Monday 29 February 2016

Changes to Yorkshire Coastliner from 27th March

From Easter Sunday, 27th March, there will be a new timetable at Yorkshire Coastliner which will include the following:
Buses every 30-minutes between Leeds, York and Malton - with most then continuing on to Scarborough, Pickering & Thornton or Whitby.

Extra buses between Tadcaster and York, quick along the A64, every hour remain on the newly introduced  Tadfaster.
New Cityzap will run non-stop between Leeds and York, meaning a bus every 15-minutes between York and Leeds during the main part of the day Monday-Saturday, and every 30-minutes on Sundays.
Buses every hour to and from Scarborough every day of the week.
Buses every hour to and from Pickering & Thornton-le-Dale.
Buses every 2-hours to and from Whitby.
Connecting buses at Malton for day trips to Filey and Bridlington.
And that's not all. At least 10 brand new buses are arriving on Coastliner later this year, with top of the range features.

Sunday 28 February 2016

Buses £1,000 a Year Cheaper Than Car Despite Falling Pump Prices

  • Bus passengers save on average more than £90 per month by leaving car at home
  • Biggest annual savings of more than £5,500 found in Cambridgeshire
  • Stagecoach survey of around 35 key commuter routes in England, Scotland and Wales
New national research for Stagecoach has found commuters can save around £1,000 per year by catching the bus instead of travelling to work by car - despite falling fuel prices at the pumps.

Bus travel costs are around 55% cheaper than the same commute by car, saving passengers an average of more than £90 a month, according to the study.
The savings - even with fuel prices being at their lowest levels for six years - would be enough to cover the entire annual energy costs for a medium-sized house*.
Research by Stagecoach, covered around 35 key commuter routes in England, Scotland and Wales. It compared the weekly price of hopping on the bus with the cost of fuel and car parking for the same journeys.

The study found:
  • The biggest savings were in the East of England where bus passengers travelling between St Ives and Cambridge were 83% better off, saving more than £5,500 a year compared to motorists.
  • In the North-east of England, taking the bus between South Shields and Newcastle was up to £1,100 per year cheaper than driving
  • Commuters in Merseyside travelling between Heswall and Liverpool could save more than £1,200 a year month by switching to bus travel
  • In Greater Manchester, bus users travelling between Reddish and Manchester could be more than £460 a year better off.
  • South West commuters travelling between Torquay and Exeter could save more than £1,000 a year by leaving the car at home and taking the bus.
  • In the South of England, bus travel between Worthing and Brighton was found to be more than £2,000 cheaper than going by car
  • In Scotland taking the bus between Peterhead and Aberdeen instead of driving was around £1,600 a year cheaper.
  • Commuters in Wales who travel between Merthyr and Cardiff could save around £1,400 a year by switching to bus travel
Robert Montgomery, Managing Director of Stagecoach UK Bus, said: “Fuel prices are at their lowest level for six years, but it is still miles cheaper to commute to work by bus for many people up and down the country.

"The average savings would pay a big chunk of people's annual energy bills and for some it would fund the cost of a family holiday for a week in the sun in Florida.
"It's also easier than ever before to catch the bus, with smart ticketing, bus tracking available via your smartphone and free wi-fi on many of our new buses."
Stagecoach works with other major public transport groups in the UK, as well as campaign group Greener Journeys and local authorities to attract more people out of their cars and on to public transport to reduce pollution and congestion in the UK’s towns and cities.
The company is currently offering Dayrider** tickets – which provide unlimited travel within a specific local area – for just £2 to passengers aged under 19 in a special promotion. Stagecoach is also the only bus operator to offer a nationwide discount for jobseekers, giving those with a JobCentre Plus travel card a 50% discount on their bus travel to help them find employment.

Stagecoach has invested more than £630million over the past eight years in brand new buses and coaches for local communities.

Saturday 27 February 2016

Crossrail to be Named the Elizabeth Line

Her Majesty the Queen visited the under-construction Crossrail station at Bond Street on the 23rd February coinciding with the announcement that the new railway will be known in her honour as the Elizabeth Line.

The line will transform travel across the city, boosting the economy by billions of pounds and supporting thousands of new jobs and homes.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP was joined by Secretary of State for Transport, Patrick McLoughlin MP, London’s Transport Commissioner Mike Brown MVO, the Crossrail construction company’s Chairman Terry Morgan, and Chief Executive Andrew Wolstenholme, as they gave Her Majesty a tour of the Bond Street station site. It will see 24 trains per hour in each direction when the central section of the Transport for London (TfL) run railway opens in 2018.

The Queen was presented with a commemorative Elizabeth roundel, and met a wide range of people involved in the construction of Crossrail, Europe’s largest infrastructure project. This included apprentices working on building the railway, engineers fitting out the station and drivers of the trains that will serve the line.
This marks the latest in a long-held association between the royal family and London’s transport network. Her Majesty became the first reigning monarch to travel on the London Underground in 1969, when she opened the Victoria line service.
In 1979, the Jubilee line was officially opened by HRH the Prince of Wales and was named to mark 25 years since Her Majesty’s accession to the throne. In the same year, Her Majesty opened Heathrow Central station (Terminals 1, 2, 3) on the Piccadilly line.
In the aftermath of the 7 July terrorist attack on the London Underground, Her Majesty unveiled a plaque at Aldgate station in 2010 remembering the lives of the 52 victims who had died.
In 2013, the celebrations of London Underground’s 150th anniversary saw HRH the Prince of Wales and HRH the Duchess of Cornwall take a trip on the Underground, and Her Majesty the Queen, HRH the Duke of Edinburgh and HRH the Duchess of Cambridge visit Baker Street station.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson MP, said:
"Crossrail is already proving a huge success for the UK economy, and as we move closer to bringing this transformative new railway into service, I think it’s truly wonderful that such a significant line for our capital, will carry such a significant name from our country. As well as radically improving travel right across our city, the Elizabeth line will provide a lasting tribute to our longest serving monarch."
The Rt Hon Patrick McLoughlin MP said:
"Given Her Majesty the Queen’s long association with UK transport, it is very fitting that this vital link across our capital will be named the Elizabeth Line in her honour. This is an example of British engineering at its best and will transform the way people travel across London and beyond from 2018, bringing better and faster journeys, while boosting jobs and driving economic growth."

Stretching from Reading and Heathrow in the west across to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, the Elizabeth line will change the way people travel around London and the south east and add much needed new capacity to London’s transport infrastructure.

When the railway fully opens it will significantly increase the capital’s rail capacity, carrying over half a million passengers per day. Some 1.5 million people will have better access to the jobs and opportunities of London’s main employment centres, and an estimated £42 billion will have been added to the economy of the United Kingdom.

Friday 26 February 2016

Flying Scotsman Inaugural Run

The Flying Scotsman has completed its inaugural run after a decade-long, £4.2m refit.
It made the journey from London King's Cross to York, where it will go on display at the National Railway Museum (NRM).

It arrived in York about 13.20 GMT, almost an hour later than expected, after it was twice held up by reports of trespassers.
The first disruption happened at about 09:00 near St Neots when the train was brought to a standstill while British Transport Police cleared the lines after reports of around 60 people on the track. No arrests were made.
Network Rail said the number of people on the trackside had caused "safety concerns" and resulted in a number of services, including Flying Scotsman, having to slow down."
The train was halted a second time north of Doncaster following reports of trespassers on the track which were later found to be false.

Crowds gathered at King's Cross for its scheduled departure at 07:40 and thousands lined the route, while some of the 297 passengers paid up to £450 for a ticket to travel on the train.
Among the passengers was 83-year-old Ron Kennedy, from Leigh-on-Sea, in Essex, who drove Flying Scotsman from 1956 until it was retired in 1963.
He said "It's unbelievable. I never dreamt about being on it again. To be out with it is just fantastic."
NRM director, Paul Kirkman, said the restoration project was a "long old journey" but added that it was "incredibly satisfying" to see the locomotive returned to service.

The locomotive undertook a series of test runs through Cumbria and Lancashire earlier this year.

A full range of pictures can be seen on the BBC website here and the Flying Scotsman at the NRM website can be seen here here

Thursday 25 February 2016

Stagecoach Group PLC : Directorate Change

Stagecoach Group plc has announced planned changes to its Board of Directors.

After almost nine years on the Board, Garry Watts has given notice of his intention to step down as the Company's Deputy Chairman and Senior Independent Director on 1 April 2016 and to step down from the Board on 31 July 2016.
In addition, having served around six years on the Board, Phil White has informed the Company that he intends to resign from the Board with effect from 23 April 2016 to reduce his public company directorships and to pursue other interests.

  Will Whitehorn, currently a non-executive director of the Company, will assume the role of Deputy Chairman and Senior Independent Director with effect from 1 April 2016.  

The Company has commenced a search for an additional two non-executive directors.

Sir Brian Souter, Chairman, said:
"On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank Garry and Phil for their contributions to Stagecoach Group. The strength and depth of their experience with listed companies has been a great asset to the Company and its governance over recent years.

"Will Whitehorn has been an independent non-executive director of the Company since 2011.  Together with his substantial experience across transport and other sectors, it means he is well placed to be the Company's Deputy Chairman and I am delighted that he has agreed to assume the role."

Wednesday 24 February 2016

Manchester Guided by Cambridge on Busway

One of Britain's biggest cities has turned to Cambridgeshire's guided busway for inspiration for sorting out its traffic problems.
In April Manchester will open 14 miles of new busway, 4.5 miles of which is guided – having taken advice from the Cambridgeshire officers behind the increasingly well-used scheme between St Ives and Cambridge.

Despite initial scepticism the Cambridge guided busway continues to prove popular beyond all expectations.
The latest figures for October show 336,000 used buses on the guided busway that month – well above the predictions in the busway's business plan, which were supposed to include passengers from the new town of Northstowe.
 There have now been more 13.6 million passengers on it since the busway opened in August 2011. The 12-month rolling total is 3.6m.
The busway is also expected to see a further surge in popularity next year, when the first homes at Northstowe are completed and the new Cambridge North railway station opens.
Manchester is one of a number of major cities turning to bus-based transport systems to tackle congestion.
Cambridge's City Deal board is due to visit Manchester in the coming months to assess the measures they have taken with buses.
These include installing a considerable amount of bus lanes, as well as making a main street bus only to get buses from its busway into the city centre.
"Cambridge led the way with its long-distance traffic-free busway connecting Huntington, St Ives and Cambridge, which now sees around 12,000 journeys a day, including my mother, who comes in from Longstanton park and ride to Cambridge and finds it brilliant," said City Deal board member Cllr Francis Burkitt.
"Now we see Manchester following where Cambridge led, with its 14-mile busway, of which 4.5 miles are guided, and the rest on dedicated lanes mainly on existing dual carriageways. And there's a separate path alongside for cyclists and walkers.
"Within the city of Manchester, the project has included new segregated cycle lanes, better pedestrian crossings, and changes to reduce rat-running through residential areas.
"Just as Manchester leant from Cambridge, now we can perhaps learn from its recent experience, as we work out how best to link together more of our communities in Cambridgeshire.
"For some connections, rail will be the answer. For others, bus will be best and far quicker to deliver. We also need good, safe cycle links between our villages and the city.
"So it's important that we look at other successful schemes in the UK and internationally, and use their examples to fulfil our vision, over the next decade or so, of making Cambridgeshire's transport links something we can all be truly proud of and use regularly."

The City Deal's overarching plan (above) and how a 'western orbital' bus route (below) would fit into a wider, integrated system for buses

The guided busway has caused a number of issues for the county council, having been delayed, run well over budget and been the subject of a legal dispute with contractor BAM Nuttall.

The findings of the latest investigation into problems with the guided busway is due to report in the coming weeks, Cllr Mike Mason told its full council this week.

The proposals for new bus infrastructure between Cambridge and Cambourne, as well as along Histon Road and Milton Road, have undoubtedly been the most opposed aspects of the City Deal so far.

But it is not just Cambridge turning to buses to solve congestion, given they are cheaper and quicker to deliver than railway and trams.

Belfast is rolling out a series of schemes as part of a comprehensive 'bus rapid transit' network; Bristol will next year open its new £200m 'Metrobus', while bus rapid transit has been the preferred link of choice between Sheffield and Rotherham.

Plus, an extensive piece of analysis by the Department for Transport of 33 'major bus-related schemes' completed over the past five years found they had a benefit-to-cost ratio of 3.9:1.

This means that for every £1 they cost, these schemes generated £3.90 of economic benefit.

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Hong Kong Tramways

Hong Kong Tramways launches the TramOramic Tour offering visitors and locals a fascinating encounter with the city aboard a unique 1920s’ style heritage tram.

Hong Kong Tramways (“Tramways”) held a ceremony at Whitty Street Depot recently, celebrating the launch of the TramOramic Tour – Hong Kong’s first-ever sightseeing tram tour abroad a 1920s’ style heritage tram. The ceremony, attended by more than 100 guests, marked a major new Hong Kong tourism initiative and a significant milestone for the city’s iconic tramways.
The highlight of the TramOramic Package is an amazing 1-hour trip aboard a unique and elegant 1920s’ style tram with an open top upper deck. As the journey passes through the city streets, authentic Hong Kong stories and sites of interest are narrated to passengers via personal headphones in eight languages. The tram features an on-board video comparing past and present Hong Kong and a heritage corner with old pictures and genuine tram souvenirs.
The package also includes a 2-day pass giving unlimited free access to the Tramways’ regular service to deepen Hong Kong’s exploration and seven thematic journey maps for self-guided tours to interesting sites along the tram lines.
The TramOramic Tram features a 1920’s style tramcar with an open top upper deck and a vintage cabin lower deck.

Timetable & routes

The TramOramic Tour departs 6 times a day, 365 days per year, travelling along the busiest Hong Kong spots, between Western Market Terminus (Sheung Wan) and Causeway Bay Terminus, and swinging through the Happy Valley loop. 

TramOramic Tour itinerary map.

Example of Thematic journey map for self-guided tour.

Monday 22 February 2016

Community Rail Plan for Line Between Swindon and Westbury

Community groups and passengers in Wiltshire could have more say over the design and operation of their local rail services, under plans announced this week by Rail Minister Claire Perry.
The government is consulting on designating the 32-mile route between Swindon and Westbury — known as the TransWilts line — as a community rail service.

This would allow the community to design train services according to local needs, which in turn would help increase passenger numbers, improve connectivity to key destinations and ultimately boost the local economy.
Rail Minister Claire Perry said:
I know how important this line is to local communities in Wiltshire, and it’s right that passengers have a bigger say in shaping its future.
By designating the TransWilts line as a community rail service, we can breathe new life into this route, ensure its long term future, and improve connections between Swindon that will mean better journeys for customers and promote local economic growth.
If the plans go ahead, train companies including Great Western Railway will continue to operate passenger services. However, it will be with the support of the TransWilts Community Rail Partnership, comprising local organisations, train operators, Wiltshire Council, rail users and other interest groups.
The partnership will have direct input in securing better services and station facilities for customers, including Chippenham and Melksham stations, which also fall under the proposals.
Community rail partnerships are made up of local councils, train operators and community groups including volunteers, to decide how lines should be run. Research shows that community rail partnerships are good value for money and support economic, social and environmental development in local areas.
Infrastructure such as track and signalling would remain under the authority of Network Rail.
Nineteen rail lines around the country have been designated by government as community lines since 2005, along with a further 21 as community rail services since 2005. In the south-west of England, these include the Heart of Wessex line (Bristol to Weymouth) and Avocet line (Exeter St Davids to Exmouth).

The 8 week consultation runs until Wednesday 6 April 2016.

Somerset & Dorset Railway Steam Specials

Sunday 21 February 2016

Buses and coaches replace trains due to Dover Folkestone rail disruption

Dover rail line collapse: Repairs to take 'up to a year'

Damage to a sea wall in Kent which is causing major disruption for rail passengers will take six to 12 months to repair, Network Rail has admitted.
Southeastern services were stopped between Folkestone and Dover Priory on 24th December 2015 after huge cracks appeared.
Network Rail said major work is needed to repair the track and the sea wall will also need to be rebuilt.
Its Chief Executive Mark Carne admitted on Tuesday six to 12 months was "the sort of timeframe we are looking at".

A bus replacement service is running between Dover Priory and Folkestone Central while repairs take place.

Southeastern has said it would compensate passengers for the loss of direct high speed trains.
Season ticket-holders from five stations will also get a backdated 20% refund on mainline fares.
Visiting the site on Tuesday, Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin said it was a "big deal" for infrastructure.
"We need to come up with the right answers and the right solutions... But we are working on it now and people can see how seriously we are taking it," he said.

Saturday 20 February 2016

£7m Investment in Rotherham’s Bus Network

According to a joint news release between Rotherham Bus Partnership and bus operators First and Stagecoach a £7m investment in Rotherham’s bus network has been announced.

Rotherham Bus Partnership is enticing visitors from neighbouring towns and cities by introducing over 30 state-of-the-art new vehicles on its routes from Barnsley, Doncaster and Sheffield. 

First South Yorkshire has welcomed 22 double-deck, Wrightbus Streetdeck buses on its X78 route between Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster. The impressive vehicles come 
complete with new luxury e-leather seat interiors and USB charging points. Low carbon certified, the buses are amongst the most fuel efficient buses on the market and, fitted with Euro 6 engines, contribute to better air quality. 

Stagecoach has introduced 10 new single deck Alexander Dennis Enviro200 MMC vehicles, operating on its 22X route between Barnsley, Wombwell, Wath, Manvers, Parkgate and Rotherham. The new generation model is to the latest Euro 6 specification, carries more passengers than its predecessor and is 200kg lighter, making it more fuel efficient. It also has an advanced electrical system and suspension for improved reliability and passenger comfort.

Rotherham Council’s Advisory Cabinet Member for Jobs and the Local Economy Cllr Denise Lelliott said the introduction of the new vehicles would encourage more people to travel by bus, and promote public travel across South Yorkshire.

She added: “There’s never been a better time to visit Rotherham, particularly given our recent success in the Great British High Street awards. The introduction of these fleet of vehicles by First South Yorkshire and Stagecoach Yorkshire means passengers can travel here in luxurious comfort, as well as knowing that they are doing more than their ‘bit’ for the environment.

The new vehicles are part of an ongoing investment commitment by Rotherham Bus Partnership, which brings together local bus operators First South Yorkshire, Stagecoach Yorkshire, Stagecoach East Midlands and TM Travel, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive (SYPTE) and Rotherham Council in a bid to improve the town’s bus services and attract more people onto public transport.

Customers are already seeing vast improvements to their services since the Partnership was introduced in 2014, with improved punctuality and reliability, value-for-money tickets and increases in patronage including an upturn in child travel.

Friday 19 February 2016

Go Ahead Half Year Results for Six Months Ended 26 December 2015

Overall results in line with management expectations

Business overview
– Overall results in line with management expectations. Full year expectations are unchanged
– Bus adjusted operating profit up 1.5% to £47.8m
– Regional bus adjusted operating profit up 7.0% to £26.1m. Revenue growth of 2.6% from contract gains and largely consistent year-on-year passenger numbers
– London bus adjusted operating profit down 4.4% to £21.7m due to roadworks and congestion
– Rail adjusted operating profit at £32.9m with a margin of 2.6%. Contribution to the Government of £126.6m, up £18.4m on the prior year
– Working with Network Rail to minimise disruption to rail passengers during the £6.5 billion Thameslink Programme
– Strong cashflow and robust balance sheet
– Proposed interim dividend increased by 6.5% or 1.73p to 28.33p (H1’15: 26.60p)

Review - David Brown, Group Chief Executive

The Go-Ahead Group plc Half Year Results for the six months ended 26 December 2015 2

I am pleased with the Group’s financial performance in the first half of the year, with adjusted operating profit up 19.7% at £80.7m (H1’15: £67.4m).


Overall, our bus division performed well in the first six months. Total adjusted operating profit for the division was £47.8m (H1’15: £47.1m).

Regional bus adjusted operating profit is up 7.0%, with a slight increase in margins overall. Our regional business saw growth in passenger revenue driven primarily by contract wins. Fare increases across the business have largely reflected the low level of inflation. While recorded passenger journeys in the first half overall were broadly consistent year-on-year, regional passenger growth was stronger in the second quarter than the first. Growth was driven by an increase in commercial passengers, offsetting a decline in concessionary travel.

Our regional bus operations continue to benefit from our effective devolved management structure. This ensures that we are able to respond quickly to the needs of our customers in local markets. We are proud of our high levels of customer satisfaction, which remain the best in the sector at 90%.

Following the Government Spending Review, we are encouraged that the DfT has confirmed the Bus Service Operators Grant will be protected until at least 2020/2021.

We remain the largest bus operator in London in an expanding market. Growth in London bus mileage increased year on year due to high contract retention rates and contract gains. We have also benefited from contract variations and rail replacement work. However, continued high levels of roadworks and congestion in the capital have significantly impacted our Quality Incentive Contract (QIC) revenue, which was nil in the period (H1’15: £4.4m). We have been working with TfL on finding ways to improve service reliability and mitigate delays. Due to the reduction in QICs, adjusted operating profit was down 4.4%.

We are committed to investing in our fleet to provide an attractive and sustainable alternative to the private car. During the period we invested a total of £38m on 179 new buses, almost half of which are carbon efficient hybrid vehicles. We have also continued to introduce free Wi-Fi and multi-operator smart ticketing on many of our services.

The Buses Bill

Toward the end of the period we welcomed the report and findings of the independent Quality Contracts Scheme Board on Nexus's proposals for Tyne and Wear, which concluded that the Scheme failed to meet the necessary statutory public interest tests. As we await the draft Buses Bill and potential new forms of regulation for regional bus operations outside London, we believe that the overriding lesson of Tyne and Wear is that rigorous and independent scrutiny of major transport schemes is a necessity. Clear accountability must be in place where there is a fundamental change to the provision of bus services that could have a long term impact.

Partnership working is how we conduct our business. We have continued to engage with the DfT, with the Passenger Transport Executives and other stakeholders to help inform the debate about the Buses Bill. We firmly believe that private operators are part of the solution. Our devolved structure at
Go-Ahead ensures strong local expertise and a focus on the needs of customers in different markets. It has always been our belief that working in partnership at a local level can bring about better outcomes for both bus passengers and taxpayers.

Go-Ahead continues to act to meet the needs of a changing world. Any structural reform toward greater devolution needs to be economically sustainable and embrace private sector innovation. Given reductions in overall public spending budgets, a continuing flow of private sector capital investment will remain crucial in order to meet important public policy objectives, as well as keep pace with demographic change and new technology that is rapidly transforming the passenger experience. Effective adaptation to these changes and support for transport innovation can be more readily advanced in a dynamic, commercially-driven marketplace.


Overall, our rail business delivered a good financial performance. Half year adjusted operating profit for our rail businesses was £32.9m (H1’15: £20.3m).

We made an overall contribution to the DfT of £126.6m, up £18.4m on the prior year.

Our current three franchises carry about a third of all passengers in the UK and we have 19 years’ experience of managing complex commuter franchises and delivering industry-leading projects.

In July 2015 Southern and Gatwick Express were successfully integrated into GTR. This was a major restructuring that resulted in the creation of a new business, new leadership team and the start of a new culture. As previously stated, since the beginning of the contract GTR has been operating a timetable that is different to the bid assumptions on infrastructure delivering a different level of performance than expected. This led to the company incurring additional costs as investment was necessary in rolling stock and drivers, with the largest ever driver training programme in the UK established. GTR continues to operate on a reduced capacity network, with an ever increasing number of passengers. As has been concluded by an independent review, the network cannot support the expected performance level through a period of major infrastructure renewal due to lack of resilience in the system. The DfT has now agreed the impact of these changes with GTR and has amended the franchise accordingly. As a key part of the £6.5bn Thameslink Programme,

Network Rail is rebuilding London Bridge station. We continue to work closely with Network Rail to minimise the impact on passengers from the redevelopment project and are confident that the situation will improve. Going forward the network will benefit from new trains, better connections and increased capacity at London Bridge station from August 2016, providing the opportunity to improve on customer services.

Southeastern has delivered a strong trading performance in the first half of the year and continues to operate at maximum profit share, increasing its contribution to the DfT by £8.4m on the prior period.

The London Midland franchise has continued its trend of improvement with a steady increase in both passenger journeys and passenger revenue. London Midland results also benefited from the revaluation of certain assets that had been written down in the prior year. In the period the DfT awarded an extension of the franchise under a direct award contract until October 2017, giving us the opportunity to provide longer term investment in our services for passengers' benefit.
During the period, our joint venture On Track Retail launched its new online ticket sales system ‘On Track’ in October 2015. The web and mobile platform provides highly personalised, real-time information to help customers find the best value ticket option available. Following introduction on
Southern and Thameslink routes On Track is now being rolled out to all of Go-Ahead’s rail operations and integrated within its mobile app and ‘the key’ smartcard.
At the start of this year Go-Ahead submitted its bid for TfL's London Overground contract and we look forward to hearing the outcome later in the year.

Overseas contract wins
We were pleased to have been awarded a five-year contract to operate bus services in Singapore beginning September 2016. Singapore's bus contracts
system is modelled on London's and, as London's largest bus operator, Go-Ahead has the right experience and expertise to deliver high quality services in
Singapore. We also look forward to entering the German rail market, having been awarded two contracts to operate rail services in the Stuttgart region from June 2019 until 2032. These contract wins show that Go-Ahead is a growing and forward-looking organisation which is well positioned to capture new, value adding opportunities.

Overall, current trading is satisfactory and we remain on course to meet our full year expectations for both the bus and rail divisions.
Our bus and rail business remain fundamentally strong and they continue to deliver revenue growth as passengers are attracted by our high quality and value for money services. In bus we anticipate steady progress towards our operating profit target. Our focus in rail remains on delivering operational improvements, delivering benefits to passengers and managing contractual challenges.
The Group remains in a good financial position with strong cash generation and a robust balance sheet, supporting our dividend policy and allowing flexibility to pursue value-adding opportunities.

Thursday 18 February 2016

Work to Start on Bridging The Great Central Gap

Work to reconnect two parts of a railway line which was divided into two over three decades ago is set to begin.

The Great Central Railway, between Leicester and Nottingham, was left with a 500m gap after infrastructure, including bridges, were removed.
A new bridge, in Loughborough, is the first stage to rejoin the 18-mile (29km) railway, described by GCR as the "UK's only main line heritage railway".
The £8m project is due to be completed by 2019.

One section of the railway runs from Leicester to Loughborough - the GCR - and the other from Ruddington, in Nottinghamshire, to North-West Leicestershire - the GCRN.
Separating the two railways is the gap where tracks, embankments and bridges were removed in the early 1980's.

History of the line
  • Opened in 1899 - linking Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham, Leicester, Rugby to London.
  • Closed in 1966, but a section from Leicester to Loughborough was saved by a group of enthusiasts.
  • In 1976, Great Central Railway PLC was formed, which runs trains from this section of the track.
  • In 1989, Great Central Railway Nottingham took over the former MOD site at Ruddington - the last MOD train ran out of there in 1983.
  • Services are pulled by steam or diesel locomotives aiming to recreate the experience of train travel from the 19 Century.
  • It's the only place in the world where full size steam engines can be seen passing each other.
  • Around 130,000 people visit the railway each year. Source: GCR and GCRN

The new 30m bridge will carry a single track of the heritage railway over the main line between Derby and London St Pancras. 

Bill Ford, of GCR, said the start of the project was "a very exciting moment".
"We have cherished this vision for decades, so to finally make a start on the ground is very important for us," he said.

Nicky Morgan, MP for Loughborough, will perform a traditional Victorian style "turf cutting" ceremony to mark the start of the work.

Paul Kirkman, of the National Railway Museum, said: "Leicester had one of the world's earliest railways and was also a hub of the Midland line.
"This joining of the line seems another positive step towards making the area and region rich in railway heritage, and inspiring a new generation to get involved in our nation's railway story."

Wednesday 17 February 2016

GOBLIN to close down for 8-months

Gospel Oak to Barking Overground line to shut for eight months to allow electrification upgrade works

The Gospel Oak to Barking line (colloquially known as the GOBLIN), is to close for eight months from June for a major upgrade costing £130million. Commuters of the busy but neglected route face far longer journeys by alternative services. Many will have to use the District, Victoria or Northern lines to get near their destinations and then rely on a bus. This means 30 to 60 minutes’ extra travel each way. 

Existing two-carriage diesel trains will be replaced with eight faster and greener four-car electric stock. Electrification work will mean the reconstruction of at least 12 bridges to accommodate new power cables. The line, now part of Transport for London’s Overground network, has been frequently condemned by commuters for poor service. Mike Stubbs, TfL’s director of London Overground, said: “Electrifying the line will double capacity on this busy route. It also is needed to enable a new rail extension to Barking Riverside, which will support up to 11,000 new homes. “No final decisions have been made, but we are aware of the disruption this will cause and so we are pressing for the shortest possible timescale.”

Tuesday 16 February 2016

Pier Pressure

Chaos on Southend Pier

Southend Pier Head Station - one of seven stops that can be found along the route.

Passengers are calling for drastic action to be taken after the first 48 hours of the new c2c franchise for Southend Pier went drastically wrong – users of the two-station line reported delays, short trains, overcrowding and ‘shambolic’ rail replacement bus services. The majority of problems seemed to be related to the operator’s decision to introduce a new timetable after taking over the line, and regular users of the pier have described the new timetabling arrangement as ‘baffling.’
Shortly after the franchise began at 5am on Monday morning, regular travellers arrived at the shore-end station to find that 1 in 3 services had been scheduled to begin from that slightly run-down shelter with the Coca Cola machine that never seems to be working. This resulted in many passengers having to walk the first stretch of the pier to find their usual train service, and even at this point our reporters have heard tale after tale of the pier trains being dangerously overcrowded with commuters, pleasure seekers and keen anglers.
According to the CEO of c2c Pier Trains Dew Liam-Rural, the timetable changes were necessary to ensure that there would continue to be sufficient operating capacity along the whole length of the line. He added: ‘While the previous line operator simply ran a ‘point-to-point’ service between the shore and the pier head, this would not be feasible on a true 21st Century rail network. There are now seven stations in total along the pier, with extra services added to deal with the number of whelks who need to use the trains between the pier head and the lifeboat station – during the winter months there can sometimes be more than 35 people per day using the line, and so we need to plan accordingly.’
During the rush hour peak time on Monday afternoon, the entire line ground to a halt when a seagull was hit and killed by a train at the halfway crossing point in the middle of the pier. While this was entirely out of the operator’s control, frustrated passengers have said that the response could have been handled better. Commuter Bill Dabair said: ‘I was waiting at the shore end for more than an hour, and there were no announcements about problems on the line. When a rail replacement bus finally arrived to take us to the pier head, it looked like it was about thirty years old, and for health and safety reasons it wasn’t allowed to travel along the walkway because of pedestrians – the whole bus ended up in the sea.’

Extra trains will link London with Edinburgh

Eight new daily rail journeys between Edinburgh and London are being introduced later this year, Virgin Trains has announced.
The additional weekday services between Scottish and English capitals from May means seat capacity has been boosted by 22,000 on the route - an increase of almost a third.
The company said the four new services a day in each direction offer journeys every half-hour for most of the day.
Two additional services will be added on Sundays.
The company is releasing thousands of £25 fares for the new timetable as part of the launch. It will also extend the time possible to book tickets from 12 weeks to 24 weeks.
David Horne, managing director on the east coast route, said: "This is a major boost for our customers travelling between Edinburgh and London who will be able to catch a train every half-hour for most of the day.
"We have seen how increasing capacity and frequency adds to the popularity of train travel and we're confident that customers will respond positively to these changes."
The new timetable comes into force from May 16, with tickets expected to go on sale from February 19.

Monday 15 February 2016

London Overground looks for expansion

TfL's London Overground to take control of capital's entire suburban rail network

Embattled commuters should finally get more frequent and reliable train services after Transport for London confirmed today it would take control of the capital's suburban rail network.
The long-running campaign to persuade ministers to devolve powers over services should increase capacity, eventually bringing an end to the cattle truck conditions for millions of Londoners, and improve accessibility.
TfL plans to streamline fares and travel information across the whole suburban rail network, rebranding the services London Overground and turning the capital's transport map orange.
Commuter services running from Cannon Street, Charing Cross, Moorgate, Victoria, Waterloo and London Bridge, which has suffered some of the worst delays, would all be transferred under the plans.
With the capital's population set to rise from 8.6 million today to 10 million by 2030, the proposals should ensure the network is able to cope, especially in South London which is heavily reliant on surface rail.
The new era for rail travel was hailed a victory for Boris Johnson who has spearheaded the campaign, which has cross-party support and was first initiated by Ken Livingstone, to take over control of each route as its franchise comes up for renewal.
The Mayor told the Standard: "Our railways have been the workhorse of the London and South East economy since Victorian times.
"They're key to the day to day lives of millions of people and vital to our future prosperity, and that's exactly why this new partnership is such a seminal moment.
"By working closely together and taking on these new services, we're going to emulate the success of the London Overground and give the entire capital and surrounding areas the services they truly deserve."
Transport Secretary Patrick McLoughlin added: “We are committed to making journeys better across London and the South East, and this new partnership represents a huge opportunity to transform travel by putting passengers where they should be – at the heart of the rail network."
The first route to come under the next Mayor's control will be Southeastern in 2018, followed by Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern services in 2021.
The South West trains franchise is currently under negotiation but is likely to include a "break clause" that means it could be taken over in 2019.
TfL, which will set up a joint management team with the Department of Transport, will run services which operate within the capital's boundaries while DfT officials will be responsible for the wider South East.
The Mayor's control could stretch as far as Sevenoaks and Dartford in the South East, Epsom and Croydon in the South, Hampton and Chessington in the West and Hertford and Welwyn Garden City in the North.
It could mean that more than 80 per cent of stations have a train every 15 minutes, up from 67 per cent today.
Since TfL took over suburban rail routes from Silverlink in 2007 and created London Overground, passenger numbers on the routes have increased sixfold and the network has become one of the most popular railways anywhere in the country.
The proposal means town halls, local enterprise partnerships and other regional bodies could play a more hands on role in how services are planned.
Unlike most of the existing franchise agreements, income from fares would be handed over to TfL to invest in the network, for example bringing in new walk-through trains with more doors and staffing 100 per cent of stations during operating hours.
However, huge sums would still be needed to bring the network up to scratch, especially across South London where demand is highest, at a time when TfL's finances will be under pressure.
City Hall insiders suggested cash for investment could also be raised from the land value increase around stations, as well as from Network Rail and the Government.

Sunday 14 February 2016

Electric Cars to be Allowed to Use Bus Lanes

Electric car drivers will be allowed to travel in bus lanes as part of plans to boost usage of low-emission vehicles in England.
Free parking spaces for plug-in car owners and streetlight charging points are also set to be introduced.

The government awarded cash to four areas which successfully bid for a share of £40m funding.
Transport secretary Patrick McLaughlin said the councils had shown "exciting, innovative ideas" for electric cars.
Nottinghamshire and Derby, Milton Keynes, Bristol and London qualified for a share of the cash.
Bus lanes in Milton Keynes will be re-branded as low emission lanes giving plug-in vehicles the same priority as buses at traffic lights.

The town, which has been awarded £9m, will also build an advice centre offering short-term loans for electric car purchases.
It is also proposing to open all its 20,000 parking bays for free to electric cars.

Nottingham City Council will also open up some of its bus lanes, and use part of its £6m grant to install 230 charge points. 

Focus comment 
Yet another example of how those that legislate not understanding the role of the bus. The whole idea of bus lanes is to move large numbers of passengers quickly and efficiently and to encourage the use of public transport.
We don't see how clogging up bus lanes is "exciting or innovative". We don't agree that taxis should be allowed to use bus lanes either and it's time someone who uses and understands buses is given the role of legislating on such matters. How many times has Transport secretary Patrick McLaughlin used a bus in the last 12 months we wonder. Does he ever talk to the bus companies?

Saturday 13 February 2016

Settle & Carlisle closure news

Major landslip will close Settle line for months


A LANDSLIP involving half a million tonnes of earth on the Settle & Carlisle line will close the route between Carlisle and Appleby for several months 'at least', Network Rail has warned.
The slip at Eden Brows, some 3km north of Armathwaite, is currently accelerating after its base was eroded by a fast-flowing river.
The line near Armathwaite had been closed three days ago after aerial surveys and ground monitoring had revealed that the embankment had moved. The area of land affected is more than 130m long and 70m wide.
Network Rail said its geotechnical specialists are carrying out detailed ground investigations using borehole equipment, and the results of these measurements will be used to design a lasting repair. It is not yet known how long reconstruction will take.
Route managing director Martin Frobisher said: “An estimated 500,000 tonnes of earth have moved already and the embankment is still moving. That's 10 times the weight of the QE2 ocean liner when it is fully loaded. The extent of this landslip means it is no longer safe for this section of railway to be open to trains.
“Our monitoring has detected a twist fault in the tracks caused by the ground movement. The slip is accelerating and it is not safe to run trains in this situation.
“Our engineers on site are undertaking detailed ground surveys and this will enable us to design a permanent and lasting repair.
“Network Rail's contractors have already started to build access roads and compounds so we can get our heavy machinery to where it is needed. This will enable us to start construction work as soon as the design is finalised.
“The River Eden has severely eroded the base of the embankment. This, combined with the recent repeated storms and saturated ground, caused the landslip.

“This is a vital rail link across the north of England and I am very aware of how important the railway is to the local community and local economy.
“I can assure everyone that we are doing all we can to design a lasting solution and to reopen the railway as quickly as possible. We will continue to work with Northern Rail to keep passengers and communities informed of what we are doing and the progress we are making."
Northern's md Alex Hynes said: “This is clearly another challenging and complex engineering project for Network Rail to tackle. While their engineers assess the extent of the work, we will continue to ensure our customers are kept on the move, up to date with the latest information and that disruption is kept to a minimum.
“We will be operating train services between Leeds and Appleby with a replacement bus service running between Appleby and Carlisle."
This new damage is the latest to be discovered in the Cumbrian region after weeks of heavy rain. The viaduct at Lamington on the West Coast Main Line between Lockerbie and Motherwell is expected to remain closed until the beginning of March after its foundations were affected by the River Clyde in spate, to the point where the structure nearly collapsed, and the latest problems on the Settle line will reduce the railway's capacity in the region still further.

Focus comment:

This will undoubtedly have a knock-on effect to the various steam hauled excursions that traverse the line