Thursday 30 June 2011

Sir Brian Souter, the outspoken chief executive of Stagecoach, has warned that government plans to cut the rail industry’s cost base will fail unless train operators receive enough political support to counter resistance from unions.

The government has pledged to cut the cost of carrying people on Britain’s railways by 30 per cent in eight years after an official study by Sir RoyMcNulty showed they cost 40 per cent more to operate than equivalent systems in Europe.

Stagecoach are warning that the Government would need a stomach for a fight as it backed the plans from Sir Roy McNulty to cut billions of pounds of railway costs.

Colin Sellers

The 10:10 from Chisinau (Moldova) to Iasi (Romania)

A line-up of minibuses in Chinisau south bus station. The red one is the 10:10 to Iasi and the one on its left is having a puncture repaired.

After 2 and a half hours on awful roads we are near the frontier.

A Moldovan horse and car on a typical side roadt but we also saw several n Romania.

Arrival in Iasi at about 15:00.

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Misc buses in Chisinau

Minibuses and country buses seem to be banned from the main street and have to fight their way through the side streets.

This is a Hungarian built Ikarus. These buses were the work horses of eastern europe and a few Ikarus bodies were imported into the UK but the factory simply was not competetive and closed in the 1990s.
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Deltics at Shildon

All six surviving production Deltic locomotives will be re-united at the National Railway Museum in Shildon at a special event to be held between 8th and 9th October 2011. They will join the prototype Deltic which is permanently displayed at Shildon.
The last time all six production versions were together was at Barrow Hill on August 11th 2006 and by arranging this years event to take place at Shildon will give the opportunity for the six to be seen alongside the prototype which, although restored externally, is not operational and unlikely ever to work under its own power again.
The prototype was introduced in 1955 and operated initially on the West Coast mainline. In 1959 Deltic transferred to the East Coast mainline until 1961, when it was withdrawn after a power plant failure, having covered over 450,000 miles.
After 20 years on display at the Science Museum in London, the prototype Deltic was moved to the National Railway Museum at York in October 1993 from where it was eventually moved to Shildon.

David Gambles

Wednesday 29 June 2011


Wide streets with little traffic were common in Soviet towns and cities.

These buses were made in Lviv (Ukraine) and usually had petrol engines. The gas cylinders on the roof have the letters METAN in the cyrillic script.

Soviet trolleybuses would not have carried ads for Mastercard.

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Commenting on the results, Chief Executive, Sir Brian Souter, said: 

"We are seeing growing demand for our bus and rail services in the UK and North America, with further evidence of modal shift as consumers look for better value and more convenient transport alternatives to the rising cost of motoring and increasing road congestion."

All divisions have reported increased revenue and operating profit. At UK Bus there was sector-leading profit margin with good passenger volume growth trends and UK Rail underpinned by operational delivery and customer satisfaction. Stagecoach are shortlisted for the forthcoming Greater Anglia and West Coast rail franchises.

Revenue for the year to 30 April 2011 was £2,389.8m (2010: £2,164.4m).  Total operating profit (before intangible asset expenses and exceptional items) was up 25.1% at £240.2m (2010: £192.0m), reflecting increased profit in all divisions.  Earnings per share before intangible asset expenses and exceptional items were 27.3% higher at 23.8p (2010: 18.7p).

In line with the Group's good performance, the Directors have proposed a final dividend of 4.9p per share, giving a total dividend per share for the year up 9.2% at 7.1p (2010: 6.5p). The proposed final dividend is payable to shareholders on the register at 2 September 2011 and will be paid on 5 October 2011.

David Gambles 29/06/11

Tuesday 28 June 2011

China's New High Speed Railway

The Beijing-Shanghai High-Speed Railway has opened, cutting journey time between China's political center and commercial hub in half, to under five hours. The 819 mile long rail line was completed in just three years and has trains that travel at 300 kph (186mph).
China now boasts more than 8,300 kilometers (5,100 miles) of high-speed routes, turning a non-existent network to the world's longest in a few short years.

Colin Sellers 28/06/11

The North Devon Surfbus

An interesting development down in the West Country is recorded hereon the following website.

However, this is not perhaps the first time that something like this has occurred. Way back in the 1960s when the the new Dartford Tunnel had opened, there was a need to provide alternative transport for cyclists. Thus the Dartford Tunnel Joint Committee acquired five Ford 6D Thames Trader vehicles with suitably adjusted bodywork provided by the Strachans company. With 33-seats on the upper deck, racks on the lower deck enabled the accommodation of 23 cycles. A rather steep staircase needed to be climbed to the upper deck, but being cyclists, they were obviously deemed fit enough to do just that. No doubt in today's climate such antics would be frowned upon by Health & Safety.
The buses were operated on the Committee's behalf by the then London Transport Board and I believe they were housed and maintained at the Dartford Garage.
Two images are attached. An original black and white in my collection showing the rear aspect from an unknown photographer, the other one of the five that remains to this day in the hands of a preservationist in Essex. This image was taken by me in the yard of the then Ensignbus company at Dagenham in July 1993.

Tony Wilson


Two presidents: who is the guy on the right?

International minibus.

Are tanks within scope of Focus Transport?

Newcastle's Hybrids Start to Arrive

Stagecoach Newcastle's Enviro hybrids are starting to arrive. Out of the order for 26, so far 12061-8/72 have arrived and they are to be seen parked at the Walkergate depot just east of the city centre.
Driver familiarisation is now taking place in advance of the new vehicles being introduced on the 39 and 40 cross-city routes.
As usual with an influx of new deliveries, there is great speculation about vehicle cascades and rumours are that the X87 / 88 services will be converted from single decker MAN operation to double deck Enviro 400 operation using Enviro 400 's currently used on the 39 and 40 routes.
The new hybrids have arrived much earlier than expected so that could mean the 21 ordered for Sheffield are likely to be delivered soon.
Both the Newcastle and Sheffield vehicles were ordered by Stagecoach following last years Green Bus Funding Awards, when Transport Minister Norman Baker announced that the government would fund the difference in cost between standard buses and the more expensive hybrids.
David Gambles

Monday 27 June 2011

A selection of Chisinau buses

There are a few full-size motor buses on town services. I think these are Hyundais. They have step entrances and manual gearboxes and a very Japanese sliding centre door. They run M-F paralleling the trolleybuses but charge a premium fare of 18p compared with 12p on the trolleys.

A route and manufacturer branded Merc.

Kassborer Setra.

This bus once belonged to Connex. Our guess of The Netherlands has been confirmed by Tony Wilson.

Christoph, a friend from Germany, comments:
"I had to comment on one bus picture from Chisinau posted on 27 June, by the way. The greenish Dutch bus belonged to Connexxion, originally a Dutch state-owned company which had nothing to do with the French company Connex."

Almost Stagecoach stripes.

Malta's last Hurrah

As Malta gears up (!) for the last gasp saloon of the quaint Maltese Bus, herewith are three interesting views that have recently been reported in the various media outlets.


Can I just add a couple of images to my last posting.
It appears to me by the various reports that things at the moment appear to be descending into some sort of chaos, which is a shame. I am only grateful that the memsahib insisted that we took the opportunity to visit the island and sample the delights of this unique transport system back in March when it was still relatively (!) stable.
Have attached a couple of images that sort of summed up the scene in Valletta.
Finally something that has occurred to me, are the Maltese aware that after all their heroics during WW2, they are now to be transported around their homeland by the Germans!


Chisinau trolleybuses

20 years ago when Chisinau was in the Soviet Union local transport was provided by a comprehensive network of trolleybuses. Today some of those trolleybuses are still running but most people use 'bread van' type minibuses and no doubt car traffic has increased.

Some new low floor trolleybuses have recently entered service. I think they were built in Belarus.

Sunday 26 June 2011

Stagecoach Green Issues

Stagecoach has become the first UK bus company to mix its own biofuel on site using a new bio-blender installed at its Kilmarnock depot. Currently, the vast majority of Stagecoach’s 8,100-strong bus fleet operates using a mix of 5% biofuel and 95% standard diesel. The new bio-blender will enable buses at Kilmarnock depot to run on a greener mix of up to 40% biofuel and 60% standard diesel.
The new initiative follows the launch of the UK’s first bio-buses in Kilmarnock in 2007 – nine vehicles which run on 100% biofuel made from used cooking oil and other food industry by-products. 
The bio-bus project, which also allows customers to exchange their used cooking oil for discounted bus travel, has reduced CO2 emissions from the vehicles by 80%, saving more than 2450 tonnes of carbon. More than 70 tonnes of used cooking oil has been recycled at East Ayrshire Council’s recycling plant since the start of the scheme.
The blended biofuel will be used in vehicles serving routes in Kilmarnock and Irvine as well as Service 11 to Ardrossan and express services to Glasgow.
The bio-blender initiative is the latest in a string of measures being taken by Stagecoach to reduce its carbon footprint as a business.
The Group is targeting an overall reduction of 8% in buildings CO2 emissions and a cut of 3% in annual fleet transport CO2e emissions by 2014. Recently, Stagecoach launched a fleet of 11 buses in Lincoln that operate on biomethane, derived from household rubbish and animal waste and could reduce carbon emissions by up to 40% as well as cutting fuel consumption.
The company has also announced a multi-million-pound investment in a hi-tech eco-driving system, by Green Road, which is expected to reduce fuel consumption at its bus division by 4%. The scheme also offers employees the chance to earn “green points” that are converted into financial benefits from a potential £900,000 annual bonus pot. 

Stagecoach are soon to launch new Enviro 400H hybrid vehicles at their Newcastle upon Tyne and Sheffield operations, following last years successful bidding for funding from the Green Bus Fund.

Left. A Stagecoach Manchester Enviro 400H
© David Gambles

Luton - Timisoara - Chisinau

Wizz at Luton

Carpatair Fokker 100 at Timisoara

Timisoara airport is like Cheltenham coach station used to be except the departure time is 15:30.

Saturday 25 June 2011

29 years on

Richard and Kath are off to Romania. This trolleybus was in Constanta in 1982.

This tram was in Buchurest and Kath was testing the air conditioning.
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Friday 24 June 2011

King Long

Posted by PicasaRichard thinks that it will be interesting to see how the King Long buses compare with the Solos in Malta. He has only travelled any distance on a King Long coach in Siberia and was quite impressed. Here it is seen at a 'comfort' stop at the side of a busy main road. More pictures of this trip here.