Wednesday, 31 August 2016

Midland Classic expands

From Sunday 28th August Midland Classic increased its fleet when it took over most of the routes operated by Arriva in Burton-upon-Trent. The deal also included the former Arriva depot along the Wetmore Road plus a number of the single-deck buses.
Midland Classic began its services in earnest on Tuesday 30th August after the Bank Holiday Monday, barring the peak time schoolday operations, which will begin in a week or so time.

Eleven of the Arriva DAF SB200/Wright Commanders have been acquired and will be repainted into fleet livery within the next 3-months. In the meantime they remain in service albeit with Midland Classic fleetnames attached.

One has been returned to Derby for attention and is replaced temporarily by fleet number 2711 a DAF/ Wright Cadet. This runs around with two fleet numbers, Arriva's 2711 and MC's temporary number 209.
Additional hirings in are two of the former Nottingham Scania OmniDekkas, now with Notts & Derby and number 42 with temporary fleet number 211 is illustrated (below) along with a couple of the DAF SB200s (above) in contrasting Arriva livery.

Four new Optare Metrocity single-decks are due out from the 1st September or soon after, being as they are 66-registrations. These are similar to the two already in the fleet and assigned to Lichfield town services.

Full details of the service changes can be found on the Midland Classic website at

Tuesday, 30 August 2016

London's Night Tube early update

Over 50,000 journeys completed on London's first Night Tube services

The first Night Tube services had a successful launch overnight as tens of thousands of passengers travelled on the Central and Victoria lines.

In all, 50,000 customer journeys were completed using the new Night Tube service, which will support thousands of jobs and boost the Capital's 24-hour economy.
One of the busiest stations was Oxford Circus which saw 6,500 people tapping in, while Stratford station saw 4,250 customers tapping out.

Mayor of London Sadiq Khan launched the new service in the early hours of the morning when he travelled from Brixton on the first Victoria Line Night Tube.
Sadiq Khan said: 'It's wonderful that so many thousands of Londoners were able to benefit from a faster and simpler journey home overnight. The Night Tube is going to provide a huge boost to our capital and very clearly demonstrates that London is open. It was a real pleasure for me to see first-hand how workers and those who had been out enjoying everything our city has to offer could take advantage of this fantastic new service.'
Mark Wild, London Underground's Managing Director, said: 'Night Tube got off to a superb start last night with thousands of people making use of the new services. I was out on the network myself last night seeing our staff and British Transport Police officers helping customers travel around the Capital safely.'
Night Tube will help Londoners get to work or home at night quickly safely and affordably, and will particularly benefit people working shifts early in the morning or late at night.
Night Tube services will cut late-night journey times by an average of 20 minutes, and in some cases by more than hour.
Tube demand has soared over recent years, with passenger numbers on Friday and Saturday nights up by around 70% since 2000, while demand for travel on night buses has risen by over 170% in the same period. Passenger data shows that more than 50% of people using night buses are going to or returning from work - many of whom will benefit directly from the Night Tube.
The Night Tube is expected to support around 2,000 permanent jobs in London's night-time economy, which will be boosted by around £77m a year. Over 500 of these jobs have been created directly through the operation of the service, with new part-time drivers, station staff, maintenance workers and service control staff employed and new BTP officers put on the network.

Monday, 29 August 2016

TWO MORE SEPTEMBER DATES FOR THE DIARY - Sunday 4th September - Leicester

Sunday 18th September - Potteries


We're throwing open the doors of our depot at Adderley Green on Sunday 18 September between 11am & 3pm. Your chance to take a look around, view new and classic buses - all for free!
Depot tours & trips through our bus wash
Free kid's entertainment
St John's Ambulance & TA stalls
Refreshments available
Plus, 'Drive a bus experience' - your chance to get behind the wheel of one of our double deckers. More details coming soon.
Potteries Connection Running Day
On the same day the Potteries Omnibus Preservation Society will holding their 'Running Day' at Gladstone Pottery Museum - a chance to view and ride on restored & classic buses. View more details on the POPs website.
They will be operating a free shuttle service from Gladstone Pottery Museum in Longton to our open day. You can park for free in Commerce Street car park. Services 11/11A & 12 operate all operate from Hanley straight past our depot - and on Sunday's it's just £5 for up to any 5 people to travel all day.
(Sorry, we're afraid there isn't room to park at our depot on the day).

Sunday, 28 August 2016

London Bus Contracts

On Saturday 10th August 1985 the first round of the then London Regional Transport route contracts began and included route 146 (Bromley North & Downe), which had been wrestled out of the traditional 'red' companys' hands.
Initially operated with Mercedes-Benz midibuses, in 1986 two austere-looking Leyland Cubs with HTI-Maxeta B33F bodywork were acquired registered C923/4DKR.
Over the intervening years the route has stayed out of 'red' company hands until one of the latest contract changes.

Crystals Leyland Cub at Bromley North in August 1986 (upper) and a Metrobus Dennis Dart down in Downe during August 1991 (lower).

But this all changed again from first bus on Saturday 20th August, when Stagecoach Selkent commenced a new 5-year contract to operate the route from their Bromley (TB) Garage, using new short ADL E20D Enviro 200 MMC single-decks.

Stagecoach Selkent's fleet number 36611 is one of thirteen 9.0metre long ADL E20D/Enviro200 (MMC) single-decks now used to operate the route, and is shown on the stand at the Downe terminal point on the 26th August.

And now the latest contracts to be awarded.

2       (Marylebone Station & West Norwood) Retained by Arriva London with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks (1st April 2017)

N2    (Trafalgar Square & West Norwood) Retained by Arriva London with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks (1st April 2017)

19     (Battersea Bridge & Finsbury Park Station) Awarded to Arriva London with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks. Currently operated by Go-Ahead London General with a mixture of Volvo diesel and hybrid double-decks (1st April 2017)

N19  (Clapham Junction & Finsbury Park Station) Awarded to Arriva London with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks. Currently operated by Go-Ahead London General with Volvo hybrid double-decks (1st April 2017)

249   (Anerley Station & Clapham Common Station) Awarded to Arriva London with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks. Currently operated by Go-Ahead London General with Volvo diesel double-decks (1st April 2017)

298   (Arnos Grove Station & Potters Bar) Retained by Sullivan Buses using existing fleet Euro-V diesel single-decks (4th February 2017)

455   (Wallington Station & Old Lodge Lane) Awarded to Go-Ahead Metrobus using existing fleet Euro-V diesel single-decks. Currently operated by Abellio with Dennis Dart diesel single-decks (4th March 2017)

624   (Grove Park Station & Avery Hill or Welling Corner, schooldays only) Retained by Go-Ahead London Central using existing fleet diesel ADL and Volvo diesel double-decks (31st December 2016)

625   (Plumstead Common & Chislehurst, schooldays only) Retained by Go-Ahead London Central using existing fleet diesel ADL and Volvo diesel double-decks (31st December 2016)

658   (Woolwich & Avery Hill, schooldays only) Retained by Go-Ahead London Central using existing fleet diesel ADL and Volvo diesel double-decks (31st December 2016)

W9   (Chase Farm Hospital & Southgate Station) Awarded to Sullivan Buses with new Euro-VI diesel single-decks. Currently operated by Metroline Travel with ADL diesel single-decks (4th February 2017)

Further useful information can be obtained from the London Omnibus Traction Society's website and various associated publications at

Saturday, 27 August 2016

Another succesful Imberbus

Record numbers of people visit the lost village of Imber

From the Salisbury Journal

Hundreds of people took the chance to visit the lost village of Imber last Saturday.
Two thousand people took the annual heritage Imberbus service which ran from Warminster Station across to the abandoned site and other isolated locations on Salisbury Plain while people were also able to take their cars and drive there.
Martin Curtis, managing director of the Bath Bus Company, said: “This is the eighth time we have done this and this year we had 18 old and new Routemaster buses, last year we had 11. It appears a lot more people travelled by car this year as well.
“It was exceptionally busy, very successful. It’s becoming so well known, we have restored Imber to the map.”

Bath Bus Company holds the licence for the event with nine companies taking part in it this year. All the operators, drivers and conductors provide their services for free with all the takings from tickets being split 50/50 between the Royal British Legion and the Churches Conservation Trust, specifically for St Giles Church. This year it raised £9,023.
The village of Imber is no longer inhabited as the residents were evicted just before Christmas 1943 by the MoD, in order to step up army training in advance of D-Day.
The villagers were promised their village would be returned to them after the war but this was not to be and 66 years on it is still uninhabited, much of it having been damaged or destroyed.

Friday, 26 August 2016

Stagecoach in Chesterfield and a Tornado

In with the new and out (soon) with the old.

First up, the new.

Seven new ADL E20D/Enviro200 MMC single-decks went into service on the 8th of August with Stagecoach in Chesterfield. Numbered 26081-26087 (YY16 YJL-P/R/S) they have been delivered with five ostensibly for route 54 (Chesterfield & Clay Cross), 26081-26085 route branded and 26086-26087 in nationwide corporate livery. The latter have spent most of their time on route 74 (Chesterfield & Duckmanton) and all are 41-seaters and 11.8m long.

The route 54 does actually require six buses to operate the service this last duty covered by an existing ‘Gold’ liveried ADL E40D/Enviro400 double-deck fleet number 15195. This is a spare vehicle to support 'Gold' route X17 (Sheffield & Matlock).

So that is the new buses dealt with, now on to the old.

With a new element of the Disability Discrimination Act, 2005 coming into force from the 1st January 2017, buses that do not meet the new requirements for revenue-earning service must be withdrawn. Included are six of the Dennis Trident/Alexander ALX400 10.5m double-decks in the Chesterfield based fleet, some of the oldest buses in the local fleet.

The buses in question bear fleet numbers 17004/7/8/9, 17050/2 and another that joined them later 17058, which replaced crash damaged 17050. All were originally supplied new to the London subsidiary of the Stagecoach empire during 1999. Currently with cherished registrations they were originally registered respectively as S804/7/8/9 BWC and T650/2/8 KPU.
So as these are due for withdrawal by the end of the year, Chesterfield depot’s AOM Shayne Howarth organised a special ‘Farewell to the Dennis Trident’ running day on Saturday 13th August. Thus they were placed into daytime service on route 25 (Chesterfield & New Whittington) and the cross town route 84 (Holymoorside & Royal Hospital).
In addition the open-top Daimler Fleetline 15513 (MBE 513R) spent much of the day on cross-town route 39 (Holme Hall & Grangewood).

However, probably the biggest surprise of the day was the appearance of Stagecoach’s fleet number 14000 (F110 NES).

Taken in on loan from the company’s Northampton depot, the 110-seater, tri-axle Leyland Olympian with Alexander bodywork, performed several journeys on cross-town route 80 (Wingerworth & Brimington). Later in the day in ran a couple of return journeys over route 74 (Chesterfield & Duckmanton).
These two buses certainly turned a few heads during the day and were a huge draw, taking much in fares.

However, a rather nice little tale that reached one of the team’s ears.
Additionally a steam hauled special train from London King’s Cross Station brought visitors to Alfreton where some were taken by coach to the Crich Tramway Museum, then onwards to Chesterfield to either visit the town or be transferred by coach again, this time to Chatsworth House. It transpires (!) that a number of the travellers stayed in the town, some of whom took advantage of the special running day.

The special train hauled by steam engine A1 Peppercorn 60163 ‘Tornado’, added to the variety of transport in and around the town on that day. Whilst not in use the train was stabled at Barrow Hill and upon its return provided two photo opportunities, first on the approach to Chesterfield at Tapton Bridge then a bit of an arty shot as it passed over the road network at Horns Bridge and the town's new 'feature' on the roundabout. This kind of completed a rather interesting day of transports of delight.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

The Euro-VI powered Routemaster

As many may be aware Sir Peter Hendy (now of Network Rail and previously Transport for London), is an enthusiastic bus man, and the proud owner of a former Park Royal bodied London Transport Routemaster, RM 1005 (5 CLT). The bus is a regular performer at a whole host and eclectic mix of events up and down the country.

Produced in 1960 the type was originally powered by AEC AV 590 9.6 litre engines and mechanical units. They also featured fully automatic air-operated epicyclic gearbox and power-assisted steering.
Now some 56-years on and after much development and change with engine specification, this particular Routemaster has become to be fitted with a Cummins ISB4.5 Euro-VI diesel engine and has achieved a 132 hp (97 kW) rating.

The work was undertaken by Cummins Darlington Technical Centre and Portobello Engineering at their Whatstandwell premises in Derbyshire. This project now makes the iconic red London bus able to meet the strict rules and regulations that will come into effect in the Capital's Ultra Low Emissions Zone from 2020.
The Focus Transport team were recently present at the BUSES magazine organised event held at the British Motor Museum, Gaydon in Warwickshire, where the bus made an appearance hot foot from its previous day's antics at the annual Imberbus event on the Salisbury Plain Ministry of Defence land. Some evidence of that day's operation was still visible, but did not detract from the interesting mechanics of the bus.

Below are some images of the 'lump' now fitted within the confines of the bodywork.

And finally.

The exhaust has been rather nicely incorporated into the bar beneath the bodywork towards the rear of the bodywork, just ahead of the rear offside set of wheels.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016

No newts is good news

Ilkeston bridge work on newt delay railway station

Work has started on a footbridge at the site of a £10m railway station where construction efforts stalled due to concerns over rare great crested newts.
Ilkeston in Derbyshire is one of the largest towns in the UK without a rail station after its previous one closed in 1967, due to Dr.Beeching's cuts.
However, the project suffered several delays, notably because of newts that had to be trapped and reloacted.
The station, off Millership Way, is due to open later this year.

Plans to dismantle the old bridge were postponed after foundation work on the new platforms took longer than expected.
It is the latest delay to the project which first got the go-ahead in January 2014 - work was due to start six months later.
However, the rare newts - a species protected by law - were found during a routine ecological site survey and work was ordered not to begin until they were removed.
Flooding concerns at the site delayed the project further, and again in February 2015 when even more newts were found, prompting some to question the species' rarity.

The delays "disappointed" local councillors and "frustrated" the then transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin.
Work finally started to demolish the old station in March 2015.
Councillor Dean Collins, from the county council, said: "The new station will be a great boost to the area.
"Large-scale engineering projects like this can often unearth unforeseen issues and while we've had a few setbacks, we're working hard to get the station up and running as soon as we can."

A number of road closures will be in place while the old footbridge is taken down and the new one erected.

Once the station opens, services to Chesterfield, Sheffield, Leeds and Nottingham will begin with 160,000 passengers expected to pass through the station.

Monday, 22 August 2016

Glasgow Subway to Extend Hours?

Subway trains in Scotland’s largest city could run into the small hours to boost Glasgow’s burgeoning night-time economy. Extending the service after midnight will be possible after the system’s £288 million upgrade is completed. 

The current trains are 36 years old and were manufactured by Metro-Cammell
It would give clubbers and other late-night revellers an alternative to lengthy taxi queues and infrequent night buses. Glasgow’s night-time economy generates £2.16 billion for the city and supports 16,000 jobs, the first study of its kind showed in June. These figures take into account activity in restaurants, bars, clubs and fitness centres. 
News of the plans comes as the first 24-hour London Underground trains were launched on Friday night. The weekend service on the Victoria and Central lines is expected to add £360m to the city’s night-time economy. 

In Glasgow, overnight maintenance work to keep its 119-year-old Subway going limits its opening hours. Repairs are constantly required to the Victorian tunnels, track and drainage. The trains, which are 36 years old, are also increasingly difficult to keep running. 

The last Subway services leave stations in the city centre for their depot in Govan at around 11.30pm six days a week and at 6pm on Sundays. However, the system’s major overhaul along with new trains are expected to significantly reduce the amount of nightly maintenance required when the work is completed in 2021.

 Contracts have been awarded to Stadler Bussnang AG / Ansaldo STS Consortium for the supply of new trains, signalling and equipment. Track gauge is only 4ft (1219mm)
Strathclyde Partnership for Transport, which runs the Subway, said it was already planning for later running. Senior director Charlie Hoskins told Scotland on Sunday: “I take it as read that we will be doing that. “We will definitely be looking at running till the small hours. “The case for doing this will grow over the next four or five years as the night-time economy expands. “Lighter maintenance can be done over shorter hours.” 

The Subway already stays open occasionally to get passengers home from late-evening concerts and festive events. Trains typically stay running for an extra hour. This service, which is not advertised, will operate for the Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds and Biffy Clyro gigs in Bellahouston Park next weekend. 
Professor John Lennon, director of the Moffat Centre for Travel and Tourism Business Development at Glasgow Caledonian University, who wrote the study on the night-time economy, said later trains would give it a further lift. He said: “Any extension to underground trains later into the night can only be beneficial for the city. “The idea that we are stopping the service at a time when other cities are in full swing makes us less competitive for visitors. “A big part of what cities offer to visitors and residents is transportation. “We limit the night-time economy significantly if there are barriers to it.”