Tuesday, 31 March 2015


Multi-billion pound plans to overhaul rail in North of England

Plans to overhaul transport across the North of England, including with multi-billion pound rail schemes, have been laid out by the government.
The Northern Transport Strategy report details what George Osborne believes will create a "northern powerhouse".
It contains a long-term plan to improve road links and speed up train times between major cities.
But the Rail, Maritime and Transport union said the proposals were "yet more pie-in-the-sky nonsense".
The report, which is being published by the government and the newly formed Transport for the North (TfN), sets out a range of options for upgrades of existing rail lines or building new lines between key locations. 

Patrick McLoughlin explains why the government wants to overhaul transport in the north of England
Proposed new routes in the strategy include:

  • Leeds to Newcastle, with new travel times of about 50 minutes - estimated cost £8.5bn to £14bn
  • Sheffield to Manchester, and Manchester to Leeds in about 30 minutes - estimated cost £12bn to £19bn
  • Liverpool to Manchester, travel times of about 20 minutes (down from 32) - estimated cost £8bn to £13bn

The report also sets out such ideas as developing new east-west road connections, a road tunnel under the Peak District, and introducing smart travel cards and simpler fares across the North.

This report isn't really full of new ideas.
Instead it's the packaging up of the best ideas from the various northern (and Labour-led) councils and the coalition government.
Some of those ideas are already funded and in fact announced, like the road improvement schemes. The rail schemes are more of an unfunded wish-list.
There's been lots of talk of boosting train times between the big northern cities, but for the first time we've got a price list.
Even the cheapest upgrade starts at £1bn and new lines could be as much as £19bn.
But it's all money that will have to be found by the next government, at a time when the country's tightening its belt.

The government has also said it will prepare a hybrid Bill, to be laid before the next Parliament, with a view to bringing the high-speed HS2 line to Crewe sooner than planned and also looking at the case for accelerating the construction of the route between Leeds and Sheffield.
That project will see high-speed trains run from London to Birmingham and to Manchester and Leeds.
The bill will also include plans for widening sections of the M1, M6 and M62, and there are plans for better connections to Manchester Airport and improvements to the A1.
Some of the road schemes have previously been announced and funded.
Prime Minister David Cameron has also previously given the green light to plans for a high-speed HS3 rail link in the north.
A high speed train One of the potential train designs for the HS2 project

The report has been launched by Chancellor George Osborne and Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin.
Speaking to BBC R4's Today programme, Mr McLoughlin said the money would be spent on "electrifying over 800 miles of railway" and revamping Victoria Station in Manchester.
He said: "We are spending over the next five years on Network Rail some £38b as well as investing in HS2."
Mr McLoughlin insisted that this funding would not be affected by the departmental spending cuts announced by the chancellor, to be introduced after the election.
He said there would be more devolution to local authorities so they can take on decision-making powers for regional franchises.
Devolution would not include intercity services, trains to London or services that cover the whole of the UK, Mr McLoughlin added.

Mr Osborne said: "Connecting up the great cities of the North is at the heart of our plan to build a northern powerhouse.
"From backing high-speed rail to introducing simpler fares right across the North, our ambitious plans for transport mean we will deliver a truly national recovery where every part of the country will share in Britain's prosperity."
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said the plans would transform that part of the country by boosting business and tourism.
But Mick Cash, leader of the Rail, Maritime and Transport union, said that transport services across the region were actually "lumped with clapped-out, overcrowded trains with any replacement programme light years off".

Map showing rail routes between cities in the north of England likely to be included in the proposed HS3 rail project

Mick Whelan, general secretary of train drivers' union Aslef, said the plans were "fanciful in the extreme" and a "blatant piece of post-Budget electioneering".
Shadow transport secretary Michael Dugher said the move was a "desperate, last-ditch attempt to win votes in the North" by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, ahead of the forthcoming general election.
Ed Cox, director of Institute of Public Policy North, a think tank, said the proposals were "very positive" but he hoped that the timetable for the schemes could be "moved forward more quickly".
"None of this can come a moment too soon," he said.

Proposed upgrades to rail routes include:

  • Leeds to Newcastle, with journey times of about 70 to 80 minutes - estimated cost £1bn to £4bn
  • Sheffield to Manchester, journey times of about 39 minutes - estimated cost £3bn to £5bn
  • Manchester to Leeds, journey times of about 34 minutes - estimated cost £4.5bn to 7bn
  • Liverpool to Manchester, journey times of about 23 minutes - estimated cost £4bn to £7bn


A recent visit to Doncaster to view the changes on the East Coast Main Line included several other train operators fleets pass before the lens. The results can now be viewed in an album by clicking here

Monday, 30 March 2015


This year sees the event reach its 17th year and has become a firm favorite on the rally calendar. From meagre beginnings it has developed over the years and pulls in entrants and visitors from all over the country.
Spread over the two Cumbrian townships of Brough and Kirkby Stephen commercial vehicles of all shapes and sizes will be on show at a number of locations. 
In order to cater for the expected crowds, a free bus service will operate between the main vehicle parking site at Brough beside the A66 trunk road, and the railway station at Kirkby Stephen West on the Settle & Carlisle line. A variety of buses and coaches of assorted age (as are the crews), will operate every few minutes and travel through the main thoroughfare of Kirkby Stephen, where much of the other action and entertainment will take place.
As illustrated by the following images, weather can sometimes be an issue but who knows, it may prove to be a bright and sunny day. However, whatever the weather you are ensured of a splendid day out on either the Saturday or Sunday. Or maybe prolong your visit to both days.

As well as the buses the event also features a fine selection of other commercial vehicles types.

An extra treat is an approximately 20-mile road run on the Saturday evening. Over some interesting terrain a fair selection of the entrants participate, with some of the buses allowing the general public to hop on board and join in the fun.
It commences from the Brough site around 5.00pm (check the programme), and lasts for around 2-hours.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

Hitachi Train Factory Connected to National Rail Network

The final link between Hitachi Rail Europe’s £82m Newton Aycliffe manufacturing site and the national rail network has been laid in place.

 The track completion marking a significant milestone for
 Britain's newest train factory in Newton Aycliffe, Co Durham
Rail Minister Claire Perry was on hand to turn the last Pandrol Clip, a type of rail fastening, which is used to connect rails to railway sleepers.
It was the last of 35,000 such fixings installed by Story Contracting which connects the new facility with the national network, as well as 7,000 metres of sidings and a 1km long overhead electrified test track.
Work will now concentrate on the fit-out of the factory which will deliver the next generation of high speed rail carriages to the UK and Europe.
Phil Verster, route managing director at Network Rail said: “Today’s final fixing signals an important milestone in this exciting project. 

The Intercity Express Train will bring a step-change for passengers, enabling more and faster journeys. This facility is an achievement in itself and will continue to bring economic benefits to the north east as well as maintaining the region’s proud rail heritage.
“I would like to thank Merchant Place Developments, Story Contracting and the many suppliers for all the hard work they’ve put in to reach this stage. Work to finish the signalling and power will complete later this year.”
The location of the Hitachi factory will allow the new trains to join the Network Rail East Coast mainline, where they will be tested before entering service. The plan is for the new trains to enter passenger service on the Great Western routes from Paddington, but this depends on the electrification scheme being delivered on time. At the moment the East Coast line is scheduled to run the new trains in service following initial launch on the GWR routes.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

New Vehicles for Shearings

Shearings Group take delivery of 38 Mercedes-Benz Tourismo coaches this month in the largest ever Tourismo order for the UK.

The Group has previously bought Setra coaches, but since Euro 6 these are no longer available in the UK.
The order comprises 23 Tourismo 12m coaches for National Holidays livery and 15 Tourismo 13m coaches in Shearings Holidays livery.
The previous gold-and-brown Grand Tourer livery is dropped in favour of Shearings blue with gold. The National Holidays white-based livery is unchanged. All vehicles are leased and the first examples have gone on the road this week.
Shearings Group CEO Denis Wormwell said “This represents a significant investment for us, close to £10m. Working with the team at EvoBus UK and Mercedes-Benz Financial Services we have been able to tailor a package specifically for our business.
“We are really pleased with the presentation, comfort and safety standards of the new Euro 6 specification Tourismo and are delighted to continue working closely with the team at EvoBus UK following the delivery of over 200 new coaches over the last five years.”
Adds General Manager Mercedes-Benz Coach Sales UK, Jonathan Prime: “It is a pleasure to work with business partners who put customer satisfaction at the heart of everything they do.
“We too strive to provide our customers with the best products and services and are confident that the latest Tourismo models will deliver on safety, comfort, quality and economy.”
These new vehicles, says Shearings, offer “maximum comfort with stylish upholstery,” generous legroom, individual overhead service controls, full air-conditioning, and arm and footrests.

Shearings have a special section of their website here for coach enthusiasts. This contains a fleet list but so far it hasn't been updated to include the new vehicles.

Friday, 27 March 2015


The Office for Low Emission Vehicles (OLEV), part of the DfT, has announced a £30m Low Emission Bus Scheme (LEBS).
It will run between April 2016 and March 2019 and is open to all operators and local authorities  in England and Wales. They can bid for funding for low-emission buses and – in a break from the Green Bus Fund – their related infrastructure, such as charging systems and gas or hydrogen refuelling stations.
To qualify, buses must satisfy Euro 6 legislation and also produce 15% less greenhouse gas emissions than the average conventional Euro 5 equivalent diesel.
Bids will be given a score between 0-4 in four weighted areas: air quality (25%), ambition (30%), deliverability (10%) and value for money (35%).
The basic funding model for the grant will use a sliding fixed efficiency scale which is based on value per gram of well-to-wheel (WTW) CO2 equivalent per kilometre. It will be limited to 75% of the differential between the cost of the low-emission bus and its standard diesel equivalent, but a top-up amount will also be available towards purchases of buses capable of operation in zero-emission mode.
The total funding available for bids of this nature will be capped at 90% of the same differential. DfT expects to publish a grant funding calculator in April; the deadline for funding bids is 31 October. Winners will be announced in January 2016.
Guidance for participants stresses that LEBS aims to “support the most ambitious initiatives that aim to increase fleet numbers of low and ultra-low emission buses, and tackle poor air quality over the life of the grant and beyond it,” and that bidders who plan to continue to buy low-emission buses after the grant period “will be looked upon favourably.”
OLEV adds that one of LEBS’ underlying aims is to promote more widespread roll-out of the measures it will support, and that it hopes the scheme will function as an ‘incubator’ of long-term, commercially-viable low carbon and zero-emission buses.
It also explains that bidders using sustainable fuel sources – such as biomethane or renewable electricity sources – will be able to secure higher levels of grant based on their superior WTW factors.
At the same time, DfT has also announced a further £3m from the Clean Vehicle Technology (CVTF) fund for retro-fitment of pollution-reducing technology. Seven areas and 147 existing buses will benefit from flywheels, exhaust gas treatment or full-electric drive systems, taking to almost 1,800 the number of buses which have been upgraded thanks to the CVTF.
It has also announced the 12-strong shortlist of cities bidding for a share of a £35m fund to become centres of excellence for low emission vehicles, with the winners to be named in the autumn.


It is back to Leicester for another album of images. This time the First Group and a small number of other operators are featured and can now be viewed by clicking here

Thursday, 26 March 2015


Stagecoach Group plc has confirmed  that its subsidiary, Stagecoach South Western Trains Limited ("South West Trains"), has agreed a Deed of Amendment ("DoA") to the South West Trains franchise with the Department for Transport ("DfT").

The DoA provides for accelerated investment of around £50m to deliver passenger improvement initiatives between now and February 2017. It means customers do not have to wait for a new franchise to benefit from these initiatives, while taxpayers will gain better value from public investment.

The current South West Trains franchise is due to end in February 2017 but he DfT and South West Trains are seeking to negotiate an extension to April 2019 of South West Trains operation of the franchise.

Key benefits to passengers from this DoA include:

·      more services and seats: more than 57,000 additional seats will be created through the introduction of 73 new evening and weekend services on suburban and mainline routes and through additional seating on existing services
·      increased car parking: an extra 1,400 spaces by end of  2017 to accommodate growth at the busiest stations
·      smarter journeys: a new online booking system and smart ticketing, allowing joined up journeys with London's bus and Tube network
·      improved customer information, marketing and fares promotions: a new website and mobile app, a customer relationship management programme to better understand passenger priorities, and promotional campaigns
·      easier ticket purchase: 170 new easy-to-use ticket machines, including 90 with a facility for customers to ask for help to ensure they get the best fare
·      enhanced customer service: more visible staff on station concourses to help passengers; customer service NVQ qualifications for employees; mystery shopping and online surveys.

 Waterloo Station
South West Trains operates more than 1,600 trains a day and handles more than 220 million passenger journeys a year on one of Europe's busiest rail networks. It connects more than 200 stations and includes routes through Hampshire, Surrey, Dorset, Wiltshire, Berkshire, Devon, Somerset and Greater London, serving a mixture of commuters and longer-distance travellers.

The DoA initiatives follow a number of enhancements already underway to deliver a better service to passengers. These include:

·      the roll-out of a £65m investment in 108 refurbished train carriages for the network
·      plans for a £210m fleet of 30 new five-carriage trains
·      collectively, these two projects will deliver a total peak-time capacity increase of around 30% by 2018
·      major infrastructure improvements at London Waterloo to accommodate the new trains
·      bringing the remaining four platforms of the former Waterloo International Terminal back into full use and then extending London Waterloo Platforms 1-4 to accommodate longer 10-carriage trains
·      a £7m upgrade to the railway through Wimbledon, improving reliability and punctuality for hundreds of thousands of passengers

Stagecoach does not currently expect the DoA to have a material impact on profit for the remaining period of the South West Trains franchise.

Stagecoach Group Chief Executive Martin Griffiths said: "This is a great deal for passengers and taxpayers and will ensure work gets underway on a package of customer improvements without delay. It also lays the groundwork for negotiations for a new Direct Award extension to the franchise in due course.

"The South West Trains network, operating out of London Waterloo, Britain's busiest station, is a key part of the country's transport infrastructure. These improvements will support the regional economy and enhance the transport network for communities across the south and south-west of England."

Tim Shoveller, Chief Executive of the South West Trains-Network Rail Allliance, said: "We have achieved a huge 50% growth in the number of passenger journeys on our network in the past 10 years. Looking ahead, the scale of growth is set to continue. That is why we are absolutely focused on improving the railway for today's customers and planning for the future.

"We have invested more than £22m in improvements at more than 30 stations over the past 18 months, as well as starting to introduce free WiFi. In the next five years, we will be spending more than £1.2bn on the rail network as part of a wider programme to deliver an extra 115,000 seats a day into the capital by 2019."

Rail Minister Claire Perry said: "As we spend record amounts on modernising our railways as part of our long term economic plan, our franchising programme is also unlocking considerable investment from train operators.

"This package of improvements from South West Trains, with its strong focus on customer service, is very welcome and will make a huge difference to passengers on the many busy routes served by this franchise."


Whilst we have already featured the North Norfolk Railway's first major event of the year on the New Focus Flickr site (click here), Paul Beardsley has expanded this with fine detail of some of the engines in service. This and a small number of images can now be found on the Features site by clicking here

Wednesday, 25 March 2015


Severn Valley Railway group celebrates 50 years


A group of rail enthusiasts is celebrating 50 years since it formed to save a heritage steam line.
The Severn Valley Railway Society, which was set up at Kidderminster in 1965, is marking its golden jubilee with an exhibition.
The Severn Valley Railway was built between 1858 and 1862 and originally linked Hartlebury, near Droitwich in Worcestershire with Shrewsbury in Shropshire.
During the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the line was important for transporting freight as well as passengers.
The line closed as a commercial service from 1963 to 1970.

During July 1965, the group had to send an urgent telegram to British Railways to stop engineers dismantling the line north of Bridgnorth.
In February 1966, the group agreed a £25,000 price to purchase part of the line from British Railways.

The preservation society opened a section of it as a steam heritage line in 1970.
The line now stretches for 16 miles between Kidderminster and Bridgnorth.
It has become famous for being one of the first lines to introduce Santa Steam Specials. Today, the line takes more than 30,000 parents and children to see Santa at Arley every year.
The Victoria Bridge, which carried trains over the River Severn, was cast at Coalbrookdale in Shropshire.
When it opened in 1862, it was the largest cast-iron span in the world, David Postle from the Kidderminster Railway Museum said.

The group opened a new station at Kidderminster in 1984 - a replica of a station that once stood at Ross-on-Wye.
The station is adjacent to the mainline railway that connects Kidderminster with the rest of the country.
In the 1970s, Severn Valley Railway became a regular backdrop for filmmakers, attracting stars including David Niven and Richard Powell in the film The Thirty Nine Steps.
Today the Severn Valley Railway attracts about 250,000 passengers a year.

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

At the northern end of the line another form of vinatge transport awaits. This is in the shape of the Bridgnorth Castle Hill Railway Company Limited.

Tuesday, 24 March 2015


A Teesside bus operator closed after almost three decades on the road at the end of service on the 20th March.
Leven Valley Coaches ceased trading - blaming “crippling insurance costs”.
It is hoped there will be no job losses with employees expecting to transfer to the sister company, Compass Royston Travel.
The firm is known for its distinctive yellow and red coaches.
It has run routes in Stockton and Middlesbrough, including in Marton, Coulby Newham, Yarm, Norton, Billingham and to both hospitals in the two towns.
“The decision to close the business and end all services has been a very difficult one,” said director Kevin Procter.
“I know that passengers who’ve come to rely on our buses may be inconvenienced and for that I apologise.
“The sad fact of the matter is that it has become increasingly uneconomic to run most of the services we provide – not least because of the cost of insurance.
“I believe the whole ‘where there’s blame there’s a claim’ culture means it has become impossible for us to secure affordable cover.
“It is a nail in the coffin for small operators like us who do not have the benefits of size and scale enjoyed by companies like Arriva or Stagecoach.”
The business was originally established by a husband-and-wife team 28 years ago.
It was saved from closure by Compass Royston Travel in 2013 and is based at Bowesfield Crescent in Stockton.
But now bosses say it is facing a 64% rise in its insurance premium.
The company says that tough economic conditions, lower than anticipated passenger numbers and the end of the last remaining public subsidies have “combined to make a huge rise in insurance costs, unaffordable.”
It adds that the local bus market also remains challenging. “There is strong competition from operators such as Arriva and Stagecoach,” it says.

Paul Gooderson visited Middlesborough and Stockton on the last day of service and has kindly provided a small selection of images


Monday, 23 March 2015


The UK’s first ‘poo bus’ goes into regular service on Service 2 in Bristol on 25th March, with First West of England. Running four days a week, First West of England will be able to assess how well the ADL Enviro300-bodied Scania – powered by biomethane gas, generated from human excrement – copes with the demand of a city-wide operation, and how the general public react to it. 
If successful, the operator will look to operate more bio-buses in the future. Refuelling takes place at GENeco’s plant in Avonmouth, where the renewable energy company turns sewage and food waste into biomethane. 
The bus was previously operated on a four-week trial by Bath Bus Company. It was officially launched in Bristol city centre on Tuesday 17th March. James Freeman, Managing Director of First West of England, says: “Since its original unveiling last year, the Bio-Bus has generated worldwide attention and so it’s our great privilege to bring it to the city, to operate – quite rightly – on Service 2.”

Sunday, 22 March 2015


Year of the Bus sculptures to be auctioned for charity

More than 50 Year of the Bus sculptures, which surprised and delighted Londoners and visitors to the city when they went on public display last year, will be auctioned for charity by Transport for London (TfL) - with the support of Christie’s - in a few days time.
Painted and adorned by well-known and aspiring artists, the sculptures first went on display in October 2014 on four walking trails across the Capital.  All 60 were then brought together at Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in east London for a final show before the search for their new owners begins.
The sculptures feature a wide variety of designs including ones based around iconic London landmarks such as Tower Bridge and Buckingham Palace, artwork featuring the designs of Cath Kidston and Orla Kiely, and even one of the Queen’s Guard complete with faux bearskin hat.
Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport at TfL, said: “The search has begun to find new homes for the Year of the Bus sculptures, which have captured the imaginations of so many in our city.  The auction gives individuals and organisations the opportunity to own a unique miniature version of one of the Capital’s most recognisable icons while raising money for three admirable charities at the same time.” 
Bidding is now underway at www.i-bidder.com/yearofthebus for the sculptures, which are 2.5m long, 1m high and 0.5m wide.  A live auction event will be held in central London on Tuesday 24th March. Members of the public wanting to attend should register their interest at http://www.tfl.gov.uk/campaign/sculpture-trails 
The live auction concludes TfL’s celebrations to mark 2014’s Year of the Bus, in partnership with London Transport Museum and the Capital’s bus operators.
The Year of the Bus was supported by and delivered in partnership with Exterion Media, Abellio, Arriva London, Clear Channel UK, Go-Ahead London, Metroline, RATP Dev UK, Stagecoach, Wrightbus, Optare and Telent Technology Services.  The Year of the Bus sculptures were also supported by other sponsors, most notably Cubic Transportation System Ltd, who sponsored 10.

Saturday, 21 March 2015


Easter is cancelled! Rail firm warns of up to three-hour delays as it tells people not to travel

  • Virgin tells passengers to avoid travelling on West Coast main line
  • London Euston and Milton Keynes line will have four-day shutdown
  • Normal 55-minute Rugby-London trip will take more than four hours
  • Other services blighted by engineering works include London Midland
  • Swathes of the Great Western and Greater Anglia lines also affected

Passengers have been told by rail companies not to travel by train this Easter as the closure of major routes will cause chaos.
Beleaguered travellers have been warned that ‘Easter is cancelled’ as far as trains are concerned and many key services will be axed.
On others they face hours of delays, with some journey times quadrupled. Worst affected will be the West Coast main line, where Virgin Trains has told passengers not to bother trying to travel. 

The West Coast mainline, the Great Western and the Greater Anglia line are all planning works on key routes meaning passengers will face hours on rail replacement services or slower routes

The line between London Euston and Milton Keynes will have a four-day shutdown.
On Easter Sunday a 55-minute direct trip from Rugby to London Euston will turn into a marathon lasting four hours and 20 minutes, with two trains and two buses.
A Virgin Trains spokesman said: ‘Easter is effectively cancelled – our line is shut. We’re advising people not to travel.
‘What makes it worse this time is that the alternative routes that passengers might normally switch to are also shut because of the engineering. This is unusual.’

Other services blighted by engineering works include London Midland, which uses the same West Coast line and has issued a similar warning, and swathes of the Great Western and Greater Anglia lines.

Virgin services to Manchester and the North West and Birmingham are also badly affected with diversions adding heavily to journeys. 
Network Rail chief executive Mark Carne apologised for disruption from the £100million works by 14,000 engineering workers, but insisted it was vital.
However, the warnings have brought fears of a repeat of the last fiasco endured by 115,000 passengers at Christmas when the key East Coast main line was crippled by overrunning engineering works, prompting a major inquiry, damning rebukes from ministers and watchdogs, and a grovelling apology from rail bosses.

Cancellations: The report found that when work near King’s Cross overran the trains were switched to start and finish at Finsbury Park station but 'not enough was done' to manage passenger flow at the new station

Under a large headline on its website, Virgin Trains warns passengers of the impending Easter chaos with the words: ‘There’s a spanner in the works. Don’t get caught in planned improvement works.’
It said there would not be any trains to or from London Euston, adding: ‘There won’t be any replacement shuttles either, so finding an alternative train service to London will be very difficult.’
Engineering works on the line between Crewe and Warrington and from Carlisle to Glasgow will ‘severely reduce services to the North and Scotland’, it said. 
Services are also likely to be ‘extra busy the day before and after affected days’ and passengers should book early.
West Coast passengers also face major works at Watford Junction from an £81million programme from Network Rail ‘to improve the ageing infrastructure’.
Rail bosses say carrying out works during Christmas and Easter is justified as passenger numbers are down by up to 40 per cent because there are far fewer commuters.
But ministers have suggested carrying out such works at times other than at Christmas and Easter – such as through the summer – to avoid hitting families travelling during the key holiday periods.
Mr Carne said: ‘We are acutely conscious that many people want to use the railway during the holidays to reunite with their friends and families, which is why the vast majority of the network is running normally over the holiday period, but there will be disruption for some.’
He insisted that there were ‘good contingency plans in place’ while the improvements are carried out. 

Staying with the subject of train travel.....................


With the recent developments on the railway network and the creation of Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC), the latest album charts a visual history and reminder of the period from the days of British Rail to the present day. Martin Arrand has supplied a splendid set of images, that can now be viewed by clicking here


Friday, 20 March 2015


Uttoxeter-based D&G Bus has further grown its business in North Staffordshire with the purchase of Arriva Midlands’ Wardle Transport operation in Stoke-on-Trent.
Following completion of the transaction, D&G will retake control of Wardle’s Adderley Green depot, part of the Potteries operation D&G sold to Arriva in August 2011. The Mossfield Road premises remained the property of D&G MD David Reeves, and were leased by him to Arriva.
The deal, scheduled to be completed on 9th May, will involve 19 of the approximately 40 buses currently operated predominantly on commercial services in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme by Wardle. A number of staff will be TUPE’d across; others will move to Arriva Midlands’ Burton-upon-Trent or Stafford depots.
A staff meeting was held on Monday night to inform Wardle’s employees of the transfer, which will see D&G’s operations in North Staffordshire once again centred on Adderley Green. It currently has a leased depot in Longton, which will be vacated and its 18-bus PVR moved to Adderley Green.
News of the deal with Arriva comes less than four months since D&G took over 17 routes and 25 staff in North Staffordshire from Bakerbus, along with a number of buses. It also operates around 40 buses and 10 demand-responsive minibuses in Crewe.
Less than a month ago associated company, Atherton-based Green Triangle Buses (trading as South Lancs Travel) was sold to Rotala for £900,000 in cash, but it is understood that the deal with Arriva is not linked to this.
As part of the deal with Arriva, all 19 buses which are to move to D&G – a mixture of Dennis Darts and DAF DB250 double-deckers – are expected to be DDA-compliant and painted in D&G’s livery by the time of transfer. Although the Adderley Green depot was built by D&G to also act as its head office, it currently has no plans to relocate this function from Uttoxeter.
Arriva sold the coach and accessible minibus arm of Wardle Transport to Stantons of Stoke, founded by former Wardle GM Keith Stanton, in 2014.

All images kindly provided by Dale Tringham, who by design visited Hanley, Stoke and Newcastle-under-Lyme on the 18th March.

Thursday, 19 March 2015


Double Decker Driving School

    A new television series is set to hit the screens from today (Thursday 19th March) and be aired on ITV from 8.30-9.00pm for 6-weeks.

    Series overview
    “When you’re out there you think you’re the world’s best driver. Until you come into an environment like this. And that’s when you come down with a bang.” - Jim Johnston, bus training officer
    This new six-part documentary series for ITV focuses on the ultra-competitive world of trainee London bus drivers.
    With 20 applicants for every place on the intensive six-week course, the bus drivers’ school promises to be a gateway to a steady salary and a virtual job for life. First, however, the prospective drivers must learn how to safely negotiate a ten-ton bus through London’s overcrowded streets.
    The trainees are filmed from the first moment they sit behind the wheel of a bus through a set of increasingly complex manoeuvres designed to test their abilities to the limit.
    Those who make it through the early stages then face the toughest assessment of all – their bus driving test, a 90-minute examination. This will determine if the trainees have what it takes to achieve their dreams, and make it as a bus driver.
    If they pass this ultimate test, then every crash, every stall, and every heart-in-mouth emergency stop over the six weeks has been worth it.

    Episode 1
    In the first episode, a new batch of recruits are starting their six-week course at one of London’s largest double decker driving schools.
    Single mum and former van driver Claire Carter is hoping that becoming a bus driver will be a smart move - with the steady salary a key motivation for her. She says: “If I do this then next year hopefully it might mean I can take my kids on holiday. They’re my babies, they’re my life.”
    On her first day out on the open road Claire has a close encounter on a pedestrian crossing and nearly has a head-on collision. With the help of her instructor Alagarsamy Gopal, Claire needs to dig deep to summon the strength and the courage to stay on the course, and pursue her goal. She says: “When I got home I was so deflated. I was talking to my eldest son saying, ‘I don’t think I can do this.’ And he was like, ‘Mother, pull yourself together, you can do this.’”
    Meanwhile, former recovery driver Yasin Cassim has moved to London from Gloucester to try his hand at the Double Decker driving course. He’s four weeks in and he and his instructor Mickey Welch are getting on famously, but when it comes to making mistakes, Yasin rarely believes it’s his fault.
    Mickey says: “Some of them think they know it all but they don’t. If you don’t listen you won’t last long on this job. Just open your eyes.”
    And when Yasin has a progress check with training officer Jim Johnston, sparks fly. After he is told off for not using the bus lane, Yasin storms off. Mickey has to resort to jokes, songs and even threats to keep his lippy trainee in line. But Yasin faces an uphill struggle to convince the instructors he has the discipline to be approved for his test, and let loose in a ten-ton bus.
    Training officer Jim says: “A problem with attitude there, he doesn’t like being told what to do.”


    The first of at least two 'heritage liveried' First West Yorkshire buses has been repainted into a splendid representation of the former "Yorkshire Rider" livery. This was used during the time between West Yorkshire Metro and First Group adopting a national livery.
    The Vehicle in question is Volvo B9TL with Wright bodywork, fleet number 37674 (YJ58RTV). Completed it now carries the full Yorkshire Rider livery and revised fleet number 7674. The two images here are supplied courtesy of Paul Gooderson, who was in the Otley area yesterday, when the bus was used in service.