Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Third Round of Green Bus Funding Announced

On the day that the Chancellor made his Autumn Statement, Transport Minister Norman Baker revealed that a third round of Green Bus Funding - with £25m in grants - will go ahead.
Making his announcement in front of hundreds of operators at the UK Bus Awards in London on Tuesday, he said: “I have been up and down the country meeting with bus operators and manufacturers, and one of the things they have consistently been asking for is another round of the Green Bus Fund. “I am therefore delighted to announce that they have got one.
“A further £25m to fund greener buses across England and a welcome boost to jobs and manufacturing. “This is in addition to the £47m that has already helped bus operators to put 540 new low carbon buses on our roads.
Great British buses have always been attractive ways to get around, and Britain is fast becoming a world leader in clean, green bus manufacturing.
This new money will help the industry create even more skilled jobs and get our economy growing"

Source: routeONE Live News

Richard Lomas - Latest

Sorry to have to report that Richard is still in hospital and that his condition has deteriorated somewhat since the last report. Kath reports that he has had blood transfusions and that he is extremely tired and lethargic.
A meeting will take place today to try and discover more about his condition and in the meantime we send Richard our best wishes.

David Gambles

Government Backs Tube Extension Plan

Northern Line Map (click to enlarge)

Chancellor George Osborne has backed plans to extend the Northern Line to Battersea in south London, which he says could create 25,000 jobs.
The new line would run from Kennington via Nine Elms to Battersea and has already received approval from the Mayor of London.
In his Autumn Statement he said the government would support the scheme, in partnership with the private sector.
He also said they would work with London's mayor on options for new Thames river crossings.

It is hoped the redevelopment of Battersea Power Station, which will include shops, office space and leisure facilities, will create 25,000 jobs and the construction of 16,000 homes.
The landmark will be restored to generate green energy in the future, but its chimneys will be demolished and rebuilt, as they are "beyond repair".
The Grade II listed building opened in 1933 and generated power until 1983.
Restoration of the main power station, including rebuilding the chimneys, will be completed by 2016.

Ways to maintain the UK's aviation hub status, excluding a third runway at Heathrow, would also be explored.
The multi-billion-pound programme of funding for infrastructure projects is designed to get Britain's economy moving.

David Gambles

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

New Stagecoach Livery

A new variation of Stagecoach livery has been introduced for vehicles operating on the X34 Newcastle to Horsley Hill (South Shields) service.  MAN ALX300 22050 has received the new livery and has entered service on the X34 which, until recently has been the preserve of  B10M's. Following the introduction of new Enviro 400 hybrids into the Newcastle fleet, 22050 was one of a number of MAN's transferred from Newcastle to South Shields depot. Two other  vehicles, thought to be 22049 and 22051 are scheduled to receive the new X34 livery.
 22050 is overtaken by Stagecoach Enviro 300 27507 on Pilgrim Street Newcastle
Stagecoach B10M 20552 received a pink livery for the X34 route in December 2009. The bus stayed in these colours
until recently when the B10M's were replaced by newer vehicles. Is this the only vehicle in the Stagecoach fleet 
to have received a pink livery?
David Gambles

Wellglade Take Felix

Wellglade has added the Felix bus company routes to their portfolio.

Tony Wilson

Monday, 28 November 2011

Arriva Expands in Sweden

Arriva is set to double its operations in Sweden following a major contract win. The contract covers the provision of 65 million passenger journeys a year, will involve Arriva Sverige taking on an additional 1,400 employees and operating 550 buses, 45 trains and 37 trams/light trains.

Information from Tony Wilson

The latest update on our main Focus site includes the Exeter Twilight event and "The Great Escape" - a day travelling on London Midland Trains.
click here

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Chinese Open Toppers for London

click to enlarge photo
Chinese open top buses will be taking to the streets in London in early 2012 when Big Bus Tours will be taking delivery of 20 vehicles from Ankai Automobile. The new buses will replace aging Leyland Olympians which are now due for withdrawal.
The new vehicles will be feature a Cummins Euro5 engine, Voith gearbox ZF axles and will seat 81 passengers. Ten of the new fleet will be fully open top and the remainder will be of half top design.
Big Bus Tours have dealt with Ankai over the last four years and already run Ankai buses in Abu Dhabi, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Las Vegas, San Francisco and Philadelphia.

David Gambles

12 Car Trains on Thameslink

The date gets nearer when 12-car set trains operate on the North/South service through London.
According to Thameslink Programme News, the first 12-carriage train service arrives in December 2011 calling at a new station at Blackfriars.  Amongst the many improvements being carried out, passengers will also benefit from a new ticket hall at Farringdon.
A new station will open in December 2011 at West Hampstead which will ease congestion and boost capacity for increased use in the future. It will link to a new wider footbridge with lifts to all platforms that have themselves been lengthened to accommodate 50% longer 12-carriage trains.

Tony Wilson has sent us this link

Saturday, 26 November 2011

MAN 18.220 Alexander ALX300 B42F in Cavendish Street Chesterfield

Colin Sellers has sent this picture of V812 DFV, one of the so called "Barges" that have been part of the bus scene for some years now. They have been replaced by the new Enviro 200's which hit the streets during the week and the "Barges" will now supposedly leave the Chesterfield fleet. However, such plans are sometimes changed so those of you in the Chesterfield area, please keep a look out to see whether these vehicles really have finished their service in Derbyshire.
The current Fickr update shows the ALX300's in their final days of service and the new 61 reg ADL Enviro 200's on their first day of operation. The new buses have been acquired to run on the Newbold circular route 10 and will replace Dennis Darts which in turn are being cascaded within the fleet to replace the "Barges"

Friday, 25 November 2011

Volvo Hybrids for Bakers of Biddulph

Three Volvo B5RLH Hybrids with Wrightbus Eclipse Gemini 2 bodywork have entered service with Staffordshire operator Bakers of Biddulph on the premier route X1 between Hanley, Stoke-on-Trent and Stafford Beaconside.
The route was started in 2004 at the request of Staffordshire University and, over time, has developed into a partnership including London Midland Trains as a rail replacement service. Initially, the service operated with midi buses and, over the last 2 years, has grown into full single deck vehicles and many times last year was “bursting at the seams” leading to the decision to introduce double deck vehicles.
The Volvo hybrids use the parallel system of hybrid drive which allows the buses to stand silently at bus stops and traffic lights and then move away almost silently using battery power. Green Bus funding grants have been used to bridge the gap between the cost of a standard diesel bus. The buses are already giving fuel savings of 20% and it is hoped that when the vehicles are run in they will achieve 25 - 30% savings. Leather high backed seats have been specified together with the fitment of WiFi.

David Gambles

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Sir Brian Souter, founder of Stagecoach is considering joining a Scottish consortium to buy Edinburgh Airport.
Souter Investments, which does not include his stake in Stagecoach, has a portfolio of 120 investments worth more than £400m.
A spokesman for Souter said that the entrepreneur would not make any formal decisions until the sales document is sent out in January.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Tyneside Councils to Take Control of Buses?

The five Councils within Tyne & Wear will soon attempt to take control of buses in their area with a London style system, leaving the three main operators to tender against each other for the routes they currently operate.
City leaders will this week be told to authorise Nexus, the organisation which owns the Metro system, to kick-start a process which will see London-style bus control powers returned to Tyne and Wear’s five councils.
Part of their bid for control is based on the claim that the five finance departments in Newcastle, Gateshead, North and South Tyneside and Sunderland spend more than £59m a year of taxpayers’ money on bus subsidies and concessionary fares.
What they conveniently don't mention is the fact that a large share of that money comes from central government to pay for concessionary travel. All they do is pass on the money to bus operators, but in doing so they claim it's their money that they are spending.
Council tax payers within Tyne & Wear should start to feel anxious now, as the London style system costs tax payers heavily and the current operators Stagecoach, Arriva and Go Ahead would demand massive compensation for the loss of routes and depots if the scheme was to go ahead.
Also see Franchising and the cost of buses in London by TAS who criticise the whole principle of Quality Contracts and who say that "the ITA's pretend that franchising success can be replicated elsewhere in the UK simply by changing the regulatory system and at no cost to the public purse is, frankly, not remotely credible"
Newcastle in particular, have a poor record of supporting buses within the city, due to their failings in preventing illegal parking at bus stops and failure to prevent abuse of bus lanes and no car lanes. How they think they can improve matters by taking control of the buses when they make a poor job of their existing duties is beyond comprehension.

David Gambles

Stagecoach, Go North East and Arriva currently operate minor routes for Nexus who are now insisting that vehicles are
painted in their new, rather uninspiring grey and red livery. This is a Go North East owned vehicle.

Calls to tackle bus drivers over bridge barrier damage

Hammersmith and Fulham Council says drivers have been pulling the arm off barriers on Hammersmith Bridge when they fail to operate automatically.
It now wants bus companies to reimburse them for the cost of the repairs.
Some questions need to be answered here, if  council employees can sit and observe the buses being held up by the barriers not opening, why don't they open the barriers remotely. Is this yet another case of council employees not doing their job correctly and in doing so implicating the bus drivers who want to avoid delays to their passengers. The barriers seem easy to remove so no actual damage is being done and if the council are too lazy to go along and replace the barrier, having sat and watched the drivers struggling to cross the bridge, what else can they expect when the poles get stolen? I'm on the side of the bus drivers on this one!
David Gambles

Enviro 400 Demonstrator at Sheffield

click to enlarge photo

This vehicle, an Eviro 400 demonstrator, arrived at Stagecoach Yorkshire Holbrook on Mon 21/10/2011 and has been used on route 120.

Colin Sellers

Photos Mark Johnson

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Train is Too Long to Stop

Chiltern Railways has broken new ground by scrapping a service because the train is too long to stop at Saunderton.
From next month the 7.19am to Marylebone service is going to disappear because the train will be too long for the platform.

Tony Wilson

Monday, 21 November 2011

Boeing Secures Largest Ever Order

Boeing has bagged its biggest commercial order after signing a deal worth $21.7bn (£14bn) with Indonesian airline Lion Air.
Indonesia's largest private carrier has placed an order for 230 short-haul 737 planes.
The deal includes an option for another 150 aircraft worth an estimated $14bn.

It comes just days after Boeing announced a deal to sell 50 of its 777 jets to Emirates Airlines for a list price of $18bn.

The bulk of the order by Lion Air is for an improved version of Boeing's 737 jet called the 737MAX.
The revamped model is an attempt by Boeing to compete with similar fuel-efficient models being marketed by rival Airbus.

The once little-known Indonesian airline says it is planning to buy 230 planes from Boeing. The bill — with a list price of $21.7 billion — is to be paid over 12 years though bank financing.
Dozens of airlines have emerged in Indonesia since it deregulated its aviation industry in the 1990s, making air travel affordable for the first time for many across the sprawling island nation of 240 million, and luring passengers away from ferries and trains.
CEO Rusdi Kirana— a travel agent before he and his brother, Kusnan, pooled $850,000 to start Lion Air in 1999 — saw the opportunity and have never looked back since.
"Last year we had 21 million passengers, this year I think I can carry 27 million," said the 48-year-old CEO, adding that with plans for an open-sky arrangement in Asia by 2015, a massive Boeing purchase "is not much of a gamble."

Sunday, 20 November 2011

Re-brand for 'Central Connect'

'Central Connect' part of the Rotala Group are to rebrand themselves as
Blue Diamond. They operate bus services within the West Midlands,
Shropshire, Staffordshire and Worcestershire. Already in the same area
are other 'Diamond' operations, within the Rotala Group.

Saturday, 19 November 2011

Leopard in Preservation

 click to enlarge photo

Ex North Western Leyland Leopard 916 is undergoing a thorough restoration and has just passed an MOT test. The vehicle was originally registered in 1962 as VDB 916 but was re-registered USL 580 some years ago. Latterly owned by Travelsure in Northumberland, the vehicle changed hands this year and the new owner has instigated a restoration programme that hopefully will result in the vehicle being completed during 2012.
The original registration number is not available so, it has now received registration number VDB 920.
Plans are already being made for the vehicle to attend various events in the UK during the second half of 2012.

 Leyland Leopard PSU3/3R  Alexander DP49F

David Gambles

Friday, 18 November 2011

New and old in Blackpool

The Fylde Tramways Society has a feature - the fleet in pictures

Of particular interest are a picture of 001 at Cabin and of 004 being delivered

The most interesting of all is this picture of Cardiff 131 at Pleasure Beach

New Bus for London

click to enlarge photo

More pictures of the New Bus for London which is a hybrid powered vehicle.
The engineering test bus, has exceeded expectation in terms of fuel economy and environmental emissions performance.
Under test conditions the vehicle achieved fuel consumption of 11.6mpg which compares to 8.6mpg for a current hybrid bus and 5.8mpg for a normal diesel bus.

As a contrast, below is a picture of a Stagecoach Selkent Olympian with Northern Counties H45/23D Palatine bodywork. These vehicles spent a relatively short life in London due to the influx of low floor buses but were deployed successfully in the provinces where some are still in service today.

Thursday, 17 November 2011

"Ethel" Used in Publicity Exercise

 click to enlarge photos
"Ethel" was used this week in a publicity exercise by Stephenson Personal Care at the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, where the SCS Formulate Exhibition was taking place. In the evening the 1952 Roe bodied Leyland coach was used to carry staff and invited guests on a non motorway route from their hotel to a dinner also being held at the Ricoh Arena.
Ken Jones

EHL 336 is owned by Roger Burdett and is an ex West Riding, Leyland Tiger PS2/12 with Roe C35F bodywork.
One of a batch of twelve, 726-737 (EHL 337 - EHL348) were built for bus work but were fitted with high-back seats for dual purpose use when required. 

Richard Lomas - Latest

Richard is still in hospital and is still undergoing tests and treatment. He was admitted on 20th October and has since been diagnosed with Severe Acute Pancriatitis. His Consultant is now forecasting that Richard might be discharged next week depending on further improvement of his condition.
We wish him well and look forward to his return to the Focus website in due course.

David Gambles

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

Stagecoach Strike Action

The branch of Unite which represents drivers at Barnsley and Rawmarsh depots have announced 4 days of strike action in a dispute over pay rates.

These will be held on 18th November, 21st November, 2nd December and 3rd December and affect routes from Barnsley and Rawmarsh depots only.

Stagecoach are drafting extra drivers from around the country so that the majority of services can continue to run to a near-normal schedule as below.  A £1 flat fare will be charged.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

New Contract for Bombardier

Train maker Bombardier has been awarded a £15m three-year maintenance contract from ScotRail.
A spokesperson for Bombardier said the deal, to support ScotRail's Class 170 Turbostar fleet, was "significant".

The Class 170 was built by Bombardier (previously Adtranz) at Derby and introduced after privatisation, they have operated as regional trains as well as long-distance trains, and to a lesser extent suburban trains. 122 units have been built.
First Scotrail is the largest operator of the Class 170, with a fleet comprising 59 3-car sets. Originally, 34 of these had First Class accommodation. They are mainly used on Edinburgh-Glasgow (Queen Street), Inverness-Glasgow/Edinburgh and Aberdeen-Glasgow/Edinburgh services.

David Gambles

Monday, 14 November 2011

Arriva to Name New Buses

Arriva North East have invited nominations for naming the new fleet of VDL SB200/Wright Pulsars. Eleven of the vehicles which will operate in the Middlesbrough area are to be named after Middlesbrough football players. The closing date for entries is 13th January 2012 .

Arriva North East are taking delivery of a large number of new Pulsars. As well as the ones mentioned above, more are due at Durham and others are destined for Ashington and Blyth followed by Darlington and Stockton.
It must be noted that having taken delivery of 20 Temsa Avenues last year, Arriva North East haven't seen fit to order any more of this type of vehicle.
The Arriva North East fleet is badly in need of updating, the influx of new vehicles being long overdue.

                                                                                                                                                                 David Gambles

Sunday, 13 November 2011

Bus 2000 Still Going Strong

 Currently a regular performer on the Go North East 74 service,  NK54 PHV
  is seen here on 7th November 2011 at Kingston Park, Newcastle.
(click to enlarge picture)   © David Gambles
One of two rare vehicles, a Volvo B6BLE with 'Bus 2000bodywork is still surviving within the Go North East fleet and can be seen working regular duties from the Hexham depot. Two vehicles were created by Plaxton in 1999 with a view to launching the 'Bus 2000design at the 1999 Bus & Coach Show. Events overtook them however and Plaxton were bought by Transbus and the launch never took place.
The two vehicles were dumped at the rear of the Plaxton factory and eventually bought by Graham Greaves of Henry Cooper Coaches who
thought that it would be worth carrying on with all the type approvals required including tilt testing etc.
 For some reason the second vehicle has a smaller rear window.
Here the bus is seen at Eldon Square Bus Station in Newcastle
 (click to enlarge picture)   © David Gambles

The most complete of the two vehicles was used for this purpose and eventually registered after much work, for use by Henry Cooper Coaches. The second vehicle, the one now owned by Go North East, required lots of work to bring it to completion, but was eventually finished in 2004 and used briefly on a Council contract.  It was sold to Northumbria Coaches, who, in turn were purchased by Go North East and it has remained in the fleet ever since, now operating from the Hexham depot.
The other Bus 2000 vehicle is still alive and well within the Henry Cooper fleet and continues to operate on regular school contracts.
I recently travelled on the Go North East vehicle and can report that it is still pleasant to ride on, there being no squeaks or rattles from the bodywork and the engine and gearbox seem to be working well, so it appears to be surviving the tough life being experienced within a major fleet.
(click to enlarge picture)   © David Gambles
 Much to the frustration of DVLA Graham Greaves insisted on the bus being given a new 54 registration and when first put on the road the bus was used by Henry Coopers for a North Tyneside contract, whereby the bus was used as mobile meeting room to allow Council tenants to come along and find out information about new rules on Council housing. It was fitted with extra heating to make the environment within the bus more pleasant, whilst parked.

More pictures below

 The second vehicle required lots of work to bring it to completion. Here is a view of the interior,
which was being used a seat store.  The exterior of the bus was blue.
    © David Gambles 
 The other vehicle shown when new and still owned by Henry Cooper and registered HC04 BBB  
 © David Gambles                     

 No wheelchair or baby buggy facilities on the Henry Cooper vehicle and all seats have seat belts as it  is
sometimes used for private hire work on school excursions etc.  
© David Gambles 
 The Henry Cooper bus has a larger rear window     © David Gambles  
 Whilst travelling on the Go North East vehicle during the week I commented to one of the drivers about the
vehicle, who said that they were having problems obtaining parts, due to the non standard nature of the bus, so it will be interesting to see how much longer it stays in service.

 David Gambles

Malta Transport Plan

In a surprise announcement by Malta's Public Transport Task Force, headed by the Prime Minister it would appear that Public Transport is to be given priority over other traffic during the morning rush hour (6.30 – 9 a.m.)
How this will work is yet to be announced, but a plan must be drawn up within a week by the army and the police.
Tony Wilson