Thursday, 8 December 2022

Metroline Order 39 Wright Electroliner BEV Double Deckers

Following the announcement last week (here) that Metroline had ordered Volvo BZL EV's, it has now been revealed that they have also placed an order for almost 40 StreetDeck Electroliner BEVs with leading manufacturer Wrightbus to support services across London and Hertfordshire.

The order, totalling 39 double-deck vehicles, will help Metroline increase the number of its zero-emissions fleet and in turn, benefit local communities and the environment.

The buses will be operating on Routes 297 and 142, which drive through the boroughs of Brent and Ealing, and Hertfordshire (Watford), Harrow and Barnet.

The new EV buses will be fully built in Northern Ireland at the Wrightbus facility in Ballymena in a significant boost for the UK economy and the manufacturing sector.

Ian Foster, Group Engineering Director at Metroline, said: “Metroline is extremely pleased to continue our relationship with Wrightbus following the latest additions to our electric vehicle fleet, having previously worked closely with them on our hydrogen bus specification and roll out.

“Our testing of the new electric vehicle has shown an excellent level of power usage per mile, and we are confident that, working closely with the development team at Wrightbus, these figures will continue to improve.

“As with the hydrogen bus order, it is essential that wherever possible we purchase vehicles with a high local build content, supporting the UK supply chain backing our own technical expertise in the zero-emissions arena.”

Ben Werth, Chief Commercial Officer at Wrightbus, said: “We are delighted to announce this order from Metroline, further demonstrating their commitment to offering zero-emission public transport.

“All of the buses will be manufactured and assembled at our UK Ballymena factory, which means support for jobs in Northern Ireland, and wider across the UK through our domestic supply chain.

“We’re also proud to say our StreetDeck Electroliner BEV is the world's most efficient double decker battery-electric bus.

“It’s been a triumphant year for Wrightbus. This order follows a series of historic deals with First Bus, the National Transport Authority (NTA), as well as in Australia and Germany. We’re immensely proud of the reputation we have forged in the zero-emission transport sector and the important role we are playing in the UK’s ambitions for decarbonisation.”

The StreetDeck Electroliner BEV is the world’s most efficient double deck electric bus, following assessments undertaken at the UTAC test facility using the Zemo-accredited Ultra Low Emission Bus (ULEB) test. According to ULEB calculations, the Electroliner also produces 86% less CO2 per km than the Zemo Euro VI diesel baseline.

Wednesday, 7 December 2022

Hatton’s Travel Honours Late Founder With New Alexander Dennis Enviro200

Alexander Dennis has announced that it has supplied a new Enviro200 single deck bus to North West England independent operator Hatton’s Travel.

The new Enviro200 is the first Euro VI bus for the family company, which has been in business in St Helens for 35 years and operates a mix of local bus services, hires and coach tours. It is the official travel partner for the town’s football club, FC St Helens, providing team and supporter transport.

Director Brian Hatton says: “The earlier generation of Enviro200 buses has been the mainstay of our fleet for several years now, with a dozen vehicles of the type giving us a reliable foundation to run local bus services. This new bus introduces cleaner Euro VI engines to our bus fleet while ensuring it is just as easy to maintain and operate.

“We wanted to celebrate our 35th birthday in style so with the launch of a new shop and a new bus as a tribute to my father who started this business from scratch, I couldn’t think of a better way as my father was a great believer in the Alexander Dennis product.”

The new bus has been given a registration plate in memory of the company’s late founder Kenny Hatton and carries his name and signature.

Alexander Dennis Retail Sales Director Charlie Miller adds: “It’s an honour to me to supply Hatton’s with this Enviro200, which is so close to their heart and means so much to them as a family in its commemoration of Kenny, who founded a great business that continues to provide vital services for its local community in the North West.”

Hattons Travel website here

Tuesday, 6 December 2022

Dartmoor Line Passes 250,000 Journeys During First Year, as Rail Minister Visits to Open Station Building

Just over a year after the Dartmoor Line reopened to regular passenger trains, journey numbers on the line have passed 250,000. On 28 November, Rail Minister, Huw Merriman MP, officially opened the renovated station building.

The line reopened on 20 November 2021, restoring a regular, year-round service for the first time in almost 50 years following more than £40m of Government investment.

The previously mothballed rail line, which runs between Okehampton and Exeter, was restored in just nine months and delivered £10m under budget, becoming the first former line to reopen under the Government’s £500m Restoring Your Railway programme.

Reinstatement of the Dartmoor Line was made possible by Network Rail’s team of engineers who worked tirelessly to deliver a huge programme of work including laying 11 miles of new track and installing 24,000 concrete sleepers and 29,000 tonnes of ballast in a record-breaking 20-day period.

In the same week as it celebrated its one-year anniversary, the Dartmoor Line also saw its 250,000th journey, showing an incredible patronage on the line and more than double the demand originally forecast.

Since Great Western Railway (GWR) increased services to hourly in May 2022, passenger use has continued to rise, with over 500 journeys starting at Okehampton every day and a further 300 travelling into the town from across the rail network.

Rail Minister, Huw Merriman MP unveils a plaque to mark the one year anniversary of the Dartmoor Line

The Minister met with local dignitaries and unveiled a plaque to mark the official reopening of the station building.

Rail Minister, Huw Merriman MP, said: “A big congratulations to everyone who has been involved in bringing this wonderful line back into regular use over the past year.

“With over 250,000 journeys made, restoring this vital route has undone 50 years of damage – we’ve reconnected a community and created new opportunities for jobs, tourism, education and leisure.

“Our Restoring Your Railway programme is making a real contribution to levelling up the country and breathing new life into previously cut-off areas.”

(L-R) Sue Baxter, Dartmoor Railway Association; Rail Minister, Huw Merriman MP; Stuart Calvert, Network Rail Capital Delivery Director; Mark Hopwood, GWR Managing Director

On his visit, Mr Merriman opened the fully refurbished station building, featuring The Bulleid Buffet café, Dartmoor National Park information centre, shop, toilets, heritage-style waiting room and museum.

Michelle Handforth, Network Rail’s Wales and Western regional managing director, said: “I am delighted to see the success of the Dartmoor Line as we celebrate the one-year anniversary of its reopening. To have passed over 250,000 journeys in the first year since reopening highlights just how greatly anticipated and popular this railway line is to Okehampton and nearby towns and communities.

“I am so pleased with the positive impact the Dartmoor Line is having on supporting greater connectivity, boosting local businesses, the tourism sector, and providing greater access to education and work for the thousands of people who live locally.

“This has truly been a team effort between Network Rail and our partners GWR and Devon County Council, and I remain ever so proud of our project team and engineers whose commitment and hard work enabled us to restore this mothballed former freight railway line in just nine months and under budget, becoming the first former line to reopen under the Government’s Restoring Your Railway programme.”

Rail Minister, Huw Merriman MP meets with the owner of newly opened The Bulleid Buffet café

Mark Hopwood, GWR Managing Director said: “It is hard to believe that it is already a year since we and our partners reopened the Dartmoor Line, ahead of time and under budget.

“This anniversary, with more than 250,000 journeys now made is testament to the hard work of so many who campaigned for the line’s reinstatement and those who worked day and night to deliver the project £10m under budget.

“The continued demand shows just how important good rail connections are for the community, and the economies, they serve.”

While the work to finish the Dartmoor Line is now complete, efforts are still being made to provide better connections from the Dartmoor Line, to surrounding towns and communities.

Devon County Council and local bus operators have worked with Great Western Railway to provide better bus links to Tavistock, seven days a week direct from Okehampton station. This now also includes new routes to Launceston and Bude which run direct to the station.

Councillor Andrea Davis, Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment & Transport, Devon County Council said: “It’s marvellous to see the Dartmoor Line celebrating its first anniversary and passing a remarkable 250,000 journeys in the last 12 months demonstrates the transformational impact the return of rail services has had on Okehampton, West Devon and North Cornwall.

“I’m so pleased to see the station building brought back into use too. Much like the integrated bus services from the station to the likes of Tavistock, Bude and Launceston, it’s another example of the first-class partnership working between Devon County Council, GWR, Network Rail and others that exemplifies rail as an economic driver, not just tracks and trains.”

The Dartmoor Line offers links for work, study and leisure travel. It benefits students heading to the colleges in Exeter as well as tourists travelling to Dartmoor, easing congestion on local roads and helping boost the local economy.

Mel Stride, Central Devon MP said: "The Dartmoor Line has been a huge success. It has done everything I hoped it would - it has boosted the local economy, provided a valuable service for more than 10,000 residents in and around Okehampton and it has taken cars off the A30.

“The key now is securing additional funds for a second station on the eastern edge of town - something I am working closely with local councillors and campaigners to achieve. This will maximise the economic benefit and reduce congestion in the town."

Monday, 5 December 2022

Metroline Confirm Major Zero-Emission Vehicle Order With Volvo Buses

Transport for London bus operator Metroline, part of global transport operator ComfortDelGro, has confirmed a major order for 48 Volvo BZL Electric zero emission single deck buses which will enter service in London during the second half of next year.

The BZL is Volvo’s fully electric chassis platform for both single and double deck buses. The vehicles destined for Metroline will feature MCV bodywork and will be built to TfL specification, in a mix of lengths (9.7m, 10.35m and 10.8m).

ComfortDelGro (UK) Group Engineering Director Ian Foster said, “Metroline is pleased to place this order with Volvo for the latest additions to our single deck ZE fleet.

“We have a long-standing relationship involving all areas of our transport operations around the world, and this reflects the trust we have in Volvo delivering a reliable product with exceptional aftermarket support and service.”

Volvo Buses UK & Ireland Managing Director Domenico Bondi added, “We are thrilled to receive this latest order from Metroline. The BZL is very well suited for Metroline’s operations in London, and will help deliver clean, silent and efficient public transport, and in addition builds on our strong business partnership with Metroline, and our journey together towards net zero transportation.”

Sunday, 4 December 2022

New Rail Service For Passengers Travelling Between London, Bristol Parkway, Severn Tunnel Junction, Newport, Cardiff, Gowerton, Llanelli and Carmarthen

The application by Grand Union Trains for the right to operate a new intercity train service between Carmarthen and London Paddington, operating 5 return services every day has been approved by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

The service is planned to start in 2025 with the timetable that begins in December 2024. It will also stop at Cardiff Parkway when it opens. Investment in Severn Tunnel Junction station is planned to provide much improved passenger facilities and to allow direct access from the adjacent M4 motorway.using new build bi-mode trains which can operate under electric or diesel power, as not all of the route is electrified.

Ian Yeowart, Grand Union’s Managing Director said: “It is great news for passengers who may have the opportunity to use our services, and one only has to look at what happens now on the East Coast Main Line (ECML), where there are 3 competing operators, to see the significant benefits that arise when operators face some competition.

We are acutely aware of the difficulties faced by the ORR in determining these applications, and previous ORR decisions have significantly benefited many users on the ECML.
We expect to be able to bring those benefits to the Great Western Main Line”.He continued: “The very significant support we have received from the Welsh Government and all areas of South and West Wales has been very important in promoting the value of the service and we are grateful for the cross party support we have had from members of the Senedd and Westminster and from a number of local authorities”.
We look forward to continuing our work with partners and colleagues as we plan for the introduction of this new service.

The service will create passenger choice where there is currently none, increase service frequency and open up new journey opportunities, providing faster and improved connectivity for southwest Wales.

Services will be operated by new build bi-mode trains operating between Carmarthen and London, calling at Llanelli then a new parkway station at Parc Felindre, Cardiff Central, Newport, an upgraded Severn Tunnel Junction then Bristol Parkway before operating non-stop onwards to London

The use of Parc Felindre as a parkway station for Swansea will reduce journey times between these parts of southwest Wales and Cardiff and London by around 20 minutes.

The new station at Parc Felindre will be close to the M4 motorway providing an attractive park and ride facility for around 500 vehicles.

Grand Union will not receive subsidies from public funds, unlike other operators on the route and will operate like Hull Trains and Lumo who run without subsidy from the DfT.
The company is proposing to partner with Renfe, the leading railway operator in Spain, to operate the services, with financial backing from Spanish private equity firm Serena Industrial Partners.

Saturday, 3 December 2022

Alexander Dennis and Mistral Complete Delivery of 10 Enviro200 to Galleon Travel

Alexander Dennis, a subsidiary of NFI Group, has announced that Alexander Dennis and Mistral recently handed over a second batch of five Alexander Dennis Enviro200 to Galleon Travel, following five vehicles delivered earlier this year.

The Essex-based operator was looking to replace ten older vehicles in order to improve fleet age profile, resulting in enhanced passenger comfort and reduced maintenance costs.

The ten brand new buses, boasting wood effect flooring, multi-colour route displays, next stop passenger displays, CCTV and USB sockets, will be in operation servicing council and commercial routes across Essex and Herts under Galleon's Central Connect bus division.

Mark Taylor, Alexander Dennis Retail Sales Manager, says: “This delivery takes the total number of Enviro200 single deckers we’ve built for Galleon Travel to 14 – all of them in less than two years since the company first bought new buses from us. We’re delighted with this resounding vote of confidence in our British-built products and look forward to further supporting Matt and his team.”

Freddie Fuller, Mistral National Retail Sales Manager, adds: "These ten new vehicles look great in their Central Connect livery and will certainly help to uphold the operator's desire of running accessible vehicles for their passengers, as well as modern, fuel efficient, low emission buses to maintain a low carbon footprint."

Friday, 2 December 2022

Rolls-Royce and easyJet Confirm They Have Set a New Aviation Milestone

Rolls-Royce and easyJet today have confirmed they have set a new aviation milestone with the world’s first run of a modern aero engine on hydrogen.

The ground test was conducted on an early concept demonstrator using green hydrogen created by wind and tidal power. It marks a major step towards proving that hydrogen could be a zero carbon aviation fuel of the future and is a key proof point in the decarbonisation strategies of both Rolls-Royce and easyJet.

Both companies have set out to prove that hydrogen can safely and efficiently deliver power for civil aero engines and are already planning a second set of tests, with a longer-term ambition to carry out flight tests.

The test took place at an outdoor test facility at MoD Boscombe Down, UK, using a converted Rolls-Royce AE 2100-A regional aircraft engine. Green hydrogen for the tests was supplied by EMEC (European Marine Energy Centre), generated using renewable energy at their hydrogen production and tidal test facility on Eday in the Orkney Islands, UK.

Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Grant Shapps, said: “The UK is leading the global shift to guilt-free flying, and today’s test by Rolls-Royce and easyJet is an exciting demonstration of how business innovation can transform the way we live our lives.

“This is a true British success story, with the hydrogen being used to power the jet engine today produced using tidal and wind energy from the Orkney Islands of Scotland – and is a prime example of how we can work together to make aviation cleaner while driving jobs across the country.”

Grazia Vittadini, Chief Technology Officer, Rolls-Royce, said: “The success of this hydrogen test is an exciting milestone. We only announced our partnership with easyJet in July and we are already off to an incredible start with this landmark achievement. We are pushing the boundaries to discover the zero carbon possibilities of hydrogen, which could help reshape the future of flight.”

Johan Lundgren, CEO of easyJet, said: “This is a real success for our partnership team. We are committed to continuing to support this ground-breaking research because hydrogen offers great possibilities for a range of aircraft, including easyJet-sized aircraft. That will be a huge step forward in meeting the challenge of net zero by 2050.”

Following analysis of this early concept ground test, the partnership plans a series of further rig tests leading up to a full-scale ground test of a Rolls-Royce Pearl 15 jet engine.

The partnership is inspired by the global, UN-backed Race to Zero campaign that both companies have signed up to, committing to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Images of testing at Boscombe Down can be found here:

Thursday, 1 December 2022

Stagecoach Confirms Plans to Increase Electric Bus Fleet By Over 80%

Stagecoach has confirmed that it is planning to increase its electric bus fleet by over 80% in the next 12 months as it continues its journey towards being a net zero business.

The country’s biggest bus and coach operator has published a new report outlining progress in 2021-2022 against the strategy it launched in 2021, Driving Net Zero: Better Places to Live and Work.

The report details a programme of improvements delivered in 2021-2022 against its Planet, People, Prosperity and Governance targets. It includes a package of capital investment in new cleaner buses, measures to improve energy efficiency as well as improvements and investment for Stagecoach employees and local communities.

Stagecoach is continuing with its plans to target a zero emission UK bus fleet by 2035, and has introduced new electric buses across many parts of the country, including one of Europe’s biggest investment in e-buses in Manchester. As part of these plans, Stagecoach will be increasing its electric bus fleet from 184 buses to 343 in the next year, representing an increase of 86%*. It will also be launching the first all-electric city bus networks in the UK in Inverness and Perth in 2023.

Key highlights during 2021-2022 include:

Protecting the Planet 

Introduction of 75 new zero emission buses in regions across the UK, with 79 new e-buses in London during 2021-22. A further 159 new electric buses are planned to be introduced in 2023.

Stagecoach will also start running 10 new hydrogen buses in Liverpool in spring 2023, the first of its kind for the region, operated through a partnership between Stagecoach, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Arriva.

Delivered an overall 32% reduction in scope 1 & 2 CO2e emissions per passenger journey
Helped customers avoid nearly 20,000 tonnes of carbon emissions by providing them with more sustainable travel, rather than taking the car

Introduced 100% renewable electricity across the business, with new energy saving lighting in place in some locations

Achieved management ‘B’ rating in benchmark assessment from CDP, above the average for the road transport sector

Recycling mobile devices which has helped to fund the planting of over 3,000 trees

Opening of a sustainable new £7m depot in Cwmbran in South Wales, which features a water recycling system, electric charging bays, intelligent heating, solar panels and a grass roof for rainwater harvesting.

Investing in the health, safety and wellbeing of employees and customers

The first bus operator to introduce low bridge alert technology across its fleet of 4,000 double decker buses

New employee networks in place as part of diversity and inclusion plans, giving employees the chance to help shape the agenda and bring about lasting change

Investment in company’s first ever Head of Sustainability and Inclusion & Culture Partner

Caring for local communities

Stagecoach ‘Giving for Good’ initiative launched to support charities and community causes, with new partnerships with four national charities and supporting hundreds of local charities

New UK customer contact centre opened, creating 60 new jobs

Earlier this year, Stagecoach launched a sector-leading report which demonstrated the importance of government funding to match operator investment in new zero emission buses:

This was followed by further research published this month showing how national and local government policies can help to deliver modal shift from the car to more sustainable travel, helping people to save thousands of pounds and deliver reduced carbon emissions. 
Both reports have been welcomed by the Department for Transport, Scottish Government, Campaign for Better Transport and customer watchdog, Transport Focus.

Greg Ritt, Head of Sustainability for Stagecoach, said: “We know there is still a lot of work to be done, but we’re pleased to have had a really good year of progress against our sustainability strategy.

“Despite the challenging macro-economic environment, and the specific pressures that are being faced in the public transport sector, as the country’s biggest bus and coach operator, Stagecoach is continuing to play a leading role in decarbonising the sector and we are working hard towards our target to become a net zero business by 2050.

“Our services are critical to rebuilding the country’s economy and levelling up communities. As well as the steps we are taking to decarbonise our own business, it is equally as important for national and local government and transport operators to work together to maximise the benefits of the bus to meet the country’s aspirations of a net zero future.”

For a copy of Stagecoach’s report, Our Sustainability Journey, visit

Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Cairngorm Railway Repair Costs Soar to £52m

The cost to the taxpayer of the UK's highest railway which had to close four years ago has soared to nearly £52m - with the costs of crucial repairs spiralling, it can be revealed.

Taxpayers are having to foot the bill for the extra costs in fixing the structural issues with the Scottish Government agency-owned Cairngorms mountain railway to the tune of £9m.

The 1.3 mile funicular will not now reopen for the start of this winter season and is due to relaunch early next year - having seen costs spiral from an original price of £14.8m.

Calls have previously been made for a public inquiry into the management of the Cairngorm funicular, which it was hoped would re-open in late 2022.

It has meant the ski centre above Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands will remain without its main lift for a fourth successive ski season.

The Cairngorms are a major Scottish tourism attraction and centre for recreation with downhill hillwalking and rock climbing a major draw for the 1.92m who visit the national park every year from around the world.

But the crucial funicular, which was opened in 2001 and connects a base station with a restaurant and a ski area 1,097m (3,599ft) up Cairn Gorm mountain near Aviemore, has been closed since September, 2018 due to structural issues.

It has now been confirmed that the cost of the urgent repairs have risen by 56% from £16.16m to £25m.

The faults were discovered after the actual costs of building the funicular spiralled from £14.8m to £26.75m.

According to the Cairngorm National Park Authority strengthening works to the railway viaduct involves reinforcing props and concrete bases beside 63 out of 94 piers.

Past concerns have been raised from within the funicular's owner, the Scottish Government's Highlands and Islands Enterprise agency about how it will be paid for.

HIE said it has "reallocated uncommitted funds" from a wider Cairngorm masterplan capital investment package to meet the additional costs. The Scottish Government also allocated £7m additional funding in June 2022.

HIE says it will continue to pursue legal action against the funicular’s original designer and construction contractor in the Court of Session, in a bid to recoup public funding.

The Herald revealed the early stages of the £14.5m claim last year against the now owners of Morrison Construction, Galliford Try Infrastructure Limited and Inverness-based AF Cruden Associates Limited, the civil and structural engineers for the scheme which had been taken over by Glasgow-based Arch Henderson.

The decisions over the contracts for the funicular were hit with allegations of cronyism and financial mismanagement that led to an investigation after chief executive of HIE, Iain Robertson, announced in 2000 that he would be leaving to become director for corporate development for Morrison plc, an Edinburgh-based construction company founded and once chaired by one of Scotland's wealthiest men Sir Fraser Morrison.

In five years HIE had awarded a number of Morrison contracts including that for the building of the controversial railway up Cairngorm which they eventually received more than £10m for.

Morrisons were awarded the funicular contract in 1999, a year after Sir Fraser left HIE.

Audit Scotland said there was no conflict of interest in either case.

Scottish Conservatives' Highlands and Islands MP Edward Mountain MSP said he was not surprised by the rise in costs.

"One questions who has been managing this asset for the country.

“Would we have been better installing a different form of lift to get the capacity we need at a lower cost? Also, how much will the previous operator contribute to the final repair bill?

“If the funicular is ready for winter 2023 then this would be a huge boost for a local tourism industry.

“While I am pleased, following my calls earlier this year, that the Scottish Government committed a further £7m to the repairs, I am however concerned that HIE have had to reallocate funding from the Cairngorm masterplan investment package.

“Many will be left wondering what knock-on impact that will now have on the masterplan and I will be seeking further clarity on this matter.”

The Herald previously emerged that having already pumped more than £10m in works to fix it, ministers and officials were considering scrapping the project altogether.

A dossier of internal Scottish Government documents seen by the Herald showed that business minister Ivan McKee ended up sanctioning continuing with the project as the "least worst option" while warning additional finance could not be guaranteed.

The enterprise agency said that the project costs rise is due to the impacts of Covid, Brexit and blizzards in spring hampering repairs.

Trains are running on the mountain railway for the first time in four years - though under test conditions for now.

Testing on the funicular is expected to continue into December and safety certificates will be needed from the UK Department for Transport before it can be opened to visitors.

Hector MacAulay, managing director of Balfour Beatty’s UK Construction business in Scotland said: “As the project nears completion, we are excited to see the benefits the Cairngorm funicular railway will provide, enabling local residents and tourists alike to access the unique mountain environment all year round.”

Contractors will continue to work on the mountain removing final materials and demobilising until the end of the year.

Environmental restoration works, including replanting and re-seeding, will proceed during 2023 and beyond.

Tuesday, 29 November 2022

First Look at Glasgow's New 'Next Generation' Subway Trains

A first look of Glasgow’s new “next generation” Subway trains has been unveiled.

 Seven of the 17 new locomotives are currently undergoing various stages of a strict and intensive testing regime before they can be introduced to be used by passengers.

The trains are being put through their paces at a dedicated testing track built by the Stadler Hitachi Joint Venture (JV) contracted to deliver them alongside a new signalling and communication system for the Glasgow Subway.

The first three trains are already running on tracks under the city with testing on the system taking place through the night, and have recently completed their first full speed, full circle test, operator SPT revealed on Thursday.

SPT director of Subway Antony Smith said: “We are very pleased with the way testing has been going. But delivering the scale of this project while remaining operational is a massive challenge.

“We are at a vitally important stage now with both train testing and signalling. We’ve recently had the first of a number of Sunday shutdowns to enable new signalling and communications equipment to begin to be installed in the tunnels for the new trains.

“The JV is confident that it remains on course to see the new trains introduced into the Subway system next year. They really are worth the wait and we look forward to seeing them in service.”

The Scottish Government’s transport minister Jenny Gilruth visited SPT’s subway depot in Govan to view the new trains which are currently being tested.

It was the first opportunity for the minister to see the trains up close as they continue to undergo testing both off-site and within the subway system each night after passenger service ends.

Gilruth said: “It’s fantastic to see the new subway trains undergoing testing. The subway means so much to so many people who live, work in and visit Glasgow. Having seen the progress being made, I’m confident people will be delighted with the next generation of trains.

“The Scottish Government has committed to invest up to £246m to support subway modernisation. People are already benefitting from investment in smart ticketing systems, improved station environments and we are continuing to work on significant improvements behind the scenes, including on signalling and communications which will all be controlled from the new operational control centre.

“The introduction of the new trains into the subway system will be a significant step in the modernisation programme and I look forward to visiting again when they come into service next year.”

Sunday, 27 November 2022

Vivarail Files For Administration

Vivarail, manufacturer of battery and hybrid trains, has filed a Notice of Intention to appoint administrators.

Established in 2013 by industry veteran, Adrian Shooter CBE, Vivarail has dedicated the last nine years to investigating, trialling, developing, and testing battery technology for rail, which includes the development of its own patented Fast Charge system, able to re-charge a battery-powered train in just ten minutes.

The first and only company in the UK to design and build zero emission battery and hybrid battery trains, since inception, it has benefitted from the financial support of a sole investment partner. However, having agreed to operate without reliance on further funding in early 2022, Vivarail’s Board of Directors approved a sale process and have been working hard to attract new investors

Steve McBride, Managing Director said: “The Board and I have worked incredibly hard to secure new investment in recent months, and although we have been encouraged by the level of interest, time is now against us to allow potential investors to step in. Combined with slow market conditions and delays in reaching certain key commercial arrangements we have had no choice but to file a Notice of Intention to appoint Administrators with the Courts.”

The company’s Management, Board of Directors, and advisors are working hard to find a solution, consulting with customers and other stakeholders to try and drive the business forwards. However, if they are unable to deliver a rescue package, the company will enter Administration.

 Although the company has received a positive level of interest in recent months given its exciting pipeline of growth opportunities, the Board faced no choice but to file a Notice of Intention to appoint Administrators with the Courts on 23rd November 2022.

Vivarail D-Train is a family of multiple units remanufactured by Vivarail. They are converted from London Underground D78 Stock, originally manufactured between 1978 and 1981 by Metro-Cammell.

Saturday, 26 November 2022

National Express Coventry On The Road to Becoming UK’s First All-Electric Bus City

A £150 million project to create the UK’s first all-electric bus city by 2025 has taken a major step forward with 50 new greener buses on the streets of Coventry.

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has been working with Coventry City Council on the scheme and has secured £50 million Department for Transport funding to develop charging infrastructure and to top up the investment being made by bus operators in upgrading their fleets with electric vehicles.

This will include upgrades such as charge points at bus depots across Coventry and Warwickshire.

The 50 new National Express Coventry BYD ADL Enviro400EV 
double-decker buses are the first of up to 300 new vehicles due to arrive over the next three years under the pollution busting ‘Coventry’s Electric’ programme. National Express has also invested over £60m, meaning over a third of its Coventry fleet is now electric, with another 80 committed for early 2023.

Coventry will see improved air quality and reduced greenhouse gases, and passengers will benefit from a fleet of brand new, comfortable and fully accessible buses.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Local people are now starting to see these wonderful buses on the streets of Coventry - offering them a quieter, smoother and more comfortable journey.

“As we seek to tackle the climate emergency and maintain our  WM2041 net zero commitment, these British made buses are saving energy, cutting fuel costs for operators and improving our air quality.

“I cannot wait to see even more electric buses arriving in the next few years as Coventry becomes a truly all-electric bus city.”

Tom Stables, CEO National Express UK, added: “Our vision is to become the UK’s most sustainable bus and coach company and it’s been great to see this month’s COP27 putting a real focus on how businesses can play their part in addressing climate change.

“More people using public transport has significant benefits for society including safer roads, increased access to opportunities, reduced congestion, improved air quality and more space in our cities.

“We’re proud and excited to be leading the way in making Coventry all-electric and are actively recruiting new drivers to join us in the green revolution. Full training is provided and we have recently launched new pay rates of up to £29,500, or more with overtime.”

The city already had 10 all-electric buses operated by National Express so this brings the total number of buses in the city to 60.

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Coventry City Council’s cabinet member for jobs, regeneration and climate change, said: “We put the bid together and convinced the government that Coventry is the right place to become an all-electric bus city.

“Hitting a milestone of 50 new all-electric vehicles is fantastic and the city is really gearing up to creating the right infrastructure for the increase in zero emission vehicles.

“A quarter of the council’s fleet are now all electric, and we have 607 charging points in the city – more than any other city outside of London.

“This is all part of our joint efforts to help lead on the green industrial revolution and cut our carbon footprint. There are a number of partners involved and it highlights the excellent joint working relations between the different organisations involved.

“We are very proud to say that Coventry will be the country’s first all-electric bus city.”

The electric bus fleet is just one part of TfWM’s plans with new rail, bus, tram and cycle routes being developed and new technology introduced to support the West Midlands in achieving its target to become a net-zero carbon region within the next two decades.

Not only will Coventry become the UK’s first all-electric bus city, but TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), has committed to a fully zero-emission region by 2030 in its Bus Service Improvement Plan.

Roads Minister Richard Holden said: “I’m thrilled to see Coventry take another step to becoming the UK’s first all-electric bus city thanks to our £50 million investment to replace the entire city’s bus fleet with new electric buses and install new charging infrastructure.

“The introduction of additional new electric buses by National Express is another crucial milestone towards realising a zero emission bus fleet and level up green transport up and down the country.”

The new British buses, built in Falkirk by Alexander Dennis, are part of a total order by National Express Coventry of 130 ADL E400EVs on a BYD chassis.

Zenobē, EV fleet and battery storage specialist, is providing Electric Transport-as-a-Service (ETaaS) to National Express Coventry with its end-to-end solution. This includes on-board replacement batteries, the charging and grid infrastructure system at the depot, with dedicated rapid chargers, and a software platform which helps monitor and optimise energy use, as well as parts and operational support.

The buses produce zero carbon emissions at the tailpipe and are powered by renewable 'green’ energy thanks to solar panels, and a second-life battery installed at the depot by Zenobē. They take four hours to charge and can run for up to 280 km depending on the time of year.

As part of the West Midlands Bus Alliance, National Express Coventry, Stagecoach and other bus operators work closely with TfWM, Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council to provide reliable, affordable and green bus services to residents and visitors across the city.

Steven Meersman, co-founder and director at Zenobe, said: “We’re delighted to announce that 50 of the 130 new e-buses and charging infrastructure have been delivered and integrated on-time and at pace, and are now out on the roads of Coventry.

“It’s a pleasure to work with innovative partners at Transport for West Midlands and National Express UK to deliver the first Electric Transport as a Service (ETaaS) contract in the electric bus sector, offering a ready to go electric bus fleet backed up by operational guarantees, so they can focus on their fantastic customer service and day to day operations.”

Friday, 25 November 2022

Review: London’s Elizabeth Line vs Heathrow Express

Focus Transport Editor is in The Cairngorms with poor internet connection, so here's a link to a posting about comparisons on the journey to Heathrow Airport. 

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible!

Click here


Thursday, 24 November 2022

Enviro200's Are First Alexander Dennis Buses for Marchants Coaches

Alexander Dennis, a subsidiary of NFI Group Inc., one of the world’s leading independent global bus manufacturers, today announced that it has delivered four highly-appointed Enviro200 to Marchants Coaches of Cheltenham, marking the manufacturer’s first sale of new buses to this operator.

The four British-built single deck buses have been finished to a high standard for the family business, which was established in 1948 and operates its own coach holiday programme in addition to local bus services. Alexander Dennis SmartSeats trimmed in two-tone e-leather combine with wood-effect flooring and tinted windows to create a high-quality ambiance for discerning passengers.

Director Roger Marchant comments: “The versatility of the Enviro200 and the manufacturer’s flexibility in building the vehicle to our specifications have attracted us to Alexander Dennis after years of buying from other manufacturers. With a spacious interior and great accessibility, these new buses will boost our local bus services and ensure we offer our customers the best journey experience.”

Alexander Dennis Regional Sales Manager Lee Salt says: “We’re delighted to add another respected bus and coach operator to our customers. Roger and his team will be able to count on our best-in-class aftermarket support throughout the vehicles’ lifetime, ensuring that their four new Enviro200 will continue to deliver for the Marchants Coaches fleet.”

Wednesday, 23 November 2022

Second Avanti Class 805 to move to Old Dalby Today

Further to our recent posting (here) about Avanti 805 001 on the move at the Hitachi factory in Co Durham, this train has been moved to the Rail Innovation & Development Centre at Old Dalby and is now undergoing testing.

We are now informed that the second bi-mode Hitachi train 805 003, is scheduled to depart Newton Aycliffe today and make its way down to Old Dalby.

They are the first of 13 'bi-mode' units, based on the Japanese A-Train and can switch seamlessly between electric and diesel power. Each train will be made up of five carriages.

The new trains will replace the Voyager's which have operated on the West Coast mainline for the past 20 years.

They will operate on services from Shrewsbury to London, via Telford Central, Wellington, Sandwell & Dudley and Birmingham, using diesel power between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, before switching to electricity for the rest of the journey.

 Currently, all direct services from Shrewsbury to London use diesel powered Voyager units.
Here’s a detailed path of the planed journey -

Click on the link to follow the complete journey