Tuesday 30 September 2014

GO North East Volvo B9's to be Fitted With Hybrid Flywheel Technology

Thirty of Go North East’s Volvo B9 double deck buses are to be retrofitted with hybrid flywheel technology after north east councils worked together to win a slice of Government money.

Newcastle and Sunderland City Councils received £472,000 after putting together an award winning bid to The Clean Vehicle Technology Fund on behalf of the North East Combined Authority.

Go North East is investing more than £700,000 in the project.

The Fund is designed to pay part of the cost of modifications to public service vehicles that will reduce by 25 per cent the amount of exhaust fumes emitted into the air in our towns and cities.

 The vehicles (above & below) operate on
 the Cobalt Clipper and Fab 56 services
Kirk Trewin, chief engineer at Go North East, said: “The Go-Ahead Group has collaborated with GKN Hybrid Power to develop this innovative technology. These hybrid conversions will see an important reduction in nitrogen dioxide and CO2 emissions on some of the busiest bus corridors across Tyne and Wear and in to Northumberland.” 

Go North East will fit the system to its modern ‘Cobalt Clipper’ and ‘Fab 56’ double deck buses running between Newcastle, North Shields, and Blyth, and Newcastle, Washington and Sunderland.

Leader of Newcastle City Council, Cllr Nick Forbes, who has lead responsibility for transport on the North East Combined Authority, welcomed the cleaner and greener buses.

Cllr Forbes said:  “This investment means the North East leads the way on introducing greener vehicles onto our local roads.

“The new technology will improve fuel efficiency while reducing exhaust emissions which means less pollution in the atmosphere and cleaner air for everyone.

“This is an imaginative project which will bring real health benefits while supporting skilled jobs in environmental technologies and boosting economic growth.”

Leader of Sunderland City Council, Councillor Paul Watson added: "Working together with our local government and regional partners, we are continuing the technological and infrastructure developments needed to reduce emissions and improve our environment and air quality.

"This latest funding acknowledges the progress being made in our region, and adds to the significant investments we have all made to encouraging and creating a more sustainable and effective transport system."

The innovative Gyrodrive system is based on Formula One race technology developed in the UK. It will help increase the efficiency of each bus by using less fuel and thereby reducing carbon emissions. This same technology helped Audi’s R18 e-tron win at Le Mans in June this year.

The system uses a high speed flywheel made of carbon fibre to store the energy generated by a bus as it slows down to stop. It then uses the stored energy to power an electric motor which helps accelerate the bus back up to speed, generating fuel savings of more than 20 per cent.

The 2014 Clean Vehicle Technology Fund award builds on the success of last year’s Clean Bus Technology Fund which awarded over £600,000 to fund the fitment of specialist catalyst to 40 buses to reduce emissions.

The effectiveness of the technologies will be monitored to provide a useful learning tool for other local authorities also considering green vehicle upgrades.

Work to fit the equipment will start in March 2015.

Monday 29 September 2014

Harwich to Esbjerg Ferry Service Ends

The UK's only ferry link to Scandinavia has closed for good, marking the "the end of an era", its operator says.
The route between Harwich, Essex and Esbjerg in Denmark, run by DFDS Seaways, has been in operation for nearly 140 years.
The company said the route "has been struggling for a long time" and would not be able to take on costs associated with a new environmental law.
From 1 January 2015, a European Union directive aimed at reducing sulphur dioxide emissions from ships will come into force.
DFDS said this would have resulted in a £2m a year increase in the cost of the Harwich to Esbjerg ferry route.

Mr Smedegaard said the company had not been able to reduce costs enough to enable the route to bear the extra charges.
The final ferry sailed on Sunday 28th September.
Chief executive of DFDS Seaways, Niel Smedegaard, said: "The route is of particular historical significance to DFDS so it's a very sad day for us all.
"Our regrets go to our many passengers who must now see our last passenger ferry route between the UK and Scandinavia close." The route from Newcastle closed some years ago.

More here

Sunday 28 September 2014


Luton and Dunstable busway predictions 'embellished'

The eight-mile (13.4km) busway links Dunstable, Hougton Regis and west Luton

Image courtesy of Haydn Davies

A council "embellished" figures predicting how many people would use a new busway, a senior councillor said.
Dave Taylor, Luton Borough Council's portfolio holder for environment, said passenger numbers were "pumped up" when trying to justify demand for the Luton and Dunstable busway.
It was claimed that 3.4m passengers would use the busway annually, but only 1.3m used it in its first year.
Luton Borough Council has yet to comment on Mr Taylor's comments.
The £91m busway opened in September 2013 and was jointly funded by the Labour-run council, the government and Central Bedfordshire Council.
Mr Taylor, who now has responsibility for the busway, said of the 2008 forecast: "When you make the business case to the government you are not going to understate the case.
"You don't have a crystal ball - you embellish, pump up the figures."
'Waste of money'
But despite the actual number of passengers falling short of the forecast, Mr Taylor said the busway had been a success.
"The first anniversary is coming up on Thursday and passenger numbers will be 1.3m in the first year, that's a big number in anyone's money.
"We now have a busway that will help our economic regeneration and more passengers will use it."
Conservative councillor Mike Garrett said building the busway was a waste that cost residents £11m and the government £80m.
He said although the busway got people between Luton and Dunstable quickly, it did not solve the problem of congestion.
"People tried the busway in the first weeks but soon got back in their cars because of the wait for buses, so there are still hold-ups," he said.
"It would have been better to have bus lanes on the old railway line. That would have cost half the money." 


Focus Transport team recently visited Derby ostensibly to view the new Arriva Sapphire ADL Enviro400 fleet. A set of images is now available by clicking here

Saturday 27 September 2014

Free Bus Service to Kendal 29th September 2014

Cumbria Classic Coaches are looking at the viability of running a Monday bus service to Kendal. The current week-day bus services are being withdrawn by Cumbria County Council on the 1st November. Cumbria Classic Coaches think it is important to retain a link between Brough and Kendal, although the new service will only be able to operate on Mondays only. For many years they have operated market day services to Hawes on Tuesdays and Barnard Castle on Wednesdays and the new Monday service would compliment these.
A test run is being carried out on Monday 29th September by operating a free service to check timings. 

This is a provisional timetable and not set in stone.

Monday 29th September 2014
Kendal Shoppers Bus Trial 

Depart Brough 10.00
Winton 10.05
Kirkby Stephen 10.15
Kirkby Stephen Station 10.30
Ravenstonedale School 10.40
Newbiggin 10.45
Gaisgill 10.55
Orton 11.05
Junction 38 (10min stop) 11.25
Tebay 11.30
Grayrigg 11.40
Morrisons/Aldi 12.00
Stricklandgate 12.10
Kendal Bus Station 12.15

Return Journey
Depart Morrisons 15.30 (TBC)
Stricklandgate 15.40
Kendal Bus Station 15.50 and then

return to Brough via reverse of outbound route arriving Brough approx 17.00.

Telephone Cumbria Classic Coaches on 015396-23254 if more information is required.  http://www.cumbriaclassiccoaches.co.uk/

Friday 26 September 2014


The City of York's transport has taken a leap forward this year with the introduction of new and part used hybrid buses. Furthermore a re-located Park-&-Ride facility is now open at Askham Bar and work continues in the city centre to provide a new bus interchange at Exhibition Square.


The latest new buses is a fleet of six all-electric Optare Versa EV single-decks, branded up and liveried for route 59, which serves the Poppleton Park-&-Ride site out on the north west side of the city close by to the A59/A1237 junction.

A contrast here between the old and the new as fleet number 49906 passes by the ancient walls of the city.

The rear aspect of fleet number 49902 as it too passes by the city's walls on the way into the city centre.

The older buses now in the First York fleet are five Wright Gemini 2 HEV double-decks. They began life in the First London fleet in dual-door format as fleet numbers WNH 39001-39005 based at their Westbourne Park depot. The buses operated over high capacity routes 28, 31 and 328 that served the inner and outer west London suburbs. Life was a bit harsh and they had somewhat of a chequered time whilst in the Capital and were subsequently withdrawn from London service.

However, after some care and attention they were re-vamped into single-door format, painted into FirstGroup nationwide livery and placed into the York fleet, where they now operate over route 4 from the University via the city centre to Acomb.

Powered by a combination of batteries and conventional diesel, the HEVs have been fitted with new, state-of-the-art hybrid technology. The buses are driven by a Siemens driving system powered by batteries which are charged by a generator run from a Cummins Euro V engine. 

The new technology produces 30% lower carbon emissions compared to a conventional diesel Euro IV bus. As well as being kinder to the local environment, the hybrid vehicles are also quieter than conventional buses.

Also, soon to appear on the York streets in quite a different role is an existing bus from the Transdev Yorkshire Coastliner fleet. 

This is an East Lancs Lolyne Dennis Trident similar to the one shown here and originally operated by the Kent-based Metrobus fleet on London tendered bus route services.

The bus is one of several acquired by the established York sightseeing company, before their takeover by Transdev. Recently it underwent a major conversion by Sheffield-based Magtec to 100% electric propulsion. With electric driveline technology it is powered by a set of rechargeable lithium ion batteries, capable of covering 75 miles per charge.

And finally something quite different.

In complete contrast a land train operates between the National Railway Museum and the city centre, the vehicle seen here 'turning on a sixpence' adjacent to the Minster. 


Two recent sets of images of other buses in York can now be viewed on the Flickr site by clicking here for First York buses and here for other operator's vehicles.

Thursday 25 September 2014

Google Celebrates 60 years of the Routemaster

 The iconic Routemaster bus is being celebrated by Google with a special doodle to mark sixty years since it was first unveiled in London.

The Routemaster was designed in the 1950s to replace London's substantial network of electric trolleybuses and attained iconic status due to its remarkable longevity.
It was first displayed to the public at the Earl's Court Commercial Motor Exhibition on September 24, 1954. After extensive testing of prototype models the first vehicle entered service in 1956, and large-scale production began in 1959.

Some 2,760 models were built before construction ended in 1968 and continued to serve the city until the 1980s, when they began to be sold off for use elsewhere due to reductions in service.  
Google's doodle, which comes during London's "year of the bus", follows its tribute to the London Underground on its 150th anniversary in January 2013.
It features an animated cartoon image of the distinctive double decker red bus, which bounces gently up and down as if driving through the capital.
But the most distinctive feature of the bus – its rear platform – is not visible because the vehicle is travelling from left to right, and the platform is always positioned over the rear left wheel.

The word "Google" is emblazoned on the side panels of the bus between the lower and upper decks in the space traditionally occupied by advertisements.  


Wednesday 24 September 2014

Lancaster Bomber Tour Comes to an End

Crowds gathered to bid farewell to the Canadian Lancaster plane which has been touring the UK over the summer.
"Vera" joined the only other airworthy Lancaster, operated by the RAF, for a series of events and is now flying home via Iceland and Greenland.
Taking off from RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire, the two bombers were joined by Spitfires and Hurricanes.

Vera still has a UK engine after one of its own developed a fault and an appeal has been launched to fund repairs.

Thousands of people have watched the last two airworthy Lancaster bombers in the world fly over the site where the famous Dambusters raid was practised.

At the weekend they passed Derwent Dam in Derbyshire three times on their way back to RAF Coningsby, in Lincolnshire, from Southport Air Show.
The Lancasters have been united for a series of events in the UK.
The Canadian Warplane Heritage Museum have flown their prized Avro Lancaster to the UK for a 2 month tour which has now ended. The Lancaster has been joined by the only other airworthy Lancaster in the world, owned and operated by the Royal Air Force's renowned Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF). The planes have participated in many events and activities during the time that the Canadian plane has been based in the UK.

On Tuesday 23rd September the Canadian based plane departed Coningsby at 10:00 am for return to Canada. The aircraft passed over RAF Cranwell, RAF Waddington, Lincoln Cathedral and RAF Scampton, before leaving the area.
It is estimated each of the Lancasters has flown about 6,000 miles attending dozens of shows and events. The first transit stop on the return flight will be Keflavik, Iceland. 
Departure from Keflavik, Iceland is scheduled for Wednesday 24th September with 2 additional legs over several days to factor in weather, etc. The arrival date and time back home at Hamilton will be announced closer to the arrival. 

There is a special website which has been dedicated to the UK tour which can be seen here

Tuesday 23 September 2014

ORR Gives Go Ahead for New Virgin Trains Services

New rail services linking the North West and the Midlands to London have been approved.

The Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) said Virgin Trains can run direct services from Blackpool and from Shrewsbury into Euston station.
Blackpool North will have one train a day on weekdays, starting from 15 December.
Shrewsbury will have two services in each direction on weekdays from 14 December.
'Valuable addition'
Blackpool has been campaigning for a rail link to London ever since the last direct service between the resort and the capital was scrapped in May 2003.
A 4,000-name petition calling for the service to Shrewsbury, which ended in 2011, to be restarted was presented to Parliament in October.
The Blackpool service will call at Kirkham and Wesham, Poulton-le-Fylde, Preston, Wigan North Western, Warrington Bank Quay, Crewe and Nuneaton.
Trains to and from Shrewsbury will stop at Telford Central, Wellington, Wolverhampton, Birmingham New Street, Birmingham International, Coventry and Rugby.

A spokesman for Network Rail said: "Direct trains between London and Blackpool and Shrewsbury will be a valuable addition to the services which already connect both towns to the rest of the rail network."

Monday 22 September 2014


Mayor & TfL expand Europe's greenest bus fleet including first ever retrofit of a London fire engine

·        £500,000 secured from the Department for Transport's (DfT) Cleaner Vehicle Technology Fund

·        400 more buses to be fitted with equipment to remove up to 88 per cent of nitrogen oxide (NOx) emissions

·        Proven technology extended to first ever retrofit of a London fire engine

The Mayor and Transport for London (TfL) are to expand London's bus retrofit programme, already the largest in the world, with a further 400 vehicles, bringing the total number of buses fitted with this bespoke technology up to 1,800.  


A grant of £500,000 from the Department for Transport's (DfT) Cleaner Vehicle Technology Fund will also enable a London fire engine to be retrofitted for the first time, extending technology proven on London's buses to the London Fire Brigade.

More than a thousand buses have already been retrofitted, with a further 400 in the pipeline.  The new funds, which will be supplemented with TfL budget, will bring the total to 1,800.  The retrofit process involves fitting a Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system to the exhaust of older buses.  Successfully trialled in 2012, the technology provides NOx emission reductions of up to 88 per cent.  Once complete, the full retrofit programme will make all 8,700 buses in London Euro IV for NOx emissions by the end of 2015, reducing NOx emissions by at least 800 tonnes a year.

The Mayor is now, for the first time, extending this retrofit work to London Fire Brigade, and following operational trials hopes to roll the technology out more widely.

Matthew Pencharz, the Mayor's Senior Advisor for Environment and Energy, said: "The Mayor is taking the most ambitious and comprehensive set of measures in the world to improve London's air quality, an urgent challenge which affects the health and well-being of all Londoners.  At the heart of his plans is the world's first Ultra Low Emission Zone in central London from 2020, and just last week he published a road-map to how London can meet European requirements for NO2 by 2020.  This fantastic world-leading retrofit programme, which we intend to roll out to more public vehicles wherever possible, has a huge part to play, creating cleaner, greener buses and cleaner, more breathable air for London."

London's green bus fleet is the largest in the world, combining the roll out of new hybrid buses (including the New Routemaster), the early introduction of new Euro VI buses, and the retrofit programme, leading to significant improvements in emissions throughout London.


Mike Weston, Director of Buses, said: "London already has Europe's largest fleet of green buses.  This further funding will not only enable this number to grow but is also is a fantastic recognition of all that we are doing, and will continue to do, to improve London's air quality."

Minister of State for Transport Baroness Kramer said: "It is great to see London putting this funding to good use and leading the way on introducing greener vehicles on the city's streets, including for the first time a fire engine fitted with pollution reducing technology.  This will mean lower emissions and real public health benefits, while supporting skilled jobs and growth in the environmental technologies industries."

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.


The Mayor's efforts have already been recognised in a newly published study, which has ranked London's air quality 9th best out of 36 world and European cities in terms of health impacts.

Sunday 21 September 2014


megabus.com has launched a new European network from a Belgium base since 17th September 2014
· New network to link Brussels with Luxembourg, Lille and Rotterdam following growth in popularity of low-cost inter-city coach travel
· megabus.com to create 20 jobs through new base in Belgium
· More services also introduced on routes between Brussels and Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam and Brussels and Cologne
· Continued investment in high quality coaches equipped with free wi-fi, air conditioning and toilets
· Tickets to go on sale at www.megabus. com with fares from €1*
Significant growth in the popularity of low-cost inter-city coach travel in Europe is to see market-leading operator megabus.com launch a new network of services in the Benelux region from next month and open a dedicated base in Belgium.

The company has announced plans for new low-cost coach services which will link Brussels with Luxembourg and Rotterdam from 6 October, offering fares from €1* - less than the price of a cup of coffee.
megabus.com – part of international transport company Stagecoach Group – is also creating 20 jobs with the establishment of a base near Brussels. The depot, located at Sint-Pieters- Leeuw in the province of Flemish Brabant, will house a fleet of six vehicles and the operation will be headed by a general manager.
The number of passengers using megabus.com&# 39;s growing coach network in Europe increased by more than 50% between 2012-13 and 2013-14 as the company continues to transform travel options for passengers. megabus.com already carries more than 15 million passengers a year across Europe and North America.
The new network of routes which will see daily services between Brussels and Rotterdam. In addition, subject to final route authority being granted, megabus.com also plans to operate services between Brussels and Luxembourg and Brussels and Lille.

The new services will operate on the following frequencies:
- Brussels-Luxembourg – one service per day in each direction (journey time 3 hours)
- Brussels-Lille – three services per day in each direction (journey time under 2 hours)
- Brussels – Rotterdam – one service per day in each direction (journey time 2 hours 20 minutes)
With megabus.com fares available from €1* price comparisons show that the coach operator is able to offer significantly cheaper travel than the existing transport modes which link Brussels with Rotterdam, Lille and Luxembourg.
As well as serving Luxembourg for the first time, the company also plans to increase the frequency on some of its existing Europe services from the same date. This will include more services a day between Brussels and other key European cities.
There will be five return journeys per day between Brussels and Paris; four return journeys between Brussels and Amsterdam; and four daily return journeys between Brussels and Cologne.
In addition, the new timetable means that Antwerp will now have a link to Cologne for the first time, operating one service a day in each direction.
Elsewhere in Europe new services are planned between Paris and Cologne and between Amsterdam and Cologne and an increased frequency between Amsterdam and Lille.
megabus.com launched low-cost coach services between London and mainland Europe in 2012 and already links around 100 destinations in the UK and Europe. The European network already includes Paris, Lille, Boulogne, Amsterdam, Brussels, Ghent, Antwerp, Rotterdam, Cologne, Toulouse and Barcelona.
Services have proved very popular with families, students and tourists looking to save money on their travel and spend extra on entertainment when they arrive at their destination. Passengers travel on state-of-the- art coaches featuring free wi-fi so they can stay connected on the move. 


The coaches, which have some of the greenest engines in Europe, are also equipped with air conditioning and a toilet, and Stagecoach Group continues to invest in new vehicles for its European services. Last year, megabus.com introduced a fleet of 10 new 72-seat coaches to operate on its network in Europe.

A further six coaches – representing an investment of over €2million - are set to be introduced on the European network in Belgium from 6 October. The 72-seat vehicles have all been manufactured by Belgium based coach builder Van Hool, and will be equipped with free Wifi and power sockets. They also have onboard toilet facilities for additional comfort and convenience.
Prices on megabus.com services start at €1*, with a range of competitive fares above that designed to ensure the coaches are full or as close to capacity as possible. megabus.com uses bigger, higher capacity 72-seat coaches, rather than standard vehicles with around 50 seats. This allows the company to have a low cost per passenger, keep fares down and ensure the service is profitable.
All megabus.com drivers undertake a detailed operational and customer service training programme, including route familiarisation and driving assessments. The training is part of an EU standard qualification for professional bus, coach and lorry drivers. megabus.com ensures full compliance with relevant EU working time legislation and the company also has stricter maintenance standards than legal requirements as part of its commitment to safety.
megabus.com Managing Director Elizabeth Esnouf said: “This will be our first base in mainland Europe and gives us scope to operate these new services, as well as increasing the frequency on a number of our existing routes to and from Brussels.
“We have been operating in Belgium for a couple of years now and we are seeing an increasing number of people choosing coach travel for long journeys. We’re pleased to be able to offer even more travel options to people living and working in Belgium, and visitors to the country, and we look forward to attracting even more people on to our greener, smarter coach services.”
megabus.com’s new base in Belgium will be located at an existing depot owned by Belgian coach company Bell Tours. megabus.com will share Bell Tours’ depot in Sint-Pieters- Leeuw where megabus.com vehicles will be stored and maintained and the company will also have office space from which to operate its new network of services.
megabus.com was launched in the UK in 2003 and expanded its services to North America in 2006. After launching services in Belgium, France, the Netherlands and Germany, most recently the company introduced a service to Barcelona, Spain, which has proved popular.
All European locations are served daily, with routes to and from the UK operating during the day and overnight. An interchange at London Victoria Coach Station offers links to and from locations in Scotland, England and Wales.
megabus.com offers Spanish, French, Dutch and German language websites, which allow customers to book and pay in Euros.
The success of megabus.com’s services has seen it create more than 400 jobs over the past decade in the UK and Europe and a further 1,000 jobs in North America." "

Saturday 20 September 2014


A recent television series titled "On the Yorkshire Buses", featured management, staff and the buses of the East Yorkshire Motor Services bus company. The eight episodes concentrated on the depots at Hull and Scarborough. Included were frontline routes in both locations plus the seafront services at Scarborough. The series was aired during August and September.

Almost all observed during the series were modern low-floor buses of various makes and design, but little was seen of the fleet of former London Routemasters. Regrettably after some twenty-six years, the type has now been withdrawn. 

It was during July 2014 what was RM 2065, number 812 in the EYMS fleet, was the last of the type sold and went off to the Purfleet-based Ensignbus dealership.

After having served the English capital for many decades large numbers of the type were sold off during the 1980s and East Yorkshire acquired a number for crew-operated stage services in Hull. 

Painted in the dark blue and white livery they appeared to spend much of the time on the 56/56A group of route out along the Holderness Road to the Longhill area.

However, during the mid-1990s they had served their purpose and were withdrawn. Once again though after their tops were removed, so to speak, they soon found further employment. 

Transferred northwards the fleet were based at the Scarborough & District operation and put to work on the seafront service. 

This ran from South Bay to the Corner Cafe at North Bay and the buses appeared in a variety of guises over the following years.

For a few seasons the buses were adorned with large bow ties, and the drivers too wore similar types of tie, although not as bold of course.

But regrettably this all came to an end this year when Routemaster RM 2065 turned its last wheel in revenue-earning service, their place taken by a fleet of former low-floor open-topped double-decks, again sourced from one of the London fleets.

Friday 19 September 2014


Over the weekend of the 13th/14th September 2014 50-years of tramway operation at Crich was celebrated in style. Dubbed 'Electric 50' the aim of the organisers was to get as many serviceable tramcars out in service, with twenty-five on the tracks each day. Focus Transport attended on the Saturday and what a splendid event it turned out to be.

There were tramcars of all colours, shapes and sizes most from English tramways, plus one or two from elsewhere of German, Portugese and Scottish origin.

Open at ten o'clock each day trams did not start to run until 10.30 to allow photography of static displays up and down the tramway's lower end. An intensive service then ran until around 2.00pm when a cavalcade of selected trams was organised. 

The first tram to run and inaugarate the event was Blackpool toastrack number 2, which allegedly operated the very first but short run some fifty years ago. 


After that and as the attending crowds built up, trams generally ran in pairs and were well patronised on each day. 

A selection of images from the Saturday attendance can now be viewed on the Focus Flickr site by clicking here and here  

Thursday 18 September 2014


Third of trains on some of London’s busiest commuter lines ran late last year despite passengers paying highest fares in Europe

One in three trains on some of London’s busiest commuter lines ran late last year, official figures reveal today. On some lines across the UK during 2013-14 more than half failed to run on time, said rail union leaders. 
Southern, where services include the Brighton line, was at the bottom of the London league of shame with just 54.2 per cent of trains on schedule. Southeastern only managed 61.6 per cent punctuality and South West Trains 65.7 per cent. The statistics, from Network Rail’s own accounts, are “real time figures” for the year ending in April –  not the usual published figures which only record commuter trains as late if they are more than five minutes behind schedule or 10 minutes for long distance services. They were highlighted today by Manuel Cortes, leader of the TSSA transport union, at the opening of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) in Liverpool. He said: “Even given the bad winter weather, these figures show that the private rail firms are still not delivering the levels of service that passengers expect in return for paying the highest fares in Europe. These figures show daily reality of persistently late trains for millions of passengers who are facing yet another increase in fares of 2.5 per cent in January. The performance of too many operators has been truly woeful.” 
Rail bosses said that nine out of 10 trains ran on time during 2012-13 – saying that was the most up to date full financial year figures available. Chiltern, however, which runs services to and from Marylebone, came top of the list with 85.9 per of trains on time. London Overground was in third slot with 84.2 per cent and c2c came in fourth with 83.4 per cent. 
A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, representing Network Rail and rail operators, said: “More than nine out of 10 trains arrived as planned in 2012-13 which meant 600 million more punctual passenger journeys compared to 1997-98. “Because rail users are at the heart of what we do, we know we must continue to drive up performance on Europe’s fastest growing and most improved railway.” 
The full list; Arriva Trains Wales 84.4 per cent; c2c 83.4; Chiltern 85.9; CrossCountry 41.7; East Coast 54.9; East Midlands Trains 69.7; First Capital Connect 64.3; First Great Western 66.8; First Hull Trains 48.8; First ScotRail 58; First Transpennine Express 60.2; Grand Central 40.4; Greater Anglia 70.6;  Heathrow Express 72.4; London Midland 60.9; London Overground 84.2; Merseyrail 72; Northern Rail 72.5; Southeastern 61.6; Southern 54.2; South West Trains 65.7; Virgin Trains 52. (Source TSSA.).

Wednesday 17 September 2014


London bus drivers in collective bargaining and equal pay protest

Hundreds of London's bus drivers have taken part in a protest march to demand collective bargaining.
Members of Unite want an end to salary differences between firms that can see pay differ from £17,000 to £25,000. 

Unite said the discrepancy was due to the number of tenders available and companies submitting the lowest bids.
Transport for London, which oversees the city's bus services, said it was down to the individual companies, many of whom have declined to comment. 

Competition has led to a "squeeze on pay" according to Unite
Unite's general secretary Len McCluskey said: "With decentralisation and the sell-off of routes, London's bus drivers' wages have taken a hit and vary drastically from company to company.
"It is madness - there ought to be a common, decent rate for the job."
Unite said about 400 bus drivers had marched from Bressenden Place to Old Palace Yard in Westminster. 
The union said an "explosion in competition" had led to a "squeeze on the pay, terms and conditions of all bus workers".
John Murphy, from Unite, said: "When you consider what the job is - there's shift work and bad backs and buses take everyone to the train stations and the middle of London - we're quite responsible for keeping this city running.
"Another downside is if you can have employees in on £3 less, that puts those who are paid the £3 above in jeopardy, who are the bosses going to want?"
'Make pay consistent'
He said he march had been a "success" but there was "still a way to go" to achieve the union's aims.

Mr Murphy said the average wage for a London Underground driver was about £40,000 and therefore a "reasonable" wage for a bus driver should be between £28,000 and £30,000.

Caroline Pidgeon, leader of the London Assembly Liberal Democrats and chair of the assembly's transport committee, said: "It is a strange anomaly that while tube drivers receive the same pay across London but the terms and conditions of bus drivers vary enormously.
"If we expect a uniform level of service from bus drivers there is a strong case that they should at least be paid on a consistent basis across the capital."

Tuesday 16 September 2014


Minister announces £7m transport links cash boost

Harbour works and dredging improvements will be carried out.

Penzance and the Isles of Scilly have been awarded more than £7m in funding to improve transport links.

Patrick McLoughlin, the Secretary of State for Transport, announced £6.4m was being awarded for the harbour works at St Mary's Island.

The money will also be used for dredging and traffic management improvements at Penzance harbour. 
The Department for Transport has given Cornwall Council £976,000 to cover the scheme's preparatory works costs.
Mr McLoughlin said: "This funding will make a huge difference to the people of Scilly and also to visitors to the island, so vital to the local economy. Good transport links and high quality infrastructure are key for the island."
Nigel Blackler, head of strategy, economy, enterprise and environment at Cornwall Council, said "The harbour improvements proposed at St Mary's and Penzance will help safeguard the future of the sea link by creating deeper water berths.

"It will increase the range of vessels which could potentially provide the service in the future."
The funding announcement, which will also see the resurfacing of public roads on St Mary's, was made by Mr McLoughlin on the first day of a two-day visit to Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Image courtesy of Dave Fenwick snr

Monday 15 September 2014


Work to make Luton and Dunstable busway quieter fails

The eight-mile (13.4km) busway links Dunstable, Hougton Regis and west Luton

Work to make a new £91m bus route quieter after residents complained about noise has failed, a council has said.
Luton Council spent about £6,000 filling the gaps in the tracks on the Luton and Dunstable guided busway with a flexible material.
It believed the noise came from spaces between the concrete beams and this was a "possible solution".
A spokesman said it was "disappointed" noise levels had not fallen.
The council said it was continuing to look at other solutions but some remedies had already been ruled out.
The eight-mile (13.4km) mainly guided route along a stretch of old railway line from Luton to Dunstable opened last September.

Three bus companies - Arriva, Centrebus and Grant Palmer - provide services up to every eight minutes at peak times.
But some people living next to the tracks have complained about being kept awake.


Grant Palmer single-deck adjacent to dwellings (Haydn Davies)

One resident living less than 200m from the track, who did not wish to be named, said it was "torture" and she was "just being worn down by it".
Luton Borough Council said it had met noise consultants, filled the gaps in the tracks between Dunstable and Skimpot Road and monitored results.
"The positive progress that was being made over the last few months to find a possible solution has not resulted in a reduction of the noise," a statement said.
Jan Chamberlain, of Ludun Close in Dunstable, who had a microphone put in her garden by the council, said the remedial work had made "no difference".
"It actually sounds like somebody running up the stairs, it's very invasive," she said.
A spokesman said: "The alternatives of replacing the guided busway with an unguided section or the reduction of bus speeds are not considered to be acceptable."