Thursday, 30 April 2015

Stagecoach Pre-close Statement

Stagecoach Group plc have provided an update on its trading ahead of a series of meetings with equity analysts.  Recent trading has been consistent with expectations and there is no change to the adjusted earnings per share anticipated for the year ending 30 April 2015.

Revenue growth

Like-for-like revenue growth for the financial year to date in each of the Group's main businesses is provided below.

UK Bus (regional operations)
- forty eight weeks ended 29 March 2015
UK Bus (London)
- forty eight weeks ended 29 March 2015
UK Rail
- forty eight weeks ended 29 March 2015
North America
- eleven months ended 31 March 2015           
Virgin Rail Group
- forty eight weeks ended 29 March 2015

UK Bus (regional operations)

The Regional UK Bus Division is trading in line with expectations with continued revenue growth.  Modest growth has been seen in passenger journeys.  The company are pleased that the forecast reduction in fuel costs has enabled fare increases for the year ahead to be kept to a minimum, consistent with long-term objectives to grow passenger volumes through value fares strategy and notwithstanding increases to staff and other costs.

In mainland Europe, the company have recently commenced domestic coach services within Germany and are now progressing plans for a new Cologne-Lyon-Barcelona service as well the first services within Italy.   These new services are in addition to existing international services connecting the UK, France, Spain, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands.  Stagecoach have been encouraged by the progress of in mainland Europe and remain excited about its future prospects.  In the short-term, as they continue the expansion of this promising business, they would expect operating losses to increase from around £5m in 2014/15 to around £10m in 2015/16.  This is based on previous experience of start-up operations, where they invested in expanding the business in the early years of in each of the UK and North America, which are now strong, profitable businesses. 

UK Bus (London)

The UK Bus (London) Division continues to perform well.   Revenue growth is consistent with expectations and reflects the profile of the contracts that the Division has with Transport for London.

UK Rail

Like-for-like revenue growth in UK Rail remains strong.  They began operating the new Virgin Trains East Coast rail franchise on 1 March 2015 and are pleased with its progress so far.   The new franchise is expected to make a significant operating profit contribution in the year ending 30 April 2016, reflecting the programme of investment to grow the business by transforming the customer experience.  There will also be additional finance costs (in respect of pensions and bonding arrangements) related to the franchise. 

North America

The 1.0% like-for-like revenue growth for North America includes 8.1% for, where the significant drop in fuel prices has resulted in a marked slowing of revenue growth.  The company remain cautious on the short-term prospects for revenue growth as the year-on-year fuel price drop persists.  There are no plans for any significant expansion of the North America operations in the coming months but will re-assess the further growth opportunities for the business in the second half of the year ending 30 April 2016.

Virgin Rail Group

Virgin Rail Group is seeing a continuing strong performance from its West Coast rail franchise and that is set to benefit taxpayers through profit share payments by the business to the UK Department for Transport.

Twin America
Stagecoach are pleased that a settlement has now been agreed in principle with the US Department of Justice and the New York Attorney General's office in respect of the previously reported anti-trust litigation relating to the Group's joint venture, Twin America.  The settlement envisages cash payments by the defendants of US$7.5m and the relinquishment of certain bus stop rights.  They have previously recognised costs associated with the litigation as exceptional items and anticipate that the Group's share of the additional costs associated with this settlement will not exceed £3m and that these will be recorded as exceptional items in the second half of the year ending 30 April 2015.  The settlement with the US Department of Justice and the New York Attorney General's office remains subject to court approval, following a public consultation and comment process. Stagecoach will continue to co-operate fully with the authorities in relation to any further matters related to the Twin America litigation.

Twin America's management will now focus on seeking to re-build the business in the highly competitive New York tourism and sightseeing market.

Wednesday, 29 April 2015


Frustrated commuters using London Bridge train station face up to 100 more changes to timetables in an effort to reduce continuing disruption. 
Travellers have suffered weeks of problems since large-scale redevelopment work began earlier this year. Last month desperate commuters were seen jumping the barriers amid rush-hour “chaos”. The latest changes, in addition to 100 already made, will come into force on Sunday, May 17th and are contained in 18 pages of documents seen by the Evening Standard. 
They include: Journeys taking up to seven minutes longer, with some trains leaving slightly earlier or later than before. Some trains not calling at all intermediate stations. Services with fewer or more carriages, and some cancelled altogether. 
Anthony Smith, chief executive of national rail passenger watchdog Transport Focus, said: “It has been a torrid time for London Bridge passengers since Christmas with initial bad planning, patchy performance since then and now more change for some. Passengers will pray these final changes bring stability.” He added: “Passengers are paying the same for, in some cases, a much worse service. The issue of compensation for persistent delays under 30 minutes still needs to be addressed.” The changes, ordered by Southern Railway, affect services into London Bridge and Victoria. It is the latest attempt to improve services at London Bridge, where passengers have faced almost daily problems due to the Network Rail £6.5 billion  Thameslink rebuilding programme. This includes major track layout changes, with the number of lines drastically reduced. 
The bulk of the work will not be finished until the middle of next year. A Southern spokesman said the new timetable was intended to “help improve performance across the Southern network”. A Network Rail spokesman said there was no capacity to run any extra trains “so we have to work with what we have to make the service run as efficiently and reliably as we can”.

The rather interesting images of London Bridge Station have been kindly supplied by John Scragg. They show the scale of the station's gradual rebuild, from aircraft in which he has flown on commercial airlines from London. Notable features visible are The Shard built adjacent to the station in the lower image, with Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast in the upper.

Tuesday, 28 April 2015


From the Daily Record website

A NEW £1.5million fleet of buses on the Isle of Arran has driven tourism bosses round the bend. The eco-friendly arrivals have been branded a waste of cash – because they have no space for visitors’ luggage. The buses boast hybrid engines and were meant to make the island fully accessible for the first time.

But the vehicles, introduced over the past few weeks, have been slated by tourism chiefs as unfit for purpose and unsuitable for the holiday isle. Islanders say the vehicles have struggled to negotiate hilly terrain when full of passengers.

Mechanics have already been forced to make changes to the fleet’s gearboxes in a bid to solve the problem.

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport bought a dozen new buses to upgrade services on the island. 

The fleet is comprised of eight Wrightbus Streetlites, which use hybrid technology, and four smaller Optare Solos.

One islander said: “They’re the talk of the place. There’s no space for bags or suitcases – which is not much use on a holiday hotspot.

“They have these new engines which are designed to save the environment but the impression is they are a bit under-powered when the buses are busy.

“There was one time when it was struggling to get up the hill out of Kildonan and the driver didn’t think they would make it.”

SPT, who have leased the buses to Stagecoach Western, admitted gearboxes were “re-programmed” to take account of the island’s hilly terrain. Visit Arran executive director Sheila Gilmore said: “We welcome the investment by SPT and these are beautiful shiny new buses but they aren’t fit for purpose.

“There’s nowhere to put luggage. They are urban buses – they’re not designed for a Scottish tourist island.

“Arran’s just been ranked No1 Scottish island on TripAdvisor. That highlights how important visitors are for us.

“We’re extremely disappointed that thought wasn’t given to the carriage for luggage or space for bikes on these buses.

We’re trying to encourage people to use public transport on Arran but it’s very difficult to tell people to bring their golf clubs if there is nowhere to put them on the bus. There aren’t even any overhead luggage racks. All the people coming off the bus who are staying north of Brodick are probably carrying luggage.

“I am at a loss why SPT thought a bus with no luggage space would be the answer.”

She added: “You invariably find the people who use public transport aren’t the ones consulted on what’s needed. The people in SPT have probably never been in Arran on a bus. A bit of consultation would have been great.”

Sheila said the tourist group had been in touch with SPT about the matter. An SPT spokeswoman said: “We’ve received very positive feedback from Stagecoach regarding the vehicles SPT funded for use on Arran.

“These vehicles have conventional diesel engines along with additional equipment fitted to reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions in order to improve air quality and be certified as low-carbon vehicles.

“Following some feedback from the drivers, we understand the gearboxes were reprogrammed to take account of the terrain on Arran but we are not aware of any impact on passengers.

“We’ve placed an order for additional luggage racking which will be fitted over the coming weeks.”

A Stagecoach spokeswoman said: “We’ve received very positive feedback about the new fleet of vehicles from passengers, which are providing accessibility to more people to travel around Arran.

“The gearboxes were adjusted to take into account some steep hills on the island. At no point have any buses been unable to climb hills.”

Monday, 27 April 2015


On a recent visit to East and North Yorkshire Paul Gooderson encountered a trio of former service buses on wedding day duties.

Two were in Beverley and operated by the East Yorkshire Motor Services (EYMS) company.

At the front of the two stood an AEC Regent V that for many years was operated by EYMS in the town, as illustrated by the famous 'Beverley Bar' design produced by Park Royal.

Behind the Regent was this rather splendid looking Bristol FS6G with Eastern Coachworks body. However, it was never operated by the company in stage revenue earning service, but looked good in a representation of the fleet livery.

And whilst travelling near to Wetherby this former London Transport AEC Routemaster with Park Royal bodywork was found resting between duties in a lay-by. The vehicle is now operated by Red Bus Days of Keighley.

Meanwhile, the Focus Transport team have searched the archives for a little bit of history about a couple of the buses.

First up the Routemaster.

This was delivered to London Transport in May 1966 as RML 2475 and spent almost all of its working life based at Putney Garage until it was sold out of service in July 2005. In October 1994 the red bus operations in London were privatised and the bus became part of the London General company. Here the bus is shown as it pulled onto the forecourt of Putney Bridge Station in May 1999.

The Bristol though has had something of a slightly more chequered history.

In 1961 the bus was built as a convertible open topper and supplied to the Bristol Omnibus Company, who were later absorbed into the National Bus Company. Here the bus is shown in Weston-Super-Mare during the summer season of 1974 as fleet number 8576 and bearing the registration 866 NHT.

Along the way though, at some stage the bus was re-registered to become XSL 228A and during its time was operated by the privatised Wilts & Dorset company. Based at Swanage for a while it appeared on a seasonal service that served the preserved Swanage Railway. By July 1993 the bus had become fleet number 4001, and shown here at rest within the small bus garage close by to the railway station at Swanage.
Further along the line so to speak (well actually a very long way along the line, from one end of the country to the other), the bus was operated for a while by Dreadnought Coaches of Alnwick in Northumberland, before it went to its current ownership in the hands of EYMS.

Now for a couple of gems captured by the Focus Transport team on the same theme in Yorkshire...................

First is this handsome Northern Counties bodied Guy Arab produced in 1964 for Lancashire United Transport as their fleet number 167. However, by September 2010 it had found its way across the Pennines into private hands and on wedding duties in Halifax.

So to our final gem on wedding duties, this time in central Leeds during March 2015 and also captured by the Focus Transport team. Another Guy Arab this time with a centre doored Roe body, and supplied back in 1952 to Darlington Corporation as their fleet number 26. By 1966 it had entered preservation and is currently owned and operated by the Yorkshire Heritage Bus Company.

Yours for the asking. Wedding Belles anyone?

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


Staying in Yorkshire the latest album of images placed onto the new Focus Flickr site were taken recently when the Focus Team had a dampish jaunt around West Yorkshire. The results can now be seen by clicking here

Sunday, 26 April 2015


May Day Bank Holiday travel disruption: Liverpool Street, Charing Cross, Cannon Street, Waterloo East and London Bridge all set to be affected

A number of mainline London train stations are set to be disrupted over May Day bank holiday weekend as Network Rail carry out improvement works. 
Liverpool Street station will be particularly badly hit, with services starting and finishing at Ingatestone station in Essex from May 3rd to May 4th. Two of the four lines between Slough and London Paddington will be shut and there will be an amended timetable for train services at Waterloo. 

Platforms at Charing Cross, Cannon Street, Waterloo East and London Bridge will be closed across the weekend and there will no Southeastern services from these four London stations. Services will be diverted to Victoria/Blackfriars or trains will terminate at New Cross in south London. 
Network Rail which will have a team of 14,000 working on the bank holiday engineering programme, said more than 95 per cent of the network would be unaffected. It added that the work has been timed to minimise disruption to passengers, as over a bank holiday weekend passenger numbers can drop by 20 per cent to 30 per cent. NR chief executive Mark Carne said: "Our improvement programme this bank holiday, delivered by a 14,000-strong army of rail workers, is focused on delivering a better service for passengers. We are acutely conscious that many people want to use the railway over the bank holiday to reunite with their friends and families, which is why the vast majority of the network is running normally over the long weekend. "We'd like to apologise to any passengers whose plans are affected by our improvement work, but I hope they will understand that this is a quieter time on the railway and we want to minimise the overall impact of these vital projects on passengers." 
Network Rail was severely criticised for engineering work overruns last Christmas that led to chaotic scenes at Finsbury Park station in north London. A big programme of engineering work over Easter was completed successfully and on time.

Saturday, 25 April 2015


A chance view from the top deck of a bus entering the bus station during March 2015, illustrates the three Park-&-Ride routes currently operated by Konectbus. Whilst the pink Wrightbus bodied VDL Bus and the blue ADL Enviro400 double-deckers were bought from new, the Mercedes-Benz Citaro G was acquired second-hand from sister company London General. 

From the Konectbus website:

Go-Ahead subsidiary Konectbus has won the five-year contract to operate all six Park & Ride services in Norwich, starting in September this year.  The package includes the management of the six Park & Ride sites and Norwich bus station, offering the opportunity to improve the overall offer to customers. Konectbus will deliver a new network of services designed by the company and Norfolk County Council.

Eighteen new ADL Enviro400s will be acquired to operate the services, supplemented by three refurbished buses - two Mercedes-Benz artics and one of the current Enviro400s. The vehicles will include more comfortable seats with headrests, free onboard WiFi, multi-media screens with next stop announcements, promotional messages about the city and about the Park & Ride. They will also feature CCTV and telematics.
Changes to the services include an improved 10-minute frequency for Airport-Thickthorn during peak times, and other routes will have improved frequency during the life of the contract. There will also be a new Norwich Rail Station link from Postwick, providing alternative parking for railway passengers and people who work near the station. This route will also serve Broadland Business Park and County Hall and connect to the Bus Station. Plusbus rail and bus tickets will be accepted.  There will also be a dedicated service to University of East Anglia, Norwich and Norfolk University Hospital and Norwich Research Park with longer hours of operations during term time.  Smart ticketing on all services is also due to be introduced, with a revised and simplified fare structure, including the acceptance of Norwich cityZone tickets.  Another welcome addition for the public will be the reopening of the sites' rest room facilities.

A short illustrated history of the network has been added to the Features site and can now be viewed by clicking here

Whilst Konectbus currently operate routes 601, 602 with double-deckers and 604 generally with saloons or bendibuses, NORSE the bus and coach arm of Norfolk County Council run routes 603, 605 and 606 using a liveried assortment of ex.London General Dennis Tridents circa 2003. 
In other local Norwich news..............

Also due this year for Konectbus are five new ADL Enviro400s for route 8, which links Toftwood with Norwich, via Dereham.  Gavin Hunter, Managing Director of Konectbus said of the contract win: "As a locally-based company we are very pleased to have been selected to run all of the park and ride services in Norwich.  We believe that the improved network with more destinations and the new buses we have invested in will offer an affordable and viable alternative to the car. As well as taking the hassle of finding a parking space in the city centre away, our services will offer other benefits such as free to use WiFi and comfortable seating.

The current vehicles on the 8 route are smart looking, high specification ADL Enviro400 acquired in 2010, so plenty of life left in them to be cascaded onto another route. Number 609 approaches the city centre terminus at the bus station during April. With new buses expected later in the year, they may well find themselves on an equally interesting route, as they breeze in and out from a different side of the city. We shall have to see.


Friday, 24 April 2015

Maglev Reaches 374mph

A Japanese magnetic levitation train has broken its own world speed record, hitting 603km/h (374mph) in a test run near Mount Fuji.
The train beat the 590km/h speed it had set last week in another test.
Maglev trains use electrically charged magnets to lift and move carriages above the rail tracks.
Central Japan Railway (JR Central), which owns the trains, wants to introduce the service between Tokyo and the central city of Nagoya by 2027.
The 280km journey would take only about 40 minutes, less than half the current time.
However, passengers will not get to experience the maglev's record-breaking speeds because the company said its trains will operate at a maximum of 505km/h. In comparison, the fastest operating speed of a Japanese shinkansen, or "bullet train" is is 320km/h.

Graphic of train speeds
A handout picture provided by the Central Japan Railway Co shows a maglev train speeding on an experimental track in Yamanashi Prefecture, central Japan, 21 April 2015

Thursday, 23 April 2015


As we move out of Winter into Spring and onwards to Summer, commitments and priorities for the small Focus Transport team change. Thus the daily blog's 100% record of postings since 2011 may well see some gaps. We will try to keep disruption to a minimum.
That is not to say that we will be forgoing commitments to the website, just that there could be some days in between news items. Also the times of day that the blog is updated may change from early mornings to later in the day.

However, we shall not be shirking our duties, as doubtless opportunities will enable us to add new stock shots to our photographic store, in order to illustrate future postings.
We are sure that you will understand and continue to view the blog as and when news items are added.

There is of course the New Focus Flickr site, which will continue to be updated as and when we have new sets to add to the already growing number of albums thereon. Some recent additions include the following albums:

A visit to the Barrow Hill Diesel Weekend event which can now be viewed by clicking here


Two albums from a recent return visit to Norwich which can be viewed by clicking here
and here

And finally a visit to Sheffield. This time to catch up with some of the recent additons to the local Stagecoach bus fleet, in order to provide tram replacement, as infrastructure workings continue on the Supertram system. This album can now be viewed by clicking here

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

A Happy St.George's Day to One & All

The Focus Transport Team

Wednesday, 22 April 2015


It has been reported elsewhere that Stagecoach's King's Lynn based Norfolk Green subsidiary will become Stagecoach Norfolk under the Stagecoach East element of the empire. This move is set to occur from the 1st May 2015.

For further details go to the Norfolk based Andy's Bus Blog and can now be viewed by clicking here

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

North East Bendibuses Replaced by StreetLites

Go North East operate the shuttle service X66 which operates between Gateshead Interchange and the Metrocentre, one of the UK's largest shopping centres. Recently Go North East decided to withdraw all their bendy-bus vehicles from the fleet which saw an end to articulated bus operations in the North East- something which has been around for 15 years.

This saw the withdrawal of the 4 Mercedes-Benz O530G’s from the X66 and the 4 Scania L94UA / Wright Solar Fusion’s from the Great Park and Ride service X40. Since withdrawing the bendy buses, Go North East has been using a random selection of standard Northern vehicles on the X66 such as Wright Solar’s, Optare Versa’s and Wright Renowns and the service has struggled with capacity as the vehicles get so overcrowded. A brand new batch of Wright Streetlites are now being introduced but still do not offer the capacity of the bendibuses..

Forming part of the company's investment for the 2014/15 financial year, Go North East has purchased 29 Euro 5 Wright Streetlite DF/Wright Streetlite Micro-Hybrid vehicles for the "Lime",
"Red Kite" and "X66" branded services, and these vehicles will carry fleet numbers 5391 - 5419. More vehicles have been ordered as part of the company's 2014/15 financial year.

5391 - 5394 will be allocated to Riverside Depot to be deployed on service X66.
5395 - 5401 will be allocated to Stanley Depot to be deployed on services 8/78.
5402 - 5409 will be allocated to Chester-le-Street Depot to be deployed on services 8/78.
5410 - 5419 will be allocated to Stanley Depot to be deployed on services 45/46.

All four of the Wright Streetlite DF/Wright Streetlite Micro-Hybrid vehicles for service X66 have now been put into service. The Wright StreetLites are powered by Cummins ISBE5 Euro V engines and use Voith D854 5E automatic gearboxes. Wrights Micro Hybrid technology recovers and stores braking energy to power pneumatics, hydraulics and electrical items, significantly reducing overall fuel consumption.

The four Wright Streetlite DF/Wright Streetlite Micro-Hybrid vehicles for service X66 are of a lower specification than the remaining twenty five. All vehicles feature full white LED displays on the front, side and rear, but there are differences on the interior specification between the two batches. 5391 - 5394 feature Esteban Civic V2 seating complete with e-leather, whilst the remaining vehicles feature more comfortable Esteban Civic V3 seating. 5391 - 5394 do not feature any "new" on-board technology such as the provision of Next Stop Announcements, power sockets and free Wi-Fi. All vehicles feature distinctive two-colour 'Wood Effect' flooring, and these vehicles additionally feature accent lighting, fitted underneath seats to provide additional lighting on the gangway.

BP57 UYK One of the Citaro bendibuses that previously ran on the X66 route
 A fleet of Scania L94UA's ran on the X66 route before being replaced by the ex London Citaros. The Scanias spent their final days on the Great Park & Ride service..

We acknowledge that most of the information above was gained from the North East Buses Forum website.
Their main website can be accessed via

Monday, 20 April 2015


TfL named fastest growing contactless merchant in Europe after just six months
  • One million contactless taps now made in a day on London transport

  • One in seven of all contactless transactions in the UK take place on London transport

  • Over 14 per cent of all pay as you go journeys now contactless

  • Contactless fares are the same as Oyster and customers can benefit from Monday to Sunday fare capping

Transport for London (TfL) is the fastest growing contactless Visa merchant in Europe, and in the UK for Mastercard and American Express just six months after it was launched on London Underground, tram, DLR, London Overground, buses and most National Rail services in London. 
The world leading technology is now being used by millions of customers, providing them with easier and more convenient journeys. Customers using contactless pay the same adult-rate pay as you go fare as Oyster and benefit from having their fares capped – this automatically calculates the best value for their contactless travel in a day or over a 7-day period from Monday to Sunday. Contactless is a quick and easy way to get around on transport services in London. It removes the need for customers to top up, and is a secure means of paying for travel with multiple layers of security protecting against fraud.

On 13th March the number of contactless taps made on a single day reached one million. Over 14 per cent of all pay as you go journeys across TfL services are now made using contactless, with over 60 million journeys made in the last six months.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: “London was the first city in the world to offer passengers the option of getting from A to B with a simple flourish of a contactless payment card. Clearly Londoners and visitors to the capital have embraced this innovative technology – with a million card swipes taking place each day as people zip around our fine city on TfL services.”
TfL’s Director of Customer Experience, Shashi Verma, said: “It’s great to see we are leading the market in Europe for contactless payments. Our customers are finding it a much more convenient way to pay for their travel. I would encourage anyone who uses pay as you go to try contactless, there’s no need to top-up, you just touch in and out with your credit or debit card.”

The top five London Underground stations where customers have made contactless payments are Oxford Circus, Kings Cross, London Bridge, Liverpool Street and Canary Wharf.

Richard Koch, Head of Policy at The UK Cards Association, said: “With around one in seven of all contactless transactions in the UK now taking place on London transport, it’s clear that last year’s launch has given a big boost to the expansion of the technology. In fact, total contactless spending reached a record £2.32 billion in 2014 – more than double that of all the previous six years combined.”
Kevin Jenkins, MD Visa UK and Ireland, said: “We’ve seen the use of contactless terminals more than triple over the last year and believe that TfL’s adoption of the technology is a leading reason why consumers have embraced it as fast as they have.  It is an excellent proof point for our world class payments infrastructure in the UK.”
Scott Abrahams, Group Head of Acceptance and Emerging Payments at MasterCard UK&I said: “This milestone for TfL shows just how quickly consumers have taken to contactless in London. This extraordinary take up is having a halo effect on other businesses in the UK who accept contactless payments. They are also seeing a significant shift in the way their customers are choosing to pay.”
Mike Jackson, VP & General Manager of Merchant Services UK at American Express said: “UK consumers have really got onboard with contactless technology and more and more Londoners are enjoying the fast, convenient ‘tap and go’ payments on buses, Tubes, tram and DLR across the city. Reaching one million taps in one day is a fantastic achievement for TfL and we are delighted to be partnering with them on this journey.”
Barclaycard Head of Contactless, Tami Hargreaves said: "Having created the technology which sits at the heart of TfL's contactless network, Barclaycard has unique insight into the increasing uptake of contactless among London's commuters. Our data shows that the speed, ease and security of paying for travel with a contactless credit or debit card means this is fast becoming a preferred way to pay. We're seeing a steady climb in usage each month and expect this trend to continue throughout 2015 as 'the convenience of 'touch-and-go' becomes the norm."

Sunday, 19 April 2015


London Underground given go ahead to deliver Croxley Rail Link
·         Agreement reached with DfT and HCC over funding of the scheme
·         Work due to commence by the end of this year
·         The extension will see Metropolitan line trains serving Watford Junction and Watford High Street stations, as well as two new stations on the route
·         Rail link will provide Metropolitan line customers access to West Coast mainline National Rail services from Watford Junction station

London Underground (LU) today confirmed that it will take over delivery of the Croxley Rail Link after an agreement was reached with the Department for Transport (DfT) and Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) over funding.

 Watford Junction which will be the terminus for 
underground trains that have travelled via the new link
Construction work to re-route and extend the Metropolitan line to Watford Junction is planned to start later this year.  The plan, which is part of a major investment designed to support the growth and regeneration in the area, includes creating new links to Watford General Hospital, Croxley Business Park and Cardiff Road Industrial Estate - increasing employment opportunities.

Two new stations will be created at Cassiobridge and Watford Vicarage Road, served by new walk-through air-conditioned trains every ten minutes to and from central London during peak hours. The existing Watford station will close following the opening of the new stations, and the first trains are expected to run on the extended line by 2019.

David Hughes, LU’s Director of Major Programme Sponsorship, said: “We have a track record for successfully delivering major projects - the recent signalling upgrade of the Northern line, which has boosted capacity by 20 per cent, being the latest example.  Until now the Croxley Rail link project has been managed by Hertfordshire County Council, who along with Government are providing the bulk of the project funding.   Late last year, faced with significant project slippage and cost escalation, the Government asked us to consider stepping in and taking over responsibility for delivery of the scheme.  We were clear that a suitable funding package needed to be in place before we would be prepared to take this on.   

“As announced in the Budget, those discussions have now concluded, and the Mayor has confirmed that LU should take on overall delivery responsibility for the project.  We have agreed to contribute £16m, which is the approximate cost of the additional train services required to support the link when it opens in 2019.”

LU is carrying out a huge programme of rebuilding, with major stations, trains, track and signalling being updated or replaced to provide more capacity for a growing city.  Line modernisation is at the core of LU’s investment programme, which will deliver more than 30 per cent increase in capacity. The programme is being delivered over the coming years, with work to the Circle, District, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines well underway.

Following modernisation, the Victoria line is now operating one of the highest frequency train services anywhere in Europe, the Jubilee line service has been significantly improved, and the first phase of the modernisation of the Northern line has recently been completed with capacity increased by 20 per cent – the equivalent space for an extra 11,000 passengers per hour.

New air-conditioned walk-through trains are being introduced on 40 per cent of the LU network. The Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith & City lines currently have these trains in service and they are currently being introduced on to the District line, where more trains will be delivered during 2015.