Tuesday, 26 September 2023

Flix Announces Growth of Over 50% During Half Year

Flix has announced its half-year figures for the first six months of 2023. From January until the end of June 2023, more than 36 million passengers worldwide travelled with FlixBus, FlixTrain, Greyhound, and Kamil Koç, equivalent to a 53% increase compared to 2022. 

The total revenue of the Flix group amounts to EUR 860 million, reflecting an increase of 54% compared to EUR 557 million between January and June 2022. 

This means that the first half year of 2023 has been the most successful first half year in the company’s history. Flix also reported an adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation) result of EUR 26 million – an increase of EUR 85 million compared to the previous year – and a corresponding margin of 3%.

"Flix is successfully delivering sustainable and profitable growth," says André Schwämmlein, CEO and co-founder of Flix. "We are on track in all segments and were able to significantly expand our offer in many markets in the first half year. Flix continues to be a global travel tech success story."

Among other things, the company launched its first services within Finland and Greece and significantly expanded its network in Brazil. 
Flix is currently active in 41 countries worldwide, and the green long-distance buses will be launching in Chile before the end of 2023. 
For the total year, Flix expects over 25 % growth in total revenue and an adjusted EBITDA margin in the mid-single-digit percentage range. 

Significant growth in all segments

Flix recorded significant revenue and passenger growth in the first half of 2023. The company also reported positive adjusted EBITDA in all operating segments. The figures include FlixBus and FlixTrain as well as the services under the Kamil Koç brand in Turkey and Greyhound in North America.


For Europe Flix carried over 24 million passengers and announced growth of passenger volume of 75% compared to the same period in the previous year. Revenues amounted to EUR 477 million, representing a growth of 91%. 
In June alone, over 2,000 European stops were connected to the Flix network. With the first services to Finland and Greece, the whole continental EU mainland is connected to the Flix network.

North America

In the USA, Canada, and Mexico more than 5 million passengers used the services of FlixBus and Greyhound equivalent to an increase of 33% in comparison to the same period in the first half year of 2022. Revenues increased by 19% to a total of EUR 279 million.


Over 6.8 million passengers traveled with Flix subsidiary Kamil Koç – 14% more than in the first half year of 2022 – and created revenue of EUR 88 million, which corresponds with a growth of 34%. More than 300 stops are included in the Turkish long-distance bus network.

Also, Flix significantly extended its offer and network in Brazil: Overall, 35 new cities in seven federal states were incorporated into the network, including Salvador and Fortaleza. Hence, FlixBus is now also operating in the North-East of Brazil. FlixBus will launch in Chile in 2023 and is planned to launch in India next year.

Flix continues to rely on travel tech

Flix is committed to setting high standards in travel digitization while staying true to its roots in travel technology through consistent development. Already since the spring of 2023, the online booking platform, as well as the technology from Greyhound, are fully incorporated into the Flix system enabling travelers to search and book travel from either brands’ websites or apps and travel across a more extensive intercity bus network.

Beginning of the fleet transformation: LNG-FlixBuses in Germany

In June, Flix published its first voluntary ESG report and reached one more milestone within its long-term sustainability strategy. The company commits to CO2 neutrality in Europe until 2040 and focuses on fleet transformation. 
Therefore, the first five FlixBuses running on LNG (Liquefied Natural Gas) are to be deployed on domestic German routes in the next few months in cooperation with Scania, which will reduce CO2 by using biogas. 
By 2025, a total of 50 LNG vehicles are to be in operation. Flix is working on further fleet transformation with high priority and intends to continue to be a pioneer in the field of alternative drive systems.


Monday, 25 September 2023

Coastliner: £2 Fares Scheme Has Been Such a Success That All 80 of North Yorkshire's Under-Threat Bus Routes Have Been Saved

Councillor Keane Duncan, the Tory candidate to become North Yorkshire and York’s first elected mayor, said the county’s public transport services had undergone a reversal of fortune due after landing a £2.9m Government grant and a £2 price cap being introduced on local and regional journeys.

Coun Duncan revealed to a meeting of North Yorkshire Council’s executive many of the county’s bus services were “more popular than ever” and some services had even become “too popular”.

He said the Department for Transport funding would serve as “a lifeline to services” without which “many services would have ceased” and that having achieved survival, anyone elected to become mayor would face the challenge of reversing the erosion of bus routes in the county.

Read the full Yorkshire Post article and watch a video here

Sunday, 24 September 2023

Livery for Avanti West Coast’s New Fleet of Trains Revealed

The livery for Avanti West Coast’s new fleet of trains has been revealed for the first time at Hitachi’s Newton Aycliffe facility in the North East.

The train’s stylish look takes its inspiration from Avanti West Coast’s Pendolino, with its palette of colours reflecting the landscape of the regions served by the West Coast operator.

The Class 805 bi-mode, numbered 805005, was undergoing some final touches before its scheduled departure to Oxley depot in the West Midlands next week, becoming the third train to formally transfer over to the Avanti West Coast fleet.

All three units will be used for main line testing and staff training, with the first trains due to enter service across the network in the coming months.

Ellie Woolmore, Head of Brand at Avanti West Coast commented: “The excitement around our new fleet is really starting to build. The new livery helps to give the train its identity, taking its lead from our iconic Pendolino fleet, whilst accentuating its sleek design.”

The 805 bi-mode unit is due to commence overnight test working, joining 805002 and 004 in the Avanti fleet. All three sets have been fast tracked to support the start of driver training. The Class 807s will follow once the 13 bi-mode trains have been delivered.

The application of the livery is being undertaken by Stewart Signs. This train is due to be accepted on 29 Sept, joining stablemates 805002 and 805004 in the AWC fleet, the latter having been formally handed over on 14 Sept.
The Hitachi test sets also paid their first ever visit to Holyhead on 1th September, with a test run from Oxley.

The news comes in the same week that the West Coast Partnership, which compromises Avanti West Coast and West Coast Partnership Development, was awarded an initial three-year National Rail Contract, with an option to extend for a further six years.

13 five-car bi-mode units are being built to replace Class 221 Voyagers on services between London Euston and stations on the North Wales Coast and Shrewsbury lines. Their introduction will allow the elimination of long-distance diesel working on electrified routes, only using their diesel power on non electrified sections of the routes.

10 Class 807 fully electric electric units which will run between London, the West Midlands and Liverpool are also on order, as part of £350 million contract. with Hitachi Rail.

See previous Focus Transport postings here and here

Saturday, 23 September 2023

Bee Network Buses Will Start Running in Parts of Greater Manchester From 24 September 2023

For the first time in 40 years, tomorrow, bus services will be under local control in Bolton, Wigan, and parts of Bury, Salford and Manchester.

Go North West subsidiary readies to begin operating the first two large local service contracts in the Greater Manchester area on 24 September.

Go North West will take on depots in Bolton and Wigan, along with staff from six “incumbent bus brands” and vehicles, and drivers who are new to the industry. 

Greater Manchester's old and new bus brands (Image: Go Ahead)

The two contracts capture 50 routes and over 320 buses, of which 50 of the latter are BYD Alexander Dennis Enviro400EV battery-electric double-deckers ordered by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM).

Go Ahead press release states

The Go-Ahead Group is making final preparations to run Manchester’s first Bee Network buses this weekend, with services due to begin on Sunday on 50 routes in Bolton and Wigan.

More than 1,000 colleagues at Go-Ahead’s Go North West operating company are involved in a team effort to run the yellow-branded buses, which mark the start of Transport for Greater Manchester’s Bee Network – which will be an integrated system bringing together all modes of local transport.

Mobilisation efforts have been underway for 10 months since the award of a contract to Go North West by TfGM. Go North West is taking over two depots from outgoing operators and buses will be swapped out, with fully trained new drivers in place, overnight.

Bee Network buses will replace Manchester’s six incumbent bus brands over the next 18 months, providing a joined up network for passengers. This weekend is the first of three phases in which buses across Greater Manchester will go yellow. Six liveries from legacy bus companies will eventually disappear.

Of the Bolton and Wigan fleet, 50 buses are zero-emission electric vehicles and all are fully accessible. All the buses on the network are equipped with passenger information screens and space for two wheelchairs, plus CCTV and two-way radios for security.

Go-Ahead brings expertise in franchised bus services from its track record as London’s largest bus operator, running a quarter of buses in the capital. The company also runs buses under contract for transport authorities in Ireland, Sweden and Singapore.

Fares remain £2 for an adult ticket, or £1 for a child.

Nigel Featham, Managing Director, Go North West, said:

“It’s all change for Manchester’s buses and we have a team of over 1,000 people ready to go this weekend. We’ve been working around the clock for months on a mammoth operation – every vehicle, every depot and every driver needs to be ready.

“We are determined to deliver world class public transport for a world class city. Go-Ahead is proud to be working with the Mayor and with Transport for Greater Manchester over this exciting changeover weekend.”

Details of the start of the Bee Buses network here

In March 2024, buses in Oldham, Rochdale, and parts of Bury, Salford and north Manchester will join the Bee Network. By January 2025 all Greater Manchester buses will be under local control.

According to The Bolton News on 19th September "A diesel generator has been delivered to the Bolton depot as precaution. As well as diesel it can be powered by Enhanced Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil, a fossil-free, paraffinic fuel made from 100 per cent renewable raw materials. It will be in place whilst all equipment has been tested and to safeguard against any power outages which would prevent charging of the new bus fleet" click here to read the article.

Above & below eventually Manchester trams will be incorporated into the Bee network

There’ll be a contactless payment trial for some local train journeys in 2025 and local trains will be added to the Bee Network from 2030.

Friday, 22 September 2023

Lothian Orders 50 New Volvo BZL Electric Double Deck Buses

On 20th September 
Lothian announced an order for 50 new Volvo BZL Electric double deck buses for Scotland’s capital city. The vehicles will have bodywork constructed by MCV.

At an investment of over £24million, Lothian will introduce these new vehicles in two batches across 2024, with the first vehicles appearing on Edinburgh’s streets in early spring. This investment cements the company’s commitment to reduce emissions and improve air quality in its operating environment.

From L-R: Domenico Bondi, Managing Director of Volvo Bus UK & Ireland; Sarah Boyd, Managing Director of Lothian Buses; Colin Barnes, Engineering Director of Lothian Buses; and Marie Carlsson, Vice President of Electromobility Business Development at VOLVO

Sarah Boyd, Managing Director of Lothian, said: “We are delighted to be working with Volvo Buses to introduce a fleet of 50 zero emission double decks to our fleet. Lothian continues to support the Scottish Government and City of Edinburgh Council’s strategies to improve local air quality, and this level of investment ensures that we as a business are playing our part in improving air quality across the city.

“These buses are not only fitted with the latest zero tailpipe emission drivelines; they also offer an enhanced customer experience for the millions of passengers who choose to travel with us every week.”

The delivery of cleaner and greener buses into the fleet is key to Lothian’s ‘Driving towards Net Zero’ environmental strategy, launched last week. The strategy outlines the company’s plans for ongoing investments in zero tailpipe emission buses and infrastructure across the next decade.

The 50 Volvo BZL Electric double decks will offer improved comfort and quieter journeys, each accommodating over 70 passengers and featuring Wi-Fi, high back seats and handy USB charging points.

Drivers will also benefit from a calm and quiet workspace which reduces stress, whilst a camera-based mirror system improves vision in all conditions.

Above & below, The Lothian fleet is predominantly Volvo based 

Domenico Bondi, Managing Director of Volvo Bus UK & Ireland, added: “Lothian put our BZL Electric demonstrator through its paces for more than four months, and it performed fantastically. Feedback was universally positive – from drivers, passengers and Lothian management – plus the vehicle’s range was more than sufficient for a full day’s operation in Edinburgh, proven on even the coldest of winter days.

“It is a huge privilege to secure this landmark electric bus order from Lothian, and we are confident the BZL Electric will play a pivotal role in supporting our customers ambitious net-zero strategy, which resonates strongly with Volvo’s own ambition to create zero-emission cities. We look forward to continuing our partnership and working closely with Lothian to achieve our common goal of a greener, more sustainable tomorrow.”

The new buses will be powered by Volvo’s pure electric driveline which comprises a 200kW electric motor coupled to a two-stage automated gearbox. Each vehicle has been specified with five lithium-ion batteries giving the maximum 470kW/h of onboard energy storage – offering a range up to 300km depending on operating conditions. This can be extended during operation thanks to a regenerative braking system which enables a proportion of the energy that would otherwise have been lost when the vehicle is decelerating to be recovered as free, clean, energy.

They will be charged overnight at new charging stations being installed within the company’s Annandale Street garage. Once plugged in, a full charge takes 3-4 hours.

Lothian Fleet List here

Thursday, 21 September 2023

At Long Last - The Edinburgh Tram Inquiry Has Concluded

The public inquiry to find out why Edinburgh's 11.5 mile long tram project was £400m over budget and five years late has finally concluded. The long running inquiry was was established in June 2014 to investigate what went wrong during the construction of the line between Edinburgh Airport and the city centre.

Chaired by Lord Hardie, the probe has cost the taxpayer more than £13m. and has amazingly taken nine years to come to a conclusion.

It concludes failings by the City of Edinburgh Council and its arm's-length companies were to blame for the delays.
Much criticism centres on the arm's-length company in charge of the tram project known as Tie.

The probe has highlighted considerable oversight, management and strategic mistakes by Tie, the City of Edinburgh Council and Scottish Ministers.

The report also highlights the failure of Tie to work collaboratively with the council and others including, in particular, Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) and BSC, a consortium of Bilfinger Berger, Siemens and Spanish tram builder Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF), as well as a delay with production of design due to poor performance by Parsons Brinckerhoff and failure by tie and BSC to manage the design contract effectively.

The report also sets out 24 recommendations for the consideration of Scottish Ministers, including considering whether there is a requirement for new legislation to allow for civil and criminal sanctions against relevant individuals or companies who knowingly submit reports that include false statements to councillors.

The final cost of the tram project, according to the inquiry, is £835.7m, whilst the previously reported cost of £776.7m was very much an underestimate. The figures include the purchase of sufficient trams to run the original planned route between the airport and Newhaven. 
The 2.9 mile route between the city and Newhaven was finally completed and opened earlier this year.

A BBC News article excellently summarises the findings here

If you want the detail and some good bedtime reading visit the Inquiry website to read the report here

Wednesday, 20 September 2023

2 New West Midlands Metro Extension to Wolverhampton Railway Station Opens

Tram services on the new West Midlands Metro extension in Wolverhampton City Centre began on Sunday, 17 September.

The £50 million extension creates two new tram stops at Pipers Row and Wolverhampton Railway Station, offering seamless connections to bus and train services helping to create a major public transport hub for the city.

It means passenger services will be restored to the city centre following the completion of driver familiarisation – the final stage in testing and preparing the new extension.

The development has been led by Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), working with construction and design partner Midland Metro Alliance, operator Midland Metro Ltd and the City of Wolverhampton Council.

Laura Shoaf, chief executive of the WMCA, which owns the West Midlands Metro, said: “It has been a complex construction process, working in a busy city centre, and we know it has been a frustrating time for local people and businesses. But it is fantastic now to see the extension ready to open and welcome passengers on board.

“As a result, Wolverhampton is now a better-connected city with the transport interchange it deserves, supporting local businesses while opening up new job and leisure opportunities for residents. It also makes it easier than ever to choose public transport – helping us to reduce congestion and tackle the climate emergency.

“The good news is that we are not stopping in Wolverhampton. Work on further extensions into Sandwell and Dudley and the Eastside of Birmingham city centre are well underway – investment in convenient, comfortable, and sustainable tram network that will benefit the region for years to come.”

City of Wolverhampton Council director of resident services, John Roseblade, added: “It’s great to know that passengers are now able to use the new route developed by Midland Metro Alliance.

“Extending the Metro to the very front door of our new railway station is part of ensuring our award-winning Interchange project delivers the very best gateway to our city for all modes of transport. 
It is all part of how we are reimagining our city centre and better connecting passengers to events and venues like the newly-opened The Halls Wolverhampton, Grand Theatre and art gallery.”

Sophie Allison, interim managing director of West Midlands Metro, added: “With two new stops and services every 10 minutes to and from the station, this latest extension to our tram network is set to deliver a wealth of benefits for both new and existing customers.

“Visitors from outside the area by bus or train can simply hop on a tram for onward travel to some of the region’s top cultural and sports venues, while local communities will benefit from an even better-connected transport network. We can’t wait to welcome them aboard our trams.”

Services are expected to return to
 St Georges terminus later this autumn after the team from the Midland Metro Alliance completes systems integration activities and street scene improvements there over the coming weeks. 
Once opened, services will alternate between St Georges, which serves the shopping district, and Wolverhampton Railway Station. This means trams will run in and out of Wolverhampton every seven to eight minutes throughout the day.

Ken Jones has sent the photos below, taken on the first day of opening the extension.

West Midlands Metro website

Tuesday, 19 September 2023

NEWS REPORT - New National Rail Contract Announced Today for The West Coast Partnership and a New Contract for CrossCountry

New National Rail Contract for the West Coast Partnership agreed with the Department of Transport to start on 15 October 2023.
Contract consists of Avanti West Coast services and West Coast Partnership Development which will last until 2032 subject to approval.

A new National Rail Contract (NRC) for the West Coast Partnership (WCP) has been agreed with the Department for Transport (DfT), it was announced today.

WCP comprises Avanti West Coast and West Coast Partnership Development – the Shadow Operator for the HS2 programme.

The NRC will commence on 15 October 2023 and will last until 17 October 2032 subject to ongoing DfT approval. It begins with a core three-year term to 18 October 2026.

Commenting on the announcement, Avanti West Coast Managing Director Andy Mellors said: “The National Rail Contract for the West Coast Partnership announced today provides stability for customers and colleagues as we continue to rebuild trust as well as confidence.

“Over the last six months, we have delivered significant and sustained improvements in operational performance and customer satisfaction. Cancellations that Avanti West Coast is responsible for have stabilised at below two percent of scheduled services. 
The last year has been challenging but I would like to thank our customers as well as stakeholders for their patience.

“There are still challenges ahead but plenty to look forward to on our network including customer benefits such as the continued award-winning refurbishment of our Pendolinos and the introduction of our new Hitachi fleet, which will increase capacity and further improve our sustainability credentials.”

Shamit Gaiger, Managing Director, of the West Coast Partnership Development, said: “The new National Rail Contract will enable us to continue to focus on the design, development and implementation of future high-speed services on the network as we aim to set new standards in UK rail.

"We are committed to working with our partners to realise the benefits these services will provide to our economy, communities and passengers. As the infrastructure is built, we will ensure customers are at the heart of future high-speed services on the West Coast.”

Cross Country Award

CrossCountry have also been awarded a new 8 year contract. Their network stretches from Aberdeen in the north-east of Scotland to Penzance in western Cornwall via Birmingham.

It is owned by Arriva, which is a UK-based subsidiary of the German state railway operator Deutsche Bahn.

Ironically CrossCountry are being forced to cease using HST's in favour of the less popular Voyager units, which have a reputation for overcrowding.

CrossCountry's services have been badly disrupted by staff striking in a dispute over working conditions.

The rail operator said significant disruption had been caused by the Nuneham Viaduct closure, infrastructure works at Birmingham New Street as well as significant re-signalling works taking place.

Tom Joyner, CrossCountry managing director, said the firm would "continue to build on the improvements we have made to the onboard service and plan to make substantial improvements to all services across the network".

Its new contract, which starts on 15 October, has a maximum term of eight years but can be terminated at any point after four years.

Monday, 18 September 2023

TransPennine Express Will Cease Using Fleet of Mk5 Push-Pull Trains and Cut Services From December

TransPennine Express has confirmed that it will cease using its push-pull sets of Class 68 locomotives and Mk5a coaches, previously designated Nova 3 sets, from the December 2023 timetable change.

The Nova 3's are formed of five coaches, one of which is driving trailer plus a class 68 loco

The decision is the result of a review of operations after TPE was transferred to the Department for Transport’s Operator of Last Resort.

DfT had originally specified procurement of coaches as part of the invitation to tender to for the TPE franchise, with the expectation that the future operator would take on redundant five-car Class 442 third-rail EMUs and modify them for use with diesel locomotives.

It is understood that eventual winner FirstGroup was the only bidder for the franchise to propose the acquisition of new rolling stock.

The Nova 3 trains are powered by Vossloh/Stadler Class 68 locos

Following the award of the franchise in December 2015, the 13 five-car sets of coaches along with a spare driving trailer were ordered from CAF in Spain, financed by leasing company Beacon Rail, and built in 2017-18.

They entered service on the Liverpool – Scarborough route in August 2019, powered by modified Class 68 locomotives subleased from Direct Rail Service.

The introduction was hampered by technical issues and slow progress with driver training, exacerbated by the arrival of Covid-19 and the long-running industrial relations issues at TPE.

Operation into Scarborough was further impacted when local residents complained about the noise of the Class 68 locomotives at the maintenance facility which had been constructed to service the new trains.

The fleet has never achieved its planned usage, with very few sets being in service on a daily basis.

The 13 CAF Mk 5a trains, powered by Vossloh/Stadler Class 68s sub-leased from Direct Rail Services, have never entered full squadron service having had comparatively little use over the past five years.

None of the parties involved has confirmed where, when or even if the £110 million fleet will be redeployed.  

Sunday, 17 September 2023

Links to News Headlines - Liverpool Bus Lanes - Tyne & Wear Class 555 Stadler Trains Delayed - 'Boris Buses' Like Saunas on Wheels

Liverpool Bus Lanes to Return  here and here

Tyne and Wear Metro's New Stadler Class 555 Trains Won't Now Enter Service Until 'Early 2024' here 

TfL chiefs Told to Sort Out so called 'Boris Buses' That Are ‘Saunas On Wheels' here

This has been a problem since they were built without opening windows here


Saturday, 16 September 2023

Avanti West Coast’s Pendolino Upgrade Reaches Major Milestone

The UK's largest ever train upgrade continues apace with the completion of the 35th, and last 11 carriage Pendolino.

All 11 carriage Pendolinos as part of the fleet are now refurbished

Project on course to finish next summer (2024) as work switches to the shorter nine car trains
The £117m investment has helped to deliver a step change in onboard experience

The UK’s largest ever fleet upgrade has passed a major milestone with the refurbishment of its final 11 carriage Pendolino.

Work has now begun on the remaining 21 nine carriage trains which make up the 56 strong Avanti West Coast fleet.

Widely regarded as the UK’s hardest working trains, the Pendolinos have served towns and cities along the West Coast Main Line for over 20 years, clocking up more than 270 million miles – enough to go to the moon and back more than 500 times.

The departure of the last of the 11 carriage trains from rail manufacturer Alstom’s Widnes facility marked the end of first phase of the project, one that has seen 35 refurbished trains delivered inside 16 months, at a rate of one set every two weeks.

The first Pendolino to be refurbished 390125 on a dynamic test run
on 18th March 2022. credit Avanti West Coast 

UK suppliers are also benefiting from 80 percent of the £117m investment, which is financed by Angel Trains, one of the UK’s leading train Asset Management companies.

A total of 385 carriages have been fully refurbished to date, with 17,780 brand new seats installed, in addition to 770 infotainment screens, 3,010 new tables with WiFi charging and 14,230 square metres of sustainable woollen flooring from UK based Axminster Carpets.

Philippa Cresswell, Executive Director On Board at Avanti West Coast said: “The refurbished Pendolinos are proving a big hit with our customers. They really do look and feel like a new train.

“We will continue to work with our partners Alstom and Angel Trains to complete the transformation of one the UK’s most iconic trains as we look forward to welcoming more people back to rail.”

The new look trains have received positive feedback from customers, many commenting on the increased levels of comfort, improved lighting, increased availability of power sockets, the refreshed interior and new on-board Shop.

Peter Broadley, Alstom’s Managing Director Services commented: “We’re incredibly proud of the Pendolino fleet upgrade project which takes train refurbishment to another level. Working in partnership with Angel Trains and Avanti West Coast we’ve delivered a fantastic product for passengers on the West Coast.”

Malcolm Brown, CEO of Angel Trains, said: "Our iconic Pendolino trains have been refurbished to provide a comfortable, connected, best in class passenger experience at a lower cost and carbon footprint than building new. Working together with Avanti West Coast and Alstom this project has supported UK suppliers and skilled jobs the length of the West Coast Main Line. "

The investment in the Pendolino fleet is just part of the changes taking place on the West Coast route. These include the ground-breaking Standard Premium and innovative Superfare tickets which continue to grow in popularity and the planned entry into service of a brand-new fleet of Hitachi trains from the end of 2023.

Focus Postings 2021 here 2022 here

Friday, 15 September 2023

New RailAir Coach Service Links Watford to Heathrow

First Bus South’s new RailAir 3 (RA3) coach link is now in operation, taking passengers from Watford to Heathrow in around 45 minutes.

With Heathrow now in the London ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone), RA3 provides a cost-effective alternative to driving. Passengers on RA3 can travel for as little as £9 for a single ticket, while accompanied children under 16 travel for free.

The RA3 operates seven days a week, with services every hour for the majority of the day. The first service leaves Watford Junction Station at 03:55 and the final journey from Heathrow is at 23:40.

The service stops at Watford Junction Station, Watford Town Hall, and Hempstead Road. At Heathrow, the RA3 stops outside Terminals 2 and 3, with free onward connections to Terminals 4 and 5 using the frequent train and Underground links. The new service provides a sustainable transport alternative for passengers and those working at the airport, potentially saving thousands of car journeys every year.

RA3 is the latest addition to the RailAir family, operated by First Bus South to support Heathrow’s goal to increase connectivity to local communities and the wider UK, through sustainable, reliable routes. The RA3 joins the existing RA1 and RA2 RailAir services, which link Reading, Guildford and Woking with Heathrow up to every 30 minutes.

To allow people to experience the new RA3 service, First Bus South is offering 20 FREE tickets. Details of how to apply for a ticket can be found at www.railair.com.

First Bus South Managing Director, Simon Goff, said: “RailAir 3 is a proud addition to the RailAir family. This important new link directly connects Watford to Heathrow offering a fast, efficient service which saves passengers time and money. With new ULEZ charges potentially driving costs up, I’m delighted to be able to make travel to Heathrow easier and cheaper for our customers in Watford and beyond.”

Matthew Wooll, Heathrow’s Route Development Lead, added: “The RA3 service is a fantastic addition to Heathrow’s public transport network. We want all of Heathrow’s passengers and colleagues to have access to good public transport at the times they need it. 
Travelling more sustainably will help reduce congestion and emissions, and RailAir helps keep the cost of travelling down, including discounts for families travelling together and if you work at the airport.”

RailAir website here

Thursday, 14 September 2023

Brighton & Hove Buses Brand Refresh

Brighton & Hove's fleet of red, cream and black buses will change into a bright, colourful new teal and aqua livery over the coming months and years. The change follows on from the popular ‘Live & Breathe’ liveries and introduces new icons in a variety of colours to represent the diversity and vibrancy of the city of Brighton & Hove.

Furthermore, the logo will also be changing by adopting the new bus colours, and better representing the company with a slick A to B journey line worked into the design. This is just one part of a wider transformation as the company set their efforts on bringing more benefits to the community, and making Brighton & Hove Buses an employer of choice and great place to work for all.

The first of the new buses, designed to better reflect the Brighton & Hove geography with the colours of the sky and the sea, are likely to arrive in autumn and will continue to be rolled out gradually over the next few years.

Ed Wills, Managing Director at Brighton & Hove Buses, said: “Our brand livery has not changed much since the 90s, but we, and our city, have changed hugely in that time. That’s why we’re transforming our brand to more accurately represent the spirit of who we are today and the unique, vibrant city that we serve.”