Sunday, 31 March 2013

Beeching Report 50 Years On

Fifty years ago the Beeching Report was published, spelling the end for thousands of railway stations and hundreds of branch lines.
Beeching was recruited by the government and his report recommended taking an axe to about a third of the network - 5,000 miles of track, including hundreds of branch lines, 2,363 railway stations and tens of thousands of jobs. Instead, it would concentrate on the things trains did well - fast journeys between the cities. Improved bus services could replace branch lines, argued Dr Beeching.
However, the line closures began long before the Beeching report. More than 3,000 miles disappeared in the 1950s and the government wanted to axe a lot more.

It's been five decades since Britain said goodbye to said of its most beautiful and picturesque railway stations as the nation began to scale back its vast railway network in a move that would see more than 2,000 stations closed.

Click on the link below to see a collection of images that show the very last journeys made by locomotives on dozens of rural lines across the country before they were ripped up under the Beeching Axe.


Saturday, 30 March 2013

More Blue Sky Pictures

As there isn't a lot of news around at the moment and the winter weather is predominant so here are more Blue Sky Views to remind us of better weather ahead.

 North Norfolk Railway Sherringham 2012
B12 4-6-0 8572 North Norfolk Railway 2012

 Alum Bay, Isle of Wight 1993
 Western super Mare 1978
 Shanklin Isle of Wight 1988

 North Norfolk Railway 2012

 North Norfolk Railway 1940's Weekend 2012

Friday, 29 March 2013

Darlington Gas Buses

Arriva launched their new gas fuelled buses in Darlington this week. Steven Hodgson has sent us the following pictures of the new vehicles in service.

 All pictures above © Steven Hodgson

Arriva's press material is shown below

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Portuguese Underground Gallery

A selection of pictures taken on the Lisbon Underground.

To see the complete set use the following link

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Rail franchising - Stagecoach Press Release

Rail Franchising

Stagecoach Group plc ("Stagecoach") notes the announcement by the Department for Transport ("DfT") regarding its plans, timetable and investment programme for UK rail franchising.

The announcement includes the planned extension or direct award contract in relation to three franchises in which Stagecoach has an involvement:

*  The Stagecoach South Western Trains franchise, scheduled to run until February 2017, is to be extended to April 2019, the end of Control Period 5.

*  The East Midlands Trains franchise, scheduled to run until April 2015, is to be extended to October 2017.

*  The West Coast franchise, operated by our joint venture Virgin Rail Group and which was last year extended to November 2014, will now run to April 2017.

In addition, the DfT has confirmed its plans for a number of franchise competitions in 2013-14, including Essex Thameside, Thameslink and InterCity East Coast. The Thameslink franchise, for which Stagecoach is a shortlisted bidder, has resumed. An Invitation to Tender will be issued to existing shortlisted bidders in September 2013, with the franchise expected to be awarded by May 2014.

Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach Group Finance Director, said: "This is an important step in getting rail franchising back on track. It brings greater clarity and confidence in the future for everyone with an interest in the continued success of the UK rail network.

"We welcome the extensions announced to franchises we are involved in operating. Our focus will be on further improving rail travel for our customers and securing a good return for investors who play a key role in the funding of the UK rail network. The extension at South West Trains will also allow us to continue our ground-breaking Alliance with Network Rail to deliver a better and more efficient railway for passengers.

"Work is already well underway on developing innovative proposals for our bid for the Thameslink franchise and we look forward to submitting a competitive and customer-focused bid. We will also consider closely the opportunities in the InterCity East Coast franchise competition announced today.

"Despite the difficulties of the past year, the core franchising model works for passengers, Government and investors. It has delivered record passenger growth, huge investment in trains and stations and a more efficient system for taxpayers.

"Now we have a timetable of the Government's plans, it is critical the momentum is maintained. The focus must be on delivery and ensuring a flow of franchise competitions to maintain investor confidence. We will continue to work closely with the DfT and its newly established Franchise Advisory Panel in the months ahead to help deliver an improved franchising system that builds on the benefits the private sector has delivered for taxpayers and rail passengers."

Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Blue Sky Pictures

As our current weather is offering no hint of spring we thought we would bring you more pictures taken in warmer weather.


Monday, 25 March 2013

Nottingham Orders Scania ADL Enviro 400's

Nottingham City Transport (NCT) has ordered 40 Scania chassis (N230UD 4x2), to be fitted with ADL E400 full-height double-deck bodywork

While NCT is a long-standing Scania customer, recent deliveries have been of the East Lancs/Optare OmniDekka which were built in Blackburn with a front designed by Scania, and prior to this Scanias with East Lancs bodies. Deliveries of the Enviro 400's will start in December, at a rate of five per week.
The 4.3-metre high ADL bodywork will have 28 seats in the lower saloon and 47 in the upper, all of which will be finished in two-colour E-leather seats.
“We are delighted to be continuing our long-standing relationship with Scania, whose well-proven vehicles have been serving the public in Nottingham for more than ten years now,” says Nottingham City Transport Engineering Director Gary Mason.

Tony Wilson

Sunday, 24 March 2013

London Coaching

A few views of the London coaching scene taken in the Victoria area during the past few days.

 This impressive looking Scania Irizar is operated in Megabus livery by Freestones Coaches of Norfolk
 Unusual livery for a National Express vehicle is seen on FJ07 TKD which is supporting The Little Princess Trust charity. The vehicle is seen in Semley Place, just about to turn right into Victoria Coach Station
 Ready for Action! A line up of Greenline Van Hool vehicles waiting their next turn on the 757 service to Luton.

 Escaping from the Ebury Street exit of Victoria Coach Station is Van Hool Astramega, setting out on a journey to Bristol.
 The destination states "Time for Bed zzzzz" seen on a Megabus Astromega whilst on layover at Eccleston Bridge near Victoria.
 David Gambles

Saturday, 23 March 2013

Bluebell Railway Opens to East Grinstead.

David Gambles has spent today at the Bluebell Railway, on the day that line has been opened to East Grinstead Network Rail. David managed to travel on 'The Pioneer' the first train from East Grinstead.

 Crowds line the platform and car park to give the first train a tremendous send off accompanied to music from a brass band.
 David looking pleased that he's been able to travel on the first train to depart from East Grinstead

 Stepney is attached to the rear of the first train to help get it through Imberhorne cutting and beyond to Horsted Keynes and Sheffield Park.
9F 92212 stands at Sheffield Park, ready to take a northbound train all the way to East Grinstead

Amongst the many VIP's on the first train was Transport Minister Norman Baker.

Office of Fair Trading Report

For those that are suffering from insomnia maybe you would like to plough through the report by the OFT, regarding the Stagecoach take over of Bluebird Buses of Middleton Manchester.
 An ex Bluebird vehicle, MX57 KXR still in Bluebird livery but now with Stagecoach decals and fleet number
The take over was finally cleared and the deal has gone through, securing employment for the staff involved and improving bus services for the passengers affected.

Also shown below is one of the ex First vehicles also taken over recently, following the deal by Stagecoach to acquire the First operation in Wigan.

 N412 JBV ex First now owned by Stagecoach and numbered 16192 in their fleet
David Gambles

Friday, 22 March 2013

United Counties 100 Years

Ken Jones has sent us these pictures of Stagecoach buses in Wellingborough, as part of last weekend's celebrations for United Counties 100 years.
The repainted FLF in Eastern Counties livery, the Megadekker and the Routemaster were all in service, giving free rides around the town.

Thursday, 21 March 2013

Mansfield Bus Station Opening Ceremony.

Although not operational until Easter Sunday 31 March (with Family Fun the day before 11am - 3pm) Mansfield's new bus station was officially opened by the Right Honourable Patrick McLoughlin, Secretary of State for Transport, on Monday 18th March.

A Hammonds coach departs Mansfield bus Station.
Hi Mark!! thanks for reading.

Oliver Foreman and Colin Sellers were there to record the event for Focus Transport.

Full Report on Focus Transport    Click Here

More Photos on Focus Flickr   Click Here

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

Scottish Government Invests £2m in 25 New Buses

Following the decision by the Scottish Government to invest £2 in a further round of Green Bus Funding it has now been announced that Lothian Buses will add 20 new buses to their fleet. Stagecoach Bluebird will order three green buses from its share of the investment.
Dumfries-based transport partnership SWestrans is buying its first Green Bus through the fund, as is Edinburgh-based Secure Airparks. 

Link from Tony Wilson

London Underground Fined

London Underground and its contractors have been fined £300,000 at the Old Bailey over the incident in August 2011 involving a 66ft-long broken down maintenance unit that was being towed uphill.

The 39-tonne maintenance wagon ran for 16miles over four miles on the busy Northern Line, while ahead of it a packed commuter train tried to accelerate out of its path – the driver skipping stations and ordering terrified passengers to move into the front carriages.
The 66-foot long wagon careered through seven stations on the London Underground as control staff watched it accelerating towards the centre of the capital. video

Read more:

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Selwyns Acquired by RATP

COACH operator Selwyns Travel has been acquired for an undisclosed sum by French transport group RATP who run Manchester Metrolink.
Selwyns has depots in Runcorn, St Helens and Manchester and employs more than 200 staff with a turnover of £15m.
It was formed in 1968 and clients include local authorities and blue chip companies including National Express, Barclays and Emirates.
In 2011 Selwyns bought £4m turnover transport firm Haytons of Manchester as part of its strategy of expanding its North West client base.
With a fleet of 90 vehicles Selwyns Travel will continue to operate as an independent division of RATP Dev UK under its managing director Selwyn Jones.

Links from Tony Wilson and Martin Arrand

Six A4's to Appear at York

75 years to the day that Mallard achieved the world record for steam traction, six A4's will appear around the turntable at York Railway Museum.

Between the 3rd and 17th July 2013 the six locos will be displayed together to celebrate Mallard's record breaking run when it reached 126 mph on Stoke Bank. The public will be able to visit the museum free of charge to see the engines posed around the turntable.
Other events are planned in 2013 to celebrate the 75th anniversary include an Autumn Great Gathering 26th October to 8th November 2013, Locos in a Different Light 30th October to 2nd November 2013.

Visiting locomotives Dominion of Canada and Dwight D. Eisenhower are on loan until 2014 at which time they will return to their respective homes in Canada and the USA.

In February 2014 prior to their return, a display of all six locos is planned at Shildon, between 15th and 23rd, giving one last chance to see the locos together, possibly in our lifetime.

For full details see the NRM website here

'Dominion of Canada' is receiving a re-paint in readiness for the celebrations see here

Monday, 18 March 2013

Bluebell Connection is Made

At long last the Bluebell Railway is connected to Network Rail. On 8 March the line was formally joined using a white fishplate.
A YouTube video shows the ceremony to connect the line

There is still much work to be done to ensure the track is ready for the first day of operation on 23rd March.

Sunday, 17 March 2013

Designlines to be Scrapped?

The buses are now stacked in a corner of a scrapyard
The ten Designline electric buses that were controversially taken out of service after just five years use are now stacked on top of each other in a north east scrapyard. In June 2012 we reported here that they had been moved to a storage yard just north of Sandy Lane in Newcastle.
They were owned jointly by Nexus, the Tyne and Wear PTE and Gateshead Council and were taken out of service when only five years old, when the QuayLink contract was lost by Stagecoach to Go North East. Stagecoach were persuaded to try them on other routes in the Newcastle area but they were found to be just as unreliable as they had been when operated on the Quaylink services.
In response to our posting in June 2012 about them being moved in to storage Huw Lewis of Nexus told us  "We can confirm we have sold these vehicles to a private company, which we understand is now preparing them for a new role"
So much for the new role - maybe they will become drink cans or washing machines?

 June 2012 when the ten buses had just been moved to the storage compound
Focus Comment
Nexus is the organisation that claims it can make a better job of running the buses in Tyne & Wear via a Quality Contract. It is fairly easy to do anything if you have an unlimited supply of public money, as in this case concerning the Designlines, which were rumoured to have cost £250,000 per vehicle and only lasted in service for around five years.