Thursday, 31 July 2014

Arriva Launches Sapphire in Northumberland

Arriva have launched the upmarket Sapphire brand in Northumberland with a display of vehicles at Newbiggin by the Sea. The upgraded services X21 /X22 commenced on 30th July, running between Newcastle, Ashington and Newbiggin.

 The launch featured appearances by Royal lookalikes
Most of the vehicles concerned have been refurbished in a £1.6m programme to include free WIFI, electrical charging points, leather seats and audio visual bus stop announcements.
Nick Knox, area managing director for Arriva North East said the new service will offer our customers a new and improved experience, we are confident they will be delighted with the enhancements and we hope to encourage more people to join us on board.

 One of the Sapphire vehicles (a 14 reg) in operation in Bedlington on the first day of service

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Hatts Travel in Administration

A travel company in Wiltshire has gone into administration with the loss of 89 jobs and a knock-on effect on hundreds of customer bookings.
Staff have been made redundant at Hatts Travel across its offices and depots in Chippenham, Devizes and Salisbury.
As many as 1,000 customers have already made bookings with the specialist coach and holiday tour operator.

The group, which also includes Bodmans Coaches and HQT Ltd, employs about 108 staff.
'Dedicated helpline'
The holiday company's website previously said all monies paid to HQT ((Hatts Quality Travel Ltd) would be held in a "Client Trust Account" which has been included by the administrator in its investigation.
Andrew Sheridan, partner and joint administrator, added: "Our priority right now is to contact and provide dedicated helpline support for those members of the general public who have paid for holidays, day trips and other private hire with Hatts.
"We will ensure that they are advised of their statutory rights under the Consumer Credit Act where, in the first instance, if they have paid by credit or debit card they should make contact with their card providers."

Hatts Travel were a major independent bus & coach operator in Wiltshire and a few years ago purchased Bodman Coaches, eventually rebranding its bus services as “Wiltshire Buses” .
Hatts ceased operating most of their bus services on the evening of Thursday 24th July, but they had all been covered by Wiltshire Council using other operators by 7am on the 25th July (so there was no gap in service). Tours & Private hire continued to operate until 28th July.  The Salisbury Park & Ride contract is being run by the Hatts administrator for the time being.


The annual Gathering at the Sandtoft Trolleybus Museum took place this passed weekend and Martin Arrand has supplied a fine set of images from the event. Some of the vehicles present are shown below and others can now be viewed here 


Tuesday, 29 July 2014


Rail operators axe designated areas because they 'cause rows between passengers' 



  • Cross Country is scrapping quiet carriages on long distance routes
  • First Great Western are also converting quiet first class carriages
  • Staff finding it difficult to mediate between customers in the carriages
They have been a godsend for passengers who crave a peaceful journey – as well as commuters who need to work on the go.
But train operators are axing ‘quiet carriages’ – because they are apparently causing rows among passengers.
Staff are said to be finding it difficult to mediate between customers when the tranquil haven is spoiled by those who insist on using noisy gadgets, talking loudly, singing or drinking alcohol.

Despite some train operators axing quiet carriages, South West Trains are unaffected by the move

Bosses will now just ask fellow travellers to be nicer to each other – a move that has been described as a victory for yobs.
Train operator CrossCountry is scrapping quiet carriages on long distance routes, while First Great Western is converting first class quiet carriages to standard class on its high-speed lines.

CrossCountry customer Brian McGlone, from Edinburgh, claims he was told that quiet coaches were creating ‘confrontational situations’.
Mr McGlone, who was travelling on the Glasgow to Penzance route on Thursday, added: ‘I asked the ticket collector, who told me that they had scrapped the quiet coach because staff were finding it difficult to mediate between the drunken yobs and the passengers. It’s a defeat for civilised passengers.
‘I’ve seen potential for conflict before. Very often you get people coming into the quiet carriage and making noise, playing music and drinking beer.
‘I feel it’s a victory for the train yobs. There are other carriages they could go to. They should respect that people have booked the quiet coach.’

The train operator will now use a mixture of announcements and signs to foster consideration. Richard Gibson, from CrossCountry, said quiet carriages weren’t an ‘antidote’ to antisocial behaviour, but added: ‘Modern technology has improved to the point that you don’t have to shout any more to be heard and people are communicating in different ways.
‘Headphones for games and phones are much better, they don’t emit the noise they used to.
‘Designating an entire carriage as a quiet coach doesn’t seem to be as relevant any more. We’re not saying you can’t use a phone or listen to music but to think of other people there and act responsibly.’
First Great Western said it is removing quiet carriage status on one coach to increase capacity on its high-speed routes and denied that passenger conflict was behind the decision.
However, first class carriages are to get a revamp, including glass screens to create a quieter and ‘more ambient’ environment.
East Coast trains and Virgin said there were no plans to alter quiet coaches on their services.

Monday, 28 July 2014


Greyhound, the iconic American bus company celebrates 100 years of people moving

This year one of America’s most iconic companies celebrates its centenary. It was in 1914 that Eric Wickman, a 27-year-old Swedish immigrant and failed car salesman, began driving workers from the iron mines of Hibbing, Minnesota, to the nearby saloons of Alice. For the two-mile trip in his Hupmobile he charged 15 cents. His first day’s takings were $2.25.
Hibbing Transport (as he soon named his enterprise) became the Mesaba Transportation Company in 1915, Greyhound Lines in 1926 and the Greyhound Corporation in 1929.
By the 1930s the brand name was synonymous with American inter-city bus travel and gained a huge boost in 1934 when it played a central role in It Happened One Night, the Oscar-winning film starring Claudette Colbert and Clark Gable.

Read more:

Sunday, 27 July 2014


Two Cardiff city bus station sites examined

Related Stories

A new site for Cardiff's bus station is being discussed by council leaders as part of a city centre revamp.
BBC Wales is moving its headquarters from Llandaff to a new building in Central Square in 2018.
Two locations are being looked at but the council wants the new bus station to be within a few minutes walk of Cardiff Central railway station.
The current bus station is set to close in summer 2015, with temporary stops set up elsewhere in the city centre.
Two potential sites for the new bus station have been identified:
  • Marland House/NCP car park site which is north of the railway line. The council is securing ownership of the site.
  • Network Rail car park site behind the station and south of the railway line.
As well as being close to the railway station, both sites also have the potential for staying open to deal with passengers on big Millennium Stadium event days.
Last month, BBC Wales announced it would be relocating to a landmark building designed by Sir Norman Foster and Partners in Central Square, on the site of the current bus station.
The council's cabinet will be discussing the way forward, including how to deal with buses through the city during the three years of redevelopment.
Council leader Phil Bale said the new bus station would allow the council to "redesign our welcome to the world".
Local people will be consulted on the location, design and the temporary bus stop arrangements in the autumn.
  • More than 1,000 services operate each weekday through the current bus station
  • At its peak, 84 buses an hour use it - nearly half of buses using the city centre
  • Cardiff Bus account for 51% of services, Stagecoach for 21% and 3% for operators like National Express
  • The new bus station will need up to 18 stands and the council is working on passenger numbers increasing by 15% in the future as it looks to get more people out of their cars
  • Work will be needed in Westgate St, Churchill Way, Custom House Street and more buses using Greyfriars Road
  • Wood Street, Lower St Mary Street and, potentially, Callaghan Square will be looked as temporary measures while the bus station is developed
  • Most Cardiff Bus services will maintain their existing routes, either circling the city centre anti-clockwise or looping in Mill Lane/Custom House Street to leave the city centre via Westgate Street.
Source: Cardiff Council

A few images of the bus station from the 70s and 80s

Saturday, 26 July 2014


Today (Saturday 26th July 2014) saw the withdrawal of the 'Heritage' route 9 in London (Trafalgar Square & Kensington), operated by Tower Transit with a small fleet of original type Routemasters.

This now just leaves 'Heritage' route 15 (Trafalgar Square & Tower Hill), as the sole fully half-cabbed service after several decades of operation.

Both routes are shortened versions longer routes the 9 (Hammersmith & Aldwych) and the 15 (Trafalgar Square & Blackwall Station), the former now operated by London United with the 'new' Routemaster, the latter by Stagecoach East London with Alexander Dennis E40H hybrids.

And from Daniel Sullivan three images from the last day of operation (Friday 25th), a line-up at Kensington before the last run, and the specially prepared blind displays affixed in to RM 1627.


Friday, 25 July 2014


First unveil artist's impression of new £20m bus depot and HQ

Bus operator First Glasgow has unveiled artist’s impressions of the firm’s new £20m depot and headquarters planned for the city.

The new facility at Gushetfaulds, in Glasgow’s south side, which is scheduled to be fully operational from November 2014, will be the biggest bus depot in the UK with space for up to 450 buses and 1200 employees.
First Glasgow managing director, Fiona Kerr, said: "The plans for our new depot and headquarters are fantastic.
"It’s really exciting to think that later this year we’ll be enjoying a state of the art facility specifically designed for operating and maintaining buses.
"Our £20m investment in our new depot and headquarters is great news for our customers.


"The new facility will help us improve upon an already strong punctuality and reliability performance and we hope it will encourage people to consider bus travel more often."
Stephen Scott, Balfour Beatty Delivery Unit managing director, said: "We are delighted to be constructing this ambitious state of the art bus depot for First Glasgow. Work is progressing well on the project, which when complete will help revitalise an area which has lain derelict for many years."
Construction is well underway at the site and First Glasgow is running an internal competition inviting employees to name the new depot and head office.
Suggestions will be shortlisted and voting will take place next month to choose the winning name.
Currently, around 700 children's drawings and paintings are on display on hoardings at the 10 acre site on Cathcart Road in the south side of the city until May.
Four winners have been chosen and will see their artwork displayed on the back of some First Glasgow buses in March.

Meanwhile, two miles away is the old bus depot Bridgeton, home to the Glasgow Vintage Vehicle Trust, which is now a working museum, where historic vehicles can be seen in various stages of restoration. During the year the society open the doors of the museum for a series of special events where visitors can see the exhibits and take a ride on some of them that operate on free bus services.

 A selection of ex First vehicles on display at the Bridgeton depot

 An interior view showing some of the vehicles on display at the October 2013 Open Day

 Above & below, Exterior shots of the GVVT depot showing vehicles taking part in the free bus service

Bridgeton Bus Garage
76 Fordneuk Street

Bridgeton Bus Garage
76 Fordneuk Street

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Go North East Sends Buses to Commonwealth Games

The Commonwealth Games opened yesterday and numerous bus operators have sent vehicles to help out on the transportation of those taking part and the movement of spectators.

Go North East, have provided a fleet of twenty vehicles together with a team of forty drivers to provide extra transport links across the city of Glasgow.

Graham Hill of Go North East and the driving team

The bright red double-deck buses were provided from the company’s depots at Sunderland, Washington, Percy Main, Stanley, Chester-le-Street and Gateshead and set off in convoy from the firm’s new £9 million depot at Riverside, next to Metrocentre, on Tuesday morning.

Graham Hill, service design manager at Go North East, said:”Go North East is well known across the bus industry for the quality of our operation. 

 click to enlarge pictures

We're delighted to be helping out at the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. I'm sure the vehicles and drivers from Go North East will provide fantastic service to everyone travelling in Glasgow in the next few weeks.”

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

DRS Open Day, Crewe

Ken Jones braved the wet weather to attend the DRS open day in Crewe and sent us these pictures including some of the new class 68 locomotives.

Ken also made a visit to the Freightliner  Yard at Crewe where we see pictures of 47811 and 47816 - more will be going onto Ken's Flickr site plus DRS locomotives.


Tuesday, 22 July 2014


South Yorkshire lands £4.8m for transport to support businesses

South Yorkshire has been awarded £4.8 million in Government funding to support sustainable transport schemes to help businesses and workers in the county.  The Department for Transport (DfT) has awarded to South Yorkshire Partners £4.8 million of funding from its Local Sustainable Transport Fund (LSTF) in a move that will help help people get to jobs, help businesses become more efficient and austainable whilst helping the environment.

The money will support a range of schemes which bring environmental, health and economic benefits to communities across England. Bidders had to show that the money would be used to help boost economic growth, reduce carbon emissions, improve air quality and encourage higher levels of cycling and walking.  Amongst those schemes that will benefit people getting to work are Wheels 2 Work, which provides scooters on a short-term loan basis to people needing to take up work or training, but who haven’t got the transport to get them there. 
Or there is JobConnector, a new hourly express bus service between Barnsley and Doncaster which will connect communities and jobs in these two towns and in the southern Dearne Valley.  Other schemes include Travel Choices support, where help is offered direct to employers and employees to show them their travel choices without depending on a car. This includes giving 3,600 existing car drivers a public transport trial. And there is Independent Travel Training which will deliver travel ‘buddying’ services to 80 young people with special educational needs and disabilities.  There are also schemes to help promote training and to help businesses convert their fleet to clean electric vehicles and to reduce fuel consumption, which in turn will help make our businesses more cost efficient.  
The South Yorkshire bid focussed on communities where lack of access to work or training is still a significant issue.  It showed that sustainable connectivity through public transport, cycling, walking and powered two wheelers, supported by a clearly positioned promotional and educational programme, would build on an already strong track record of promoting sustainable growth. reducing carbon and other harmful emissions, whilst facilitating economic growth.

The schemes will be delivered under the umbrella of Inmotion! which provides a clear message of the range of travel choices.  Bill Mordue, Chairman of Sheffield City Region Combined Authority Transport Committee, said: “We are delighted to have been awarded this funding, which will help us to get people into work and training and to do so in a sustainable way that helps the environment.  “Our bid, which we submitted together with all four South Yorkshire councils and a range of other organisations, has secured the second largest amount of funding of all the bids around the country, which we feel is testament to the high quality of the schemes we have put together.”