Saturday, 26 September 2020


 The Oxford Bus Company has launched the new round of its annual Brand the Bus competition – for a good cause to have its branding on a double-decker bus.

It has pledged to continue the popular competition for the third year running to support good causes as they face increased challenges due to COVID-19. Entries are now open for good causes, or its supporters, to submit a short video or PDF presentation on why it should win the Brand the unique Bus competition. 

The winner will have its logo and messages proudly displayed all over an Oxford Bus Company bus which will operate on its City services.

Girl Guiding Oxfordshire won the inaugural 2019 Brand the Bus competition and Home-Start Oxford scooped first place this year. Both good causes now have a branded bus emblazoned on a double-decker.

Above & below, Girl Guiding Oxfordshire were the winners of the first competition in 2019

The 10 entries for 2021 that are deemed best according to a public vote will be shortlisted and examined by a judging panel. This time the Brand the Bus competition is being supported by BBC Radio Oxford and one of its presenters will join the judging panel.

Prizes will be awarded to the competitors who have, in the panel’s opinion, fulfilled the brief to the highest standard. The winning organisation will be invited to work with the Oxford Bus Company to design a bus wrap featuring the brand colours, logo, and messages of the good cause. Runners-up will receive support via digital on-board bus advertising.

Phil Southall Oxford Bus Company Managing Director said: “Our Brand the Bus competition has become a popular part of Oxfordshire life and provides excellent support to deserving good causes.

“The transport industry is facing significant challenges due to COVID-19, but we felt it was important to continue the Brand the Bus competition this year, at a time when good causes need more support than ever before. One of our core values is being socially responsible and central to this is giving something back to the communities we serve, and this competition has proved to be a great way to do that.

Home Start Oxford were the winners this year

“It is a great opportunity for good causes to get involved and raise their profile. Many of the previous entrants and winners have fed back that the Brand the Bus competition has helped them increase awareness of their good cause and engagement within the community. There are so many good causes that do such good work across the county and we’re looking forward to considering all the entries again this time.”

In addition to the Brand the Bus competition winning buses, the Oxford Bus Company have wrapped other buses to support good causes. It has previously wrapped a bus in Oxford Pride colours as part of its commitment to embracing diversity and the Oxfordshire Prostate Cancer Support Group bus. Oxford Bus Company selected the Oxfordshire Prostate Cancer Support Group as worthy of a branded bus, as some of its employees have been affected by the disease.

The Brand the Bus competition originated in 2018 after the Oxford Bus Company decided to invite public nominations for a bus to be branded in a good cause’s identity. It was introduced as an extension of the company’s policy of inviting colleagues to internally recommend organisations to support across the year, rather than have one chosen beneficiary.

The deadline for Brand the Bus entries is 29th November 2020 and public voting closes on 13th December 2020. The winner will be announced in the new year.

Friday, 25 September 2020

Work Begins on Class 380 Train ‘Makeover’

ScotRail has begun work to refurbish its fleet of Class 380 electric trains ahead of their 10-year anniversary later in the year.

Key elements of the ‘makeover’ include the installation of new flooring, new seat upholstery including prominent priority seating, a paint refresh, and general repairs to tables, bins and handrails.

The overhaul is taking place at the train operator’s Shields Road Depot in Glasgow.

The 38-strong fleet of trains consists of 130 carriages and is ScotRail’s second largest fleet of electric trains.

Class 380s were introduced to Scotland’s Railway in December 2010, operating in Ayrshire and Inverclyde initially, but now serve customers on routes across the country, including:

Glasgow Central – Edinburgh via Carstairs
Glasgow Central – Ayr
Glasgow Central – Largs / Ardrossan Harbour
Glasgow Central – Gourock / Wemyss Bay
Edinburgh – North Berwick / Dunbar

Syeda Ghufran, ScotRail Engineering Director, said:

“Since their introduction, our Class 380 trains have been incredibly popular with customers right across the country.

“This work to refresh their interior demonstrates our commitment to delivering the highest quality service, and helps make rail travel a more modern, comfortable and popular option for customers.”

Steve Timothy, Eversholt Rail Stakeholder Director, said:

“We are delighted to continue working in partnership with ScotRail to improve our fleets in Scotland.

“Our investment in the overhaul of the Class 380 fleet demonstrates our commitment to delivering safe and high-quality trains to our customer and their passengers.”

Thursday, 24 September 2020

First Zero Emission Bus Fleet for Leeds Nearing Completion

Pelican Bus & Coach are providing the first-ever zero emission bus fleet for Leeds. The nine Yutong E10 electric vehicles (EV) are being prepared to enter service in a multi-million pound investment by First Bus in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Council.

Electricity charging infrastructure for the fleet is nearing completion at First’s Hunslet Park depot in the city. The equipment and installation are being managed by Zenobe Energy, a tech start-up that entered the market four years ago and is already one of the largest independent owners and operators of battery storage, with some 160MW of contracted storage assets and around a 20 per cent market share of the EV bus sector.

A battery energy storage system (BESS) comprising two giant Tesla batteries - 390kW and 498kWh – will support the power requirements including fleet charging and grid services. The BESS is powered by the grid but returns electricity to support the grid when charging the buses.

Total investment in the fleet and infrastructure is £7.3m and includes £1.7m funding from the Department of Transport’s Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme (ULEB) which First West Yorkshire secured in 2019 with the support of the combined authority.

Yutong E10 electric demonstration vehicle 

This is the first phase of the plan to bring zero emission buses into fleet operations to further benefit the cleaner air ambitions of Leeds. First Bus, Pelican and Zenobe Energy have worked in partnership to combine vehicle, battery and charging technology that heralds a new era in public transport from the Hunslet depot. 
The First Bus engineering team have embraced the challenges required for running electric vehicles compared to traditional combustion engine technology. 

The Yutong E10 boasts innovative battery technology on-board which stores energy generated when applying the brakes. It also has fully electric air conditioning, seat-sited USB charging points and LED-powered headlights, indicators and interior lighting. The bus can travel 200 miles on a single charge and is estimated to save 45 tonnes of carbon a year compared to a Euro 6 diesel engine.

Pelican say that "It is with great pleasure that we can deliver these state-of-the-art zero emission vehicles to First Bus. The passenger experience will be second to none, with smooth driving and quiet interiors. It is a real demonstration of First’s commitment to the environment that these vehicles will soon be in operation in Leeds"

Ian Downie, Pelican’s Head of Yutong Bus UK
We are delighted to be partnering with Zenobe Energy again with this exciting and innovative approach to vehicle electrification. Zenobe have agreed a contract using its infrastructure-as-a-service-model to provide support to First West Yorkshire. This includes match-funding the infrastructure and battery service costs for the life of vehicle, which has an 8-year warranty. Its Zenobe Management Platform proprietary software monitors and optimises all aspects of energy use on the buses and by the depot itself.

Zenobe is proud to be partnering with First West Yorkshire to support their active transition to a zero-emission bus fleet. The electrification of buses is a vital part of producing cleaner air in Leeds. We are encouraged by First’s pioneering vision to implement environmentally friendly transport infrastructure across the UK and Zenobe is excited to be a part of their journey.

Business Development Director, Arron Dowie, Zenobe Energy
"The Yutong E10 buses are due to begin operating in October on the Service 5 Halton Moor Circular which includes the Leeds City Bus route through the city centre.

We have set out ambitious plans to tackle the climate emergency with a target of being net carbon zero by 2038 and changing the way we travel is central to achieving this aim. These nine electric buses are the first zero emission buses in West Yorkshire and an important first step towards a zero-carbon public transport network.

It’s more important than ever that we reduce emissions which impact on health by reducing unnecessary car journeys across the region. We are committed to working with our partner councils and bus operators to make bus travel greener and more attractive across West Yorkshire and these new buses will help achieve this"

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee
"Leeds City Council’s executive board member for climate change, transport and sustainable development" Councillor Lisa Mulherin stated:

The Yutong E10 was shown at Coach & Bus UK 2019

"I am delighted to see the first zero emission electric buses begin to be rolled out in Leeds. Over the next year I look forward to seeing more of these operating from our new 1,200 space Stourton solar-powered Park and Ride site. 
It will make more and more people’s journeys greener and enhance our efforts to keep the air cleaner in Leeds. Re-building people’s confidence in using more environmentally friendly public transport is an important step toward achieving our carbon reduction targets and reducing polluting greenhouse gas emissions in Leeds.
It has been a pleasure working with everyone involved in bringing the first full electric, zero-emission bus fleet to Leeds and we can’t wait to see them in operation in October"

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

Nexus Shows New Metro Colour Scheme

A vibrant yellow colour scheme for Metro’s £362m new train fleet has been revealed for the first time, as Nexus launches a major public consultation on its interior design.

Nexus, the public body which owns and manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, has chosen a modern and eye-catching yellow paint job with black and pale grey along the train sides, following input from passengers and employees. 

Artists impression of the new trains showing the new livery

The new colour scheme is a nod to the Metro’s iconic yellow PTE livery when the system first opened 40 years ago.

The new Metro fleet, which is being built by the Swiss train manufacturer, Stadler, is set to enter service in 2023, transforming the experience for passengers and boosting reliability.

Customer Services Director at Nexus, Huw Lewis, said: “This is a hugely exciting moment for Metro as we unveil the colour scheme for our new trains.

“We have used the iconic yellow of Metro to give the trains a vibrant, modern feel accentuated by black and pale grey along the train sides – providing clean delineation of train doors to modern accessibility standards.

“The colour scheme is built round Metro’s strong brand heritage and refers back to the original ‘PTE’ Metro livery, while taking the system into the future. It has been refined through feedback from passengers and the technical input of the people who work on Metro – in cleaning, maintenance, marketing and accessibility roles.

“We have made sure our passengers have had a major role in the design of Metro’s new fleet from the start, and that continues today as we ask them what to help with all those crucial little details of the carriage interiors.

“We had hoped to take a mock-up cross section of a carriage around the five local authority areas, but pandemic restrictions make this impossible. Instead we will be creating a VR-supported experience at the Rail Academy where we can invite key passenger groups in a covid-secure way. This will be led by Nexus supported by Newcastle University’s Open Lab team.”

Rob Baxter, UK managing director for Stadler Rail Service UK, added: “The unveiling of the livery for the new Tyne and Wear Metro trains is an early, yet significant landmark in the process to deliver the new fleet. We applaud Nexus for involving passengers in the design, which both acknowledges its heritage and embraces its future.”

As part of the Metro Futures programme the Open Lab team has created a website and a series of online events that will allow passengers to explore a virtual model of the train and have their say on the trains’ interior features, including handholds, wheelchair and cycle spaces and information displays, with particular attention to meeting the needs of less able passengers.

Senior researcher at Open Lab, Simon Bowen, said “We’ve built some exciting interactive tools so people can explore the inside of the new trains in a full 360 degree immersive experience, pick out the finishing touches and think about how the trains meet the needs of different people.”

People can explore and comment on the new Metro trains at and register at to have a say on shaping the new Metro fleet.

Stadler is building a total of 42 new Metro trains for Nexus, which will be delivered up to 2024. They will be responsible for servicing and maintaining these trains for 35 years, underscoring their commitment to the regional economy.

The trains, which will be 15 times more reliable and will cut energy consumption by 30%, will have modern features including charging points, air conditioning and a step-change in accessibility.

Among new features will be an automatic sliding step at every door of the new trains, making travel easier for Metro’s 50,000 wheelchair passengers as well as people with children’s buggies, luggage or bicycles.

The Metro system opened in stages from 1980 and since then has expanded to Sunderland and South Hylton using the original Metro car fleet. The route between Pelaw and Sunderland shares Network Rail track.


Tuesday, 22 September 2020

Free Electric Bus Service Launched in Slough

 A THREE-MONTH electric bus service trial for passengers travelling to and from Slough town centre is to be launched.

Slough Borough Council has announced a trial period, starting in the last week of October, for residents to use the electric buses for free on the experimental bus and cycle lanes along the A4.

The buses, 
BYD ADL Enviro200EV's - which will operate Mondays to Saturdays – will produce no fossil fuels and lower carbon emissions and will help with the council’s efforts to improve air quality on the route and reduce noise.

The trial is in partnership with Iver based electric bus specialists BYD UK and Thames Valley Buses where the fully electric vehicles will offer a fast, reliable and environmentally friendly service, the council claims.


The hourly loop service will start from Station Road, near Junction 7 of the M4, through the town centre, and onto the Sainsbury’s roundabout at the junction of Yew Tree and Uxbridge Road.

It will also incorporate St Andrew’s Way, Cippenham.

On board, the buses will have modern seating, air conditioning and USB ports for phone charging.

Councillor Rob Anderson (Labour: Britwell and Northborugh), cabinet member for transport and environmental services, said: “The experimental bus and cycle lane was introduced to help residents socially distance during the ongoing pandemic alongside making road space available for active and sustainable travel.

“I am delighted we have provided the funding to now introduce a free, fast and environmentally friendly electric bus service which will operate daily along the length of the temporary lane.

“Residents often quote the price of public transport is one of the key blockers stopping them leaving the car at home and jumping on the bus. So, we have taken the blocker away with this trial.

“This free service will provide residents with a speedy, frequent service into central Slough and I look forward to seeing them on the buses.”

The BYD ADL Enviro200EV brings together the proven battery and electric technology of BYD and the outstanding design and build expertise of Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL). 

BYD is already the world’s leading manufacturer of all-electric buses having produced more than 10,000. 
ADL is the UK market leader and one of the world’s fastest growing specialists in designing and building buses that meet the demands of modern operators

Monday, 21 September 2020

H2Bus Consortium and Wrightbus Join Forces to Transform Public Transit with First Truly Zero Emission Fuel Cell Electric Buses

The H2Bus Consortium has announced an agreement with Wrightbus for the supply of hydrogen fuel cell electric buses in Europe. 

The Consortium is now on track to deploy 1,000 hydrogen fuel cell electric buses, along with supporting infrastructure, in European cities at commercially competitive rates. 

This news concludes the consortium’s tendering exercise and subsequent due diligence, which made it clear that Wrightbus offers the most attractive hydrogen solution.

Following the industrial recovery of Wrightbus, led by Jo Bamford (owner) and Buta Atwal (CEO), Wrightbus is now entering the European market with a world-leading zero emission single-decker bus, supported by a world-class maintenance package. 

Wrightbus is in a better position than ever before to supply customers and to provide first-class after-sale support. This new offering is the most cost-effective truly zero-emission option available, with a single decker bus price below €375,000 after funding, a hydrogen price between €5 and €7 per kilogram and a service cost between €0.25 and €0.35 per kilometre, all depending on operator and route requirements. 

The zero-tailpipe emission feature of the fuel cell bus operation will be complemented by zero-emission hydrogen production from renewable energy sources, yielding a “well-to-wheel” emission-free transportation solution. 

“Wrightbus is leading the way with the world’s first hydrogen double-decker bus and, together with the H2Bus Consortium, we can show the UK, Europe and the rest of the worlds what we have to offer.” says Buta Atwal, CEO at Wrightbus. 

“This agreement will deliver hundreds of hydrogen fuel cell electric buses to a wider European market, providing extensive range, acclaimed operational ability and a lower cost for operators compared to an electric bus equivalent.

Wrightbus have a good track record of producing fuel cell vehicles. 
They ran successfully in London for some years.

Public transport is being transformed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic with a huge focus on zero emissions, so we feel privileged to be at the vanguard of this revolution alongside our other consortium members." 

Jacob Krogsgaard, CEO of Everfuel, said, “We are excited to work with Wrightbus to deliver the H2Bus Consortium’s ambition of the lowest cost truly zero emission fuel cell electric buses in Europe. Through our bus supplier Wrightbus; hydrogen cylinder and distribution module supplier Hexagon; hydrogen fuel cell supplier Ballard; and electrolyser and refuelling station supplier Nel, the consortium brings European engineering expertise to our streets.

This will create and secure highly skilled jobs for the next generation of transport technology and fuelling solutions in Europe.” The first phase of the project, totalling 600 buses, is supported by €40 million from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF1 ). 

The funding will enable the deployment of 200 hydrogen fuel cell electric buses and supporting infrastructure in each of Denmark, Latvia and the UK by 2023. 
In parallel, the H2Bus consortium will remain active in other clusters across Europe to reach the targeted 1,000 bus deployment.


Everfuel, Wrightbus, Ballard Power Systems, Hexagon Composites, Nel Hydrogen and Ryse Hydrogen, leading players in the hydrogen fuel cell electric value chain, have joined forces to form the H2Bus Consortium. The members are committed to deploying 1,000 hydrogen fuel cell electric buses, along with supporting infrastructure, in European cities at commercially competitive rates. H2Bus

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Keighley Bus Museum in Search for New Home

Keighley Bus Museum are searching for new home. They moved to their museum building off Dalton Lane in 2005, which was only intended to be a temporary home for their collection, but now, 
due to the poor state of the current building, they need to find a replacement.

Tribute was paid by the town’s MP, Robbie Moore, during a visit to the site.
He has pledged support to the museum trust as it strives to find a new ‘home’ for the collection.

KBMT Secretary Norman Shepherd says that due to the poor state of the current building, a former foundry, the trust is unable to access grants or discretionary funding.

It is seeking premises with facilities including toilets and a cafe so that more people can enjoy the collection in the future.

During his visit, MP Mr Moore met trustees and was shown around the museum.

He said the venue was a popular attraction for local people and tourists alike.

Its collection of around 100 vehicles had received a five-star review on the Trip Advisor website.

“The museum is symbolic in the history of the town’s own connection to the transport industry,” said Mr Moore.

“Keighley pioneered trolleybuses and the last operational trolleybus in the UK is located here.

“The trustees have also sought to appeal to visitors with other interests, housing the fire engine used in James Bond’s Skyfall movie and television sets from shows including Eastenders.”

He added: “I was really pleased to be able to meet with my friends at the museum.

“They’re incredibly passionate about what they do and about sharing it with others.

“Their collection is a real draw for visitors to the area, which is fantastic for other businesses in the town too.

“I know they’ve had some trouble with their current building and I will do all I can to help support their move to a better facility, where they can grow their offering.”

The museum was founded in 1992, prompted by a need to find covered accommodation for a growing number of vehicles entering preservation.

A shed – once part of an abattoir – was located at Denholme, and the museum was ‘born’.

Following the acquisition of vehicles from the then West Yorkshire Transport Museum, there was then an urgent need for expansion. After considerable searching, Keighley Bus Museum moved into an old college building in Dalton Lane.

The collection was later moved further down Dalton Lane to the current location, Riverside, once one of two sites operated by West Yorkshire Foundries.

Visit for more details.

Saturday, 19 September 2020

Transport Authority De Lijn Suspends Order for 970 Electric Buses

Flemish public transport authority De Lijn has suspended an order for 970 new electric buses..

The buses were ordered in December last year as part of the authority’s plan to clean up its fleet, which includes buses and trams, as well as the metro system in Antwerp. The order was for 970 buses and accompanying charging infrastructure.

Last week the region’s mobility minister Lydia Peeters (Open VLD) presented the first of six electric buses which will take to the streets of Leuven as a pilot project.

However what was not said at the time was that the authority had put a stop to the order for the rest of the buses back in July, claiming to have ‘new information’.

“Following the preparation of the specifications and the start-up with all stakeholders and third parties involved, it appeared that an optimisation and a change in the set-up of the assignment would be appropriate,” said Karen Van der Sype, spokesperson for De Lijn.

Without giving details, the company said its re-think was based on “technical, operational, financial and strategic” considerations.

De Lijn still intends to relaunch the order, but this time in several lots instead of all 970 at once. That would avoid a situation where one contractor had all of the contract, as well as allowing De Lijn to spread the financial burden.

The intention is still to phase in the buses from 2023, however.

“The theoretical delay of a few months at the start of the tendering process will certainly be recovered in the later phases,” Van der Sype said.

But the clock is ticking. The governing accord of the Jambon government holds that De Lijn will be able by 2025 to service town centres using only emission-free vehicles.

That covers the 13 central cities (Aalst, Antwerp, Bruges, Genk, Ghent, Hasselt, Kortrijk, Leuven, Mechelen, Ostend, Roeselare, Sint-Niklaas and Turnhout) and the towns of the Flemish periphery of Brussels.

A question mark also hangs over the matter of how the Flemish government is to pay the bill, currently standing at €1.148 billion, including €540 million for charging infrastructure and changes to bus depots.

Peeters will be faced with the first instalment of the bill next year.

Friday, 18 September 2020

2.8 Million Page Views




WMT Class 730 Shown by Bombardier

Bombardier have unveiled one of the new Class 730 Aventra emu's at their Derby factory which is destined for service by West Midlands Trains.

‘Designed and built in Derby they really are made in the Midlands for the Midlands’, said Matt Byrne, President UK & Ireland at Bombardier Transportation.

Inspecting the 25 kV 50 Hz EMU , Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said the ‘state-of-the-art trains will make a real difference to commuters on the Cross-City Line, not only with their modern new features but by adding extra capacity onto a line that has been a victim of its own success.’

Street said ‘public transport has been one of the real success stories of the West Midlands in recent years, with every mode — train, bus, and tram — seeing an increase in patronage. Clearly coronavirus has stalled that progress but we must not get knocked off course.’

The EMUs will offer ‘intelligent’ air-conditioning, free wi-fi, at-seat power and USB sockets, dedicated wheelchair spaces and bicycle storage.

In October 2017 the West Midlands Trains Ltd consortium of Abellio, East Japan Railway and Mitsui & Co which holds the West Midlands passenger franchise announced an order for Bombardier Transportation to supply three types of EMU.

The order covers 36 three-car high-capacity ‘metro’ units with a maximum speed of 145 km/h for use on Cross-City inner suburban services. The first of these has been sent to the Velim test track in the Czech Republic for testing, and the fleet is expected to start entering service next year.

WMT also ordered 29 five-car units with a maximum speed of 175 km/h for outer suburban services from London and Birmingham, and 16 five-car 175 km/h units for use on longer distance services on the London – Birmingham route.

‘These superb new electric trains will enhance the travelling experience for our customers and I am delighted to see for myself that progress has been continuing apace despite the challenge of coronavirus’, said Julian Edwards, Managing Director of WMT’s West Midlands Railway business, when he visited Derby.

WMT has also ordered 12 two-car and 14 four-car CAF Class 196 diesel multiple-units for use on services from Birmingham to Hereford and Shrewsbury. The first of these is currently on test in the region.

Financing of the orders for a total of 413 vehicles worth £680m was led by Infracapital and Deutsche Asset Management.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Eastern Airways Makes Heathrow Debut as Teesside Service Takes Off

 Eastern Airways has touched down for the first time at London Heathrow.

Monday saw the first service by the regional operator to the UK flagship airport, re-connecting Teesside with the international hub after more than a decade since the previous operator pulled out.

Photo of the flight departing Teesside sent to us by Richard Bowater

The Humberside-based airline became the only regional airline to operate into Heathrow, with an initial daily service.

On the same day that also saw Eastern’s original route, the Humberside - Aberdeen energy cluster hop, increase to twice daily as demand increases post pandemic lockdown.

The London flight, announced early last month, was served by a 76 seat E-Jet Embraer 170 aircraft

Roger Hage, general manager for commercial and operations at Eastern Airways, said: “As the UK’s regional airline, we at Eastern Airways are all about connecting people and places, which by providing a rare new domestic service into London Heathrow adds a wide array of onward destinations for business and leisure needs, vital for the economic recovery and prosperity of the Teesside region as a whole. 
It also makes for a quick and comfortable option for all to reach the capital or Teesside and adds to our growing network of services supporting the region. We also become the only UK regional airline operating into the capital’s hub in our own name.”

The independent UK-based operator was formed in 1997 and it quickly returned to its own standalone identity in March, when then franchise partner, Flybe, went into administration.

Aviation Minister Robert Courts said: “Re-establishing the route between Teesside International and Heathrow is not only a positive sign that the aviation sector is getting back up and running despite Coronavirus, but also that levelling up the UK is central to Government’s plans and is powering ahead.

“I’m delighted to welcome this route, providing more connections for local people, and boosting communities and businesses.”

Passengers purchasing our Flex fare will have access to the Lufthansa Senator and Business Lounge at Heathrow among its other connection facilities.

 Eastern Airways E-Jet at Heathrow

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye also marked the arrival. He said: “Today’s first flight is the start of an exciting new partnership between Teesside International, Eastern Airways and Heathrow Airport, after an absence of over a decade. 
The Tees Valley region now has the world at their doorstop, and this sort of connectivity will facilitate the economic recovery and future growth for people and businesses across the region.

“The importance and value of hub connectivity to the UK’s regions is critical to the Government’s levelling up agenda. If regions cannot connect to global trade, productivity and skills they will instead experience higher unemployment skills shortages and an investment decline.”

Eastern is developing a strong relationship with Teesside, as it continues to carefully reintroduce services.

Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen said: “In just 18 months we’ve gone from our airport facing the prospect of imminent closure, before we did the deal to save it, to an ever-expanding list of destinations and the first plane departing to Heathrow in over a decade.

“This amazing new route gives holidaymakers from Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool access to more than 180 destinations across the world and will play an important role in our plan for jobs for local workers as we recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Linking Teesside to Heathrow, one of the world’s best airports, will mean our amazing companies are not only able to do business in London but can capitalise on our global aspirations with onward flights to scores of worldwide destinations. 

We will also be able to welcome more investors from around the world through our terminal, investors who will create the good-quality well paid jobs we want to see come to Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.”


Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Is the End Already in Sight for Britain’s Tilting Trains? by Gareth Dennis

TransPennine Express’s new trains are missing one key feature that is indispensable for other 125mph trains on the West Coast Mainline. GARETH DENNIS looks at the future of tilting trains.

Since 2002, Class 390 Pendolino tilting trains have enabled 125mph running on the curvaceous West Coast Mainline. By leaning further into curves to counteract outwards acceleration (more on the science later), these trains can reach speeds that conventional trains travelling on the line cannot.

Or at least that was the case until a few months ago.

You might not have noticed, but the first of TransPennine Express’s new CAF Class 397 and Hitachi Class 802 trains have been running up and down the West Coast Mainline (WCML) north of Preston at speeds of up to 125mph without any tilting capability at all.

A CAF Class 397 TransPennine Express Train heading along the West Coast main line

This is exciting for a few reasons, but it also raises a few questions. How are these new trains managing without tilt? If they can do it, why do we need tilt in the first place? Does this mean the end for tilt on Britain’s railways?

Perhaps the simplest and most important question is whether this is good news or not.

I love seeing (or being on) tilting trains. Gliding through the Lune Gorge whilst elegantly rolling this way and that to keep speed up puts me in mind of the prototype Advanced Passenger Train (British Rail’s first commercially operating tilting train) making the same trip in the early 1980s. That glorious engineering marvel remains my favourite electric multiple unit despite its anticlimactic demise. There’s something very satisfying about a train tilting its way through tight reversing curves.

However, just like “bi-mode” trains are a compromise resulting from a lack of up-front infrastructure investment (in that case, overhead electrification), so too are tilting trains a compromise where an alignment is considered too expensive to straighten out (or bypass). Tilting trains are heavier and more complicated than their non-tilting equivalents, and so are more expensive to buy, operate and maintain. They require a series of balises to be mounted on the track, increasing infrastructure maintenance costs. They are also less roomy, which reduces the quality of the passenger experience.

On a strategic level, removing the need for tilt is very important. Given that High Speed 2’s “classic-compatible” fleet will most likely not have tilt, it proves the viability of their proposed operations beyond the limits of new infrastructure.

Until now, discussions about High Speed 2’s train service north of Manchester compared it unfavourably to the current long-distance high-speed services (LDHSSs), with suggestions that HS2 speeds and journey times would be worse once they joined the WCML. Now that TPE have shown that tilt isn’t necessary for fast timings, not only will this reduce the cost of any new fleet, but it will reduce the conflicts between the tilting and non-tilting fast trains operating through the North West and into Scotland. This avoids increased headways and the reduced capacity that conflicting speeds would result in.

But why exactly do trains tilt over in the first place? Let’s briefly look at railway curve design.

When a train goes round a curve, it exerts an outwards acceleration on the track — thanks to Newton’s second law, this is independent of train mass. Outwards acceleration is a function of train speed and curve radius (faster trains or tighter radius curves give greater outwards accelerations).

By raising the outer rail above the inner rail (applying cant, also known as crosslevel or superelevation), a component of the acceleration due to gravity results in an inwards acceleration. Inwards acceleration is a function of applied cant and track gauge (more cant or a smaller track gauge increases inwards accelerations).

Lifting the outer rail so that these accelerations are equal to each other (cancelling them out, in other words) gives us “equilibrium cant”, but to allow for variations in train speeds and to improve passenger comfort, the “applied cant” should always be lower than the equilibrium cant. The resulting difference between these two values is called “cant deficiency”, which is essentially a measure of the amount of unbalanced force through a curve.

It is important to note that limits of cant are defined by comfort and maintainability, rather than by safety. Trains have to run significantly above the design speed through a curve before derailment becomes a risk.

Engineers vary the amount of cant (and thus cant deficiency) based on the intended traffic on the railway. In the Crossrail tunnels or on HS2 where only one type of train with a very set performance will be operating, it is possible to optimise the cant alignment and carefully control lateral forces through curves.

On most of the rest of the mainline network, however, the railway has to be comfortable for trains travelling at the maximum permissible speed whilst not being hammered by stopping passenger trains or slower freight trains travelling at lower speeds. Excess cant can result in damage to track materials and an increased rate of track geometry degradation, both of which raise maintenance costs. The solution is to increase the amount of cant deficiency through curves.

On the WCML, where the speed differential between slow trains and fast trains is at its most extreme and curves are plentiful, the application of enough cant to enable 125mph for LDHSSs resulted in significant excess cant for freight trains and an unacceptable long-term maintenance liability. Hence the development and use of the tilting train, which essentially adds its own cant on top of that applied by track engineers.

Over the years, however, permanent way engineers have realised that maximising cant deficiency is actually beneficial for the operational railway, particularly in reducing the occurrence of rolling contact fatigue (gauge corner cracking, a type of rolling contact fatigue, caused the 2000 Hatfield derailment).

At the same time, the performance of stopping passenger and “slow” freight trains has increased. More electric trains and multiple units with faster acceleration, freight wagons that are capable of better ride quality at higher speeds, as well as the great leap in intermodal rather than bulk freight all contribute to a reduced speed differential between the slowest and fastest trains.

On the WCML, there’s another factor at play. Unlike the East Coast Mainline with its long straight sections and the occasional curvy bit, the West Coast Mainline has a speed profile like a sawtooth, with or without tilt in operation. Even the Pendolino isn’t particularly quick at accelerating out of curves and, in a few cases, drivers can’t make much use of the short stretches of higher permissible speeds.

This isn’t the case with the latest generation of electric multiple units. Both CAF’s Class 397 and Hitachi’s Class 802 (IET) trains have an immense rate of acceleration, and for a railway with lots of changes of speed, acceleration to make the most of the fast stretches is as important as the overall top speed.

TPE’s new fleet of Class 397 and Class 802 trains are capable of traversing the 
WCML at up to 125mph without the need for a tilting mechanism.

Here’s a quick example: for various reasons, some recent Leeds-bound LDHSSs on the East Coast Mainline have been hauled by Class 90 locomotives with a top speed of 110mph rather than the Class 91 with its 125mph top speed. However, the gearing of the Class 90 means that it has a notably better acceleration than its sleeker cousin, and can thus reach 110mph more quickly. Spending longer at 110mph means that despite not reaching the full East Coast line speed of 125mph, the Class 90-hauled trains only reach Leeds a few minutes behind their scheduled arrival time.

Whizz back to the curvier WCML, and the new trains with their better acceleration (and driver advisory systems that really make the most of their nippy performance) can get very close to the timings of the tilting Pendolinos.

TPE, CAF, Hitachi and Network Rail have undertaken extensive modelling to assess the requirements for non-tilting 125mph operation. The overhead traction equipment (not least the tension of the contact wire), signalling distances and vertical alignment (even a railway has to consider vertical accelerations to keep passengers comfortable and track materials intact) are 125mph-capable without any alteration.

Only curving forces present an issue, and having identified several test sections, CAF in particular have been running their Class 397s at the proposed speeds and ensuring that comfort in the passenger saloons isn’t impacted. Testing of this aspect of the new trains’ operation has shown that 125mph without tilt is comfortably feasible, and that the better acceleration of the units allows them to make more use of the short straight sections between curves.  

It remains to be seen if this will be extended southwards too, but given the reduction in costs that it would appear to represent and the potential benefits to passenger and freight operations, I’d be surprised if tilting capability (or the track-mounted enabling equipment) was retained anywhere beyond the life of the Class 221s and 390s.

[Edit: Given that the contract for Avanti West Coast’s new trains is for the same type of train as the TPE Class 802s, it is highly likely that this capability is going to be extended southwards.]

Within the route strategies for both Scotland and the North West, there are extensive plans for new, straighter parallel alignments to better regulate slower and faster trains — there’s no better way to improve capacity than extra steel, after all — but this is not expected to be delivered until Control Period 8 (2029–34) in readiness for HS2 Phase 2B.

In the meantime, some pragmatism from rolling stock and infrastructure engineers has gained a quick win for passengers. 125mph operations without tilt are happening as you read this.  

Was the development of tilt worthwhile? Of course. Should we mourn the loss of this clever kit? I don’t think so. In any case, the last tilting train in operation on our railway might well be departing sooner than you think

Pendolino, the last UK  tilting train in operation?

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

IC225 Fleet Lease Extension and Overhaul

Eversholt have announced that that they have extended the lease of seven high-speed, inter-city IC225 trains to London North Eastern Railway (LNER).

The lease runs up to summer 2023 with a possible extension to summer 2024. The original was to cease using IC225 trains when the Azuma fleet was complete.

The trains will provide extra capacity to LNER to boost that provided by the new fleet of 65 Azumas introduced since May last year.

This includes ten Class 91 locomotives, some of those being retained by LNER are 91101 Flying Scotsman, 91107 Skyfall, 91109 Sir Bobby Robson, 91110 Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, 91111 For the Fallen 91114 Durham Cathedral, and 91130 Lord Mayor of Newcastle.

A further two Class 91 locomotives are expected to be contracted. In total this will provide LNER with five spare locomotives.

Eversholt have also awarded Wabtec Faiveley UK a contract in parallel, to undertake the overhaul of the LNER IC225 fleet at their Doncaster facility.

The coaches and DVT's (Driving Van Trailer) will be overhauled by Wabtec Faiveley UK. 
Here DVT 82227 is heading a train at Newcastle on a London bound express in 2014.
The class 91's always push the trains southbound with 
the driver controlling the train from the  DVT .

The locomotives will receive a G exam, comprising an overhaul of the bogies including gearboxes and wheelsets, cardan shafts, compressors and traction motors. A number of reliability improvement modifications are also planned.

The Mark4 fleet will receive an OH1 exam including the overhaul of bogies, couplers and doors and an interior saloon and vestibule exam.

Class 91 007 one of the class 91's to be retained, is seen at the head of a 
northbound train at Newcastle in 2014

This work will be complete in January 2022.

Steve Timothy, Stakeholder Director, Eversholt Rail says, “We are pleased to continue to work with both LNER and Wabtec, to provide a safe and high-quality train experience for East Coast Main Line rail passengers.”

Andy Derbyshire, Group Managing Director, Wabtec Faiveley UK says “The award of this contract is excellent news for Wabtec Faiveley UK and our facility at Doncaster. We have developed a longstanding involvement with the IC225 fleet having worked on the vehicles since 2006. This continued collaboration has also been supported by the great working relationship we enjoy with both Eversholt Rail and LNER which contributes to the overall success of contracts and projects like this”.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Face Coverings Raise £2,400 for Charities

 BUS operator Transdev’s specially designed face covering featuring all the colours of its services across the North have raised more than £2,400 for NHS charities – with more to come as sales continue.

On June 15, the day Government instructions to wear face coverings when using public transport were introduced, Transdev began offering its designer “All the Colours of Transdev” face coverings online and at its bus stations.

Transdev CEO Alex Hornby hands over a cheque for £2,475 to Harrogate District Hospital’s Community and Events Fundraiser Georgia Hudson, representing NHS Charities Together

The colourful coverings quickly proved a big hit with customers in Yorkshire – so much so that extra supplies had to be ordered to keep pace with rapidly rising demand.

Transdev CEO Alex Hornby has now presented a cheque for £2,475 – the first wave of proceeds from sales of the washable and reusable face coverings – to community and events fundraiser Georgia Hudson, on behalf of NHS Charities Together, who support NHS staff and volunteers caring for Covid-19 patients nationwide.

Alex said: “We’ve always set out to make our buses places people want to be seen, and the same unique touch of style we’ve become famous for went into the design of our ‘All the Colours of Transdev’ face coverings.

“Our customers tell us they really like the bright and stylish appearance of our face coverings, and that they can be washed and used again and again, which is much better for the environment than disposable masks. They also encourage all those who can to wear a face covering every time they travel with us, and as more and more people continue to come back to the bus, that’s good news for everyone.

“We’re delighted by the positive response from our customers, and thanks to their generosity in buying our face coverings, we’ve now been able to present the first cheque to NHS Charities Together, with more to come as sales of our coverings continue.”

Transdev Blazefield leads the way in UK public transport as a visionary, forward-thinking bus operator providing high quality, award-winning bus services from eight centres across the North of England.

Its high-profile branded services are at the heart of everyday life for thousands of customers, while driving standards ever higher in competitive markets. 
In 2020’s Bus Passenger Survey, by independent transport watchdog Transport Focus, Transdev Blazefield’s The Keighley Bus Company achieved a highest-ever 93 per cent overall satisfaction rating, placing it among the top five per cent of England’s bus operators.