Monday, 31 October 2011

Richard Lomas - Latest News

We last reported that Richard was expected to be discharged, but unfortunately his condition deteriorated and he remains in hospital. He is now under the care of a consultant surgeon who specialises in the pancreas, so maybe there will be a leap forward in progress.
We wish him a speedy recovery and in his absence will do our best to keep this website updated.

David Gambles

Abellio Gain Greater Anglia Franchise

Dutch state rail operator Abellio have been awarded the 29 month interim Greater Anglia franchise which will run from next February. Both Stagecoach and Go Ahead are said to be disappointed not to have been successful at gaining the contract.
The franchise covers commuter trains running from Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire into London Liverpool Street These routes will carry a significant proportion of the spectators travelling to the 2012 Olympics in Stratford and it is said by some critics to be irresponsible to have timed the start of the new franchise before the start of the Olympics rather than have continued with the existing operator during what will be a complicated and stressful operation.
Abellio already operate the Northern and Merseyrail franchises and this latest award further increases the number of foreign owned companies operating the UK rail system.
The Greater Anglia franchise is currently operated by National Express who are being stripped of the contract three years early after defaulting on the East Coast franchise. The following franchise period is expected to last a much longer period of 15 years when it is renewed again in 2014.

Sunday, 30 October 2011


 AEC Regent UTC 672 at Barnard Castle
click to enlarge

Cumbria Classic Coaches summer service to Barnard Castle ended on a high on Wednesday 26th Oct when so many passengers wanted to travel on the last run of the summer / autumn route via Middleton in Teesdale that a duplicate vehicle was called for.
CCC have a policy of using duplicate vehicles whenever the loadings exceed capacity of the normal service bus to ensure that passengers are never left behind.
The scheduled vehicle, ex Bamber Bridge AEC Regent, had already set off with a healthy load of passengers from the Bowber Head Bus Depot to the Fat Lamb where a significant queue was encountered, with more joining at Kirkby Stephen Station, so by the time the 1955 double decker reached Kirkby Stephen Market Square it was a forgone conclusion that a duplicate vehicle would be required.
Ian the conductor gives directions to alighting passengers
click to enlarge

CCC had already prepared ex Preston Corporation Leyland PS1 and this was swiftly despatched to Kirkby Stephen to pick up the excess passengers.
The 1946 PS1 set off in pursuit of the AEC Regent which had also left intending passengers at Winton and Brough, so, to their relief the Leyland PS1 stopped to collect them before making its way to Barnard Castle.

Although the service to Barnard castle runs all year round, the normal summer timetabled service is via the more lengthy and picturesque route calling at Middleton in Teesdale before setting off again to Barnard Castle, with its thriving Wednesday market and shops.

Having dropped its passengers, the AEC heads for the coach park
(click to enlarge)

The Cumbria Classic Coaches Tuesday market day route to Hawes also came to an end during the same week and unlike the Barnard Castle route, it ceases completely until Easter time when it re-starts again and this years final run using the AEC Regent to Hawes was also heavily used on the final day, but didn't require a duplicate.
 Both buses pause at the Fat Lamb pub to drop passengers before returning to the Cumbria Classic Coaches depot

David Gambles

Routemaster on Track

click to enlarge
Stagecoach in Chesterfield ran a Routemaster in service on Saturday 29th October to commemorate the end 106 years of running on "The Track".  Horse Trams began operating between Brampton & Chesterfield town centre back in 1882. Electric tramways commenced in 1905 & at this time the line was extended to serve Whittington Moor. Since then, despite the replacement of tramcars with trolleybuses & subsequently motorbuses, the bus services along this route have always been fondly referred to as “The Track”.

Now, the route is being split, with current services 50 & 50A are being curtailed to operate between Chesterfield town centre, New Whittington, Eckington & Sheffield only. A new 84 service will be introduced, operating  between Holymoorside and Brampton in the west of the town, to Chesterfield & Calow Royal Hospital and 106 years of continuous operation on “the track” will therefore come to an end.

These pictures taken in the Holymoorside area, show the Routemaster in operation and more can be found on the FocusFlickr site.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

Congratulations Your Majesty

Rival Companies Battle Over Black Cat Service

 Felix Black Cat

Felix buses, has run its hourly "Black Cat" service between Ilkeston and Derby for more than 80 years and now the company are giving out printed leaflets on Felix buses and in the company's bus depot reception in Stanley, saying a "rival company" is trying to muscle in on its patch. According to the leaflets, a "Black Cat" service has now started to run on exactly the same route as the Felix service, just five minutes earlier.
Trent Barton' added the additional route earlier this month to their "Black Cat" services

trentbarton Black Cat

West Coast Franchise Extension

According to the Stagecoach website, Stagecoach Group plc has confirmed that Virgin Rail Group has signed an agreement with the Department for Transport for an eight-month extension to the current West Coast rail franchise.

VRG is a joint venture between Stagecoach and Virgin Group and operates the West Coast franchise through its Virgin Trains brand.

Friday, 28 October 2011

News about Richard

Apologies that we haven't been able to update this section of the Focus transport website on a daily basis, but the good news is that Richard Lomas will hopefully be discharged from hospital today. We hope he will continue on the road to recovery and wish him well - and we look forward to the resumption of his valuable contributions to the blog..

Leicester PD3 Destroyed

Fire at a Leicestershire farm has destroyed two buses, one of which is a preserved ex Leicester Corporation Leyland PD3 with East Lancs bodywork.

Thursday, 27 October 2011


Boeing's Dreamliner has finally had its maiden commercial voyage, three years later than planned.
The All Nippon Airlines (ANA) flight carried its first paying passengers from Tokyo to Hong Kong.
The Dreamliner had originally been scheduled for delivery in 2008, but Boeing has suffered a string of setbacks.
Wednesday's flight was a special charter, with normal services due to start in November.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Longest Rail Tunnel in the World

Swiss engineers have smashed through the last stretch of rock to create the longest rail tunnel in the world.
A huge drill broke the remaining wall 8,200 feet (2,500 meters) below the imposing Piz Vatgira peak in the Gotthard massif.

In 2017 rail journey times between Zurich and Milan are set to be reduced by as much as one-and-a-half hours when the new tunnel 57km (35 miles) long, is opened beneath the Alps.
Since laying the tunnel's preparations in 1996, around 2,500 workers have taken part in building the 10bn Swiss franc (£6.6bn) project, blasting their way through 13m cubic metres of rock in artificially lowered temperatures that still reached 28C.

Bus Roof Incident

Yet another bus has been de-roofed this week. This time however, the incident is said to have been caused by the bus running under an overhanging tree on Fishponds Road close to the junction with Alcove Road in Bristol.

Sunday, 23 October 2011


Sorry to report that Richard Lomas has been in intensive care in Derby City Hospital suffering with low oxygen levels and suspected acute pancreatitis. He will be in hospital for a few days while they stabilise him and try to find out the underlying cause. We wish him a speedy recovery and will keep everyone updated regarding his progress.
As a result of this, The Focus blog website hasn't been updated as I have been away visiting the European Bus & Coach Show in Belgium and have been unable to log on to carry out any updates.
Normal service will resume as soon as possible but in the meantime please use the following link to see news about an event organised by Stagecoach to commemorate the end of 106 years of continuous operation on “the track” in Chesterfield.

David Gambles

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Sunderland Hybrids

           click to enlarge photo © Steven Hodgson

Go North East have taken delivery of two new Optare Solo hybrids for use on the free Sunderland Connect Shuttle Service, in partnership with Sunderland City Council and Nexus. The Connect service runs alongside and enhances the existing Campus Bus service. The route includes the City Campus, Sir Tom Cowie Campus as well as Clanny House and the Precinct. In addition to the University, the route includes the Stadium of Light, the Winter Gardens, Park Lane Interchange an the Aquatic Centre.
The hybrids have a capacity of 49 people including standing passengers and run every half hour, Monday to Saturday on the City wide route.

David Gambles

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Artics Arrive At Their New Home

 The artics are being painted at Thorntons of Ashington where buses from Go North East, Arriva
and First are seen receiving attention © David Gambles 

Ten of the displaced ex London artics have reached the north east and some of them have already been painted in the gold livery of the Go North East 58 "Citylink" route on which they will run. The painting is being carried out by Thorntons in Ashington, Northumberland and this photo was taken of one of the vehicles (a 57 reg). It was necessary to climb a small tree to take the photo! - more photos to follow when the vehicles are out on the road. The 58 route runs between Hadrian Park and Heworth via the  Coast Road, Newcastle city centre, Felling and Leam Lane.

David Gambles

Heritage Potteries Livery

 click to enlarge

First have revived an earlier livery for some of their Potteries fleet and John Moore has sent these pictures illustrating the colour scheme. Can any reader confirm if this attractive livery is to be extended to more of the fleet.
click to enlarge

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

50,000 Bus Journeys Saved at Heathrow

The new driverless Transport Pods recently launched at Heathrow, will eliminate 50,000 bus journeys between Terminal 5 and the car park. Passengers board the pods which are lined up and waiting for them and press a touch screen which closes the doors and sets the pod in motion at speeds of up to 25mph. There are 21 Personal Rapid Transport (PRT) pods  which circulate around a 3.8km congestion-free track which are said to use 70% less energy than a car and 50% less than a bus.

The journey is on demand and non-stop from start to destination and the pods even recharge themselves at battery points when not in use so they are always ready to go.

David Gambles

The Edinburgh tram saga - what went wrong ?

An interesting interview which appears to confirm what was the vast majority of the cause.

And another link for more information,html.html 

Monday, 17 October 2011

Bus prang in Swansea

From Tony Wilson
"Must have taken something different to remove the roof of a single-decker in such a fashion. A former First London DML-class Dennis Dart SLF/Marshall."

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Oiler buses

Recently I scanned some b&w pictures for a friend Graham Neville. Here are a few of them.

Posted by Picasa

Saturday, 15 October 2011

1929 Leyland TS2

 click to enlarge
Visitors to the recent Coach & Bus Live Exhibition at the NEC will have seen a splendid 1929 Leyland TS2 on display. The Tiger was built by Ransomes of Ipswich, and bought new by East Yorkshire Motor Services (EYMS). It was registered RH206 and numbered 158 in the EYMS Fleet. It was converted to run on Producer gas during World War II, and eventually sold by EYMS in 1946. It was later adapted and used as a dwelling and by the 60's & 70's it was used as a allotment shed.

In the late 1970's lecturers and students from Hull Technical college rescued it with the intention of restoring it and teaching students engineering skills, .
The timber frame body was too much for the college to cope with so it was dispatched to a timber frame specialist in Derby. Tragedy then struck as the specialist lost a hand in a timber cutting machine. The project stalled for several years until Carl Ireland the bus restorer and exporter acquired it, who then passed it on to Bluebird for continued and final restoration.
Bluebird Vehicles eventually took on the project using it as a training exercise for apprentices and now the vehicle is complete and was shown to the public at the Birmingham show. The Bluebird website shows many pictures of the restoration process.

Nick Shakesby

Friday, 14 October 2011

Soar Valley Bus

Posted by PicasaI saw this bus in Loughborough yesterday. I have not seen a Fiat bus like this one before and was not aware of its Thursday only visits to Loughborough. 
Timetables here

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Comings and Goings in Derbyshire

From Sunday 2nd October Veolia Monday only service D1 and and Friday only D5 have been taken over by Centrebus. These are in effect day excursions departing from Nottingham at 09:35 to Bakewell and Chesterfield respectively. Both services will be withdrawn from 20th November. (Centrebus have also taken over most of Veolia's Leicestershire services including Nottingham - Melton Mowbray - Peterborough.)

From Sunday 23rd October trent barton will be operating an additional Black Cat journey every hour from Derby to Ilkeston Hospital an additional Ilkeston Flyer from Derby to Ilkeston. Both will be withdrawn from Thursday 3rd November. Revised timetables have not been published on either trent barton's or DCC's websites.

Further reductions are being made to evening and Sunday tendered services from Sunday 30th October. Details of these and other changes here.
trent barton will no longer be operating on services 17 (Matlock - Chesterfield) or 140 (Matlock - Alfreton - Ripley) on Sundays. The evening 17 journeys are being withdrawn so that all services will be operated by Stagecoach and the 140 will be operated by TM Travel.
Weekday service 99 (Alfreton - Sutton) operated by Doyles will be withdrawn.
Hulleys service 175 (Bakewell - Eyam) and TM Travel's 241 (Sheffield - Bakewell/Castleton) are being replaced by a new service 275 which requires a double decker at school times.
Service 214 (Sheffield - Matlock - Wirksworth) has been retained by TM Travel but will only operate between Sheffield and Matlock.
TM Travel daily service 218 (Sheffield - Bakewell - Buxton) with connections in Buxton for Hanley will only operate on weekdays and only between Sheffield and Bakewell. This is shown as a commercial service. A Sunday service between Bakewell and Sheffield will be provided by a revised tendered service 215 (Sheffield - Bakewell - Matlock).
Finally the Ripley local service 147 currently operated by Doyles is being taken over by TM Travel.

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Derby Bus Signs May Never Work Again

A serious software issue with Derbyshire's £340,000 worth of electronic bus information signs means that they may never work correctly.
The signs, which advise when buses are due, were bought three years ago, but 35 remain in storage and eight have not been switched on. Derbyshire County Council has been unable to find replacement software that will solve the problems. Derby City Council has removed 66 of the 140 signs it has in the city centre because they were not communicating properly with the technology on the buses. Now, Derbyshire County Council has said it is having similar problems through-out the rest of the county.The Council said it could not rule out that the signs would never work again.
David Gambles

Richard Lomas adds:
The system was called Star Trak and was predominantly used in Leicestershire but was switched off in January 2011.
trent barton used Star Trak on Rainbow5 (now Indigo) between Derby and Nottm and a Derby local service.   Kinch used it on Skylink between Derby and Loughborough. Some stop signs were installed on the Transpeak service in the Matlock area but never used. My experience as a passenger was that it worked reasonably well most of the time but not always and it sometimes got confused when stops were close together. Another problem was that not all the buses in the fleet were fitted with the system.
My understanding is that it was a pioneering system but that it is not compatible with what is now emerging as the de facto standard for this technology.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Aire Valley Running Day

Constant drizzle was the order of the day at the Aire Valley Running Day in Skipton but there was a good turn out of vehicles and as usual, a comprehensive bus service running to places far and wide.
My driving duties were taken up on the Embsay Station - Bolton Abbey route and a trip to Eastby, all at the wheel of the Ribble RE 338 (NCK 338J).
Pictures on Flickr

David Gambles
 All photos ©  David Gambles

Chesterfield in 1986

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Derby then and now

I have invested in some equipment to make digital files out of old analogue video tapes and here is my first test result.
25 years since deregulation is a current hot topic so here is a short video of regulated buses in March 1986, a picture of a shiny new Arriva bus yesterday for comparison and a glimpse of Long Eaton.

Richard Lomas

Deltics Galore

 click photos to enlarge
This weekend the National Railway Museum at Shildon in Co Durham is displaying all seven surviving English Electric Deltics. The Shildon museum is home to the original Deltic prototype which, for the weekend, has been joined by the other six preserved examples.
I arrived at the site to find all seven Deltics making a fine sight and took the opportunity to photograph them from the road overbridge before making my way to the Railway Museum site. As I photographed from the bridge the engines of 55002 The Kings Own Light Infantry burst into life, sending a cloud of exhaust smoke high in the air and soon the engines of 55019 Royal Highland Fusilier also exploded into action.

55002 later carried out a few trips along the museum line giving everyone an opportunity to sample the sounds of one of these fascinating machines.
Unfortunately the weather spoilt the day, making photography difficult, as rain doesn't mix very well with camera equipment. Here's a small selection of photos taken on the Saturday, keep checking the FocusFlickr site for a more comprehensive selection.

 All photos copyright by David Gambles

David Gambles

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Result of Stagecoach Extraordinary General Meeting

The Extraordinary General Meeting of Stagecoach shareholders took place on Friday 7th October 2011, where all of the resolutions proposed in connection with the return of capital was approved.

Application  has been made to the UK Listing Authority and to the London Stock Exchange to trade in the new ordinary shares arising out  of the share capital consolidation. It is expected that such amendment and admission of the New Ordinary Shares will take place at 8.00a.m. on 10 October  2011. Dealings in existing ordinary shares have now ceased and the shares closed at £2.49.
Shareholders will receive a payment of 47p per share which is expected to be released on 21 October 2011. Their shareholding will be consolidated into New Ordinary Shares which, according to the Stagecoach website, will make the share price directly comparable before and after the Return of Cash. It will also maintain the comparability of future earnings and dividend per share amounts with previously reported figures; and maintain the intrinsic value of awards that have been made under Stagecoach Share Schemes, such as the grant of share options to employees.

David Gambles

Friday, 7 October 2011

New Hulleys Decker

click photo to enlarge
Following great speculation, Hulleys 'newdecker V140 LGC was shown at the Bus & Coach Live Exhibition at the NEC in Birmingham this week.
It is a former London Central Volvo B7TL / Alexander ALX400 10.1m, which was numbered AVL 40 in the London Central fleet. The centre doors have been removed and the bus has been painted by Volvo, in Hulleys fleet colours of cream and blue.

During operation in London these buses had hard plastic seats on the rear section of the upper deck in order to resist vandalism and during refurbishment these seats are usually removed and replaced with conventional seating.

 click photo to enlarge

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Competition Commission Report Findings

The Competition Commission has today published detailed and wide-ranging proposals to open up bus markets across the country to greater competition. Well that's what they say, having spent much time deliberating information demanded from UK operators.
Jeremy Peat, Chairman of the Competition Commission Local Bus Market Investigation Group, said:
These measures aim to get to the heart of the problems we have identified and open up local bus markets to entry and expansion—so reducing the number of areas where the main operator faces little or no competition. Together these measures are designed to address the specific factors which prevent competition developing and being sustained at a local level and lead to passengers losing out.
This is a comprehensive set of practical and sensible measures which will help encourage more competition and benefit passengers.

The CC’s proposed remedies include:
• Increasing the number and effectiveness of multi-operator ticketing schemes, by giving LTAs additional powers to introduce and reform schemes on terms that make them effective and attractive to passengers. Recommending changes to the Ticketing Block Exemption to assist this process.
• Restrictions on bus operators making changes to service frequency—to discourage ‘over-bussing’ and other short-term actions to destabilize competitors. Recommending that Traffic Commissioners introduce and enforce a Code of Conduct to prevent un-acceptable behaviour. Limited protection for municipal operators during a sales process.
• Ensuring that new entrants and competing operators can get access to bus stations managed by other local operators on fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory terms.
• Recommending that the DfT update its best practice guidance for LTAs on tendering for supported services and that the Scottish and Welsh Governments develop suitably tailored guidance to maximize the value for money obtained through the tendering process. LTAs to be given power to obtain information about services being deregistered to help them specify any further tenders.
• Recommending that the OFT applies a high priority to identifying bus mergers between competing operators, takes a cautious approach in exercising its discretion not to refer small mergers and updates its competition guidance for the industry.
• Recommending that LTAs consider introducing partnerships with operators as a means of improving passenger information and growing bus patronage, thereby facilitating increased competition via new entry within their local areas. The OFT and LTAs to set up a forum to ensure that any risks in partnerships for competition are minimized.
• Recommending that the DfT, as part of its review of the Bus Service Operators Grant (BSOG) in England, looks at ways to incentivize operators to participate in the above measures. This recommendation may also be of interest to the Scottish and Welsh Governments should they decide to undertake a similar review in the future.

My initial comment would be that "Increasing the number and effectiveness of multi-operator ticketing schemes" is an area that could maybe do with some improvement, but as we have recently seen in Sheffield and Oxford, operators can already work together without falling foul of competition laws. The massive cost of this investigation cannot be justified by the list of half hearted measures proposed and it appears once again that the Competition Commission are trying to ignore the fact that the bus market is largely working in everyone's best interests. It seems a re-run of what happened when UK supermarkets were investigated where nothing needed to be changed there either.

David Gambles