Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Realtime Trains to Support 4VEP Restoration

The Southern Electric Traction Group has announced that it has reached an agreement with Realtime Trains to sponsor the continuing restoration of the Bluebell Railway’s unique 4VEP Electric Multiple Unit No. 423 417.

3417 has been under restoration at Strawberry Hill since 2015. Attention is currently focused on making the unit fit to be hauled on the National Network, and refurbishing the passenger accommodation to allow the unit to be used either as push-pull stock with suitably equipped locomotives or as hauled stock on preserved railways. 

Future developments for the unit will including the installation of GSM-R digital cab radio, On-Train Monitoring and Recording equipment as well as CET toilet equipment and Central Door Locking.

Steve Upton, SETG spokesman, said “It’s astonishing and gratifying to receive such a huge vote of confidence from Realtime Trains. This sponsorship, along with the support we have already received from our regular contributors and the wider railway industry, brings 3417 an enormous step closer to carrying passengers once again.”

Tom Cairns, owner of Realtime Trains commented “I am delighted to be able to help contribute towards the SETG’s ongoing work to return 3417 to passenger service. 
Having seen the work first-hand at Strawberry Hill the SETG team have demonstrated their will and capability to fulfil this goal. Since 3417 spent its entire operational life operating out of London Waterloo, the route I grew up with, it felt right to be supporting this project. 
I, like many others, look forward to being able to ride aboard this classic train once again in the near future.”

Roy Watts, for the Bluebell Railway, remarked “This is a fantastic gesture. In the midst of the disruption and uncertainty of the last twelve months of lockdowns and restrictions we applaud this hugely positive step in the restoration of No. 3417.”

The Southern Electric Traction Group was founded in 2009 by staff members of South West Trains, based at Wimbledon Park depot. In mid-2014, they agreed a long-term loan agreement with the Bluebell Railway to provide specialist operational and technical knowledge to protect the operational future of 4VEP No. 3417. 
The SETG’s stated aim is to “Return 4VEP No. 3417 to Mainline Operation.”

Realtimetrains was founded by Tom Cairns in 2012, this website is the premier provider of live realtime running information for the Great British railway network for the railway industry, passengers and the enthusiast community.

The Bluebell Railway took ownership of 4VEP unit No. 3417 Gordon Pettitt from South West Trains in January 2009. The unit was named by Gordon Pettitt, former BR Southern Region General Manager and now President of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society, at a ceremony in June 2004.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Transport Secretary Praises Cut in Prices on Contactless Payments on Visit to Black Country

National Express West Midlands has made the move to roll back the price of its daily and weekly fares for when restrictions ease on June 21.

A new weekly contactless ticket price cap will be introduced across the network in June to help simplify the process of paying for a ticket.

During a visit to the West Midlands by the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, he described it as "brilliant news"

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on National Express West Midlands
bus at their garage on the Pensnett Trading Estate

"Contactless is per-day capped and brilliantly it's going to cap it off on a week fare as well, so you won't be able to pay more than £15 a week"

"I've got no doubt at all if you come back in a year's time we'll find there will be people travelling who perhaps haven't done before. I've been inside the buses and they're lovely – you would want to be in there, there's Wi-Fi and they're beautiful machines and clean."

The contactless weekly ticket price capping means people will be able to travel as much as they like – with people showing their contactless bank card, or the banking app on their phone, to the bus ticket machine each time they get on.

At the end of seven days, they will be charged no more than the cost of a weekly ticket – however many journeys they made.

Mr Shapps added an additional benefit of the fares dropping is that more people would be inclined to use buses – which, in turn, would lead to emissions being cut across the West Midlands.

He added: "It's terrifically important. We've always looked at "how do you make transport more convenient for people?' – if they can jump on public transport they don't need to take their cars, they don't want to take their cars because actually, you don't have the hassle and it's cheaper."

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: "Before the pandemic more people were using public transport across the West Midlands in all of its forms – eight million more bus journeys in the year before, and think how many emissions have been saved there with those journeys.

"Rail usage and metro usage is well up, so we've got this circle – usage is up, so people will invest in it, the service improves and now we're seeing the last bit of the circle – the price coming down. It really is working.

"Buses remain the backbone of our public transport – we get excited about new railway lines, and of course we've just had the money from the Department for Transport for the opening of the Walsall to Wolverhampton line, but buses are still the most popular form of public transport and that's why we've got to do these things: make it more affordable, cleaner and of course, make it more reliable."

The bus company is cutting the price of the peak day ticket from £4.60 to £4 on June 21 – when restrictions are expected to ease – and the price of a weekly ticket will drop from £17.50 to £15.

It is expected the average commuter will save over £130 a year on bus travel as a result of the fares being cut, with the cost of a child ticket becoming £2 a day – down from £2.50.

Tom Stables, managing director for National Express UK, said: "We think it's crucial to attracting people back after the pandemic, it's clearly been a tough year but we've had good patronage despite that.

"But we want to see people back and we believe good value, getting the prices right, encourages people to come out of their cars and back onto the buses. We have a lovely bus fleet too.

"I think it's not only about the lower price but also about the capping as well – we're putting on a weekly cap product at £15, which is a reduction from £17.50, and that makes it easier. One of the barriers to public transport sometimes is that you don't know what it's going to cost you, you don't know what you're going to get charged.

"[With this] you can use your card, it's £15 and it's totally transparent. The price is lower and the product is good."

Monday, 3 May 2021

ADL Delivers Bespoke Enviro400's to Independent Operator Lynx For West Norfolk Coastal Route

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”),  has announced the delivery of two low carbon Enviro400 buses to independent West Norfolk operator Lynx.

Lynx is a locally owned and totally independent bus operator in West Norfolk which was set up in 2015 by a group of local people with many years’ experience of running quality bus services in the area.

The two new Enviro400 vehicles represent Lynx’s first order with ADL and have gone into service on the Coastliner 36 route between King’s Lynn, Hunstanton, Wells-next-the-Sea and Fakenham.

The 11.5m long, 76-seat buses are equipped with personalised Lynx-brand interior colours, glazed skylights, luggage rack, tables, USB chargers and bespoke moquette on the seats, which are generously spaced to give passengers a comfortable journey experience.

Lynx Managing Director Julian Patterson said: “We’re delighted that these new buses are now in service. They will be a great addition to our fleet as we continue to develop our business further and deliver even more for our customers.”

ADL Retail Sales Director Richard Matthews said: “We’d like to thank Lynx for this first order with us. These new buses will deliver a high standard of comfort and reliability for their customers and we look forward to working with Lynx again in the future.”

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Vivarail Class 484 Train Issues Delay Island Line Reopening

South Western Railway has said that it is disappointed to announce that, due to challenges with the delivery of the new fleet of class 484 trains, the reopening of the Island Line will be delayed.

Rolling stock manufacturer Vivarail had been set to deliver all the trains to the Island well before Easter, but complex software issues mean the fully refurbished trains are yet to be delivered. As soon as the trains can be delivered to the Island, SWR can begin the extensive process of operational testing, safety assurance and training required to bring them into service.

As a result, the reopening of the Island Line will be delayed until later this summer. Given the complexity of the challenges faced, primarily with the software on the trains, it is too early to provide a firm date.

SWR and Vivarail are now conducting a full review to build a strong programme in which all parties can have confidence and will provide further updates on that programme in due course.

In the meantime, SWR is committed to keeping customers on the Island moving and has pledged to double the capacity of the rail replacement bus service from 17 May, to match the capacity of the previously expected rail timetable.

Alex Foulds, Major Projects Director at SWR, said:

“We are as disappointed as our customers by this delay. Our infrastructure works are largely on track, but there is a delay to the delivery of the trains and we apologise for the impact that will have on our customers and the communities we serve. We continue to work incredibly hard in partnership with our train supplier Vivarail to reopen a safe, reliable and fully upgraded Island Line as soon as possible.”

Statement by Adrian Shooter, CEO, Vivarail:

This is an announcement I hoped I wouldn’t have to make. I must tell you that, regrettably, there will be a delay in delivery of our trains for the Island Line. Whilst we were able to deliver the first train to the Isle of Wight several months ago, the rest of the fleet are still at Eastleigh for mainline testing before delivery.

We know that this is the second delay to the introduction of the new service, and acknowledge that South Western Railway is on schedule with its infrastructure upgrades.

As a company we take full responsibility and offer our apologies to the passengers and staff of the Island Line. It would be easy to hide behind Covid and point the finger at the pandemic, but we had in fact managed to claw back a lot of that lost time and brought the build back on schedule and all trains have now left our factory.

However, we have unforeseen difficulties with the software. Although in essence it is no different to the version we have used previously it needed some changes to enable the train to run on the 3rd rail. Planning and analysis began over 18 months ago and did not bring any problems to light, but the live tests have uncovered some serious issues. Our priority is to deliver safe and reliable trains, so I have instructed my team to undertake a thorough review rather than try to ‘patch’ the software.

Although this is a difficult time I would like to acknowledge also the help that we have had from our friends in the Railway Family. Bombardier allowed us to use their test track at Derby, Arriva have let us use their depot at Eastleigh and Network Rail could not have been more helpful. Above all the support from SWR has been invaluable. Their team of engineers and project manager have given us help and guidance throughout and it is testament to their professionalism that we still have a robust testing, delivery and training programme in place.

We have a team of engineers on the Island already, working with SWR’s depot engineers on unit 484001 to ensure a smooth handover of responsibilities as the rest of the fleet begin to arrive.

As part of the infrastructure works, which have largely progressed on schedule, SWR has:
Improved the ride comfort of the line by trimming, rejointing and adjusting the rails on over 6.5 miles of railway, as well as installing new sleepers and rail at various locations between Shanklin and Ryde St Johns.
Installed new electricity cables, an upgraded power supply and new signalling cables and equipment across the line to provide greater resilience and reliability for years to come.
Constructed a ‘passing loop’ at Brading which allows trains to pass each other and make possible a new regular half hourly service.
Upgraded stations which will see new ticket machines at 3 locations and Wi-Fi at all stations
Improved accessibility by raising platforms or lowering tracks at 5 stations to reduce the step between the train and the platform.
Transformed the Ryde St Johns depot to accommodate the new 484 class trains, with a new crane and hi-tech software to maintain the fleet

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Volvo Launch New 9700 Fully Integral Coach Via Video Channel

The launch of the new Volvo 9700 fully integral coach to the UK and Irish markets has taken place via the company’s official social media channels.

Built on the established and highly successful Volvo B11R driveline, the all-new Volvo 9700 is said to blend luxury, performance, practicality and flexibility for any operation. It provides class-leading safety, a fuel-efficient driveline and a design which not only maximizes passenger comfort and experience but has an incredible road presence.

According to Volvo's press release "Stunning design with smooth contours compliment the Volvo driveline and combine to ensure outstanding fuel economy with an interior that is as stylish as the exterior. The driver’s environment with a sleek curved dashboard is ergonomically designed to give the driver a comfortable, spacious and efficient environment. Within the saloon, expectations are surpassed, offering a true feeling of Volvo quality"

David Porter, Sales Manager for Volvo Bus UK & Ireland, said: “After a hugely challenging 12 months for the whole industry, we’re delighted to announce some really positive news. The launch of the Volvo 9700 complete coach to the UK and Irish market is an exciting development for customers and Volvo Bus.

“Operators will no doubt be familiar with the new Volvo coach family, the 9700 shares many of the futuristic design features incorporated into the 9900 coupled with others, such as PSVAR capability making it the perfect, versatile addition to our customers fleets.”

David Porter continued, “We know as the industry is getting back on its feet, operators will be reassured by having the support of a manufacturing partner, who understands more than ever the importance of reliable vehicles and quality aftermarket back-up and support. Volvo Bus, the 9700 and Volvo’s dedicated dealer network delivers this and more.

Above & below, the new 9700 was revealed in left hand drive format at the
Coach & Bus UK event in 2019

The new 9700 forms part of what Volvo Buses described as the biggest revision of its European coach range in recent history and serves to demonstrate the organisations commitment to the market.  Traditionally Volvo coaches have been based on Volvo chassis, with bodywork supplied by a number of independent body builders. The 9700 and the 9900 offer coach operators a complete Volvo vehicle with all the assurance of a single sourced product.

9900 Delivery to Lochs & Glens

Renowned, family-owned Scottish holiday and coach tour operator Lochs & Glens has taken delivery of five new Volvo B11R 9900 premium specification fully integral coaches. The delivery is a highly significant landmark joint venture for both companies, as it is the first time Lochs & Glens has ever specified a complete Volvo product. The right hand drive versions of the upmarket 9900 were introduced in advance of the above mentioned 9700.

The five new B11R 13.9 metre, 57 seat coaches join an already impressive all Volvo fleet, now numbering 16 vehicles. Lochs & Glens make a deliberate decision to update and renew a third of the fleet each year, to continue to ensure the very best standard of holiday is maintained for the company’s loyal customers.

All five of Loch & Glens new premium Volvo 9900 are supported on Volvo contracts to ensure they are kept in top working order and that anything that does occur through wear and tear can be rectified as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Friday, 30 April 2021

Llangollen Railway's Future 'Secured' as Administrators Strike Deal With Trust

Administrators have said that the future of Llangollen Railway has been secured again two months after the historic attraction's operators went bust.

The joint administrators of Llangollen Railway PLC, which had the right to run the railway but went bust in March, have sold the business and some of its assets to Llangollen Railway Trust Limited for an undisclosed amount.

The Railway Trust had been putting together plans to buy the business from administrators after the PLC was forced to go into liquidation with the company insolvent to the extent of £350,000. Of this £250,000 was related to engineering contract disputes.

Llangollen Railway – GWR 2-8-0 No. 3802 is seen at Llangollen station. Photo: Gareth Evans

Administrators announced on Wednesday that a deal had been reached that ensured the future of the Llangollen to Corwen railway.

The deal does not include any of the PLC's rolling stock, like the railway's famous coaches which are being auctioned off with starting prices of £12,000. But the Railway Trust said that obtaining the right to use the railway line was the first key step towards recovery.

"We can now turn, fully to the task of preparing for reopening as we continue on our journey to protect and preserve this beautiful part of our heritage," a spokesman said.

Alan Coleman, one of the joint administrators together with Jason Elliot at Cowgills Holloway Business Recovery, said: “The sale has secured the future of this superb heritage railway which is a key attraction to the local area and has provided the best outcome for creditors.

"We always try and achieve the best outcome financially for the business and to preserve as many jobs as possible and we are extremely pleased to be able to ensure the future of this much-loved local attraction."

Meanwhile the Railway Trust is continuing to raise funds to buy the coaches, plant and machinery which are due to be auctioned by Lambert Smith Hampton in May and volunteers are continuing to help get the site ready for when it can reopen.

The trust already owns the locomotives and some rolling stock, while the land and trackbed are owned by the local council.

Talks are also taking place between the trust and Welsh Government, Business Wales, Denbighshire County Council and the National Heritage Lottery Fund over the railway's funding.

Thursday, 29 April 2021

LNER Releases Collector Series of Azuma Launch Posters

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) has launched a collection of iconic poster prints to give those who want a piece of railway history the chance to celebrate the new LNER Azuma fleet.

The official LNER Azuma poster collection features seven original illustrated posters of Azuma trains on the LNER route, in stations and at landmark locations from the historic launch dates.

The A3 poster collection features iconic locations such as Leeds, York, Harrogate, Edinburgh Waverley and Lincoln. The collection celebrates the introduction of Azuma services to these destinations as part of LNER’s mission to transform communities with their innovative fleet.

Kate McFerran, LNER Director of Communications, said: “The LNER Azuma poster collection gives those in our communities and who are enthusiastic about the iconic LNER fleet a chance to own a piece of railway history.

“These commemorative posters were hugely popular and much requested when we launched our Azuma services and we’re excited to give enthusiasts the chance to add them to their collection

“The original LNER was well known for its evocative posters and great publicity, so it is wonderful that we can continue this tradition with the release of the Azuma launch collection of posters.”

The seven poster collection can be purchased as a full set, or as individuals and includes the following locations:

London King’s Cross to Leeds first Azuma passenger service, 15 May 2019

York launch, commemorated with Azuma and Mallard together at York station, 30 July 2019

Edinburgh Waverley launch, 1 August 2019

Lincoln launch, 21 October 2019

Aberdeen launch, 26 November 2019

Inverness launch, 10 December 2019

Harrogate launch, 15 December 2019

The posters were designed for the launch of Azuma around the LNER route throughout 2019, and have now been printed for rail fans to enjoy for generations to come.

Anyone who would like to get their hands on the LNER Azuma Launch Poster Collection can now do so by ordering from the online LNER Shop, which also sells the LNER regionally-inspired face coverings and LNER Cooking for CALM cookbook.

The posters make ideal gifts for those local to the area or interested in rail memorabilia priced at just £9.99, including postage per poster, or the full collection of seven for £49.99 including postage.

Customers can visit for more information and to make a purchase.

Anyone wishing to purchase the posters from outside of the UK should contact

Wednesday, 28 April 2021

Third Kings Cross Tunnel Reopened

A tunnel at King’s Cross station that was closed in the 1970s has been reopened, with the first trains passing through at 5am on 26th April.

The final approach to King’s Cross station was originally through three tunnels, three double-track tunnels were built, but in 1977, the station was redesigned with a new layout between the tunnels and the platforms and the introduction of bi-directional working in the tunnels, so they closed one of the three tunnels as surplus to requirements.

The first two trains arrive through the reopened tunnel on 26th April

However, with passenger numbers rising — in pre-pandemic times — and likely to eventually return to their pre-pandemic numbers, the station needs more capacity. 
Not so much in the station itself, but in the approach tunnels, which are a capacity bottleneck.

A major project to reopen the closed tunnel has been carried out, along with a simplification of the track layout to improve reliability.

That work has been going on now for over a year, with new track layouts, signalling and preparing the tunnel for reopening. At the weekend, the signalling upgrade was completed with the handover from the old signal box to the York-based rail operating centre.

The third tunnel has been out of use for many years but has now been reopened

On 26th April the old tunnel reopened, and trains from LNER and Great Northern made a synchronised arrival at King’s Cross.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Glasgow Bus Operators in Manifesto Pledge to Improve City Transport

 A FIVE-YEAR plan to improve bus travel in and around the city has been unveiled by a newly-formed alliance of operators in Glasgow.

The Glas-Go Bus Alliance’s manifesto outlines a plan they say will deliver more “sustainable, reliable and customer-focused bus travel” for passengers.

So far, Stagecoach, First Bus, JMB Travel, McGill’s, Whitelaws and West Coast Motors, operators of Glasgow Citybus and Glasgow City Sightseeing have signed up to the pledge.

The companies have committed to invest in greener vehicles as well as taking steps to link-up Glasgow’s bus routes with other forms of public transport in the city.

Fiona Doherty, the managing director of Stagecoach and chair of the alliance, said: “No one organisation has all the solutions, so if buses are truly to be successful and provide what customers need, then they need greater support from stakeholders, particularly with critical matters such as tackling congestion which undermines the delivery of reliable services, results in inefficient running and adds to the cost of travel.”

To tackle issues outwith the control of bus operators, such as congestion and road infrastructure, the alliance will work with local authorities and SPT.

Joan Aitken, the chair of the Glasgow Bus Partnership Steering Group hailed the plan as “great for the people of Glasgow”.

It is anticipated that demand for bus travel will rise after the introduction of free bus travel for people under the age of 22 early next year.

Monday, 26 April 2021

Harrier HydroShunter Project - Hydrogen Powered 08 Locomotive

The Severn Valley Railway has teamed up with the University of Birmingham and local start-up company, Vanguard Sustainable Transport Solutions, to work on a ground-breaking scheme. The Harrier HydroShunter project will see the UK’s first-ever conversion of a diesel locomotive to run on hydrogen power.

Work is already underway at the heritage railway’s diesel depot at Kidderminster, where a team of young volunteers are stripping down the donor vehicle. They’re removing the existing diesel engine and generators and overhauling other components, as they prepare Class 08 shunter No 08635 to receive its new power system.

Vanguard Sustainable Transport Solutions is designing the hydrogen-battery hybrid traction system. This will be made up of hydrogen cylinders, a hydrogen fuel cell stack and a hybrid battery.

The cylinders will store hydrogen as a pressurised gas, which will be fed to the fuel cell stack via a regulator. In the fuel cell stack, hydrogen will be combined with oxygen from the air, to produce electricity to power the locomotive. Meanwhile, the battery will store energy to provide additional power for when it’s needed.

The equipment will be mounted on a sub-frame, fitted to the existing engine mountings. It will supply the existing traction motors of the Class 08, which will keep its existing controls.

Mike Ball, the Severn Valley Railway’s vice chairman, has been closely involved with the project from its inception:

“We were delighted when the University of Birmingham asked us to get involved in this project. As a heritage railway, we’re actively looking for ways to reduce our carbon footprint, and having a hydrogen-powered shunter will play a key part in that plan.

“The current preparation stage for the Harrier shunter is providing an excellent opportunity for some of our younger volunteers to put their skills to good use. 

The group working on the 08 are all still in their teens, and their ability to plan and implement this task has been nothing short of amazing. They’re the volunteers of the future, working on a locomotive for the future.”

Alexander Burrows, director at the University of Birmingham’s Centre for Railway Research and Education (BCRRE), added:

“Our team at the University of Birmingham are pioneering the designs and opportunities to bring hydrogen technology to the UK railway. Following the success of our HydroFLEX project with Porterbrook that delivered the UK’s first mainline approved hydrogen train, we are thrilled to be working with the Severn Valley Railway and Vanguard to roll out the Harrier HydroShunter.

“This is another fantastic project where BCRRE has partnered with a leading heritage railway and an innovative local start-up business to pioneer our research in a real world industrial application.”

Charles Calvert, chief engineer at Vanguard Sustainable Transport Systems, said:

”Vanguard has developed the HydroShunter to enable cost-effective retrofitting of diesel locomotives with clean, modern hydrogen-battery traction systems. The Harrier HydroShunter will provide the Severn Valley Railway with an emissions-free shunting locomotive for their operations.

“Using hydrogen produced from renewable electricity, the Harrier will be a clean and quiet loco that just happens to also be an innovation superstar at work on one of the UK’s leading heritage railways.”

Vanguard’s engineers are developing the power pack design at the University of Birmingham and will install this into the Class 08 in the coming months. Testing of the hydrogen-power shunter locomotive will take place at the Severn Valley Railway later this year. The development of such technology is predicted to have a global significance, and the teams are working towards translating this to heavy-haul applications.

The Severn Valley Railway has produced a short film, featuring some of the young volunteers preparing the Class 08 shunter, along with the railway’s general manager and Vanguard’s project engineer. This can be viewed from 5.30pm on Friday 23rd April on the SVR’s official YouTube channel.
About the Severn Valley Railway

Having celebrated its 50th Anniversary in 2015, the Severn Valley Railway welcomes more than 250,000 visitors per year, and is among the UK’s most popular and much-loved historical attractions. 
Run largely by a dedicated body of more than 1,600 volunteers, the full-size, standard-gauge railway line runs regular steam- and diesel-hauled passenger trains along a scenic 16-mile route between Kidderminster in Worcestershire and Bridgnorth in Shropshire for visitors and enthusiasts alike to enjoy. 
There are six attractive, beautifully-maintained stations along the route as well as The Engine House Visitor Centre at Highley. Here, visitors can enjoy interactive exhibits including up to eight steam locomotives, a magnificent royal carriage and a ‘how the SVR works’ exhibition and café.

There’s a wealth of background on the railway, and the chance to go behind the scenes at the SVR’s YouTube channel.

Sunday, 25 April 2021

36 Yutong E12 Zero Emission Buses Ordered by Cardiff Bus

Cardiff Bus has confirmed it has placed an order for 36 of the latest battery-electric buses, believed to be the biggest single order placed outside of London to date.

The 36 Yutong E12 zero-emission buses will be on the roads in the city from the end of 2021 and will lead to a transformation of how Cardiff’s bus network is delivered.

The investment is a collaboration between the bus company and its shareholder, Cardiff Council, after a successful bid for funding from the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Ultra-Low Emissions Bus Scheme 1.

Following the successful bid, work commenced on an extensive evaluation exercise of the different vehicles available, alongside evaluating the supporting charging infrastructure.

Paul Dyer, Managing Director of Cardiff Bus, commented.

“It’s fantastic news for both the Company and the city as whole. This further enshrines the fact that we are the city’s main bus operator, and a real cog in the wheel of city-life.

“There is a strong relationship between us and our customers, the residents of Cardiff, and we are recognised as one of the city’s critical assets, which we take extremely seriously in our goal to reach zero emissions. The city is rightly proud of its bus company, and the continued part it plays in city life. This has been further underscored in the last 12 months during the Coronavirus pandemic where we have helped the city keep moving in unprecedented times.

“This fantastic news really is a game-changer for the city, and when we look ahead this investment will play a huge role in not just keeping our city moving, but doing so in a green, and environmentally sustainable way. As well as the environmental credentials of the buses, they will also raise the standards of the onboard environment for our customers. This investment also fully supports the actions of both Cardiff Council and Welsh Government to improve air quality and make sustainable transport the future for mobility in the city.

“This is the start of our fleet modernisation plans and investment plans for the future, to make the company the most admired bus company in Wales and an asset to the City.

“Furthermore, it also shows that our stakeholders see us as a critical part of the future, and we have their support. This gives a huge boost to our dedicated team working hard at Cardiff Bus to keep the city moving. I pay tribute to all their efforts over the last 14 months since I joined the company. I know, that like myself, they are immensely proud of the job they do and to work for Cardiff Bus”

Ian Downie, Head of Yutong Bus at Pelican Engineering, said:.

“We are absolutely delighted and honoured to have received this award from Cardiff Bus. These state of the art, zero emission vehicles will make a significant impact on transporting the citizens of Cardiff in enhanced comfort whilst improving air quality. We are looking forward to our partnership with Cardiff Bus to assist in generating a clean and sustainable transport system in Cardiff.

Recently 55 Yutong E12 buses were exported to Denmark. The vehicles were purchased by the Danish subsidiary of Keolis.

Saturday, 24 April 2021

History Made as Pacer Makes First Run in East Anglia at the Mid Norfolk Railway

A small piece of Railway history has been made at the Mid-Norfolk Railway as a Pacer Class 142 conducted a test run at the railway as part of the preparation for the reopening this year.

The run by the Class 142 unit, 142061 is believed to be the first ever running of a Class 142 in East Anglia, as the class did not see service on the mainline in the region. 142061 is one of the two members of the class that were acquired by the MNR last year for future service on the line.

Running from Dereham to Wymondham Abbey halt and back was both a test of the unit’s systems following routine maintenance and servicing and also the opportunity for MNR Drivers and Guards to become qualified to operate this new class of unit on the railway.

The test run was carried out on Friday 16 April and the call for working members to support the test run by 142061 was met with an enthusiastic response, with the required slots to operate the signalling and level crossings being filled very quickly.

George Saville, MNR General Manger, said: “This was an important day for the railway as we work towards reopening and I would like to thank all our working members who made the day possible. The Pacer performed extremely well, and our staff passed their assessments with flying colours. These Pacer units are a valuable addition to the railway’s fleet as they provide us with units that are renowned for their low operating costs which is ideal for our mid-week low season timetable.”

Both the Class 142 and the Class 144 Pacer that the MNR also owns have very large windows that provide excellent panoramic views of the Norfolk countryside and make for a light airy interior for passengers.

The MNR will be making a full announcement of the planned reopening for public passenger service soon. This will include ticketing arrangements and the programme of this year’s special events, including the visit of Flying Scotsman. The announcement will be published following further test running, training and the completion of some routine track maintenance work.


Friday, 23 April 2021

SNCF orders first hydrogen trains in France

Four French regions have placed the order in a historic effort to reduce carbon emissions

The French public railways company has made the first purchase of hydrogen trains in France. 
SNCF on behalf of four regions has ordered 12 dual-mode electric-hydrogen trains from Alstom, for a total of almost 190 million euros.

The purchase marks a historic step in railway development in France and serves the goals of reducing carbon and noise emissions, as outlined in the national hydrogen plan from 2018. 
Several other regions have already shown interest in investing in this technology for their railway networks, the company explained.

The regions of Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, Grand Est and Occitanie through the public railway operator SNCF have signed the first order of dual mode electric-hydrogen trains in France. Together they have ordered 12 vehicles (plus two optional trainsets) from the Coradia Polyvalent series for Régiolis.

The trains have a range of up to 600 km on sections of non-electrified railway. Each of them has four cars, 72 metres of length with a total capacity of 218 seats and the same dynamic performance and level of comfort as the dual mode electric-diesel version.

Coradia Polyvalent has made itself a name in France over the last decade. Before the first purchase of hydrogen trains, Alstom has provided over 400 dual mode electric-thermal and full-electric Coradia Polyvalent trains to the French regional train networks.

Apart from sustainability in travel, this cooperation creates employment. According to Alstom, their development and manufacture have ensured 2000 jobs at a total of 6 sites in France.

Jean-Baptiste Eyméoud, President of Alstom France commented that they were the first rail company in the world to launch a hydrogen train onto the market and that the latest purchase by French region serves their objectives to become number one in the green and smart mobility market.

Jean-Baptiste Djebbari, Minister Delegate for Transport, French Ministry of the Ecological Transition, as quoted in a press release, commented that “France has everything it needs to become a hydrogen champion: the French government is fully committed to turning this ambition into reality. 
We will be covering 47 million euros of development costs for France’s first regional hydrogen-powered train. I am delighted that this support has enabled the four partner regions to confirm their order for the first 14 trains.”

The Alstom Coradia iLint trial has been a success in Germany

Thursday, 22 April 2021

Mellor Receives £2.4m Order for Fleet of Transdev Buses

Rochdale-based bus manufacturer Mellor has received a £2.4 million order from Transdev for an all-new fleet of 23 Strata Ultra buses.

Local bus operator Transdev has chosen Mellor’s Strata Ultra bus for its new East Lancashire routes, as it offers a fully accessible vehicle which can comfortably carry 30 customers in levels of comfort which match a full-size bus – yet can also navigate rural routes and busy town streets with ease.

Transdev CEO Alex Hornby (left) and Operations Director Vitto Pizzuti
with one of the operator’s new Mellor Strata Ultra buses

Eighteen of the new buses enter service on Transdev’s new ‘Ribble Country’ branded bus network in Burnley, Pendle and the Ribble Valley on Sunday 2 May.

The remaining five new buses will be used from the same date on another new Transdev service between Preston, Higher Walton, Bamber Bridge and Leyland, also to be operated in partnership with Lancashire County Council.

Mellor Bus Division Managing Director Mark Clissett said: “This is a significant fleet delivery for us and an important new service for the people of east Lancashire.

“Our Strata Ultra bus offers the ideal solution for regional transport operations where larger buses are simply not viable. Transdev’s new Mellor fleet will provide essential public transport across dozens of local towns and villages, linking communities and performing a vital daily service for thousands of people, while still delivering consistent productivity for Transdev.”

CEO at Transdev Alex Hornby said: “We’re delighted to have chosen Mellor, a proudly local North West company, with our order for its class-leading Strata Ultra product which offers us the quality, reliability and flexible performance we need.

“These impressive new buses will deliver an ideal blend of capacity with excellent fuel economy and combines Mellor’s rigorously tested coach-built bodywork with the proven Mercedes-Benz Sprinter chassis and drivetrain, which is fully compliant with tough Euro 6 low emission standards.

“It’s an environmentally friendly, customer friendly design which will help us deliver on our mission to create buses people are proud to be seen on – and we can’t wait to welcome our Lancashire customers on board these amazing new buses next month.”

Wednesday, 21 April 2021

Wrightbus wins £8m deal to build 45 buses For Hong Kong and Japan

Wrightbus has won deals totalling £8m to build 45 buses for Hong Kong and Japan as hopes also build for new orders in Australia .

The low-emission vehicles will be built at Wrightbus' Malaysia factory, which has around 380 staff.

Its Ballymena headquarters now employ 630 people, around 18 months after it was sold while in administration to Bamford Bus Company.

The company said it was a "significant" milestone for the company and would boost the profile of the brand overseas.

Chief executive Buta Atwal said Wrightbus was now leading the way in bus technology.

"Whether it's our world-first hydrogen bus, our near-zero emission diesel or our single-deck electric, the Wrightbus name stands for excellence in the bus world.

"Although we have endured a complicated year like so many manufacturers across the world, these orders will help us emerge from the pandemic with confidence."

Wrightbus has also launched the world's first zero-emission hydrogen double decker bus.

It recently announced 40 new jobs for Ballymena as it aims to capitalise from a pledge by the Prime Minister to build at least 4,000 new zero-emission buses.

The business is hiring production and office staff, including coachbuilders, spray painters, welders, electrical engineers, technicians, accountants, sales staff and a project manager.

There will also be 19 apprenticeships among the 40 roles, as well as a position for an international project engineer.

Nathan Hodge, head of the Wrightbus international division, said: "While it hasn't got to the tender stage yet, we are having some really good discussions in Australia about hydrogen buses," he said.

A Wrightbus Hydrogen Chassis

"While Australia is seen by many to be among the leaders of hydrogen technology, there is only one hydrogen bus in the country so there's a huge amount of potential.

"Countries like Malaysia, which exports oil, will always find the cost of hydrogen or electric buses prohibitive, yet that's where our near-zero diesel comes in."

Mr Hodge said a free-trade agreement signed last year by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations would ensure tariff-free movement of goods from the Wrightbus factory in Malaysia.

He added: "Naturally having a factory in the Far East enables us to be part of the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) which provides tariff-free trade to the Southeast Asian Nations as well as Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea."

Last month, the UK government announced funding for green projects to produce electric trucks and hyrodrogen-powered buses.

Wrightbus was allocated £11.2m to develop and manufacture low-cost hydrogen fuel cell technology for buses and create a hydrogen centre of excellence. The acquisition of Wrightbus by Bamford Bus Company in 2019 marked the end of 73 years of ownership by the Wright family, including surviving founder Sir William Wright. Its former premises at Galgorm Industrial Estate are on the market for £6m.