Sunday 30 November 2014



First and City of York Council have celebrated 20-years of successful partnership providing one of the best Park-&-Ride networks in the United Kingdom.
On the 5th November 1994, First began operating park-and-ride bus services from Grimston Bar and Askham Bar. Over 20-years the service has grown to six sites with 4-million journeys a year. During that time the service, which started with DAF SB220 single deckers, now uses Optare Versa battery-electrics on one of the routes.
The latest developments include the opening of two new sites in June at Askham Bar and Poppleton Bar. Customers using the new Poppleton Bar site can take advantage of the latest technology with a fully electric fleet and free on-board Wi-Fi.
As well as being one of the first operators to provide simple and convenient smartcard payment, First also introduced articulated-buses to increase capacity as the park-and-ride  service became more popular.
Cllr David Levene, Cabinet Member for Transport, said: “Through these ongoing bus improvements across the city and our strong partnership working, our aim is to increase passenger numbers by 18% by 2015.”

A further selection of buses used specifically on the services, can now be viewed on the new Focus Flickr site by clicking here

Saturday 29 November 2014


FirstGroup are to introduce revolutionary virtual electric buses to Glasgow

- First Glasgow to invest £7.4m in 47 state-of-the-art green vehicles
- Four virtual electric buses to enter service in Scotland for first time
- Scottish Government Green Bus Fund provides support worth £1.3m

 ADL Virtual Electric above & below
First Glasgow, Scotland's biggest bus company, confirmed that it will invest around £7.4m in 47 state-of-the-art green vehicles, with additional funding worth £1.3m for the vehicles secured from the Scottish Government's Green Bus Fund.

The order includes a £2m investment in four 'virtual electric' vehicles that run emission-free 70% of the time, and 30% on hybrid power.

The virtual electric vehicles will operate emission-free in crowded, inner-city environments and use hybrid technology to recharge while in less densely populated areas, thereby reducing significantly kerbside emissions.

Falkirk-based manufacturer Alexander Dennis has won the contract to build the virtual electric vehicles, which will come fitted with free wifi and leather seats as standard, and are expected to be introduced into First Glasgow's fleet in 2015.

First Glasgow will also order a further 43 'green' vehicles worth almost £7m. These are in addition to the 40 StreetLite Micro Hybrid vehicles, one of the world's most fuel efficient buses, which started carrying customers across First's operations in Greater Glasgow and Lanarkshire during the Commonwealth Games.

First Glasgow's investment in these brand new buses will bring spending on new vehicles in just two years above the £37m mark to a total of 226 new buses - all fitted with free wifi, leather seats and extra room for buggies and wheelchairs.

Fiona Kerr, First Glasgow's managing director, commented: 'The order of these brand new 'green' buses supports our determination to improve services and attract more people onto our buses.

'We are hugely excited at the prospect of welcoming Scotland's first virtual electric buses into our fleet next year.

'This is very welcome news for customers travelling with First Glasgow. I'm very confident they'll enjoy the benefits of smoother, greener journeys.'

She continued: 'Our StreetLite Micro Hybrid vehicles have been well received by customers since their arrival ahead of the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games, and we look forward to introducing a further 43 fuel efficient buses into our fleet.'

Ms Kerr also recognised the contribution from the Scottish Government's Green Bus Fund. She added: 'The Scottish Green Bus Fund is a fantastic initiative and has helped First Glasgow and other operators invest in greener, more fuel efficient vehicles.'

Announcing the Green Bus Fund Awards today (22 October) Transport Minister Keith Brown said:
'This fund is helping our bus industry invest in the latest emission reducing technology and is another clear indication of our support and commitment to the bus industry in Scotland.

'The Scottish Government is committed to public transport and to our ambitious climate change target of reducing carbon emissions by 42 per cent by 2020.'

The Minister also announced support worth £196,000 to First Scotland East, First Glasgow's sister company. First Scotland East trading as First Bluebird will invest a total of £1,132,645 in five Enviro 400H Flywheel hybrid buses.

Glasgow's pioneering virtual electric buses will be charged at each end of the route using wireless inductive charging.

First Glasgow's virtual electric vehicles are part of the European Union ZeUS project which demonstrates low carbon bus solutions in 8 locations across Europe. Project partners include ADL, SPT, SSE and Strathclyde University.


More bus gates planned for Glasgow city centre

Glasgow City Council has identified two new locations for controversial bus gates.
Traffic would be limited on Renfield Street and Oswald Street.
A bus gate at Nelson Mandela Place was introduced in June, earning the council at least £80,000 in two months in fines for motorists who drove through it.
The report estimates that if the measures were introduced, city-centre traffic would fall by 9% but general traffic journey times would increase.
The council's transport strategy, which has not yet been approved, aims to identify problems and solutions for travel in the city centre.
Poor air quality was cited as a consistent issue, while poor conditions for cycling, quality of public transport provision and traffic demand issues were also mentioned.
The 10-year plan for city centre transport includes the proposal for new bus gates, tested using transport modelling, which could be in place in the next two years.
Traffic would be limited on the main north/south bus routes through Renfield Street and Oswald Street in the city centre.
Traffic levels Bus gates ban private vehicles from travelling through certain areas at particular times of the day. They improve journey times for buses and taxis and can reduce the number of cars and improve the local environment.
The report also suggested six locations to be designated as "avenues", described by the report as "a network of high quality streets that support a range of functions and access by a variety of modes of transport".
The chosen areas are Sauchiehall Street, Candleriggs, George Street (via George Square), West Campbell Street and West Nile Street, due to their "existing character, levels of traffic, ability to connect across the city centre and links they provide to key locations in the city centre".
The introduction of avenues may include the removal of car parking spaces "to allow the widening of footways and introduction of cycle facilities", according to the report.
Proposed cycle routes include Candleriggs, George Street (via the north side of George Square), Miller Street, Sauchiehall Street, West Campbell Street and West Nile Street.
'Circuitous' travel Other key suggestions in the report include the implementation of a series of cycle routes through the city centre, the investigation of a 20mph zone in the city centre, and consideration of ways to introduce a low emissions zone.
The strategy aims to "discourage trips through the heart of the city centre by making through-routes more circuitous and less appealing to drivers."
Councillor Alistair Watson, executive member for sustainability and transport, said: "The city centre transport strategy is about getting more people into the city by improving transport links, making it easier for them to reach the city's main shopping areas and for businesses to attract customers.
"It will reduce the number of car journeys across the city centre, not necessarily reduce the number of car journeys into the city.
"By reducing congestion and making it easier to travel into the city centre, the strategy will help boost Glasgow's economy and the continued growth of the retail sector, as well as reduce pollution."
Air quality A spokesperson for First Glasgow, the city's biggest bus operator, said: "We very much welcome the city council's approach to prioritising public transport in the city centre.
"Measures like bus gates not only reduce congestion and improve air quality but also help support bus operators in providing a smoother, quicker and stress-free means for our passengers to get from A to B.
"First Glasgow is also committed to playing its part to improve air quality across the city and is investing around £7.4m in 47 state-of-the-art green vehicles, supported by the Scottish government's Green Bus Fund.
"We will also introduce virtual electric buses to our routes for the first time next year that will operate emission-free in crowded, inner-city environments and use hybrid technology to recharge while in less densely populated areas, significantly reducing kerbside emissions."


Blackpool trams have been using Brush single deck 631 for driver training recently, and Ken Jones managed to see it as it returned to Starr Gate.

Friday 28 November 2014


Leicester's Haymarket bus station scheme sees shops demolished


Haymarket bus station  

The site of the shops is in the foreground of this artists' impression of the new bus station
Work has begun on demolishing a row of shops as part of a £13.5m bus station redevelopment.
The small block of vacant buildings on the corner of Charles Street and Belgrave Gate will be removed to allow an expansion of the station site.
Most of the work will take place overnight this week, with the nearby Haymarket car park being closed.
Construction of the new bus station is due to begin in the new year, with an opening date of December 2015.
City Mayor Peter Soulsby said: "The new Haymarket bus station will transform this part of the city centre, and the demolition of this rather rundown block of buildings will be the first clear sign of that."

Northampton bus bay signs auction raises £500 for Rotary Club



The bus station is expected to be demolished by explosion in March
Vehicle bay signs and other notices from the former Northampton bus station raised £500 for charity at auction.
Sale proceeds went to Northampton Becket Rotary Club who support a youth cancer charity and groups funding young people with learning difficulties.
The signs went under the hammer at JP Humbert Auctioneers at Towcester on Wednesday evening.
The bus station, built nearly 40 years ago, is expected to be demolished by explosion in March next year.

Main sign 

The main sign seen by travellers as they entered the bus station 

Bus bays  

The bay signs were taken down and preserved for auction

Inside bus station  

The bus bay signs as they were in the now derelict bus station


During the year Roger Kaye has been out and about capturing a selection of trains around the United Kingdom. Over the coming weeks these will be added to the albums on the new Flickr site. The first of these, freight trains can now be viewed by clicking here  

Thursday 27 November 2014

Stagecoach & Virgin Win East Coast Franchise

Stagecoach Group ("Stagecoach") has welcomed today's (27 November 2014) announcement by the Department for Transport ("DfT") of its intention to award the new InterCity East Coast ("ICEC") rail franchise to Stagecoach's venture with Virgin, Inter City Railways Limited ("ICR"). 

According to their press release "Passengers can look forward to new services, quicker and more frequent journeys whilst taxpayers will get a bigger return than they receive under the current temporary East Coast arrangements.

ICR will transform the customer experience for around 20 million journeys a year on one of the UK's major inter-city rail routes, blending the experience, culture and service-focus of both Stagecoach and Virgin.  Stagecoach holds 90% of the share capital of ICR and Virgin holds the remaining 10%. 

The new franchise will start in March 2015 and is planned to run until 31 March 2023, with the option for a one-year extension at the DfT's discretion. It includes a commitment to deliver £2.3bn* in real terms in premium payments to the Government between 2015 and 2023, providing a higher return to the taxpayer than under the current arrangements.

The franchise is set to see more than £140m invested in delivering an improved service and a more personalised travel experience for passengers. Trains will operate under the 'Virgin Trains East Coast' brand. 

Highlights for customers, stakeholders and staff

·     Faster journey times - regular services to Leeds in two hours and Edinburgh in four hours
·     New trains - 65 new 'Super Express' trains from 2018 with an early multi-million-pound train refresh programme for existing fleet
·     Better connections - extra and new direct services to London from key locations in Scotland and England and more weekend services
·     More services - a 50% increase in capacity by 2020 with total fleet capacity increased by 12,200 seats
·     Better value fares - 10% cut in Standard Anytime fares on long-distance journeys to and from London and Stevenage
·     Investment in people - a fresh approach to recruitment, including new apprenticeships and the introduction of a new National Academy for Rail Professional Education with bases in York, Derby and London.  Major investment in staff development and training, a new innovation council and giving employees ways to own a share of the business through employee share incentive arrangements
·     New technology - new website, smartphone apps, interactive touchscreen information points at major stations, portable technology for staff, free WiFi on trains and stations. 
·     Personalised travel - journeys built around individual customers, with at-seat food ordering, simpler ticket purchase and reservations, new Nectar loyalty programme
·     Improved customer rights and support- new Passengers' Charter with easier and faster compensation for customers through automated delay repay service; commitment to improved satisfaction scores with new independent passenger surveys, benchmarks and published results to drive satisfaction with stations, trains and customer service; and a dedicated customer and communities improvement fund
·     Station enhancements - planned investment of over £25m in stations and car parks with new open plan customer zones introduced for combined ticket purchase and information, more car parking spaces, extra cycle facilities and improved security
·     Improved accessibility - investment in disability improvements, including induction loop and tactile station maps
·     Community engagement - apprenticeships for young people, graduate and ex-offenders programmes, dedicated communities fund, support for small businesses and regeneration in disadvantaged areas.

Ownership of and accounting for investment in Inter City Railways Limited

Stagecoach holds 90% of the share capital of ICR and Virgin holds the remaining 10%. 
Stagecoach will continue to account for ICR as a subsidiary in its consolidated financial statements and Virgin's interest in ICR will be presented as a minority interest in those consolidated financial statements.

As part of the franchise award, ICR is expected to purchase the entire share capital of East Coast Main Line Company Limited ("East Coast") from Directly Operated Railways Limited (a company owned by the UK Government) for a consideration of around £11m, to be settled in cash. East Coast is the current train operating company for the East Coast franchise.  The purchase is expected to complete around March 2015." 

Wednesday 26 November 2014


Trains on the London Overground network have had additional carriages fitted. Longer London Overground trains hit the rails for the first time today as part of an upgrade to create 25 per cent more capacity on the capital’s orbital line. Adding an extra car to create the five-carriage trains makes space for 170 more commuters on each service and puts the London Overground on track for carrying 135m passengers a year - a fourfold increase since Transport for London took it over in 2008. 

Extended trains will be introduced on the busiest stretch from Highbury & Islington down to West Croydon, Crystal palace and Clapham Junction. Then the roll-out will extend to Richmond and Clapham Junction to Stratford lines with the upgrade completed by the end of 2015. 

Platforms have been lengthened and new sidings built under the £320m upgrade. The success of London Overground has helped the mayor make the case for further “devolution” of commuter rail services within London. Next spring TfL will run three quarters of services out of Liverpool Street station when it takes control of West Anglia and Liverpool Street to Shenfield trains. 

Two new stations on the London Overground are also planned at Old Oak Common and Barking Riverside. Mike Brown, TfL managing director of rail, told the Standard: “Passengers will notice a huge difference with the longer trains. The number we have been carrying has gone up fourfold since we took over in 2008. If you take West London line in the morning peak it’s jam packed and this will help carry more people though the growth will still be huge. This is a really significant contribution to helping those millions of people who use the Overground every year.” 

Mr Brown said he was upbeat about adding rail capacity as London’s population boomed. He said: “I’m optimistic we’ll hear some positive comments about Crossrail 2 in the Autumn Statement which is a critical project to relieve congestion at London Waterloo, Victoria and Clapham junction mainline stations. “I’m also convinced that when we as the Overground take over responsibility for West Anglia routes from May next year and when Crossrail opens people will see the great benefit of the model we operate compared to other (train companies’) franchising models when we focus on delivery, performance and having staff at stations. “I want to keep up the pressure of more devolution to the mayor.” In September and October London Overground achieved 95.7 percent punctuality compared to a national average of 90.1 percent.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

First Bus Appeals Against Disability Ruling

First Bus is appealing against a court ruling, won by a disabled man from West Yorkshire, that the firm's wheelchair policy is discriminatory.

Doug Paulley, 36, from Wetherby, was denied access to a First bus to Leeds when a woman with a pushchair refused to move.
He won his claim the company had breached the Equality Act in a hearing at Leeds County Court in September.
First said its drivers needed to know "what they are legally required to do".
The case is expected to last three days at the Court of Appeal.

Mr Paulley attempted to board the bus to visit his parents in Leeds in February 2012.
But he was told to wait for another when the woman with the pushchair refused to move because her baby was asleep.

A judge at Leeds County Court said First's policy of "requesting but not requiring" non-disabled travellers, including those with babies and pushchairs, to vacate the space if it is needed by a wheelchair user was in breach of the Equality Act 2010.
Mr Paulley was awarded £5,500 damages.
At the Appeal Court in London, Martin Chamberlain QC for First Group said it was an example of a long-running problem on public transport that had "produced conflicting court decisions".
He said bus operators were now seeking legal clarity.
Mr Paulley said: "Public transport should be for everybody, including parents with pushchairs, but ultimately it is a wheelchair space.

"Without that space, wheelchair users are unable to travel on the bus."


We stay down in the West Country for the next set of images on the Flickr site.
For several years now all military manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain cease and the guns fall silent, as a 'red' invasion occurs. Not of the sort you might think of, but by a fleet of red London buses both current and now in private hands. One of those hands is the current Commissioner of Transport for London, Sir Peter Hendy. And indeed he has a hand firmly on the organisation, whereby this band of buses provide enthusiasts and others alike, with a unique view of the landscape, as they trundle their way across the military roads.
For one day only (this year it was Bank Holiday Monday the 25th August), a small network of services ran the Imberbus route 23A out from Warminster to the unlikely destinations of Imber, The Bustard and Brazen Bottom. Despite the appalling weather conditions a mixed bag of ten original Routemaster variants (RM, RMC, RCL, RML), were joined this year by three of the 'New' Routemasters (the New Bus for London), and in doing so raised a considerable amount of money for charity. 

You can almost hear Sir Peter Hendy saying "See, one day all this is mine"

Preserved RMLs 2344, 2665 and RCL 2226 line up in preparation for their respective runsa cross the plain

Likewise 'New' Routemasters LT 98, 150 and 246 await their turns to transport the many passengers that attended the event

The images above have been kindly provided courtesy of Daniel Sullivan and John Parkin. A further selection from them is now on the new Focus Flickr site, and can be viewed by clicking here

Monday 24 November 2014


London Underground breaks Olympic record for passenger numbers
Transport for London (TfL) revealed that Friday 14th November 2014 was the busiest day on the Tube in its history.
The London Underground (LU) network carried well over four and a half million passengers (4.576m). This exceeds the total reached on Tuesday 7th August 2012 during the London 2012 Games when 4.544m journeys were made.  It sums up a busy week on the Tube with overall journeys up by 7.1 per cent on last year - making it the second busiest week ever since the Games.
Phil Hufton, LU’s Chief Operating Officer, said: "We are now carrying more passengers than ever before in our history and this clearly illustrates why it is crucial that we invest in the modernisation of the Tube network.  
“Our customers have already benefited from the upgrades of the Jubilee and Victoria lines and work is well underway to modernise the Northern, Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines. But we need to continue driving forward our improvements to ensure that we have a Tube network that is fit for the future.
"From next year we will have more visible staff on our stations helping customers to buy the right ticket, plan their journeys and help them feel safe and secure while travelling around the network and I would like to thank all our staff for their continued hard work to help keep London moving each day."
London's population is set to grow from 8.4m today to around 10m by 2030 that’s an extra Tube train full of  people every three days – and it is therefore essential that there is continued investment in increasing services and transport infrastructure to meet this increasing demand. 

To support this, LU is carrying out a huge programme of modernisation, with major stations, trains, track and signalling being updated or replaced to provide more capacity for a growing city.  

By the end of 2016, 191 new spacious and air-conditioned trains will have been introduced on the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines for a more comfortable journey.

The line upgrades are at the core of LU’s investment programme, which will deliver more than 30 per cent increase in capacity.  The upgrade programme is being delivered over the coming years, with work to modernise the Northern line nearly complete, and the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines well underway.
Redevelopment work to increase capacity at key stations and make them step-free is underway at a number of stations including Victoria, Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street.  More than half of LU’s 270 stations have now been modernised or refurbished to make them brighter and easier to use, with improvements such as tactile strips, better CCTV and help points, electronic information displays in ticket halls and on platforms and improved seating and lighting.
Making journeys on LU has become easier over the years. The Oyster card system provides an easy way for people to pay for their journeys and contactless bank cards are now accepted for travel on the LU network. More than 12 million journeys have now been made using contactless payment cards since the launch of the new convenient way to pay on 16 September.
During next year, LU will be modernising the way customers are served at stations, with staff brought out from underused ticket offices and back offices to where they can assist customers most effectively – in ticket halls, on gate lines and on platforms. There will be more staff visible and available to help customers buy the right ticket or use their contactless payment card, plan their journeys and keep them safe and secure, and all stations will be staffed at all times.  Later this year, every member of station staff will have access to a mobile device which will provide them with access to travel information with which to help customers.

From 12th September next year, LU will introduce all night 24-hour services on Friday and Saturday nights on the Jubilee, Victoria and most of the Piccadilly, Central and Northern lines. This will cut journey times, support the creation of some 2000 new jobs and boost London’s economy by £360 million.

Both images courtesy of Haydn Davies

Sunday 23 November 2014

Borders to Edinburgh railway: Track Laying Reaches Scottish Borders

Track laying along the 30-mile route of the Borders to Edinburgh railway has crossed into the Scottish Borders.

It marks the completion of the rail installation process in Midlothian.
Track is now in place over a number of landmark structures including the Lothianbridge Viaduct near Newtongrange and the new Hardengreen Bridge.
Network Rail project director Hugh Wark said that reaching the Scottish Borders was a "significant day". Trains are due to return to the route next September.
Now that the rail is in place throughout Midlothian, it is being used to transport engineering vehicles.
The first vehicles to use the railway are specialist trains involved in completing the track laying process, installing ballast and undertaking "tamping" - packing the ballast under the rail and sleepers.
The rail installation machine will now continue its journey south through the Scottish Borders and is scheduled to reach Tweedbank towards the end of December.
Mr Wark said: "This is a significant day, both for the Scottish Borders, which is seeing the rails extending into its boundaries for the first time in 45 years, and for Midlothian, with rail installation now completed through the area.
"Significantly, we've also reached the highest point of the route at Falahill Summit."
Scottish Borders Council leader David Parker said the arrival of the track-laying vehicles brought the return of rail services to the region one step closer.
"Seeing the rails enter the Scottish Borders brings home the reality that trains will be running along the railway next September," he said.

"The Scottish Borders is just months away from reaping the benefits of this investment that will encourage more visitors to our many attractions as well as boost the economic health of our towns and villages."

Saturday 22 November 2014


Arriva are running a brand-new bus tour on behalf of Medway Council exploring the countryside around Rochester that author Charles Dickens lived in and loved.

The Dickens Country Experience tour is running twice a day at weekends until 21st December, except that there will only be one tour on 6th and 7th December when the Christmas Dickensian Festival takes place.
Actors will bring the tour to life, travelling on the bus and portraying Charles Dickens and lesser-known local author Elijah Puddlephat, making for an amusing, informative and enjoyable ride.
Tickets for the tour must be booked in advance and cost £10 (£7.50 for children and concessions). They can be bought online Medway Council's website or purchased from the Visitor Centre in Rochester High Street.
Before the bus departs, the tour starts with a wine and mince pie reception inside the Guildhall Museum, during which time a short video will be played telling of Dickens' association with Rochester
The bus will then pick up outside the Guildhall Museum and visit a number of places of interest around Cobham, Higham and Cooling that were well-known by Charles Dickens and featured in his novels.
The eye-catching tour bus is decorated in gold and purple with seasonal graphics and will be driven by our regular Explore Medway open-top bus driver, Colin.
For more details of what you will experience on the tour please visit the Medway Council website or call 01634 33814

- See more at:

Friday 21 November 2014



On Friday 14th November the long-established Cambridgeshire company Whippet Coaches Ltd was sold to Tower Transit an arm of the Australian-based Transit Systems operation.
Speaking to The Hunts Post, Mr Lee, whose grandfather Henry set up the business, said the decision to sell had been a tough. “It’s been going for 95 years and we would have liked to have made it to the 100th year. But the family is getting older and we decided we would not go to a fourth generation so we thought this would be the best move.
“It was the right time to make a change and let someone else have a go and make the business a success.
“At the moment the business is in a good position and we would like it to remain that way.”

Whippet Coaches Ltd was originally based in Graveley, where Henry lived after moving from London. It moved to Hilton, then Fenstanton before shifting to its current headquarters in Swavesey five years ago.
It has a fleet of about 50 buses and employs about 100 people. No jobs were threatened by the sale, said Mr Lee, who preferred not to reveal how much the company had been sold for.
He added: “We would like to thank everyone who supported us over the years and all the staff. We hope the new business has a successful future.”


Western Greyhound – six years ago one of the country’s leading and multi award-winning independent operators – has been formally put up for sale.
Staff and unions have been given 100 days’ notice that if a buyer for the business is not found, then it will be closed.
A proposed sale of the business around 18 months ago to French group RATP was not progressed. 

It is understood that the high amount of fleet replacement to meet the January 2015 deadline for full DDA compliance by buses under 7.5-tonnes was the stumbling block. Western Greyhound runs 21 Mercedes-Benz Varios. 
One of the largest operators in the South West, it runs a mixed fleet of 75 buses, from its wholly-owned main depot and modern workshops at Summercourt near Newquay and outstations at Wadebridge and Liskeard.
The problems were exacerbated by a major fire, identified as arson, in May 2013 that destroyed almost half the fleet. A second arson attack at an outstation in January, which destroyed three buses, led to a re-evaluation of parking arrangements due to insurance issues. Although three men have been arrested in connection with the arson attacks, no charges have been brought.




The UK's first bus powered entirely by human and food waste has gone into service between Bristol and Bath.
The 40-seat "Bio-Bus" runs on biomethane gas generated through the treatment of sewage and food waste.
The eco-friendly vehicle can travel up to 300km (186 miles) on one tank of gas, which takes the annual waste of about five people to produce.
It is run by tour operator Bath Bus Company and will shuttle people between Bristol Airport and Bath city centre.
The biomethane gas is generated at Bristol sewage treatment works in Avonmouth, which is run by GENeco, a subsidiary of Wessex Water.
GENeco general manager Mohammed Saddiq said: "Gas-powered vehicles have an important role to play in improving air quality in UK cities but the Bio-Bus goes further than that and is actually powered by people living in the local area, including quite possibly those on the bus itself."
Green capital The service from the airport to Bath carries about 10,000 passengers each month.
Engineering Director Collin Field said: "With so much attention being directed towards improving air quality generally, the public reaction to the appearance of this bus on a service between a world heritage city and an airport will further focus on the potential for this particular fuel."
He said the bus was being launched at a very "appropriate" time, as Bristol is to become the European Green Capital next year.

Bristol sewage treatment works processes around 75 million cubic metres of sewage waste and 35,000 tonnes of food waste each year.
A total of 17 million cubic metres of biomethane, enough to power 8,300 homes, is generated annually at the plant through a process known as anaerobic digestion.


Talking of the West Country, Roger Kaye took a trip down to the region. In doing so on the 12th October, he took time out to record a selection of the buses and coaches that were in attendance at the now annual Warminster Rally. His efforts can now be viewed by clicking here 

Thursday 20 November 2014


Derby Bombardier wins £145m Gatwick train order

A Derby trainmaker has won a £145m contract to build more than 100 rail cars for the Gatwick Express line.
The contract with Govia Thameslink Railway would safeguard jobs at the Bombardier plant in Derby, a Bombardier spokesman said.
The new trains will replace 1980s-built rolling stock that has been operating on the line since 2008.
Rail Minister Claire Perry said the trains would be a boost for both passengers and the economy.
"They will transform journeys on the Gatwick Express and Thameslink routes and safeguard jobs at Bombardier's Derby factory," Mrs Perry said.
The Electrostar trains will have "easier access for passengers with luggage, improved storage space, two by two seating and WiFi," a Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) spokesman said.
A Bombardier spokesman said the order would "safeguard" jobs at the plant but no additional posts would be created as a result of the contract.
Bombardier won a £1bn contract in February to provide 65 trains for the London Crossrail project, which is set to open in 2018.


In stark contrast, Ken Jones has been out and about again visiting some of the 'smallest' train operations in the United Kingdom. A couple of these unusual 'private' operations can now be viewed by clicking here 

Wednesday 19 November 2014


New scheme will help voluntary organisations provide vital services 

  • New fund means organisations which already provide not-for-profit service to the local community can bid for a mini-bus
  • Smaller operators and those in rural areas will be favoured in the scheme
  • Each bidder can apply for one vehicle to be used for voluntary services

Charities in rural areas are to receive hundreds of new minibuses as part of a £25 million deal announced today by the Government.
The scheme will support voluntary organisations providing vital services for people in country communities with limited transport options.
The new fund means organisations that already provide a not-for-profit service to the local community can bid for a minibus. 

Smaller operators and those who help out in rural areas will be favoured in the scheme.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin, MP for the Derbyshire Dales, who announced the scheme said: ‘As a rural MP I know how important community bus providers are and how much they matter. These groups help keep rural communities alive and independent.
‘We want to do all we can to support local voluntary operators who help out in these areas. This large amount of money is to help those who already do so much to support their community.’
Community Transport Association chief executive Bill Freeman said: ‘This is good news for community transport. 

'Our own research shows that many organisations, particularly smaller ones serving their immediate neighbourhoods, struggle to put aside money to replace vehicles.’
‘This will come as welcome news to them, and will enable them to continue to improve the lives of many vulnerable and isolated people by offering them accessible and affordable transport.’

Each bidder can apply for one vehicle and will need to undertake that the vehicle will be used only for voluntary services and will not be used to compete for bus service contracts.

.....and in complete contrast.......


The latest batch of Gold standard vehicles now in service in Chesterfield have the fleet numbers 15190-15195. At least eight years ago a quite different set of buses sported these numbers. Using the fleet number 15190 as an example here we illustrate the 'new' and the 'old' in the shape of a brand new Chesterfield Scania and one of the Manchester Dennis Dragons imported from Stagecoach Kenya during 1998 and 1999.

Tuesday 18 November 2014


Twelve million “contactless” journeys have been made on bus and Tube since paying by bank card was extended to the Underground two months ago. 


  Eight per cent of all pay as you go journeys on public transport are made by tapping in and out with a bank or credit cards. Tube and rail accounts for 5.5m contactless journeys, with hotspots for useage at Oxford Circus, King’s Cross and London Bridge. 



About three per cent of all London Underground journeys are contactless, or three people in every full Tube carriage on contactless rather than Oyster which the mayor says it is designed to replace in the long-term. Contactless was introduced on buses in December 2002 and on this mode of travel it has been used for 6.5m journeys. “Card clash” - when the unintended card is debited when swiped at the barrier - has struck on average 1,564 times a day. Contactless has been heavily promoted to Tube users by Transport for London and credit card companies since its introduction on 12 September. 

TfL director of customer experience Shashi Verma said : “It is fantastic to see over 12 million contactless journeys across London within just two months. Using contactless payments to travel can save customers time and money; they don’t need to stop to top-up an Oyster card, or buy a ticket and can benefit from daily and Monday to Sunday capping.” Contactless is being promoted to passengers as a convenient alternative to Oyster as there is no need to top-up with credit. But transport chiefs have been accused of prioritising contactless passengers with a weekly cap on fares which is not available on Oyster.  

TfL said does not yet have sufficient data to work out who is using contactless payment, that is the proportion of people using contactless who are new customers, and what proportion are instead people switching from other forms of payment. They suggested that when there was a quarter-year of data they would be able to do some analysis, expected next month. International visitors to London might encounter problems with their contactless bank and credit cards and the advice to them is to pick an Oyster card.

Monday 17 November 2014


On Saturday 14th November 2014, East Midlands Trains provided a shortened formation, comprising 43054/44041/42111/42327/40730/41084/41057/43045 for a 125 Group charter from Derby to Ruddington Fields, where 43045 was swapped for 41001, working it's first passenger carrying train in 38 years. 43054 is seen at Ruddington Fields, having arrived with 1Z25, 1025 Derby to Ruddington Fields charter.

43045, sporting 'The Screaming Valenta' headboard is removed from the charter at Ruddington Fields. Alongside is 41001 waiting to be attached to the train.

41001 takes power as it reverses onto the stock in readiness for working it's first passenger carrying train in 38 years, 1Z41, 1320 Ruddington Fields to Loughborough High Level.
Report and images courtesy of Paul Beardsley 


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