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 Qu├ębec.

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 Sabanc─▒ 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 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 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 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.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Snow Hill Metro Stop Re-named

West Midlands transport chiefs re-name Snow Hill stop as it was confusing passengers wishing to access the main railway station 

The Snow Hill stop, next to the station sharing its name, has now been rebranded St Chads by West Midlands transport chiefs.
The move has been made by Transport for West Midlands, which first announced the plans last autumn, because the stop's name was causing confusion among passengers who were disembarking there in order to access the railway station.

The tram no longer runs directly into the main station but stops outside in order for it to connect up with the new city centre extension through Bull Street and on to New Street station.
Passengers wishing to access Snow Hill station are advised to use the stop at Bull Street although lifts and stairs connecting St Chads to the station's second entrance in Livery Street are due open later this month.

Phil Hewitt, Metro programme director for Transport for West Midlands, said: "The name-change reflects the wider area that the stop serves and removes any potential for confusion with passengers who believe they can access Snow Hill station from it.
"Passengers can access Snow Hill by using the lift or stairs then the second access in Livery Street.
"However Bull Street, which provides level access to Snow Hill and has an attractive walking route, will be the primary Metro stop for the rail station."
The former Metro line and platform in Snow Hill station is to be utilised for heavy rail use as part of the Midland Rail Hub scheme.
This is a programme of rail upgrades in and around central Birmingham to provide up to ten additional trains per hour in and out of the city, boosting rail links across the wider region.

It is hoped the main elements of the Midlands Rail Hub will be in service in time for the opening of HS2 in 2026.


Another look back in time set of images have now been placed into an album. This time some of the operators and their buses used on the contracted bus routes in Greater London, during that rather colourful period of the 1980s & 90s. These can now be viewed by clicking  here

Friday, 6 January 2017

App aims to create crowdsourced buses

Transdev Blazefield is in the process of finalising its new VAMOOZ app that promises to bring the concept of crowdsourcing to the bus industry

Many businesses are turning to alternative means in order to finance business expansion with crowdsourcing amongst the most popular method, but could the trend be about to make its debut in the bus industry?
Next year Harrogate-based operator Transdev Blazefield will launch a new app – VAMOOZ – that could turn on its head the way in which transport operators seek to launch new services. It has its origins as a simple response to a familiar issue – not so much crowdsourcing but overcrowding.
The operator was experiencing capacity issues in the morning peak on its flagship 36 service between Ripon and Harrogate. It was as a result of a large number of young people travelling to school in Harrogate on the 36, creating overcrowding problems.

“We wanted to see if there was another way we could accommodate the pupils,” explains Alex Hornby, Transdev Blazefield’s chief executive. “So we approached the parents and asked if any of them would be willing to commit to sending their children to school on a dedicated school bus.”
Over a two-week period 70 parents said they would be willing to pay for their children to use the dedicated door-to-door service and committed to buying season tickets that not only include travel on this dedicated school bus, but the rest of the Harrogate bus network too. As more and more parents came onboard the overall cost to all reduced.
Meanwhile, those parents who had signed up to the service also became champions for it, influencing friends who were also parents of children at the school to sign up and make their commitment to the dedicated school bus service. As Hornby notes, the operator was unknowingly heading down the crowdsourcing route.
The success of the Harrogate scheme was such that it has been repeated with a further service in Lancashire. “It’s a template,” says Hornby. “We have a concept that we can roll out across the business. It’s a smarter, better way of solving the issue of school buses or other capacity issues in the peaks.
“Many of these school bus routes have followed the same route for many, many years, but it means that some locations have just never been served by bus and some people have just slipped off the radar as the bus has just never been an option for them.
“I think there are lots of opportunities for us to speak to parents and establish where there is real need. There must be lots of untapped demand in my view. The experience suggests they will be willing to pay for it if it’s tailored to their needs, if it offers them real convenience and if the whole thing is done in a proper way. It also means we can ensure the service has the stability, from a financial point of view, it needs for success. We’re not trying something with this to see if it will work, we know it will work as we’ve had these people commit financially to using it.”
The good fortune of these initial tentative steps towards crowdsourcing school bus routes has led Hornby and his team to explore other places and opportunities where the concept could be utilised in order to open up new markets and revenue streams.
Key to this is the operator’s school bus fleet. These vehicles are typically parked up outside the traditional travel to school times. This combination has led to the creation of the VAMOOZ app which will be launched in the coming months.
“We wanted to create an app that would help the business,” says Hornby. “We wanted something useful rather than something that was an app for app’s sake, or tech for tech’s sake. We also wanted to increase the utilisation of the fleet, particularly the school buses, so we began to start thinking about day trips.”
VAMOOZ (incidentally the name was chosen to ensure something memorable and, more importantly, not already used by other smartphone apps in the marketplace) will see Transdev Blazefield launch trips to destinations that are currently unserved by its conventional bus network. These destinations could include places like shopping centres, such as Meadowhall near Sheffield and the Trafford Centre outside Manchester, and trips to sporting events, concerts and music festivals too, as well as potentially more traditional visits to towns and cities of interest across the north of England.
VAMOOZ app users will browse the range of destinations on offer or, alternatively, make a suggestion for a trip of their own choosing. They will then commit to travel on that trip at the price offered by the app but uniquely this price will reduce as more and more users commit to travel.
Key to helping stimulate that demand, and thinking of the example of the parents in Ripon who became advocates for the dedicated school bus service, is that users making a commitment will be invited to share their travel plans with friends on social media and by email in a bid to encourage them to travel too. As more and more people commit, the lower the price becomes to all.
“It’s a way of looking at destinations that we don’t already serve that could have the potential to become regular services,” says Hornby. “We’re also empowering people to suggest a trip and then getting them to help promote it amongst their friends and family. As each person signs up, the cost of the trip comes down. The more demand that is created, the lower the price becomes.”

He adds that this could see VAMOOZ users suggesting not only trips to points of interest or nearby towns and cities, but also, potentially, creating new links to workplaces in a move that could allow for expansion of the Transdev Blazefield network.
“It has the potential to open up new opportunities, like services to industrial estates and  places where historically it has been hard to stimulate demand,” Hornby continues. “We could go into the workplace and assess the level of demand with the pricing reflecting that demand too. That turns the way we create bus services on its head.”
Development of the app is currently in the process of being finalised and it is hoped that a formal launch of VAMOOZ could take place at around Easter of 2017.

Thursday, 5 January 2017

No More New Routemasters for London

London Mayor Khan has axed the purchasing of more New Routemasters in a bid to make savings to the capital's transport budget.

Dubbed "Boris buses" after his predecessor as Mayor of London, the original vehicles cost around £350,000 each - £50,000 more than a standard bus.
The buses, with their now abandoned hop-on and hop-off service, had been a key policy in Mr Johnson's campaign to become the Mayor of London.

But Mr Khan had promised to freeze purchases of the vehicles, which have been criticised for their high price and sauna-like conditions.
In a plan published just before Christmas, Transport for London announced that purchasing of new Routemasters was being "discontinued".
The plan stated: "New capital investment will be reduced significantly as we discontinue purchases of New Routemaster buses.

"We will carry on investing in the fleet however, by retro-fitting 3,000 vehicles with Euro VI standard emission technology by 2020.

Back in June, it was announced that conductors would be ditched from the service to help make savings of £10million a year.

 The new Routemasters could run with an open rear platform allowing passengers to
hop on and off but this practice was discontinued to make savings on platform staff
   Seen here on 20th February 2012 is LT1 one of the first prototype New Routemasters to be delivered,
 running on trade plates. The fleet now carry Northern Irish LTZ registrations.

A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said: “Sadiq will not be making any further purchases of the New Routemasters.
"Londoners deserve a bus fleet that is greener, more affordable and more functional than these vanity buses.

"That is why he is investing in the next generation of ultra-low and zero-emission buses as part of his hard-hitting measures to clean-up London’s toxic air.”


Wednesday, 4 January 2017

Expansion plans for Stansted Airport

London Stansted Airport Unveils Plans for new £130 million Arrivals Building


London Stansted Airport has unveiled plans for a new £130 million arrivals building to significantly improve the passenger experience. The building is the latest phase in the multi-million pound transformation programme by MAG to support future growth at the airport and attract new passengers and airlines.
Stansted is currently the busiest single terminal airport in the UK with up to 5,000 departing passengers alone passing through its doors every hour at peak times. With passenger numbers expected to increase over the next decade, particularly with runway capacity constraints at other London airports, Stansted is submitting a planning application for a new arrivals building designed to deliver new facilities to enhance the overall passenger and airline experience.

The plan focuses on providing the airport with a high quality environment to support its continuing growth, from today’s 24 million passengers a year to the current planning limit of 35 million. The facility is designed to ensure that in the future the airport could make full use of its single runway and serve around 43 million passengers a year, as set out in Stansted’s 2015 Sustainable Development Plan.

The proposed 34,000m2 building spans three levels and would be delivered inside the existing footprint of the airport, and located adjacent to the current terminal and the Radisson Blu Hotel.  It will include plans for a larger immigration and baggage reclaim area, new retail facilities and a public forecourt to create a relaxing and welcoming environment for passengers. This facility will enable the current terminal building to be reconfigured and dedicated entirely to departing passengers, creating more space at check-in, security and within the international departures lounge.

The bespoke arrivals building allows the airport to minimise operational disruption during construction and will incorporate the latest sustainable technologies. The design complements the existing terminal’s unique architecture, created by Lord Norman Foster over 25 years ago.

Subject to the relevant planning consents and approvals, it is expected the arrivals building will take up to three years to complete with other improvements to the existing terminal due to be finished by 2022.

Stansted Airport’s CEO, Andrew Cowan, said: “The planning application and concept design for the new £130 million arrivals building marks the latest phase in Stansted’s transformation and enables us to support further growth over the next decade and give our passengers the facilities that they want.

“Since MAG acquired the airport in early 2013, we have turned Stansted into one of the UK’s fastest growing airports.  It has always been our vision to invest in its infrastructure to create the best experience for our growing number of passengers and airline customers and have already invested over £150 million to update our terminal and satellite facilities, created 1,000 more jobs, added over 40 new destinations and increased passenger numbers by nearly seven million.

“Stansted is thriving as a national asset, forming a key component of the UK’s aviation infrastructure at a time when airport capacity in the country is at a premium. Our investment will boost competition and enable the airport to play a bigger role in supporting economic growth, jobs and international connectivity across the East of England and London.

“Subject to planning consent, the next stage will be to develop our concept designs in conjunction with our stakeholders and business partners ahead of awarding any contracts for the construction works.”

Tuesday, 3 January 2017

Piccadilly Line Trains to be Repaired

Transport for London (TfL) is seeking bidders for a contract to overhaul the brake parts and vertical suspension damper mounting brackets for London Underground’s Piccadilly Line rolling stock.

The contract is divided into five lots, which will be distributed through a maximum of three framework agreements.
They cover repair and overhaul of brake head assembly, brake head guides and brake levers; supplying new brake levers; and supplying new vertical damper top and bottom mounting brackets.
The lots are worth up to £3.6m in total and the framework agreements will last for four years.
The framework agreements will be awarded on a zero value basis, with no obligation for the company to purchase a minimum number of parts.

Potential bidders have until 20 January to submit tenders and requests to participate. To view the contract notice, click here.

Monday, 2 January 2017

Plea For a "United Front” on Leeds Transport Vision

Calls have been made for Leeds to show a “united front” on its transport strategy if it is to secure vital Government funding and move forward with bringing a mass transit scheme to the city.

The plea was made at the latest meeting of Leeds City Council’s decision-making executive board, amid claims that a recent announcement of £270m of rail and bus improvements had been rushed through at “breakneck” speed without enough input from rival political groups.

It was reported last week that the authority had announced plans for a range of measures to improve road and rail in the city over the next four years.
Highlights include three new railway stations, a £180m overhaul of the city’s bus infrastructure and enhanced park and ride facilities.
As part of the plans, the council is hoping to leverage £100m of private sector investment - alongside £173m of Government cash it has been promised from the scrapped NGT scheme.
Stewart Golton, leader of the opposition Lib Dem group at Leeds City Council, said that though there was “much to be applauded” in the proposals, it was “regrettable” that there had been such a “quick turnaround” in the decision-making process.

He claimed a cross party group set up for detailed talks had not been properly consulted, and the latest plans were “announced at breakneck speed”.
“It feels a little like the conversation has been closed,” he said.

Leader of the council Judith Blake stressed that “this is about a whole city debate, and not just the council”.
She said there had been 8,000 responses to the recent ‘transport conversation’, adding: “I don’t think we have ever had such a public debate in the city.”
Tom Riordan, the council’s chief executive, said: “We need to unite the city around this issue.
“The only way we will achieve our ambitions in the 2020s ahead of HS2 coming is if we do that.”

He said mass transit and how the city gets it was rooted in “transformed relationships” with bus and rail operators, which had improved vastly in recent years.
“The first thing the Government will ask is ‘is there a united front locally for the proposals? And how does it fit with current facilities?’
“The appetite is there, we just now need to get it agreed and delivered by Government, and in parallel have this conversation about what comes next.”

Sunday, 1 January 2017

Happy New Year 2017

As we head for 1.5 million page views many thanks to our contributors and readers for helping to make this website what it is today.

We continue our daily posts to bring you up to date public transport news as well as looking back at the historical side of transport via pictures and articles. 

We continue to add to our photo collections on our sister website FocusFlickr which has increased readership massively during 2016.

Best Wishes for 2017 from The Focus Team


We start the year with the first album of a new feature 'From the Archives'. Delving into the past times this will hopefully be of interest, and illustrate what has occurred in the industry and show how transport has changed over the previous 50-years, especially on the buses.
The first set can now be viewed by clicking  here