Friday, 28 February 2014


The boss of the London Underground said today he wants the next generation of Tube trains to echo the style of the Boris bus. 

LU managing director Mike Brown said he was “unashamedly” branding the trains as the New Tube for London — echoing Thomas Heatherwick’s New Bus for London — and wanted to work with designers to create the future look.
Full details of LU’s £16 billion order for almost 200 new trains for the deep-level Central, Bakerloo, Waterloo & City and Piccadilly lines will soon be published, with bidders expected to include Bombardier and Siemens as well as Hitachi and Spain’s CAF. Priority will be given to the Piccadilly, where an extra 20,000 passengers an hour will travel when new trains and signals are operational in the middle of the next decade.Mr Brown told the Standard: “We are unashamedly using the term New Tube for London. It will have all the modern features such as air cooling and through carriages but will really incorporate our heritage. I don’t want a train to look like a hospital waiting room, I want something that feels distinctively  London. The British bottom is very sensitive and we have padded seats on our old trains.“Think of the New Bus for London in a deep-level Tube and it’s not that far off what I want to get to. We will talk to individual designers, and clearly Thomas Heatherwick is one of the best, but there are others. We also want to have a more coherent theme at our stations.”
Mr Brown dismissed claims that new trains could be a factor in eroding the power of the unions after RMT leader Bob Crow said he was against their introduction. LU have guaranteed that every Tube driver has a job for life. Future trains will be walk-through with air conditioning and are likely to have driverless cabs, but with on-board “captains” like on the Docklands Light Railway. Inner London stations will also have platform edge doors.Mr Brown said the network would have “maximum automatic operations” but added: “We have no plans to convert current trains, including those we have just introduced on the Circle and District lines, into trains without driver’s cabs. There will be a huge swathe of the network that still has conventional drivers.”He said the Paris metro already had some fully-automatic lines  — “but the issue around strike resilience is not the point, although others may wish to comment on that”.  

Thursday, 27 February 2014

Go Ahead - Half Year Results

Go-Ahead Group plc  Half year results for the six months ended 28 December 2013

Good performance in bus and rail; 

Overall results in line with management expectations

Business overview

  • Overall results in line with management expectations, full year expectations are unchanged
  • Bus operating profit up 14.7% to £40.6m
  • On course to achieve bus operating profit target of £100m by 2015/16
  • Record passenger numbers in bus and rail
  • Profit before tax rose 30.8% to £40.3m
  • Bids submitted for the Thameslink and Crossrail franchise competitions during the period
  • Strong cash management allowing increased investment and reduced net debt
  • Maintained half year dividend at 25.5p

Financial summary:

Revenue 1,370.0 1,296.6 73.4 5.7
Operating profit 51.1 42.1 9.0 21.4
Operating profit margin (%) 3.7% 3.2% 0.5%
Net finance costs (7.6) (8.0) 0.4 5.0
Profit before tax and amortisation 43.5 34.1 9.4 27.6
Profit before tax 40.3 30.8 9.5 30.8
Adjusted earnings per share (p) (see note 7) 83.3p 58.3p 25.0p 42.9
Proposed dividend per share (p) 25.5p 25.5p - -

David Brown, Group Chief Executive, commented:

"In October 2012 we set out a three year plan of growth and business improvement with the aim of raising the performance of our UK bus business to £100 million in operating profit.

"We are making good progress, and 16 months into that timetable, our planning assumptions remain valid and we are on course for our target.

"Meanwhile we maintain our long-term commitment to rail and were pleased to have submitted our bids for the Thameslink and Crossrail franchise competitions during the period.

"The sustained efforts of our 23,500 people, backed by substantial targeted investments in technology, fleet and new facilities, are strengthening our business by improving services for all our customers.

"Our use of smart and mobile ticketing data helps deepen our understanding of our customers’ needs and allows us to continue to develop and improve our capabilities, to make our bus and rail services more attractive and more convenient.

"With record passenger numbers, effective cash management and a strong balance sheet, Go-Ahead is in good shape with excellent growth prospects."


Martin Arrand recently made another visit to Sheffield ostensibly to catch up with the new Optare Versas on the 'Line 30' route operated by Wellglade subsidiary TM Travel.

His efforts can now be viewed  here


Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Stagecoach Interim Management Statement Feb 2014

Stagecoach Group plc ("the Group") has published the following interim management statement, covering available information for the period to the date of this announcement.
Financial performance
The overall profitability of the Group has remained satisfactory.   There has been no significant change to our expected adjusted earnings per share for the year ending 30 April 2014, which given the effects of the severe weather in both the UK and North America, reflects the strength in the underlying trading of the business.
Like-for-like revenue growth for the financial year to date in each of the Group's main businesses is provided below.
UK Bus (regional operations) - forty weeks ended 2 February 2014             +4.6%
UK Bus (London)                    - forty weeks ended 2 February 2014             +3.1%
UK Rail                                    - forty weeks ended 2 February 2014             +3.9%
North America                         - nine months ended 31 January 2014           +5.4%
Virgin Rail Group                     - forty weeks ended 2 February 2014             +5.7%
UK Bus (regional operations)
Our UK Bus (regional operations) division has performed well during the period, with both passenger volumes and revenue growing year-on-year.  Like-for-like passenger volume growth for the forty-week period was 1.2%.  An increase in our commercial revenue has contributed most to the overall revenue growth, with concessionary, tendered and school revenue also continuing to grow.
In December 2013, the Group completed the acquisition of Go West Travel Ltd, trading as Norfolk Green, an independent bus operator in the east of England.  The effect of the acquisition on profit for the year ending 30 April 2014 is not material.
UK Bus (London)
Our UK Bus (London) division has performed strongly in the period, as we benefit from the new contracts won last year.  From 1 October 2013, the business no longer receives Bus Service Operators' Grant (a rebate of fuel duty) but this is offset by a corresponding uplift in the contract prices paid to the business by Transport for London.  Excluding this uplift in contract prices, revenue for the forty weeks has increased by 0.5%.  As we expected the decline in revenue we saw in the first half of the financial year has reversed as new contracts come on stream.
UK Rail
South West Trains' Alliance with Network Rail enables an integrated response to adverse weather conditions and provides the basis for the parties to work together to enhance the future resilience of the infrastructure. Recent extreme weather in the south- west of England has disrupted Alliance operations, presented significant challenges to customers and staff and had some adverse effect on the short-term financial performance of South West Trains.   We anticipate that the effect of this on the results for the year will be largely offset by positive underlying trading in the UK Rail Division as a whole.
We were pleased that in January 2014, the Department for Transport (DfT) confirmed that the Group together with its partner, Virgin Group, had been shortlisted to bid for the InterCity East Coast rail franchise.  Work on our bid is progressing and we have revised our expectation of UK Rail operating profit for the year to 30 April 2014 to allow for up to £5m of current year bid costs in respect of that franchise.
We continue to discuss with the DfT the planned extensions to our South West Trains and East Midlands Trains franchises and are making good progress with Network Rail in agreeing the terms for continuing the South West Trains-Network Rail Alliance.
We also look forward to hearing the results of the Docklands Light Railway and Thameslink franchises.
North America
Despite the adverse weather conditions, trading in the North America division has been satisfactory. in North America is the fastest-growing part of the Group, increasing revenue by 20.3% in the nine months ended 31 January 2014.  This reflects further growth in existing services, as well as contribution from our Texas and California networks launched during 2012/13.  We recently announced the expansion of our network to cover new locations in North and SouthCarolina, and have plans to add more services during 2014.
Virgin Rail Group
Virgin Rail Group (VRG) continues to earn a fee equivalent to 1% of revenue from the West Coast rail franchise with the DfT taking the risk that revenue and/or costs differ from those expected.  VRG and the DfT are discussing revised commercial terms that could see VRG take greater revenue and cost risk for the period from a date to be agreed through to April 2017 for a commensurate financial return.
Twin America
As previously reported, sightseeing revenue at our Twin America joint venture has reduced year-on-year in an increasingly competitive New York sightseeing market, that has seen Twin America's share of the hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus tour market reduce.
We continue to engage with the Department of Justice and other interested parties to seek a resolution to the current litigation involving Twin America.

Financial position
The Group maintains a strong financial position with investment grade credit ratings and appropriate headroom under its debt facilities.  Consolidated net debt has, as expected, increased since 31 October 2013 reflecting the previously announced acquisition of Norfolk Green and continued investment in the Group's vehicle fleet.
Overall current trading is satisfactory and given the broad geographical balance of the Group, its prospects remain positive.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014


Nearly 100 subsidised bus routes cut in Wales in 2011-14

Arriva bus  

Wrexham council alone has 34 services identified as potentially at risk

Nearly 100 subsidised bus routes have been scrapped by councils in Wales in the past three years, with further cuts expected as authorities make savings.
The figures obtained by BBC Wales reveal that nearly one in seven routes across 19 council areas have been axed.
The charity Age Cymru warned of the impact this could have on older people saying they could become increasingly isolated and cut off from services.
The Welsh government said it was reviewing ways of funding services.
But a spokesperson also added that decisions on support for local service remained with councils.

Responses to a Freedom of Information request show 93 services have been cut from 656 subsidised routes between 2011 and 2014.
Some councils warned they were continuing to review bus services following cuts to transport budgets after a 25% reduction in Welsh government funding.
Nineteen out of Wales' 22 councils responded to the BBC Wales questions on bus routes:
  • Pembrokeshire saw the most services cut - with 19 routes going between 2011 and 2014. Last year, all subsidised Sunday and evening bus services were removed in the county and the council said further cuts were needed in the next financial next year
  • In Gwynedd, 10 routes were scrapped in the past three years, while Powys and Blaenau Gwent saw six routes disappear
  • Wrexham council scrapped 16 subsidised routes in the same period - and has earmarked a further 34 that could be at risk. The authority recently consulted on withdrawing its share of funding for local bus services in an attempt to makes £495,000 in savings
Mavis Jones, a regular bus user in Brymbo, is near a bus route which is at risk in Wrexham.
She said: "I'd be stuck in the house and I wouldn't be able to go out at all because we haven't got a car and we don't drive, so the buses are very important.
"It would affect the elderly dreadfully. They wouldn't be able to go out to contact anybody, to have a chat or go anywhere at all to meet anyone. They'd be like prisoners in their own home."

In a statement, Wrexham council said: "At this time, no services have yet been identified as being cut or withdrawn.
"The budget will be discussed by full council on 26 February and we are awaiting to see what funding, if any, will come from the Welsh government after April."
The latest figures on service cuts follow a report by the charity Age Cymru last December.
In it, the charity claimed there was a lack of bus services in many communities.
Spokesman Iwan Rhys Roberts said: "Older people will become increasingly isolated and cut off from services. They will not be able to access the services that they need. It's a big concern for us."
Responding to the bus service cuts, a Welsh government spokesman told BBC Wales that the transport minister was looking for "innovative solutions" to deliver an efficient, sustainable bus service across Wales.
"But local authorities are responsible for determining how they spend the funding we provide and identify which services should be supported and at what level," added the government spokesperson.


Martin Arrand has supplied a set of images from a flying visit to Leeds over the past weekend. Quite a variety of operators and colours still exist despite the cutbacks that are occurring around the United Kingdom. His latest efforts can now be viewed here  A 'new kid on the block' is Yorkshire Tigers who operate a few buses now in a bright orange livery as shown below

Monday, 24 February 2014



1.     Cardiff 'crossrail' proposals by business lobby


Diagram of proposed cross rail scheme

A business lobby group has unveiled plans for £200m Cardiff "crossrail" that it says is needed to help the city cope with housing and economic growth.
Metro Consortium says tram-trains which run on both roads and rails are the way ahead after the planned electrification of south Wales' rail lines.
It proposes crossrails east-west from St Mellons to the M4 at Creigiau and north-south from the M4 to the bay.
Lobbyist Mark Barry said: "Transport is the backbone of regional development."

In July this year, the UK government confirmed it would extend the planned electrification of the south Wales main line to Cardiff to Swansea and the south Wales valleys.
Mr Barry said the electrification work, expected to start sometime between 2014 and 2019, would make Cardiff easier to reach from outside than it would be to travel across it by rail.
His proposals say the city suffers from a relative lack of transport connectivity as its population is set to grow beyond 400,000 by 2026.
He suggests a network of continental-style tram-trains as part of a "Cardiff crossrail".
It would mean new stations places like Ely Bridge, St Mellons, Crwys Rd, Wedal Road [for University Hospital of Wales], Rover Way, Splott and Waterhall, phased over 10 years.
The scheme would attract new rail customers and encourage economic regeneration locally, bringing a higher density of mixed-used growth in those areas, he said.
A crossrail running from St Mellons to junction 33 on the M4 would use the electrified relief lines east of Cardiff Central railway station, the city line and the reinstatement of the old track from Fairwater to Creigiau.
A north-south crossrail would run from junction 32 of the M4 on the Coryton line to the bay. There would be an interchange with the east-west line at Callaghan Square.
Mr Barry said: "There are major development sites in the city, existing and new, which are not connected to the regional rail network.
"It's not a really clever, coherent strategy where most of your major sites do not connect to your regional transport network.
"Transport is not the be-all and end-all. It should be an enabler of development at key locations."
He said improving transport connections within Cardiff would also help unleash economic growth potential across the region as more towns and businesses become accessible by the city's growing population.
He said: "By better connecting Cardiff, you are also increasing the travel-to-work area of places like Newport, Pontypridd, and Caerphilly, which will allow them to play a more prominent regional role."
'Metro' rail network
His report states: "Whist this project is costly [perhaps £150m-£200m] it is affordable and can be delivered incrementally.
"For example, when one considers that 40,000 new homes in Cardiff could secure a sales value of £6bn (at £150k per residence) then it would not appear unreasonable or unrealistic to secure a proportion of this value to contribute to the overall costs of the Cardiff Crossrail project."
Mr Barry is an advisor for Metro Consortium, a group of business leaders, employers and developers, including Cardiff Business Partnership.
Last year the consortium called for a £2.5bn over 10 years to connect Cardiff, Newport and the valleys with a "metro"-style rail network.
Mr Barry's proposals are backed by Cardiff South and Penarth AM Vaughan Gething, chair of the assembly's cross-party group on rail.

2.     Cardiff metro: Rhondda Cynon Taf transport corridor plan


Artist impression of the metro concept  
 The first phase of improvements between Cardiff Bay and the city centre could cost £18m, says the report
Plans for a metro-style train system in Cardiff could see a transport corridor developed into Rhondda Cynon Taf.
Cardiff councillors are being asked to set up a task group to build a £220m regional transport network.
Proposals include reusing an old line from Fairwater to Creigiau and improving links to Llantrisant and Pontyclun.
At the meeting, Cardiff's cabinet could also ratify a 3.97% council tax rise to help save £50m from the council budget.
The transport report said a regional metro system would encourage more people to leave their cars at home.
Over 77,000 people commute into the city each day - 80% of them travelling by vehicle.
And the number of commuters could rise with a further 30,000 properties planned to be built in the city to meet expected growth.

For the last two years the Metro Consortium, with members including some of the biggest businesses in south Wales, has been looking at how the city region can continue to develop into the future with improved transport and infrastructure at its heart.
It aims to improve access to the capital from the Merthyr, Rhymney. Gwent, Rhondda and Neath valleys, according to the report.
The entire network, which could be built by 2030 subject to approval, could cost £4bn.
Cardiff council is currently considering a north western corridor towards Rhondda, and councillors are being asked to appoint a group to take plans forward, such as identifying funding.
Councillor Graham Hinchey, cabinet member for strategic planning and transport, said the regional metro system was "forward thinking" and would address the needs of a growing capital city.
"It is essential to make public transport an attractive option by reducing travel times, improving the infrastructure and increasing availability by providing additional services," he said.
"The new network looks to embrace electrification of existing networks, new technology such as tram-train and bus rapid transit, to make public transport attractive and a viable option for commuters."

Initial estimates show that the first phase of improvements between Cardiff Bay and the city centre will cost £18m.
The second phase would cost £44m and involve work around Callaghan Square connecting to Cardiff Central railway station.
Reusing the disused City Line in Fairwater through to Cregiau and, with additional improvements, on to Rhondda Cynon Taf could cost a further £161m.

AND FINALLY, AFTER ALL THAT...................................


You CAN now see what it is. Over the past few weeks Colin Sellers has produced images of a mural, that have puzzled some of us as to its content. All has now been revealed as a depiction of early horse tram transport in Chesterfield. The mural was the brainchild of the owners of the building H&F (Home & Furnishings) in New Beetwell Street, which overlooks the coach station, as well as the bus stands in the road itself. 
The painting (spray can and brushwork) has been completed by Peter Barber, a modern mural artist with grey acrylic paint applied to a basic cream coloured wall, and now provides very much a talking point in the town.
As an aside of course, many in the local Chesterfield transport world will be quite aware, that 2014 is the 100-years Centenary since the Corporation's transport was established in the town. Will there be any other such celebratory events one wonders?
In the meantime Colin's set of images from start to finish can now be viewed here

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Latest Focus Features Article & A Night-time Postscript

Click to visit the Focus Features website



Another viewing of the 'Great Goodbye' held recently at Shildon, but this time from quite a different atmospheric angle. Paul Beardsley also attended the event and was able to secure this set of splendid night-time images. They make a nice comparison to David Gambles' fine daytime views. Whilst Paul's are unobstructed, David's illustrate the popularity of the gathering and each set provide a true reflection of how these splendid beasts are regarded by enthusiasts and the general public alike.

A grand line up of 6 Gresley A4 Pacifics -4468 Mallard, 4464 Bittern, 4489 Dominion of Canada, 60009 Union of South Africa, 60008 Dwight D Eisenhower and 60007 Sir Nigel Gresley.

In this line up of 4468, 4464 and 4489 a Flying Scotsman headboard has been provided for Mallard.


In this line up of 60009, 4489 and 4464 Union of South Africa sports The Talisman headboard

In this shot of 4489 and 4464 the Flying Scotsman headboard now adorns Dominion of Canada

The light nicely catches Mallard

Despite all the recent rain there was not really enough water in the puddle to give a decent reflection of 60008.

The opposite side of the record breaker.

And finally another postscript, this time recent feature on the blog of the diversionary route between Sheffield and Chesterfield due to embankment problems, Paul has provided the following.

In the piece on the diversions via the 'Old Road' there is reference to a bonus stranger. For added information this was 43480/42401/42404/42403/40424/41201/43423 Valenta 1972-2010 running as 5Z44, 1210 Crewe C.S. to York.


Does that angular frontal design remind you of anything?

Saturday, 22 February 2014


All six locos can be seen in this shot.
Enthusiastic crowds were very much in evidence.
(click to enlarge picture)
On 3 July 1938,  A4 locomotive Mallard raced down Stoke Bank at 126mph to set a new steam locomotive world speed record. The NRM has been marking the 75th anniversary of this with a series of commemorative events that commenced last year and now the six locomotives have been brought together for the 'Great Goodbye' event at Shildon NRM in Co Durham.

Two of the engines, Dwight D Eisenhower and Dominion of Canada are on loan from American and Canadian museums. Dominion of Canada and Dwight D Eisenhower returned to the UK in October 2012 after a challenging extraction from their home museums, an epic transcontinental trek by rail across North America and a 2,527 mile journey across the Atlantic.

Now the six survivors from the class of 35 are appearing together for the last time before the overseas based examples return home across the Atlantic.
The A4's were designed in the 1930's by Sir Nigel Gresley for use by the LNER on the East Coast main line. I well remember standing on the southern end of Doncaster station platform in the early 1960's and hearing shouting and cheers from the northern end of the station announcing the arrival of an express being pulled by an A4. It would race through the station and make a fine sight as it did so and if its chime whistle was blown that would complete the scene. The shouting and cheers were reserved for the A4's, no other loco would receive such a welcome. 
It is amazing that six examples have survived and it was a privilege to see them together before they are separated again.

I resigned myself to only having brief glimpses of the locos and told myself that I would have to be tolerant of the crowds that would be in attendance. After all it was half term and everyone would want to see them. Sure enough, when I arrived I joined a 25 minute queue to enter the museum, but it seemed to move well and we soon came withing view of the display area. 

It was somewhat disappointing to see that the six
engines weren't exactly in line making it difficult to get the shot of all six together. Why, well maybe it's all part of making money out of the event, so only those that pay for a special viewing get to see them in line. Right or wrong - you decide!
The six locos will be on display at Shildon until 23rd February.

David Gambles

More pictures below

There were queues to board the locos, here we see visitors
nearing the end of the line to board Mallard

 Mallard has a circular plaque commemorating the 126mph speed record achieved in 1938

 A view from the nearby road bridge showing the busy scene.
The main line serving Shildon is on the left.
More pictures can be see in the following newspaper report here

Friday, 21 February 2014


Stagecoach wins 2014 Ryder Cup bus contract


Transport giant will operate and manage park & ride for estimated 45,000 spectators a day

Ryder Cup Europe has appointed Stagecoach as the provider of buses to The 2014 Ryder Cup.
Under the terms of the deal, Stagecoach will provide a fleet of 150 double decker buses to and from Ryder Cup Park and Ride sites at Perth, Stirling and Kinross during the week of the event being held at Gleneagles.
The value of the contract has not been disclosed
The majority of the operation will be managed by Stagecoach East Scotland, based in Kirkcaldy, though vehicles will also be provided by Stagecoach’s regional bus companies across the UK.

All images courtesy of Terry Wong Min

Robert Montgomery, managing director of Stagecoach UK Bus, said: “It's a great honour to have been awarded the contract to operate the bus services for the Park & Ride sites for The 2014 Ryder Cup.
“We're delighted to be involved in such a prestigious, global sporting event which has not been held in Scotland since 1973.
“Stagecoach has wide-ranging experience of providing transport services for major sporting events including the 2012 London Olympics, the 2010 Ryder cup in Wales, the British Grand Prix at Silverstone over a number of years and many more.
“We will be calling on the significant resources of our regional companies within our UK Bus division to help ensure the success of the operation and we look forward to enhancing the experience for the spectators who play such an important role in the event.”
Richard Hills, Europe’s Ryder Cup Director, said: “It is a huge operation to transport in the region of 45,000 people to and from the golf course every day during the week of The 2014 Ryder Cup.
“Visitors to the event will be able to enjoy a comfortable and pleasurable journey from their Park and Ride base.
“We are delighted that Stagecoach, a company with its roots firmly in Scotland, will facilitate these transfers and ensure the smooth arrival and departure of the spectators at Gleneagles.”

Thursday, 20 February 2014


Hillside slippage between Chesterfield and Sheffield


Emergency engineering works are being carried out between Chesterfield and Sheffield from Tuesday 18 February because of a landslip. Network Rail has informed the train operating companies that it will take six weeks to complete the repairs. Therefore until the 1st April train services will be amended to/from Sheffield.

A line-side embankment between Chesterfield and Sheffield has been gradually moving towards the railway line since the beginning of January 2014. The situation has been constantly monitored since January and as the hillside continues to move, it is causing damage to the track.
As a result of this, emergency engineering works are taking place between Chesterfield and Sheffield to repair the track and stop the embankment from slipping any further.

East Midlands Trains

London St Pancras - Nottingham, Derby & Sheffield
All southbound trains to and from Sheffield are amended with journey times extended by up to 20 minutes, and the service reduced from two to one train an hour between Sheffield and Derby . 

Liverpool Lime Street - Nottingham / Norwich
Services along this route are amended with journey times extended by up to 20 minutes. 
Some services between Nottingham and Chesterfield call additionally at Langley Mill.

Northern Rail

Leeds - Nottingham
Buses replace trains between Sheffield and Chesterfield. Passengers can then use East Midlands Trains services between Chesterfield and Nottingham, these services will call additionally at Langley Mill. Three images illustrate part of the replacement coach service provided by Diamond Travel with a Jonckheere bodied Volvo and a Kettlewells Scania with Irizar bodywork, both shown here at Chesterfield Station. With no service these vehicles also serve Dronfield Station and are controlled by First.

Northbound rail services are unaffected, but all remaining southbound services on Cross Country and East Midlands Trains operate via the 'old road' through Beighton and Renishaw. A selection of images follow that illustrate the diverted southbound services as they passed through Slitting Mill between Renishaw and Staveley.

However, there was a bonus 'stranger' in the shape of a Grand Central liveried set of HST stock as it travelled northbound.

Wednesday, 19 February 2014


Transport Malta sells the bendy buses for €601,200, for use in Sudan



Transport Malta has sold the former Arriva Bendy Buses for €601,200 (excluding VAT). They will be exported to Sudan.
The buses were sold to a Maltese company.
A call for the sale of the buses closed on Friday last week, by which time three offers were received. 
The chosen company, which submitted the highest bid, is to sign the acceptance letter and pay a deposit on Friday. The buses will be shipped to Sudan within four weeks.
Transport Malta had acquired the buses free of charge. The funds from their sale will be used by Malta Public Transport Services.
The 80 Mercedes buses, originally used in London, have been parked at Horns Works Ditch in Floriana since August, when they were pulled off Malta's roads after a series of fires.
Experts concluded that the fires were caused by the conditions the buses were subjected to on Malta’s roads, as well as an element of poor maintenance.
In offering the buses for sale, Transport Malta had laid down that they cannot be returned to Malta’s roads, because of the congestion they caused.


Approximately 8000 Euros for each bus for 8-year old buses that initially cost in excess of £300,000 when new.


Tuesday, 18 February 2014


1.    George and Robert Stephenson railway bridges listed

Thirty railway bridges, viaducts and tunnel portals have been listed to help preserve them ahead of electrification of the Midland Main Line.
Many of the structures were designed by George Stephenson and his son Robert, both pioneering railway engineers.
The listed status means Network Rail would need to get consent to alter the structures, which are in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.
English Heritage said many were "masterworks of engineering".
Tony Calladine, head of designation at English Heritage, said: "The new listings are a celebration of the amazing legacy left to us by England's Victorian engineers.

The Stephensons and the Midland Main Line

  • The Midland Main Line is the amalgamation of several earlier lines that were originally built by different railway companies
  • The first two lines, the North Midland Railway and the Midland Counties Railway, were built between 1836 and 1840
  • The vast majority of the newly listed buildings are on the North Midland Railway and were designed by George Stephenson and his son Robert
  • George was responsible for the Rocket steam locomotive, and Robert was responsible for more miles of railway construction than any other engineer of his time: 2,000 miles, compared to Isambard Kingdom Brunel's 1,100 miles
Source: English Heritage
"Their railway bridges are such a part of our landscape that we often don't notice them, but many of these bridges are masterworks of engineering and design, and pushed the boundaries of technology when they were first built."
He added that the aesthetic quality of the bridges often "far exceeds the functional requirements".
Derwent Viaduct, in Derbyshire, has been listed at Grade II, meaning it is particularly important.
English Heritage said it was the "cutting edge of railway engineering and innovation" when it was built to the designs of the Stephensons in 1836-40.
The other structures have been listed at Grade II.
Network Rail said electrifying the Midland Main Line, which runs from London to Sheffield via the East Midlands, would allow for more reliable and faster trains.
The structures were listed by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport following a joint project between English Heritage and Network Rail.

Derwent Viaduct has been listed at Grade II*, meaning it is of more than special interest, Beatties Bridge, Amber Valley, Derbyshire, was built from 1836-40 for the North Midland Railway to the designs of George and Robert Stephenson with Frederick Swanwick and Alfreton Stream Bridge, Wessington, Derbyshire, was built 1836-40 for the North Midland Railway to the designs of George and Robert Stephenson with Frederick Swanwick

Culture minister Ed Vaizey said: "The listing of these structures highlights the unique heritage of our railways, which when originally built were world-renowned for their engineering and ingenuity.
"These listings along the Midland Main Line will help ensure they are cared for in the future."

Sawley Road Bridge in Long Eaton, Derbyshire, was built in 1837-38 and is one of the few bridges for which original drawings and other documents survive

2.     Disruption to services

A line-side embankment between Chesterfield and Sheffield has been gradually moving towards the railway line since the beginning of January 2014. The situation has been constantly monitored since January and as the hillside continues to move, it is causing damage to the track. This appears to be north of Dronfield Station which is now closed.
As a result of this, emergency engineering works are taking place between Chesterfield and Sheffield to repair the track and stop the embankment from slipping any further. Network Rail have advised that it will take six weeks to complete the repairs. Therefore, until 1 April, Cross Country, East Midlands Trains, Northern Rail and all other services to and from Sheffield will be amended.
Trains operate via the 'Old road' through Barrow Hill, Renishaw and Beighton. Currently a number of services have been cancelled.