass scheme. This seems to suggest that passholders are not using their passes to travel outside their immediate areas.”

Image from the mytravelpass.gov.wales/ website
He said the Government had asked councils and bus companies to suggest affordable ways of providing discounted travel in future.
In October, the Government disclosed that 8,000 young people had applied for the pass. This was only 7% of the people who were eligible.

Professor Stuart Cole from the University of South Wales said take-up was surprisingly low but did not think the pass had been given long enough to become established.
“That age group, where products have got to be peer reviewed, is probably not the easiest market to get into. If the government’s objective was to maximise the usage and they’re taking it off because they’re saying it wasn’t popular, that’s a mistake because it does take time for a product to be accepted and seen as cool.”

Transport consultant John Davies said the scheme was bureaucratic, with youngsters having to apply for a pass. Bus companies such as First Cymru, which previously offered their own discounts to this age group, required youngsters only to show proof of age to the bus driver.
“My granddaughter, who is 17, uses the bus quite a lot. She hasn’t gone for it [the pass] because she says it’s too much bother.”
Mr Davies also said bus companies, including smaller family-owned ones, should provide their own 16-18 discounts on a commercial basis.
In 2013 Cardiff Bus changed the age when adult fares apply from 16 to 19 because the full fares discouraged older teenagers from travelling by bus. “We see that as our future, the younger generation,” said the company at the time.

Bus industry umbrella body CPT Cymru is now urging the government not to withdraw the 16-18 pass and suggests eligibility should extend to adults in their early 20s. CPT Cymru chair Justin Davies said: “At the moment our concentration is on trying to get the Welsh Government to keep a national scheme going because clearly it should have value – if only it was well marketed and managed which it certainly has not been.