Sunday, 14 August 2022

Oxfordshire Awarded Millions for Bus Improvements

Oxfordshire has been awarded £12.7 million of government funding for measures to get people out of their cars and back on to buses.

Earlier this year, Oxfordshire County Council was one of 31 successful applicants out of 79 to receive an ‘indicative allocation’ for its Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP). It followed the council’s bid for £56m from the government’s National Bus Strategy fund.

This £12.7m has now been confirmed by the Department for Transport and will support measures over the next three years, including cheaper fares for under-19s, new rural services, bus priority improvements across the county and proposed traffic filters to reduce journey times and support the introduction of new zero emission electric buses.

Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management, said: “In the context of a significantly reduced funding allocation nationwide, with only 40 per cent of BSIPs receiving any money, £12.7m represents a significant boost for bus users in Oxfordshire. It is welcome confirmation from the government that our approach to prioritise public transport is the right one.

“Effective public transport is key to many of our priorities as a council. Combined with many other measures we are working on with our partners, this funding will put us on a positive path to making bus travel more attractive and environmentally friendly than ever before.

“Supporting cheaper travel for young people, including the introduction of a £1 flat fare within Oxford as well as reduced fares for under-19s countywide, is a priority. We want young people to adopt sustainable transport habits which will then stay with them throughout their lives.”

Passenger numbers in Oxfordshire, which had been in decline between 2014 and 2019, were badly hit by the impact of the pandemic. Bus companies have also suffered from rising fuel prices, shortages of drivers, and uncertainty about financial support from the government.

The BSIP is one of a number of measures being brought in by the council and its partners, including the bus operators, other local authorities and major employers, to increase passenger numbers. Others include:A new combined parking and bus ticket coming later this year to the city’s five park and ride sites
A successful bid to the government to fund a fleet of 159 state of the art electric buses in a package worth £82.5m
Oxfordshire’s inaugural bus summit which was held in June to bring together a host of organisations to discuss how to improve public transport in the county
The launch of a campaign highlighting the economic benefits to encourage people to use buses in Oxfordshire to help combat the cost-of-living crisis
The creation of an enhanced partnership between Oxfordshire County Council and the bus operators to improve services.

The aims of the government’s National Bus Strategy are to see more people using more attractive bus services through revisions to fares, routes, hours of operation and availability of information, and to see improvements to reliability, punctuality, and journey speeds.

Saturday, 13 August 2022

Morebus Introduces Bournemouth Open Top Services But Three Routes Lost Following Council Tender Exercise

Morebus has announced new Bournemouth “beach buses” on the same day that bosses confirmed the company had missed out on a contract to run three routes left vacant by the collapse of Yellow Buses.

Morebus, who 
stepped in at short notice to operate routes across the Yellow Buses network after the company announced it would stop its services last Thursday night said it was “disappointing” for passengers that BCP Council had awarded an emergency tender to another operator.

The local authority awarded a six-month contract for the 18, 33 and 36 routes to Yellow Coaches, which was bought by Hampshire-based Xelabus last week.

Meanwhile, Morebus announced it is launching a new route 12 from Sunday, August 14, until the end of summer, which will run open top buses between the beaches and coastline of Alum Chine and Hengistbury Head.

The operator was planning to introduce the open top service next year but the company have brought it forward.

Morebus stepped in at short notice to operate routes across the Yellow Buses network after the company announced it would stop its services last Thursday night. see here:  
More than 100 former Yellow Buses drivers joined rival Morebus just a day after closure

Photos below by kind permission of Roger French

Changes are also being introduced in a bid to improve the provision of some of these routes following teething issues and feedback.

Andrew Wickham, Morebus managing director, said: “I’m delighted to add new locations to our growing Morebus network.

“We’ll be adding the timetable for this route to our website and app shortly.

“We’re also making some minor adjustments from Sunday, August 28, to our routes 1, 1a, 1b, 2, 4, 5 and 5a - following initial experience and feedback, and some issues where buses departed late during our first few days. To do this, we’ll be adding two more buses into the cycle.

“All this has required an investment of more than £200,000, as we are determined to provide the most punctual and reliable services.”

Mr Wickham said the established M1 and M2 routes, between Poole, Westbourne, Bournemouth, Royal Bournemouth Hospital (m1) and Southbourne (m2), will have extra resources to ensure there is sufficient capacity. This change is coming in from Monday, September 19.

On not being awarded the three Yellow Buses routes, he said: ‘We were pleased to step in at short notice to operate the 18, 33 and 36 bus services, tendered by BCP Council. This will continue until Saturday 13 August, with another operator running these routes from Monday 15 August.

“It is disappointing that passengers on these routes will no longer enjoy the low price day and weekly tickets that enable travel across the entire Morebus network in Poole, Bournemouth and Christchurch - but we very much hope to operate these routes again in the future.”

Yellow Coaches will be running the 18, 33 and 36 from Monday, August 15.

The 18 runs between Broadstone and Bournemouth via Branksome and Canford Heath. The 33 travels between Alum Chine and Christchurch, serving Bournemouth town centre, Boscombe, Royal Bournemouth Hospital and Southbourne. The 36 operates between Branksome and Kinson, via Bournemouth town centre, Talbot Heath and Wallisdown.

BCP Council said it was "very grateful" to Morebus who stepped in to run these three routes on a temporary basis since August 6.

A local authority spokesperson said: “This was to enable a tendering process to take place and following this Yellow Coaches have been appointed to operate the three services from August 15 for the next six months. The operator was chosen as they offered best value for the council. Timetables for all three services are unchanged.

“These three services are highly valued by the local community. For many residents they are the only bus available for essential trips to the shops, hospital and medical appointments, plus are well used by school children and students too.

“The council therefore provides funding to keep these buses on the road and we are pleased that Yellow Coaches will now be operating the three routes for the next six months on our behalf.”

Friday, 12 August 2022

An August Day Out - Ken Jones

Roger Burdett and Ken Jones used a Cheshire Ranger and an advanced West Midlands return trip to

Stoke on Trent to plan the following trip, all for less than £26 each. The morning started off badly as

trains around Birmingham were cancelled or delayed due to theft of signalling wire so the first part

of the day used the same route as planned but later trains which meant any time for coffee / photo

breaks were lost until after lunch. I’ve left the original timings in for completion

The itinerary below shows what units we actually had, although there is more to see including 195,

325, 508, 769. TPE 802 units and freight locomotives if you keep your eyes peeled. The itinerary

includes the through platforms at Manchester Piccadilly as well as things like the Ordsall curve.

Arriving back at Crewe for the 17.11 service which was listed in on line timetables we found it didn’t

actually run, although a train to Piccadilly did run every hour except this one. So, we decided to take

a trip back to the airport and return to make use of the ranger rather than stay at Crewe. Other

options were considered but we decided they were too tight for us to catch our train back to


More about the Cheshire Ranger can be found here


B'ham 07.52 - Stoke 09.01 – class 350

Stoke 09.01 - Crewe 09.25 same train

Crewe 09.50 - Chester 10.10 – Avanti Voyager

Chester 10.15 - LLS 10.58 via Hooton; Birkenhead -class 507

LLS 11.27 - Man Airport 12.52 via Warrington Central; Oxford Road - class 323

Man Airport 12.59 - Piccadilly 13.21 - class 319

Piccadilly 13.30 - Salford Crescent 13.42 – class 331

Salford Crescent 13.57 - Victoria 14.02 – class 150

Victoria 14.40 - Chester 15.56 via Warrington / Oxford Road – class 185 and class 175

Chester 16.35 - Crewe 16.54 Avanti Voyager

Crewe 17.11 - Piccadilly 17.46 via Sandbach – not done see below

Piccadilly 18.15 - Stoke 18.51 - not done see below

Crewe 17.17 – Manchester Airport – and return – class 323

Crewe 18.52 – Stoke on Trent – class 350

Stoke 19.21 - B'ham 20.28 - same train

LLS = Liverpool Lime Street

A sign of how things are at Birmingham New Street as we wait to leave – we actually left

20 mins later than timetabled

Just outside Wolverhampton we saw 60062 in new livery, on the way home we saw

shunter 97808 in NDS livery at Bescot

We saw 46100 at Crewe waiting to depart on a special

153 362 is seen stabled at Chester in TfW livery

507 018 arrives at Chester – this will form our service to LLS low level station

197 001 is seen on Chester depot, and follows the growing trend of putting shortened fleet numbers on the front of units and full fleet unit numbers on the sides

323 229 will be our service to Manchester Airport

The Manchester Metro also goes to Manchester Airport where we see tram 3102 but is not covered by the Cheshire Ranger

Our service to Manchester Piccadilly [through platforms] and is seen arriving at the airport

331 029 is seen arriving at Manchester Piccadilly for the short distance to Salford Crescent to enable us to get to Manchester Victoria, and get a ride on a new unit

Salford Crescent and we hope a 195 unit will be our connection – instead we have 150 001 – a familiar unit from the days it was based at Tyseley some years ago

Above and below,The metro interchange at Manchester Victoria is airy and pleasant

A TPE 185 unit will take us to Manchester Oxford Road from a rather dark Manchester Victoria station

175 109 is seen arriving at Manchester Oxford Road for our trip to Chester – our 9th different type of unit to travel on

Our Avanti West Coast Voyagers arrive at Chester for our trip to Crewe – the units will then continue to London Euston

A change of plan sees us catch 323 232 back to the airport. Another 323 unit will bring us back to Crewe for our train to Birmingham

Many thanks to Ken for this interesting posting

Thursday, 11 August 2022

Alexander Dennis hosts launch of Scotland’s Pathway to Zero Emission Buses

Alexander Dennis (Alexander Dennis Limited, “ADL”) has hosted the launch of Scotland’s Pathway to Zero Emission Buses in Larbert on behalf of the Scottish Government.

Scotland’s Pathway to Zero Emission Buses is the result of the work done by the Scottish Government-led Bus Decarbonisation Taskforce, of which Alexander Dennis is a member alongside key industry stakeholders, bus operators, technology partners and financiers.

Alexander Dennis is pursuing an aggressive new product development agenda for zero emission buses including new battery electric and hydrogen fuel cell models. The agenda includes an exciting new product aligning to the pathway’s plans to increase the supply of smaller zero emission buses. The investment in engineering further underpins the company’s commitment to domestic manufacturing.

Alexander Dennis shared their plans at the last meeting of the Bus Decarbonisation Taskforce at its global headquarters in Larbert, where President and Managing Director Paul Davies hosted fellow taskforce members to launch the pathway with Scottish Government Minister for Transport, Jenny Gilruth.

The launch event was supported by Alexander Dennis customers First Bus and Stagecoach, who brought their new, zero emission Scottish-built buses to the event.

President and Managing Director Paul Davies said: “We have been leading the transition to zero emission mobility for a number of years now, doing what we do best, which is investing in innovation. I am delighted to confirm today we are stepping this up further with our extended plans for new product development.

“We pride ourselves on bringing leading products to market that are designed and built in Britain, which allows us to retain our position as innovative leaders of the ZEvolution, the transition to zero emission mobility. Making new product development commitments at this time is an investment into the future through an attractive product line up that will continue to attract orders and underpin jobs in bus manufacturing.”

Wednesday, 10 August 2022

2022 North Yorkshire Moors Railway Steam Gala

The 2022 North Yorkshire Moors Annual Steam Gala will have up to 13 locomotives in steam, from Thursday 22 to Sunday 25 September. 

The line up has been confirmed for the full list up of visiting locomotives, LNER A4 'Sir Nigel Gresley' No. 60007, BR Standard 5 No. 73156 and No. 85 Taff Vale Railway Class 02 will be visiting for this hugely popular event.

During the four days services will call at Pickering, Levisham, Newtondale Halt (by request), Goathland, Grosmont and Whitby stations.

 Image courtesy Andrew Jeffery

Visiting Locomotives

LNER A4 'Sir Nigel Gresley' No. 60007

Fresh from overhaul, the locomotive will be joining the event once again, courtesy of The Sir Nigel Gresley Locomotive Trust Ltd, and will be in its temporary semi-matt black livery, unfortunately, the repaint to Caledonian Blue has been delayed as further work is carried out on the locomotive. 

2022 also marks 85 years since the locomotive first entered service in November 1937. When built, the locomotive was originally going to have been called Bittern until someone noticed that this would be the 100th Gresley-designed Pacific. So it was decided to name her after her designer Sir Nigel Gresley. 

The "Stevenson Locomotive Society Special" on the 23rd May 1959 was the first train in the UK with a booked or advertised schedule of over 100mph and on that trip No. 60007 set the official post-war speed record for steam traction of 112 mph.  

BR Standard 5 No. 73156

No. 73156 will be visiting courtesy of the Great Central Railway in Loughborough, is only one of five surviving Standard Class 5 locomotives from the 172 originally built by British Railways Workshops between 1951 and 1956. It returned to service for the first time since withdrawal from British Railways in October 2017.

The locomotive was one of nine examples built at Doncaster, emerging from the Plant in December, 1956 and, together with four others, was allocated to Neasden depot (34E) at the London end of the Great Central main line. No. 73156 arrived at Neasden on 6th January, 1957, one day after No. 73155 and the two supplemented some seventy other steam locomotives from nine different classes. The depot also serviced locomotives arriving from the North, particularly from Leicester Central.

The Neasden Standard Class 5s took up various diagrams, including working the titled and other express passenger trains, The Master Cutler and The South Yorkshireman. Image courtesy Andrew Jeffery

No. 85 Taff Vale Railway Class 02

No. 85 visits courtesy of the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway in Haworth, this locomotive also worked at the Lambton, Hetton & Joicey Colliery, like our very own No. 29 'Peggy'. originally built for service in the Welsh Valleys north of Cardiff, No. 85 was deemed surplus to requirements at the time of the grouping in 1923 and was withdrawn by the Great Western Railway in 1927. In 1929, now numbered 426, it made the long journey north to the Durham coalfields where it remained in service, as NCB No. 52, until 1968.

The locomotive was bought by the KWVR and brought to Haworth for a new life on passenger services in 1970. During the gala the locomotive will team up with No. 29, ‘Peggy’ on select services. Image courtesy Tom Noble

Home Fleet Locomotives
BR 9F No. 92134
S15 No. 825
Black 5 Eric Treacy No. 5428
Award-winning Lucie No. 8
SR Schools Repton No. 926 BR Standard 4 No. 76079
BR Standard 4 Tank No. 80136
Q6 No. 63395
J27 No. 65894
Peggy No. 29
All locomotives are subject to availability.

Other Activities
During the weekend stations along the line will be hosting exciting events of their own such as the Annual Steam Gala Beer Festival which sees Goathland (Thu 1130-1800 & Fri-Sun 1130-2300) and Levisham (Thu & Sun 1100-1900 and Fri & Sat 1100-2300) offering a wide selection of real ales from local breweries. Station Tea Rooms and Levisham Tea Hut will be open for refreshments.

Live Music at Goathland Station Beer Festival (details to be announced). A later service will run on Friday & Saturday evening from Pickering to Grosmont and back for any late passengers from the Beer Festival.

Trade stalls will also be at Pickering Station including the LNER Coach Association and The Dame Vera Lynn Fundraising Group.

The Shed Shop at Grosmont (visit via the foot tunnel) has a fantastic range of Hornby, Bachmann and Dapol model railway items, some often at less than RRP, great for adding to your model railway layout. Open each day 1000 - 1700.

Tuesday, 9 August 2022

Demise of Yellow Bus Bournemouth and Food for Thought for Those Wanting to Run a Bus Empire

The demise of Yellow Bus in Bournemouth has been a shock to the transport industry and has attracted comments from bus users and those who have a general interest in transport.
One of our founding contributors who is a regular bus user has commented  

"What I find frustrating about the current situation is that the government is pouring billions into public transport while at the same time routes are being axed everywhere you look because apparently that money can't be spent on existing services"

 "One wonders if those billions will be wasted because they do nothing to help solve the underlying problem which is forcing existing bus passengers to find alternative means of travel: the unreliability of current services caused by the UK shortage of bus drivers.
I saw an advert for train guards (or whatever they are now called). £35000 per year, £12000 more than a bus driver is likely to earn. Billions spent on electric buses and subsidised fares is not going to solve this underlying problem. 
Far more important than modern buses, smiling drivers, WiFi, cheap fares etc etc is a guarantee that the bus is going to turn up at the scheduled time.

I can reach the bus stop in less than 5 minutes. Unfortunately the Stagecoach app cannot be relied upon to give an accurate waiting time!"

Photos above & below by permission of Roger French

A number of areas are pushing for bus franchising and ignoring the opportunity to work with established operators and are selling the idea, based on what London do. Unfortunately  the London model is far from stable and for the past few years has needed more and more money to keep the services running. see our Focus posting dated 22nd July here

The problem with franchising is that no real long term promises are being made by government and the councils that are going down this route are ignoring this fact. 
Also franchising has massive back office costs that will drain the money from the government subsidies on offer and result in council tax increases to pay for the shortfall. 
It is not uncommon to hear the comment "Councils struggle to empty the bins so how can they run the buses"  This might be unfair but councils have no real experience of running buses and will need to pay for people who can play this important part.

The alternative option of bus partnerships has found favour in some areas and can be seen to work successfully, whereby the local bus companies work with the councils to agree service levels. The bus companies bring their expertise to the table and the councils subsidise services that would otherwise be unprofitable as well as improving road access to make the services more reliable.

Roger French has posted an interesting article on his Bus and Train user website where he covers the demise of Yellow Buses and states 

"We haven’t seen the likes of a sizeable bus operator fail in such dramatic fashion in 30 years. Not since National Welsh ceased trading in 1992. It’s a salutary lesson for those who think running a bus company is a sure fire way to make profits and I hope those calling for new municipally owned companies to be set up to stymie so called profiteering “bus barons” in the private sector are taking note"

What Roger doesn't know about running buses isn't worth knowing so those who have grand ideas about having their own bus empire should certainly take note.

Roger's report on how the services have been immediately rescued by the skills and expertise of the Go South Coast team can be read here 


Monday, 8 August 2022

Imberbus Charity Running Day News

The annual Imberbus 2022  will be held on Saturday 20th August when old and new Routemaster buses (plus a few guest vehicles) will operate from Warminster to Imber and other points on Salisbury Plain.

Imberbus has grown from a five-vehicle event in 2009 to one that now links various villages on Salisbury Plain, including the famous abandoned settlement from which it takes its name. It predominantly employs AEC Routemasters, with the Wrightbus New Routemaster also appearing.

Support is received from numerous bus operators from both within London and outside the capital, and in 2019, Imberbus raised almost £25,000 for charities by utilising 28 vehicles.

This year, access to Imber will again only possible using the Imberbus vehicles. Cars, motorbikes, cycles, scooters or pedestrians will not be permitted access to the military roads on this date.

Imber website here

What is planned for Imberbus 2022:

A summary of the timetable can be downloaded by clicking here and a full colour Event Guide will be available on the day. 

Important features of this year’s Imberbus include:At least 25 buses in operation, some of which will be wheelchair accessible.

Departures approximately every 15 minutes from Warminster Station to Imber from 9.45am onwards;

Buses serving Tilshead, New Zealand Farm Camp, West Lavington, Market Lavington and Brazen Bottom twice an hour throughout the day;
Buses twice an hour to Chitterne until early afternoon;
One morning and two afternoon journeys running direct between Warminster and Chitterne (not via Imber);
Most journeys operated by at least 2 vehicles;

Imber Church open for viewing and refreshments from 10am to 6pm;
Refreshments available from Caspers Cafe on platform 1 of Warminster Station and at the village halls in Tilshead (all day) and Chitterne (until 2pm).

The newly refurbished Market Lavington Museum will be open again in the Old School House next to the village church and will be serving cream teas until 5pm;
A small transport sales stall will also be available inside Tilshead village hall.

The routes that the buses will take can be seen on the map below (please click on it to see a larger version in PDF format). As usual, buses will connect at the Gore Cross interchange, so that passengers could easily travel to/from all points of the network.
How much does it cost to travel on Imberbus ?

To enable visitors to explore the services in an affordable way, an all day ticket at a cost of £10 per adult is available.  

Imberbus operates as an ordinary local bus service, so there is no facility to pre-book or to pay in advance – just turn up and pay the conductor on the bus in cash (payment in £5 or £10 notes or £1 and £2 coins is always appreciated and there are cash machines available in Warminster town centre for those that needed them). 
To speed things up staff will be selling day tickets outside Warminster Station during the morning, some of whom will be able to accept payment by contactless credit/debit cards. Concessionary bus passes cannon be accepted.

In view of threatened rail strikes on the day Coach operator Readybus of Slough has stepped into a breach that had threatened access from London via public transport to the Imberbus charity running day on Salisbury Plain, which will be held on Saturday 20 August.

That date now coincides with a planned rail strike and Readybus has agreed to provide a day excursion from Hammersmith. This year will represent the first time that coaches have been used to transport visitors to the event.

The operator is charging £30 per person, including an Imberbus ticket, and says it will add duplicate vehicles should demand require.

Readybus website here

Sunday, 7 August 2022

Enviro400 for Kent Private Hire Operator Crosskeys Travel

Alexander Dennis (Alexander Dennis Limited, “ADL”) has announced that it has delivered a brand new Enviro400 double deck bus to Kent private hire operator Crosskeys Travel.

Crosskeys Travel has been providing private hire transport across Kent for over 40 years for day trips, short excursions or coach tours.

The operator has a long-standing relationship with Alexander Dennis, having purchased a number of Plaxton coaches over the years, but this is the first brand new Alexander Dennis bus the company has taken delivery of.

The new Enviro400 bus is 11.5 metres long and is fitted with seat-belted high-back seats, wood-effect flooring, USB charging points and CCTV. It has entered the fleet together with a second, similar vehicle acquired from a previous operator.

Crosskeys Travel Managing Director Alan Johnson said: “This new bus is a great addition to our fleet and will afford our customers even more options when deciding on the perfect hire vehicle for their occasion.”

Alexander Dennis Regional Sales Manager Mark Taylor added: “It’s been great working with Alan and the team to deliver their first new Alexander Dennis bus and we look forward to working with them again in the future.”

Crosskeys website here

Saturday, 6 August 2022

2022 BVBG Brislington Event

The Bristol Vintage Bus Group held their event at Brislington Park & Ride on July 31st after a gap of 6 years, Ken jones was there to record the event.
On display was a wide selection of both vintage and modern buses, as well as classic cars. A number of buses operated on free rides around the surrounding areas.

BVBG website here

Many thanks to Ken Jones for his contribution. If you attend a transport event please send your photos to