Sunday, 24 March 2019

FirstGroup & Hitachi Announce 2021 London to Edinburgh Rail Services


FirstGroup has finalised an order for five Hitachi AT300 electric trainsets which it will use to launch a London – Edinburgh open access service in autumn 2021.

The £100m deal completed on March 20 is being financed by Beacon Rail Leasing and includes 10 years of maintenance by the manufacturer.



FirstGroup already operates the Hull Trains open access service between London and Yorkshire, and its East Coast Trains Ltd subsidiary has secured a 10-year track access agreement for the London – Edinburgh service.

A service of five trains a day each way is planned, calling at Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth with a journey time of around 4 hours

FirstGroup is specifically aiming to attract the two-thirds of passengers travelling between London and Edinburgh who currently fly, with the first service from London King’s Cross expected to arrive in Edinburgh by 10:00 to attract business passengers from air.

It plans to offer an ‘average fare of less than £25, with the 200 km/h five-car 25 kV 50 Hz trainsets having a single class of accommodation with on-board catering, air-conditioning, power sockets and free wi-fi.

‘We’re excited to announce the next step to providing our high-quality low fare service for customers linking London and Edinburgh’, said First Rail Managing Director Steve Montgomery. ‘There’s a real gap in the market for truly affordable rail travel between the two capitals. Our plans show we are serious about competing with low-cost airlines and opening up rail travel on this key route to thousands of new passengers. The new trains we are introducing will provide the highest level of comfort and service, whilst being great for the environment and air quality.’

Saturday, 23 March 2019

Kent open-topper


Stagecoach's Thanet open-top route 69




The hugely popular open-top bus will be returning to Thanet this year for an even longer season!

Route 69 will be back from Saturday 6 April 2019, running the same route as last season between Ramsgate Boating Pool and Broadstairs Stone Bay.


Operating dates

Daily between:
Saturday 6 April and Monday 22 April

Every weekend (including bank holidays) between:
Saturday 27 April and Sunday 19 May
Saturday 8 June and Sunday 21 July
Saturday 7 September and Sunday 29 September

All week during school holidays:Half Term - Saturday 25 May to Sunday 2 June
Summer - Wednesday 24 July to Sunday 1 September

Plus special Fridays:
Good Friday, 19 April
Dickens Festival, 21 June

When and where to catch route 69





1  Stone Bay
2  Broadstairs, Queen's Road
3  Broadstairs, Victoria Parade
4  Dumpton Gap
5  Granville Theatre
6  Ramsgate Harbour
7  West Cliff, Boating Pool 


And finally. A tad under 50-years ago route 69 was operated by National Bus Company subsidiary East Kent, using a small number of converted Park Royal bodied Guy double-decks. One such was 376 (FFN 376), shown here on a somewhat cool summer's day, going on the look and dress of the passengers, at Palm Bay, Margate during June 1970.






Friday, 22 March 2019

Extension for Midland Main Line Electrification


The Department for Transport has confirmed that infrastructure manager Network Rail has been instructed to design an extension of the Midland Main Line electrification by around 15 km from Kettering to Market Harborough, which would enable a new connection to a power supply at Braybrooke.




In a written answer to a question from Member of Parliament for Harborough Neil O'Brien on February 26, Parliamentary Under-Secretary at the Department for Transport Andrew Jones said continuing the electrification as far as Market Harborough had been determined to be the best value-for-money option for making the power supply connection at the outline business case stage in March 2018. It would be tested again when the overall Midland Main Line programme Key Output 1a is assessed at the full business case stage.

O’Brien said this was ‘very welcome news, which will mean less pollution and quieter trains’. He hoped it was ‘also a step forwards towards hopefully getting the whole line done’.

Plans to extend the existing London – Bedford 25 kV 50 Hz electrification north to Kettering, Nottingham and Sheffield were cancelled by the government in July 2017, following cost overruns with the Great Western Main Line route upgrade. Instead the government opted for electrification only as far as Kettering and Corby, with a plan for the next franchisee to procure fleet of electro-diesel inter-city trainsets for the route.



Maria Machancoses, Director of regional transport body Midlands Connect, welcomed the news that electrification was likely to reach Market Harborough, but called for the wires to be extended to Leicester, Toton and Nottingham.

The Railway Industry Association also welcomed the news, with Technical Director David Clarke saying ‘electrification is clearly the optimal solution for intensively used rail lines’. RIA’s Electrification Cost Challenge report which is expected to be published next week would ‘show how we can deliver schemes even more cost effectively in future’, he added.


Thursday, 21 March 2019

New Lothian Enviro400XLB's Introduced to Edinburgh Cross-City Services

Staying north of the Border in the Scottish capital city of Edinburgh....................

The first of the new 100 seat Enviro400XLB buses have started operating on Services 11. The new vehicles are also operating occasionally on route16.  





Service 11 operates from Ocean Terminal to Hyvots Bank and Service 16 connects Silverknowes and Colinton. Together, these popular cross city routes carried over 10 milllion customers last year.


The new buses can carry up to 129 customers each. They have a front and middle door to speed up the times spent at bus stops and have been built to even higher standards than bus users in Edinburgh have become accustomed to, with comfortable high-backed seating, Wi-Fi, USB charging, mood lighting and audio-visual stop announcements.




Richard Hall, Managing Director, said:

The city is changing and public transport operations must evolve to meet the growing needs and expectations of our customers. Core cross city routes are an important piece of our network, transporting millions of customers quickly and efficiently to their destinations every week.



Due to building work the bus terminus at Ocean Terminal has been moved to a
windy side street with no bus shelters
 
Services 11 and 16 are high frequency core route services, together carrying over 10 million customers across the city with high demand in the morning and afternoon peaks, as well as at weekends. By deploying these new vehicles onto these services to cope with customer demand patterns, we will be able to change how we deliver these services for the benefit of our customers and the areas in which we operate.




To ensure the smooth introduction of these vehicles to the streets of Edinburgh, we have an in-house project team carrying out route assessments and familiarisation training. Look out for them travelling around the city.














..

Wednesday, 20 March 2019

Edinburgh bus war


Bus wars set to return to Edinburgh’s streets as First squares up to Lothian


A new bus wars look set to break out in the Capital after First West Lothian said it was ready to go toe-to-toe with Lothian buses over services. Lothian launched new Lothian Country routes in West Lothian last summer, mirroring existing routes connecting West Lothian and the Capital.




Now First plans to retaliate by increasing its services and introducing some in Edinburgh. The company is said to be planning a significant investment, including a plethora of buses to provide express services on key corridors within, and surrounding areas of, the city. But Lothian appeared to welcome the move, saying “healthy competition” was good for jobs, demand, innovation and standards.



It will be an echo of the battle between council-owned Lothian buses and First Edinburgh which raged for 18 months around 2001 and led to fare cuts, rival buses fighting for passengers on the busiest routes and large financial losses for both companies. And the prospect of a new conflict sparked warnings that more buses on the city’s roads would add to congestion, making it more difficult for other road-users to get around and increasing pollution.

Andrew Jarvis, managing director for First West Lothian said: “Lothian buses launched a significant competitive operation in West Lothian in August last year and have increased their presence in a further four waves, presumably in an attempt to extend their Edinburgh market dominance. We increased the number of services and journeys on the 28th of January 2019 and are now reviewing a number of options with regards to increasing our services further, not only in West Lothian, but also in Edinburgh. We welcome the deregulated bus market and competition in a fair environment, but having operated in West Lothian for over 100 years, we know the market is not large enough to support the current level of provision.”

A new survey revealed Lothian Buses is the best value for money in Scotland. Mark Heritage, general manager of Lothiancountry said: “Since commencing operations in the area last August, we have seen significant customer growth across our network, which is a real testament to our dedicated and motivated workforce who deliver a fantastic customer experience every day. Healthy competition in the marketplace creates jobs, stimulates demand and drives innovation, whilst ensuring the high standard of customer service that the bus industry is renowned for is maintained.’’

In the summer of 2001, First Edinburgh slashed fares and put on extra services along traditional Lothian buses routes in a bid to win extra passengers. Timetables were changed and more vehicles moved in as competition intensified on the city’s busiest routes. But concerns were voiced that passengers were suffering because other services were being cut or abandoned altogether as resources were diverted. The bus wars finally came to an end in February 2002 when First announced it was pulling out of several routes where it was in direct competition with Lothian Buses. First Edinburgh accounts later showed an annual loss of £4.4m in the 12 months up to March 2002 when the bus wars were at their height. The losses included an operating loss of £2.2m. Lothian buses also saw a plunge in profits and launched a major restructuring exercise in a bid to survive the bus wars.



The Office of Fair Trading, which regulates consumer protection and commercial activity, carried out an official inquiry after Lothian buses made a 
complaint that First was engaging in anti-competitive behaviour. But First was cleared of any wrong-doing by the OFT. It was concluded its conduct represented legitimate competition. First withdrew its East Lothian services in 2016 and Lothian buses stepped in, launching East Coast Buses as a new subsidiary and taking over the operation of services from Edinburgh as far as Haddington, North Berwick and Dunbar. Lothian Country was launched in 2017 with three routes between Edinburgh and Bathgate, and Edinburgh Park Station and Whitburn, seven days a week, and has since added services to Livingston, Armadale, Broxburn and other West Lothian destinations.



Bus wars set to return to Edinburgh’s streets as First squares up to Lothian Remaining Time -0:00 Ian Swanson Published: 06:00 Updated: 11:30 Friday 15 March 2019 Share this article Sign Up To Our Daily Newsletter 8 Have your say NEW bus wars look set to break out in the Capital after First West Lothian said it was ready to go toe-to-toe with Lothian buses over services. Lothian launched new Lothian Country routes in West Lothian last summer, mirroring existing routes connecting West Lothian and the Capital. Buses on Princes Street. Pic: Greg Macvean Buses on Princes Street. Pic: Greg Macvean Now First plans to retaliate by increasing its services and introducing some in Edinburgh. The company is said to be planning a significant investment, including a plethora of buses to provide express services on key corridors within, and surrounding areas of, the city. But Lothian appeared to welcome the move, saying “healthy competition” was good for jobs, demand, innovation and standards. It will be an echo of the battle between council-owned Lothian buses and First Edinburgh which raged for 18 months around 2001 and led to fare cuts, rival buses fighting for passengers on the busiest routes and large financial losses for both companies. And the prospect of a new conflict sparked warnings that more buses on the city’s roads would add to congestion, making it more difficult for other road-users to get around and increasing pollution. Andrew Jarvis, managing director for First West Lothian said: “Lothian buses launched a significant competitive operation in West Lothian in August last year and have increased their presence in a further four waves, presumably in an attempt to extend their Edinburgh market dominance. “We increased the number of services and journeys on the 28th of January 2019 and are now reviewing a number of options with regards to increasing our services further, not only in West Lothian, but also in Edinburgh. “We welcome the deregulated bus market and competition in a fair environment, but having operated in West Lothian for over 100 years, we know the market is not large enough to support the current level of provision.” Neil Greig of motoring group IAM RoadSmart, said another outbreak of bus wars was bad news for everyone. He said: “Based on what happened last time, these competitions tend to end up with a drive to the bottom, with poorer services and aged buses, and doesn’t attract people out of their cars. “It will mean more buses on the roads and more congestion – and also more pollution. If you have three or four buses standing at a stop – and they’re often older buses – it’s going to have an effect on air quality. People usually blame pollution on cars but in city centres it’s almost always down to buses.” A new survey revealed Lothian Buses is the best value for money in Scotland Passenger survey reveals Lothian Buses is best value for money in Scotland Mark Heritage, general manager of Lothiancountry said: “Since commencing operations in the area last August, we have seen significant customer growth across our network, which is a real testament to our dedicated and motivated workforce who deliver a fantastic customer experience every day. “Healthy competition in the marketplace creates jobs, stimulates demand and drives innovation, whilst ensuring the high standard of customer service that the bus industry is renowned for is maintained.’’ In the summer of 2001, First Edinburgh slashed fares and put on extra services along traditional Lothian buses routes in a bid to win extra passengers. Timetables were changed and more vehicles moved in as competition intensified on the city’s busiest routes. But concerns were voiced that passengers were suffering because other services were being cut or abandoned altogether as resources were diverted. The bus wars finally came to an end in February 2002 when First announced it was pulling out of several routes where it was in direct competition with Lothian Buses. First Edinburgh accounts later showed an annual loss of £4.4m in the 12 months up to March 2002 when the bus wars were at their height. The losses included an operating loss of £2.2m. Lothian buses also saw a plunge in profits and launched a major restructuring exercise in a bid to survive the bus wars. The Office of Fair Trading, which regulates consumer protection and commercial activity, carried out an official inquiry after Lothian buses made a 
complaint that First was engaging in anti-competitive behaviour. But First was cleared of any wrong-doing by the OFT. It was concluded its conduct represented legitimate competition. First withdrew its East Lothian services in 2016 and Lothian buses stepped in, launching East Coast Buses as a new subsidiary and taking over the operation of services from Edinburgh as far as Haddington, North Berwick and Dunbar. Lothian Country was launched in 2017 with three routes between Edinburgh and Bathgate, and Edinburgh Park Station and Whitburn, seven days a week, and has since added services to Livingston, Armadale, Broxburn and other West Lothian destinations.

Read more at: https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/transport/bus-wars-set-to-return-to-edinburgh-s-streets-as-first-squares-up-to-lothian-1-4889775
Bus wars set to return to Edinburgh’s streets as First squares up to Lothian Remaining Time -0:00 Ian Swanson Published: 06:00 Updated: 11:30 Friday 15 March 2019 Share this article Sign Up To Our Daily Newsletter 8 Have your say NEW bus wars look set to break out in the Capital after First West Lothian said it was ready to go toe-to-toe with Lothian buses over services. Lothian launched new Lothian Country routes in West Lothian last summer, mirroring existing routes connecting West Lothian and the Capital. Buses on Princes Street. Pic: Greg Macvean Buses on Princes Street. Pic: Greg Macvean Now First plans to retaliate by increasing its services and introducing some in Edinburgh. The company is said to be planning a significant investment, including a plethora of buses to provide express services on key corridors within, and surrounding areas of, the city. But Lothian appeared to welcome the move, saying “healthy competition” was good for jobs, demand, innovation and standards. It will be an echo of the battle between council-owned Lothian buses and First Edinburgh which raged for 18 months around 2001 and led to fare cuts, rival buses fighting for passengers on the busiest routes and large financial losses for both companies. And the prospect of a new conflict sparked warnings that more buses on the city’s roads would add to congestion, making it more difficult for other road-users to get around and increasing pollution. Andrew Jarvis, managing director for First West Lothian said: “Lothian buses launched a significant competitive operation in West Lothian in August last year and have increased their presence in a further four waves, presumably in an attempt to extend their Edinburgh market dominance. “We increased the number of services and journeys on the 28th of January 2019 and are now reviewing a number of options with regards to increasing our services further, not only in West Lothian, but also in Edinburgh. “We welcome the deregulated bus market and competition in a fair environment, but having operated in West Lothian for over 100 years, we know the market is not large enough to support the current level of provision.” Neil Greig of motoring group IAM RoadSmart, said another outbreak of bus wars was bad news for everyone. He said: “Based on what happened last time, these competitions tend to end up with a drive to the bottom, with poorer services and aged buses, and doesn’t attract people out of their cars. “It will mean more buses on the roads and more congestion – and also more pollution. If you have three or four buses standing at a stop – and they’re often older buses – it’s going to have an effect on air quality. People usually blame pollution on cars but in city centres it’s almost always down to buses.” A new survey revealed Lothian Buses is the best value for money in Scotland Passenger survey reveals Lothian Buses is best value for money in Scotland Mark Heritage, general manager of Lothiancountry said: “Since commencing operations in the area last August, we have seen significant customer growth across our network, which is a real testament to our dedicated and motivated workforce who deliver a fantastic customer experience every day. “Healthy competition in the marketplace creates jobs, stimulates demand and drives innovation, whilst ensuring the high standard of customer service that the bus industry is renowned for is maintained.’’ In the summer of 2001, First Edinburgh slashed fares and put on extra services along traditional Lothian buses routes in a bid to win extra passengers. Timetables were changed and more vehicles moved in as competition intensified on the city’s busiest routes. But concerns were voiced that passengers were suffering because other services were being cut or abandoned altogether as resources were diverted. The bus wars finally came to an end in February 2002 when First announced it was pulling out of several routes where it was in direct competition with Lothian Buses. First Edinburgh accounts later showed an annual loss of £4.4m in the 12 months up to March 2002 when the bus wars were at their height. The losses included an operating loss of £2.2m. Lothian buses also saw a plunge in profits and launched a major restructuring exercise in a bid to survive the bus wars. The Office of Fair Trading, which regulates consumer protection and commercial activity, carried out an official inquiry after Lothian buses made a 
complaint that First was engaging in anti-competitive behaviour. But First was cleared of any wrong-doing by the OFT. It was concluded its conduct represented legitimate competition. First withdrew its East Lothian services in 2016 and Lothian buses stepped in, launching East Coast Buses as a new subsidiary and taking over the operation of services from Edinburgh as far as Haddington, North Berwick and Dunbar. Lothian Country was launched in 2017 with three routes between Edinburgh and Bathgate, and Edinburgh Park Station and Whitburn, seven days a week, and has since added services to Livingston, Armadale, Broxburn and other West Lothian destinations.

Read more at: https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/transport/bus-wars-set-to-return-to-edinburgh-s-streets-as-first-squares-up-to-lothian-1-4889775
Bus wars set to return to Edinburgh’s streets as First squares up to Lothian Remaining Time -0:00 Ian Swanson Published: 06:00 Updated: 11:30 Friday 15 March 2019 Share this article Sign Up To Our Daily Newsletter 8 Have your say NEW bus wars look set to break out in the Capital after First West Lothian said it was ready to go toe-to-toe with Lothian buses over services. Lothian launched new Lothian Country routes in West Lothian last summer, mirroring existing routes connecting West Lothian and the Capital. Buses on Princes Street. Pic: Greg Macvean Buses on Princes Street. Pic: Greg Macvean Now First plans to retaliate by increasing its services and introducing some in Edinburgh. The company is said to be planning a significant investment, including a plethora of buses to provide express services on key corridors within, and surrounding areas of, the city. But Lothian appeared to welcome the move, saying “healthy competition” was good for jobs, demand, innovation and standards. It will be an echo of the battle between council-owned Lothian buses and First Edinburgh which raged for 18 months around 2001 and led to fare cuts, rival buses fighting for passengers on the busiest routes and large financial losses for both companies. And the prospect of a new conflict sparked warnings that more buses on the city’s roads would add to congestion, making it more difficult for other road-users to get around and increasing pollution. Andrew Jarvis, managing director for First West Lothian said: “Lothian buses launched a significant competitive operation in West Lothian in August last year and have increased their presence in a further four waves, presumably in an attempt to extend their Edinburgh market dominance. “We increased the number of services and journeys on the 28th of January 2019 and are now reviewing a number of options with regards to increasing our services further, not only in West Lothian, but also in Edinburgh. “We welcome the deregulated bus market and competition in a fair environment, but having operated in West Lothian for over 100 years, we know the market is not large enough to support the current level of provision.” Neil Greig of motoring group IAM RoadSmart, said another outbreak of bus wars was bad news for everyone. He said: “Based on what happened last time, these competitions tend to end up with a drive to the bottom, with poorer services and aged buses, and doesn’t attract people out of their cars. “It will mean more buses on the roads and more congestion – and also more pollution. If you have three or four buses standing at a stop – and they’re often older buses – it’s going to have an effect on air quality. People usually blame pollution on cars but in city centres it’s almost always down to buses.” A new survey revealed Lothian Buses is the best value for money in Scotland Passenger survey reveals Lothian Buses is best value for money in Scotland Mark Heritage, general manager of Lothiancountry said: “Since commencing operations in the area last August, we have seen significant customer growth across our network, which is a real testament to our dedicated and motivated workforce who deliver a fantastic customer experience every day. “Healthy competition in the marketplace creates jobs, stimulates demand and drives innovation, whilst ensuring the high standard of customer service that the bus industry is renowned for is maintained.’’ In the summer of 2001, First Edinburgh slashed fares and put on extra services along traditional Lothian buses routes in a bid to win extra passengers. Timetables were changed and more vehicles moved in as competition intensified on the city’s busiest routes. But concerns were voiced that passengers were suffering because other services were being cut or abandoned altogether as resources were diverted. The bus wars finally came to an end in February 2002 when First announced it was pulling out of several routes where it was in direct competition with Lothian Buses. First Edinburgh accounts later showed an annual loss of £4.4m in the 12 months up to March 2002 when the bus wars were at their height. The losses included an operating loss of £2.2m. Lothian buses also saw a plunge in profits and launched a major restructuring exercise in a bid to survive the bus wars. The Office of Fair Trading, which regulates consumer protection and commercial activity, carried out an official inquiry after Lothian buses made a 
complaint that First was engaging in anti-competitive behaviour. But First was cleared of any wrong-doing by the OFT. It was concluded its conduct represented legitimate competition. First withdrew its East Lothian services in 2016 and Lothian buses stepped in, launching East Coast Buses as a new subsidiary and taking over the operation of services from Edinburgh as far as Haddington, North Berwick and Dunbar. Lothian Country was launched in 2017 with three routes between Edinburgh and Bathgate, and Edinburgh Park Station and Whitburn, seven days a week, and has since added services to Livingston, Armadale, Broxburn and other West Lothian destinations.

Read more at: https://www.edinburghnews.scotsman.com/news/transport/bus-wars-set-to-return-to-edinburgh-s-streets-as-first-squares-up-to-lothian-1-4889775

Tuesday, 19 March 2019

Transport for Wales Orders Stadler Trains


Transport for Wales Rail Services (TfW Rail) has awarded Swiss rolling stock manufacturer Stadler a contract to deliver 71 trains.

The contract includes the delivery of 36 three-car CITYLINK tram-trains and 35 Fast Light Intercity and Regional Train (FLIRT) units.

Stadler UK sales director Ralf Warwel said: “This order will bolster our presence in Great Britain and we look forward to working with our clients in Wales.

“With its emphasis on battery power, the project puts us at the forefront of cutting edge, green technology, and we are especially proud of that.”


 

The CITYLINK three-car tram-trains will operate on 25kV electric and battery power.

Out of 35 vehicles, 11 FLIRT units will be diesel-powered and will be used on South Wales Metro services.

The remaining 24 FLIRT trains will be tri-mode, capable of running on electricity, diesel and battery power.

Stadler will deliver seven three-car and 17 four-car tri-mode trains to TfW Rail. Scheduled to start commercial operations in 2023, they will operate to the north of Cardiff using electricity and on diesel to the south.

Transport for Wales Rail Services CEO Kevin Thomas said: “Our journey has begun and we are all absolutely determined to create a transport network that is fit for the future.

“It’s really exciting to know that Cardiff will see the return of a tram operation for the first time in over 70 years, while the tri-modes being built by Stadler will offer an efficient and cost-effective electric drive and battery operation.”

Stadler is working on several other rolling stock delivery contracts in the UK. From this year, 58 new trains will enter service on the Greater Anglia network.

Over the next couple of years, 17 new trains will be introduced on the Glasgow Subway and 52 on Merseyrail.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Edinburgh tram


Edinburgh approves £207m extension to tram line


Edinburgh’s controversial tram line will finally be completed, nearly a decade after its half-built track first opened to customers. The city’s council agreed on Thursday to spend as much as £207m on extending the line to its original destination in Newhaven on the Forth, linking the east end of the city by tram to its airport. It is hoped the newly completed line will carry its first passengers in early 2023, nearly 10 years after the first section opened in 2014. The Scottish parliament passed legislation authorising the line in 2006, but the project has been dogged by political battles and bitter rows with its contractors.




Many of the city’s residents remember the disruption, delays and cost overruns that hampered the tram project from the outset, with the cost of the first phase soaring to more than £1bn.The botched project, now being investigated in a public inquiry led by a judge, meant the line being built in two phases. The first ended in the city centre, 2.8 miles (4.6km) short of its Newhaven terminus. The full length of the line will be 18.7km.

The council insists it has learnt lessons from the debacle and has divided the contract for the new extension into two. One consortium will ensure utility pipes on the route are properly identified and if necessary moved, and the second will lay the track and install the signals. The decision to authorise the line’s completion was opposed by the Conservatives, who insist the council needs to wait until the inquiry into the first phase under Lord Hardie has published its report.

Members of Edinburgh’s community councils are also worried, and want the construction to be carefully phased and buses given priority on nearby roads to minimise disruption, which they fear could affect 75,000 residents and 1,500 businesses. The council has set aside £2.4m to help affected businesses. It said the cost of the extension would be met by borrowing that would eventually be repaid by extra tram fares, and a £20m injection from Lothian Buses, the city’s publicly-owned transport company.




It predicts the tram will carry 16 million passengers in its first year of operation. The current line carried 7.4 million last year, well above original projections. Mindful of the original cost overrun, it estimates the extension will cost £165m but have added a £42m contingency fund. Harald Tobermann, a spokesman for the Community Councils Together on Trams umbrella group, said there also needed to be tough controls on parking along the construction route. That was essential to “prevent the tram corridor from turning into Edinburgh’s largest park and ride area,” he said. “We recognise that a strong feeling exists among many people in our communities that this project is being pushed through with undue and unnecessary haste.”

Sunday, 17 March 2019

The National Bus Company


It is now just over fifty years since the National Bus Company (NBC) was formed from the 1st January 1969, although much had transpired behind the scenes for a considerable time prior to the event. Indeed it was as a result of the Transport Act 1968 that trading commenced.

Ostensibly it was three major organisations who were brought together to prepare the way British Transport Commission (BTC) and successor from 1962 Transport Holdings Company (THC) along with British Electric Traction (BET), all with their respective bus companies.

Vehicles operated by the respective organisations were markedly different one which standardised on Eastern Coachworks bodies atop Bristol chassis, whilst the other had a wider variety of buses and coaches supplied by chassis makers and body builders. Livery was another area where there were differences, the BTC/THC majoring on red or green with cream relief. Although that said there were exceptions such as Brighton & Hove, Midland General and the Royal Blue operations of Southern & Western National. BET on the other was once again more relaxed in their operations with a wider variety of liveries and the application of bolder fleet names. A whole of companies operated under the umbrella of the NBC throughout England and Wales, from Cornwall to Northumberland as illustrated by the map below in the Mid-1970s.




By the end of the 1970s almost all the company’s original liveries had been superceded by the NBC’s nationwide livery of either leaf green or poppy red, generally with relief of a white stripe, between the windows on double-decks, and below the windows on single-decks. There was also standardisation of vehicle type being either the integral Leyland National single-deck or the Bristol VRT with Eastern Coachworks body for the double-decks. There was an alternative double-deck in shape of the Leyland Atlantean later replaced by the Leyland Olympian.
However, as that decade drew to a close, a change of government was looking towards deregulation of the bus and coach companies, and the decline and ultimate disappearance of the NBC by 1988, when the last company was sold off to privatisation.



NOW SEE THE LATEST ON THE NEW FOCUS FLICKR SITE:




The first of a set of albums to feature buses and coaches from the National Bus Company years. Subsequent sets will appear over the coming weeks, this one viewed by clicking  here

Additionally some earlier NBC albums on the Flickr site can be accessed by clicking  here
here   and  here



Saturday, 16 March 2019

Govia Thameslink Railway


Govia Thameslink Railway faces £5 million fine for May timetable chaos



Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) faces a £5 million fine after a chaotic timetable launch caused disruption to thousands of passengers. Commuters on Thameslink and Great Northern (GN) routes suffered for eight weeks following the introduction of the a new timetable in May 2018 with swathes of services cancelled or altered at short notice. The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said GTR "failed to provide appropriate, accurate and timely information" to travellers, with commuters receiving little or no information about services.

Some trains were permanently removed from the timetable with others removed or cancelled on a daily basis, leading to a "severe lack of certainty for passengers up until the point of travel.” In response, GTR said they were "disappointed" but that disruption "was due to industry-wide factors and we are sorry for the serious effect this had on our passengers."

The investigation also found that inadequate internal communication within GTR often left station staff with "little or no information" to help passengers. The regulator added: “Some trains were reintroduced but with insufficient time to input journey information into systems. These ‘ghost trains’ arrived at stations with staff and passengers unaware of their arrival or where they were expected to stop. Replacement buses were used on some routes but prolonged delays in providing information in journey planners meant many passengers weren’t aware that they were available.”

Train companies, government-owned infrastructure company Network Rail and Transport Secretary Chris Grayling were all blamed for the timetable chaos at the time. The ORR has written to all train companies and Network Rail to require them to review their crisis management plans and ensure appropriate arrangements exist for assisting passengers with disabilities in times of disruption.

Stephanie Tobyn, a deputy director at the regulator, said: "The disruption experienced by many passengers as a result of the May timetable introduction was awful. When disruption happens, poor quality information makes an already difficult and frustrating situation worse. The exceptional circumstances that followed the introduction of the timetable meant that providing perfect advance information for passengers was from the outset an impossible task and GTR's overriding focus was on providing as much capacity as it could to meet customer demand. However persistent and prolonged failures in information provision meant that passengers couldn't benefit from the operational improvement it was trying to make."




Anthony Smith, chief executive of watchdog Transport Focus, said: "Passengers were badly let down when the new timetable descended into chaos on some Govia Thameslink Railway and Northern routes, and information was often poor. This £5 million fine for Govia Thameslink should be a wake-up call to train companies that accurate passenger information really matters. It is important that the money from this fine is reinvested to benefit those passengers who suffered last year."

A separate ORR investigation into Northern rail found that although in many cases passengers did experience inadequate information in the two weeks that immediately followed the timetable introduction, it had "considered and subsequently taken reasonable steps to give passengers appropriate, accurate and timely information both prior to and during the disruption." The regulator said: "An interim timetable was introduced on 4 June that stabilised service levels, improved performance, and enabled the provision of better information to passengers. In consideration of these findings no further action will be taken against Northern."



Govia has 21 days to respond to the penalty notice from the ORR.

GTR chief executive officer Patrick Verwer said: “We are disappointed at today’s fine imposed by the Office of Rail and Road. We are making significant improvements to information for passengers. These include upgrades to station screens, issuing frontline staff with new smartphones loaded with real-time service information, and we have volunteer teams on standby to help passengers during disruption. Further improvements in customer information are planned. The severe disruption following last May’s timetable introduction was due to industry-wide factors and we are sorry for the serious effect this had on our passengers. GTR has paid £18m in passenger compensation and is investing a further £15m in improvements for passengers for its part in the timetable issues.”


Friday, 15 March 2019

'Feet Seat' for Go North East Passengers


Go North East is launching a quirky new solution to the age-old problem of people putting their feet up on rear facing bus seats.

Dubbed the ‘Feet Seat’, it is a folding seat that leaves a flat surface for passengers to put their feet up, whilst the seat can be pulled down for sitting on, just like a normal seat, if the bus is busy.


The ‘Feet Seat’ concept is demonstrated by Zoe Gibbons from Go North East's Customer Services team and Stephen King, Commercial Director, along with Managing Director Martijn Gilbert (right).

Go North East is actively encouraging its customers to stretch out, put their feet up and relax in its feet seat zone when it’s not needed for seated passengers.

Three buses with the new design of seat will go on trial on the operator’s 309 and 310 bus routes across North Tyneside between Newcastle, North Shields, Whitley Bay and Blyth, which run up to every 7-8 minutes Monday-Saturday, and up to every 15 minutes on Sundays.

Commenting on the idea, Go North East’s Managing Director Martijn Gilbert said: “We’re continuing to enhance the bus travel experience for our customers. The idea of the feet seat aims to tackle the problem of people putting their feet on seats, by providing a way for people to do this without getting the seat dirty and making things unpleasant for their fellow travellers.

"Modern buses like ours provide a high-quality experience, with comfortable seats, free Wi-Fi, power socket charging points and more. With great value weekly tickets as well, there’s never been a better time to get on board and give the bus a try.”

A £14 North Tyne WeeklySaver ticket is available for use on the buses, as well as all Go North East services in the North Tyneside area, including journeys to and from Newcastle City Centre, and on the 309 to Blyth.

The bus operator hopes to expand its ‘Feet Seat’ concept to other buses in the future if the trial proves successful.

Thursday, 14 March 2019

Rail Delivery Group


Rail industry confirms new summer 2019 timetable


1,000 extra services per week to be added, benefiting passengers across the country 

 
Changes are part of a long-term improvement plan to make trains more frequent and enable new journeys, while prioritising punctuality and reliability.


Introducing ambitious improvements for passengers presents a significant challenge and the industry is working together to focus on implementing lessons learned from summer 2018 to strengthen timetabling, visible through the effective winter timetable change last December
Train companies and Network Rail will work together to closely monitor the introduction of the new timetable and respond rapidly to any disruption.

The rail industry has confirmed the summer 2019 timetable change, which will come into effect from 19 May.




Over 1,000 extra train services are being added as rail companies continue to deliver their long-term plan to change and improve. Overall, 6,400 additional services are expected to be added between 2017 and the early 2020s, delivering more frequent trains for passengers and better connecting towns and cities across the country.

Putting a thousand more services onto one of Europe’s most congested railways presents a significant challenge and, across the country, hundreds of rail planners and engineers have been working hard over many months to implement these improvements effectively.

Having learned the lessons from last year’s disruptive summer timetable change, a cross-industry task force has carefully examined the railway’s preparedness across the country and new services are only being introduced where there is high confidence that the necessary infrastructure, staffing plans and new trains will be ready. Network Rail has also bolstered its timetable team.

This cross-industry approach was used ahead of the winter timetable change in December, which saw punctuality and reliability improve, and train companies and Network Rail are again making the delivery of punctual, reliable services their absolute priority while they increase capacity on the railway.




Every year, the national timetable is routinely changed twice – for the summer (in May) and for the winter (in December) – to meet the needs of travellers by allowing services to reflect seasonal variations and to enable new services to be introduced following investment in infrastructure and new trains.

There is usually a small impact on punctuality following timetable changes as rail staff and passengers get used to new train times. The industry will continue to work together over the coming months, however, to prepare for the change and adopt a range of contingency plans should any disruption occur. When the new timetable is introduced, Network Rail and operators will work closely together to monitor services and respond as quickly as possible to any disruption.





Customers in many parts of the country will see more local services introduced to their network, alongside a more gradual approach adopted in other areas, with planned improvements introduced over time. This means that some services which were previously expected this summer will be introduced later, ensuring a reliable service that passengers can have confidence in.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the rail industry, said: “As part of our long-term plan to deliver a step-change in rail services, thousands of extra trains and new carriages are coming on track in the coming years, making journeys better and boosting the economy. However, improving the railway for tomorrow cannot come at the expense of running a reliable railway today. The scale of our ambition to improve means that this is a significant challenge and while there may be some teething problems, train operators and Network Rail have worked together to carefully assess where new services can be introduced without impacting reliability."




He continued “Many parts of the country are set to benefit this summer from a better service, but where introducing improvements puts reliability at risk, we are rightly taking a more cautious approach.”

The railway is seeing the biggest investment since the Victorian era, with train operating companies introducing 7,000 brand new carriages – equivalent to upgrading half of the country’s train fleet old for new – and hundreds more fully refurbished trains, supporting 6,400 extra services a week by the early 2020s.

Improvements being made in the summer 2019 timetable include:


Train companies making improvements in 2019 More information
CrossCountry Extra weekend trains between Exeter and Bristol and Exeter and Birmingham - 4 trains per hour (tph) to 5tph on Saturdays and 2tph to 3tph on Sundays
c2c New additional fast trains from Southend to central London taking that service from 4tph to 5tph
South Western Railway Morning peak:
• 2x additional Reading to Waterloo services
• 1x additional Ascot to Reading service
• 1x additional Windsor to London
• 1x additional Hounslow to London

Evening peak
• 2x additional Waterloo to Farham (via Ascot) services
• 1x additional Waterloo to Windsor service
• 2x additional Reading to Ascot services

Other
• 2x additional fast Portsmouth to Waterloo services in the morning peak and an additional evening peak service to Guildford/Haslemere
• New half-hourly service between Farnham and Guildford
• Extra later evening services from Waterloo to Salisbury and Waterloo to Portsmouth
• On Sundays, there will be a new Salisbury to Reading (via Basingstoke) service
• On the south coast, there will be some additional services between Weymouth/Poole/Southampton and Waterloo during peak times
• Extra weekday and weekend services from Yeovil to Waterloo calling at Castle Cary, Bruton and Frome
Govia Thameslink Railway An additional train each hour will run direct between Brighton and Cambridge, with two direct trains per hour now running each way. At rush hour this will add 36 carriages and around 2,000 extra seats from these towns into London
Greater Anglia Four Norwich in 90/Ipswich in 60 services
East Midlands Trains Some journey time improvements on a small number of peak time services
Scotrail • Additional Sunday services between Glasgow, Fort William and Mallaig
• Faster journeys between Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Dunblane and Alloa
Southeastern Faster journeys on the Maidstone East line
West Midlands Railway & London Northwestern Railway • More direct services from local stations to London, the West Midlands and the North West
• More early, late and weekend services
Chiltern Railways Joining two existing services together to create a direct service between London and Stratford-upon-Avon, doubling the number of weekday services
Northern On top of 2,000 extra services having been added since 2017:
• Direct services between Chester and Leeds
• Faster services between Middlesbrough and Newcastle
Great Western Railway • An extra morning service between Cheltenham and London and London and Cheltenham in the evening
• Extra weekday services between Exeter, Plymouth and Penzance, increasing Cornish mainline frequency to every 30 minutes during core hours
Transport for Wales New services between Liverpool Lime Street and Chester via Runcorn – 1 tph every day, with peak time extensions to Wrexham General
TfL Rail Additional services out of Liverpool Street and Paddington stations

Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Continuing success for Stagecoach GreenRoad

Stagecoach’s bus drivers are leading the way in a prestigious global performance measurement programme for the fifth consecutive year.



A total of 4,494 Stagecoach drivers have been awarded Fleet Elite status and a special badge, under a comprehensive driving safety measurement programme managed by GreenRoad, whose safety & telematics system serves professional drivers in the UK, Ireland, Europe, the Middle East, America, Australia and New Zealand.

Over 558 of Stagecoach’s Fleet Elite awardees have achieved the Gold badge for consistently maintaining their Fleet Elite safe and fuel-efficient driving for three consecutive years.

Some 2100 have achieved the Master Fleet Elite status for maintaining the rating for four or more consecutive years. This is an increase of 8.7% compared with last year, reflecting the success of Stagecoach’s uncompromising approach to safety and ongoing investment in driver training.



GreenRoad’s safety system has been installed on all Stagecoach vehicles and has proven to be extremely effective in helping drivers improve their skills. Using a simple traffic-light-like LED system on the dashboard, GreenRoad gives drivers instant feedback about their driving manoeuvres, encouraging smoother, safer, and more fuel-efficient driving.

Stagecoach drivers represent almost half of the 9,842 drivers globally who met the Fleet Elite standard in 2018. More Stagecoach employees gained Fleet Elite status than any other bus operator – or any other company – in the worldwide scheme.

To gain Fleet Elite status, drivers must achieve an average of five or fewer events, such as harsh braking or acceleration, per 10 hours of driving over the entire calendar year. In fact, 102 Stagecoach drivers scored zero – a perfect score – during the period.

GreenRoad’s research shows that driving decisions are responsible for up to 33% of fuel spend, and that even experienced drivers can improve their fuel efficiency with the right guidance. To date, the use of GreenRoad’s system, together with the success of Stagecoach’s comprehensive driver training programme, has helped Stagecoach achieve a 3% improvement in its fuel efficiency across its operations.

Robert Andrew, Stagecoach UK, Bus Managing Director for Scotland, said: “Our drivers continue to deliver impressive results under the Fleet Elite scheme. This year’s achievements once again reflect the thorough training our drivers receive and the professional driving behaviours our people display every single day while out on the road. Smoother, fuel-efficient driving is safer and provides more comfortable journeys for our customers, as well as helping to cut our carbon footprint.




Stagecoach has also supported its multi-million-pound investment in the GreenRoad technology with a dedicated annual driver bonus pot. Employees can earn ‘green points’ for greener driving, which is converted into a cash bonus. In 2018, more than £1.1million in bonus payments were made to Stagecoach drivers.David Ripstein, GreenRoad, CEO, said: “We congratulate Stagecoach on another exceptional year, with nearly 4,500 employees achieving the demanding Fleet Elite status. This statistic demonstrates the uncompromising approach that Stagecoach takes towards the safety of its customers and the environmental responsibility of all of its operations. We are proud of the contribution that our technology makes to Stagecoach’s sterling record and challenge them to add even more drivers to the Fleet Elite ranks in years to come.”

The percentage of GreenRoad drivers who achieve Fleet Elite status worldwide is increasing each year – a testament to the in-cab feedback that embeds good driving habits and encourages drivers to continually improve. This not only improves road safety, leading to lower insurance premiums and reduced accident-related costs, but also improves fuel economy.

Stagecoach has invested more than £1billion over the past 12 years in the acquisition of new vehicles for local communities across the UK, including hybrid, electric, hydrogen and gas buses.



DATE FOR THE DIARY - Easter Sunday 21st April - Penzance



Will you be joining TG & GW Omnibus Trust for the Penzance Running Day on 21st April?

They are now taking pre-orders for programmes at www.tvagwot.org.uk. As well as timetables and details of vehicles expected in service on the day, the feature article for 2019 is an illustrated history of the liveries carried by buses in West Cornwall over the past 100 years. Programmes will be despatched from 8th April, and will also be available from 10th April at outlets in West Cornwall (to be announced in due course).

Photo: DWR Picture Library

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

Churnet Valley Railway link


Work to return railway line to Leek may start next month


The first stretch of track on the £810,000 project to build a railway line connecting Leek to the Churnet Valley Railway could be laid in April.


 

The first 200 metres of track will be built north of Leekbrook if the £40,000 cost can be met (Image: Tom Burnett/StokeonTrentLive)

Long-awaited work to return the railway to Leek could start next month - if funding is approved.

Construction of the first 200 metres (656 feet) of track for the new heritage railway link from Leekbrook towards Leek may begin as soon as April, according to a council document to be discussed next week. The track would be the first stage in the plan to return a railway link to Leek, with the town getting a new railway station in the Cornhill area to allow trains to run to the existing Churnet Valley Railway.



This first stretch of track for the new rail link would cost around £40,000 - with Churnet Valley Railway providing £21,000 of funding for the work.

Staffordshire Moorlands District Council's Moorlands Partnership Board is now set to consider whether to defer a £20,000 'in principle' allocation for work at Leek's Victoria Buildings until the 2019/20 financial year - and instead offer a £19,000 grant to the railway to make up the shortfall. In a report to the board, council officers recommended members approve the plan at their recent meeting.

The report states: "There is an option to physically start on site and construct 200m of rail track from Leekbrook Station northwards. This land is within operational railway control and, subject to funding, can be delivered immediately. The advantage of undertaking these preliminary works are as follows: It sends a strong message to the wider community that works are commencing, it will encourage greater take-up/commitment to Share Issue (which will be used to match fund second stage works) [and] the majority of costs regarding more complex engineering will be north of this point. The cost of the works would be £40,000 for materials plus volunteer labour. Churnet Valley Railway can fund £21,000 towards the cost of the works but would require an additional £19,000.

 

200 metres of new track could be built from Leekbrook towards Leek (existing track near Cheddleton) (Image: StokeonTrentLive/Tom Burnett)

"There are insufficient funds within the remaining MPB [Moorlands Partnership Board] budget to offer a grant. However, at the time of writing the report there have been no grant applications submitted from the various owners of the Victoria Buildings. The ‘in principle’ allocation of £20,000 against the Victoria Buildings could be reallocated from next year’s budget and the funds redirected to a project that will start imminently."

The entire Leek rail link project is expected to cost around £810,000 from Leekbrook to Leek - with the Moorlands Partnership Board previously offering a £22,000 grant towards fees and services for the heritage rail link in 2017/18.

Many people hope to eventually see Leek reconnected to Stoke-on-Trent and the main railway network.

In a separate report on the current status of projects the Moorlands Partnership Board have provided grants for, officers said construction of the entire route was set to take 18 months once all the funding had been found. The report said: "To date, £28,626 has been spent on project development including planning permission, legal advice & fees associated with the cost of land transfer (the balance of funds coming from the regeneration revenue budget). The planning application has been approved, an expression of interest to co-fund the construction has been invited to full application (EAFRD – European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development). The signing of the Lease agreements was expected to take place by end of February 2019 (following approval by SMDC cabinet in December 2018).

 

The first track will be laid down north of Leekbrook Railway Station (Image: StokeonTrentLive/Tom Burnett)

"The full cost for construction of the line is circa £810,000. There is an 18-month construction period that would only commence once funding is confirmed. There is an option to physically start constructing 200 metres of track in April 2019."

The former railway track bed and former Leek Station, on the now Morrisons site, was opened by North Staffordshire Railway in 1849. The Leek station and railway line to Stoke-on-Trent was in use until 1956 - with passenger services to continuing Uttoxeter until 1965. The line was finally closed in the 1970s and the station and track were dismantled in 1973.

The land has since been used by walkers and cyclists and the proposed Leek terminus is approximately half a mile south of the historical station site.




The Churnet Valley Railway already has railway stations at Cheddleton, Leekbrook, Froghall and Consall - with also travels as far as the former Ipstones station on the Cauldon Lowe Branch Line.

The Moorlands Partnership Board will discuss the project at their meeting on Wednesday March 13.