Monday, 8 March 2021

Driverless Electric Bus On The Road in Spanish city of Málaga

In a pioneering project in mobility, an Irizar ie autonomous bus has been launched on the streets of Malaga. The Irizar ie bus, a 100% zero emissions electric vehicle can be driven in manual mode or automatic mode (autopilot). 

It is 12 metres long and has capacity for 60 passengers. This first autonomous bus is the result of the 'AutoMost Project' funded by the CDTI (Centre for Industrial Technological Development) of the Ministry of Economy of Spain.

The bus company Avanza is operating the vehicle with 11 partners, including the Irizar Group through Irizar e-mobility and Datik. The project also has the participation of the Polytechnic University of Madrid, Insia, CEIT-IK4 and the University of Vigo. 

Malaga will therefore become the first city in Europe to have an autonomous bus moving through its streets. It will do so from the port to the city centre and, in principle, will transfer cruise passengers arriving in the capital of Malaga. 

The bus uses a high-precision positioning and guidance system and is connected to a control centre from which specific instructions can be sent to each unit and the buses can be monitored and their itineraries accessed in real time. 
This is the first test of this type with a bus of this size in Spain. 

The major innovation of 'AutoMost Project' is that it puts a standard size vehicle into circulation in a real traffic situation in a city and not in a reserved space or in a restricted area. 


Sunday, 7 March 2021

Plans for Thai Restaurant Using MK 3 Coaches in Pitlochry

A unique new dining experience could soon be stationed in Pitlochry as a family bid to open a restaurant in two former train carriages.

Fergus and Isara McCallum and their daughter Mia, have submitted plans for the Thai restaurant to be situated in the Rie-Achan car park beside the town’s railway station.

The family hope to open the restaurant in two repurposed Mk 3 HST railway coaches built between 1977 and 1979.

The coaches have been repainted in their original British Rail blue and white external livery

Plans have been lodged to convert 40-year-old first class train carriages into a Thai restaurant beside Pitlochry station.  

Pharmaceuticals executive Fergus McCalIum and his Thai beautician wife Isara have bought two former InterCity 125 coaches, which continued to be operated by Great Western Railway in south west England until a few years ago.

They are of the same type and vintage as the carriages which ScotRail has refurbished as Inter7City trains which run through Pitlochry between Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness
– feet away from the McCallums’ planned venture.

Unlike older carriages which have been converted into cafes and restaurants in Dufftown, Glenfinnan and Grantown-on-Spey, the McCallums plan to restore their coaches to original decor from a more modern era.  

The carriages, Trailer Kitchen Buffet First (TFKB) 40807 and Trailer First (TF) 41161 owned by Porterbrook and latterly stored at long Marston, which were built in 1977-79, have been repainted in their original British Rail blue and white external livery by a specialist firm. 

The new owners have submitted a planning application for approval by Perth and Kinross Council, which includes re-laying a section of track for the carriages to stand on.

If permission is granted, it would be sited in a former rail marshalling yard which is now a car park to the north of the station. They hope to open by June.

The coaches include a first class dining car and a first class carriage upholstered in leather with a fantastic kitchen and servery.

The location is next to the railway in a conservation zone, hence the effort to use genuine carriages in genuine colours in a former siding."

Train leasing firm Porterbrook, which sold the carriages to the McCallums, said "that the carriages have always been very popular in passenger service and it is wonderful to see some of the creative ideas that will enable them to continue serving the community in a different role.”

Saturday, 6 March 2021

First Bus Prepares For COP26 With Order Of 22 BYD ADL ENVIRO200EV Electric Buses For Glasgow Network

Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) and BYD UK jointly announced that their electric vehicle partnership, the UK’s leading electric bus producer, has taken an order for 22 BYD ADL Enviro200EV electric single deck buses from First Bus.

The buses, which are part-funded by the Scottish Government, will be deployed in Glasgow in time for the COP26 United Nations’ Climate Change Conference, ahead of further electrification of the First Bus fleet in the city. This comes just seven months after First Bus announced its commitment to purchase no diesel buses after 2022 and to operate a fully zero-emission fleet by 2035.

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. 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.

The Scottish Government has supported First’s purchase of these 22 BYD ADL Enviro200EV through the first round of the Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme.

The new electric vehicles, which will be 11.6m long and seat up to 40 passengers each, will be based at the state-of-the-art First Bus Caledonia depot in Glasgow. Charging facilities have already been installed there as part of an earlier project, which also saw a pair of similar BYD ADL Enviro200EV introduced at the start of 2020, giving the company valuable experience in the operation of electric buses.

Andrew Jarvis, Managing Director for First Bus in Scotland, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this funding. Cleaner air is vitally important to all of us in society and we are determined to play our part in the communities that we serve. In January last year, we launched the city’s first electric buses on a commercial bus route since the 1960s and we are proud that we can now build upon this with another 22 fully electric vehicles, which will replace the oldest buses in our fleet to further improve air quality in the city of Glasgow. We have led the way with bus operators in Glasgow as a key partner with Glasgow City Council for the country’s first ever LEZ rollout and we have ambitious plans to help accelerate this process and make up for lost time due to the pandemic.”

Paul Davies, ADL President & Managing Director, said: “COP26 will be a showcase of Britain’s commitment to fighting climate change, and First’s new electric buses will be a testament to the initiative taken by the transport group to achieve a zero-emission fleet by 2035. Built in Scotland, these electric buses for Glasgow keep Scottish Government investment in the country to maximise the benefit to our communities, underpinning jobs and developing skills in clean vehicle technology.

Frank Thorpe, Managing Director at BYD UK, added: “Once again we have a high profile operator in a major British city making a firm commitment to eMobility. With BYD battery technology at the heart of these vehicles, First Bus can look forward to clean, reliable and efficient operation for years to come. Of course, we’re thrilled at the prospect of our vehicles taking centre stage during COP26,” he said, “although the real winners will be the people of Glasgow who are set to benefit from a new way of travelling around their great city – a way that is truly sustainable, as well as extremely safe and comfortable.”

Click here for details about COP26

Friday, 5 March 2021

Staycation Express Will Return for 2021

According to the Rail Charter Services website, trains will run again on the Settle & Carlisle line during the summer period of 2021.


The company say they have exciting plans for 2021 including an expanded route, new livery and new on-board services.

Last years services which ran between Appleby and Skipton were judged to be such a success that the company are now planning new extended services that reach Carlisle.

A 2+5 HST in a new livery will run trains from Skipton to Carlisle.

The full train will feature First-class seating with COVID-secure perspex screens separating seating areas. Enhanced catering facilities with at-seat dining will be offered as well as a buffet counter being offered.

Services will run between Skipton, Settle, Appleby and Carlisle will run every day (except Fridays) from Mid-July to Early September. Approximate timings below.

  • 0930 Appleby to Skipton
  • 1130 Skipton to Carlisle
  • 1500 Carlisle to Skipton
  • 1730 Skipton to Appleby

Click here 
to register for special fares on the all new Staycation Express, coming to England’s most scenic line in 2021!

Thursday, 4 March 2021

New Stagecoach Fare Structure Makes it Easier to Travel Across Scotland

From 7th March 2021, Stagecoach companies across Scotland will be introducing a simpler to understand range of tickets and fares. The new range will make it easier for passengers to be confident that they are always getting the best value travel for the journeys they make, and acknowledges the increased flexibility people are now looking for.

Amongst the improvements for customers will be the introduction of a new flexible ticket, the Flexi 5, offering five day tickets for the price of four, to help meet the changes in travel patterns when Covid-19 pandemic restrictions begin to ease. The Flexi 5 will be available via the Stagecoach mobile app. Customers will be able to purchase a bundle of five tickets and have the whole month to use them, offering better value and flexibility than the traditional weekly megarider ticket.

Public transport will continue to play a key role in meeting Scotland’s environmental targets, and the Scottish Government has committed to a green recovery from the pandemic. Stagecoach will be supporting this through the introduction of simpler, more consistent fares, easier to understand ticket types and, through the use of technology, is delivering new and more flexible products.

Throughout the pandemic Stagecoach has provided public transport links to key workers, to those accessing healthcare and education and to those travelling for other essential reasons. Stagecoach has also been working hard so that when the country begins to move steadily out of lockdown and back to normal day to day life, customers who may not have travelled for a while, will be welcomed together with new customers to their services.

Sam Greer, Stagecoach Regional Director for Scotland said "Stagecoach is a business well known for innovation and we have taken time over the past year to really understand from our customers, staff and the wider public how they want to travel in the future and how we can make it simpler for them to choose bus.

“With simpler to understand fares, more flexible tickets and the use of technology to allow customers to track where their bus is, including how busy your bus service could be through our App. This complements contactless payment facilities on all buses. Improving the range of our tickets available for purchase both online and through our app and introducing a range of bespoke solutions for business customers means we are well placed to welcome customers onto our services and play a key role in rebuilding the economy and reconnecting our communities when restrictions can be relaxed."


Wednesday, 3 March 2021


Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”),  has announced that its next generation double deck hydrogen bus will deliver a zero-emission range of up to 300 miles. It will be powered by a Ballard fuel cell power module through the efficient Voith Electrical Drive System (VEDS).

Designed and fully built in Britain, ADL’s next generation hydrogen double decker – which is being developed under the project name H2.0 and expected to be on the road before the end of the year – supports the development of skills in the growing clean vehicle technology sector and boosts the UK hydrogen economy, while delivering governments’ net zero targets through the carbon-neutral electrification of high-mileage bus routes.

H2.0 is ADL’s second-generation hydrogen platform, incorporating learnings from nationwide trials to set new standards for range and efficiency. It builds on more than 25 years of hydrogen experience of New Flyer, another NFI Group subsidiary and one of the global pioneers in hydrogen buses.

With hydrogen tanks and key components intelligently packaged by the engineers that developed the market’s widest range of clean buses, ADL’s next generation hydrogen bus is an integral vehicle design that perfectly balances weight and maximises saloon space.

Powered by a class-leading Ballard fuel cell power module, it continues ADL’s philosophy of working with only the best in their field. Specified to just the right power output, the fuel cells minimise fuel consumption and maximise performance for lowest total cost of ownership. With fewer higher volume tanks, H2.0 reduces maintenance effort while increasing fuel capacity to deliver increased zero emission range.

H2.0 uses the latest technology in the form of the Voith Electrical Drive System. This boosts energy regeneration during the braking phase and delivers increased efficiency that is further enhanced by advanced thermal management which uses excess heat from the fuel cells and driveline to heat the saloon, minimising additional power requirement.

ADL President & Managing Director, Paul Davies said: “H2.0 is going to be a milestone for zero emission technology with unrivalled efficiency that gives a class-leading range, perfect for high mileage routes that battery technology doesn’t cover.

“Designed and built in Britain, our next generation hydrogen bus will retain investment in our economy and boost skills in clean vehicle technology, a crucial sector for future development as the United Kingdom targets net zero by 2050.”

Tuesday, 2 March 2021

Northern’s New Trains Reach 10 Million-mile Landmark

Northern’s new trains have reached a remarkable milestone, having travelled 10 million miles across the network.

The brand-new electric Class 331s and diesel Class 195s – were first introduced for Northern customers in July 2019.

Now, with 100 trains carrying Northern customers through 11 different counties in the region, calling at more than 150 stations, they have clocked 10 million miles in just 20 months.

Tricia Williams, Northern’s Chief Operating Officer, said: “Our new trains are key to the transformation of rail travel in the north and it’s fantastic that so many customers will have experienced better journeys over so many miles.

“Our commitment to modernising the railway is absolute and the £500 million investment in new trains – providing faster, more comfortable and more efficient journeys is testament to the work carried out by Northern to deliver significant improvements.”

The CAF-built trains feature free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, at-seat power and customer information/media screens with real-time information. They are also more spacious and fully accessible, with spaces for wheelchairs and bikes. 

Northern’s new trains are part of the largest modernisation programme in a generation that is transforming travel in the north of England. The wider modernisation campaign – A Better Way to Go – has not only seen the introduction of new trains, the operator has also fully refurbished its existing fleet of trains and delivered millions of pounds of improvements at its stations.

Tricia added: “Despite the difficult year – dominated by the coronavirus pandemic – we have made great strides to improve our network. We have been busy during the months when our customers have been away from the railway and have delivered enhancements across all parts of our business. 
When our customers return, I’m confident they will notice the improvements we’ve made and will clearly see we are giving them a better way to go.”

Monday, 1 March 2021

Hanwell Historic TfL Rail Station no Longer “At Risk” After Renovations Return it to Former Glory

Grade II listed Hanwell station will be removed from the Heritage at Risk Register by Historic England following extensive renovation work by TfL.

The nineteenth-century station, which will be served by the Elizabeth line, has been upgraded to meet modern standards while retaining its historic character through careful restoration.

The station is now more customer friendly with improved accessibility and customer information, and new spacious facilities.

The original station buildings have been repaired, re-painted and restored to the traditional Great Western Railway cream and golden brown colour scheme.

Historic signs on the platforms have also been carefully restored, and on the staircases, timber handrails and cast-iron balustrades have been given a new lease of life with lighting upgraded to brighter, energy-saving LEDs fitted in the traditional hanging lanterns.

A derelict building on platform 2 has been turned into a new, spacious waiting room with beautiful period features, while the waiting room on platform 3 has also been refurbished to match.

New customer information screens displaying live travel information including local bus departure times now make the customer experience even better.

The accessibility of the station has been transformed through this refurbishment. Customers using Hanwell TfL Rail station now benefit from step-free access from street to platform after the installation of lifts.

The lift on platform 2 was built using specialist equipment and required hand excavation over a period of weeks so that the historic timber canopy could be left in place. Additionally, the customer toilet has been converted into an accessible facility and an accessible ticket office window has been installed.

The station will be one of 41 step-free stations on the Elizabeth line when the railway opens for passengers in the first half of 2022.

Hanwell Station was originally opened by the Great Western Railway in 1838, although the buildings on site today date from a station rebuild in 1877. The station was Grade II listed in 1972 but was already falling into a poor state of repair at that point.

Despite having had some work done in 2000, deteriorated signage and peeling paint on platform canopies and buildings showed that the station was in need of a lot of work when TfL and its operator MTR Elizabeth line took over the management of the station in 2017.

In 2020, London Borough of Ealing pedestrianised the area outside of the station to create a paved forecourt, improving access to the station for those walking and cycling. Both Ealing and Historic England provided advice and added expertise on the station conservation project.
Conservation project

Following the completion of the improvement works, Historic England and London Borough of Ealing have agreed Hanwell can be removed from the Heritage at Risk Register, and the change will be reflected in the new register, which is due to be published in October.

Peter Herridge, TfL's Station Enhancement Manager, said: 'Our team, including colleagues from our operator MTR Elizabeth line, has worked closely with the Railway Heritage Trust, the London Borough of Ealing and Network Rail to carry out these improvements while preserving the rich heritage of this 19th century station.

'Our friends at Didcot Railway Centre also provided some invaluable guidance and inspiration to help us with the finishing touches.

'It was a real collaborative effort and delivered not only step-free access, but vital new facilities that customers will benefit from for years to come. Working with the local borough's conservation officers in Ealing, we were able to get consent to undertake this restoration.

'Getting to the stage of the station being removed from Historic England's Heritage at Risk Register shows that this work was well worth the effort.'

Emily Gee, Regional Director for Historic England in London and the South East, said: 'Hanwell has been given a new lease of life thanks to the careful restoration and improvement works by TfL over the last few years.

'The Victorian character of the station really shines through and we hope all users appreciate the new spaces and intricate details now revealed for many years to come.'

Julian Bell, leader of Ealing Council, said: 'Preserving Ealing's outstanding heritage has always been a priority for us and I am delighted to have been able to work alongside our partners TfL to ensure the historic features of Hanwell station are protected long into the future.

'Not only has the renovation eliminated any risk of losing this valuable local heritage, the station has also been upgraded and modernised with new lifts, waiting room, toilets and a refurbished platform.

'Working with TfL, we have also completed work to improve access to the station for those walking and cycling by creating a paved forecourt.

'We will continue to work with TfL to improve transport options for local commuters, improve access and reduce journey times wherever possible.'
Wider programme of accessibility improvements

These upgrades have been part of a wider programme of accessibility improvements across the TfL Rail network in preparation for the Elizabeth line, which will bring an extra 1.5 million people to within 45 minutes of central London.

As well as opening up more of the transport network for those with accessibility needs, the transformational railway will reduce journey times, create additional capacity and protect social distancing.

Hanwell has also benefitted from a doubling in service frequency, moving from two to four trains per hour in either direction and shorter, old trains have been replaced with longer, modern, more spacious Elizabeth line trains providing a significant increase in capacity.

The latest government guidance requires everyone to stay at home wherever possible, with TfL services continuing to run for those who need to travel for legally permitted reasons.

This includes travel to work where it cannot be undertaken from home, to shop for necessities, seek medical assistance, visit a support bubble or for education.

⇊ Two Postings Today.... Scroll Down for our Second One..... ⇊

First Irizar Integral, Converted to Meet PSVAR Accessibility Standards, Arrives in UK

Irizar is responding to the changing demands of the coach industry by offering factory-conversions to meet the Public Service Vehicle Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) standard on new and used, Irizar i6 and i6S UK vehicles.

All coaches converted by Irizar are supplied with a Certificate of Approval and carry a two-year Irizar guarantee on the conversion together with maintaining the 5 year structural guarantee supplied from new

To guarantee a reliable and durable solution through the conversion process, Irizar have carried out a comprehensive design analysis of the vehicle structure. This includes a finite element study which identifies, through 3D mapping, where stresses and strains may occur on the coach while in operation, ensuring that all necessary reinforcements are in place. 
This robust process means that the conversion will be fully compliant with the ECE R66.02 rollover regulation, withstand the test of time and protect residual values in the future.

Irizar i6 PSVAR Factory Conversion

PSVAR conversions at the Irizar factory include:

Masats KS7 cassette type semi-automatic wheelchair lift, side mounted within the luggage compartment.

Wheelchair access door.

Floor tracking with a Tecam quick-release seat system and appropriate restraints.

Front, side and rear Hanover destination signage, with a bright and modern white led text.

Sunday, 28 February 2021

Antimicrobial Coating That Protects Surfaces From Spread of Coronavirus For Up to a Year, Applied to a Fleet of 24 Brand New MAN Buses

 VT-Arriva, the Hungarian arm of one Europe’s largest public transport companies, recently inked a fresh deal with Resysten, a company that manufactures an antimicrobial coating that protects surfaces from the spread of coronavirus for up to a year, to apply its product to a fleet of 24 brand new MAN buses. The deal follows a prior one in 2020, in which Resysten was hired to coat a fleet of 450 buses.

ATP tests were carried out on the brand new buses ahead of the application of Resysten’s coating (and before they were used by the public), and once again 48 days after its application, following extensive use in Hungary’s transit networks. The tests showed a reduction of 97% in the presence of pathogens on surfaces including ticketing machines, driver cabins, steering wheels, handles, doors and windows, highlighting Resysten’s astonishing performance on public vehicles fresh out of the factory.

Resysten is the most advanced photocatalytic hygienic coating in the world today. Upon contact with light, the sprayed solution produces hydrogen peroxide, which prevents the presence of pathogens on any surface. It has been developed to integrate into any surface on a molecular level, meaning that it cannot be removed by conventional cleaning methods and so it remains active for up to a year. These two key properties result in surfaces that protect users and their environment from the spread of contamination.

The product was Initially developed in Budapest in 2014 to stop the spread of hospital acquired infections and flu outbreaks in public transport networks. Since March 2020, at the beginning of the lockdown, the company prioritised extensive testing to discover that it is also effective against the spread of Covid-19.

Early adopters include Budapest’s airport and Metro transport network (including all 27km of its escalator handrail) as well as Hungary’s public hospitals. Resysten’s latest customers also include Audi, Auchan, T-Mobile, Mylan Pharmaceutical, Philip Morris International, Stadler, Cognizant, Europart and the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague.

To date, the company has treated a total 150,000 square metres of surfaces, and has struck partnerships in 35 countries around the world.

For more information about Resysten Protective Coatings please visit

Saturday, 27 February 2021

Luton Dart Latest

Construction of the pioneering Luton DART that will provide faster, more reliable and greener seamless transfers between Luton Parkway Station and London Luton Airport has reached a major milestone with work under way to install its passenger carriages

​The fast transit’s energy-efficient, cable-hauled propulsion system is already in place, and now the carriages are being carefully lifted onto the guide rails.

The trains will then shortly be seen moving for the first time along the 2.1km route between the terminal and Luton Airport Parkway station, on their way to the maintenance units for works to prepare them for service.

The Luton DART is being delivered by Luton Council’s airport company London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL) to provide a step change in the passenger experience for train customers travelling to and from the airport on fast East Midlands and Thameslink services, and support ongoing modal shift from road to rail.

Scheduled to open during 2022, ongoing restrictions permitting, it will enable rail journeys of just half an hour between London Luton Airport and St Pancras International by the fastest trains.

Graham Olver, Chief Executive Officer of LLAL, said: “The Luton DART brings a new competitive advantage to our airport’s position in the London system, supports the ongoing prosperity it brings to our town and the region, and demonstrates our ambition to become the greenest as well as the number one community airport in the UK.

“Latest photos and video from the site confirm the amazing progress that has been made throughout an extremely challenging year.”

Councillor Andy Malcolm, Chair of LLAL and Luton Council’s portfolio holder for finance, said: “It is without doubt the biggest and most complex construction project that either the council or LLAL have undertaken to date, and a key part of our long-term goal for 45 per cent of passengers to access the airport by public transport.

“For the project to be so far advanced in the midst of a pandemic is an incredible effort by everyone involved and testament to the importance of this project not just for our airport but also for our town.”

Despite significant challenges posed by coronavirus, safe working on the Luton DART has continued throughout 2020 by the main contractors Volker Fitzpatrick-Kier (VFK) and Doppelmayr.

More than 1,800 people, including 620 within Luton and a 20-mile radius, have already worked around 1.4 million hours on the scheme. The Luton DART has employed 38 apprentices and, through its industry-leading construction skills hub, provided bespoke training for more than 720 people to gain work experience and qualifications that will help them enter the construction industry.

At the heart of the construction are the steel guide rails, now fully installed and comprising 8km of running rails secured with more than 5,700 post-drill anchors.

The propulsion system at DART’s Parkway station is powered by two 3.8m diameter drive wheels weighing around 12 tonnes each. The 4km cables wrap around drums weighing 23 tonnes each, with the gearbox assembly units tipping the scales at an additional nine tonnes.

Network Rail continues to work on construction of the new overbridge, escalators and canopies at Luton Airport Parkway station that will allow train passengers to easily continue the next phase of their journey. Hoardings placed on the platforms for the duration of these works will soon be removed, and work will continue cladding the bridge and constructing a new waiting shelter.

This clears the way for VFK to start the scheme’s final major building work, constructing the link building between the DART and mainline stations at Parkway.

Installation of the fully-equipped central control room will also complete this month, with its power distribution and control systems comprising two 11kV transformers and switch panels.

All told, the system’s cabling amounts to some 57km: comprising 12km of fibre optics; 16km of power conductors; 4km of earthing cables; and a further 25km of signal cables along the track and in both stations.

Cllr Malcolm added: “The Luton DART underlines our commitment to invest in our airport so we can continue to drive economic and employment growth for the town and the region, reduce our environmental impact and improve people’s lives with the support of the vital community partners that we fund.

“In this way the Luton DART will make a tremendous difference not only to our airport’s passengers but also the communities that rely on its success.”

See our previous posting here  and click here for video fly through of the route as at Jan 2021

Friday, 26 February 2021

RMT Strike Action to Force Overtime Payments Increase

The RMT’s plan for strike action by ScotRail conductors to force an increase in overtime payments is wrong for staff at a time of financial crisis for the railway, ScotRail has said.

Despite all ScotRail jobs being protected thanks to emergency Scottish Government support, with no staff placed on furlough or any cuts to basic wages or terms and conditions, the RMT is balloting conductors for strike action in an attempt to force an increase in overtime payments. 
The ballot began on 18th February 2021 and runs until 11 March 2021.

ScotRail is currently facing the most significant crisis in its history. Passenger numbers and revenue remain more than 90 per cent down compared to before the pandemic. Coronavirus restrictions, including the instruction for people to work from home, has resulted in the number of people travelling with ScotRail to plummet.

An emergency measures agreement (EMA) with the Scottish Government means ScotRail can continue to operate services for key workers and keep its 5,200 staff in jobs. Between March and September 2020, the Scottish Government invested an additional £215million in subsidy to allow ScotRail to operate a service for key workers and pay staff wages. Further additional subsidy will be needed to support the services that the organisation provides until the current EMA ends on 31 March 2021.

RMT bosses moved the goal posts on this matter in recent weeks. Having first claimed to be in dispute with ScotRail over ‘top-up payments’, the RMT then changed the reason for the dispute to an entirely new claim that hadn’t been raised through the formal negotiating process.

ScotRail said that cancellations to services relied upon by doctors, nurses, care workers, and other key workers are likely if the RMT follows through on its proposed course of action.

David Simpson, ScotRail Operations Director, said:

“The RMT is jeopardising the jobs of thousands of railway workers.

“Strike action over increases in overtime payments would be wrong for staff and passengers when the railway faces the biggest financial crisis in its history and is almost entirely reliant on emergency taxpayer and public support to pay wages and keep people in jobs.

“Industrial action will only result in further questions about the justification for the funding that we are receiving and negative reaction from our passengers, which puts jobs at risk.

“Rather than creating division and making the railway a less attractive option for passengers, we need everyone to work together to rebuild ScotRail and create a more sustainable railway for the future.”

Thursday, 25 February 2021

Short-wheelbase Option of BYD ADL Enviro400EV Electric Double Decker Announced

Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) and BYD UK have jointly announced that their electric vehicle partnership, the UK’s leading electric bus producer, is introducing a shorter version of its successful BYD ADL Enviro400EV double decker.

With its more compact wheelbase, the 10.3m long model will increase manoeuvrability when navigating congested roads and tight corners.

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 partnership launched the double deck BYD ADL Enviro400EV in 2019, enabling the electrification of busy bus services. Over 450 of the standard 10.8m version have since been sold to operators in London and other UK cities.

Operators will now have the option of a new version that is just 10.3m long. This new length is achieved with a wheelbase that has been shortened by 50cm to a compact 5.4m, which benefits manoeuvrability in challenging inner-city routes such as in those found in London.

BYD’s dedicated R&D team in the UK has been responsible for the rapid development of the new 10.3m chassis, meeting the requirements of the UK government in its commitment to bring bespoke zero-emissions transport to the nation’s towns and cities. 
They worked in close collaboration with ADL’s body engineers, who ensured that the battery placement gives optimum weight distribution, while ample power remains available to deliver a full day’s operation.

A demonstrator will be available from the second half of 2021 for operators to trial on their routes.

Paul Davies, ADL President & Managing Director, said: “As bus companies across the United Kingdom make the switch to electric buses with support from national and local government, the BYD ADL partnership is preparing to ‘Build it in Britain’ with complete assembly of electric buses in our facilities here in the country, where it will benefit our local communities, develop skills and secure jobs here in the UK. 
The new, short-wheelbase option for our electric double decker further ensures operators can rely on us to deliver the buses they need, tailored to their requirements and backed up with best-in-class aftermarket support.”

Managing Director at BYD UK, Frank Thorpe, said, “This latest double deck model demonstrates the close collaboration between BYD and ADL in the UK, and our ability to develop vehicles which meet demands of more and more operators wishing to transition to electrification. 
The new 10.3m model offers a no-compromise specification for Public Transport Operators with high passenger volumes on congested and restricted route profiles. 
Above all,” he said,” the BYD ADL Enviro400EV provides passengers with a very safe, quiet, comfortable and emissions-free public transport solution.”

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Great Northern Railway ‘Atlantic’ Locomotive no.251 & Green Arrow Take Centre Stage at New Doncaster Museum

Two locomotives built in Doncaster have returned home, thanks to a partnership arrangement between the National Railway Museum and Doncaster Council.

Great Northern Railway ‘Atlantic’ locomotive no.251 built at Doncaster Plant in 1902, was the first exhibit to be formally announced for the town’s Danum Gallery, Library and Museum.

After 45 years in service, No. 251 retired in 1947. The locomotive returned to steam in preservation once in 1953 to celebrate the centenary of the Doncaster Plant Works.

Credit: Charlotte Graham

The locomotive will take centre stage in an exciting new rail heritage centre alongside LNER V2 No. 4771 Green Arrow which has also arrived back into Doncaster for the new Danum Gallery and Museum, nearly 75 years since it left Doncaster Works.

4771 Green Arrow joins No. 251 in the museum thanks to a partnership between Doncaster Council and the National Railway Museum.

The heritage centre will be a ‘must see’ exhibition when it opens later in 2021 with two steam locomotives together with artefacts from the Doncaster Grammar School Railway Collection. Other fascinating items which celebrate the importance of rail for Doncaster will also be exhibited.

Credit: Charlotte Graham

Displayed on purpose-built rail tracks, people will be able to view through a virtual tour of the building which will go live in March prior to the building being opened for the public to get up close with exhibits later in the year. All opening plans are subject to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The locomotives will remain part of the national collection and will be loaned to the museum as static exhibits for an initial three-year period.

Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster, said: “Danum Gallery, Library and Museum is going to be a wonderful community asset where local people and visitors to Doncaster can learn and explore a stunning selection of exhibits that celebrate our past, present and future. 
These locomotives are the first of many gems we will be revealing through a virtual tour in March, with the building opening its doors for people to explore later in the year, subject to the Covid-19 pandemic of course.”

Credit: Charlotte Graham

Cllr Nigel Ball, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Leisure and Culture, said: “It’s a real honour to welcome the two Doncaster-built locomotives into our superb new Danum Gallery, Library and Museum. Doncaster is, and always will be, a rail town so it is fitting that we have two locomotives built at our famous plant works as the showcase attractions in what will be an incredibly enlightening rail heritage centre.

“We are delighted the National Railway Museum has supported us and I can’t wait to see these two classic locomotives on display. Packed with many never-been-seen-before rail exhibits, the rail heritage centre, like the whole building, is going to be a real treat for residents and visitors. As a past worker at The Plant in the early '80s I am really excited about this and what this means for Doncaster.”

Andrew McLean, Assistant Director and Head Curator at the National Railway Museum, said: “We are thrilled to be working alongside Doncaster Council to share the stories of these fascinating locomotives. Although iconic in their own merits, for them to return to where they were built is truly special.”

Danum Gallery, Library and Museum is in Doncaster’s Civic and Cultural Quarter on the site of the former Doncaster High School.

It’s one of a number of council-led regeneration schemes helping to transform Doncaster town centre and benefit the whole borough.

The locomotive arrived at the new heritage centre on Sunday morning after travelling 90 miles via lorry from its current home at Locomotion in Shildon, County Durham. Here a team of specialist conservators and rail operations staff successfully manoeuvred the historic locomotive into place.

The move was carried out under social distancing and following Covid-19 guidance.

The Friends of Doncaster Museum have assisted in the loan of the locomotives and their continued hard work and contributions to the Museum are very much appreciated.

See a video of Green Arrow arriving at the new museum here

More information is available at: 
(Click 'No Thanks' if you don't want cookies)

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

£296,000 For North Yorkshire Moors Railway From Government’s £1.57 Billion Culture Recovery Fund

North Yorkshire Moors Railway has received a Capital Kickstart Fund award of £296,000 from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund for their Yorkshire’s Magnificent Journey (YMJ) project that has been delayed as a result of the pandemic.

This is one of the latest grants, awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and builds on over £1 billion awarded to a huge range of cultural and heritage organisations from the Culture Recovery Fund last year.

Ambitious projects at 22 heritage organisations, including North Yorkshire Moors Railway will benefit from £13.5 million in targeted grants allocated by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to restart planned work that now face delays or increased costs.

The impact of Covid-19 has meant the NYMR has had to defer some of its Yorkshire’s Magnificent Journey match funding. This Capital Kickstart Award means that it can now continue and fulfil one of the major elements of the project and continue the renewal of Goathland Station bridges. 

Bridges 24 & 25 will be replaced January 2022. The YMJ project enables the NYMR to preserve the railway for future generations to enjoy.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “From restoring Georgian lidos and Roman baths to saving local screens and synagogues, our Culture Recovery Fund is helping to save the places people can’t wait to get back to, when it is safe to do so.

“All over the country, this funding is protecting the venues that have shaped our history and make us proud of our communities, whilst safeguarding the livelihoods of the people that work in them.”

Chris Price, General Manager at NYMR comments: “Our spirits have been completely lifted thanks to news that we’ve successfully been awarded this additional grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Culture Recovery Fund.

“Just last month we announced that our own emergency appeal to raise vital funds from the loss during the pandemic raised an incredible £440,000. These funds helped retain our people and ensured that the railway could operate in the future.

“We knew however, that although we had overcome such an enormous hurdle that more was needed to keep projects like Yorkshire’s Magnificent Journey (YMJ) steaming ahead which is how the Capital Kickstart Award will support us.

“This project is significantly important as in addition to the major restorations of the Goathland Station bridges it enables us to continue with building our conservation and heritage apprenticeship programmes, our lineside ecological conservation work, offer fuss free access for disabled visitors, grow our learning offer at Pickering and Goathland, and of course reach out to individuals, groups and communities to share our passion for the history of the region through steam travel.

“From the whole team at the railway, and all 300,000 of our annual visitors thank you!”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “These are all ongoing major refurbishment and restoration projects, funded by us, which have been threatened by the pandemic. From the oldest surviving outdoor swimming baths to a Victorian pier, and from a much-loved park to an historic abbey, these are all places that will enrich hundreds of lives when they reopen. We are delighted this extra funding from the Culture Recovery Fund will ensure that these exciting projects will go ahead.”

The National Lottery Heritage Fund, along with the BFI, Historic England and Arts Council England, are currently assessing applications for the remaining £400 million in funding from the Culture Recovery Fund, which was held back to allow the Government to support organisations through the Spring and Summer.

Recipients from the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund have contributed stunning images to a curated collection of video-call backgrounds, now released. 
The public can choose from famous arts venues and heritage sites from Durham Cathedral to the English National Ballet to use as their background and show their support for the cultural sectors. The backgrounds are free to download.