Thursday, 30 June 2016

Struggle to Keep Cumbrian Services Running & DDA Problems for Cumbria Classic Coaches

The Cumbrian 106 Bus Partnership is seeking donations to keep the Kendal to Penrith bus service running. Local authority bus cuts devastated most local supported services and as a result the 106 Bus Partnership was formed to keep this local link.

 The 106 is operated by Stagecoach with financial support
from the 106 Partnership

The service was brought back with just one return run on three days of the week and eventually extended to five days per week due to the finance underwritten by the 106 Partnership. An additional run back from Kendal in the holidays is also operated when the college service (506) does not run.
The partnership raises finance to pay the shortfall between money raised from fares and the cost of running the bus and needs to raise £10,000 to keep the service running.
Many residents recognise the value of a regular bus service to their community. They are not always bus users but are encouraged to make donations nevertheless. The service is supported by Parish Councils along the route, plus Penrith Town Council, Eden Housing Association and Kendal Business Improvement District.

Another service operates on part of the route between Shap and Kendal. The 570 is run by Cumbria Classic Coaches on Thursdays only and is timed to depart from Shap at 10.45 arriving in Kendal at 11.50. The return journey departs at 14.55 arriving in Shap at 15.57, offering almost three hours for shopping in Kendal for Shap residents, unlike the 106 service which is timed more for commuters.

 No financial support is on offer to Cumbria Classic Coaches
Cumbria Classic Coaches commenced the service following an approach by Shap residents and unlike the 106 service it receives no financial assistance. Most passengers make use of their bus passes and travel free of charge on the registered service, meaning that the operator is only given a percentage of the actual fare, which has to be claimed back from the local authority.
As operators of 1940's and 50's buses, which are somewhat basic compared to more recent vehicles, Cumbria Classic Coaches decided to invest in a more modern vehicle to operate this service.

Unlike the classic vehicles it has efficient heating and more space and comfortable seating but a problem is now approaching whereby the vehicle does not meet the DDA regulations for double deck vehicles which start in January 2017. Amongst other things the regulations ensure that disabled passengers can gain access and that a wheelchair bay is provided.
A decision will need to be made as to whether further investment can take place to acquire an even more modern vehicle which meets requirements, but, as no support is offered towards the service it will be a tough decision for the family run company.

Will Hamer from Cumbria Classic Coaches commented “We responded to the request from Shap residents to run the our service and have enjoyed supporting the town by doing so. However, the costs and the income received are finely balanced and we will soon have to make a tough decision on whether we can afford to invest in a more modern vehicle to enable us to continue running the Shap service.”

Heritage Day in Nottingham

The message from Nottingham City Transport is "Come and see us on 4th July in the Old Market Square, where several preserved buses and Nottingham's last trolleybus from 1966 will be on display".

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Sale of megabus Europe retail operations

Stagecoach Group plc ("Stagecoach") has announced that it has agreed to the sale of the retail operations of its megabus Europe business to FlixMobility GmbH ("FlixBus").  Only those retailing operations involving mainland Europe are part of the agreed sale.  

The megabus Europe business comprises both retailing activities and coach operating activities.  The retailing activities involve the design of inter-city coach services, including their timetabling, co-ordination and marketing, as well as the pricing and sale of journeys on those services.  The coach operating activities encompass the day-to-day operation and staffing of the coach services. Stagecoach have agreed the sale to FlixBus of the retailing part of that business.  Stagecoach will continue to operate a number of European inter-city coach services as a contractor to FlixBus and look forward to building on relationships with it.

The sale of the megabus Europe retail operations will complete on or around 1 July 2016.  In addition, Stagecoach has agreed that it will dispose of a number of vehicles to FlixBus or its nominee at a future date.

The agreed amount of the consideration for the sale of the retail operations will be satisfied by the issue of a loan note from FlixBus to Stagecoach at completion.  Stagecoach expects the loan note to be fully settled by the end of 2017.   Payment of the loan note is not subject to any conditions or performance criteria which need to be fulfilled.
Stagecoach expects to report a gain on disposal in respect of the sale in its consolidated financial statements for the year ending 30 April 2017.
Existing customer bookings for Europe journeys remain valid and these services are continuing to operate as normal.  FlixBus is a leading retailer of inter-city coach travel in Europe - more information on it can be found, and travel can be booked, at

                                          See posting below for Stagecoach Final Results  

Stagecoach Final Results for Year Ended 30th April 2016

'Results in line with overall expectations'


·      Adjusted earnings per share* up 3.7% to 27.7 pence (2015: 26.7 pence)
·      Dividend per share up 8.6% to 11.4 pence (2015: 10.5 pence)
·      £187.0m (2015: £140.9m) net capital investment from strong cash generation
Investing in further enhancing customer experience on bus and rail to drive future growth
·      Sale of "retail" part of megabus Europe to FlixBus
·      Actions to stimulate growth in UK Bus: low fares strategy, digital improvements and continued investment
·      One of two shortlisted bidders for new South West Trains rail franchise
·      Strong financial position - successful re-financing of £400m bonds

·      No significant change to our expected 2016/17 adjusted earnings per share

Commenting on the results, Chief Executive, Martin Griffiths, said: 

"These are a solid set of results, with further revenue and underlying profit growth.  We are experienced at managing the challenges we face, and the improvements and changes we are making now should ensure that we continue to have a strong portfolio of sustainable and growing businesses for the long-term.

"We are investing for growth and improving the journeys of our customers through new digital tools, smarter ticketing, and the introduction of greener and more comfortable buses and trains. At the same time, we are taking a prudent approach to controlling costs and ensuring our transport networks meet the changing conditions and requirements of our customers.

"Our locally-managed bus companies have strong partnerships with local authorities, allowing them to deliver tailored transport solutions to help communities get to work, access health and education, and enjoy shopping and leisure. We have been independently assessed as offering the best value fares of any major UK bus operator and our customer satisfaction levels are amongst the best in the sector.

"We have confirmed the sale to FlixBus of the retailing part of megabus Europe.  I am pleased that we will continue to operate a number of European inter-city coach services as a contractor to FlixBus and we hope to build on that new relationship.

"In North America, we have taken steps to match our inter-city coach services to changing patterns of demand and we are well placed to expand our networks as conditions improve.

"We note the result of the recent referendum in favour of the UK leaving the European Union. As with other businesses, we are closely following developments in this area. Although we have little business in Europe outside the UK, we acknowledge the referendum result may lead to continuing economic, consumer and political uncertainty.

"Like other business sectors, we are affected by reduced public spending and factors in the wider economy, such as weakening consumer confidence and slowing growth in both UK GDP and real earnings. Public transport also faces the challenge from sustained lower fuel prices, the related effects of car and air competition, as well as traveller concerns over global security.  Nevertheless, we have experienced management teams who are working hard to stimulate growth and we have not significantly revised our expectation of 2016/17 adjusted earnings per share.

"We remain positive on the long-term prospects for public transport and the Group remains in a strong financial position."

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Nottingham Eco-Expressway Takes Next Step, With Electric Buses On Their Way

A multi-million pound project to bring an electric bus route to to the city will take a step forward this week.

The Nottingham Eco-Expressway scheme will cost £9.6 million and see a high capacity, high frequency bus corridor running from the city centre into Vale Road in Colwick, taking in Manvers Street and Daleside Road in the process.
Nottingham City Council says it will serve existing businesses on the route to help people get to work, but also take in sites with big futures, such as housing projects or leisure facilities.

The local authority held a public consultation on the scheme, which finished on Friday, and this week at its Executive Board meeting, it plans on signing off £6.12 million of the funding from the local enterprise partnership D2N2 and to handover responsibility of the development to the deputy chief executive, alongside the portfolio holder for transport Nick McDonald.
"In addition to providing improved connections to existing and proposed employment sites, the scheme will deliver significant public transport benefits and will offer improved journey times and reliability for both supported and commercial bus services," says the report, which is due to go in front of the board on Tuesday.
"It is anticipated that bus journey times along the corridor will be reduced by five percent, that patronage will increase by two percent and that emissions along the corridor will be reduced as diesel buses are replaced with zero emission electric buses."

The route will begin at the proposed Gedling Access Route/Gedling Colliery Site and eventually travel out to the Boots Enterprise Zone in the west. And, as well as being open to the buses, the corridor will be open to use by private electric vehicles too.

 A fleet of 13 BYD electric buses will be 
delivered to Nottingham.
The council expect the electric buses to be delivered by the end of the summer this year, with construction of the route to begin in October. If all goes to plan, the whole scheme will be up and running by the end of 2017.
Councillor McDonald said: "The Eco Expressway could open up greener travel options for people wanting to travel into the city and beyond. With better bus facilities and new prioritised routes for cyclists, this is a great leap forward for sustainable transport in the city."
As well as the electric bus routes, there will be improvement to cycle ways for those who prefer to travel by two wheels.

Article from Nottingham Post

Monday, 27 June 2016

All Buses in Netherlands will be Zero-Emission

From 2025, all new public transport buses operating in the Netherlands will be zero-emission vehicles, following an agreement signed by Environment Minister Sharon Dijksma with the country’s transport operators.

The provinces of Noord-Brabant and Limburg have already laid the foundations for this agreement, as local bus companies in these two provinces will have switched completely to electric vehicles within a few years.
Dutch companies VDL and Ebusco are already major producers of electric buses which are sold both in the Netherlands and abroad. Chinese company BYD, which also makes electric vehicles, has opened a branch in the Netherlands and has already supplied Schiphol Airport with 35 electric buses for passenger transport.
Signing the agreement, Dijksma said, “Noord-Brabant and Limburg are showing us that zero-emission buses are an intelligent investment for both the environment and the economy. We will have cleaner cities and emissions of greenhouse gases that are harmful to the environment will be reduced. Moreover, it will give a significant boost to the position that the Netherlands as a country wants to occupy regarding making our urban and regional transport more sustainable. Dutch companies that develop technologies and manufacture buses can also benefit from this approach.”

Sunday, 26 June 2016

Pedestrianisation of Oxford Street: Pledges, Trade and Trade-offs

Sadiq Khan is not the first London mayor to pledge to transform Oxford Street from a clogged, smogged motor highway lined with shops into a clean, green avenue of retail walking therapy, but he just might be the last. That is because he just might do it - or, at least, provide the political drive to help others to take big strides in that direction.
If it happens it will be, in part, because Khan will have brought the same energy and know-how to bear on the problems threatening one of the most famous shopping streets in the world that characterised his capture of City Hall. It will also be because wider circumstances have rendered continuing inaction unacceptable.

 The constant stream of buses and taxis create serious pollution in the area

From December 2018, Crossrail will begin disgorging many more millions of visitors a year onto Oxford Street’s already over-crowded pavements from new stations at Bond Street and Tottenham Court Road. Concerns about air quality in the area have deepened and competition from the Westfield malls in Stratford and Shepherds Bush are further concentrating minds.
The recent meeting of the London Assembly transport committee, its first since Mayor Khan’s election, heard from a varied panel of important participants in the process of bringing about a more hospitable Oxford Street. The proceedings underlined that this is not simply a matter of putting up a few no entry signs and planting some trees. Conversion to a far more pedestrian-friendly environment raises large questions, not only about Oxford Street itself but many neighbouring ones too, affecting residents and traders in the West End as whole. The panel explored some of these. For example:

Where will the buses go?

Oxford Street is primarily the responsibility of Westminster City Council. Its deputy leader Robert Davies identified the “major problem” of where the very large number of buses - he put the figure at 168 an hour - that currently trundle down the street would be diverted too. Pointing out that there are large residential areas in the vicinity, he said you can’t just send the buses down, say, Wigmore Street instead because that would create a new congestion problem.

 168 buses per hour use Oxford Street, plus numerous taxis.

Davies’s fellow Westminster councillor Heather Acton confirmed that a 40% reduction in the quantity of buses is being worked on in conjunction with Transport for London (TfL). To underline the complexity of this task, she said that when Oxford Street has in the past been closed for Very Important Pedestrians Days (VIP days), this has had “a serious knock-on effect around the rest of the area, and that’s to the detriment of residents and businesses”. She spoke of “anecdotal evidence” that “trade falls dramatically on Marylebone High Street and in the Portman Estate area, because there’s gridlock” if Oxford Street is closed to all traffic.
This issue was acknowledged by Alex Williams, TfL’s managing director for planning. “If you do something radical on Oxford Street it has implications for the whole of Central London,” he said. “We need to have a much broader assessment of how the bus network works.” TfL plans to begin consulting on a 20%-40% reduction of buses in the autumn, followed by “a phased delivery”.

What do the retailers want?

Sir Peter Rogers is chairman of the New West End Company (NWEC), which represents retail and other businesses in the Monopoly board green set of Oxford Street, Regent Street and Bond Street. He’s also a former Westminster chief executive and was an adviser to Boris Johnson when he was mayor. After saying that “the current state of Oxford Street is unacceptable,” Sir Peter warned that “pedestrianisation is extremely difficult”. He said that retailers “do want traffic-free zones in certain areas at certain times of the day” but that “how we get there is going to be complex”.

TfL is involved in discussions that will endeavour to reduce bus numbers by 40%.
 However, when buses are diverted from Oxford Street “a serious knock-on effect is created around the rest of the area and surrounding streets become gridlocked.

NWEC favours “a series of progressive steps” beginning with a 20% year-on-year reduction - rather than displacement - of Oxford Street buses, each informed by assessments of their economic impacts. “Everything we do needs to be balanced against accessibility for people who use the street, whether it’s workers, whether it’s visitors or whether it’s just people who want to wander through the streets,” Sir Peter stressed: “We can’t damage accessibility to an £8bn retail environment.”
He favours testing “a regular programme of event-free traffic-free days” with a view to identifying “traffic-free zones” that might work for Oxford Street’s shops in the long term. The problem with VIP days linked to special events was that they attracted large numbers of people who weren’t buying things, he explained. They even put regular shoppers off. A lot of Oxford Street business were already worried about rising business rates, Sir Peter warned: “They don’t want initiatives which further damage their revenue. So it needs to be carefully thought through.”

What about the cabbies?

Alex Williams said the number of black cabs in Oxford Street had increased as buses have been thinned out in recent years. Richard Massett, chairman of the London Taxi Drivers’ Association, said that cabbies take “thousands of people” to and from Oxford Street every day and that “mainly it’s less able people” who need their help. This underlined that pedestrianisation would not necessarily be welcomed by all.
Robert Davies pointed out that heavily-laden shoppers would sooner not have to walk two or three streets before being able to hail a cab or catch a bus. Massett agreed. But he also said he would be working with Westminster to prevent back cabs simply filling up the space created by lessening the numbers of buses. Tom Platt of Living Streets felt there was no need for cabbies to cruising along Oxford Street looking for hires. Davies favours more good taxi ranks on the side streets, helping to shift the directional emphasis from an east-west axis to a north-south.

What about the workers?

Shoppers and workers need to have easy access
to Oxford Street shops

Newly-elected Labour AM Florence Eshalomi wondered what the implications of restricting buses serving Oxford Street might be for those who work in its famous stores. She used to be one, travelling in from Brixton to Marks and Spencer on route 159 or route 2. “A number of those staff members are on low incomes,” she pointed out and wondered if there had been any discussion about how those workers might be affected.
Sir Peter Rogers underlined to her that considerations about access to Oxford Street being affected by traffic reduction did encompass effects on staff: “Clearly we need to do more to make sure that our workers are unaffected, and that’s why we [NWEC] are against total pedestrianisation of the entire street. It simply creates problems of accessibility for all groups.”

What happens next?

The West End Partnership (WEP) brings together all the major interest groups concerned with improving Oxford Street: TfL, NWEC, Westminster, Camden Council, local residents, property owners, the Met and more. Mayor Khan’s deputy mayor for transport Val Shawcross is to replace her predecessor Isabel Dedring on its board.

 Hybrid vehicles have been running along Oxford Street for some years now. Here a new 2015 reg Alexander Dennis Enviro 400H is seen waiting to turn right from Oxford Street 
onto Regent Street.

WEP has been working on various schemes as part of its long-term vision for the West End, and these will be put before all those it represents later this year with preferred options put out to a wider consultation in early 2017. TfL, though part of WEP, has its own separate and earlier bus service consultation to proceed with. It will be interesting to see how the outcomes of all this fit with Mayor Khan’s manifesto pledge to:
Work with Westminster Council, local businesses, Transport for London and taxis to pedestrianise Oxford Street. I will start by bringing back car-free days and possibly weekends before moving towards full pedestrianisation. Our eventual ambition should be to turn one of the world’s most polluted streets into one of the world’s finest public spaces - a tree-lined avenue from Tottenham Court Road to Marble Arch.

Platt wondered how WEP’s efforts so far would work with the new mayoral mandate, with its backing for “full pedestrianisation”. Sir Peter Rogers said: “I think it’s important to differentiate between a political statement in a manifesto and what’s sensible. Political manifestos give a direction. Beyond that there’s implementation.” The WEP, after all, has been looking at the problem for two-and-a-half years. Robert Davies had remarked earlier: “It’s all a trade-off at the end of the day.” Watch this space.


Saturday, 25 June 2016

Ex BR Mk1 and Mk 2 Coaches to be Banned on Network Rail?

Network Rail proposals to cease using coaches not fitted with controlled emission toilets could cripple the special trains industry, charter promoters and operators have warned.

 Ex BR Mk 1 and Mk 2 coaches drop toilet waste
onto the track and would be banned from operating
unless they were converted.
The comments have come in response to an NR consultation on ending the use of rolling stock that drops toilet waste onto the track, which NR wants to see phased out by December 2019.

Franchised services are already due to end the practice over a similar timeframe and NR has suggested that commitments to making the changes should be incorporated into renewed Charter Track Access Contracts from this summer.

 Under the new proposals the coaches would only be allowed to operate on
 preserved lines such as seen here at the North Norfolk Railway

Britain's special trains industry still relies heavily on former BR Mk1 and Mk2 coaches that are not fitted with retention toilets and a cost estimate from NR based on diesel multiple units has put the price of conversion at up to £20,000 per vehicle. In addition to conversion costs, resistance from within the charter market has also centred on the difficulties and expense of servicing the retention toilets if fitted.

Report from RAIL Magazine June 2016

Friday, 24 June 2016

Weymouth Idling Trains

Noise, fumes and the "horrendous smell" of idling diesel trains are blighting the lives of people in a seaside town.
Residents of Princes Drive in Weymouth, whose gardens back on to the mainline to London Waterloo, said trains stop with their engines running for up to five hours on Saturdays.
They said their weekend noise nightmare started last year.
Great Western Railway (GWR) said new procedures had now been put in place to minimise the time engines run.

Peter Yarwood, who has lived on Princes Drive for 15 years, said: "We quite enjoy the trains passing but to have one parked outside your house for five hours on a Saturday is not very nice."
As well as the "constant droning noise" he said he could not open his windows or sit in the garden because of the fumes.

Pollution fear

Resident Wayne Wilcox agreed: "The noise is bad enough but the smell is horrendous."
The trains wait outside Weymouth Station from about midday on Saturdays until 17:00 on some occasions, residents said.
In a letter to GWR in May, Mark Whitchelo said the fumes were "filling" his garden.
He said he and his wife Diane were concerned about pollution caused by the fumes.
The couple contacted MP Richard Drax, who said GWR was "doing all they can to solve the problem".
A GWR spokesman said: "Generally engines need to run to provide and maintain the air supply for the doors and brakes systems to work.
"Safety checks need to be carried out before the train can go in to service and these checks require the engine to be running."

But he admitted it should not happen for five hours and said new procedures had since been introduced at Weymouth which involved both engines being shut down once checks had been carried out.

From BBC News

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Oxford Bus Companies Warn Rush-hour Traffic and Pedestrianisation Could Lead to Fare Hikes

Bus companies have warned passengers face worse services and higher fares without a major rethink of Oxford's transport system – including the reopening of Cornmarket Street.
The bosses of Oxford Bus Company and Stagecoach Oxfordshire said moves to pedestrianise more of the city centre and rush-hour congestion were making it more expensive to run regular and reliable services.

They called for buses to get priority on main roads, the reopening of Cornmarket Street to some services and a tax on workplace parking spaces.
Oxford Bus Company managing director Phil Southall said a review of bus routes was needed ahead of a rise in demand expected when the revamped Westgate Shopping Centre opens in October 2017.

He said plans to pedestrianise Queen Street meant a new turning circle outside Nuffield College was essential and further suggestions to stop vehicles using Magdalen Street West meant politicians could not afford to rule out reopening Cornmarket to some buses travelling north and south.
Mr Southall told the Oxford Mail: "We all know Oxford has to be reinvigorated as a retail destination and we support that.
"But the stakes are high, because if you get things wrong then you lose market share to surrounding towns, where people can be dropped closer to where they want to go.
"I can understand why people want additional pedestrianisation, but the reality is you just put more pressure on other streets.
"What we need is a vision and strategy for the whole city centre and not to just pick off certain streets. It is going to require a very pragmatic approach."

He said the arrangement currently used on Queen Street – 12 buses in each direction every hour – should be applied to Cornmarket Street if the former is closed to traffic, as it currently is for the work on the Westgate centre.
And he said measures to reduce cars on city centre roads, such as a workplace parking levy and bus priority on main routes, were needed to improve bus speeds.
He added: "Bus speeds are really important, because if you increase them you can make savings and take more buses out of the system and bring down operating costs.
"But if the opposite happens, then costs go up and that means passengers could face significant fare increases and no one wants that."
The comments were backed by Martin Sutton, managing director of Stagecoach Oxfordshire, who said traffic was now so bad on one route – the number 10 in Cowley – that the number of buses serving it had been doubled from six to 12 to ensure it remained frequent enough.
He said: "If we want rapid services, we need to create corridors to free up buses that are getting stuck in traffic. Public transport needs to be able to do its job."

The bus chiefs also said plans for a zero-emission zone in Oxford by 2020 were unrealistic and should be delayed by 10 years, calling for an 'ultra-low emission zone' like one set to be adopted in London first. 
   They said the workplace parking levy – which would tax businesses in the city for each private parking space they own – would be a minimum requirement for the zone to work.
Mr Southall added: "We need to aim for a sensible target, like having an ultra-low emission zone by 2025 and a zero-emission zone by 2030 as an ambitious starting date.
"But any announcement of that needs to come with difficult decisions, because you can't start working towards it until they are in place."
Proposals for the levy are being explored by the county council and are backed by Oxford City Council, but city council leader Bob Price said he was against reopening Cornmarket Street to buses.
He said: "There is a very strong case for reviewing bus routes, particularly those going north and south, and the time has come for a wholesale rethink.

"But there is no way the city council would support having buses on Cornmarket again." 

Report from


 Five new park and ride sites could be built outside of the city by 2031 at a cost of nearly £75m.
A study published by Oxfordshire County Council yesterday said the sites – all in the Green Belt – should be at Cumnor, Lodge Hill, Sandford and Oxford Airport, in addition to one already announced at Eynsham.
They would have a combined capacity of up to 5,900 spaces, on top of an extra 435 added to the existing Thornhill car park and 1,070 at Oxford Parkway rail station.

The report is looking at a number of scenarios to reduce traffic coming into the city, with one recommending the closure of the city's current sites at Pear Tree, Seacourt and Redbridge.

David Nimmo Smith, the county council's cabinet member for transport, said the new park and rides were needed because of 100,000 new homes and 85,000 new jobs forecast in the county over the next 15 years.
He added: "Oxfordshire is a growing county, meaning long term solutions are needed so the transport system meets the demand of the future.
"This is only a technical study. But this means we are able to proactively respond to future challenges."
Eynsham's new site, on land north of the village, is already funded as part of improvements planned for the A40 and will be complete by 2021.
But the study, by consultancy firm Atkins and commissioned by Oxfordshire County Council, said the new site west of Oxford Airport and an expansion at Oxford Parkway could also be finished by then.
This would be followed by the Thornhill expansion between 2021 and 2026, then construction of the new sites at the Cumnor A420 junction, the A34 Lodge Hill junction and on the A4074 just south of Sandford by 2031.
It proposed the closure of Pear Tree park and ride by 2021 and Seacourt and Redbridge by 2031. Although officials said yesterday that they would remain "flexible" about whether they should remain open.
It is understood that the funding for the scheme would likely have to come from the Government. In the two scenarios looked at, new "rapid" services would either be created to serve the sites or existing routes would be extended.
The council said it was working on more detailed plans which it would publish in the future.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Kirkstall Forge Station Opens

A new railway station in Leeds welcomes its first passengers.

The new station within the new Kirkstall Forge development is running one train per hour in each direction, with additional services during peak times.
It includes a 129-space car park and a pick-up and drop off point, as well as fully accessible platforms with staircases and ramps.
It also has secure bicycle parking and shelters.
The new station, along with Apperley Bridge Rail Station, which opened in December 2015, is part of West Yorkshire’s £15.9m Rail Growth Package.
Leader of Leeds City Council, councillor Judith Blake said: “The station has a key role to play in realising the major regeneration potential of the broader Kirkstall Forge development, bringing with it new jobs, training opportunities, housing and a range of office and leisure facilities to offer a significant boost to the local economy.”
Councillor Blake added: “We look forward to seeing lots of people making use of the new station and Kirkstall Forge as a prime destination as well as a gateway to the city centre and beyond in the weeks, months and years to come.”

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

New South West Trains app and Website Guarantee Cheapest Fares

South West Trains have launched their new mobile app and website which is claimed to give access to the cheapest tickets across the UK rail network. The new South West Trains digital tools allow rail travellers to directly access the best fares without having to search multiple providers.
A new powerful booking engine developed by South West Trains is the first of its kind to be created by a train operator. It will drive both the website and mobile app, searching for the cheapest available fares that can often be unavailable through third party rail websites and other booking engines.

Passengers will have easy and fast access to the cheapest fares, with no booking fees when buying tickets through the South West Trains website or app.
Feedback from passengers and staff has been integral to the design of the new website and iOS app. Customer experience experts and South West Trains also compared booking tools available through popular retailers with the company’s existing website and other ticket purchase channels used by customers.
The new digital tools provide a simpler, more flexible and intuitive system. Key features include:
  • Clean, modern layout
  • Simple online booking system
  • Option to buy tickets using Smartcard system
  • Easy navigation
  • Responsive website that adapts to different versions of smartphones, tablets and desktops
Christian Roth, Managing Director of South West Trains, said: “Rail passengers tell us they want easy, fast access to the cheapest ticket for their journey. We’ve worked with customers and technology experts to deliver exactly that. The development of this very complex piece of IT technology on-time and on-budget means that we are now able to offer the easiest go-to resource to access the best value travel anywhere on the UK rail network.”
David Sidebottom, Passenger Team Director for Transport Focus, said: "We're pleased to see that passengers' views were taken on board when designing the new site. Anything that helps passengers make better choices when buying tickets, and to get timely and accurate journey information, is to be welcomed."
The new South West Trains website is also part of an overall £11 million digital investment strategy by parent company Stagecoach Group, one of the UK’s biggest bus and rail operators. Stagecoach Group has already launched a new bus online platform, providing live tracking of every bus and ticket purchase direct from a smartphone.
A new Android app will be launched as part of a second phase of improvements for South West Trains passengers later this year. It will also include a ‘My Account’ facility and an enhanced contact section.
The new website has been developed by digital agencies Huge and Zone, Vix Technology and SilverRail.
Scott Shaw, User Experience Director at Huge, said: “Delivering a first-class digital experience is all about understanding and anticipating individual customer needs and journeys. It’s great to be working with a brand that embraces innovation and is committed to putting the user at the very heart of its strategy.”
Dominic Mills, Chief Technology Officer of Zone, said: “There is a clear need to create a better online passenger experience across the sector. We’re starting to see the established, traditional brands and services such as Stagecoach take on the digital age’s newcomers and beat them at their own game, with even more ambitious, more useful, more seamless and more customer-oriented digital services.”
Bryan Simms, Managing Director of Vix Technology, NEE said: “The Vix central booking engine will provide South West Trains with full control over all their retail channels, adapting as customer requirements and technology changes. It’s empowered the organisation to bring about a real step-change in the UK rail industry for the benefit of the travelling public.”
Cameron Jones, Chief Commercial Officer of SilverRail said “We were delighted to be selected by Stagecoach to provide the industry’s leading journey pricing engine ‘SilverSearch’ to power the central booking engine. This marks yet another UK rail owning group taking back control of their sales channels enabling them to deliver a much improved customer experience that rail travellers now expect”
South West Trains is continuing to seek feedback from customers on the new website and app. Comments can be sent to

More than £50million is being invested by South West Trains to improve the service offered to passengers. Other improvements include extra car parking, 100 new Customer Ambassadors to provide a more personalised service at stations, and state-of-the-art ticket machines linked to a new dedicated 24/7 customer contact centre.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Order for 82 Mercedes-Benz Citaro NGT's

EMT Madrid (Empresa Municipal de Transportes de Madrid) has ordered 82 Mercedes-Benz Citaro NGT (Natural Gas Technology) buses. The order consists of 40 Mercedes-Benz Citaro 18 metre natural-gas-powered articulated buses plus 42 Mercedes-Benz natural-gas-powered 12 metre rigid vehicles.

The natural-gas powered Citaro NGT sets high standards in terms of environmental standards and comfort and is approved without restriction for the use of renewable natural gas to DIN 51624. 

This gives an even smaller carbon footprint, becoming virtually CO2-neutral. In addition, the noise level of the natural-gas engine is noticeably lower than that of a comparable diesel engine. Depending on driving conditions, its noise emissions are up to 4 dB(A) lower, which corresponds to the subjectively perceived noise level almost being cut by half. Both factors – low CO2 emissions and low noise level – make the new Citaro NGT especially suitable for service in busy inner cities as well as residential areas. 
In Madrid, with its around 3.2 million inhabitants, the new natural-gas buses will operate in one of Madrid's main avenues, the Paseo de la Castellana, which is in the centre of the Spanish capital. So far, the use of natural-gas vehicles has made it possible to cut emissions by over 80 per cent and the new vehicles will further improve on this.
The centrepiece of the new Citaro NGT is the Mercedes-Benz M 936 G natural-gas engine. With a displacement of 7.7 litres, it is currently the most compact natural-gas engine in its class: weighing just 747 kg including the precatalyst. Mercedes claim the engine is a textbook example of successful downsizing.
The natural-gas engine is based on the OM 936 turbodiesel engine. The vertically installed six-cylinder in-line mono-fuel engine runs on compressed natural gas or biogas. It has an output of 222 kW (302 hp) at 2000 rpm while delivering a peak torque of 1200 Nm consistently from 1200 to 1600 rpm. In many instances, it undercuts the Euro VI emission limits by a considerable margin. These figures, in combination with its impressive power delivery, put the single-stage turbocharged engine on a par with its diesel-powered counterpart, claims Mercedes-Benz. In the main driving range, output and torque characteristics remain consistent from idle speed to around 1500 rpm. Above this, the natural-gas engine actually delivers a slight advantage in terms of power and torque. At the same time, the natural-gas engine from Mercedes-Benz sets the bar for environmental acceptability particularly high, because the CO2 emissions of a natural-gas engine are up to ten percent below those of a diesel engine. Using renewable natural gas to power the bus makes the carbon footprint  even better, because a natural-gas bus then becomes virtually CO2 neutral.

EMT Madrid has a fleet of 1920 buses, they cover just under one million kilometres each year and transport 425 million passengers. The network has a length of around 3600 km with some 10,000 stops. EMT Madrid was founded in 1947 and is wholly owned by the Municipality of Madrid.

Sunday, 19 June 2016

First and MTR to Bid for South Western Franchise

FirstGroup has announced that MTR Corporation (UK) will join the Group
in a joint venture to bid for the South Western rail franchise, following the
assent of the Department for Transport.

Commenting, Steve Montgomery, First Rail Managing Director said:

"We are pleased that we will be partnering with MTR in a joint venture to bid
for the South Western rail franchise, for which we were shortlisted in February
2016. We have extensive expertise of running commuter, inter-urban, regional
and long distance services - such as those that make up the South Western
franchise - and a strong track record in delivering passenger growth. MTR run
successful suburban and commuter railways; their knowledge from running London
Overground and TfL Rail on behalf of Transport for London will add further
depth and understanding to an important component of this franchise.

"Together, FirstGroup and MTR will develop an innovative and value for money
proposal that will deliver better connectivity and significant improvements for
South Western customers. Our bid will keep people moving and communities
prospering across the region."


1. MTR Corporation (UK) will take a 30% stake in the joint venture

2. Both FirstGroup and MTR hold 'Pre-Qualification Questionnaire Passports'
with the Department for Transport which shows that they have satisfied basic
financial and other competence criteria and allows them to Express an Interest
in submitting franchise bids to Government
3. MTR run the current London Overground concession in a joint venture with
Arriva. This operation serves Clapham Junction, the busiest station on the
network and a key hub for the South Western franchise. In addition, they have
been selected as the operator of the new Crossrail/Elizabeth Line service and
run TfL Rail services from London Liverpool Street station.

FirstGroup plc (LSE: FGP.L) is the leading transport operator in the UK and
North America. With £5.2 billion in revenues and 110,000 employees, we
transported around 2.2 billion passengers last year. Each of our five divisions
is a leader in its field: In North America, First Student is the largest
provider of student transportation with a fleet of around 47,000 yellow school
buses, First Transit is one of the largest providers of outsourced transit
management and contracting services, while Greyhound is the only nationwide
operator of scheduled intercity coach services. In the UK, FirstGroup is one of
Britain's largest bus operators running a fleet of some 6,200 buses, and are
one of the country's most experienced passenger rail operators, carrying around
140 million passengers last year.
MTR Corporation (MTR) is acknowledged as one of the world's leading operators of metro, commuter and airport rail systems and has a successful international consulting business. It is also a property developer, and manages shopping malls, retail units, apartments and other major buildings along some of its lines. Around the world, MTR: runs metro, light rail and Airport Express services and infrastructure, develops and manages significant rail-related property and is delivering new rail lines and major upgrade projects in Hong Kong; operates lines in Beijing, Shenzhen and Hangzhou in China; is lead shareholder in a joint venture operating the Melbourne train system and leads a Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) consortium which will deliver and operate the Sydney Metro Northwest in Australia.