Friday, 25 June 2021

Record-breaking Class 43 Locomotive Donated to The 125 Group

  With the recent handover of 43102 (one of the power cars involved in the 1987 record breaking test run) to the National Collection at Shildon, the other power car 43159, has faced a less certain future, having been in store for a prolonged period since retirement from Great Western operation.

125 Group is delighted to announce that Porterbrook, the power car’s owner, has made a fantastic donation of this second world diesel speed record holder 43159, to 125 Group.

While the vehicles have been selected based on condition and availability, rather than painted number, the historical significance has certainly played a large part in this case, but 125 Group still satisfied itself that the vehicle was in good overall condition before confirming to Porterbrook that they wished to proceed.

This puts 125 Group in a unique position, as not only one of the few owners of preserved HST vehicles, but the only one that can show such a wide range of the HST’s history; 43159 of-course being fitted with an MTU engine as part of its return to service with First Great Western in 2007.

The Group’s plan for the fleet will see a Valenta fitted, Marston cooled power car (43044), two VP185 fitted power cars with Brush coolers (43048 & 43089) and an MTU powered example with Voith cooler (43159). All are planned to be maintained in an operational condition with main line certification. These power cars will be utilised in conjunction with the nine HST trailer vehicles owned by the Group, allowing a variation of formations and uses depending on the market need.

125 Group again wishes to place on record its sincerest gratitude to Porterbrook for their amazing generosity in supporting our aims, but also wishes to thank its own members, for their support and financial backing to bring this small fleet of HSTs into the preservation circle.

Ongoing support to our engineering/operational teams, or financial support towards the upkeep and operation of these fabulous vehicles, can be made through our Direct Debit schemes, or Group membership, as detailed on our website.

Thursday, 24 June 2021

England's First Hydrogen-powered Double Decker Buses Launched in London

Transport for London (TFL) has added 20 new environmentally friendly hydrogen double decker buses to its fleet.

Launched by London mayor Sadiq Khan in Ealing, the buses will provide commuters with smoother, quieter journeys thanks to less vibrations. Free-to-use USB charging ports will also be available onboard.

They will join more than 500 electric and over 3800 hybrid buses in TFL’s 9000-strong fleet.

Khan said: “Our investment in these hydrogen buses is not only helping us to clean up London’s air, but is supporting jobs and local economics across the UK. This is a great demonstration of how tackling air pollution and the climate crisis and boosting economic growth is about regions working together, investing in the very latest technology.”

The new buses, built in built by Wrightbus of Northern Ireland, produce only water vapour.

They will run on hydrogen cells from a plant in Runcorn, using waste hydrogen from an industrial plant. A greener process will be used from 2023, with cells being produced through electrolysis powered by an offshore windfarm.

Each bus will need to be refuelled just once a day, taking as little as five minutes, at a new fuelling station in Ealing.

In January, TfL announced London’s buses meet or exceed the cleanest Euro VI emissions standards. Diesel buses are also being phased out of the fleet and older buses have been retrofitted, reducing harmful NOx emissions from buses by an average of 90 per cent.

However, TfL interim director of buses Geoff Hobbs says more can be done:

“London may have one of the cleanest bus fleets in Europe, but we need to continue to act now to tackle climate change and the city’s toxic air quality. Introducing these hydrogen double decker buses to our fleet, alongside electric buses, diversifies our green bus portfolio and helps us use the right technology for the varying operational requirements of our vast network. This will help Londoners breathe cleaner air.”

London will not be the first city to introduce hydrogen double deckers. Aberdeen’s five-year hydrogen bus trial in 2015 was the most successful in Europe, racking up around 1.2m miles.
A new fleet of double deck Wrightbus Hydrogen vehicles was launched earlier this year in Aberdeen 
See here

Wednesday, 23 June 2021

Major Expansion of Bus and Metro Multi-operator Ticketing

Network One, the travel ticket covering any bus, the Metro and ferry, has been extended to include travel in County Durham and Northumberland making it easier for people to travel around the region using buses and the Tyne and Wear Metro.

Working together, the region’s transport companies, local authorities and the Joint Transport Committee, have worked in partnership to deliver integrated ticketing across the region throughout all seven local authority areas.

The North East has one of the oldest integrated and multi-operator transport ticketing schemes in the UK, with Network One providing travel tickets that can be used across all bus and Metro services, as well as the Shields Ferry, for over 30 years in Tyne and Wear.

(L-R) Martijn Gilbert chair of NEbus, Cllr Gannon chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee and leader of Gateshead Council, Steve Walker chair of Network One, and Kerry Leng head of marketing, communications and information at Nexus

Now people living outside of Tyne and Wear who travel in to use the Metro or other bus services will be able to buy one ticket that is valid throughout their journey.

The new ticket option, called ‘All Zones Plus’, can be bought on any mobile app of the region’s main bus companies, Go North East, Stagecoach and Arriva for travel on bus and Metro services – and the Shields Ferry.

At the same time, existing Tyne and Wear Network One All Zones tickets can now be purchased on a Pop smartcard which means that people can use one smartcard for multi-modal travel across the region regardless of which operators they are travelling with.

Steve Walker, chair of Network One Ticketing and managing director at Stagecoach North East, said: “Network One has long provided ticketing for customers in Tyne and Wear who use buses, Metro and the Ferry.

“It has also long been an aspiration for us to extend these tickets into County Durham and Northumberland. The travel work area has grown across the region, and I am pleased that this is now a reality making it easier for people to travel around the region.”

Martijn Gilbert, chair of NEbus and managing director at Go North East, said: “Partnership working has never been stronger in the region, with everyone working to an even more integrated and sustainable public transport network, which is crucial as the regional economy recovers from the pandemic.

“Improving ticketing and information through technology with mobile apps and smartcards are tools that have been in place at individual operators for many years.

“It is great that these tools have come together across all bus operators and Metro to make things even easier and simpler for customers.

“Our work does not stop here though as we will be continuing to work with Stakeholders, Nexus and the Metro, to further modernise and expand ticketing offers into the future, with contactless bankcard ticketing now available on all of the region’s main bus operators, and concepts such as ‘Tap on Tap off’ bankcard ticketing now in trial operation on three local bus routes, with more to come.”

Cllr Gannon, chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee and leader of Gateshead Council, added: “The launch of Network One as a truly regional integrated ticket is great news for passengers across the North East travelling by bus, Metro and ferry.

“This is a major customer development and a direct result of the close partnership working between the North East Joint Transport Committee and local bus operators. It goes to show the huge improvements we can make to everyday journeys, hopefully encouraging more people onto public transport, driving a green, sustainable recovery from the impact of the pandemic.”

Tuesday, 22 June 2021

Oxfordshire Competes for an Electric Bus Future

Bus users in the Oxford area could benefit from new, zero emission electric buses as Oxfordshire County Council prepares to take part in a new government funding competition in a bid to work towards reducing carbon emissions and offering cleaner air for all.

At the council’s June Cabinet meeting, officers will recommend the submission of an expression of interest in the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme, in support of the government’s Road to Zero Strategy for transition to zero emission transport by 2050.

Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said: “This bid marks a step-change in our aspirations. The new alliance now leading the council recognises that zero-emission buses are an essential part of meeting our climate goals. We must also cut air pollution, reduce noise and provide more frequent reliable bus services. This ambitious submission to the government's funding competition does all of that. It is an unequivocal demonstration of our commitment and shows that we are prepared to take radical steps to get us there.”

Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company Managing Director, said: “This project represents a major investment by bus operators and demonstrates our long-term commitment to continuing to improve air quality in our city, in partnership with Oxfordshire County Council. There is a lot to do to ensure delivery, including gaining confirmation of the additional government funding, and introducing a number of the bus priority schemes in Connecting Oxford to overcome congestion and ensure buses can be fully effective.”

Rachel Geliamassi, Managing Director for Stagecoach West, said: “Buses will play a key role in the country’s green recovery and supporting the delivery of cleaner air in Oxford.

“There is a huge opportunity ahead to reduce carbon emissions from transport by moving people out of cars and onto buses. Investment in electric buses, which is an exciting step forward for the city, alongside practical measures to give buses more priority on the road can all help to encourage more people onto sustainable public transport and support the ambition for a cleaner Oxford.”

Up to £120 million is being made available by the government through the scheme, which will allow local transport authorities to bid for funding to purchase zero-emission buses, reduce the carbon emissions from local public transport and improve air quality in towns and cities. The funding will deliver up to 500 zero-emission buses across the country, supporting the government’s wider commitment to introduce 4,000 zero-emission buses.

Under the proposals being prepared for an Oxfordshire bid, an area across Oxford city and the surrounding area would be covered by the electric fleet from Kidlington in the north to Sandford-on-Thames in the south, and from Cumnor in the west to Wheatley in the east.

The ambitious proposals would cost potentially £78.3 million in total, with around £41m coming from the city’s two main bus operators (Oxford Bus Company and Stagecoach), £31.68m from the government, and up to £6m from the county council.

The announcement comes at a time when both city and county councils are set to implement a Zero Emission Zone this August in the city centre. The support offered by this bid would be a significant boost to helping reduce emissions from public transport and improving services for passengers.

Cabinet will be asked to approve the submission of an expression of interest for the scheme and agree funding of up to £6m in 2022/23 towards the scheme when it meets later this month.

Monday, 21 June 2021

Stagecoach Marks Clean Air Day With Call For Mass Post-Covid Switch From Car To Public Transport

Stagecoach, major bus, coach and tram operator, is marked Clean Air Day  with a call for a mass switch from cars to public transport as the country looks to emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Latest data from the UK Department for Transport shows a worrying rise in car use. Over the last two weekends, car traffic has been above pre-pandemic levels and as high as 108% of the position before March 2020. In contrast, use of buses outside London is currently at around 60%-70% of pre-pandemic levels, with passenger volumes on the national rail network at just under 50%.

Stagecoach has called for a major shift in transport behaviour to address health and climate challenges facing the country. Diesel cars and vans are responsible for 70% of transport NOx emissions. Studies have also found air pollution causes up to 36,000 deaths in the UK annually.

Poor air quality causes heart and lung diseases, is linked to low birth weight and children’s lung development and may even contribute to mental health issues. Studies have also shown additional links to higher infection and death rates from Covid-192.

Buses can play a huge role in reducing air pollution and congestion, with a fully loaded double decker bus able to take 75 cars off the road. As the UK plans for a post-Covid world and prepares to host the COP26 climate summit in November, switching from the car to more sustainable public transport can also help meet the net zero targets set by the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments.

Sharon Vye-Parminter, Health, Safety and Environment Director for Stagecoach, said: “We need a mass switch from cars to public transport, particularly buses, if we are to avoid a growing health and climate crisis. But there are already worrying signs in our towns and cities that car use is growing rather than falling.

“Technology alone will not solve the challenges we face. We need to make real changes to how we all live our lives and there has never been a better opportunity for government and public transport operators to work together to help people make that switch.”

Independent research published before the Covid-19 pandemic found that without Stagecoach bus services, there would be an annual increase of 190,000 tonnes of CO2 through passengers using alternative transport, mainly cars. The study by the Centre for Economic and Business Research also found that £343 million in potential congestion-related savings are delivered by Stagecoach from a reduction of 1.22 billion miles of traffic. 

Later this summer, Stagecoach is due to publish its new sustainability strategy, with a range of environmental and other targets designed to help deliver a greener, smarter, safer, healthier and fairer future for the country. It has already announced plans to target a fully zero-emission bus fleet by 2035.

Over £1 billion has been invested by Stagecoach in 7,000 new greener vehicles and technologies in the past decade. It includes a fleet of 32 new electric double-decker buses introduced in Manchester last year, one of Europe’s single biggest investments in electric technology. During 2021, Stagecoach will be introducing a further 46 new fully electric buses in its key Scottish transport networks in Aberdeen, Kilmarnock and Perth. New coaches have also recently been introduced in East Scotland fitted with solar panels to provide clean solar energy on board.

As well as rolling out new lower emission buses, Stagecoach is also investing in new technology and personalised solutions to encourage more people to move away from their cars and onto public transport. 

A new corporate partnership scheme has recently been launched offering discounted bus travel to NHS employees in Scotland and schemes are in place around the UK offering demand responsive transport solutions to the NHS and other businesses and communities.

In 2020, Stagecoach was awarded the London Stock Exchange (LSE) Green Economy Mark. It recognises listed companies and funds which derive 50% or more of their revenues from environmental solutions.

Sunday, 20 June 2021

Updated Northern Statement on Class 195 and 331 Fault

Northern has issued the following statement relating to faults identified earlier this year on the new fleet of trains built by CAF

A spokesperson for Northern said: “A fault was identified on some of the new fleet of trains built by CAF and operated by Northern.

“The fault affected the brackets attached to yaw dampers (a system designed to reduce swaying motion in the carriage) and resulted in 24 trains being removed from service while the issue was investigated.

"While the root cause of the problem has not yet been fully established, we have worked closely with CAF to resolve the issue. As part of this work, CAF and Northern developed an interim modification which is now being fitted to all the affected trains.

"The vast majority of those trains are now back in service on our network, with only a handful yet to have the modification fitted.

"Work is ongoing to design a permanent modification that can be applied to all CAF trains operated by Northern.”

Previous Posting here

Saturday, 19 June 2021

195 Electric Bus Order For BYD ADL Vehicles Sees RATP Dev London Make Strides Towards Emission Free Transport By 2037

BYD UK and Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) have jointly confirmed that their electric vehicle partnership will deliver the UK’s largest ever electric bus order. 
The order has been placed by RATP Dev London, one of Transport for London (TfL)’s principal bus operators, for a total of 195 single and double deck vehicles.

With this order, RATP Dev London confirms its commitment to supporting TfL’s electrification plan for London’s bus network, a key objective of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy for 2018, under which all TfL buses will be zero emissions by 2037, with all of London’s transport becoming emissions free by 2037.

68 BYD ADL Enviro200EV single decks are on order – including
21 compact 10.2-metre models

The record order comes as the BYD ADL partnership continues to go from strength to strength, just five years after it was launched, thanks to its proven combination of BYD’s world-class battery electric driveline technology and ADL’s British-built bodies, which can be fully customised to reflect operating requirements. 

In London alone, over 400 BYD ADL electric buses have cumulatively covered over 20 million zero-emission miles, with close to another 300 vehicles on order including this latest intake for RATP Dev London. RATP Dev London will be the largest operator of electric buses in London by the beginning of 2022, with close to 25% of its London United and London Sovereign fleet fully electric.

Deliveries of RATP Dev London’s latest BYD ADL fleet will begin in the summer. 68 BYD ADL Enviro200EV single decks – including 21 compact 10.2-metre models – and 127 BYD ADL Enviro400EV double decks will be based at RATP Dev London’s Fulwell, Harrow and Shepherd’s Bush depots to serve routes in the west of the capital. 
The buses will join 36 existing BYD ADL single decks in service since 2018 and 29 BYD ADL double decks delivered last year. 
Feedback from RATP Dev London on these in-service vehicles has been very positive, with the double deck BYD ADL Enviro400EV in particular delivering exceptional reliability on 24-hour route operations.

Catherine Chardon, Managing Director of RATP Dev London, said, “Electrification is a critical part of our business and partnership with Transport for London (TfL). We launched our two first 100% electric routes less than two years ago, as well as London’s first fully electric 24-hour double-decker bus route last year. By the beginning of 2022, we will operate 15 zero emission routes and have five of our garages converted to electric. This agreement will help RATP Dev London position itself as the leading electric bus services provider in the city. We are proud to work hand in hand with TfL to help London achieve its sustainability goals.”

BYD UK Managing Director, Frank Thorpe, said, “Naturally, this is a hugely significant moment in the development of the BYD brand in the UK. Public transport in the capital often provides the blueprint for other towns and cities and the fact that a major operator like RATP Dev is making such a substantial commitment to eMobility will, I believe, resonate with Local Authorities across the UK. 
The increasing electrification of routes by TfL operators is delivering long-term productivity to their fleets and real environmental benefits for Londoners.”

Paul Davies, ADL President & Managing Director, said: “RATP Dev London’s record order is a resounding vote of confidence in our British-built electric buses and ADL’s proven ability to tailor these to authorities and operators’ requirements. These buses will build on our pioneering work in support of Transport for London’s Bus Safety Standard with a focus on safety for drivers, passengers and other road users.”

Friday, 18 June 2021

Royal Scot Pendolino Attempts London to Glasgow Record

Record was missed by just 21 seconds following the collaborative efforts of Avanti West Coast and Network Rail

Avanti West Coast has named one of its Pendolino trains ‘Royal Scot’ to mark a record attempt with Network Rail for the fastest journey between London and Glasgow.

Royal Scot at Euston

The 390044 Pendolino carries the name of what was once the flagship train in the West Coast Main Line Timetable and which provided the fastest passenger services from London to Glasgow for many years.

Royal Scot made its inaugural journey yesterday (17 June) with a non-stop run from London Euston to Glasgow Central that aimed to beat a record of 3 hours 52 minutes and 40 seconds that was set in 1984 by an Advanced Passenger Train (APT) – the tilting high speed train developed by British Rail for the West Coast Main Line.

While the record was missed by just 21 seconds the collaborative efforts of Avanti West Coast and Network Rail enabled the nine-carriage Pendolino to travel at an average speed of 103 mph during the journey. The final time was clocked at 3 hours, 53 minutes and one second.

Today's run was the fastest ever by a Pendolino between London and Glasgow , breaking the previous record of 3 hours 55 minutes 27 seconds in 2006.

Britain’s biggest-selling rail title, The Railway Magazine, also offered its readers an exclusive seat onboard – with proceeds from ticket sales going to Avanti West Coast’s charity partner, Action for Children, and Railway Benefit Fund.

The charity event champions the ease of travelling between the home nations by train and the potential to boost connectivity between them in the future, as well as the environmental benefits of rail travel – the ordinary journey time (4 hours 30 minutes) for the 401.25-mile journey by train emits 24kg of carbon dioxide per passenger km compared with a plane journey of the same distance that emits 158kg per passenger km – saving 134kg of CO2 per passenger km.

A drone shot of the train at Gretna

The record run is the latest project to be carried out by Avanti West Coast and Network Rail. It follows the delivery of additional upgrade works while the rail network was quieter with fewer trains. These upgrades aim to make journeys more reliable as the industry welcomes back passengers.

Sir Peter Hendy, Chairman of Network Rail, said: “Today marked a brilliant collaboration across the railway industry! This this event shows how the clean, green railway of today can cement economic growth, jobs, housing and social cohesion through better connectivity across the United Kingdom. There will be more on better connectivity by rail and faster journey times between England and Scotland when I publish my final Union Connectivity Report for the Prime Minister in the summer.”

Steve Montgomery, First Rail Managing Director, said: “As we begin to build back better from the pandemic, the essential role of rail services in connecting our major cities and driving economic growth whilst combating climate change, has never been clearer. This record attempt shows how effectively rail can deliver cross-border connectivity.

Royal Scot arrives at Glasgow.
Driver Neil Barker at the controls

Phil Whittingham, Managing Director at Avanti West Coast said: “While we’re disappointed we’ve not broken the record today, we are proud to have worked with industry partners to showcase the vital role rail can play in enabling cleaner, greener travel and connectivity across the United Kingdom.

“We want to connect people and places to opportunity, so we’re pleased to champion the railway’s part in this with our record attempt, while supporting Action for Children and Railway Benefit Fund whose work supports families and individuals along our route. The addition of Royal Scot to our Pendolino fleet highlights our commitment to connecting the nations we serve on the West Coast Main Line and we look forward to helping to deliver better Union Connectivity.”

Locks Farmer, Director of Fundraising & Marketing, Action for Children, said: “We are so grateful Avanti West Coast has supported Action for Children through this exciting record attempt. The money raised will help ensure we can continue providing essential support to children who desperately need our help. Thanks to Avanti West Coast, Action for Children can be a lifeline to children and young people, giving them the tools they need to have a safe and happy childhood.”

Pete Waterman, President of the Railway Benefit Fund, said: “It’s a real privilege for the Railway Benefit Fund to be involved in this Record Run attempt. Time is of the essence for us all and every seven minutes somebody in our railway family reaches out to the RBF for help and advice. We are so thankful for the support of Avanti West Coast and Railway Magazine, which ensures we can continue to meet the increase in demand for our services and help the Railway family through tough times.”

Thanks to Avanti West Coast for information and photos

Thursday, 17 June 2021

'Dive Under' Proposed to Allow Coventry to Leicester Trains to Run Again

Plans for an ambitious feat of civil engineering close to the Leicestershire border have been proposed, to connect up Leicester and Coventry by rail once again. Currently, the train journey from Coventry to Leicester takes close to an hour despite the cities being so close.

A new 'dive under' has been proposed at Nuneaton in order to run trains from Coventry to Leicester and on to Loughborough and Nottingham.

The link would significantly reduce travel time - but is not without difficulties, not least the existing railway lines to Nuneaton, which stand in the way. 
Direct services ceased to stop in 2004, as an increased number of services started running from the West Midlands to London via Nuneaton, leaving no room for the East-West Coventry to Leicester trains to continue running."

So one set of rail lines will need to be tunnelled under the other track.

Midland's Connect have put forward the plans which have been supported by Leicestershire County Council, Leicester City Council and City Mayor, Peter Soulsby.

Currently there is no space for services to run through the station, which means travellers have to change platforms and trains at Nuneaton.
Mayor Peter Soulsby said the current setup is "appallingly connected."

Midland's Connect has determined that a dive under is the best way to tackle the problem, but the scheme overall will cost in the region of £100m.

It added: "In this business case, a dive under is the best way to alleviate this congestion and run direct services once more.

"We still need to work up the detail to understand how long it will take to implement."

The firm are eager for the scheme to get underway as soon as possible but are currently waiting on 'positive funding decisions.'

If the scheme is approved, direct trains from Leicester to Coventry and Nottingham could run again as soon as 2025.

When and if work begins, the West Coast Main Line would be temporarily closed but it is expected to take only a couple of weeks. A number of closures are already planned by HS2, so it is hoped that any work could tie in with this to avoid causing further disruption.

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

Bid to Double the Number of Hydrogen Buses Coming to Liverpool City Region

Liverpool City Region’s planned hydrogen bus fleet could double in size – before the first vehicle even hits the road.

Funding is already in place to buy 20 double-decker hydrogen buses to initially serve the city region’s busiest route – the 10A between St Helens and Liverpool city centre.

A proposed bid for extra funding was discussed and agreed at the Combined Authority (CA) meeting on Friday 4th June, that could see the hydrogen bus fleet increased to 40 vehicles – enough to fully service the route.

The roll out of new zero-emission hydrogen buses is a key part of Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s plans to deliver an integrated London-style transport system.

Funding towards the additional hydrogen buses would come via a bid to the government’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Area scheme (ZEBRA). If successful, the funding would cover up to 75% of the cost difference between the highly efficient hydrogen vehicles and a standard bus.

This would mean the £12.5m committed through the Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) already committed to the project could be spread over the cost of more vehicles, hugely increasing the size of the new fleet for the City Region.

The new buses will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells, a safe and reliable technology that lends itself well to heavy duty vehicles such as buses.

Procurement has started for the city region’s hydrogen buses that are due to go into service next year.

The fleet is an important element of Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram’s ‘Vision for Bus’, which commits to using the powers available through devolution to build a better, more reliable and affordable bus network for the Liverpool City Region.

Broader plans for the project also include the building of hydrogen refuelling facilities, which will be the first of their kind in the North West. Construction of the refuelling facilities is planned to begin later in the year.

With the Metro Mayor having set a target for the Liverpool City Region to become net zero carbon by 2040, hydrogen buses will join the existing fleet in the city region which is already more than 70% low emissions. That’s been achieved through the use of cleaner engines, hybrid and electric power and biomethane gas.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said:

“My plans to deliver a London-style transport system that is quick, cheap and reliable, and a Green Industrial Revolution that tackles the climate crisis while doubling the number of green jobs in the region were overwhelmingly endorsed by people in every part of our area. I’m wasting no time in getting down to work and delivering them.

“82% of all public transport journeys in our region are taken by bus and this new fleet will give people a clean, green and comfortable way to get about. I’m already working to double the size of the fleet so more people can enjoy these buses and the improved air quality we’ll get as a result.”

See previous posting here

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

West Somerset Railway Level Crossing Works Mean No Trains Between Dunster and Minehead

Although the West Somerset Railway is back in operation again, passengers will  be unable to travel through to Minehead station, due to delays to work on the level crossing at Seward Way, Minehead.  Passengers will travel by bus between Minehead and Dunster, until the crossing is operational later in the year.

A joint statement by West Somerset Railway and Somerset County Council on the situation with the upgrade of the level crossing at Seaward Way, Minehead.

Following resumption of services in May, we're delighted that visitors are once again enjoying the very special experience offered by the West Somerset Railway.

Though it is disappointing that installation of the Seaward Way Crossing could not be completed in time for the summer as hoped, due mainly to the impact of the Covid emergency, WSR is ensuring there will still be a service the full length of the journey from Minehead to Bishops Lydeard. 

Seaward Way Level Crossing Minehead

Passengers will travel by bus between Minehead and Dunster, until the crossing is operational later in the year. In keeping with the unique traveller experience offered by the WSR the journey will be by vintage bus at weekends.

We are keenly aware of the importance of this service to local businesses in Minehead which is why the WSR is providing this bus service.

MDJ 918E is an AEC Regent V with MCW bodywork is seen opposite the station at Minehead seafront in May 2008, whilst operating a service from Minehead station. It is planned to use vintage buses at weekends on replacement bus services

This is a complex project involving a number of agencies and equipment suppliers and it has unfortunately been hit hard by the Covid crisis. There have been supply chain issues for some key parts and most of the specialist rail contractors needed for this work are also currently required by Network Rail for vital works across the main UK network. Initial planning started in 2018 and the design was completed in 2020. It was finally approved by the Office of Rail and Road, the regulator, in February.

A great deal of preparatory work has already taken place, including a significant amount of work off site. Despite the difficulties, it's anticipated the crossing will be operational in time for the festive season.

West Somerset website here

Monday, 14 June 2021

Passenger Rolls Out Free Watch Apps to Help Boost UK Public Transport Uptake

Passenger, creators of the highest-rated transport software in the UK is enhancing its support for bus operators as lockdown eases by offering its Premium customers free watch apps.

The UK technology company is rolling out Android and iOS watch apps as part of its existing Premium packages – offering an average saving of £2,000 per year.

Tom Quay, CEO at Passenger commented: “Many bus operators have had to fast-track their digital strategies over the past year to keep up with changing customer needs. Now more than ever, people want a quick, efficient, and safe travel option to get them from A to B – and unfortunately, many believe their car is the best option.

“We want to help bus operators inspire more people to opt for public transport, and a huge part of this is giving people quick and easy options for journey planning. That’s why we’re extending our Premium apps package license to include free watch apps, making it easy for users to plan their journeys on the move.”

Passenger’s free watch apps offer comes as the government’s National Bus Strategy powers through its first stage. By the end of this month, local transport authorities (LTAs) will need to commit to establishing Enhanced Partnerships across all areas, working with operators to create and deliver Bus Service Improvement plans unique to each area.

Tom Quay continued: “The National Bus Strategy is crucial for rebuilding confidence and increasing ridership in bus travel, presenting an opportunity to universally reform provisions and reclaim the roads. As an industry, as we drive this forwards, we’re continuing to work closely with bus operators to understand what they need to get customers back on board, and our latest watch app offer is one of various initiatives we’ve launched in response.”

Passenger’s Premium watch apps for Android and iOS allow users to:
Find their closest stops
Look up departures from ‘favourite’ stops.
Send departure boards to the watch from the app.
View a step count/distance to bus stops
Receive notifications when they approach their stop (currently iOS only)

Bus operators can visit to find out more about Passenger’s Premium package offering.

Sunday, 13 June 2021

Solaris Package Deal for Eight Electric Solaris buses and Charging Infrastructure in Gorzów

Solaris Bus & Coach has signed a deal for the supply of eight zero-emission Urbino 12 electric buses with the city of Gorzów Wielkopolski and the operator Miejski Zakład Komunikacji in Gorzów Wielkopolski. 
The contract covers also an investment part for the design and building of the vehicle charging infrastructure, demonstrating how Solaris can offer a full package of turnkey electromobility solutions. The total net value of the contract amounts to over £4.8m.

The electric vehicles will be fitted with Solaris High Power batteries with a total capacity of ca. 120 kWh. The batteries will be used to store the energy needed to feed the electric drive axle of the vehicle. Two charging modes will be available, conventional plug-in as well as pantograph charging. 

In this particular case the municipal carrier opted for an inverted pantograph which is mounted on a mast and not on the roof of the bus. The 12-metre electric bus will provide space for at least 80 passengers. The driver’s cabin in the commissioned model will be completely shut off.

Petros Spinaris, Deputy CEO of Solaris Bus & Coach commented
“As the popularity of electromobility is rising, and it is becoming an option that is readily available to public transport operators, so are the 
expectations of municipal carriers. Hence, among others, the bigger number of turnkey tenders, encompassing not only the purchase of vehicles but also of infrastructure needed to recharge electric buses. We are ready for this challenge. Our experience and technological know-how allow us to be a competent partner for operators at every stage of the implementation of e-mobility solutions. We are happy that Gorzów will join the ranks of cities with zero-emission fleets,” said 

In the case of the contract with Gorzów Wielkopolski, Solaris has committed to expand the bus terminus, to design and build three pantograph chargers, with a massive 400 kW in charging power, which will be deployed at the termini in strategic city areas. 
These chargers will allow the operator to maximise the daily operability of electric buses. Also, the producer is also due to deliver four depot charging stations, each coming with two charging points, boasting a power of 2 x 60 kW; allowing standard overnight charging of vehicles.

In the photo (from the left): Mateusz Nalewajski (Commercial Operations Deputy Director, Solaris Bus & Coach Sp. z o.o.), Petros Spinaris (Deputy CEO, Solaris Bus & Coach Sp. z o.o.), Jacek Wójcicki (Mayor of the City of Gorzów Wielkopolski), Roman Maksymiak (CEO, MZK Gorzów Wielkopolski).


Saturday, 12 June 2021

Alexander Dennis Unveils its First Zero-emission, Three-axle Double Deck Bus, the Enviro500EV CHARGE for North America

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”), has unveiled its first zero-emission, three-axle double deck bus through a Vehicle Innovation Center (“VIC”) virtual event. The Enviro500EV CHARGE is the North American all-electric version of the world’s best-selling double decker.

The Enviro500EV CHARGE includes all the usual benefits that come with Alexander Dennis’s double deck buses, including panoramic views and low floor entry. It also features several industry firsts including full independent front suspension for a smoother and more comfortable ride, as well as an integrated electric drive system tailored to the requirements of North American transit agencies.

An electric portal axle with hub motors provides fast and efficient propulsion for the Enviro500EV CHARGE with 2×125kW peak power output. The drive and auxiliary axles have been switched with power supplied at the third axle, ensuring optimum weight distribution and high passenger capacity.

A class-leading 648kWh of energy storage is provided by batteries that are integrated in the chassis and the rear of the vehicle for a low centre of gravity and great stability. These are fed through industry standard CCS1 charging points available on the left or the right side of the bus. Gantry charging is an option.

The system includes an electric heat pump to provide both heating and cooling, which minimizes the amount of energy required and increases range capability of the fully air-conditioned Enviro500EV CHARGE. A stylish new dashboard features an economy gauge and halo color to immediately give drivers prominent feedback on how economically they are operating the bus.

Like all Alexander Dennis double deckers for North America, the 45-foot Enviro500EV CHARGE offers an amazing passenger experience with reclined seating, overhead reading lights and air vents, USB ports, and Wi-Fi and multimedia capability – but its main feature is the high passenger capacity with up to 82 seats, including 53 on the upper deck. 
A well-lit staircase with conveniently positioned handrails, wide entrance and wide exit doors, a 1-in-6 mobility ramp, unobstructed isles with sculpted handrails, mobility devices, and fully flat floor through to the rear seating ensure outstanding accessibility.

The Enviro500EV CHARGE forms part of NFI’s market-leading range of zero emission buses and coaches alongside New Flyer’s Xcelsior CHARGE NG™ and Xcelsior CHARGE H2™, MCI’s J4500 CHARGE™ and D45 CRT LE CHARGE™, and the ARBOC Equess CHARGE™. 
It is Buy America compliant and Altoona testing is scheduled to start later this year.

Paul Soubry, NFI President and Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are excited to have Alexander Dennis join in on producing zero emission bus solutions for North America as this is the very first launch of an Alexander Dennis vehicle at our Vehicle Innovation Center. 
When acquiring ADL and welcoming the company into NFI Group in May 2019, their strong international growth agenda and double deck platform were extremely interesting to us and today’s launch brings together both of these elements. 
As NFI Group, we are leading the evolution to zero-emission mobility – Leading the ZEvolution as we like to call it – and Alexander Dennis is a central part of this.”

Paul Davies, ADL President and Managing Director, said: “The Alexander Dennis Enviro family is the world’s best-selling double deck bus of which over 18,000 have been sold around the globe. Today we add a milestone as we unveil our first ever battery electric, three-axle, high-capacity double deck bus. 
We are very excited by the positive feedback already received from transit agencies who have trialled this vehicle and look forward to delivering zero-emission service with our double decks across North America.”

Steve Walsh, Vice President of Alexander Dennis Inc., said: “There is no better or more sustainable way to move large numbers of passengers than the Enviro500EV CHARGE. 
45 feet long, 2 decks, up to 82 seats, 648kWh of energy storage, and equally at home cruising at highways or in downtown city streets, it takes zero-emission mobility to an entirely new level.”

Friday, 11 June 2021

Scotland’s Railway on Track For Net Zero Emissions by 2035

On World Environment Day (Saturday, 5 June), the United Nations encouraged countries to take action to protect our environment.
This worldwide awareness includes rail networks, with Scotland’s Railway having a big part to play in reducing the industry’s carbon emissions to net zero by 2035.

ScotRail and its partners are already making rail healthier by assisting in the fight against climate change and, the numbers from the train operator are impressive.

Between 2014 and 2019 Scotland’s Railway electrified 325km of the country’s central railway network. This investment supported the introduction of a new £370million fleet of 70 faster, greener, modern electric trains, the class 385 built by Hitachi, with 44 per cent more capacity for customers.

These trains are cutting carbon emissions by over 10,000 tonnes a year, which is the equivalent of taking 2,238 cars off the road every year, or planting 5,138,151 trees across the fleet’s expected 30 year lifetime.

More than 76 per cent of passenger and 45 per cent of freight journeys are already electrified on Scotland’s Railway, and rail is the most sustainable mode of public transport, contributing only one per cent of Scotland’s overall transport carbon emissions.

The difficulties posed in the route clearance of structures to ensure there is sufficient headroom to run the electric wires under bridges and through tunnels is a major challenge.

Around 90 structures needed to be rebuilt or significantly altered to support electrification works across Scotland, including bespoke systems introduced through Winchburgh and Queen Street tunnels.

There are a number of other ways Scotland’s Railway will play a leading role towards net zero.

· All diesel trains will be taken out of service over the next 15 years through the decarbonisation of the rail infrastructure.
· There are projects currently underway to do this on lines around Glasgow such as East Kilbride and Barrhead, creating more sustainable journeys and stations.
· ScotRail has introduced a fuel additive that is projected to deliver a three per cent reduction in fleet diesel usage with further associated savings in carbon and nitrous oxides.
· A plan to deliver Scotland’s first net zero carbon station at Falkirk High.
· Encourage a shift from road to rail freight; one freight train carrying 560 tonnes of goods is the equivalent of almost 70 HGV road trips.
· Introduction of hydrogen and battery trains over the next 14 years.
· Investing in biodiversity schemes which have resulted in ScotRail-owned land being developed to include native wildflower meadows, orchards, ponds and bird and bug houses. Field voles and hedgehogs have now been found at one depot.

David Lister, ScotRail Safety, Sustainability & Asset Director, said:

“Rail is already the most sustainable mode of public transport, but, there’s no doubt a cleaner and greener network is something we should all be working towards.

“Our Decarbonisation Action Plan aims to eliminate carbon emissions completely by 2035 and we are well on track to achieving that ambitious target.”

Bill Reeve, Transport Scotland Director of Rail, said:

"We have made real strides in recent years towards electrifying Scotland's Railway, which is making a genuine contribution towards reaching our decarbonisation targets.

"World Environment Day offers us a real opportunity to reflect on the progress made to date, as we look to build a green recovery moving forward through and beyond the challenges of the global pandemic."