Wednesday, 30 April 2014

East Anglian Transport Museum May Event

An interesting forthcoming event at East Anglia Transport Museum on 10th/11th May is the return to service of Ipswich Trolleybus 105, which has been the subject of an extensive restoration by the members of the Ipswich Transport Museum. This will be the first time since 1962 that the vehicle has carried passengers.

The trolleybus is registered PV8270 and was constructed in 1948 with a Karrier W chassis and a Park Royal double deck Body. Withdrawn in 1962  it was converted into a mobile Civil Defence showroom and then subsequently used as a temporary canteen.  The trolleybus was purchased from Ipswich Corporation  by the Ipswich Transport Museum in 1971. ( A photo of the vehicle whilst being tested following arrival at Carlton Colville is attached)

The May event called 'Suffolk Made and Operated' will feature other vehicles having Suffolk connections and should include, Copenhagen No.5 a Garrett product and currently the oldest operational trolleybus in the world. London 1521 will also appear as it was the first trolleybus to operate at a museum in Britain, which occurred at the EATM in 1971. 

External free bus services to Lowestoft and Beccles will be operated by a variety of vehicles either operated or built in Suffolk, including Ipswich Corporation, Lowestoft Corporation and Eastern Counties.

Further details can be found at the museum website here, Facebook Page or the London Trolleybus Preservation Society Facebook Page


Martin Arrand took a trip around parts of South Yorkshire and a selection of his images can now be viewed here

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Stagecoach Trading Update

Stagecoach Group plc has published a trading update in advance of a series of meetings with analysts.

Financial performance

The overall profitability of the Group has remained satisfactory, and there has been no significant change to the expected adjusted earnings per share for the year ending 30 April 2014.

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 eight weeks ended 30 March 2014                   +4.8%

UK Bus (London)                    - forty eight weeks ended 30 March 2014                   +4.6%

UK Rail                                    - forty eight weeks ended 30 March 2014                   +4.5%

North America                         - eleven months ended 31 March 2014                      +4.1%

Virgin Rail Group                     - forty eight weeks ended 30 March 2014                   +5.9%

UK Bus (regional operations)

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-eight week period was 1.5%.  An increase in commercial revenue has contributed most to overall revenue growth, with concessionary, tendered and school revenue also continuing to grow.

Looking ahead, the company do not expect significant short-term growth in concessionary and tendered revenue as local authorities look to minimise concessionary reimbursement amounts and bus tenders in light of their budget constraints.  This is exemplified by the Welsh Government's planned cuts in concessionary reimbursement rates for bus operators in Wales.  The focus is therefore to seek to continue to deliver good growth in commercial revenue to offset inflationary cost pressures.

UK Bus (London)

UK Bus (London) division has performed strongly in the period, as the company continue to 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 has increased by 1.6%. 

UK Rail

The financial performance of  rail businesses is in line with expectations, with revenue growth improving as extreme weather in the south-west of England has subsided in recent weeks.

The company are pleased that South West Trains and Network Rail have entered into a new agreement that extends the duration of their alliance and will build on the successes that the Alliance has achieved over the last two years.  The new agreement contemplates that the single, joint Alliance management team will continue to have responsibility for both train and infrastructure operations for the next five years to April 2019. 

Stagecoach continue to discuss with the Department for Transport ("DfT") the planned extensions to South West Trains and East Midlands Trains franchises and also look forward to hearing the results of the tenders for the Docklands Light Railway and Thameslink franchises for which bids have been submitted.

The company are continuing to work on the bid with Virgin for the InterCity East Coast rail franchise, but now anticipate around £2m of the bid costs previously expected to be incurred in the year ending 30 April 2014 to be deferred until next year.

As previously reported, South West Trains and East Midlands Trains face further substantial increases in the amounts they are due to pay to the DfT as franchise premia amounts in the year ahead .  The company remain focussed on growing revenue and controlling costs to offset these increased premia payments, to the extent possible.

North America

Trading in the North America division has been satisfactory, despite the prolonged period of adverse weather across the US. in North America is the fastest-growing part of the Group, increasing revenue by 16.5% in the eleven months ended 31 March 2014.  This reflects further growth in existing services, as well as the contribution from Texas and California networks launched during the year ended 30 April 2013.  The company are pleased to announce the expansion of the network with the new Florida hub being launched in May 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

Progress has been made in resolving the previously reported litigation regarding Twin America. 

The US Department of Justice and the New York Attorney General (together, "the Government plaintiffs") initiated litigation against Twin America and its joint venture partners ("the Defendants", which include two Stagecoach US subsidiaries) in 2012.  The litigation alleges that the formation of the Twin America joint venture in 2009 was anti-competitive.  Separately, private plaintiffs brought a claim based on the same allegations on behalf of a proposed class of customers.

The Defendants have not admitted any liability but have agreed a cash settlement of US$19m (c. £11m) with the private plaintiffs to fully resolve the private litigation.  That settlement will be submitted to the court for preliminary approval.  Assuming the court grants its preliminary approval, final court approval is anticipated in approximately nine to 12 months following a period for class notification and claims administration.   

The Government action remains pending at this time. Until the Government action concludes, the total financial cost of the various actions cannot be determined.  The allocation and funding of any financial settlements amongst the various Defendants is currently being discussed.

The Group currently anticipates recording exceptional pre-tax costs of around US$15m (c.£9m) in its consolidated financial statements for the year ending 30 April 2014 in respect of its share of financial costs connected with the litigation.  The ultimate cost to the Group may differ from this as it remains dependent on the outcome of the Government action.

Trading remains challenging for Twin America as a result of an increasingly competitive New York sightseeing market, among other factors, and we anticipate that our share of profit from Twin America will further reduce in the year ending 30 April 2015.

Exceptional items

The Group's treatment of gains and losses arising on property disposals has been to classify these as exceptional items.  Having reviewed the approach in this area, recognising the regular occurrence of such items historically and the benefits of comparability across the sector, these items will generally be included in the measure of pre-exceptional results in the financial statements for the year ending 30 April 2014 and thereafter. 

It is expected that property losses in the UK Bus (regional operations) division will amount to no more than £2m in the current year, and that gains and losses in other parts of the Group will be insignificant.

Financial position

The Group maintains a strong financial position with investment grade credit ratings and appropriate headroom under its debt facilities.  Consolidated net debt as at 31 March 2014 was at a similar level to that reported as at 31 October 2013 and is after taking account of the previously announced acquisition of Norfolk Green and continued investment in the Group's vehicle fleet.


Although the company face a number of challenges to growing profit in the year ending 30 April 2015, overall current trading is satisfactory and the prospects for the Group remain positive. 

Preliminary results announcement

The Group intends to announce its preliminary results for the year to 30 April 2014 on Wednesday 25 June 2014.

Monday, 28 April 2014

Sheffield FreeBee Axed

A free bus service around Sheffield city centre has been axed.
The FreeBee bus, which made frequent stops around the centre, has been scrapped because of financial cutbacks.

South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE), which supervises South Yorkshire's public transport services, started the service in 2007, in an attempt to relieve congestion.
The withdrawal of the FreeBee was part of plans to save £8m from the budget in 2014-15, SYPTE said.
The free bus connected Sheffield's railway and bus stations with Sheffield Hallam University and the main shopping districts, stopping every few minutes from Monday to Saturday.

The last bus ran at 19:00 GMT on Saturday 26th April.

A similar free bus between Rotherham town centre and Parkgate shopping centre, via St Ann's Leisure Centre, is set to continue for at least the next two years, funded by the owners of the shopping centre.

Sunday, 27 April 2014



JP Travel bus services will shortly be part of Stagecoach

Stagecoach will take on the services of JP Travel from Saturday 26th April 2014.

Stagecoach are welcoming new customers in North Manchester and other areas served by JP Travel services.
There will be some changes to the buses, passenger information and ticket range, as the company work behind the scenes to make JP Travel part of the Stagecoach Manchester operation.

From Saturday 26th April 2014, buses will continue to run at the same times and on the same routes, but customers will see Stagecoach buses running JP Travel services.

Saturday, 26 April 2014


Borders to Edinburgh railway: Carlisle extension would be 'wonderful'


A council leader has said extending the soon to be reopened Borders railway to Carlisle would be "wonderful news".
The Edinburgh to Tweedbank line is due to come into operation next year.
Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker said its eventual extension would be a boost for the local economy and the country as a whole.
He was speaking after First Minister Alex Salmond was in Carlisle where he discussed cross-border relations if Scotland votes for independence.
Mr Parker said he believed the case for another Scotland-England rail link in addition to the East Coast and West Coast lines was compelling.
"A third strategic route up from Carlisle to Edinburgh via the Borders would be a wonderful piece of news," he said.
"It would be good news for the local economy but it would also be very good news for the country in relation to moving passengers and moving freight.
"There are many railway experts down south who have been calling for this strategic route to be opened for quite some time now."


This feature on a new service along the North Norfolk coast can now be viewed here

Friday, 25 April 2014


Tube boss not 'optimistic' strike will be called off

The boss of London Underground (LU) has said he is not optimistic that next week's Tube strike will be called off.
RMT Union members will walk out for 48 hours next Monday evening and then again a week later for three days in protest at ticket office closures and 960 job cuts.
The union and LU have been holding talks at conciliatory service Acas.
LU said it had made concessions but the union said the transport authority had refused to budge from their plans.
LU's managing director Mike Brown said: "At the moment I am not optimistic because they (RMT negotiators) have given no signs of responding to the fact that we have amended the proposals.
"Our staff are going to get quite rightly a very good deal in all this."
The RMT has said the strike is definitely still on.

Widespread disruption was caused in February when Tube workers took strike action for two days.
Further industrial action was postponed so that more talks could take place.
Then, the RMT sent a letter to members saying LU had agreed to a station-by-station review of the ticket office closures, which could mean some could stay open.
But Mr Brown has now said there was no question that all ticket offices will close.
He said some gateway stations such as Euston, Waterloo and Victoria, will have visitor information centres instead which will also sell tickets.
"We've listened to our own people and we have recognised that actually we probably need to have a supervisor in every station which we hadn't had; we've talked about mobile supervisors in the past and we've moved there and that's something we've agreed to put in place."

Focus comment:
News from sources in London confirm that should the first of these events take place on the 29th/30th May, then once again a whole host of interesting buses and coaches will be added to the London bus network to ease the inevitable and additional pressure placed thereon.

Images supplied by John Parkin (upper) and Rick Godfrey (lower)

Thursday, 24 April 2014


Four sets of images have recently been added to the Flickr site by various members and followers of the Focus team. The launch of the Chesterfield Corporation liveried Dennis Dart operated by Stagecoach can be viewed here and here

Then there are some various vehicle images from around Bakewell which can now be viewed here

A couple of hours were spent 'over the rails' in the Lincolnshire Wolds and can now be viewed here

And finally a visit to the annual two day Easter event at Kirkby Stephen and Brough can be viewed here

Wednesday, 23 April 2014


£1.5bn A14 improvement plans out to consultation

Highways Agency A14 plan 2014  
The Highways Agency's proposals ahead of the public consultation

A 10-week public consultation has begun on plans for £1.5bn improvements to the A14 in Cambridgeshire.
The scheme involves widening a heavily congested 25-mile (40 km) stretch in East Anglia carrying traffic from the port of Felixstowe to the Midlands.
The Highways Agency proposals include a new bypass south of Huntingdon and the removal of a railway viaduct.
The improvements are to be funded from general taxation after plans to finance it with a toll road were dropped.

A14 improvement proposals include:

  • Widening a 4.5 mile (7 km) section of the A1 between Brampton and Alconbury
  • Removing the road viaduct over the railway line at Huntingdon
  • Widening the carriageway on the A14 between Stavesey and Girton
  • Adding nearly seven miles of new local access roads
  • Detrunking the existing A14 trunk road between Ellington and Swavesey
The agency said almost 85,000 vehicles used the A14 between Cambridge and Huntingdon, which it described as "significantly more than the level originally designed for".
It added that about a quarter of the users were heavy good vehicles, which was "well above the national average".
A previous plan to widen the A14, announced by the Labour government, was cancelled by the coalition government in 2010.
In July 2012, it announced plans to improve the road, financed by the first toll scheme in the UK for a decade.
But MPs from Suffolk and Norfolk described the scheme as "arbitrary and unfair" and the Road Haulage Association described it as a " a worrying precedent".
The government decided the improvements should be funded by central government, local authorities and the Local Enterprise Partnership in December.
If the proposals are approved, work should commence in 2016 and be completed by 2020.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Kirkby Stephen Easter Rally

The Easter Kirkby Stephen & Brough Rally took place in glorious weather. As usual there was a large selection of exhibits taking part, with crowds of visitors making use of the free bus services between exhibition sites.

 This RE is registered THU 354G but to match the United livery in which it has been painted,
 a set of United number plates are sometimes fitted for photography purposes
GWM 816 is a rare Crossley SD42/7 aquired in dilapidated condition by St Margarets Transport Society, Liverpool. The vehicle is now with Lead Mill Private Collection Co Durham.

 KUO 972 is a Bristol K6B which was used as a farm bus after use by
Southern Natioinal. It is owned by D Hoare of Chepstow and this was
 the first rally the bus had attended since restoration.

 Ready for the Road Run. Buses that were taking part in the Road Run were lined up in readiness
for the 5pm departure. Passengers could then choose which which vehicle they wanted to travel on
for the trip which takes in some impressive Cumbrian scenery. (see below)

More pictures can be seen on the FocusFlickr site

Monday, 21 April 2014

Catch the Bus Week 28th April to the 4th May

Greener Journeys will once again be spearheading Catch the Bus Week this spring, a week-long series of events running from 28th April to the 4th May.

The campaign’s key aim is to get people who don’t normally take the bus to make the switch during the week. In addition to encouraging modal shift, the campaign also aims to increase awareness of the benefits of bus travel in the UK in the process.
Greener Journeys wants this year’s campaign to be even bigger than last year, creating a lasting shift in perceptions among those who don’t normally take the bus. There will be a myriad of ways to get involved; from taking part in local bus company’s activities and promotions; to promoting the week in local bus areas, online, in newsletters or your office; to running your own promotion, event or competition; to challenging people in local communities to switch one car journey to a bus during the week.

According to Greener Journey "There are so many great reasons to travel by bus and we want to really showcase these through the week through a nationwide media campaign, combined with activities organised by local bus companies, local authorities, PTEs and passenger organisations amongst others."

Sunday, 20 April 2014


New services for Cambrian and Heart of Wales lines

An hourly peak-time service between Shrewsbury and Aberystwyth will start in 2015
New peak hourly trains between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury will be among extra services to be funded by the Welsh government on the Cambrian and Heart of Wales rail lines.

 Arriva 158 unit at Aberystwyth
Transport Minister Edwina Hart has announced the new services will create 20 new train crew and depot jobs.
The changes, which will be on an initial three-year trial basis, will come into place from May 2015.
Rail users welcomed the move, saying both lines provide "vital services".
On the Cambrian line, four new return services will operate between Aberystwyth and Shrewsbury from Monday to Saturday, with hourly services for peak morning and afternoon times.
There will also be two new return Sunday services and an improvement to evening services on the Cambrian coast between Barmouth and Pwllheli.

On the Heart of Wales line there will be extra journeys between Llandovery, Gowerton and Swansea, and between Llandrindod, Shrewsbury and Crewe from Monday to Friday.
Other return services will become more conveniently timed, and the Heart of Wales Line Forum will get £150,000 to explore the possibility of further improvements to the line.

 Arriva 158830 at Aberystwyth Raliway Station showing how 
the station has been simplified to one platform making it 
more difficult to further increase future train services.

Announcing the new services, Mrs Hart said: "I am very pleased that we have been able to secure the extra train services on these two popular lines.
"I recently commissioned a survey which clearly demonstrated the benefits to commuters, local businesses and university students of an hourly service on the Cambrian line."
The Cambrian Rail Implementation Group was formed by Mrs Hart to look into new services in mid Wales last November.
It included representatives of Network Rail, Arriva Trains Wales and Aberystwyth University.

It followed a report by The Shrewsbury Aberystwyth Railway Liaison Committee which said hourly services could boost employment and tourism.
Its report included 6,570 responses from residents, students and businesses in mid Wales, and also called for more trains on the coast line in the summer months.
The Welsh government announcement was welcomed by Mansel Williams, chair of the Shrewsbury Aberystwyth Railway Liaison Committee and Heart of Wales Line Forum.
He said: "Both the Cambrian and Heart of Wales lines provide a vital service for residents, commuters, tourists and students in the area.
"We received a very strong response to our survey about services on the Cambrian main and the coast railway lines, which backed up the support there has been locally for an hourly service, particularly in the commuting peaks.
"The Heart of Wales Line survey also highlighted the impracticality of commuting with the current timetable, particularly southwards into Swansea."
Hopes for an hourly service along the Cambrian line received a boost in February when Powys planners gave the go-ahead to close five crossings on the network between Carno and Talerddig.
The Network Rail project will also include replacing the crossings with two road bridges over the Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury line.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

York Traffic Transport Boss Dave Merrett Removed

A York councillor at the centre of a controversial traffic scheme has been removed from his post as head of transport.
Last August, Labour's Dave Merrett introduced a ban on traffic using the city's Lendal Bridge.

The restriction was lifted after a government traffic adjudicator ruled the scheme did not qualify as a bus only route.
Mr Merrett will now look after environmental issues for the authority.
He said: "I have contributed over many years to transport in this city and tried to meet the growing challenges of a growing city head on.
"However, building a new consensus on transport needs a new face."
The council levied more than £1.3m in fines from drivers breaching the ban.
The traffic tribunal found the restricted road was not a bus lane, the signage was inadequate and CCTV evidence insufficient.

It ruled the council had "no power" to issue penalties.
City of York Council's Labour leader James Alexander said he had reshuffled his cabinet ahead of local elections in May
Conservative leader Chris Steward said Mr Merrett should have been removed form the cabinet entirely.
"It's an absolute farce," he said.
"When just a couple of weeks ago, he was appointed as York's representative to the West Yorkshire Transport, it's just ridiculous.
"It's a muddle, it's a panic measure."
Keith Aspden, leader of the local Liberal Democrats, claimed Mr Merrett had mishandled the Lendal Bridge scheme.
"All opposition councillors were telling them from day one that they got the consultation wrong, they got the signage wrong, that they needed to listen to local businesses and tourist organisations.

"They refused to do it."

Friday, 18 April 2014


Views sought on options for new runway at Gatwick

Aerial image of two-runway Gatwick Airport Gatwick Airport said work on a new runway could begin before the end of the next parliament in 2020
Three options for building a second runway at Gatwick Airport have gone out to public consultation.
The airport has submitted the plans to the government's review into the need for extra capacity in the south east.
All involve building a new runway to the south - parallel with the existing one - although a legal agreement prevents construction until after 2019.
Airport chief executive Stewart Wingate said he hoped many views would be expressed over the next six weeks.
"The views of the local community are an essential element in shaping Gatwick's second runway options," he said.
Option one is for a 585m (0.3 mile) runway south of the existing runway, while options two and three are for a 1,045m (0.6 mile) runway.
Options one and two would involve one runway being used for landings and the other used for take-offs.

Planned Gatwick transport interchange  
The plans for the West Sussex airport include a new transport interchange
Option three - which is the preferred choice of Gatwick Airport - would see both runways used for landings and take-offs.
A new terminal would also be built between the runways.
Architect Sir Terry Farrell is working with Gatwick on the proposal for the new £7bn runway.
The airport said it could start construction before the end of the next parliament in 2020, with the first flights in 2025
The public consultation ends on the 16th May, with the results due to be published by the summer.
The Airports Commission will make recommendations to the government in 2015 on how to meet any need for additional airport capacity in the longer term.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

Ready for Easter!

The Cumbria Classic Coaches fleet is ready and waiting for the Kirkby Stephen & Brough Easter Rally.

They will spend Easter Saturday and Sunday shuttling visitors between the two towns that take part in the busy Easter Rally. Other visiting vehicles join them in providing the free bus service that link the various display sites.
Over 200 exhibits are entered for the 2014 event which also includes a road run on Saturday evening.

This year all entrants will be presented with a Heavy Duty Waterproof Lantern and here we see Claire Hamer stickering the lanterns ready to give out during the two day event. The Eden Classic Vehicle Group always try to come up with a useful gift and this year is obviously no exception.

The event kicks off the new Rally Season in Cumbria and attracts entries from far and wide. All the local shops and restaurants open on both days and local village halls and organisations open up their premises to welcome visitors and provide home made food and snacks. The event is free, just turn up and you will be made welcome. Focus Transport will be there to report on the proceedings.
Already spotted parked at the Cumbria Classic depot at Bowber Head is 1949 Guy Arab CBV 433. This Crossley bodied, Gardener engined vehicle is ex Blackburn Transport and hopefully will be used on the free bus service between Kirkby Stephen and Brough.

If you have an Easter transport event scheduled let us know today via and we will try to give it a mention.

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


Shildon Railway Museum Enjoys 'Record Numbers'

A County Durham railway museum has hailed an "amazing year" in which it attracted a record number of visitors.
Almost 300,000 people visited the National Railway Museum at Shildon in the 12 months up to 1st April.
Museum director Paul Kirkman credited the success to a locomotive event in February.
About 120,000 visitors attended The Great Goodbye exhibition as part of celebrations for Mallard's 75th anniversary.

 The Great Goodbye exhibition in February 2014
All pictures © David Gambles

Settle-Carlisle 25 year anniversary wip

Celebrations have been held to mark 25 years since the Settle-Carlisle railway line was saved from closure.

Michael Portillo, the former transport minister who made the decision to keep the scenic route open, was among the passengers to travel on an anniversary train earlier.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014


London Crossrail plans extended to Reading


Reading station is currently undergoing a £897m expansion and upgrade


The London Crossrail project will be extended beyond Maidenhead to Reading, the government has announced.
Trains were due to run from Maidenhead and Heathrow Airport in the west, to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east.
Using existing tracks the new 200m (650ft) trains, able to take up to 1,500 passengers, will run from Reading to London Paddington.
The service will see two trains running every hour into London, taking 50 minutes - no faster than they are now.
Rail Minister Stephen Hammond said: "I have requested Network Rail to look at the cost-benefit analysis of increasing the number of faster trains between Reading and Paddington.
"It will also make better use of the already congested Great Western Main Line, freeing up capacity for further improvements including potential direct services from Reading to Heathrow as part of the Western Access Scheme."

Work on the £14.8bn service started in May 2009. The first Crossrail services through central London will start in late 2018.
Reading Station is currently undergoing a £900m upgrade which is due to be completed in 2015.