Friday, 31 May 2013

London Route 11 to be served by NBfL

Mayor Boris Johnson has announced the second route to be served entirely by his New Bus for London.
Route 11, which runs between Liverpool Street Station and Fulham Broadway, will be converted to the new vehicles on Saturday 21 September with 25 of them running during peak hours.
Mayor Johnson said: “I am very pleased that we can announce that route 11 will be next to be served by these beautiful, bespoke, economy-boosting buses.  They have world-leading environmental credentials and offer an unparalleled passenger experience.” Transport for London claims the bus is the “greenest diesel electric hybrid bus in the world” although its green credentials have been questioned by critics and the Mayor recently admitted the bus would not comply with his own Ultra Low Emission Zone.
TfL has ordered 600 of the £354,500 vehicles which it will make available to bus operators and will also cover the cost of a second crew member needed to supervise use of the rear platform.
The total cost of buying the buses is expected to be £212m with a further £37m spent on the second crew member.
Darren Johnson, a Green party member of the London Assembly, said the costs “will add up to £80m onto the fares bill between now and 2016” and warned that “this is a huge sum of extra cash to find during years of austerity driven cuts in the Government’s grant to Transport for London.”
Assembly Member Darren Johnson has also questioned the decision to develop a new hybrid bus and says TfL “should be buying cheaper existing hybrids now and preparing to make the switch to electric buses.”

 NBfL on route 38 enters Victoria bus station during March 2013
When the original NBfL vehicles were introduced last year they were introduced on Arriva route 38 and depending on availability have since continued to serve this route mixed in with conventional Arriva buses.

The first bus route to be converted to operate entirely with New Bus for London vehicles will be the 24 – which runs between Hampstead Heath and Pimlico – from Saturday 22 June.

 The 24 will soon move over to being operated entirely by NBfL vehicles. Current vehicles are Volvo Wright buses operated by Metroline, seen here at the northern terminus at Hampstead Heath. 

Link from Tony Wilson

Thursday, 30 May 2013

Green Bus Funding for London

Funding secured to expand Europe’s largest green bus fleet
·         £5 million will help purchase 4 electric and 90 hybrid buses
·         More than 1,700 hybrid buses on streets of capital by 2016

Transport for London (TfL) has successfully bid for £5m from the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Green Bus Fund.  The majority of the money will be used, alongside existing TfL budget, to purchase 90 hybrid buses – that will bolster what is already Europe’s largest fleet of green buses. 
Around £360,000 will be used in the purchase of four electric buses.  These single deck buses are entirely powered by electric motors and emit no harmful pollutants.  The buses will be trialled to establish whether the technology can undertake the rigours of operating in the capital. 
The DfT’s Green Bus Fund was set up to support bus companies and local authorities to introduce low carbon vehicles that will have a positive effect on the environment.  The money from the Green Bus Fund is used to supplement existing budget and enables companies and local authorities to purchase greener vehicles in place of standard diesel vehicles. 
Since the creation of the Green Bus Fund, TfL has been awarded £5m in 2009, £8m in 2010 and £5m in both 2011 and 2012.  This year will see a total of £12m of DfT funding provided across the UK resulting in the introduction of 213 low carbon vehicles – almost half of them in the capital.  
Mike Weston, London Buses Operations Director, said: “London buses may be red on the outside but they are increasingly green on the inside.  The capital is leading the way on the introduction and operation of green buses and this has been recognised again this year with further funding from the Green Bus Fund.  We will continue to increase our hybrid bus fleet and will seek, where possible, to trial exciting developments in zero emission electric technology.”  
In 2016 there will be more than 1,700 hybrid buses will be in service on the streets of the capital – representing 20 per cent of the total bus fleet (8,500 buses). 
This will include 600 New Bus for London vehicles – that are the greenest diesel electric hybrid bus in the world.  In recent emissions tests a prototype bus, that had been in passenger service for eight months and that had driven more than 15,000 miles, was found to emit a quarter of the NOx and PM of a fleet average hybrid bus and 20 per cent less CO2.  When all 600 New Bus for London vehicles are in service in 2016 it will reduce CO2 emissions in the capital by around 20,600 tonnes a year.
The remaining 1,100 hybrid buses are much cleaner, quieter and more efficient than their conventional diesel-powered counterparts.  Hybrid buses deliver a minimum 30 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions and 30 per cent better fuel economy when compared to conventional diesel buses.   
There are plans to trial two electric powered buses on routes 507 and 521.  The trial alongside the four electric buses funded by the Green Bus Fund will help assess whether this technology can cope with the rigors of operating on a busy London route.
The operation of a green bus fleet is one element of a comprehensive set of measures that the Mayor has introduced to tackle air pollution.  Over the past four years the Mayor has tightened the standard of the Low Emission Zone, further reducing the emissions of around 150,000 vehicles.  He has introduced the first age limits to retire the oldest and most polluting taxis; and has delivered a package of innovative local measures through his Clean Air Fund.  The Mayor has also announced plans to introduce an Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London and has tightened the requirements for vehicles to qualify for a hundred per cent discount to the Congestion Charge. 

Details from TfL Press Release
Supplied by Tony Wilson.

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Blue (& Grey) Sky Pictures

It's quiet on the editorial front so here's a selection of pictures from events gone by.

 This vehicle isn't seen much these days. KTJ 502 is a Leyland PS1 which was new to Haslingden Corporation. and is seen here at Brough whilst attending the 2004 Kirkby Stephen Easter Rally. It recently moved to Lancashire where it will be seen again on home ground
 Also in Brough at the same event are a collection of vehicles including three RVPT buses.
 Above and below. Scenes from Blackpool taken in June 2005

 Seen at the Tyne Commission Quay in 2004 are examples of Bristol, Leyland and Crossley vehicles
 Two ex North Western Bristol L5G vehicles picking up in Bakewell town centre for Chatsworth House in connection with the 2007 Bus Rally held at this attractive venue.
 An impressive line up of ex Glasgow vehicles at Bridgeton Bus Museum open day in October 2007

 Three half cabs waiting their turn on the free bus service at the Winkleigh Open Day in 2007

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Stagecoach Go Greener

Stagecoach Group has met its current five-year carbon reduction targets 12 months ahead of schedule, achieving an overall absolute reduction of 8% in emissions from buildings and a cut of 3% in annual emissions per vehicle mile from fleet transport. Compared to the size of its global operations, Stagecoach has cut the carbon impact (kg CO2 per £ of turnover) of its business in the UK and North America by more than 20% in the past four years.
Earlier this year, figures compiled as part of the Government's Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) Energy Efficiency Scheme showed that Stagecoach Group is among the top 10% of large companies in the UK for its performance in reducing the carbon emissions from its business.
The Group's strategy has been supported by an £11million green investment programme. Employee initiatives and eco teams set up by staff have also helped drive dramatic improvements in energy and carbon efficiency. Last year, Stagecoach Group also retained the prestigious Carbon Trust Standard for its action on carbon reduction.
To maintain the momentum of the Group's programme, work is now underway to develop a new five-year strategy. This will include identifying further cost-effective energy-saving opportunities, continuing investment to make the business greener, and setting new targets around carbon reduction and water consumption.

The green Bus Funding Awards announced yesterday (see below) will increase the green Stagecoach fleet from by a further 55 vehicles. The company already have over 230 green vehicles in service and the award will allow a new fleet of 38 ADL Enviro 400 hybrid electric double-decker buses, costing £10.5 million, will go into service in Manchester by 2014. Also seventeen Scania/ADL Enviro 300 single-decker biomethane gas buses are to be introduced in Sunderland at a cost of £3 million.
The new hybrid vehicles earmarked for Manchester will bring the number of hybrid electric buses operated by Stagecoach in the city to 128 – the biggest fleet of buses using this state-of-the-art technology in the UK outside London.

David Gambles

Monday, 27 May 2013

4th Round of Green Bus Funding

Bus passengers in England are set to benefit from cleaner, greener bus journeys thanks to the 4th round of the Green Bus Fund announced by Local Transport Minister Norman Baker.

 Hybrids and gas powered vehicles at Gateshead Metrocentre in May
The £12 million funding for 213 new low carbon buses will deliver better services for passengers while also cutting carbon and delivering economic growth.
The Green Bus Fund aims to cut greenhouse gas emission levels and encourage bus operators and local councils to make the switch to more environmentally-friendly buses. In total 4 rounds of the fund, worth £87 million, will have delivered more than 1200 new low carbon buses in England, saving around 28,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year.
The government is paying up to half the cost difference between low carbon diesel-hybrid and biomethane gas buses and their standard diesel equivalent.

Five bus manufacturers will benefit from orders for their eco-friendly hybrid, electric and gas buses, with many of the buses being assembled in the UK. The manufacturers which stand to benefit are Alexander Dennis Limited, BYD, Optare, Scania and Volvo.
The winners, who will add 83 single-decker and 130 double-decker buses to their fleets, are spread across England and include Stagecoach and First Group. The local councils involved in the initiative include the City of York, Greater Manchester, Nottingham City and Transport for London.

Successful bidders:

  • City of York Council – 2 fully-electric single-decker buses
  • Courtney Coaches – 2 diesel-hybrid double-decker buses
  • First Berkshire – 5 diesel-hybrid single-decker buses
  • First York – 6 fully-electric single-decker buses
  • Nottingham City Council – 15 fully-electric single-decker buses
  • Reading Transport Limited – 14 biomethane gas single-decker buses
  • Selwyns Travel Limited – 6 diesel-hybrid single-decker buses
  • Stagecoach Manchester – 38 diesel-hybrid double-decker buses
  • Stagecoach North East – 17 biomethane gas single-decker buses
  • Transport for Greater Manchester – 3 fully-electric and 10 diesel-hybrid single-decker buses
  • Transport for London – 4 fully-electric single-decker and 90 diesel-hybrid double-decker buses
  • Yorkshire Coastliner Limited – 1 fully-electric single-decker bus 
Local Transport Minister Norman Baker has asked the department to explore options for further green initiatives to make full use of the remainder of the available funding in this financial year.

 Norman Baker said:
"Buses are an essential part of people’s day-to-day lives up and down the country and are a key tool for enabling economic growth. At the same time, we want this growth to be green, which is why we are investing in these brand new low carbon buses.
The last 3 rounds of the Green Bus Fund have shown that bus operators and local authorities are keen to invest in environmentally friendly technology, and it is encouraging to see this strong interest in ultra low emission vehicles continuing through the 4th round of the fund.
I’m glad these new technologies are breaking through into the mainstream. This further strengthens the case for operators in the UK to invest in ultra low emission technologies and achieve a step change in cutting carbon."

BYD Electrically powered service bus has a top speed of 62mph
Focus Comment
It is the first time that Chinese manufacturer BYD has received an order from a UK customer. 

According to the  BYD website
"The BYD ebus is able to run 155 miles on a single charge in urban conditions (without solar contribution), more than enough for daily public transportation. The energy consumption of the BYD ebus is less than 100 kWh per 60 miles"

David Gambles 

Elsecar Railway

Plans to build a heritage railway line through the coalfields where the 1984 miners' strike began have taken "a major step forward", enthusiasts say.
Funds have been raised to construct a level crossing allowing the Elsecar Heritage Railway (EHR) in South Yorkshire to be doubled in length.
This means trains will eventually be able to travel between Elsecar and Cortonwood, where the mining dispute began.
The EHR hopes to re-brand the 2.5-mile (4km) route as the Coalfield Line.
Before the level crossing was built the existing 1.25-mile (2km) line stopped at Hemingfield.
The new crossing is the first step in a plan to connect Elsecar to Cortonwood.
Its opening will be marked by the first locomotive crossing of Tingle Bridge Lane, near Hemingfield, for more than 30 years.
William Tilling, from the EHR, said: "This is such a major step forward."
Mr Tilling, chairman of trustees at the EHR, said he hoped to extend the line by a further 1.25 miles to Cortonwood and build a new station called Cortonwood Colliery Station.
"Without this crossing it has been a bit like the Berlin Wall or the Red Sea," he said.
"Without it we would not have been able to fulfil our ambition to become the Coalfield Line and to be able to tell the story of South Yorkshire's coalfields because Cortonwood is totally pivotal to that story."
Plans to close the mine at Cortonwood sparked the miners' strike.
Mr Tilling said trustees wanted to build a museum and memorial garden nearby to commemorate the strike and mark the 1866 Oaks Pit mining disaster which killed 361.
Work to extend the line and develop the Cortonwood site is expected to cost up to £220,000.
Funding for the crossing and improvements to Elsecar station was raised by volunteers and from donations.

Sunday, 26 May 2013

'Black Five' Lowloader Causes Damage in Keighley

An operation to transport a steam engine on a low-loader caused chaos on the roads of Keighley.
LMS Black five 5305 from the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway was being transported from Ingrow train station to Ilford for wheel turning maintenance. A low loader from transport company Moveright International was being used for the job.
While leaving Ingrow Station, the loader came into contact with one of the antique metal poles on the gates, ripping it out of its foundation.
Later on the journey, the same vehicle hit a traffic light on the junction of North Street and High Street, knocking the unit over.

Saturday, 25 May 2013

Richard Lomas

Richard was a great fan of trams so this is a fitting start to the sequence of pictures, where we see Metropolitan Electric Tramways, Car No. 331 at Crich. The tram was built in 1930.

Buses occasionally appeared at Crich and here Richard was around to capture the scene of a Routemaster running under the famous bridge.

A very early picture, taken in Matlock showing some pretty intensive roadworks, all being carried out by manual workers.

 When Premiere went into competitiuon with trentbarton, Richard was soon there with his camera photographing the Wellglade (who own tb) Bargain bus retaliation.

He had a particular interest in the buses around Ripley where he lived. Here's one of his beloved Trent Barton vehicles in the snow. Richard used to work in the offices of Trent.

Oliver Foreman has published a tribute to Richard on the main Focus Transport website
here   The link to Richard's archive site is here

Kath Lomas has carried on with Richard's Tram Blog and during the year has joined various trips to far away places. Below are a few recent pictures taken on her travels to Minsk.

Kath Lomas will have a sales stall at this weekend's AEC Rally and also the Trent 100th Year event on Sunday. If you see her I'm sure she would appreciate a chat!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Worksop route 77 new ADL Enviro 400s

Although rumoured not to going on the road until June, a phone call had me waiting in torrential rain today (23/05/2013) to photograph the 2 E400's reported to be delivered to Worksop depot last week, working the 77. Martin had photographed one of the vehicles on Beetwell Street in Chesterfield.
The first four photos show the vehicles on their first runs, the later pics show them carrying correct destinations on their electronic blinds. In the future they will receive branding for route 77.
In answer to questions, these vehicles have Cummins Euro 5 diesel engines.
ADL Enviro400 10062 FT13  NZV stands at it's Chesterfield terminus on Beetwell Street.

ADL Enviro400 10062 FT13  NZV on route 77 at Staveley.

ADL Enviro400 10062 FT13  NZV on route 77 at Staveley.

ADL Enviro400 10061 FT13  NZU on route 77 at Staveley.
ADL Enviro400 10062 FT13  NZV passes the old hospital in Chesterfield

ADL Enviro400 10061 FT13  NZU on route 77 on it's return journey from Chesterfield to Worksop

ADL E400 dash has common layout with ADL E200

ADL Enviro400 10061 FT13  NZU on route 77 on it's return journey to Worksop

Thursday, 23 May 2013

New Sunderland to Middlesbrough Service Launched

Until now, two of the north east's largest urban conurbations - Sunderland and Middlesbrough - were not linked by a bus. Go North East is changing this with the launch of a brand new service that promises a direct, fast and reliable route between the two destinations.
The bus company, which is 100 years old this year, has launched the X7 Wear Tees Xpress which runs from Sunderland to Middlesbrough and utilises the A19 as a fast and direct route. The hourly service has limited stops and serves Seaham, Peterlee, Wingate and Stockton.
The firm is marketing the service to students of Teesside and Sunderland universities and East Durham College as well as families and day trippers who want to visit the attractions of Sunderland and Middlesbrough.
The new service offers a cheaper alternative to commuters who use the train route between Wearside and Teesside. Expanding employment sites at Dawdon Business Park and Stockton Riverside are also linked by the Wear Tees Xpress.
Stephen King, sales and marketing manager at Go North East said: “As fuel prices have continued to rise, more and more people are looking for less expensive ways to travel. We’ve seen our bus routes from Tyneside and Peterlee to Teesside become very popular which is why we decided to introduce our new Wear Tees Xpress route which gives faster bus journeys between Wearside, Peterlee and Teesside.
"As well as the links to education and employment sites, our customers can now access a greater variety of shopping destinations."
Customers can travel all day on the full route from only £6.10 and Go North East also offers a £14.90 weekly ticket for students. 

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Daisy Goes to Hawes

Cumbria Classic Coaches latest addition to the fleet is earning it's keep and has proved to be useful addition. As previously reported it is a 1950 Leyland PS1 LFM 302 which has been named 'Daisy'. Last week it operated on the Kirkby Stephen to Hawes route and I took the opportunity to travel on the service and sample the delights of the bus and the scenery.

 Kirkby Stephen town centre and five minutes to go before departure. The bus has already picked up in Ravenstonedale and has called at Kirkby Stephen railway station to meet a northbound train and now awaits departure for Hawes.
 Nice quiet comfortable ride with no squeaks or rattles from the MCW body. Many of today's buses rattle from day one.
 Above & below. The vehicle looks quite at home in the narrow streets of Hawes. Modern coaches and HGV's use this same stretch of road but don't fit quite as well!

 After dropping passengers at the market and the Rope Works the bus continues to Hawes Creamery where driver and conductor have lunch. Later in the afternoon the crew bring the bus down to the Rope Works in readiness for the return journey. Here it meets the Wendsleydale bus which returns to Ripon.
 The Ripon service departs five minutes ahead of the Kirkby Stephen service
 A few minutes after leaving the Rope Works and picking up in town, the bus arrives again at the Creamery where more passengers board and then it's off again to Kirkby Stephen.
 The bus makes an extra stop in Kirkby Stephen to pick up the photographer who needed a loaf of bread from the Co-op!  Then off to Ravenstonedale and finally the bus depot.
 Daisy in line with other members of the fleet, dressed and ready for a wedding.
 The bus is proving popular with customers who are booking weddings

 I can highly recommend a day out on the Tuesday service to Hawes or the Wednesday service to Barnard Castle, both scheduled to coincide with market days. The routes take in some interesting scenery and it's a pleasure to make the journey in a vehicle that is suited to the narrow roads. A relaxing day out is assured!

David Gambles

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

First Group Share Price Plunges & No Dividend

Shares in FirstGroup have plunged 26% after it announced a £615m rights issue in a bid to reduce its debt and said profit had plummeted.
The firm, which has extensive rail and bus operations in the UK as well as a bus business in the US, said pre-tax profit had plunged 86.7% to £37.2m.
FirstGroup also said Martin Gilbert, who has chaired the firm for 27 years, would be standing down.

 How the share price took a dive between 08.00 & 16.00
Mr Gilbert said the firm had faced "considerable" external headwinds.
FirstGroup said net debt had risen 7.7% to stand at £1.98bn at the end of March, putting its investment-grade credit rating in jeopardy.
However, the firm said that the proceeds from the rights issue, which will give investors who already hold shares in the company the right to buy additional shares at a discount of 62%, would enable it to reduce this debt and target a return to profitability.
The capital-raising is still subject to shareholder approval.
"The £615m rights issue will finally put an end to years of investor concern about the strength of the balance sheet," said Edward Stanford, analyst at Oriel Securities.
Mr Stanford said there was now "significant scope" for recovery within the group.
FirstGroup, which lost out on a lucrative West Coast Main Line rail franchise last year after the Department for Transport made mistakes in the bidding process, also said it would not pay a final dividend for 2013 to investors or an interim dividend in 2014.
It said it would restart final dividend payments in 2014 "subject to performance in line with business expectations".

Monday, 20 May 2013

Bus Trials at Nottingham Station

East Midlands Trains has said it needs to "fine tune" its plans before a rail replacement bus service at Nottingham Station comes into effect.
Improvement works mean most trains from the station will be replaced with buses between 20 July and 26 August.
 Early days of East Midlands Trains

The firm said weekend trials, which involved rail staff and their families acting as passengers, had gone well.
During the summer, customers will have to get London trains at East Midlands Parkway with connecting buses.
The £100m project involves laying six miles of new track, building a new platform and installing 140 signals.
The trial involved directing members of staff to buses. Once on the buses they were driven to the next street.
Two blind people with guide dogs also helped with the trial to prepare staff to help passengers with visual impairments.
Neil Micklethwaite, customer service director at East Midlands Trains, said: "There's a couple of tweaks we need to make, particularly with our signage. We need bigger, clearer signs at our bus stops.
"We haven't had any complaints, it's just the fine tuning we need to do and we've got plenty of time to get that right."
Services between Nottingham and Skegness will also be affected, with trains starting and terminating at Grantham.
Network Rail, which is carrying out the work, said the changes would improve the speed of its rail services. During the works passengers will be offered discounts on the cost of their rail tickets.
East Midlands Trains said it would be conducting another test before the resignalling work starts on 20 July.
A spokeswoman for the company said the trial would not have any impact on passengers.
Link from Tony Wilson