Monday, 12 April 2021

Iconic Ribblehead Viaduct Repaired for ‘Staycation Summer’

Work to restore the world-renowned Ribblehead viaduct for rail passengers and tourists in North Yorkshire is now complete.

From Friday April 9 visitors to the Ribble Valley can see the iconic piece of Victorian railway architecture in all its glory after months of specialist repairs by Network Rail.

Since November 2020, 100ft high scaffolding towers have moved across seven of the viaduct’s 24 arches to carry out masonry, drainage and repainting work.

The £2.1m investment as part of the Great North Rail Project will secure the Grade II* listed structure's future as both an historic landmark and vital railway link on the Settle-Carlisle railway line.

The improvements have been completed in time for easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions this spring ready for an expected ‘Staycation Summer’.

Bumper visitor numbers are expected for the Yorkshire Dales National Park, with the Ribblehead viaduct being one of its star attractions.

Philippa Britton, principal programme sponsor for Network Rail, said: “The teams have worked throughout a harsh winter to restore this hugely important and impressive piece of Victorian engineering for the future and I’m hugely proud of the work we’ve carried out as part of the Great North Rail Project.

“We’ve worked incredibly closely with heritage experts and conservationists to make sure the repairs were sympathetic to the historic structure but would also last the test of time. Now these once in a generation repairs are complete we hope you won’t see scaffolding on this scale at Ribblehead again for many years to come.”

The much-loved Ribblehead viaduct is not only one of the country’s most recognisable railway structures, it’s also an important transport corridor for local people, tourists and freight.

It carries the Settle to Carlisle railway 400 metres across the Ribble valley.

The work will make journeys more reliable for Northern passengers and tourism charter services like the 'Staycation Express' which launched in Summer 2020.

Mark Rand, vice-president of the Friends of the Settle to Carlisle line, said: "This has been another chapter in the history of the amazing Ribblehead viaduct. Thirty years ago it was declared to be 'life-expired' and in need of replacement or the entire line would have to close. Happily, neither of those things happened. All credit to Network Rail and their contractors who have done this work through a bitter Ribblehead winter. The viaduct stands proud and strong, a monumental tribute to those who lived, and died, to build it."

Adrian Quine, director of Rail Charter Services which runs the 'Staycation Express’, said: “We are expecting unprecedented demand for our trains this summer. The restoration of daily dining car trains along the line – the first since 1975 – is already causing a lot of excitement. What better way to experience it than enjoying three course silver service with drink in hand as the Staycation Express crosses this iconic structure.”

Click here for details of the Staycation Express

During this project, the latest laser and drone survey technology mapped every inch of the Grade II* listed viaduct for the first time, giving a detailed record of its condition so it can be closely monitored in future.

Sunday, 11 April 2021

25 MAN Lion's City 12E Vehicles for Copenhagen

In the first MAN e-bus deployment in Denmark, 25 MAN Lion’s City 12 E all electric models have been ordered for delivery to Anchersen A/S later in 2021. They will provide an extra-environmentally friendly means of transport for visitors and residents alike as they travel around the Danish capital.  

The all-electric city buses were ordered by Anchersen A/S, which saw the Copenhagen-based local transport company giving MAN Truck & Bus its first electric bus order from Denmark. 
A few months ago, Nobina Sverige AB ordered 22 Lion’s City E buses from MAN for Malmö, Sweden. 
The Malmö and Copenhagen orders now represent the next biggest purchase of MAN electric buses from Scandinavia. 

Rudi Kuchta, Head of Business Unit Bus at MAN Truck & Bus says. “It’s great to see that our electric bus is gaining such a positive reception, that it’s on the road in more and more cities in Europe, and that the issue of protecting our environment is becoming more and more important in scheduled-service transport.”

The 25 state-of-the-art city buses will serve the 7A bus route through Copenhagen City Centre, which is used by more than 4.3 million passengers each year. In the MAN Lion’s City E, Anchersen has opted for a reliable electric bus with tried-and-tested cell and battery technology. “For us, the role of electric vehicles in bus transport will be a top priority in the future. 
To make urban transport as sustainable as possible, our new city buses are charged exclusively using green electricity. This means that they are completely emission-free in day-to-day service as well as being extremely quiet on the road,” says Poul Anchersen, the CEO and owner of Anchersen A/S. “In addition, MAN city buses offer our customers maximum comfort and safety thanks to the ESP system installed as one of a number of additional features”

The new Copenhagen city buses offer space for up to 76 passengers. Extended seat pitch and comfortable padded seats ensure that passengers have a pleasant experience en route. “Providing sufficient space is currently becoming much more important in the age of the coronavirus pandemic. Riders on our buses have the opportunity to keep a better distance from their fellow passengers,” says Rudi Kuchta. 
In the Lion’s City E, this is primarily due to the optimised seating area in the rear, which was made possible due to the lack of any engine housing in the passenger compartment.

MAN uses a central motor on the rear axle to drive its electric bus. This has several advantages: Driving stability and safety increase, as does the maximum energy recovery during braking. 

The power for the fully electric driveline comes from the batteries on the vehicle’s roof, which have an installed capacity of 480 kWh. MAN relies on sophisticated battery cell technology from the Group’s modular system and as a result, the electric buses offer a reliable range of 200 km and up to 270 km in favourable conditions over the entire service life of the batteries.

The batteries are depot-charged via a combined charging system (CCS) connector. An average charging power of 100 kW, the MAN Lion’s City 12 E is fully charged in less than three hours – and at the maximum charging power of 150 kW, the charging time is shorter still.  
Charged in the depot, the long-lasting batteries guarantee simple integration into existing commercial operations. “That was a crucial factor for us. Since we charge our bus fleet exclusively at the depot, we need reliable buses able to cover a long range,” Anchersen says. “In our last invitation to tender, we fielded offers from multiple electric bus manufacturers. 

Some of the key factors behind our decision in favour of the MAN Lion’s City E were the capacity of the installed battery packs, the local service offered and the outstanding experiences other transport companies have already had with the electric bus. 
Plus, we were impressed by the fast delivery time and the smooth, unbureaucratic ordering process.” To ensure that it has sufficient charging capacity for the electric city buses, Anchersen A/S is planning to build an electric bus port with 25 charging stations at its depot in Jernholmen, just outside Copenhagen.

Taking the newly ordered vehicles into account, the Anchersen A/S fleet consists of around 200 buses, including diesel and electric models. “MAN is the new brand in our fleet. We are already very excited about the electric buses and how they will master their regular routes in Copenhagen,” Poul Anchersen adds. 
According to the CEO, the company places great emphasis on environmentally friendly solutions, innovation and progress when awarding contracts. 
For a number of years now, Anchersen has consistently pursued a strategy of reducing its emissions as much as possible. “Just like Movia (the public transport authority for eastern Denmark) as well as the City of Copenhagen and Denmark nationally, we see electric vehicles as the future of zero-emissions public transport.”

Saturday, 10 April 2021

Hull Trains to Introduce Live Train Tracker

Hull Trains has introduced new technology which publishes the level of passengers onboard in real time, to help make social-distanced travelling easier when services resume next week.

The open access rail operator will introduce a limited timetable on 12 April after a third period of hibernation ends as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This innovation allows passengers to check how busy the train is on the Hull Trains website or app, thanks to official data supplied by onboard managers.

It has been developed by First Rail, part of FirstGroup the parent company of Hull Trains, to help manage social distancing and is part of the preparations to welcome passengers back onboard Paragon trains.

Louise Cheeseman, managing director for Hull Trains, said the tool can give people confidence when travelling by train as the country starts to ease out of lockdown.

“We’re really excited to be welcoming our passengers and staff back when we return to service next week for the first time since 9 January 2021,” she said.

“Welcoming people back onboard safely is vital to the future of the business. As an open access operator, we rely on revenue from train tickets sales. We want to make it as easy as possible for people to travel safely and this live tracking tool will play a big role in that.

“It’s important that passengers feel that they can travel confidently with us. The Live Train Tracker will help people to make more informed decisions about travelling by train while we steadily reintroduce services and build the business back up.”

People will see how busy the trains are in real time through a simple, red, amber and green code. It also shows locations of toilets and priority seating to limit people walking through carriages.

Louise added: “This is one of several measures we have put in place to keep people safe onboard, our seats are clearly labelled with spaced out seating and we have a dedicated cleaner on every journey. We are currently limiting the number of tickets available to maintain social distancing and this technology will make it easier for people to decide which carriage to sit in.”

The timetable will start with two services in each direction on weekdays with an additional northbound service on Fridays only, and three services north and south on Saturdays and Sundays. From 17th May, the number of Hull Trains services will increase. 
Timetables available here:

Friday, 9 April 2021

Northern Class 195's Suffering Yaw Damper Failures

A number of Northern class 195's have been temporarily withdrawn following yaw damper failures. The yaw dampers are said to be snapping off from the body mounts and so far 22 units are rumored to be affected. So far all other units have been cleared for further operation. 

The units are said to be giving a poor ride and that noises are coming from the underside.

When class 158's were first introduced they suffered identical problems which resulted in more substantial yaw damper mounting brackets having to be fitted, which was a major exercise.

CAF 331s and 397s and also Caledonian Sleeper and TPE Mark 5 loco-hauled stock.which are of similar design could also be affected.

A yaw damper is a transverse mounted shock absorber, used to prevent railcars and locomotives from swaying excessively from side to side. Yaw dampers prevent rail vehicles from striking station platforms and reduce the gap that must be left between the vehicle and the platform.

Thursday, 8 April 2021

BVG Confirms Order for 198 ADL Enviro500 Double Deck Buses

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”) has announced that Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (“BVG”) has exercised options for 198 Enviro500 double deck buses, to be delivered to the German capital by the end of 2022. ADL will build these buses in its factories in the United Kingdom.

ADL delivered the first two Enviro500 double deckers to BVG in October 2020 see here
 as part of a multi-year framework contract signed in 2018. 
Following the successful completion of a testing programme with this initial pair of vehicles, BVG’s supervisory board approved the conversion of options for another 198 buses into firm orders, taking the fleet to 200. 
Options for a further 230 Enviro500 double deckers remain in the contract.

Berlin’s new generation of iconic yellow double deck buses is the first to have been designed in Britain by ADL, the world’s leading supplier of double deck buses. 
Production of all 198 units will take place in the manufacturer’s facilities in the United Kingdom, with the Scarborough site in Yorkshire to lead final assembly.

Once delivered, they will be supported locally by an experienced team operating out of ADL’s recently opened Berlin office, service workshop and parts warehouse. ADL will increase its investment in Berlin to underpin the fleet roll-out and support its European expansion, and recruitment is underway for additional team members.

Berlin’s Enviro500 are 13.8 metres long and 4.06 metres tall. With three doors and two staircases, they facilitate rapid boarding and alighting on busy urban services for up to 112 passengers, 80 of them seated, while minimising road footprint.

Paul Davies, ADL President & Managing Director, said: “This fantastic news is testament to the incredible efforts of the hugely talented team that we have here at ADL, who have yet again demonstrated that they can innovate and execute on highly complex product development projects. 
The successful results of BVG’s testing programme and the award of this milestone contract are yet another ringing endorsement of our global double deck expertise and customer focus.

“We are delighted to confirm that we will build these buses in Britain to help underpin our skilled jobs and apprenticeships.”


Wednesday, 7 April 2021

New Railway Art Unveiled in Darlington

A new art installation has been unveiled in Darlington to help celebrate the town’s rich railway heritage. The piece of public art takes pride of place on a re-designed roundabout on Haughton Road, a key route into the town centre.

Created by regional artist Andrew McKeown, the artwork features four signs depicting key locomotives from Darlington’s past and present. The designs are influenced by an example of railway signage held in Darlington’s Head of Steam railway museum and feature locomotives with particular significance to the town – Locomotion No.1, Derwent, Tornado and Prince of Wales. 

Image shows:  Cllr Mike Renton, David Elliott The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, Cllr Heather Scott Leader of Darlington Council, Ross Chisholm Friends of Stockton and Darlington Railway, Sculptor Andrew McKeown, Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen, Paul Bruce The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust – DBC

Manufactured in metal and painted in traditional style, the signs include the names of the locomotives and the dates they came – or are set to come – into service. Special lighting has also been installed to enhance the artwork. The project has seen the council’s heritage and highways teams work alongside The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust and the Friends of the Stockton and Darlington Railway Group from the initial concept and design to the finished product.

Paul Bruce from The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust which built Tornado and is building Prince of Wales in Darlington, enthused, “We are delighted to have been part of this project which showcases Darlington’s rich past and also its exciting present in terms of rail heritage. Each of these locomotives in the installation shows how Darlington has been at the forefront and heart of locomotive development over the past two centuries. The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust is committed to the continued production of cutting-edge design steam locomotives in Darlington and we welcome the chance to be involved in this project and to celebrate the success of our locomotives Tornado and Prince of Wales.”

Councillor Heather Scott, Leader of Darlington Borough Council, said, “This exciting project sends out a positive statement to residents and visitors that Darlington is proud of its railway heritage, past and present. 
We need to look beyond the difficult times that the pandemic has placed us in and look ahead to a brighter future where we can celebrate our strengths as a borough, our rich railway heritage and our exciting future. This artwork will enrich our strong rail heritage offering and help to prepare the way to our local and regional celebrations of the bicentenary of the birth of the railways in 2025.”

Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen responded, “While we’re investing more than £100million in Darlington and are creating good quality, well-paid jobs for local people in the town, it’s also important to recognise its rich heritage. This great installation will be one of many exciting celebrations we’re helping to deliver as part of the 200th anniversary of the first modern passenger railway, born right here.”

Niall Hammond, Chair of the Friends of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, said, “The Friends are delighted that this project has taken shape as part of a significant and ever-expanding programme of work taking place in the lead up to the 200th anniversary of the Stockton & Darlington Railway, which opened on 27th September 1825 and marked the beginning of the modern railway age. We would like to thank everyone who made this possible, and, in particular, Friend Geoff Birse, whose carefully researched and accurate 3D drawings informed the Locomotion No. 1 sculpture. These art works link railways past with railways present and future and will serve to remind people of their proud heritage every time they pass by as they go about their daily lives.’

Artist Andrew McKeown added, ‘’The giant steel locomotion signs that I have designed, will celebrate Darlington’s fame as the birthplace of the railways. I am honoured to be a part of this local project which proudly welcomes visitors to Darlington.’’

Photos by Paul Bruce unless otherwise stated.

Tuesday, 6 April 2021

Solaris Delivers Urbino Electric Buses to Bonn

Solaris has delivered three 'Urbino 18' electric buses to Stadtwerke Bonn Bus und Bahn (SWB). The deployment of new electric buses will allow the city to reduce CO2 emissions by up to 200 tonnes, and NOx emissions - by 430 kilograms every year.

Anja Wenmakers, the Managing Director of SWB Bus und Bahn, commented
“The future is electric. We stick to our step-by-step plan of transitioning the fleet towards zero-
emission transport and we keep investing in comfortable and quiet electric buses which, thanks to low CO2 emission levels, are locally neutral for the environment,” 

The new buses come with the guarantee of achieving a driving range of 200 km on a single charge.  Meeting these requirements 
over a usage period of 12 years will be achieved thanks to the application of the new generation of Solaris’ High Energy batteries. 
The total battery capacity of the batteries installed in the buses for Bonn comes to over 550 kWh meaning that the vehicles will be able to effortlessly cover the range stipulated, irrespective of weather or road conditions, with the heating or the air-conditioning switched on and with a full set of passengers on board.

“Contrary to other transport companies, we rely exclusively on long-range electric buses. That is why Bonn does not have to invest in charging outlets spread across the city,” adds Anja Wenmakers.

The drive unit in the Urbino 18 electric bus consists of an electric axle with two integrated motors boasting a power of 125 kW each. The vehicles have a purely electrical heating system, whereas the temperature comfort in the buses is ensured by efficient and environmentally friendly air conditioning featuring a heat pump. The device uses heat drawn in from the outside to reach the right vehicle temperature.

Over the past months, the bus depot in Friesdorf witnessed the setup of a new charging infrastructure. The batteries of the articulated electric buses are charged there overnight, using plug-in connectors. 
The charging outlets were created based on binding standards and are compatible with every vehicle type recharged with direct current. The overnight charging mode allows for the deployment, by SWB, of electric buses to nearly all bus routes.

The articulated electric buses can hold up to 100 passengers. Catering to the client’s wishes, Solaris has designed a completely new seat layout, adding an additional bench for three passengers in the rear of the vehicle. 
This solution allowed to raise the number of seats on board of the buses to 44, many of which will be accessible from the low floor, which makes it easier to travel for persons with reduced mobility. Also, the new buses will offer a total of 21 double USB ports for passengers to recharge their mobile devices.

While ordering the buses, the public transport operator also considered the safety and work comfort of drivers. The buses supplied by Solaris feature state-of-the-art assistance systems, such as MobilEye Shield+. This device allows the driver to see more thanks to cameras placed outside of the vehicle; these cameras detect pedestrians and cyclists situated in the blind spot of the vehicle. This is particularly important during turns, when visibility is impaired. What is more, one of the buses has cameras in lieu of conventional side mirrors.

SWB Bus und Bahn plans to convert its fleet to one using solely alternative drive technologies, so as to make all regular transport services environmentally neutral.

“The articulated electric buses of Solaris are emission-free, silent vehicles. SWB Bus und Bahn invests in innovative mobility solutions. We are proud that, thanks to the trust placed in us by our client, we can be part of the transformation of municipal transport in Bonn,” explains Christian Goll, managing director of Solaris Deutschland GmbH.

"Since 2013 Solaris has so far delivered 200 electric buses to its German clients. Solaris is Europe’s leading e-mobility provider when it comes to public transport"

Monday, 5 April 2021

WrightBus to Receive £11.2 million Government Funding Towards Hydrogen Buses

The British government is investing a total of £54 million in H2 technology development, including the amount meant for the Wrightbus hydrogen buses. According to the government, the investment will generate 10,000 jobs throughout the United Kingdom.

The company has already been hiring as the demand for H2 powered buses has been growing and is expected to continue in that direction. It recently added a number of new positions to its workforce at the start of the year. According to Jo Bamford, chair of Wrightbus, that additional funding will not only safeguard the jobs that have already been created, but it will also open up new positions.
The government funds are aimed to make Wrightbus hydrogen buses more affordable to produce.

The idea is to use the money to further develop technology to manufacture low-cost hydrogen powered public transportation buses at the Ballymena facility.

The manufacturer has already received an order for zero-emission and low-emission vehicles from the company. According to Bamford, the funds will also be used toward the installation of a center of excellence for zero-emission technology at the Ballymena site.

“It will safeguard more than 1,000 skilled jobs and will allow us to create more than 3,000 additional jobs over the next 10 years, giving a significant boost to the wider economy in Northern Ireland,” said Bamford.

Beyond the funding for the Wrightbus hydrogen buses, other projects to receive the funds include one in Warwickshire in England, as well as one in Cwmbran in Wales. The investments were announced by Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng. The general purpose of the funds beyond boosting employment opportunities is to promote technologies that will help the United Kingdom move closer to its climate targets. Hydrogen is expected to play an important role in that effort to decarbonize.


Sunday, 4 April 2021

Pacer Arrives at Bradford Primary School

A retired Pacer train carriage – which has served northern communities for more than three decades – will find a new home at Fagley Primary School, Bradford.

Donated by owner Porterbrook, the carriage will be transformed by the school into a science lab for students, to promote STEM learning.

Built in Derby in 1986, the carriage has covered 3,227,769 miles in passenger service. It was delivered on Saturday morning, 27 March and welcomed by representatives from Fagley School Council.

Fagley Primary School won the Pacer carriage in the Department for Transport (DfT) sponsored ‘Transform a Pacer’ competition. Fagley were selected for their creativity and their potential to engage with and serve the local community.

The 17-metre-long, 19-tonne vehicle was delivered to the school on a low-loader truck and plinthed on railway track donated by Network Rail.

Fagley Primary School is the first of three winners of the DfT Transform a Pacer competition to receive their carriage. The other winners are Airedale NHS Trust and Platform 1 – a Huddersfield mental health charity. They will receive their carriages in coming months.

Fagley School Headteacher, Chris Parfitt said:

“The staff and pupils of Fagley are incredibly excited about the delivery of the carriage, and the opportunities it will afford us to promote STEM learning.”

“We are grateful to both the Department for Transport and Porterbrook, for allowing us to repurpose this train carriage to extend its life and bring joy to our students. It will make a real difference to the school and the local community.”

Porterbrook Chief Executive Mary Grant said:

“Our Pacer trains have connected communities across Yorkshire over many years. Now that they have left frontline passenger service, I am proud that one of these vehicles will have a new lease of life supporting the education of young people.”

“As good corporate citizens of Britain’s railway we are committed to whole life asset management, and repurposing retired rolling stock is just one way that Porterbrook can help make Britain’s railway more sustainable. We hope the teachers and children at Fagley Primary enjoy their new Pacer classroom.”

Saturday, 3 April 2021

First Bus orders 126 BYD ADL Buses to Bring Glasgow Fleet to 150 Electrics

Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) and BYD UK have jointly announced that their electric vehicle partnership, has received a firm order from First Bus for a further 126 zero-emission buses for Glasgow, comprising 91 double deck and 35 single deck buses. 

All are part-funded by the Scottish Government. The order is the largest ever for electric buses in Scotland.

ADL is a subsidiary of leading independent global bus manufacturer NFI Group Inc. (NFI), while BYD is a global leader in batteries, energy management and electric mobility.

The BYD ADL partnership has taken the order from First Bus after the operator’s bid for funding in the Scottish Government’s latest round of Scottish Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme was successful. 
Using BYD’s battery electric driveline technology, ADL will assemble the buses at its factory in Falkirk, ensuring the investment benefits the local economy in Scotland’s Central Belt.

First Bus has opted for 91 BYD ADL Enviro400EV double deck buses, each of which will be 10.8m long, and 35 single deck BYD ADL Enviro200EV with a length of 11.6m each. These new buses will all be introduced to the Glasgow city bus network by March 2023.

They will join two BYD ADL Enviro200EV that have been operating since January 2020 as well as 22 similar single deck buses ordered in February 2021 for delivery ahead of the UN’s COP26 climate summit, taking the company’s electric bus fleet in Scotland’s largest city to 150 vehicles, all of which will be based at the operator’s Caledonia depot where they will be charged at night.

Janette Bell, First Bus’s Managing Director said, “As leaders in sustainable mobility, we are fully aligned with the Government’s ambitions for a zero-carbon bus fleet and have already committed to this by 2035. We will continue to ensure that our progress doesn’t just exceed the expectation outlined in the Strategy, but that it also puts the expectations of our customers front and centre.”

Andrew Jarvis, Managing Director for First Glasgow, said, “We have led the way with bus operators in Glasgow as a key partner of Glasgow City Council for the country’s first ever LEZ rollout and this latest announcement helps us to deliver shared objectives and make up lost time due to the pandemic.”

Paul Davies, ADL President & Managing Director, said, “This is a very large investment by First Bus in new electric buses and is yet another step on their journey to achieve a zero-emission fleet by 2035, and we look forward to working closely with them to get these new buses onto the streets of Glasgow at pace.

“These zero emission buses will be built at our factory in Falkirk and it is great news for Scotland that this investment is being recycled into the local economy, allowing the benefits to be felt across our communities whilst helping to underpin skilled jobs.”

Commenting on the zero-emissions benefits of eMobility, BYD UK Managing Director, Frank Thorpe, said, “Increasingly for central and local government, eMobility has emerged as the most viable method of delivering sustainable, emissions-free public transport.
I’m delighted the Scottish Government is backing eMobility and I hope further funding is forthcoming across the UK. We firmly believe the future of the transport industry lies in the development of New Energy vehicles,” he said, “specifically, battery-powered pure-electric vehicles. 
Electric buses represent the best long-term solution for public transport operators, delivering tangible, sustainable benefits today.”

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”) is a global leader in the design and manufacture of double deck and single deck buses and is also the UK’s largest bus and coach manufacturer.

ADL offers vehicles under the brands of Alexander Dennis and Plaxton, and has over 31,000 vehicles in service in the UK, Europe, Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Mexico, Canada and the United States


 BYD UK was established in London, UK in March 2013 and moved to Iver, Buckinghamshire, England in June 2018 to further develop its business.
It is primarily engaged in providing British customers with a series of new energy buses together with interrelated after sales service. Its main focus is to provide UK customers with BYD new energy solutions, including electric vehicles, rechargeable batteries, solar panels, energy storage systems, rail transit and other new energy products, as well as related after-sales services.

BYD Company Ltd. (Build Your Dreams) is one of China’s largest privately-owned enterprises. Since its inception in 1995, the company quickly developed solid expertise in rechargeable batteries and became a relentless advocate of sustainable development, successfully expanding its renewable energy solutions globally with operations in over 50 countries and regions. It is a worldwide industry leader in the energy and transportation sectors and is listed on the Hong Kong and Shenzhen Stock Exchanges.

Friday, 2 April 2021

Churnet Valley Railway 'Reconnect Leek' Developments

 The Churnet Valley Railway has announced the latest developments in re-opening the line to Leek, a much talked about project that is finally looking to be achieved in the immediate future after over 40 years of false dawns.

Following the announcement of a £1.4m grant from the European Agriculture Fund for Rural Development last year, and despite the disruption caused by the global pandemic, work has been going on behind the scenes to prepare the contracts and contractors for this project.

The Churnet Valley website says "We are pleased to announce a new partnership with Mosaic Rail Ltd based in Crewe who will be providing Signalling Design and support services to the project. 
Signalling Director of Mosaic Rail Ltd, Matt Wilton commented “We are delighted to be working on this project with the Churnet Valley Railway - this will give an opportunity to integrate modern technology and design systems into signalling systems used from the bygone days of the railway as part of a Heritage Railway operation” .

Mosaic Rail have offices in both the UK and Hyderabad, India and have ongoing projects in the UK, India and Australia.

The centrepiece of this project will be the re-introduction to service of the Grade II listed signal box at Leek Brook Junction, something that will also include the reinstatement of the former triangle for the first time since 1935 – and make it the first fully signalled original triangle within UK preservation.

Externally restored with Heritage Lottery Funding in 2014, this reinstatement will make Leek Brook Junction the oldest operational first-generation style of McKenzie & Holland signal box in the UK; M&H were used as contractors by the original North Staffordshire Railway Company before the railway company adopted its own style in 1875. 

Leek Brook box was formally completed in 1872 though some records date the box as early as 1867, and structurally it remains in as-built condition at its original location.

Greg Wilson, Managing Director of the Churnet Valley Railway, has been spearheading the latest extension and is delighted with this new partnership. “Partnerships are the fundamentals of business none more so than in the Heritage Rail sector. This partnership ensures that we will have a signalling system with safety at its core, making use of our Heritage assets whilst also providing a valuable insight in to how previous generations signalled trains”.

Churnet Valley website here

Thursday, 1 April 2021

ScotRail Gives Over-50s a Welcome Boost

ScotRail’s 28,000 Club 50 members are to be given a welcome boost after the train operator announced plans to extend their memberships for free until the end of April 2022. 
Anyone who signed up for Club 50 between 17 April 2019 and 17 March 2020, will qualify for the extension.
The scheme is open to the over 50s and has proven so popular before Covid that membership soared by almost 10 per cent in 2019.

However, the coronavirus pandemic has meant members have been unable to take full advantage of their benefits since March 2020.

They’ve lost out on year-round discounts, including 20 per cent off Advance and Off-Peak tickets booked online, or a 10 per cent discount buying at the station or over the phone.

Club 50 members are allowed to travel as often as they like and anywhere they like in Scotland for a discounted set price within the offer periods.

Qualifying Club 50 members won’t have to apply for their extension. Memberships will be issued automatically, and members just need to download and activate it on their Club 50 Smartcard. This ensures no-one will miss out on the chance to travel around Scotland when government guidelines say it is safe to do so.

Free memberships will be issued to qualifying members on Monday, 26 April. They will be notified by email containing instructions on how to activate their free membership.

All passengers, including Club 50 members, must continue to observe Scottish Government advice and restrictions, including where appropriate, maintaining physical distancing and wearing a face covering, while travelling with ScotRail.

Alex White, ScotRail’s Chief Operating Officer said:

“We wanted to make sure our valued Club 50 members didn’t lose out through no fault of their own due to the coronavirus pandemic which has seen them unable to access most of their fare discounts.

“So, we think it’s only right that we extend their memberships, free of charge, for another year up to the end of April 2022.

“This means they’ll be able to take advantage of regular discounts of up to 20 per cent off fares as well as travelling around Scotland with exclusive Club 50 flat fare offers. It’s our way of telling them how much they mean to us and we think it’ll be a welcome boost during this really difficult time.”

Michael Matheson, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity said:

“I welcome ScotRail’s extension of its Club 50 railcard which will provide members with an additional 12 months free membership.

“It is right that ScotRail has recognised the restrictions placed on rail travel due to COVID-19, meaning cardholders have not benefited fully from their Club 50 memberships.

“This extension will benefit passengers, while helping secure patronage and revenue to the railway, as we continue to progress through the Scottish Government’s Route Map to Recovery.”


Wednesday, 31 March 2021

Multi-million Pound Scheme for Zero-emission Buses Across England Launched

On 30th March Transport Secretary Grant Shapps launched a multimillion-pound scheme to enable local transport authorities to roll out zero-emission buses as the government continues to build back greener.

Up to £120 million is being made available through the Zero Emission Buses Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme, which will allow local transport authorities to:

Bid for funding to purchase zero-emission buses
Reduce the carbon emissions from their local public transport
Improve air quality in towns and cities across England

The funding will deliver up to 500 zero-emission buses, supporting the government’s wider commitment to introduce 4,000 zero-emission buses.

The funding comes from the wider £3 billion fund announced by the government on 15th March to improve bus services in our national bus strategy.

The major new strategy – the biggest shake-up to the standard of bus services in the country for a generation – will see passengers benefit from:

Lower, simpler flat fares
More frequent services
Requirements that will see councils set yearly targets for improving the reliability of services

To ensure the funding from today’s zero-emission-bus fund is used quickly to help provide British bus manufacturers with an injection of orders, the government is calling on consortia of local transport authorities, energy companies, bus operators and manufacturers to come together to work up strong cases for funding. 
This will help make sure that buses are built, bought and being driven on our roads efficiently to the benefit of local economies and communities.

Bidders will have until 21 May 2021 to submit expressions of interest for a fast-track process that will allow local transport authorities with well-developed proposals to move quickly in their bid to secure funding.

Link to Apply for ZEBRA funding.

However, the government has said it wants all local authorities to have the opportunity to submit bids and, therefore, those who need more time to develop their proposals will have until 25 June 2021 to submit expressions of interest.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said:

We’ve set out our vision of how we’re going to make buses better in this country, and now we’re getting on with delivering it.

The launch of the scheme today means we’re giving businesses and local authorities the tools to help deliver the 4,000 zero-emission buses we said we would introduce, which will dramatically improve air quality in towns and cities across the country, helping us achieve our net-zero ambitions.

Silviya Barrett, Head of Policy, Research and Projects at Campaign for Better Transport, said:

Zero-emission buses are great news all round. As well as addressing climate change and air pollution, this funding will boost the bus manufacturing sector and give more passengers the best modern buses.

We’re glad that the government has appreciated the need to speed up the transition to zero-emission buses.

Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), said:

The BCC very much welcomes investment in initiatives that boost public transport infrastructure and the UK’s drive towards net-zero.

This is a welcome injection of cash and confidence for businesses in this sector and for towns and cities across the country. Access to affordable, reliable and greener public transport will be a key to rebuilding local economies.

The national bus strategy contains several pledges to improve the environmental friendliness of the country’s bus sector. This includes a consultation on the end date for sales of diesel buses, which was launched alongside the strategy.

This week's announcement comes as Coventry recently received the historic first pot of funding from the all-electric bus towns and cities competition, giving the city £50 million of funding to revolutionise its bus services and entirely replace their current fleet with electric buses.

It also comes as the government announces over £30 million of funding to support pioneering research into battery technology, the electric vehicle supply chain and hydrogen vehicles.

Twenty-two studies will receive a share of £9.4 million, including:

Proposals to build a plant in Cornwall that will extract lithium for use in electric vehicle batteries
A plant to build specialised magnets for electric vehicle motors in Cheshire
lightweight hydrogen storage for cars and vans in Loughborough

Funding from the ZEBRA scheme will help the UK build back greener as the government publishes its transport decarbonisation plan, setting out how all modes of transport – sea, rail, road and aviation – can help deliver net-zero by 2050.