Saturday, 31 January 2015


London bus strike: workers vote to stage three days of strikes in dispute over pay 


London bus workers are set to stage three days of strikes next month in a dispute over pay, unions have said. Workers will stage a planned walkout on February 5, February 13 and February 16, the Unite union said. They are calling for equal pay across the capital's 18 bus operators. Drivers' pay can differ by as much as £3 per hour, from £9.30 to £12.34, a union spokesman said. 
The strikes follow a walkout over the same issue earlier this month, which caused travel chaos for millions of commuters. Wayne King, Unite regional officer, said strike action was a "last resort". He said: “We have been working tirelessly in our efforts to bring the employers to the table to discuss a solution to this dispute. "We firmly believe that there is a simple solution to be had but sadly the refusal by the operators to engage in collective talks is risking the inevitable disruption that strike action will bring to passengers. "The travelling public understand that further strike action is the last resort and can be avoided if the operators agree to talk collectively about the pay chaos on London’s buses. " 
He continued: "Bus passengers pay one fare, so why don’t bus drivers get paid the same rate for doing the same job? "We urge London’s bus operators to see sense and collectively engage in talks to give London’s bus workers a fair deal." 

But Mike Weston, Transport for London's director of buses, said it made "no sense" to pay drivers the same rates as they all have "different levels of experience". He said increasing wages for some drivers would cost about £100million a year, resulting in cuts to services or an increase in fares. In a statement, he said: “I am very sorry that the leadership of Unite are threatening to further disrupt the journeys of bus passengers, especially given that only 16 per cent of the bus drivers voted for strike action. “As the bus companies who employ the drivers have said, it makes no sense to pay all drivers precisely the same amount.  As in all professions, bus drivers have different levels of experience and it is only right that this can be reflected in pay. "A ‘levelling up’ of pay to the highest rates would cost around £100 million a year and would result in a cut to bus services, an increase in fares, or both." He continued: London has one of the best and most extensive bus networks anywhere in the world. It would be much better if the leadership of Unite actually worked with the bus companies to ensure that it remains that way rather than disrupting bus passengers.”

Friday, 30 January 2015


Rail travellers at their unhappiest for five years: Fewer than one in three passengers on worse performing lines are satisfied with the service


  • Fewer than one in three commuters on Britain's railways are satisfied 
  • Dissatisfaction is soaring as three quarters are unhappy, study found
  • Biggest decline in satisfaction was with punctuality and reliability 
  • Rail chiefs apologised and admitted they ‘must do better’

Passenger satisfaction with the railways is at its lowest for five years, a report said yesterday.
Fewer than one in three commuters on Britain’s worst performing railways are satisfied with their expensive, delayed and overcrowded services, it said.
The number is ‘significantly down’ compared with a year ago – while dissatisfaction is soaring as three-quarters (77 per cent) are unhappy, it concluded.
And for millions of commuters the published timetable is simply ‘a work of fiction’ because so many trains run late.

Passengers are being ‘let down’ by rail bosses – many cashing in big bonuses - against a background of soaring fares, poor punctuality and overrunning engineering works, it said.
Nationally the rail watchdog’s report noted: ‘The biggest decline in satisfaction was with punctuality and reliability.’
Passenger Focus said the overall satisfaction figure of 81per cent – with one in five dissatisfied - was the lowest performance for more than 5 years. The last time it was that low was in Spring 2009. Before that, the lowest figure was 79 per cent in 2007.
The report said the biggest impact on overall satisfaction was punctuality (38 per cent), followed by cleanliness inside the train (18 per cent), and speed of journey ( 8 per cent).
The biggest impact on dissatisfaction came from how train companies deal with delays , with more than half (54 per cent) citing this. After than comes punctuality and reliability (14 per cent), and overcrowding (7 per cent).
Rail chiefs apologised and admitted they ‘must do better.’
Worst value for money is South West Trains’s suburban services – dubbed by one leading MP as the ‘sardine line’ - and on Abellio Greater Anglia’s mainline service where just 29 per cent of people said they were satisfied.
The Stansted Express won just 32 per cent satisfaction, as did the Gatwick Express and South West Trains’ service from Portsmouth to Waterloo.
Tucked just behind them with just 33 per cent ‘value for money’ satisfaction rating is South Eastern’s Metro service, followed by its high speed service (34per cent) and Govia Thameslink’s Great Northern route, (35 per cent).
Worst route for punctuality is Govia’s Thameslink South route with only just over half (56 per cent) satisfied with performance.
Passengers feeling most overcrowded with standing room only (48 per cent) are on Abellio Greater Anglia’s Metro service (43 per cent). Govia’s Thameslink South service manages just 48 per cent. But South West Trains commuter routes to London (54 per cent) and mainline services (59mper cent) are also among the worst for passengers feeling the squeeze, as is London Overground from Richmond to Clapham Junction and Stratford (51 per cent).

Midlanders feel the crush on London Midland’s commuter route to the capital (58 per cent) and on Cross Country services from Birmingham to Manchester and the South Coast (both 59 per cent).
The damning evidence was published in a 60-page report by official consumer watchdog Passenger Focus following its survey of 27,000 passengers
Overall, one in five travellers say their train journey leaves something to be desired, with just 81per cent expressing satisfaction with their journey when questioned last autumn – a drop of 2percentage on the previous autumn. And study did not include the Christmas period, when trains into London King’s Cross were seriously disrupted.
Lowest scoring train operators overall were Govia Thameslink and Southern (both with 77per cent) and Southeastern (74per cent). Southeastern’s overall satisfaction score fell 11percentage points compared to a year ago, while Cross Country’s dropped 4 percentage points.
By contrast, the highest-scoring operators were Heathrow Express and Grand Central, (both 94per cent) and Chiltern (93per cent).
Anthony Smith, chief executive of Passenger Focus, said: “Rail passengers’ satisfaction is driven by getting trains on time. Many are being let down - fare increases, billions in Government investment and promises of improvement don’t seem to be delivering change on the ground.
He said; ‘Passengers do not care who is to blame for things going wrong and for some of them the timetable is a work of fiction. If it really is the case that better day-to-day performance can’t be achieved, then an honest, open debate is now needed so that passengers might be able to trust the promises made by the industry again.’
el Roberts, director general of the Rail Delivery Group, representing rail operators and Network Rail, said: ‘These results show how passenger satisfaction has been dipping after years of steady improvement and they reinforce our determination to do better.
‘The timetable is our promise to passengers, and too often we aren’t making good on this commitment.’

Fares on London train routes 'have more than trebled since railways were sold off'

Rail fares on some of the busiest routes serving London have more than trebled since the railways were sold off 20 years ago, new research reveals today. 
A peak walk-on return ticket from London to Bristol (First Great Western) cost £57 in 1995 compared with £197 today - an increase of 246 per cent. A similar ticket between the capital and Manchester (Virgin Trains) has risen 243 per cent - £96 to £329. From London to Liverpool (London Midland) the increase is 232 per cent - £93 to £309. 
The TSSA transport union, which commissioned the independent research by rail expert Barry Doe, published a top 10 list of increases. It called on Labour to "give passengers a break" by introducing a one year fares freeze if it wins the General Election. Rail fares and the running of the national network - heightened by the chaos of the over-running Christmas shutdown and the continuing problems at London Bridge - is set to form a key topic of the election amid calls for renationalisation. 
It also put the pressure on Ed Miliband to come up with a clear commitment on the future of the railways and fares in particular. Manuel Cortes, TSSA general secretary, said: "This is nothing short of a list of shame. The whole fares structure has proved a license to print money for those at the top." He said passengers had "paid a terrible price as a result of the political folly of privatisation. "We want to end this annual persecution of passengers which started after privatisation. We now want Mr Miliband to treat passengers fairly, not just as another source of revenue," said Mr Cortes. 
A spokesman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents Network Rail and train operators, said: “The TSSA’s figures are misleading in the extreme because they deliberately focus only on the most expensive fares. “On average, the cost of rail travel has increased by six per cent in real terms over the last 15 years. Passenger numbers have almost doubled over the same period, contributing to a fivefold increase in money going back to government to reinvest in a better railway.”


Top 10 rises between 2nd January 1995 and 2nd January 2015

1 London to Bristol (FGW) £57 to £197 up 246 percent;
2 Manchester (Virgin) £96 to £329 up 243 per cent;
3 Liverpool (London Midland) £93 to £309 up 232 per cent;
4 Cardiff (FGW) £70 to £218 up 216 per cent;
5 Birmingham (Virgin) £55 to £168 up 211 per cent;
6 Glasgow (Virgin) £130 to £361 up 178 per cent;
7 Nottingham (East Midlands) £59 to £160.50p up 172 per cent;
8 Leeds (East Coast)  £96 to £249 up 159 per cent;
9 Newcastle (East Coast) £124 to £308 up 148 per cent;
10 Edinburgh (East Coast) £130 to £313 up 141 per cent.


Martin Arrand spent a couple of hours on the railway bridge just north of Chesterfield Station after the snow had stopped falling. A selection of his images can now be viewed in an album by clicking here

Thursday, 29 January 2015


Visual of busway services calling at the Sale Lane stop in Tyldesley.

Bus operator First has been successful in winning the contract to operate services on a new flagship bus priority route between Leigh, Salford and Manchester – including the region’s first guided busway.
Following a comprehensive procurement process, First has been selected by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to run the high frequency busway services, which will start later this year.
The 14-mile route will link communities in Leigh, Atherton, Tyldesley and Salford to Manchester city centre and through to the universities, Central Manchester Hospital site and businesses along Oxford Road.
It includes a 4.5-mile guided busway currently under construction between Leigh and Ellenbrook. Regular, reliable bus services will continue along new and existing bus lanes on the East Lancashire Road and dedicated bus routes into Manchester city centre – ultimately cutting the overall journey time between Leigh and central Manchester to around 50 minutes.
First has committed to running a premium commercial service – with no direct public subsidy – at their normal network prices. All TfGM concessionary passes and permits will be valid for travel.
The service will be run using brand new, high quality double deck, low carbon emission vehicles that will be replaced every five years.
Passengers will benefit from on-board “next stop” audio and visual announcements and CCTV, alongside free wi-fi, climate control and high quality seating.
Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of the TfGM Committee, said: “This is great news not only for bus passengers – but also for the communities along the route who will have a high quality, reliable and affordable alternative to the car right on their doorstep.
“The process we’ve followed and standards we’ve set mean quality is built into the busway services contract. First has a strong presence across the wider bus network and are well placed to bring this fantastic new corridor into service.
“We will work closely with them and other operators to ensure that the very best bus services are in place for residents and businesses.
“This is a flagship transport scheme and I very much look forward to seeing it coming into service.”

Teresa Broxton, MD for First in Manchester, said: “We’re delighted to have been chosen to run the busway services.
“First has a great track record of delivering high quality, reliable services and we look forward to working in partnership with TfGM and local councils to provide innovative travel solutions for our new and existing customers.”
Lord Peter Smith, Leader of Wigan Council and Chair of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority, said: “This is a landmark moment for the bus priority project and I look forward to people being able to enjoy the benefits this new service will bring.
“It will offer shorter journey times for buses between destinations in both Wigan borough and Salford, and a punctual, reliable bus service directly into Manchester city centre and south Manchester where the universities and hospitals are located.
“It will open up new opportunities for our residents and bring people and businesses into Wigan borough. Investing in our infrastructure is key to unlocking economic growth and developing a comprehensive and sustainable public transport system that benefits all.”
Andy Burnham MP said: “People across the Leigh and Tyldesley areas have had to put up with poor public transport links for far too long. The busway will give people quality services, that are more frequent than trains, at half the price.
“It will give commuters in Leigh a genuine alternative to running a car and open up job opportunities for young people. And, given that anyone with a concessionary permit will be able to travel on the busway for free in the off-peak, I have no doubt that it will bring more shoppers into Leigh town centre and continue the regeneration of our town.”
When fully completed, four services per hour will run from Atherton and four from Leigh, meaning that there will be eight services per hour in each direction between Tyldesley and Oxford Road during the day, six days a week – with a less frequent service on Sundays.
Busway services will be able to run free from congestion so there will be a significant improvement in service reliability and journey time savings. Journey times are expected to improve between 5 and 10 minutes for short distance local journeys and up to around 30 minutes for longer distance journeys into Manchester. 
There will be around 30 pairs of bus stops along the busway route with dedicated terminal stops in Atherton centre, Leigh Bus Station and within the Central Manchester Foundation Trust hospital site. All stops will be fully accessible and many of the stops will be upgraded or new. The guided section will have seven stops in each direction, which will have shelters, CCTV, real time electronic information displays and cycle parking.
The guided busway will also benefit from a new 4.5 metre wide pathway which will run alongside the 4.5mile route for pedestrians, cyclists and horse-riders.
There will also be three free to use park and ride sites to serve the busway providing over 400 spaces in Leigh, on Astley Street in Tyldesley, and on the A580 East Lancashire Road near to the M60/61 junction. All park and ride site locations have been chosen for their convenience for drivers.
Busway services will also link in to the wider transport network, running close to the Metrolink stop at St Peter’s Square and the Salford Crescent, Salford Central and Oxford Road train stations.
The busway is part of a much wider priority package that will significantly improve the quality, punctuality and reliability of bus services on 25 miles of key routes in Greater Manchester and across Manchester city centre.
The bus priority package aims to encourage more people to use bus services that are able to travel more freely through the city centre and also includes improvements for cyclists and pedestrians. 

Wednesday, 28 January 2015

Start of Vivarail D-train Project

The first ex London Underground D78 train to be delivered for conversion into a diesel electric multiple unit has been despatched to Long Marston. Vivarail are buying most of the withdrawn D78 Stock vehicles for conversion in what will be known as D-trains.

 D-stock train when new
Vivarail say that their D-trains are purpose-designed diesel multiple units, ideal for local rail services, where the requirement is for fast acceleration, minimal station dwell times. the trains allow for easy movement through the train for passengers and staff, and capacity combined with comfort.

The D-train uses the bodyshells, bogies and motors from surplus London Underground District Line trains. The bodyshells are made from corrosion-free aluminium, and will be re-engineered to give additional collision protection. The “flexible frame” bogies – which are specifically designed for lower-quality track – are barely 10 years’ old.
The existing electric motors – which are amongst the most reliable on the Underground – will be powered by new underfloor-mounted low-emission diesel engines, equipped with the latest automotive “stop-start” technology. Modern electronics will replace the existing heavy and maintenance-hungry electro-mechanical control equipment. A high power to weight ratio and purpose-designed control characteristics combine to give a high rate of acceleration, making D-trains ideal for routes with frequent station stops.
D-trains can be supplied as 2-, 3- or 4-car units. They will be fitted with all the signalling interface systems needed for operation on Network Rail, and will have all relevant approvals and certification in place.

The result is a train that is cost-effective to procure and operate, and smooth and comfortable to ride in.
The D-trains are designed on a modular basis and will be fitted with new lighting, wi-fi, flooring and intra-unit gangways, and will be fully compliant with the 2020 TSI-PRM standards for persons of reduced mobility. A range of interior modules can be installed to meet customer requirements, including:
  • 2- or 4-doors per side on each car
  • Transverse and/or longitudinal seats
  • Tables
  • Bicycle racks
  • TSI-PRM-compliant toilets

 D-Trains are much more than London’s cast-offs. Instead they offer a new concept in sustainable travel for local rail services, with a first-class engineering pedigree.
  • Early delivery
  • Proven technology
  • Meets all future safety and disability requirements
  • Flexible door and interior layouts to suit market needs
  • Reliable
  • Designed for easy maintenance
  • Low fuel consumption
  • Low emissions
  • Lower capital and operating costs than a new train

Vivarail has identified non electrified routes with speed restrictions and numerous stations where the high power to weight ratio of the D-train and superior acceleration will match the performance of conventional new trains. The D-train will be powered by four 200hp Ford Duratorq engines used normally in Transit vans.
All the bidders for the Northern Rail franchise have been approached by Vivarail as their offers will need to provide more capacity compared to what is currently on offer. It is thought that the D-train would be an ideal replacement for Pacers.

Focus Transport will bring you updates on this project.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015


Over the weekend Saturday/Sunday 24/25th January Transport for London (TfL) gathered together all the New Bus for London sculptures in one place at the Olympic Park. Previously they had been on display for a few months along four separate Sculpture Trails around Westminster, alongside the River Thames, through the Olympic Park and in Croydon.
These had been created as part of the Year of the Bus (YotB) celebrations held throughout 2014 and were taken to the Olympic Park for one last presentation and display before they head off to be auctioned on the 11th February.

John Parkin has been kind enough yet again to supply the Focus Transport website with a selection from the display, plus a couple of other interesting items.

The sculptures were arranged so as to be visible from all sides but also as whole, the wide open spaces and grounds of the Olympic Park an ideal place for such a fine display, along with the sporting venues as a backdrop.

Haydn Davies has also been kind enough to forward a couple of other sculpture images, extras added to the previous sculptures originally on display, as shown below.

NBfLs large and small

Also present was New Bus for London or 'New Routemaster' as some would have it called, in the shape of LT 312, one of two that was recently on loan to Stagecoach in East Scotland and used in service on their 73 route between Dundee and Arbroath. Here it is shown parked up alongside the NBfL sculpture and makes a fine comparison as to the detail of the smaller creation.

The complete set of sculptures can still be viewed from earlier postings on the Focus Flickr site and can be seen by clicking here and selecting the word Albums

And finally.................

From one extreme to another. 

Also present was B 2737 from the London Transport Museum's collection. Normally displayed in the red and white livery of the 'General' company, for the YotB celebrations and in conjunction with First World War commemorations, the bus received this 'Battle Bus' livery.
During the 1914-18 conflict over 1,000 of the 'Old Bill' B-type were sent abroad to provide assistance as troops carriers, ambulances and pigeon-lofts. The latter not all that unusual as pigeons were used for message carrying.
600 of the type survived the conflict returning relatively unscathed to these shores, and placed back into London revenue-earning service, including much of the preserved B 2737 above. 


With the Olympic Park site a stone's throw away from Stratford, the latest set of images from London in 2014 can now be viewed on the Flickr site. Taken around the bus station and the Broadway, these can be viewed by clicking here

Monday, 26 January 2015


Mayor awards over £28 million to transform areas around Crossrail stations
·         TfL funding will support schemes outside Crossrail stations in outer London

·         Money will help local boroughs improve public spaces and make journeys better for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users  

The Mayor has awarded over £28 million to outer London boroughs in order for them to transform the public spaces around Crossrail stations. The TfL funding will support local borough-led projects at seventeen stations in Greater London and will help cut crime, improve road safety and make areas more pleasant for millions of passengers.

Improvements will include:

·         Creating safe and secure walking and cycling routes and facilities;

·         Developing seamless interchanges with local bus networks and taxis;

·         Making improvements to the public realm and streets, on station forecourts and adjacent roads;

·         Improving lighting in the surrounding areas in order to reduce crime

The improvements will be made by 2019, and will follow a huge range of other benefits that customers will experience when TfL takes over services between Liverpool Street and Shenfield from 31 May next year, ahead of Crossrail arriving.
Customers on all of the new TfL-run rail services will benefit from improvements, including staff at every station at all times that trains are running, better accessibility provision, including a turn up and go service for anyone needing ramps onto trains, full integration with TfL fares and ticketing and a more reliable service.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “It is hard to believe how far Crossrail has come; it has moved forward at an astounding pace. Now the key construction is well underway it is only right that we turn our attention to the areas around the stations. This funding will help boroughs complete a wealth of improvements in order to make travel safer and more pleasant for hundreds of thousands of Londoners.”
Leon Daniels, TfL’s Managing Director of Surface Transport, said: “TfL-run Crossrail will revolutionise travel across London, cutting journey times for millions, easing crowding and transforming access for disabled Londoners. As we do this, it is also important to make local improvements around our stations, making it easier for passengers to use or interchange with Crossrail services, whether they have arrived by rail, bus, foot or bike. This funding will do that – transforming public spaces for the benefit of everyone.”
TfL-run Crossrail will carry over 200 million passengers a year, boosting London’s rail-based capacity by 10 per cent, easing crowding and providing faster journey times. It will help London keep pace with a rapidly growing population and will support new jobs and economic growth.
Crossrail is the first transport project to deliver integrated designs with three elements in mind, including the station, above the station, and improved public spaces that surround them. These have been designed in close partnership between TfL, local authorities, Network Rail and Crossrail Limited.

·         Artist impressions of the schemes are available at -

·         A Public Space  scheme at Hayes and Harlington in LB Hillingdon is proposed to be funded as part of a Local Implementation Plan Major Scheme that is already in development and design for Hayes Town Centre.

·         It is anticipated that over 200 million people will travel on Crossrail every year.

·         Crossrail will serve 40 stations, linking Reading and Heathrow in the west, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, with 21km of new twin-bore tunnels under central London.

London Crossrail 2 'preferred route' outlined by mayor


Crossrail 2 map

A preferred route for a proposed £20bn Crossrail 2 scheme, running north-south through London, has been identified by mayor Boris Johnson.
A second Crossrail scheme is vital to support the capital's growth, the mayor claimed.
If approved by the government, the line could be transporting up to 90,000 people into central London in the morning peak by 2030.
Crossrail 2 would run from Cheshunt in Hertfordshire to Epsom in Surrey.
It would pass through central London via places including Tottenham Court Road, Victoria, Chelsea and Clapham Junction.
If proposals are approved, construction could begin in 2017.

Setting out the case for the line in a speech at the City Age conference, the mayor said: "With London's population soon to surpass its previous 1939 peak of 8.6 million and with more people travelling by Tube and rail than ever before, we need additional rail capacity to support future growth.
"For the capital to remain globally competitive, there needs to be continued investment in our transport network and that's why we have to get cracking on planning for Crossrail 2."
The scheme would complement the £14.8bn east-west Crossrail scheme, currently being built and scheduled to be operational by 2018.
Supporters say it will slash journey times across London, with a journey from Kingston, in south-west London, to Tottenham Court Road being completed in 29 minutes - 17 minutes faster than today.
Those travelling between Dalston, in north-east London and Tottenham Court Road would have an eight-minute journey - 19 minutes faster than today.
Mr Johnson said he was confident the private sector could, in the right circumstances, contribute to well over half the cost of Crossrail 2.
The east-west London Crossrail scheme, which is currently being built is scheduled to operate by 2018
Opportunities for consultation Labour Assembly Member Val Shawcross said the announcement of a preferred route was "a big step forward" but added: "What we need to see now is the fully worked-up funding package which will make this project a reality."
Despite broad support for a new rail link in Chelsea, it is one area where there is concern over the positioning of a new station.
Conservative MP for Chelsea and Fulham, Greg Hands, has said there was "a great deal of concern" from residents on Cremorne Estate, on the King's Road, that demolition of housing may be required if it is chosen for the location of the Chelsea West station.
The current proposed location for the station would be further east near the fire station on the King's Road and received the majority of support in this summer's consultation.
The consultation document says, over the course of 2015, there will be further work on the consideration and assessment of options and a number of opportunities for more detailed consultation.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Passengers Carried on Prototype 379 Battery-powered train

The first battery-powered train to run on Britain’s rail network in more than half a century has carried its first passengers. This marks an important milestone in the project to demonstrate the viability of an eco-friendly battery-powered train for the twenty-first century.

The new train contributes to Network Rail’s commitment to reduce its environmental impact, improve sustainability and reduce the cost of running the railway by 20 per cent over the next five years. It could ultimately lead to a fleet of battery-powered trains running on Britain’s rail network which are quieter and more efficient than diesel-powered trains, making them better for passengers and the environment.
Network Rail and its industry partners – including Bombardier, Abellio Greater Anglia, and the Rail Executive arm of the Department for Transport (‎which is co-funding the project through the FutureRailway innovation programme) – recognise the potential for battery-powered trains to bridge gaps between electrified parts of the network and to run on branch lines where it would be too expensive to install overhead electrification.”

Battery Pods awaiting installation in the 379 Unit
Following its successful retrofitting and trials at test tracks in Derby and Leicestershire last year by Bombardier, the modified Class 379 Electrostar battery-powered train – also known as an Independently Powered Electric Multiple Unit (IPEMU) – will run in weekday timetable service for five weeks between Harwich International and Manningtree stations in Essex.
Network Rail Principal Engineer James Ambrose said: “We’ve made terrific progress with this project so far and seeing the battery-powered train in timetabled service is a huge step forward. 
Data gathered during the experiment will be used to help the wider rail industry determine what form a future IPEMU will take, be it a straight battery unit or hybrid.
Any future IPEMU would most likely be designed as a new train and not an adapted unit, to minimise energy consumption, but this project will also provide useful information for retrofit.

“After months of engineering and testing, the train is running just as we would like it. We’ll be using this five-week period to gather data on how it handles during passenger service – most travellers will recognise how quiet and smooth the ride is compared to a diesel-powered train.”
James continued: “We are always looking for ways to reduce the cost of running the railway and make it greener too. This project has the potential to contribute significantly towards both those goals.”
Rail Minister Claire Perry said: “This is a major milestone in this innovative project, and further proof of our commitment to deliver a world-class rail network fit for the 21st century.
“These trains potentially offer a real alternative where diesel or electrified services aren’t suitable, and I look forward to seeing the results of the trials.”


The most recent posting on the Focus Features site has had a minor update at the end and in respect of the Scania double-deck operation. These can now be viewed by clicking here

Saturday, 24 January 2015


Bus firm loses all four executive directors

Lothian Buses has revealed all four of its executive directors are to leave the company over the next two years.
It follows a bitter boardroom feud between the men, who each earned between £200,000 and £270,000 in 2013.
The chairman of Lothian Buses, Tony Depledge, said recent months had been "bruising and damaging" for the council-owned company.

He said the move was necessary to restore confidence and stability. It is the biggest bus operator in the city.
Lothian Buses is publicly-owned.
It is the biggest bus company in the capital, with more than 2,000 staff.
However, recent months have seen a series of leaks, which revealed a bitter boardroom row between the 
chief executive Ian Craig, and the company's finance, engineering and operations directors.

Lothian Buses is publicly-owned. It's popular, successful and the biggest bus company in the capital, with more than two thousand staff.
It is hard to imagine the capital's streets without the company's distinctive maroon buses. (The colour is officially known as madder, by the way.)

But despite the success, all is not well in the Lothian Buses boardroom.
A series of leaks has painted an unflattering picture of how the company is run.
The relationship between chief executive Ian Craig and his deputies is now deemed to be beyond repair and trouble-shooting chairman Tony Depledge wants change.
Bus passengers heading home have followed every twist and turn in the Edinburgh Evening News.
In recent years, it's the plight of Lothian Buses' sister company, Edinburgh Trams, which has dominated the front page.
Lothian Buses chairman Mr Depledge and council chiefs will be hoping a period of relative calm lies ahead for both of them.

Efforts to restore the relationship between Mr Craig and his deputies have failed and Tony Depledge, said it is now time for change.
There has been criticism of the level of boardroom pay at Lothian Buses.
In 2013, the four executive directors of the council-owned company earned more than £860,000 between them, including bonuses.

The men's contracts guarantee a 24-month notice period.
Mr Depledge said: "My commitment is to ensure that Lothian Buses is equipped to thrive as a modern, agile business to the benefit of its customers and to the wider city economy as part of an integrated network.
"Recent months have been bruising and damaging for this company in terms of its reputation but, in terms of its performance as a business, we continue to succeed.
"However, for this success to be sustainable it's vital that we restore confidence and stability to the leadership of Lothian Buses."
Mr Depledge was appointed as chairman on an interim basis in November.


The latest posting revisits the Transpeak service which crosses the Derbyshire Peak District. New buses have been added to the High Peak Bus Company fleet for this route in the shape of ADL E20D Enviro200 saloons. They provide an interesting comparison to other vehicles that have operated the route over twenty years. A series of images and captions can now be viewed by clicking here

Friday, 23 January 2015


From the Times of Malta

Autobuses de Leon officially took over the bus service in Malta on Thursday 8th January, retaining the name Malta Public Transport.
Addressing a news conference, chairman Felipe Cosmen said the changes agreed upon would be implemented gradually over the next year.
One of the major changes will be in the payment system with the introduction of a card similar to the Oyster Card in use in the UK. This system will be introduced in July.
The idea is to encourage people not to buy their tickets on the bus, in order to improve efficiency and provide a faster service. The cost of trips will work out to be substantially cheaper for card holders.
New routes and frequencies as announced last year will be phased in over the coming months and the company will employ 100 new drivers immediately and another 200 by the end of the year.
Once the Unscheduled Bus Service contract is over at the end of the month, the company will temporarily rent 40 buses but will get 142 new Euro VI two-door 9.6 metre buses by the end of the first quarter.
The company will be getting a subsidy of €23 million this year, which will go up to €29 million next year.
James Piscopo, from Transport Malta, said that according to the contract there will not be automatic increases in fares to cover inflation. Inflation could be covered by an increase in fares, an increase in subsidy, or both, at the discretion of the authorities.
He said that Arriva had wanted €45 million for the route network that would eventually be in place, a Maltese company had asked for €40 million and the Spaniards would be providing the service for €29 million.
The company will have a total of 360 buses in use, about 100 more than Arriva had.
Public Transport Minister Joe Mizzi said the contract reached with Autobuses de Leon would be tabled in Parliament once it reconvened. He noted that there would be one system covering both Malta and Gozo.

Then from the Malta Independent on the 9th January

ALESA to recruit drivers locally, will not have double deckers in new fleet - Director

Spanish transport company ALESA, which yesterday took over the public transport service, does not expect to have Spanish bus drivers because it will recruit locally, company director Felipe Cosmen said yesterday. Speaking during a business breakfast for journalists, Mr Cosmen also said the company would not be using double decker buses.
The ALESA director explained that the company is present in Europe, North and South America, Africa and Asia. He promised that the company will bring its international expertise to Malta.
The company is currently making use of around 230 buses left over by Arriva and others introduced to the service in the past months. It will also be bringing over 140 new Euro VI buses, which have been "specifically designed for Malta."
All buses will be equipped with CCTV cameras and a GPS tracker, which will allow the control room to monitor and manage the system in real time. The new buses will be 9.6 metres long and will have around 34 seats. They will also have two main doors, allowing for a swifter movement of passengers.
Over time, all the older buses will be replaced by newer ones. The company will be adding some 3,000 seats to the network and will cover an additional 3 million kilometres a year. Around 40 new routes will be introduced and some others will change. The bus trips will also be more frequent.

On 1st July the company will introduce the Intelligent Card System, similar to London's Oyster Card. The card, which can be topped up in a number of different ways, including online, will serve to discourage people from buying tickets on board buses, thus saving time on journeys. Mr Cosmen said the card would be given for free during the first year to encourage as many commuters as possible to have one.
The system will be explained to the public in the coming weeks and months through a number of road shows. Passenger cards can either be topped up by a week or a month or by an amount of money chosen by the passengers. The monthly pass will cost €26, the same price as the current one, and will entitle passengers to an unlimited number of journeys. The on-board ticket will cost €1.50, which will increase to €2 in summer. Prices for Maltese and foreign passengers will be the same.
A 7-day pass for children and Karta Anzjan holders will cost €2 instead of the current price of €2.30. A 30-day pass will cost €26 and €21 for students. A 90-day pass for students will cost €55. A single journey for card-holders will cost €0.75 and €0.25 for children and Karta Anzjan holders.
Mr Cosmen said the company will use technology to better manage the public transport network. It will know how many passengers are boarding a certain route and, if need be, send more buses to that area. This will be especially important for localities like St Paul's Bay, where the population doubles in the summer.
Mr Cosmen also announced that drivers will be given specialised training using driving simulators and will be taught to deal with a number of different scenarios. They will also be given behavioural training. At present the company has 750 employees. It is currently recruiting 100 more drivers and by the end of the year the number will reach a thousand. The ALESA director said that, while anyone can apply for a driver's job, recruitment will be carried out locally because the company prefers having Maltese drivers who are already familiar with the system.


Courtesy of Jeff Lloyd the latest album on the new Focus Flickr site, features a selection of buses and coaches observed on his recent trip to Malta during January. Included are several of the current fleet of buses in the new green and white livery and can be viewed by clicking here 

Also featured is a most recent arrival on the island in the sahpe of a former Isle of Man Dennis Trident double-decker. Still with full Bus Vannin livery and fleetnames intact the bus was immediately placed into service on the tourist trail.