Sunday, 31 January 2016

Boeing Completes Successful 737 MAX First Flight

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 has taken to the skies for the first time. The 737 MAX program achieved the milestone on schedule which begins a comprehensive flight-test program leading to certification and delivery.

With the latest technology LEAP-1B engines from CFM International and Boeing-designed Advanced Technology winglets, the first member of the efficient 737 MAX family completed a two-hour, 47-minute flight, taking off from Renton Field in Renton, Wash., at 9:46 a.m. local time and landing at 12:33 p.m. at Seattle's Boeing Field.
"Today's first flight of the 737 MAX carries us across the threshold of a new century of innovation – one driven by the same passion and ingenuity that have made this company great for 100 years," said Boeing Commercial Airplanes President and Chief Executive Officer Ray Conner.
"We are tremendously proud to begin testing an airplane that will deliver unprecedented fuel efficiency in the single-aisle market for our customers."

During the flight, 737 MAX Chief Pilot Ed Wilson and Boeing Chief Test Pilot and Vice President of Flight Operations Craig Bomben departed to the north, reaching a maximum altitude of 25,000 feet (7,620 meters) and an airspeed of 250 knots, or about 288 miles (463 kilometers) per hour typical of a first flight sequence. While Capts. Wilson and Bomben tested the airplane's systems and structures, onboard equipment transmitted real-time data to a flight-test team on the ground in Seattle.
"The flight was a success," said Wilson. "The 737 MAX just felt right in flight giving us complete confidence that this airplane will meet our customers' expectations."
With the other three members of the 737 MAX 8 flight-test fleet currently in different stages of final assembly, the 737 MAX remains on track for first delivery to Southwest Airlines in the third quarter of 2017.

The new 737 MAX 8 will deliver the highest efficiency, reliability and passenger comfort in the single-aisle market with 20 percent lower fuel use than the first Next-Generation 737s – and 8 percent per seat lower operating costs than the A320neo. The 737 MAX 8 is the first member in Boeing's new family of single-aisle airplanes – the 737 MAX 7, MAX 8, MAX 200 and MAX 9 – to begin flight testing. The 737 MAX will extend the Next-Generation 737 range advantage with the capability to fly more than 3,500 nautical miles (6,510 km), an increase of 340 - 570 nmi (629-1,055 km) over the Next-Generation 737. The 737 MAX family has 3,072 orders from 62 customers worldwide.

Saturday, 30 January 2016

New vehicles for Translink Northern Ireland

Twelve new high spec Goldline Double Deck coaches were put on display today at Stormont before they entered passenger service on the Belfast to Londonderry route.
Representing an investment of around £4.4million, the new coaches will operate in the North West, primarily on the popular Londonderry to Belfast Route, which carries over 800,000 passengers every year.
The £4.4million investment in 12 new coaches has been largely funded by the Northern Ireland Executive through the Departments for Regional Development and Enterprise, Trade and Investment through the European Sustainable Competitiveness Programme (2007 – 2013) (2007 – 2013).
Transport Minister, Michelle McIlveen said: “This year the popular 212 Belfast to Londonderry service will be celebrating its 25th Anniversary in April and I am especially pleased to announce such a significant investment in new buses for this route.
“With over 800,000 passengers travelling on this route every year, they will now be able to enjoy an even better travelling experience with extras such as seat charging points; low floor accessibility and they are also some of the most fuel efficient and environmentally-friendly buses in Northern Ireland.
“The continued investment by the Northern Ireland Executive in public transport has paid off as services such as Goldline continue to grow and provide people with a comfortable, modern and accessible travel option.”
Enterprise Minister Jonathan Bell added : “I welcome the introduction of these coaches to the Goldline fleet. These high specification, low emission vehicles will provide improved public transport service for commuters, shoppers and tourists alike, all of which benefit the Northern Ireland economy.
“The allocation of EU funding from the Sustainable Competitiveness Programme, demonstrates how inter-departmental cooperation can impact positively and help deliver the core objectives of the NI Economic Strategy.”
Welcoming politicians on board the new coaches, Translink Group Chief Executive Chris Conway said there has been a 53% increase in Goldline passengers over the last decade.
He said: “Investment in Goldline is paying-off; we want to showcase the range of features and passenger benefits that are attracting more and more people to travel on board this modern coach service.
“Our fleet of Goldline coaches offer free Wi-Fi, comfortable leather seating, generous legroom, modern interior surroundings, automatic climate control, security CCTV, tinted and double-glazed windows – all of which provide a comfortable and relaxed journey experience.
“Investment in Goldline ensures that Northern Ireland coach journeys continue to offer customers a modern, attractive and sustainable transport option. Combined with good value travel tickets and frequent services, we look forward to further customer growth across our Goldline network.”

Friday, 29 January 2016

Northern rail franchise

Arriva signs rolling stock contract for new Northern rail franchise 

Plans for the multi-million pound investment programme in the Northern rail franchise have moved a step closer as Arriva recently signed a contract to deliver the network’s new rolling stock.

Following a comprehensive procurement process, international train manufacturer CAF will build the 281 carriages with the first of the new trains, which will enable the outdated and unpopular Pacer trains to be replaced, delivered by October 2018. The deal will be financed by Eversholt Rail Group.
Arriva will work closely with CAF and Eversholt Rail Group throughout the build process to ensure the trains meet the high specification and delivery timescales promised by the transport operator. In a step-change for passengers, the new 100mph trains will include:
  • Air conditioning
  • Audio and visual on-board passenger information systems
  • Power sockets and tables
  • Cycle racks
  • Toilets
  • Digital CCTV systems, and;
  • Free Wifi for passengers
The contract marks the latest milestone in Arriva’s mobilisation for the delivery of the franchise which was awarded by the Department for Transport in December 2015.
From 1 April 2016, Arriva will begin operating the nine-year contract which will see extensive investment in new and refurbished trains, as well as extra services, increased capacity and a variety of station and ticketing improvements.
The news follows Arriva’s announcement earlier this month that Alex Hynes will lead Northern’s  5,500 employees as managing director of Arriva Rail North Ltd.
His appointment, as well as today’s announcement on rolling stock, are the first steps in Arriva’s ambitious plans to transform the long-term future of rail throughout the North of England and demonstrate the company’s determination to deliver its commitments under the franchise.

Chris Burchell, Managing Director of Arriva’s UK Trains Division, said: “We feel hugely privileged to have been given the opportunity to transform travel for passengers across the North of England and today’s contract signing allows us to replace the outdated, unpopular Pacer trains as soon as possible.
“We are delighted to partner with CAF and Eversholt Rail Group to meet the high specification and demanding timetable for delivery of the new rolling stock. I hope that today’s announcement once again makes clear our determination to deliver on our promises to passengers.”
Arriva was supported through the procurement process by technical consultants, Racon, and legal advisors, Clyde & Co.

Thursday, 28 January 2016

Transdev Invest in New Fleet for Route 36

Never has a bus brand been so well recognised or received as the Transdev 36, and now, the iconic Yorkshire brand is about to undertake an overhaul that the company believes will see it become 'the finest bus route in the country'.

They are investing £3.3m in 14 new buses, which have been designed specifically for customers that travel between Ripon, Harrogate and Leeds.  The bespoke vehicles have been designed to give passengers the ultimate journey experience, boasting quilted leather seats, free superfast wifi, USB power points at every seat, Library 36, at seat tables and a glazed panoramic roof for 'star gazing'.
Transdev are already achieving over 95% customer satisfaction on the 36 and now the service is going to be 'redefined' as they strive to raise the bar even higher.

Alex Hornby, Transdev Chief Executive, said: “The 36 is a very special brand and one we're extremely proud of. It really was a pioneer in bus travel back in 2003 when it launched the UK's first leather seated twin-deck buses. It set the ultimate standard in local bus travel and we're so excited to be trailblazing once more with these amazing top of the range vehicles.

 Andrew Jones MP (left) and Alex Hornby,
Transdev Chief Executive
We examined every detail of the journey experience, and we know our customers love to have their own space. So we've done just that, offering more leg room, sumptuous seats, work-stations and the technology to be connected on the move. We've also teamed up with Harrogate International Festivals to introduce a unique Library 36 on each bus. Our customers told us they liked to swap books on board, so we thought it was a great opportunity to create a mobile library with a difference!
In addition to the buses themselves, we've made improvements to the overall service, with new faster journeys to and from Leeds at rush hour, new night buses until 3.15am on Friday and Saturday nights, and contactless ticketing which will be live next month; complementing our popular mobile ticket app.”
"All of us at Transdev, including our new dedicated 36 driver team, are hugely excited and proud of the 36, and we can't wait to unleash the revitalised service on our customers. The 36, will truly be 'riding redefined'.”
Andrew Jones MP for Harrogate & Knaresborough said: “I am so pleased to see Transdev make such a remarkable investment in local public transport. Buses can provide the fuel for our local economy and this spectacular and unique 36 fleet is exactly the kind of thing that will encourage greater bus usage from current users and new passengers alike.”

The new buses went into service on the 24 January 2016, they run up to every 15 minutes between Ripon, Harrogate and Leeds, 7 days a week.

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

A Coat of Many Colours

Just how many advertisements can one bus display?

Brian Cheyney has supplied us with six images of the same Transport for London owned Wrightbus NRM 'Borismaster' (LT 271), which has had six different allover wraps since it appeared on revenue earning duties.

The bus was delivered during 2014 to Stagecoach London in a silver livery. 2014 had been declared as the 'Year of the Bus' by the London Mayor Boris Johnson, bringing together a number of significant events during the year. Several of the 'Borismasters'received an allover basic silver livery to add to the celebrations, and LT 271 received such a livery from new.

Ostensibly this and the rest of a particular batch were into service on Daily daytime route 8 (Tottenham Court Road Station & Bow Church) and Nighttime route N8 (Oxford Circus & Hainault), and has operated since out of Bow (BW) Garage.
The first change of livery occurred during March 2015 when it went into a pink and black livery to promote the Magnum Ice Cream.

The bus has also seen service on route Daily daytime route 15 (Trafalgar Square & Blackwall Station), and is shown here passing by St.Paul's Cathedral in June. Gone was the pink licked away and replaced by purple for BPay an electronic bill payment scheme.

The road beside St.Paul's Cathedral was the setting for the bus in September when greys had kicked the purple into touch for Nike sportswear.


Back on route 15 the bus continued to promote healthy living, but this time in a sort of beige livery for Actimel, a French produced yogurt drink supposedly filled to the brim with healthy probiotics.

By the end of the year as the bus passed over Holborn Viaduct, one could argue whether the next livery contained a message for healthy living, or not as the case may be. Pepsi MAX was advertised in an explosively fizzing fashion with a black and pinky type of livery.

And finally. When the vinyls have been changed between each promotion, the bus has returned to its silver livery. At no stage to date, has the bus ever operated in the traditional red London livery.

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

Terravision Go to Court Over Access to Stansted

Stansted airport is at the centre of a bus war after the travel company Terravision lost the right to operate out of the terminal but continued to sell coach tickets to unsuspecting passengers.

Travellers have complained of missed flights and chaotic scenes because the company failed to tell them that its services no longer run to the airport. Terravision, which has run direct, low-cost transfer services to and from several locations in central London for the past 12 years, lost the right to use Stansted’s privately run coach station after a disputed tender process last year.
It was eventually barred from the airport last week. It has launched a legal action in an effort to have its access rights restored, claiming Stansted is denying passengers choice.
In the meantime, it has quietly made an arrangement for its passengers to be carried by a new operator, Stansted Citylink. Terravision now ferries travellers from its pickup points at Victoria and Liverpool Street stations in London to Citylink’s stop near King’s Cross station, where they are made to change coaches.
Passengers travelling from Liverpool Street have said the first they knew of the arrangement was when they arrived at King’s Cross instead of Stansted airport and were told to get on another coach.
Meanwhile, Terravision ticket holders arriving at Stansted airport are instructed to use “bays 11 and 12” – the bays used by Citylink. There is no mention of the arrangement with Citylink or the transfer at King’s Cross on the Terravision website, which claims that a journey between Stansted and Liverpool Street would take 55 minutes. In fact, with the King’s Cross diversion, journey times are up to double that.
Terravision, founded by the Italian businessman Fabio Petroni, believes the tender process was flawed. It has launched legal action against Stansted, accusing it of abusing its dominant position under the 1998 Competition Act, and restricting competition to the detriment of consumers. The company has also lodged complaints with the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).

Stansted denies the claims and has advised customers to book direct with the three operators who won the contract – National Express, Stansted Citylink (operated by Metroline) and Airport Bus Express (operated by Autostradale).

Monday, 25 January 2016

New Platinum Service for Aberdeen

First Aberdeen this week launched a new Platinum on route 13 as part of a £1million investment in new vehicles.
Service 13’s upgrade to ‘Platinum’status will see it feature the newest vehicles in First Aberdeen’s fleet, all with the same high specification those using Platinum elsewhere have come to expect.
However as well as free wifi and a no-quibble guarantee, these vehicles will also be the first to feature USB charging points for customers to charge phones and tablets as they journey to and from the city centre.

With a slick metallic new‘Platinum’ livery, Service 13 will no longer be known as the ‘Salmon line’ for the pink branded buses previously used.
Operating from from Scatterburn to Seaton via Mastrick, Holburn Junction and City Centre at a 20 minute frequency.
At the outset it was agreed that the aim of Platinum should be to deliver a bus service that was so customer focused that passengers felt as if they were receiving VIP treatment, which spectators travelling on match days can also now enjoy.
All seven new buses to be used on Service 13 will feature the following as standard;
  • State-of-the-art buses with sleek ‘Platinum’ branded exteriors
  • Leather seats with embroidered headrests fitted as standard
  • Free wifi for all customers
  • Trained drivers with improved customer service skills
  • No quibble free journey voucher guarantee
  • Wood effect flooring
  • USB plug sockets for customers to charge their phones on the go
  • Audio visual next stop information
Platinum also currently operates on First Aberdeen’s routes 12 and 19. Since launching in 2013,  both services have achieved impressive levels of patronage growth while customer feedback has become incredibly positive.
Platinum Service 12 has become one of the first services in the north east to feature ‘next stop screens’ and ‘next stop announcements’ providing an extra benefit to customers, especially new or infrequent bus users or passengers with sight or hearing issues. This will be replicated on Service 13.
Managing Director of First Aberdeen, David Phillips said: “We believe Platinum is the bus service for the next generation. This is the third Platinum route to be rolled out in the city, and we expect it to attract even more people out of the car and onto the bus.
“We’ve seen strong growth on our other two Platinum services since we launched the concept in 2013 and that’s in no small part down to the fact that they are the most customer-focused bus services in the country.
“We’ve listened to what our customers want from their bus journey. Over half our fleet now has free wifi on board and these buses also feature USB charging points for the first time. ‘Next stop’ announcements and screens also provide assistance to passengers with sight and hearing issues and these feature on Service 12 and 13 now as standard.
“I firmly believe that making bus travel as attractive as possible will encourage more people to consider swapping private for public transport, easing congesting and improving air quality. We’ve invested £1million in the past year to improve bus services and hope this investment can continue, supported by our partners in Aberdeen. A full double deck bus has the potential to take 75 cars off the road and if we can combine investment in vehicles with investment in infrastructure, that can only be to the benefit of everyone in Aberdeen.”

First Aberdeen employs more than 500 staff and operates over 175 buses from the King Street depot.

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Major blow to Isle of Man's horse trams

End of the line for the horse trams

Douglas Council says its discontinuing the service because of the increased financial burden on ratepayers.
The council says the decision was taken "with very great regret" at a special meeting held last Thursday 21st January.

The decision follows a proposal by the Council to amalgamate the Tramway Terrace stables site with the tramway hub at the Strathallan site at an estimated cost of £2.9 million. Last month it was decided that this scheme wasn't financially viable.
The horse trams have been running at a loss of over £260,000, with added loan charges leading to an impact on rates of over £420,000 yearly.
Council leader David Christian says whilst recognising the tram's long history, to continue their operation would place an unacceptable burden on the ratepayer for the foreseeable future. 
The council says the tram horses will be relocated to good homes and the rolling stock will be offered to transport museums, whilst the Tramway Terrace, stable site and Strathallan will be sold.

The horse tram was immortalised in stamps with an issue to celebrate tramway's centenary issued in 1976

Saturday, 23 January 2016

'Vantage' Brand Unveiled For Premium Busway Service

First Greater Manchester has unveiled the new service brand 'Vantage' to be introduced on the Leigh-Salford-Manchester premium Busway later this year.
'Vantage' reflects the premium quality of the unique Busway service. The superior travel experience was revealed on the first of twenty, new, high quality low-emission hybrid buses.

As well as e-leather seating, customers will be able to benefit from free Wi-Fi, on-board “next stop” audio and visual announcements and USB charging points. Upstairs customers can relax in style with deluxe coach-back seating and table areas.

In preparing for the launch of the new Busway scheme, First Greater Manchester is also recruiting outstanding individuals to join the team and serve customers on the new premium 'Vantage' service. The training package will include a full week's instruction on driving in the guideway, vehicle familiarisation and additional coaching in customer service.
 Matt Rawlinson, Business Manager at First in Greater Manchester said, “We’re very excited to be unveiling the new Vantage brand for the premium Busway service. Vantage will be an outstanding customer experience at the same great value fares as we have across our network.

"Our team are looking forward to providing fast and reliable connections to the communities along the whole route. The Busway scheme means more jobs for local people and we're now actively recruiting customer focussed individuals for this exciting opportunity.
"Together with our transport partners we're looking forward to serving customers on the Busway who I'm sure will be delighted with the whole experience, including the stunning new buses."

The new frequent buses will operate on the 14-mile route linking communities in Leigh, Atherton, Tyldesley and Salford to Manchester. Busway services will be able to run free from congestion on a 4.5 mile guided section linking Leigh and Ellenbrook meaning improvements in service reliability and journey time savings.

Councillor Andrew Fender, Chair of Transport for Greater Manchester Committee, said: “We promised residents that Greater Manchester’s first guided busway would deliver a premium service that connected them quickly, reliably and frequently between, Leigh, Salford and Manchester and I am delighted that after so many months of expectation and anticipation we are now gearing up for that to start.
"In addition to the benefits that will be seen by passengers, we are already seeing the immediate economic benefits for everyone with new jobs being created."

When fully completed, regular services will run from both Leigh and Atherton which will combine to offer a higher frequency in each direction between Tyldesley and Manchester during the day, six days a week – with a less frequent service on Sundays.

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 car drivers.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Funding to Help Cut Pollution Hotspots

Eighteen "pollution hotspots" in England have been awarded funds to cut bus emissions, as part of efforts to meet EU targets on nitrogen dioxide.
The government has been taken to court over its failure to meet NO2 limits and has spent £20m since 2011 trying to make old polluting buses more green.
The 2015 award will split £7m between 18 areas, to upgrade 439 buses with technology to reduce exhaust emissions.

Funding was prioritised for the most polluted towns and cities.
The 18 councils and transport authorities that will share the Clean Bus Technology Fund 2015 are in Birmingham, London, Leicester, Liverpool, Sheffield, Leeds and West Yorkshire, Bristol, Brighton, Gateshead, Sunderland, Manchester, Lancashire, Norfolk, York, Harrogate, Broxbourne and Rossendale.
Fifty buses will be upgraded in London, 38 in Rossendale, 35 in Bristol and Brighton and 32 in Leeds.
The UK is failing to meet EU targets on NO2 and the government says targeting buses - which have high mileage and long "operational lives" - can help.
Among the pollution hotspots is Bristol - European Green Capital 2015 - whose mayor said the city had a "huge responsibility" to build on the momentum of UN climate talks in Paris.
He said the money would "clean up our dirtiest buses on the busiest routes".
The buses will be fitted with "selective catalytic reduction" technology to treat exhaust gas. The government has already spent £20m on retrofit schemes since 2011, having struggled to meet EU targets on NO2 emissions, of which diesel vehicles are a key source.
In April, the Supreme Court ruled the government must put together new air quality plans by December 31 2015, after a case brought by environmental lawyers.

It revealed plans for new "clean air zones" in five cities by 2020 - which would see older polluting buses charged to enter them.

Managing Director of Brighton & Hove Buses Martin Harris said: "This funding is a triumph for the ever-improving partnership work between local bus operators and the council. The city serves more passengers per head of population than anywhere in the country outside London and we are committed to investing in our environment.
"This welcome boost of Government funding is a recent addition to our own investment of over £24million into new buses and technology. More than 50 buses have already been retrofitted to higher environmental standards, along with 24 new buses and 13 diesel-electric hybrids all helping to improve air quality".

Other partnership work between the bus company and the council has led to the successful implementation of the city's Low Emission Zone as well as improvements to traffic light sequencing to reduce vehicle idling time.

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Enviro 400 City ordered by Blackpool Transport

Blackpool Transport is to invest over £2m in a fleet of 
10 new-generation Enviro400 City buses.

As well as a stylish new interior and exterior look, including a glazed stairwell – the new 10.5m double decks will have E-leather seats, wood-affect floors, Wi-Fi and USB charging points, ‘next stop’ visuals and audio announcements.
They will be powered by the latest Euro6, low-emission technology and come complete with fuel saving “smart accessories” and stop-start capability.  
Built by Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) the new buses will be delivered in the summer of this year and will be the first one-door variants of the recently introduced City bus which was first shown in London guise at Coach & Bus Live at the NEC last year. They will have 27 seats and a wheelchair location on the lower deck, and 45 seats in the upper level.

The Enviro 400 City was launched in two door
London format at Coach & Bus Live 2015
They will operate on the high profile Palladium service (Route 9), between Blackpool town centre and Cleveleys, and replace five Volvo Olympian double decks and five Optare Solo midi buses.
Jane Cole is Managing Director of Council owned Blackpool Transport, which has a fleet of 137 buses and accommodates 18m passenger journeys per year. She commented:  “The introduction of these leading-edge vehicles forms part of our on-going investment in modern buses. Our aim is to enhance the customer experience, provide value-for-money and encourage people out of their cars and onto public transport. 
“The ADL City bus is a stunning, high performance, eco-friendly vehicle that sets the pace and reinforces our commitment to continuous improvement and further enhancement of the passenger experience.”
Richard Matthews, Sales Director ADL Retail Bus and Coach, commented: “We are delighted to be working with Blackpool Transport on this break-through contract. They will be the first transport operator in the country to introduce the one-door 72-seat variant of the Enviro400 City, which we launched just a few months ago. As we said at the time, it brings together style and innovation."

“In addition to the latest low-emission technology, it introduces a whole range of new features. The glazed stairwell is obviously a big attraction, as is the wrap-around driver’s windscreen with the wipers recessed at the top. 
“Customers are also intrigued by the combination of the shallow upper deck front window, which – along with hopper windows and other design features – significantly reduces solar heat on warm, sunny days. And, of course, our unique QRG (quick release glazing) continues to be as popular as ever.” 
Richard confirmed that ADL is now in discussions with a number of other bus operators, both in London and wider afield, with a view to securing further City bus orders. 

ADL finished 2015 as the UK’s biggest bus supplier securing 43% of all new vehicle registration during the year.

Blackpool Transport's new livery is already portrayed on the latest additions to the fleet, in the shape of six Mercedes-Benz Citaro single-decks. Fleet number 557 shows off the nearside aspect as it passed by the base of the Blackpool Tower.

And the nineteen dual-door London versions of the ADL Enviro400H (MMC) City have also already entered service on route 78 between Shoreditch & Nunhead.

The nearside dual-door aspect is illustrated here on fleet number HA13. 

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

Shoveller Appointed Managing Director of Stagecoach Group's UK Rail Division.

Stagecoach Group plc has announced the appointment of Tim Shoveller as Managing Director of the Group's UK Rail division.

Tim Shoveller (43), who has nearly 25 years' experience in the rail industry in the UK, has been Managing Director of South West Trains for the past four years.

Reporting directly to Stagecoach Group Chief Executive Martin Griffiths, he will have responsibility for the management of the Group's existing rail businesses and new business development opportunities.

Stagecoach's UK Rail division includes South West Trains, East Midlands Trains, Virgin Trains East Coast and the Supertram light rail network in Sheffield.
Tim Shoveller, who has also previously been Managing Director at East Midlands Trains, joined Stagecoach Group in 2007. He joined from Virgin Trains where, as Business Development Director and previously Operations Director, he played a key role in the success of Virgin Trains West Coast. Before that, he was Operations Director at Midland Mainline and he has also held a senior position at Eurostar. He is also a Fellow of the Institution of Railway Operators.

Christian Roth (49), Fleet Director at South West Trains, will succeed Tim Shoveller as Managing Director of the franchise. He has covered a variety of roles in his 25-year railway career, both in the UK and in Germany. His experience includes engineering management as well as project management and development. Christian Roth joined South West Trains in December 2008, following three years heading up the UK rail business for Siemens
Both appointments are effective from 1 February 2016.
Stagecoach Group Chief Executive Martin Griffiths said: "We have a strong rail business and a portfolio of franchises which extends through to 2023, with further expected opportunities to bid for a number of contracts over the next two years.
"Tim has made a significant impact at South West Trains over the past four years, including leading our ground-breaking alliancing with Network Rail. He has extensive management experience and first-hand insight into large parts of the UK rail network, as well as a strong commitment to safety, customer service and partnership working with stakeholders.

"Christian has a strong understanding of the South West Trains network and the key priorities ahead. He has played a central role in the development and delivery of our capacity enhancement plans in Partnership with Network Rail and the Department for Transport. This includes the introduction of additional carriages, the procurement of a new fleet of suburban trains, and the forthcoming major redevelopment of London Waterloo.
"This is a very exciting time for Stagecoach, which is a leading operator in the UK rail market. These new appointments will put us in a strong position as we seek to transform the travel experience for our customers, grow our business and develop a strong bid for the new South Western rail franchise in 2017. I would like to wish Tim and Christian well in their new roles."
Commenting on his appointment, Tim Shoveller said: "Stagecoach is widely recognised as one of the most dynamic and innovative operators in the rail industry. As well as having a significant share of the UK passenger rail market, Stagecoach has built an excellent reputation for safe, high-quality rail services and strong partnership working with rail industry stakeholders.
"I am delighted to be heading the Group's UK Rail division. We have a highly professional team with a great track-record of delivering consistently high levels of service to our customers and good value to taxpayers. I'm looking forward to meeting the challenges and delivering on the opportunities ahead."
Christian Roth added: "I am very proud to have been given the opportunity to lead what is one of the most important rail networks in the UK and Europe, both in terms of the economy and connectivity for communities.

"We have a fantastic team of people at South West Trains and exciting plans to transform the service we provide for the customers who make 230 million journeys on our trains every year. There is a major and challenging programme of work ahead to deliver vital new capacity on our network, but I am confident our management team and employees will deliver for our passengers."

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

West Coast Line Closed Until March 2016

Disruption to rail services between Scotland and England is to continue until March after engineers found that damage to a key section of line is worse than first thought.
Replacement services and timetables were put on after Lamington viaduct near Lockerbie, Dumfries and Galloway, was badly damaged by flood waters during Storm Frank in December.

ScotRail had said the full line would reopen on 1 February but that date has now been pushed back to the first week of March.
A pier of the viaduct was “on the brink of collapse” after flood waters battered the structure. Engineers have used 1,500 tonnes of stone to dam part of the river and 300 cubic metres of fast-setting concrete to fill a gaping void, but more damage has now been found.
Continued bad weather and high water levels have contributed to more problems, including damage to another pier on the viaduct, three steel bearings that support the track and the foundations of the structure, ScotRail said.
Concrete supports are now to be built on either side of the second pier to strengthen it before eight metre-long rock anchors are added to the foundations.
The course of the river is also to be widened to reduce further water pressure and the rail track will be relaid.
With the line closed north of Carlisle, alternative bus and train routes have added about an hour to journey times between Glasgow and London, and hit other services out of Glasgow.

Phil Verster, managing director of the ScotRail Alliance, said: “The damage caused by Storm Frank to the Lamington viaduct has been very serious.
“Our engineers have been in a race against time to get the structure stabilised and prevent it from collapsing into the Clyde. Only now that we have won that race can we really see the full extent of the damage.
“The damage from the flood waters is significant. We have had to use hundreds of tons of rock to divert and reduce the flow rates at the piers and an extraordinary amount of concrete just to stabilise the second pier.
“Unfortunately, the scale of the damage and the complex nature of the engineering challenges means that the repair is going to take longer than we initially thought.
“The temporary timetables and arrangements that have been in place for the past couple of weeks are going to have to continue. That is why it is so important that anyone who is travelling on this route checks their travel details before they travel.”
Phil Bearpark, Virgin Trains’ executive director for operations and projects, said: “Safety is our priority and we fully support Network Rail in their work to repair the Lamington viaduct.
“We have worked really hard with our industry partners in ScotRail and Network Rail to put a train diversionary service in place via Dumfries.
“This means that journeys take around an hour longer than normal but customers travelling between Glasgow and Carlisle are able to take a replacement train rather than a bus.”

Monday, 18 January 2016

East Midlands Gateway proposals

East Midlands rail freight hub approved


A rail freight hub and warehouse complex has been approved which developers say will create 7,000 jobs.
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin has given the go ahead to the East Midlands Gateway Rail Freight Interchange near East Midlands Airport.
An independent planning committee had previously recommended the 250-acre (101 hectare) scheme be refused.
Opponents said they were "devastated" and would consider applying for a judicial review.

Developer Roxhill has previously said the hub - to be built on farmland between the Leicestershire village of Castle Donington, East Midlands Airport and the M1 - will create 7,000 jobs once it is up and running, handling the equivalent of up to 1,800 lorries a day and acting as an "inland port".

  • A freight terminal to accommodate 775m-long trains
  • Up to 557,414 sq m of warehouses
  • A new rail line to connect to the Castle Donington branch line
  • New roads and improvements to junction 24 of the M1
The company also said the East Midlands Gateway was centrally located - close to the motorway and airport - and had easy access to major deep sea ports.
But an independent planning committee, established because of the scale of the project, recommended refusal because; not all warehouses would be connected to the rail network; the warehouses would be built and operational before the rail connection; and there are no long-term plans to increase rail connections.

Minister of State for Transport, Robert Goodwill, acting on behalf of the transport secretary, disagreed with the panel, concluding it did fit within national guidelines.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Lake District flooding

As the first significant snow falls across England, an observational report is provided by Brian Bell as regards the difficulties experinced in Cumbria, from the aftermath of the heavy rains. He has also provided the modern day bus images.

The first of the two journeys of the day on the new (started on 4th January) Pooley Bridge shuttle, the 0932 ex Penrith Rail Station is seen at Penrith Bus Station. Interestingly there is a driver change here, after just a few minutes service, as effectively this  shuttle bus also works as the ferry bus for Whinfell leg 104 drivers to get to / from the depot.

Local press reports suggest a new bridge should be open at Pooley Bridge by Easter. As you enter that village, some wag has put masking tape over the "Bridge" part of the village sign, effectively renaming it "Pooley"  Buses turn by means of a U-turn outside the Crown Inn. Not surprisingly I was the only person on the bus out to Pooley Bridge, but we picked up 2 pensioners there for Penrith, no doubt pleased to have a bus service again, but clearly they were unaware of the bus not serving Penrith Bus Station on the way in, as they ended up at the Railway Station not very happy, whereas they could have alighted in the town centre.

Eamont Bridge is also damaged, and therefore closed and buses have to divert via A66 to near Brougham Castle, and then via an extensive one way system to reach normal line of route by the Crown pub at the south end of the village of Eamont Bridge. Outward the bus goes via the lanes through Fremington, Moorhouse and Clifton Dykes to the A6, returning via the A6 and Pembroke House to reach the B6262 at Brougham. All these sections other than the A66 and A6 are not usually served by bus.

The normal two hourly 508 to Patterdale has to divert between Penrith and Waterfoot (on Ullswater) via the A692 past Dalemain House, another long section normally bus less.

I had totally failed to pick up that the X4 and X5 Penrith to Workington is now Stagecoach Gold with double-deckers, although the X4 is having to run along the X5 route at present due to another damaged bridge.

The diverted section of 508 to avoid the damaged bridges at Eamont and Pooley is not especially exciting, although offers fine views of the National Trust Dalemain House and the very high and fast flowing River Eamont alongside.

The normal route is regained at Waterfoot.  Ullswater is particularly high still as well, with sections of the road still flooded, but easily passable. There is a short section where part of the road has collapsed into the water, controlled by traffic lights, and a few places where the retaining wall has succumbed, but generally there are few signs of any major problems until you get to Glenridding Village, where the banks of the beck are having to be totally rebuilt, and businesses are still clearing up after being flooded out four times.

As can be seen in the photo, a 38-seat Plaxton bodied Dennis Dart was operating the 508, which I guess is usual since the last of the Volvo B10Ms were taken off. On the 1320 ex.Penrith I was the only passenger all the way, but the 1420 ex.Patterdale was patronised by one lady from Patterale to Glenridding and two gents from there to Penrith Hospital. The driver was saying its never busy in the winter but the current situation seems to have reduced loadings even further still.

I asked the driver whether the open top operation between Penrith and Patterdale last summer was a success or not, and he reckoned loadings were good on pleasant days, but no one could understand why the open topper was not used on through journeys over the Kirkstone Pass to Windermere, as he had done his route learning for the route on a Volvo Olympian, so double-deckers do fit. Maybe next year? But there has been a change of management since last summer, so it may not run at all this year.

Today both buses on this hourly temporary Penrith Rail Stn to Kendal Bus Stn service were double-deckers. One Volvo Olympian and one Dennis Trident. Buses display route 555 but have the correct destination details of "Kendal via M6" and "Penrith for Keswick"

I had feared that the "via M6" would entail them using the M6 all the way to Tebay thence as the Cumbria Classic Coaches' route 570 or even to the Sedburgh Road (albeit needing to divert around the low rail bridge in Kendal) - both of which I have done on deckers in the past. But fortunately the timetable is headed via M6/A6 and the Motorway is only used from Junction 40 at Penrith to Junction 39 near Shap Summit (which includes the section of Motorway where the northbound and southbound carriageways are a considerable distance apart - so you need to do it both ways!). After that, they run across Hardendale Fell to join the A6 just south of Shap.

The section of route between Shap and Kendal along the A6 past Shap Fell and Selside is extremely scenic, and is highly recommended, especially in a double-decker.

Not sure whether in years gone by this road ever had a regular bus service, as far as I recall there was just an early morning Apollo8 106 that ran that way, something I always intended getting around to doing, but never did before it got withdrawn, so am especially pleased to get a chance to do it now.

The driver was saying that the use made of the 555A is not much, although today my three journeys had 10, 8 and 4 passengers. However it certainly does not justify double-deck operation, so may be worth doing before they realise that !!

Once the road around the west shore of Thirlmere is opened for the 555 bus, the 555A will obviously cease.,The driver said he had no idea how this Thirlmere road service was going to be provided, or indeed whether it would even be Stagecoach doing it. However he said it is possible to get a double-decker round the road, as it has already been done once when there was an accident.

Traffic into Kendal from the north was a nightmare, mainly because of another damaged bridge, as a result a Dennis Trident was being used as an extra bus on the 43/a in order to maintain a decent sevice on the normally linked 41/a and 43/a routes.

The driver also confirmed there are scheduled double-deck journeys on the 45 to / from Burneside on a school day, he thinks the 0905 is one of them. He also said that the only Kendal local route that cannot use double-deckers is the 42/a.

As usual the 555 and 755 seemed to be all double-deck. Since my last trip on the route, the 555 has a small additional double run north of Carnforth to serve the Pine Lake resort.

And finally

A reminder of better days for the 508 route. Previously as the 108 it was operated by Bristol VRs from the Stagecoach Cumberland fleet. Illustrated is fleet number 434 as it climbed up onto Pooley Bridge bound for Patterdale in September 1998.

Saturday, 16 January 2016

Siemens to automate Paris metro Line 4 for driverless operation

Transit authority RĂ©gie Autonome des Transports Parisiens (RATP) has awarded Siemens a €70m contract to automate the 12km-long metro Line 4 in Paris, France, in order to allow driverless operation.
As part of the deal, the company will equip 27 stations on the line with signalling and operational control systems, and the work is scheduled to be completed in 2022.
According to RATP, fully automatic operation can increase the capacity of this line by about 20% because trains will be able to run at shorter headways.
"The automatic control will allow it to reduce energy consumption by up to 15%."
Siemens Mobility CEO Jochen Eickholt said: "Siemens has equipped about 300km route worldwide with signalling technology for fully automatic operation, making it the market leader in this field.
"Automatic operation will enable Line 4 to offer a service interval of 85s. At the same time, the automatic control will allow it to reduce energy consumption by up to 15%."
Scope of work will include installation of Siemens' Trainguard MT automatic train control system that uses communications-based technology to achieve fully automatic, driverless operation.
The operation control center supplied by Siemens will be used to monitor all train movements.
Around 700,000 passengers use the Line 4 every day, which is claimed to be one of the most frequented sections of the whole Paris mass transit network.

Paris Metro Line 4 is also the most important north-south metro link in the city that connects the stations of Porte de Clignancourt in the north of the city and future station Bagneux in the south.
In addition to Line 4, Siemens has also installed Metro Lines 14 and 1 for driverless operation.
Line 1 connects the east and west of the city along 17km of track.
The company also recently supplied important signaling components and systems for Lines 3, 5 and 9.
In 2013, RATP secured approval from Ile de France transport authority STIF to convert Line 4 to fully automated operation.