Sunday, 28 November 2021

Four Year Agreement for Supply of Solaris Vehicles in France

RATP has announced that it has signed framework agreements for the procurement of 12-metre electric buses costing a maximum of €825M over 4 years. Solaris is one of the five selected manufacturers, demonstrating that its zero emission offering meets the needs of French operators.

The RATP Group (French: Groupe RATP), also known as the RATP or Régie Autonome des Transports Parisiens, is a state-owned public transport operator with its headquarters in Paris.

This new step in the BUS2025 Programme demonstrates RATP’s wish to become an active in the sustainable development of public transport. Its engagement is recognised and supported by the European Commission, which has just announced a new subsidy to convert the infrastructure and the fleet of RATP in Ile de France to run on electricity and biogas.
In total, the BUS2025 Programme has received €50.7M in 2020 and 2021 from the European Commission.

Île-de-France Mobilités and RATP have already released a few contracts to purchase electric and bio-CNG buses. Solaris delivered 28 articulated CNG buses over the period 2019-2021 and two electric midibuses in 2021 to RATP.
Olivier Michard, CEO Solaris France said “this new framework agreement demonstrates the trust placed in us by RATP to support them in their sustainable development and that our buses answer their needs, which is our key priority”.

"Solaris France has been supplying Solaris products for decades now. This long experience and the state-of-the-art products are meeting market needs. Solaris’s strong after-sales model provides service during and after the warranty period to ensure our customers’ satisfaction throughout the vehicle life cycle."

Saturday, 27 November 2021

New Livery Revealed For UK’s First Full-Sized Autonomous Bus Service

Stagecoach, in partnership with Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis and Transport Scotland, has revealed the first glimpse of the new special livery for the autonomous bus project, CAVForth, launching in Scotland in 2022.

It is the next key milestone in the exciting trial which will see the first-full sized autonomous buses running on UK roads for the first time next year. 

The new service will be made up of four single-decker buses running a 14-mile route, including crossing the iconic Forth Road Bridge. It will provide capacity for up to 10,000 passengers a week, connecting Fife’s Ferrytoll Park & Ride with Edinburgh Park’s transport hub and is expected to be popular with commuters, students, day-tripper, tourists and novelty riders; keen to be first to say they have been driven by a computer.

The new service will make it easy for people to switch to public transport by providing a brand new bus route in the heart of East Scotland. It comes on the back of the COP26 climate change summit where Stagecoach said that the fastest way to make progress towards the UK’s net zero ambitions is by people switching from making car journeys and instead travelling by public transport, cycling or walking.

Ferrytoll Park & Ride click here

The four buses, which will feature the special new livery, are currently being fitted out with the ground-breaking sensor and control technology, developed and supplied by project lead, Fusion Processing Ltd, that allows them to become computer-driven. The vehicles are also being put through their paces with an array of virtual and track testing to ensure all systems are functioning as expected before on-road testing begins later this year.

The colours and design were chosen through consultation with local communities and a decision made to ensure the vehicles stand out on the road. The ‘AB’ logo, stands for autonomous bus and is an icon that Stagecoach hopes to see become a standard identifier of autonomous vehicles in the future.

The design of the livery is intended to ensure that it still feels like a regular bus, and is easily identifiable with the well-known Stagecoach brand, whilst also acknowledging the array of project partners who are making this world-leading pilot service a reality: Fusion Processing, Alexander Dennis Limited, Transport Scotland, Napier University, Bristol Robotics Lab, University of the West of England, as well the funding partner; the Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles.

Minister for Transport Graeme Dey said: “This is another welcome step forward for the incredibly exciting Project CAVForth, as we move closer to seeing it go live next year. This type of innovation shows Scotland is very much open for business when it comes to trialling this technology. This ground-breaking and globally significant project will really help the country establish its credentials on the world stage.”

Sam Greer, Regional Director for Stagecoach in Scotland said: “We are all very excited to be marking the next major milestone in our autonomous bus project, with buses planned to be on the road in early summer next year.

“The new service will provide a bus link between Fife and Edinburgh Park which currently does not exist and we hope will encourage more people to ditch the car, skip traffic jams and enjoy a relaxed journey in a dedicated bus lane and with new innovative state of the art technology.”

Jim Hutchinson, Fusion Processing Ltd CEO, said: “We are delighted to be leading on the world’s most complex and ambitious autonomous vehicle programme. CAVForth is an exciting pilot service and a great demonstration of our automated vehicle technology. The vehicles are fitted with CAVstar, our automated driving system which combines our own hardware and software to create, safe, AV Level 4 full sized buses. The buses will be operating on a 28 mile round trip route that includes motorways, single carriageway A-roads, minor roads, bus lanes, roundabouts and junctions with and without traffic lights. We believe it will be the most comprehensive Autonomous bus demonstration to date. ”

Paul Davies, ADL President & Managing Director, said: “As the UK bus industry’s innovation leader, we are constantly exploring new ways to further increase efficiency and safety. The trial of the UK’s first full-sized autonomous bus service gives us an outstanding opportunity to gain real-world experience. We are also working closely with our colleagues across NFI Group who are developing similar, promising projects.”


Friday, 26 November 2021

Flixbus Announces: Hydrogen Long-Distance Coaches on The European Network by 2024

Flixbus hydrogen-powered coaches with a minimum range of 450 km on a single refilling are set to be in operation in Europe. 

FlixMobility intend replacing diesel vehicles in the FlixBus fleet with fuel cell coaches in the future and plans to test and launch fuel cell powered coaches travelling on long-distance routes during 2024 in Europe to set new standards

Flixbus are stepping up their UK operations

FlixMobility is taking part in the recently started research project HyFleet together with its partners Freudenberg Fuel Cell e-Power Systems and ZF. The project consortium recently received the official “UIA” (a non-binding letter of intent) confirmation by the German Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.

André Schwämmlein, founder and CEO of FlixMobility said “We are proud to be part of the HyFleet project to develop the first fuel cell-powered long-distance coach in Europe until 2024 together with Freudenberg and ZF. Fuel cell power technology is part of the green mobility revolution and gives bus producers the chance to shape the future of sustainable mobility.

Thanks to a modern fleet and the high capacity of FlixMobility, long-distance coaches are already now one of the most environmentally friendly means of transportation available.
FlixMobility successfully launched biogas-powered FlixBuses in July 2021, E-buses in France and Germany and a long-distance coach equipped with solar panels. Now, the company wants to take sustainable mobility a step further.
While hydrogen-powered buses are already operating inner-city routes, solutions for hydrogen-coaches for long distances are still lacking due to the extremely demanding nature of long-distance bus operations:

Flix coaches drive around 200.000 km yearly with distances up to more than 1.000 km per day with usually only short stops. Depending on the number of drivers involved during a trip the bus will legally have to take a break after 4,5 hours of driving, which is roughly reached after 450 km.
For this reason, any diesel coach alternative should be able to perform at least 500 kilometers distance before refueling. Hydrogen offers great opportunities because it will be able to reach or exceed the required range. Refueling times will also be shorter than refueling diesel buses.

UK Operations
After successfully re-launching a UK domestic network in April 2021 and an expansion during mid-May, Flixbus have expanded their network to 10 new UK-destinations, including its first two stops in Scotland and other popular domestic holiday destinations.

New stops: 1. Bath 2. Chesterfield 3. Chippenham 4. Coventry 5. Edinburgh 6. Glasgow 7. Leamington Spa 8. Newcastle 9. Reading 10. Sunderland

Thursday, 25 November 2021

ADL Delivers Eight High-Spec, PSVAR-Compliant Plaxton Elite Coaches To Park's Of Hamilton

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”), has announced that it has delivered eight high-specification, PSVAR-compliant Plaxton Elite coaches to Scottish operator Park’s of Hamilton.

The new fleet of coaches are all 13.2m long, with 53 seats, and will be used on Park’s of Hamilton’s operations across Scotland.

The PSVAR-compliant coaches have a Volvo B8R chassis and are equipped with a range of high-specification features including entrance mounted wheelchair lift, alloy wheels, head up display driver warning system with haptic driver seat, vehicle wash-down and vacuum systems, heated front upper and lower windscreens and 360-degree view CCTV system installed.

They have been painted bright white and have many customer features including seats fitted with leather headrest, piping and sports trim, armrests, extended head-rests and automatic de-recline, seat back tables, magazine nets and fixed footrests, two TV monitors, Smart audio system with Bluetooth, USB sockets to all seats and provision for wi-fi.

Park’s of Hamilton delivers coach hire and city to city express services across Scotland. Director Michael Andrews said: “These are very high-spec vehicles which further underline our commitment to providing luxurious and professional coach services for our customers. We look forward to putting them into operation in time for our customers to enjoy them during the festive season and beyond.”

Simon Wood, General Manager of New and Used Coach Sales with Alexander Dennis, said: “It’s a pleasure to deliver these vehicles to Park’s of Hamilton, a long-standing customer of ours. They are extremely well-appointed and excellent quality coaches and will fit perfectly into their luxury coach fleet.”

Wednesday, 24 November 2021

Solaris Bi-Articulated Trollino 24 Makes its Debut on The Market

Following a tendering exercise, Solaris has been awarded an order for 16 bi-articulated trolleybuses by operator Dopravný Podnik Bratislava (DPB). 

The Slovakian operator is the first customer to opt to purchase the longest vehicle in Solaris’s range. In November last year, operator DPB tested the 24-metre trolleybus in urban traffic, on all its routes.

Due to year-on-year increases in passenger numbers, the operator was faced with the need to increase passenger capacity, so the capacious trolleybus has turned out to be a perfect solution for cities with increased passenger traffic.
The Trollino 24 will make its debut on the streets of Bratislava in mid 2023.

The bi-articulated vehicle made by Solaris was launched in 2019, at the Busworld trade fair in Brussels. It is driven by two traction motors of 160 kW each. Additional traction batteries, placed on the roof of the second section, will be recharged en route by collecting current from the overhead line. 
Thanks to having batteries on board, the Trollino will also be able to travel without any external power supply and by pressing one single button the driver will be able to switch from the overhead line to the traction battery drive mode.

These over-24-metre trolleybuses will provide space for 160 passengers, including 60 seated. Passenger counting sensors will be placed above the doors, arranged in a layout of 2-2-2-2-2. 
This Trollino will feature an array of amenities, enhancing safety and travel comfort. Operator Dopravný Podnik Bratislava has opted for standard features such as destination blinds, air-conditioning, Wi-Fi, LED-lighting in the interior, and easily accessible USB ports. 
Also, a CCTV system consisting of 7 external cameras and 9 cameras monitoring the vehicle interior will be installed to aid the driver and to enhance passenger safety.

Dopravný Podnik Bratislava is the first carrier to add bi-articulated Solaris Trollino 24 trolleybuses to its fleet. Solaris Bus & Coach is one of the biggest manufacturers of trolleybuses in Europe. 
The bus maker added these zero-emission vehicles to its offering back in 2001. Since then, it has supplied over 1700 trolleybuses to its customers in 18 European countries.

In November 2020, DPB tested the 24-metre trolleybus in urban traffic, on all its routes.

Tuesday, 23 November 2021

East Midlands Day Ranger

Roger Burdett and Ken Jones travelled on an East Midlands day ranger ticket, their last trip before the onset of winter, with the intention of seeing as much as possible during daylight hours.

The map below shows the area covered by East Midlands Railway and its predecessor East Midlands Trains.

Click to enlarge

Trains from the East Midlands to London are called EMR Intercity and those from Corby, Luton to London called EMR Connect and are not part of day rangers. 
The remainder, EMR Regional is split between a ranger based around Nottinghamshire and another based around Lincolnshire. 
Roger & Ken chose a Nottinghamshire option and added an anytime single from Nuneaton to Nottingham as the rangers can only be used after 9.00 am on weekdays. 
Participating train companies are Cross Country; East Midlands Railway; West Midlands Trains; and Northern. The area covered is shown below.

Click to enlarge map

After winter, a trip is planned using a Lincolnshire Ranger.

The planned itinerary was as follows:-

Nuneaton 07.24 – Leicester 07.53

Option of express or stopper service from Leicester to Nottingham

Leicester 08.48 - Nottingham 09.11

Nottingham 09.25 - Worksop 10.34

Worksop 10.39 - Nottingham 11.43

Nottingham 12.35 - Lincoln 13.29

Lincoln 13.35 - Nottingham 14.25

Nottingham 14.40 - Peterborough 15.41

Peterborough 15.49 - Leicester 16.49

Same train

Leicester 16.50 - Nuneaton 18.08

There was no time to travel on the Matlock and Alfreton branches in daylight

They were 5 mins late arriving at Lincoln and 30 mins late returning to Nottingham due to slow moving train in front. They missed their connection to Peterborough and with no suitable connections they went over to plan B which was to stay on the same train to Leicester

Actual Itinerary

Nuneaton 07.24 – Leicester 07.53

Leicester 08.25 - Nottingham 08.57 chance to travel on a class 222

Nottingham 09.25 - Worksop 10.34

Worksop 10.39 - Nottingham 11.43

Nottingham 12.35 - Lincoln 13.34

Lincoln 13.35 - Nottingham 14.55

Stay on train to Leicester arriving at least 30 mins late

Leicester 16.12 - Peterborough 17.11 missing out route via Grantham

Peterborough 17.50 – Nuneaton 19.08

Below are some of the railway items of interest you can see using this ranger

1] NET trams to Hucknall on former BR lines on Worksop Branch

2] Harry Needle’s vast storage site on both sides of the line as you approach Worksop

3] Leicester depot home of UKRL

4] Nottingham Depot home for many EMR DMUs

5] Boden Rail at Nottingham at Nottingham Eastcroft depot

6] Most of the level crossings are automatic half barrier but the one near Creswell has gates, manually operated from a signal box and protected by semaphore signals

7] The crossing on the level of the East Coast Main Line and the Lincoln line near Newark

8] Restored station building at Mansfield Woodhouse

8] The closed Brush works at Loughborough

The Worksop line is known as The Robin Hood Line and signage has branding

The Leicester / / Loughborough line is known as The Ivanhoe line and signage has branding

Pictures by Ken Jones

A good start to the day as we see 730 001 stabled at Nuneaton

170 637 is our Cross-Country train to Leicester

UKRL at Leicester s where we saw 08,37, 43,47,56,58 and 91117, 91120
in Euro Phoenix livery

014 in EMR Intercity livery with service to London

222 001 at Leicester in older EMR Intercity livery

156 919 at Nottingham in new EMR Regional livery

195 005 at Nottingham with a service from Leeds

New class 170 livery includes unit number on sides

Poster advertising new EMR services – not exactly new trains but refurbished units

170 420 at Worksop for service to Nottingham

Part of the vast storage sidings at Worksop, includes Greater Anglia
class 720 and SW Trains class 701 

Older EMR Regional livery

 66194 heads RHTT train through Nottingham with 66015 at the rear

158 856 arrives with our service to Lincoln

Units on Nottingham depot with Boden Rail on the the far right

The East Coast main line crossing near Newark

158 856 at Lincoln as we rush across the footbridge for our train back to Nottingham

EMR Intercity 180113 is seen at Leicester with a train for London

170 398 has brought us from Leicester to Peterborough

801 109 is one of several Azumas stopped at Peterborough due to
overhead wires down near Retford

Southbound trains from Peterborough are not affected including this Thameslink service

66713 is seen with a freight passing the station

755 333 has just arrived with a service from East Anglia and will soon be
departing on the return service

170621 is our return Cross-Country service to Nuneaton

Monday, 22 November 2021

Van Hool Builds First Battery Electric Double-Deck Coach - TDX25E

Van Hool, the independent Belgian bus, coach and industrial vehicle manufacturer is the first manufacturer in the world to build a 100% battery electric double-deck coach: the TDX25E.

The vehicle provides space for 69 passengers (18 on the lower deck and 51 on the upper deck) and has a range of up to 500 km, depending on the climatological conditions and the route’s topography. The double deck TDX25E is destined for the US market, where it will be used for comfortable employee commutes and/or regular passenger transport.

Exactly a year ago Van Hool shipped its first 100% battery electric coach, the single deck CX45E, to the US. With 22 units sold, the company is once again demonstrating its innovation based on its vast experience in electrical drive systems. 
Over the past few decades Van Hool has built more than 1,200 vehicles with an electrical drive system (hydrogen, trolley, battery and hybrid). Both the CX45E and the brand new TDX25E use electrical components, including a Siemens power train and Proterra batteries.

Filip Van Hool, CEO of Van Hool, explains: “American customers reacted very enthusiastically to the driving experiences with our first battery electric single deck coach, the CX45E. This prompted us to quickly set to work on developing this battery electric double-deck, which has a higher passenger capacity. 
Our experience with electrical drive systems in the past, and recently with the CX45E, really helped us with the rapid development and comprehensive testing of the newest Van Hool double-deck, the TDX25E.”

“We've been producing double-deck coaches since 1982. Twenty-five years later – in 2007 – we shipped the first double-decks to the US. And now, 15 years later, we are launching the first 100% battery electric double-deck coach on the US market. 
This is a second home market for Van Hool, nowhere else in the world is the demand for our double-deck coaches higher than in the USA. Globally, Van Hool has sold more than 3,500 units in 19 different countries,” Filip Van Hool says.

“The partnership between Van Hool and its distributor on the North American market, ABC Bus Companies, Inc. began 34 years ago. After all these years of hard work, together we have managed to put Van Hool on the map in North America. 
Today there are more than 11,000 Van Hool coaches and buses on North American roads serving many customers, including a number of large Silicon Valley companies who organise shuttles for their employees. 
Due to demand from several customers for fully electrically driven vehicles, we at Van Hool looked for a solution,” concluded Filip Van Hool.

Van Hool is an independent Belgian bus, coach and industrial vehicle manufacturer. The company, which was founded in 1947, is based in Koningshooikt. In 2022, the company will have been manufacturing for 75 years
The vast majority of units produced are destined for Europe and North America. Van Hool has around 3,500 staff worldwide, the majority of whom work at the production facilities in Koningshooikt (Belgium) and Skopje (North Macedonia).

Sunday, 21 November 2021

Yutong E12 Electrics On Order to Operate on Gwynedd Bus Routes

Plans for a charging station at Tanygrisiau near Blaenau Ffestiniog have been submitted

A fleet of brand new Yutong E12 electric buses will operate in Gwynedd next spring when the charging station is completed.

Transport for Wales are buying six electric buses to run on a new Traws Cymru-branded route from Blaenau Ffestiniog in a scheme costing £3.6m.

Yutong E12's are already being used in Newport, Wales

Plans for the charging station at Tanygrisiau have already been submitted to Gwynedd Council and are awaiting a decision by councillors.

The E12 vehicles, which emit no harmful emissions, will operate the new T22 service from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Porthmadog continuing to Caernarfon and will replace the existing 1R, 1E, 1S and 3B services.

There will be a two hourly service to Caernarfon and an hourly run to Porthmadog from Blaenau Ffestiniog from April 2022.

The T19 service from Blaenau Ffestiniog to Llandudno, which started earlier this year utilising a diesel powered bus, may also see the new vehicles utilised.

Gwynedd Council, with Transport for Wales support, has drawn up the plans for the depot.

In June, councillors postponed a decision on the new depot amid concern it would lead to a loss of community parking provision.

The site is currently used as an unofficial parking area by local residents and Ffestiniog Town Council urged the authority to consider alternative sites, arguing that the car park was used extensively.

Council officials hope work on the depot can start in January with the new vehicles arriving on site in March and the new service starting in April 2022.

The 12m Yutong E12 bus can seat 36 passengers and will offer mobile phone charging points and a tablet holder. It can carry two bikes or pushchairs and audio and visual announcements on board will be bilingual.

Go North East are running a fleet of Yutong E12's in Newcastle & Gateshead 

The E12 has been operating in Europe for over five years and in the UK since 2017. It shares the same driveline as all other Yutong electric buses sold in the UK as well as a further 100,000 Yutong electric buses worldwide. 

It is available in either single or twin door configurations and is ideal for provincial bus operators or car park operators. It can be fitted with extensive luggage racking for airport use.

Fitted with 422kWh batteries, the vehicles are capable of daily operational range of over 300kms on a single charge subject to their specific operational conditions.

Saturday, 20 November 2021

Hitachi and Eversholt Rail Develop Battery For A GWR Class 802 Intercity Battery Hybrid Train Trial

Hitachi Rail and Eversholt Rail are in the advanced stages of designing and engineering an electric-diesel-battery (tri-mode) train, with plans to trial on a Great Western Railway (GWR) Class 802 train in 2022.

The battery will replace one of the diesel engines on a five-car GWR Class 802 train.

With proof of concept and layout in the final stages of approval, work has begun to
build the battery for functional testing and integration onto the train.
The battery, which will be 6m x 2.2m in size, will replace one of the diesel engines on a five car GWR Class 802 train.

The battery system has been designed for the partially electrified route between
Penzance and London. Installation of this modification enables two operating modes.
Firstly, to operate on battery only, when travelling on non-electrified sections of the GWR network. Secondly, to supplement the power of the diesel engines, if required, to maintain train performance.

The introduction of the battery will cut fuel usage and reduce carbon emissions by at least 20%. By using battery power to travel in and out of stations and urban areas, the train will improve air quality and dramatically reduce noise levels, creating a more pleasant environment for passengers and people living nearby.

Having already undertaken fire safety tests to support the design and safety case of
the battery, system integration testing will now take place at Hitachi’s facility in
Naples, followed by combined testing in Japan. 
Both tests will take place in 2022,enabling manufacturing and fitment to be undertaken at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe factory, with on track testing on the Great Western network to follow.

Jim Brewin, UK & Ireland Country Lead, Hitachi Rail said: “Creating an intercity
battery hybrid train is a green innovation that will cut emissions by at least 20%,
improve air quality and generate fuel savings for the operator. This is new
technology, and we have made progress in creating the battery prototype and are
now preparing for system and network trials. The UK has an opportunity to become a
global leader in battery technology and we believe it will be key to the Government
meeting its Net Zero targets.”

Peter Wilkinson, Managing Director Passenger Services at the Department for
Transport (DfT) said: “I’m thoroughly delighted to see these battery trains progressing.
In a world increasingly vulnerable to climate change, and the environmental and
atmospheric impacts of carbon and other forms of pollution, the rail industry must
both show leadership and take the lead; waiting for permission simply won’t be an
acceptable excuse. 
This project is an exemplar and we are going to need others like it if we are to succeed in creating a future mixed economy of modern, environmentally clean and safe future rolling stock traction solutions.”

Paul Sutherland, Client Services Director at Eversholt Rail said: “We are extremely
proud of the investment we have made in our Class 802 fleet on the Great Western
Railway. This fleet has brought a step change in train performance and passenger
environment on the routes they operate and this hybrid investment is the next stage
in that journey. We are excited to be working with Hitachi, using leading edge
battery technology to deliver this project. This equipment will enable a reduction in
carbon and noise emissions whilst improving air quality and delivering fuel savings.”

Steve Montgomery Managing Director of First Rail said: “We recognise and welcome
opportunities to invest in sustainable rail initiatives and support innovations such as
this which create solutions to help improve rail’s emissions and air quality,
accelerating the transition to a zero carbon world. Working with our industry partners
ensures that we achieve a better environment for our customers and will further
encourage them to switch from cars to trains, which have a lower environmental
impact per passenger mile.”

In 2020, Hitachi and Eversholt Rail identified the opportunity to trial adding a battery to existing diesel-electric (bi-mode) train on the London to Penzance route. The line
is only partially electrified, with the majority of the 300 mile journey requiring diesel. By
adding a battery, the train will be an electric-diesel-battery hybrid train (a tri-mode).

Hitachi is committed to becoming a climate change innovator and is a Principal Sponsor of COP26 in Glasgow this month. The business is a global leader in rail battery technology and last month [October 2021], celebrated five years since the inaugural run of the DENCHA train, the world’s first battery-powered passenger train.
Hitachi is also able to draw on the support of its battery partner – Hyperdrive Innovation. The company is creating and developing battery packs for mass production at Hyperdrive’s HYVE facility in Sunderland, the UK’s first independent battery pack manufacturing facility.

This trial also represents a continuation of Hitachi Rail’s decarbonisation strategy to
offer solutions for customers to help them reduce emissions around the world,
through the provision of alternative fuel trains and encouraging modal shift away
from cars and planes to trains.

More News
Hitachi Rail, Angel Trains and Trans Pennine Express have agreed in principle to retrofit an intercity ‘Nova 1’ bi-mode train with battery power to convert to a tri-mode train in order to carry out a trial of this clean technology on the Transpennine route in 2022.