Friday 30 November 2012

Steam Engine back on the tracks

A narrow gauge steam engine is going back on the tracks 149 years after rail pioneers said it was not cut out for a life pulling slate in north Wales.
'The Princess' worked the Ffestiniog rail line at Porthmadog after being built in London in 1863.
Following a revamp this winter it is to make a return journey to go on show at Paddington station.
It was being removed on Saturday from its home at Spooner's Pub at Harbour Station where it became a fixture.
Experts at Ffestiniog railway say it is regarded as the world's first narrow gauge steam locomotive.
And they add that it was the last to work the tracks when the line closed to slate in 1946.
Enthusiasts who started to reopen the line from 1955 put the engine into storage.
They eventually restored it and made the pub its final destination in 1981.
On Saturday passers-by in Porthmadog will see it hauled from the pub and taken along its old tracks to return to a workshop for some "tender loving care".
Once the work is complete the Princess will make a journey south to London's Paddington station.
It will eventually be put on display during St David's Day celebrations in London as well as being used at a number of other events throughout the year to mark its 150th anniversary.

Thursday 29 November 2012


Stagecoach Group announced today (28 November 2012) that it is expanding the North American network run by its market-leading budget coach operator to the major states of California and Nevada.

  • Budget coach brand to run out of eight new locations
  • Network now covers 120 destinations in United States and Canada
  • Expanding low-cost coach service has now created more than 1,000 new jobs

New express coach services will start running from 12 December to eight new locations in the two states, which have a combined population of around 40 million people, with fares starting from $1. here

Bookings are being accepted at from today, with all fares priced at $1 during the first week of travel from 12 to 19 December.

Services will cover Los Angeles, San Francisco, Oakland, Calif., Riverside, Calif., Las Vegas, Sparks/Reno, Nev., Sacramento, Calif., and San Jose, Calif.

The expansion means more than 120 destinations are now covered by in the United States and Canada. It comes only six months after launched a new network of routes in Texas.

More than 80 new jobs will be created with’s expansion into Nevada and California, bringing to more than 1,000 the total new employment opportunities created by the company since it started services in North America in 2006.

Dale Moser, President and COO of in North America, said: "We’ve seen impressive growth across North America. As well as helping connect people across the United States and Canada, we've also created hundreds of new jobs. We are confident that our 21st century double-decker buses with Wi-Fi and power outlets, combined with our outstanding prices, will prove popular with people in California and Nevada." has also partnered with Clean Air-Cool Planet, a national non-profit organisation that works to reduce carbon emissions and help create a sustainable environment. For every new Facebook friend and Twitter follower added on 28 November, will donate $1 to Clean Air-Cool Planet.

More than 22 million customers have travelled with in North America since April 2006. Customers can travel on state-of-the-art, green-certified double-decker buses, which are wheelchair accessible and have free Wi-Fi, power outlets, seatbelts and toilets.

In the UK, now covers around 60 locations and carries around 5 million passengers a year. Earlier this month, Stagecoach announced a £3.2m investment in a fleet of Britain’s biggest coaches to meet growing demand for its market-leading inter-city travel service.

A fleet of 11 15m-long coaches equipped with free wi-fi will be delivered in December and introduced on routes covering Scotland and England. Included in the order is a coach in a special metallic version of the livery to mark the 10th anniversary of the budget service in 2013. has also recently launched new European websites to make it easier for people to book its cross-Channel services. The new French and Dutch language websites trade in Euros, making it even easier for passengers from across the Channel to grab a bargain coach ticket.

Stagecoach launched the network of low-cost coach services from the UK to Continental Europe in April this year, running daytime and overnight coach services between its main hub in London and destinations in France, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Visit for additional information about the service, schedules, arrival and departure times and fares.

Wednesday 28 November 2012

World's First Underground Train Carriage Restored

The world's first underground train carriage which fell into disrepair has been restored to its former glory - 120 years after it was built.

The unique 1892 London Metropolitan Railway first class Jubilee carriage ended up being used as a garden shed.
Craftsmen at the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway took 15 months to repair it thanks to a £422,000 grant.
It will return to the London Transport museum in January to mark the 150th anniversary of the London Underground.
Since August 2011, the carriage has undergone extensive renovation at Porthmadog.
There is more than half a mile of lining on the outside and more than £700 worth of 23.5 carat gold leaf on the carriage.
 Metropolitan Railway first class Jubilee carriage How the carriage looked before restoration
All writing on the carriage has been completed by hand and 92% of the wooden frame is original.
The carriage was originally fitted with gas lighting which is no longer allowed under current safety regulations.
Modern LED lamps have been fitted to give the appearance of gas mantles.
Andrew Thomas, from the Ffestiniog and Welsh Highland Railway, said: "We had a team of six people, including some apprentices because that was part of the deal with the Lottery Heritage Fund - they want us to teach young people new skills.
"It was in quite a sorry state when it arrived - it had been used as a shed and had a toilet attached at the end.
"But to see the finished article was very special. To see her roll out for the first time and see Snowdon in the background - it was something else."

BBC News item

Tuesday 27 November 2012

Scarlet Pimpernel..

Ken Jones has sent us this picture of Scarlet Motors JYC 855 - 1947 Leyland PS1 Harrington coach.
The coach was out of action earlier during the year but is now on the road again and Ken took the opportunity to ride on it and take this photograph.

New to Scarlet Motors, Minehead, and extensively restored to their livery, this coach features the early Leyland post-war E 181 engine, and the distinctive rear ‘dorsal fin’ ventilation system that was a feature of many Harrington coaches of this era. 
The owner Roger Burdett is scheduled to take the vehicle to the Winchester Rally in January. 

More pictures of the coach are shown below taken at the 2008 Kirkby Stephen Rally

David Gambles


Monday 26 November 2012

Track Lifted from Leamside Line

A stretch of North East mothballed railway line is having the track lifted due to metal thieves targeting the line. The Leamside line branches off the East Coast main line at Tursdale and eventually joins the Newcastle Sunderland line at Pelaw. It was originally part of the early East Coast mainline but was by-passed in 1872.

Durham County Council and network Rail have hoped to re-open the line at some stage providing a financial case can be proven, but until that happens it has been decided to lift the track.
If the line is re-opened it will now require complete re-laying but engineers have said that this would have been the case anyway.
The line has been the target of metal thefts and vandalism since it was mothballed by British Rail in 1991 The route will be protected and no land sold off in the meantime.

A good source of information about the line can be found
A Network Rail spokesman said: “Network Rail is removing the redundant railway materials from the old Leamside branch.

Read more: Journal Live
A Network Rail spokesman said: “Network Rail is removing the redundant railway materials from the old Leamside branch.
“The remaining redundant assets have been subject to a high level of thefts over the years, which at times have diverted the valuable resource of the local police, British Transport Police and Network Rail operational and maintenance staff.”
The line, which branches off the East Coast main line at Tursdale, and runs through Belmont and West Rainton before continuing north through Washington and Wardley to join the Newcastle to Sunderland line at Pelaw, was mothballed by British Rail in 1991.
Network Rail say they have not ruled out the reopening of the line, although without any track that would be a more costly exercise.
A spokesman said: “If in the future a business case and funding becomes available, reinstatement could be an option.
“Our engineers have advised that should this be an option, then a full renewal of all railway components would be required. “
Adrian White, head of transport at Durham County Council, said: “The railway at Leamside remains an important priority for both the council and Network Rail. While we are understanding of the current issues and the need for Network Rail to address them we also understand the company has no plans to sell the land and reopening it is not ruled out should later reviews deem it appropriate.
“We will continue to work with Network Rail to ensure that any reviews of the line are timely and in keeping with both parties needs and priorities.”

Read more: Journal Live

Also more information from Here

Sunday 25 November 2012

Latest ex-London Bendy in Tyneside

Sean Blair has sent us pictures of the latest bendybus to join the Go North East fleet.
5357 BX54 UCO  isn't even meant to be on the road yet due to it not having a cash dispenser and was out for one run from Newcastle to Heworth.  

Saturday 24 November 2012

National Express Coach Tracker

Tony Wilson has sent us this link to the National Express Coach Tracker.

Personally I don't think it's very user friendly and only one out of the three options seems to work, but have a go and send your feedback to National Express.

David G

Friday 23 November 2012

Will it Go under the Bridge? - NO!

Undefeated - The Toughest Bridge in the World
This American railway bridge has stood its ground for the last 100 years.
This fact doesn't deter some drivers from challenging the bridge about once a month. All of them fail.

Thursday 22 November 2012

1,000 Postings on the Focus Blog

Today we reach the 1,000th posting on the Focus Blog since Richard Lomas started this website on 14th May 2011.

Lincoln 3

A third selection from Lincoln, this time looking at the modern transport scene, including the 'Walk and Ride' minibuses that operate 362 days per year. The service is run by PC Coaches on behalf of the City of Lincoln and Lincolnshire County Council who provide £30,000 per annum towards the service. The mini buses link the uphill and downhill shopping areas.

Operating hours:
  • Monday to Saturday: 10am to 5pm
  • Sundays: 12 noon to 5pm
Routes are run on a 20 minutes frequency
Current fares:
  • Adult - £1.40 single journey
  • Child - £0.70 single journey
  • Adult - £3 all day
  • Child - £1.60 all day
  • Bus passes - Free

Lincoln is divided by the railway and frequently everything comes to a halt when the crossing gates are closed to allow trains to pass through the station as seen below.

In March 2011 a fleet of bio-methane gas-fuelled buses were launched in Lincoln. They run on a mixture of conventional diesel and bio-methane gas, and operate around the Cathedral Quarter of Lincoln.

The engine runs firstly off diesel fuel but upon accelerating, gas stored in the tank on the roof is introduced using less diesel.
The buses are said to be “ no different to drive, are less noisy and reduces the carbon footprint by up to 50%.”
The buses are run by Stagecoach to test a new County Council initiative, supported by funding from the East Midlands Development Agency.

See Below for details of two Leyland Tigers looking for a new home

Leith Tigers

Two Leyland Tigers with Plaxton Paramount bodywork are situated at Leith Docks may be available, one is useable (in the dockyard - no MOT requirements), the other one is laid up for some reason, but has a good original interior with seat belts. It is believed that they both have Leyland engines

The contact for them is Scott McVicar, Rolling Stock Manager, 01315539715 office 07825081843 mobile,

Wednesday 21 November 2012

UK Bus Awards 2012

The results of the 2012 UK Bus Awards have been announced.

Amongst the winners are
 Oxford Bus Company the airline

Top Express Operation, sponsored by Volvo Bus

  • Winner: Oxford Bus Company - the airline click
  • Runner Up: Arriva the Shires - Green Line 757
  • Highly Commended:
    • Scottish Citylink - Express Service Network
    • Stagecoach East Scotland - Express City Connect

Services to the Bus Industry, sponsored by Buses magazine

  • Winner: Peter Hendy CBE

Top City Operator, sponsored by BAE Systems

 Nottingham City Transport

  • Winner: Nottingham City Transport  click
  • Joint Runners Up:
    • Go North East
    • Stagecoach Manchester
  • Highly Commended:
    • Stagecoach Sheffield
    • Transdev Keighley & District

UK Bus Operator of the Year, sponsored by Belmont International and QBE Insurance

  • Winner: Nottingham City Transport
  • Runner Up: Reading buses

The Claudia Flanders Memorial Award for Putting Passengers First, sponsored by Bus and Coach Professional

 Go North East 
  • Winner: Go North East - Moving with our People  click
  • Runner Up: Transdev York - York Unibus, A Partnership for Progress
  • Highly Commended:
    • konectbus - konectexpress 8
    • Stephensons of Essex – Breeze

Local Authority Project of the Year, sponsored by Bus and Coach Buyer

Winner: Nottingham City Council - Statutory Quality Partnership Scheme

Special London 2012 Olympics and Paralympics Awards

(awarded by the UK Bus Awards Management Committee)

Special Award for the Planning and Execution of Bus and Coach Transport for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games


  • Arriva Passenger Services
  • ECT Charity
  • FirstGroup plc
  • The London Organising Committee for the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG)
  • Mott MacDonald
  • The Olympic Delivery Authority
  • Stagecoach Group plc
  • Transport for London

For a full list of all the awards and winners click here

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Cumbria Classic Fleet addition

Cumbria Classic Coaches have added a new vehicle to their fleet. 
LFM 302 is a 1950 Leyland PS1/1 originally new to Crosville and numbered  KA 226 in their fleet. The Weymann bodywork is configured to seat 31 passengers in a body that is classed as a coach, but is more bus-like in appearance. The seats are low backed bus type seats with a deep chrome hand rail above the the back rests.
When new, LFM 302 was one of a batch of 35 vehicles originally destined for Midland General but directed to Crosville and used initially as buses, painted in dark green and black with a cream band. They were re-designated as coaches in 1952 and re-painted cream and green.
Subsequently they carried cream above the waist-line and green below waist-line express livery during 1958-61, and the all over green with black wings bus livery (i.e. no cream band) during 1962-64. They were all withdrawn from service by October 1964.
Latterly LFM 302 has been a long term member of the Quantock Motors fleet owned by Steve Morris. It was in fact the first vehicle that Steve preserved so it must have been a difficult decision for him to let the vehicle go.

  ©  Ian Howard
 © Alison Hamer
  ©  Ian Howard
  ©  Ian Howard

  ©  Ian Howard
 LFM 302 at the Minehead Running Day in 2007. Mr Hamer at the wheel!
The reason for new addition to the CCC fleet is due to the fact that their 1949 Leyland PS1/1 CWG 286 was involved in an accident recently and deemed by the insurance company as not being viable to repair. However this vehicle may one day re-appear, as Cumbria Classic Coaches have retained the bus with a view to eventually returning it to the road. If anyone knows of a rear drop section chassis suitable for a Leyland PS1/1 please get in touch with them on 015396 23254.

 CWG 286 in happier times at Kirkby Stephen, returning from the Hawes 
market day service on 5th June 2012.
David Gambles

More information here about LFM 302.

Monday 19 November 2012

Scottish High Speed Line

Plans for a high-speed rail link between Glasgow and Edinburgh, cutting journey times to less than 30 minutes, are being taken forward by ministers.
The Scottish government aims to deliver the scheme by 2024 - at least 10 years before any high-speed link from England may be extended north of the border.

If successful, it would see 140mph trains linking Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Talks will now take place between transport officials, the rail industry and potential partners in both cities.
Plans have already been announced at Westminster to have the high-speed project, known as HS2, running between England's major cities.
'Firing ahead' Phase one of the £33bn link, between London and Birmingham, is due to start operating in 2026.
The UK government has previously said this would be followed by a second phase route reaching Manchester and Leeds by about 2033

As yet, there has been no dated or written commitment to extend the scheme to Glasgow and Edinburgh.
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Scottish government would "not wait" for Westminster to deliver HS2 north of the border and would be "firing ahead" with its own plans.
She said that a survey last year, carried out by the Scottish Partnership Group for High Speed Rail, had shown "a huge level of support" for HS2 in Scotland.
The findings, published in the Fast Track Scotland (FTS) document, claimed an HS2 link to London could benefit Scotland by up to £25bn.

After the document was published, Transport Scotland, on behalf of the FTS group, looked at how quickly HS2 could be delivered.
Ms Sturgeon said its findings demonstrated that Scotland could introduce HS2 way ahead of any Westminster timetable.
"We now know that within just 12 years, we could build a line which will see journey times between our two major cities cut to less than half an hour," she said.
"That will benefit our businesses, our jobs market and also our tourism industry, and it will put us up there with the world's greatest transport networks.
"The Scottish government will now enter into talks with our partners in both cities and the rail industry to see how we can work together to see this vision realised - a Glasgow-Edinburgh high speed line which can connect to the network from England."

 A spokesman for the UK Department for Transport said HS2 was "a vital project" that would "transform the entire country".
He said: "This is a truly British network that will serve far more than the cities directly on the line - seamless transition of trains on to the East Coast and West Coast main lines is expected to slash the journey time between Edinburgh and Glasgow to London by up to an hour without the need to change trains."
The spokesman said the government would publish its preferred route for the second phase before the end of the year.
He added: "Additionally, the secretary of state announced last month that he has asked officials to work with the Scottish government to explore how best to boost capacity and cut journey times further so that Scotland can be fully brought into our vision for a high speed Britain."

 Most recently the Ardrie to Bathgate line line, closed to passengers in 1956 and to freight in 1982 has been re-instated and upgraded along its length, offering another route between Edinburgh and Glasgow.
More comments and opinions here

Sunday 18 November 2012

25th Anniversary of King's Cross Underground Fire

It is the 25th anniversary of the fire at King's Cross Underground station when thirty one people died when a fire on a wooden escalator engulfed part of the London station on 18 November 1987.
The blaze is thought to have been started by a dropped match and led to a smoking ban at Tube stations.
More than 100 people were taken to hospital after the King's Cross fire, after becoming trapped as the escalator went up in flames.
About 150 firefighters wearing breathing apparatus fought the blaze. One of them - fireman Colin Townsley - was among the dead.
He was awarded, posthumously, a certificate of commendation for his bravery, as were five other firemen who survived.
In 2004, the final victim of the blaze was finally identified as 72-year-old Alexander Fallon, a Scottish man living rough in London at the time.

After the King's Cross fire, wooden escalators were phased out in favour of metal replacements and smoking was banned at stations. It had already been banned on Underground trains.
Nobody has ever been prosecuted over the fire. The Director of Public Prosecutions and the Railway Inspectorate said there was "no justification" for charges.

Information from Tony Wilson

Saturday 17 November 2012

304 In Service at Beamish

As a follow up to the previous posting about Blackpool Coronation car 304 I visited Beamish Museum on Sunday 11th November in the hope of seeing it in service. I was not to be disappointed and had a number of rides on it during the day. The drivers commented favourably on how it performs and the Vambac (Variable Automatic Multinotch Braking and Acceleration Control) system seems have behaved itself during the time it has been in service at Beamish.

 Our first view of 304 in service as she enters the main street of Beamish in the morning sunshine

 We boarded and took our first trip around the Beamish circuit
 The tram is controlled by a single lever which is pushed forward to engage power and pulled back to operate brakes

 304 looks very much at home on the main street of Beamish (above & below)

 We boarded again for a second trip and as we left the main street we spotted the 'Bank Manager' standing outside his premises

 Whilst travelling the circuit we met examples of other forms of public transport 
(above and below)

 During her stay at Beamish 304 had a slight accident with the replica Daimler bus, seen here central in the picture. Both vehicles suffered slight damage, but one week on there is little evidence of the encounter - unless you know where to look that is!  These things happen and it would seem that no one was injured. Trams and buses can soon be repaired.

 A look at the interior which is bright and pleasant  and must have seemed very modern in 1952 when 304 was delivered

 Time for us to depart and a last look at the tram as we head for the exit. 304 was scheduled to finish her stint at Beamish and return to the Lancastrian Transport Trust.
It would be nice if she could stay longer as the public seemed very impressed by the vehicle.
David Gambles                                                                                                                                      .