Monday, 31 October 2016

ADL Enviro500 Concept Bus Showcased in Singapore

Alexander Dennis Limited’s Enviro500 full flat floor, 3 door, 2 staircase double deck stole the show at the LTA-UITP Singapore International Transport Congress and Exhibition (SITCE) in Suntec City, Singapore during October 2016.

The Enviro500 concept bus, commissioned by the Land Transport Authority (LTA), is the result of close collaboration between the transport agency and Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL), the world’s largest double deck bus manufacturer.  Exhibited at a series of Bus Carnivals at venues across Singapore in March and April 2016, visitors were encouraged to provide their feedback on the design of this brand new vehicle designed specifically for Singapore.  Positive feedback on the design and specification has also been received from international visitors to this week’s SITCE event.
The concept bus retains many of the features which have made ADL’s Enviro500 the most popular high-capacity double deck bus in the world.  The most significant difference is the third door and second staircase. The second and third doors act as the exit points for all riders, the result being an efficient, two-stream passenger flow throughout the vehicle which speeds up boarding and alighting, reduces vehicle dwell time at bus stops and enhances the passenger experience.  Ease of access for all passengers is guaranteed thanks to the absence of any internal steps in the lower saloon.
The bus has a range of sophisticated on board specifications including luxurious high back contoured seating, WiFi, USB charging points at all seats, mood lighting and passenger information screens.  Improvements for the driver include a comfortable, ergonomically designed seat within the spacious cab area.  A large curved windscreen offers excellent visibility, and a CCTV monitor gives the driver all round clear views of staircases and exit doors for the added security of passengers.
Paul Davies, Director and General Manager of Alexander Dennis Asia Pacific, commented: “As a global business, we embrace this type of major customer involvement initiative. The LTA challenged ADL to design and build a double deck bus with three doors and two staircases which they believe will transform the passenger experience. A series of engineering workshops with the LTA, in addition to passenger feedback, has enabled us to further refine the initial design into a viable technical solution.  We are confident the vehicle will deliver the operational advantages the LTA require while improving the passengers’ on board experience.”
When asked about the complexity of engineering this unique concept vehicle, Bill Thong, General Manager of Alexander Dennis (Singapore) Service Pte Limited, responded, “It’s not a question of difficulty it is a question of desire. If the market is calling for a 3-door bus solution then the challenge is for manufacturers to respond and that is what we at ADL are doing.”
Paul Davies added, “Our collaboration with the LTA to develop this concept bus underlines our commitment to this critically important market.  With over 200 Enviro500 vehicles in circulation here, we already have a strong foundation in Singapore.  In summer 2015, we invested in a new, centrally based, local HQ in Tagore 8, which is headed up by Bill Thong.  We are delighted Bill joined us, bringing over 15 years senior management experience in commercially focused roles having been with Michelin, Alcoa, Akzo Nobel and Comfort Delgro, before joining Alexander Dennis Limited.

Since then we have continued strengthen our organisation in Singapore, recruiting a new Service Manager and Field Service Engineers.  ADL is renowned for delivering reliable vehicles underpinned by class-leading aftermarket support, so having our own highly trained Service Engineers gives our customers the comfort of knowing their vehicles’ uptime will be maximised.”

Sunday, 30 October 2016

15,000 Apply for Virgin East Coast Jobs

More than 15,000 people have applied for 78 jobs driving new trains being launched by Virgin.

The company said there were almost 200 applications for every vacancy following the biggest recruitment campaign on the East Coast route since the 1980s.
The 78 new drivers will work from depots between Edinburgh and London.
They will work on new Azuma trains, built in the UK by Hitachi, which are to be launched in 2018.
A Virgin Trains spokesman said: "We have received a huge amount of interest in this fantastic opportunity at Virgin Trains on its east coast route.
"We're really excited that so many people want to come and join our fabulous company.
"The talent team are working hard to process and update all of the applications we received."
Applicants have to live within an hour of Doncaster, Edinburgh, London King's Cross, or Newcastle or be prepared to relocate if they get the job. Once qualified, new drivers will receive £57,000 per year.

When they launch in 2018, the 65 Azuma trains will be amongst the most advanced trains on the UK's rail network.

 Richard Branson shows the Azuma at Kings Cross

 Azuma First Class Interior


Friday, 28 October 2016

The Welshman, The Capitals United, The Red Dragon and St David Launched by GWR

Named trains from Wales Launched - The Welshman, The Capitals United, The Red Dragon and  St David

Great Western Railway has launched named trains on the daily train services between Cardiff and London Paddington, to mark the re-opening of the Severn Tunnel.

Taking the number of direct daily services from Cardiff to London Paddington back to 29 per day, the 0728 service from Swansea is named Y Cymro – The Welshman.

It joins three other named week day services between London Paddington and South Wales: The Red Dragon; St David and The Capitals United.

Helping to provide over 30,000 seats a day between south Wales and London Paddington, the service will take 2 hours and 07 minutes from Cardiff – just seven minutes more than the minimum check-in time advised by airports.
The service calls at Cardiff at 0825 before making its way towards London for arrival into Paddington at 1032.

The tunnel was due to re-open on Saturday 22 October, after its six-week closure for Network Rail electrification works.

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood said: “With a large number of passengers travelling by train between Cardiff and London Paddington, it is clear that rail remains the most convenient way to travel. Journeys will be quicker again, taking a little over two hours after the six-week closure of Severn Tunnel; and at the same lead in Advance Single Fare price of just £18.00. 

“I appreciate how disruptive this work may have been for some and I would like to thank them for your patience during the last six weeks. The vital work will modernise the railway between South Wales and London which, once complete, will enable us to deliver more frequent services, more seats, and to reduce journey times.”

During the work Network Rail installed overhead lines to power GWR’s new Intercity Express Trains (IETs).

The new IETs will begin to enter service on selected routes from next summer, with Network Rail expected to complete electrification of the line between London Paddington to Cardiff by 2019. Once complete South Wales customers will experience quicker journey times, up to 21 minutes between Swansea and London Paddington, and more seats – up to a 25% increase in seats per train compared to existing High Speed Trains.

Alongside Y Cymro, The Welshman there are 58 trains a day operating between Cardiff and London Paddington, each providing over 500 seats.

Some 32 train services a day operated during the Severn Tunnel work.

Advance single tickets are available from £18.00 from Cardiff Central to London Paddington, without the need to pay extra for reservations or for more than one bag.

Named trains to/from Wales

The Capitals United

  • 0558 Swansea to London Paddington (Monday to Friday)
  • 1645 London Paddington to Swansea (Monday to Friday)

The Capitals United Operates between London Paddington, Cardiff Central and Swansea. The name was originally used between 1956 and 1963 by British Railways and has been reintroduced by GWR to highlight the continuing importance of the rail link between the capitals of England and Wales

The Red Dragon

  • 0730 Carmarthen to London Paddington (Monday to Friday)
  • 1715 London Paddington to Carmarthen (Monday to Friday)

The Red Dragon runs between London Paddington and Carmarthen, and is named after the mythical Red Dragon (known in Welsh as Y Ddraig Goch) that appears on the Welsh national flag. Although the flag was only granted official status in 1959, it is claimed to be the oldest national flag still in use, although the origins are now lost in history and myth.

The St David

  • 0745 London Paddington to Swansea (Monday to Friday)
  • 1128 Swansea to London Paddington (Monday to Friday)

The St David operates between Swansea and London Paddington and is named after the patron saint of Wales (in Welsh, Dewi Sant). St David was born sometime between 462 and 512 and was officially recognised as the patron saint of Wales in 1120.


Three albums have now been added to the Flickr site. A little bit different from our usual fayre, inasmuch provided by Paul Gooderson from his recent journeyings across Canada, plus a little diversion over the border into North America. A very interesting snapshot of the varied bus and coach scene on the other side of the North Atlantic. These can now be viewed by clicking here
and here and here

Thursday, 27 October 2016

Nat Ex Continues to Deliver Growth

National Express Group PLC has issued its Trading Update for the Period from 1 July 2016 to 30 September 2016.

Overview - Strategy of operational excellence and diversification continues to deliver growth

The Group has continued to make strong progress in the period. Both revenue and profit are up year-on-year in constant currency, with operating profit up 9% in the third quarter driven by particularly strong performances in overseas businesses, through both organic growth and the benefit of acquisitions.
Year to date, like-for-like Group operating profit is 5% higher on a constant currency basis and up 12% on a reported basis, boosted by foreign currency movements on overseas earnings and after a significant increase in the c2c franchise premium. The Group is on course to at least deliver its targets for profit, cash flow and gearing for the year.

Internationally diversified portfolio continues to deliver strong growth

  • Group revenue is up 11% year to date on a constant currency basis and up 17% on a reported basis, supported by underlying passenger growth across the Group of 3% with total passenger growth of 6%.
  • Group profit before tax is up 9% in the period on a constant currency basis and up 5% year to date, despite a significant increase in the c2c franchise premium. Year to date Group profit before tax is up 15% on a reported basis.
  • Strong revenue growth in North America of 16% year to date on a constant currency basis. This has been driven by a successful bid season which secured an average price increase of nearly 4% across the entire portfolio and a number of acquisitions made over the last year. This performance has been augmented by a successful school start-up.
  • Record passenger numbers in both Spain and Morocco of 225 million in the first nine months of the year, up 7% year-on-year, supporting revenue growth of 6% on a constant currency basis. Our recent acquisitions are performing well and we have also seen strong growth of over 10% on our Spanish airport services, helping to offset continuing aggressive competition from high speed rail.
  • Rail revenue growth up 43% year to date and includes the first time contribution of our German rail operations. c2c has delivered revenue growth of 5% year to date – remaining well ahead of the average growth rate for London and the South East – helped by the continuing success of our off-peak marketing campaigns which have delivered year on year growth of over 10%.

  • Our UK Bus and UK Coach businesses are proving relatively resilient against a
    backdrop of subdued demand for travel in the UK, with commercial revenue up 2% in UK Bus and core revenue up 1.7% in UK Coach year to date:
    • In UK Bus three further ‘Platinum’ routes were launched during the period. Delivered alongside other improvements such as prioritisation measures secured through our industry-leading Bus Alliance with Transport for West Midlands, our 10 Platinum routes have together secured double digit passenger growth, helping to offset headwinds from increased congestion especially, and we will launch a further five routes in 2016.
    • UK Bus won Bus Operator of the Year at the 2016 National Transport Awards.
    • In UK Coach continued strong performance on our airport routes, up 20% year on year, has helped offset strong competition especially from rail discounting and lower demand on Eurolines.
  • Our Bahraini Bus operations have seen continued growth and have now carried over 15 million passengers since the launch of operations in 2015. 

We continue to deploy technology to drive efficiency and growth and raise standards

  • Our continued investment in new mobile websites and ticketing apps is driving higher online transactions, conversion rates and lowering costs. For example, delivering 40% growth in mobile transactions in our Spanish operation and an increase of over 20% in the conversion rate for UK Coach.
  • Our real-time active revenue management system is now fully installed in our Spanish coach business, and will be fully rolled out in UK Coach by the end of this year, helping to drive revenue, profit and incremental demand in 2017.
  • Our UK Bus division operates the largest regional smartcard scheme, with 10% of all journeys on our buses now transacted through smartcards. UK Bus have also launched mobile ticketing and next year will begin contactless pay, all of which not only provide more convenient payment options for our customers, but will help to deliver faster journey times, a major driver for growing patronage.
  • DriveCam technology has now been fully implemented in our UK Coach business, and is being installed in UK Bus and ALSA. This programme is already delivering a reduction in the number of collisions and associated costs, with annual savings of £0.5 million in our UK Coach business alone.
  • Our priority of raising our safety performance remains and following on from UK Coach’s success last year we are delighted that both our UK Bus and UK Rail divisions have been awarded the British Safety Council’s highest safety award, the Sword of Honour.

Growing through new business opportunities including bolt-on acquisitions

  • Completed two acquisitions in North America during the period, adding 45 school buses and 151 transit vehicles. The five acquisitions made last year have delivered an average ROIC of 22% so far.
  • Our recently acquired paratransit planning and scheduling software provider, Ecolane, is already securing new contract wins and opening new market opportunities for us.
  • We are preparing a bid for the Casablanca Tramway, with final submissions due in late 2016 and the contract commencing in December 2017.
  • We are actively looking at a number of attractive growth opportunities and are due to submit a bid shortly in one new market. 

Financial Highlights

  • We remain on target to generate at least £100 million of free cash flow for the year.
  • We expect to close the year with gearing within our target range of 2-2.5 times net debt to EBITDA.
  • Subject to market conditions, we are planning to refinance our £350m bond shortly, and expect to achieve significant savings in interest costs. There will be a ‘double interest cost’ of approximately £2 million in 2016. 

Nuremberg S-Bahn update

In February 2015, the Bavarian Railway Authority (BEG) announced its intention to award National Express the Nuremberg S-Bahn rail contract. A central aspect of our bid was the introduction of new trains at the start of the contract in December 2018. However, the lengthy challenge by the incumbent operator, Deutsche Bahn, has meant that the introduction of these new trains, to significantly improve the service experienced by customers and underpin passenger growth, would be substantially delayed and could also lead to National Express incurring prohibitive additional cost. We have therefore informed BEG that it is no longer in the interest of National Express and our shareholders to proceed. The authority understands and respects our decision.
We remain fully committed to the German rail market and are planning to submit a number of bids within the next year. Our prudent and disciplined approach to bidding will continue. We remain proud of our existing operations on the Rhine Munster Express and look forward to commencing the two new Rhine Ruhr Express contracts in the coming years. We hope to work with BEG again in the future.
Dean Finch, National Express Group Chief Executive, said:
“With two thirds of our earnings generated outside of the UK this geographic diversity, combined with a focus on operational excellence and the deployment of technology, continues to deliver good growth, a strong cash flow and opens new market opportunities. We will stick to our fundamental principles of safe and punctual operations at affordable prices with particular emphasis on controlling costs to generate cash and keep fares low. The combination of our relatively resilient UK performance together with the strong growth we are seeing from our international operations enables us to selectively invest in growth opportunities subject to our strict financial criteria and continue to deliver attractive and sustainable returns to shareholders.”


Wednesday, 26 October 2016

New bus stop technology

TfL trials battery-powered bus stop display screen delivering live travel information

Transport for London (TfL) is trialling a new battery-powered digital bus stop display screen providing real-time travel information for passengers.

battery-powered bus stop display screen

The first trial of a new battery-powered bus stop display screen providing travel information on TfL bus services as well as non-TfL services, is taking place at Northwood Station, Hillingdon, West London.

New digital screens can be quickly and easily attached to bus stop posts

The new Dynamic screens, delivered in partnership with Axentia Technologies of Sweden, can be quickly and easily attached to bus stop posts displaying real-time passenger information on next bus arrival. The new screens are battery-powered allowing them to be fitted to bus stops without shelters or electrical power supply.

TfL trials battery-powered bus stop display screen delivering live travel information

Commenting on the new installation, Simon Reed, TfL’s Head of Technical Services, said: “We are continually exploring new ways to deliver information to our customers while they are on the move and to ensure we are at the forefront of new technology as it develops.
“This type of display could be quickly and cheaply installed at other bus stops with no shelter or power supply”
“We will trial this screen for three months and will then evaluate how successful it has been and what our customers think of it.  If cost-effective, this type of display could be quickly and cheaply installed at other bus stops with no shelter or power supply.  This will widen our reach in providing real time bus arrival information at the stop to our passengers.” 

The screen will display running information on routes 282 and H11 as well as cross-border services, in this case, Arriva Route 8.
The live information panel measures 458mm (w) x 375mm (h) x 68mm (d) and the battery live of each is expected to last approximately three years.
The trial began on 17 October and is scheduled for completion at the end of February 2017.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Midlands light rail proposals

Light rail route planned to boost Wednesbury town centre linking Metro stop with bus station

A multi-million pound Very Light Rail system is being planned for Wednesbury, which council chiefs say will bring more people and money into the town.

Parry People Movers worked on a light rail service, the Stourbridge Shuttle, with a similar scheme in the pipeline for Wednesbury

Talks are under way to bring in the pioneering system, which would link the bus station to a Metro stop on the edge of town.
Bosses said they are ‘very hopeful’ about the project, which could be up and running within two years.
The scheme will be similar to the successful Stourbridge Shuttle and built by the same firm – Cradley Heath-based Parry People Movers.
The firm’s chairman John Parry said the vision is for a 2km loop around the town centre, which would ‘dramatically change the relationship’ between the town centre and the Metro station in Great Western Street.
Sandwell Council leader Steve Eling said the scheme would boost Wednesbury by linking two transport hubs.
He said: “We’re looking into a short connection Very Light Rail vehicle...between the Great Western Street Metro stop and the bus station.
“Parry People Movers, a Sandwell company, would take that forward and it would bring a number of benefits around the connectivity of the town centre, also help develop a Sandwell business and the economy in Sandwell.
“I’m very hopeful that we will be able to bring forward something quite positive as soon as possible.”
Parry People Movers’ engineers and council officers have already carried out a walk through around the town.
The next step is for a ‘scoping survey’ which could be completed some time in the new year.
Councillor Eling added: “Wednesbury would be ideal for the project if the resources can be found.”
A track will be laid on top of the roads in the town, making installation simple and avoiding any traffic problems, according to Parry People Movers chairman Mr Parry – who said the scheme could be up and running by late 2018 or early 2019.



Three albums have now been added to the Flickr site. A little bit different from our usual fayre, inasmuch provided by Paul Gooderson from his recent journeyings across Canada, plus a little diversion over the border into North America. A very interesting snapshot of the varied bus and coach scene on the other side of the North Atlantic. These can now be viewed by clicking here
and here and here

Monday, 24 October 2016

Buses affected by growing congestion in Central London

London traffic means buses are 'slower than a horse and cart'

Londoners waste more than 100 hours sat in traffic every year, according to a new study.
The capital has been named as the worst area in the UK for congestion, with drivers spending more than 12 working days sitting in stationary traffic last year.
In a study for the Sunday Times, traffic information company Inrix also revealed that congestion has increased by 40 per cent in London in the last four years.
Figures from TfL added that some central London buses were travelling at an average of 3.8mph, which is slower than a horse and cart.
A five mile journey in the congestion charge zone last year took 25 minutes, which is almost five minutes longer than in 2012.
The average speed of any vehicle travelling through central London last year was 8.3mph, down half a mph from 8.8mph in 2002, the year before the introduction of the congestion charge.
Inrix chief economist Graham Cookson told the Sunday Times that congestion in London has grown more in the last four years than the company believed it would grow in the 17 years between 2013 and 2030.
The gridlock has been blamed on the rise of internet shopping being delivered by white vans, segregated cycle lanes and an increase in the number of mini-cabs.

Data from Inrix, taken from 18 urban areas in the UK over four years, showed that building the cycle superhighway at Elephant and Castle had caused average speeds on nearby roads to slow by more than two mph.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan has been urged to get rid of the permanent, segregated cycle lanes in a bid to tackle the capital’s growing congestion problem.

London bus use falls for first time since 2012 due to 'increased congestion'

Fewer people are using buses in London because traffic jams are getting worse.
Passenger numbers fell three per cent in the year up to March - the first time they have decreased since 212 - with a total of 2.29 billion journeys made, according to Department of Transport figures.
Transport for London said increased congestion and road works were increasing the average length of bus journey times, pushing people towards other forms of transport.
Gareth Powell, TfL’s Director of Strategy for Surface Transport, said: “We saw a small reduction in the number of people travelling on buses last year due to congestion caused by major commercial development across the city.”
He also cited “internet delivery traffic” and “extensive work to improve road safety” among reasons for increased congestion.
But he added: “Bus network reliability has now stabilised. The completion of a number of major road projects and the introduction of the Hopper fare on buses are expected to have a positive effect on passenger numbers.”  
Andrew Allen, a policy analyst for Campaign for Better Transport, said the annual report held “no surprises".
He said: “London buses were at one stage the shining light in the whole country. As bus use in the rest of the UK declined London buses were on the up, but then in the last couple of years there has been a decline in usage.
“The main argument for why this is happening is that there is more congestion on the road making the bus a less attractive option; often it’s easier to walk.
"Then with the introduction of Uber there have been other more attractive options.”
Mr Allen said that major road infrastructure projects such as plans to build the Silvertown tunnel have also slowed down London traffic.
He said the issue of relieving London congestion was “certainly not a simple one to resolve” but stressed the importance of giving more road space to buses, especially in outer London.
Before 2012, bus use in London had increased every year since 1998

Cyclists v the motorist

Cycle Superhighways make traffic worse in the City, report reveals


Traffic jams in the Square Mile are being made worse because road space has been lost to make way for Cycle Superhighway routes, according to a report by the City of London Corporation.
Officials say that extra room needed to accommodate bike-only lanes running into the City, installed to protect cyclists, means there is less space to re-route traffic when problems arise, such as street closures for construction sites and emergency roadworks.
There were nearly 500 applications for roads to be shut in the City last year, the highest number since 2008, which added pressure to the dwindling amount of carriageway available.
It comes as Tower Bridge began three months of closure to vehicles this week, with drivers complaining of “complete gridlock” as they struggled to cross the river.
Further construction to extend a north-south portion of the Cycle Superhighway cutting through the City is due to begin in the spring.
But a report, due to be heard by the City’s policy and resources committee tomorrow, complains there are already extra “pockets of congestion” linked to space lost from cycle lanes.
The report says: “The most significant impact on the City’s road network in the last 12 months has been the construction and subsequent operation of TfL’s cycle super highway, and although it is too early to reach definitive conclusions, observations would suggest that areas of traffic congestion can frequently be found on those roads directly affected by the scheme, and a degree of network resilience to absorb other temporary activities has been lost as road capacity has been reallocated.”
The report gives the example of Newgate Street’s closure for gas works, when traffic would normally be re-routed to Ludgate Circus, but the Cycle Superhighway meant “traffic congestion was greater than previously experienced”, the report says.
Due to a “surge in development activity”, the corporation received 494 applications for road closures this year, compared to 382 last year and 232 the year before.
It is likely to compound the woes of drivers and cyclists on Tower Bridge sent on diversion routes over London Bridge and Southwark Bridge, who posted photographs of Twitter showing heavy traffic at a standstill and complained about increased pollution.
Neil Coyle, Labour MP for Bermondsey and Old Southwark, tweeted it was “complete gridlock on Bermondsey St, Tooley St & beyond in SE1”, while Leni Candan, a digital communications freelancer, added how it was a “struggle to breathe through all the car fumes” caused by idling traffic affected by the Tower Bridge closure.
Pedestrians and cyclists wheeling their bikes are still allowed to walk over the bridge for the time being.
A City of London Corporation spokesman said: “The City of London Corporation is supportive of the Cycle Superhighways in principle.
“We are working hard to encourage workers and residents of the Square Mile to cycle and walk more regularly, with the aim of 10 per cent of City workers walking or cycling to work by 2030.
“We are looking at ways to improve the flow of the City's roads and work closely with TfL to ensure Cycle Superhighways fit into the City as smoothly as possible.”

Sunday, 23 October 2016

Alstom to Build New Factory in Cheshire

Alstom has started construction at the new site in Widnes, Cheshire, which will create about 600 jobs. The firm aims to win contract to manufacture trains for HS2.
The French train company Alstom is building the new multimillion-pound plant in the north-west of England, delivering a major boost to the region during a time of uncertainty about Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Alstom will spend an initial £20m on a new site at Widnes, Cheshire, creating about 600 jobs. The facility will modernise the Pendolino trains on the west coast mainline and contain a training academy, but it could eventually manufacture new rolling stock if Alstom wins a contract to produce trains for London Underground or HS2.

 The company have a contract to modernise the
 West Coast Pendolino trains
Alstom has also been chosen to provide maintenance support for the Class 180 trains operated by Grand Central Railway Company Limited for the next ten years, from January 2017 until December 2026
The Paris-based company is making the investment in Britain despite concerns about the cost of importing and exporting products after the country leaves the EU and doubts about the future of the HS2 rail project. Carlos Ghosn, the chief executive of Nissan, warned last week that Brexit threatens Britain’s vehicle manufacturing industry and he would look for compensation from the government before committing to new investments.
However, Nick Crossfield, the managing director of Alstom for UK and Ireland, said the French company is “fundamentally committed” to the UK market. He also described HS2 as an “incredibly important and transformational investment” for the UK. Crossfield said the investment in Widnes represented a “step change” for Alstom’s approach to the UK.
It also highlights the revival in Britain’s train manufacturing industry. A decade ago Britain was left with only one train manufacturer – Bombardier in Derby – after a string of closures. However, Hitachi, the Japanese conglomerate, opened a plant in County Durham last year and Alstom’s announcement is another boost.

“It is a step change in terms of the type and nature of investment that we have made in the UK,” Crossfield said. “ It is a fundamental step in a direction that sees us delivering a much broader capability in the UK market. The UK market is one of the most high profile and important for Alstom worldwide.”
The 30-acre site is due to open next year. The facility will grow “according to the opportunities that we win”, Crossfield added, and is a “foothold that provides us with a base to expand even further”.
The Alstom boss said the company had not reconsidered the project despite Britain’s vote to leave the European Union:“One of the major issues with UK rail right now is capacity, and that is underpinning all of the investment that is going in.
 “While the EU question is important for the country as a whole, people still need to get on trains to get from A to B and we see no reason why that investment will change.
“We are fundamentally committed to the UK market. Its strategic importance, its size and its dynamics were not impacted by [Brexit],” he added.
“Other than some of the very limited foreign exchange volatility, we have not seen any major  impact to our business. For us, it is business as usual. We are in a business that is based on long-term fundamentals like population growth and industrial development and that continues as before.”
Alstom has confirmed it will bid to build the trains for HS2 and unveiled plans for double-decker carriages. It is also bidding for the New Tube for London contract, which is worth up to £2.5bn and involves designing and building 250 next-generation trains for the Piccadilly, Bakerloo, Central and Waterloo & City lines in London.
Crossfield said that even if the government scrapped HS2, which is estimated to cost more than £40bn, it “would not change the investment perspective for us here in the UK because there is a very significant and healthy domestic rolling stock market”.
Nonetheless, Crossfield said HS2 is a “very significant opportunity” for Alstom, with the company eyeing up the contracts to build rolling stock and infrastructure for the network. He said it was “too early to say” whether the trains would be built in the UK if Alstom won the contract, but some work is  but some work is likely to be conducted in Widnes. The company employs 32,000 people around the world, including 3,200 at 12 UK sites.

 Alstom produce the double deck Euroduplex which
 can reach 320kph (198mph)
Theresa May confirmed at the Conservative party conference that the government will “press ahead” with HS2, and Alstom has welcomed the government’s comments.
“It is a very crucial and important infrastructure project that should go ahead,” Crossfield said. “I was at the Conservative party conference over the last couple of days speaking at a couple of fringe events and the government remains committed to HS2 in a very vital way. I think it is an incredibly important and transformational investment for the country.
“There were very specific comments made in the last 48 hours of the conference in regard to continued support for HS2 and when you look and talk to the people involved in that project within government it is clear there is significant momentum. There is no dilution in commitment to that project at all.”
Alstom remains under investigation by the Serious Fraud Office over corruption allegations regarding overseas contracts. Seven individuals have been charged as part of the investigation, which relate to consultancy agreements signed in 2001, 2002 and 2004. One of the individuals who has been charged is Terence Watson, who stepped down as president of Alstom UK earlier this year and was replaced by Crossfield – who was promoted from his role as managing director of train control. Watson is contesting the charges.
Crossfield said the investigation “does not effect or impact what we are doing”, adding: “It’s not on my day-to-day agenda in terms of how I run the business.

Click here here to see the range of Alstom trains.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Contactless Payment coming to a Stagecoach bus near you

Stagecoach has announced plans to bring in contactless payment technology on all of its UK regional bus services by the end of 2018.
The £12m initiative will allow passengers to pay for travel with a contactless credit or debit card, as well as Apple Pay and Android Pay.
Perth-based Stagecoach said it would be the first major use of contactless technology on buses outside London.
The first buses in Scotland will begin accepting contactless payments in 2017.
The initial phase of the project was marked at an event in Oxford attended by UK Transport Minister Andrew Jones.

By the end of 2018, the technology will be live on all of the operator's 7,200 buses in England, Scotland and Wales.
Stagecoach has already ordered 4,000 special ticket machines, covering more than 50% of its bus fleet, with the remaining 3,200 machines scheduled for 2017-18.
The transport group said passengers would not face additional charges for using the contactless technology.
Robert Montgomery, managing director of Stagecoach UK Bus, said: "Bus travel is experiencing a complete transformation. Major investment by Stagecoach in new digital technology is making it easier than ever to catch the bus.

"From contactless technology and new apps to greener vehicles with the latest environmental performance, buses are the simpler, smarter and greener mobility solution.
"But to maximise the benefit of this investment, we also need bold and urgent action by transport authorities to tackle the scourge of road congestion that is holding back bus reliability."
Transport Minister Andrew Jones said: "The roll-out of contactless payment technology on Stagecoach bus services outside London will help hundreds of thousands of passengers.
"People will be able to buy tickets online and on smartphones, making bus travel more convenient, cutting queues and speeding up journeys."
Stagecoach is also working with other major bus operators - First Bus, Go-Ahead, Arriva and National Express - to have contactless technology installed on all buses outside London.

The project would cover more than 1,200 bus operators in England, Scotland and Wales, and make contactless travel available for 5.2 billion bus passenger journeys a year across Britain.

Contactless Payment - Reading Buses

Contactless payments coming in 2016

2016 is the year that we will be launching contactless payment across our buses! You’ll no longer have to worry about having the correct change! And it doesn't stop there as there will be lots more choice to pay. We will be firming up dates soon, but we were so excited that we had to share with you now! We already have our simplyBus smartcards which are simply faster, smarter and cheaper than cash, but there’s a lot more on the horizon.

Pay with your contactless bank card on the bus!

Say goodbye to fumbling round for change in your pocket for good. All you need is your contactless bank card to pay and get where you need to be. Currently this is only available on London buses, but we hope to get our accreditation soon to be able to give you this quick and easy way to pay.

Pay with your mobile

We are excited to announce that a Reading Buses app will be coming later this year which will include mobile ticketing. Suitable for both regular users and visitors alike, just a few taps on your phone and you’ll be hopping around on our buses in no time at all!

Do you forget to top up your smartcard?

With the launch of our flashy brand new website in summer, you will be able to set up a direct debit to top up your cards automatically and never fear that your smartcard will run out of trips again!
These developments are designed to give you the easiest methods of payment in this modern time and to speed up boarding times on our buses. Be rest assured though, that we will not be getting rid of cash payments on our buses when these innovations come in.
We will keep you up to date on our website and social media when we have the confirmed dates of implementation.

Friday, 21 October 2016

Rail freight firm DB Cargo planning almost 900 job losses

Rail freight firm DB Cargo is planning almost 900 job losses in the UK after a "dramatic decline" in markets such as coal.
The planned cuts represent almost 30% of the company's workforce. The German-owned firm said the rail freight industry was facing "unprecedented challenges" because of the fall in its core markets.
Hans-Georg Werner, chief executive of DB Cargo UK, said: "Responsible and successful businesses must evolve and reshape as their markets change, and sometimes this means making tough decisions.
"Whilst this is a difficult time for all of us at DB Cargo UK, reshaping the company will enable us to build a business for the future and protect the majority of jobs.
"We are fully committed to supporting colleagues who may be at risk of redundancy.
"We firmly believe in the future of rail freight in the UK. Our motorways and roads are becoming more congested and rail offers fast and clean supply chain solutions.
"Our new business strategy will ensure we are a perfect logistics partner of choice for customers across all sectors - including construction, automotive and intermodal - long into the future."
The company said no final decisions have been taken yet, and its proposals are subject to formal collective and individual consultations.
Mick Cash, general secretary of the Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union, said: "This is devastating news brought on through a combination of cut-throat practices in the UK rail freight industry and a shocking lack of Government support for this key section of our transport infrastructure.
"RMT's executive will be meeting this afternoon to consider our response but it is imperative right now that the Government intervene to save skilled jobs in the rail freight industry which are being butchered before their eyes due to a lack of action to protect steel, coal and the rest of our manufacturing base."
Manuel Cortes, leader of the Transport Salaried Staffs Association, said: "This news will be a devastating blow to all the fine people working in UK rail freight industry, and unless we come up with an immediate rescue could plan, it is also very bad news for Britain.
"Our ability to shift cargo by rail should be central to any UK future joined-up environmental as well as economic and transport planning. This announcement is a hammer blow to our strategic capability to be able to do so.
"Few people will have realised until today that Britain's freight industry is actually owned by Germany and operates as a subsidiary company of their state-owned rail company Deutsche Bahn.
"So whilst this news is bleak, the Tories do have the opportunity to turn this negative into a positive if Theresa May will take back control of rail freight so it can be built in the interests of the British economy."

Thursday, 20 October 2016

Go North East wins dishonest personal injury claim case

Go North East, represented by law firm Ward Hadaway, has won an important case against an improper personal injury claim.

The case was heard at Sunderland County Court where a Judge ruled that, not only was a personal injury claim improper and should be dismissed, but that the claimant and his solicitors should pay Go North East’s costs. This is the second time this year that dishonest claimants have been caught out by Go North East, highlighting what the company sees as a growing problem with some personal injury solicitors who pursue claims they know to be improper. 
In September 2014, a Go North East bus had a minor collision with the partly open door of a parked van, causing superficial damage to the bus which the bus firm accepted liability for. A passenger on the bus claimed that he had been jolted backwards and forwards by the accident, and suffered a significant neck injury which resulted in him not being able to work for several months. However, CCTV footage showed that the passenger was standing, not seated as he had said, waiting to get off the bus, and was completely unaffected by the minor accident. The CCTV was disclosed to the passenger's lawyers with a request that they ask the medical expert to comment upon whether he could have suffered injury in light of what was shown, but they decided to issue proceedings despite the inconsistent evidence.

The court documents said that the claimant was standing at the time of the accident. When a formal witness statement was disclosed, the passenger said that he could not remember if he was standing or seated. Eventually, the medical expert was shown the CCTV and agreed that there was no medical basis to support the allegation that the passenger was injured in the accident.

The claim was then withdrawn.

The Court ruled that the claimant was fundamentally dishonest and ordered the passenger to pay Go North East's costs. The Court found that the claimant's lawyers acted improperly or rather failed to act by not earlier sending the CCTV to the expert. The claimant's lawyers were therefore also ordered to pay the bus firm’s costs. Go North East’s managing director, Kevin Carr, said: “We take a firm stance against anyone who attempts to obtain money from our company improperly.

“There are no winners when it comes to dishonest compensation claims – ultimately we all pay for these through subsequent rises in transport fares, or in the case of private motorists, the cost of insurance."

Paul Hughes, Consultant at Ward Hadaway, who advised Go North East on the case, said: “This is a welcome and refreshing decision. It is very unusual for solicitors to be ordered to pay costs in this way. This decision demonstrates that courts are becoming more robust in the challenge to improper claims not supported by evidence."

Wednesday, 19 October 2016

Greater Anglia rail franchise

Greater Anglia drops “Abellio” from its title as new era starts on the region’s railways

In August, Dutch company Abellio – part of the state-owned Dutch Railways – won the franchise it had been running on a temporary basis for four years, with a promise to completely renew the region’s trains by 2020.
It will invest £1.4bn in buying 1,043 new carriages to transform rail services in the region and will pay the Treasury £3.7bn for the right to run services.
The first new trains should appear early in 2019 with the complete fleet in place by the end of 2020.
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said that while much hard work had been undertaken to reach this stage, the hard work of delivering improvements to the service was only just starting.

Timeline: From British Rail to the new railway

The start of the new franchise is crucial turning point for the region’s railways which are about to be modernised with a new fleet.
1997: The region’s passenger rail services were privatised shortly before the General Election. Anglia Railways took on the InterCity route from London to Norwich and the rural branch lines while First Great Eastern ran the suburban trains from London to Ipswich, Clacton, Harwich, Sudbury and Braintree.
2004: All the lines out of Liverpool Street were brought together under a single franchise run by National Express, initially called ‘one’.
2012: Abellio took over the Greater Anglia Franchise, initially for a two-year period. This was extended in 2014 after the Department for Transport’s franchise programme ran into problems.
2016: New long-term franchise awarded to Abellio, with the promise of a new fleet of trains.
2018: Crossrail starts, allowing new connections from Stratford station to Central London, Heathrow Airport, and Reading.
Early 2019: First new trains due to be delivered – the InterCity and hybrid train fleets built by Swiss company Stadler are expected to be the first to enter service.
Late 2019: New accelerated timetables introduced. These will feature through trains from Lowestoft to London along the East Suffolk Line, an hourly service between Ipswich and Peterborough, and new services between Sudbury and Colchester Town station. New “Aventra” trains from Bombardier enter service on suburban services.
Late 2020: Last Aventra trains delivered for the suburban services – meaning the region has a totally modern fleet.
October 2025: Abellio’s franchise is due to run out (but many companies have seen their franchises extended).
Upgrading existing trains would continue to improve things in the short term – and the contract for the new trains to be introduced in the longer term had now been agreed.

The franchise announcement came after three years of campaigning by the Great Eastern Taskforce headed by MPs Chloe Smith and Ben Gummer alongside New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership chairman Mark Pendlington.
The name on the trains is being shortened to Greater Anglia and there should be free wi-fi on all InterCity trains.

Tuesday, 18 October 2016

New Tourliner Launched with EfficientCruise & EfficientRoll

MAN Bus subsidiary Neoplan has launched the Tourliner as a new entry model in the premium coach sector. The new exterior design gives increased aerodynamics by more than 20% in comparison to the previous model. The drag coefficient is only Cd = 0.36, which is equivalent to that of a modern mid-size van. This is achieved in part by the new exterior mirrors, which feature improved wind resistance and provide a better view.
In addition, the D26 engine now comes with increased performance and torque, featuring an optimised driveline that allows for fuel savings of up to 10%. This is due to the long final drive ratio of i = 2.73 and the optimised shifting strategy among other things.
The new generation of MAN EfficientCruise has also been added to the line-up now, meaning that the MAN EfficientRoll free-wheel feature is available for coaches for the very first time. This ‘sailing’ mode provides a gain in efficiency even on slight downward gradients by automatically shifting the gearbox to the neutral ‘N’ position and allowing the bus to move with as little engine friction loss as possible.

Another innovation in this area is the latest generation of pre-emptive cruise control systems, MAN EfficientCruise® GPS-assisted cruise control system detects up and downward gradients along the route up to three kilometres in advance. This means that it can adjust the selected gear and speed to achieve optimum economy whilst driving. Downshifts are suppressed where appropriate.
The driver simply selects the desired speed and one of the four possible speed tolerance levels (ECO Level I - IIII). Level I denotes the smallest deviation from the set speed, Level IIII the greatest. The latter allows maximum fuel savings and is ideal for light traffic on motorways and country roads. By means of a rocker switch, the ECO level may be adjusted to the current traffic situation at any time during the journey.

EfficientRoll ‒ Intelligent coasting

Thanks to innovative technology, coasting is now introduced which is intelligently controlled by means of GPS preview. MAN has significantly expanded the potential for fuel savings. Even when on a slight downward gradient, the transmission automatically shifts to the neutral position "N" - but only where fuel consumption can actually be reduced. Thus the momentum is maintained and the vehicle loses speed less quickly than with an engaged gear.

EfficientRoll combined with MAN EfficientCruise® saves more fuel and allows the vehicle to travel in a more environmentally friendly manner than previously. The smooth intervention of the cruise control enormously increases comfort and optimally reduces the strain on the driver. This means that the driver can now concentrate fully on the driving tasks whilst letting the new systems take control of smooth driving.

More details here

Monday, 17 October 2016

London's Night Tube - next lines

Night Tube services on the Northern Line will launch on November 18th, it has been announced.
Northern Line services will run from High Barnet and Edgware, via the Charing Cross branch, to Morden.

Jubilee Line trains began to operate on Friday 7th October around every 10-minutes throughout Friday and Saturday nights, helping people travel to and from attractions such as The O2, Wembley Stadium and London Stadium in Stratford.

The service was launched on the Victoria and Central Lines on the 19th August.
The Piccadilly Line will join the Night Tube service later this year once drivers have completed training.
Around 200,000 passengers are expected to use the Night Tube when all five lines are operational.
Transport for London predicts the service will cut journey times by an average of 20 minutes, benefiting people who previously used buses to travel in the early hours of the morning.
When the opening date of Jubilee line Night Tube service was announced, Mr Khan said: "The launch of the Jubilee line will support thousands more workers like nurses, cleaners, and people who work in our bars and restaurants - many of whom currently take two night buses to get home.
"It will also serve some of our city's key venues."
Rebecca Kane Burton, vice-president of The O2, said: "The Night Tube is a game changer for venues like The O2 and thousands more across the capital.
"Over 60 per cent of our fans already use the Jubilee line to reach us.
"That will grow, the experience will improve and it will enhance options for the teams who work here too."

Sunday, 16 October 2016

Thousands Sign Petition Against Abellio

NEARLY 14,000 people have called for the controversial Dutch firm in charge of ­Scotland’s train ­service to be stripped of their contract unless ScotRail improves.
The online petition urges the Scottish ­Government to take action against ­Abellio over the delays and cancellations suffered by commuters using ScotRail.
The firm have already been hit with £1.5million in fines for poor service.

The petition and the ­experiences of 7000 ­passengers on the failing ­service will be delivered to Transport Minister Humza Yousaf at Holyrood.
They want Yousaf to make ScotRail bosses improve ­Scotland’s trains or strip the Dutch firm – who are making £1million a month – of their contract.
The £7billion, 10-year ­contract has a clause allowing it to be cancelled at the 
halfway point in 2020.
Lorna Greenwood, ­campaigns manager at online petitions site 38 Degrees, said: “The huge number of people who have signed the petition and shared their experiences is an indication of the strength of public anger at how ScotRail is being run.
“The stories of 38 Degrees members show how poor ­service means people are struggling to get on with 
their lives, from taking 
their kids to school, getting to 
job ­interviews or making crucial ­hospital appointments.
“Transport Minister Humza Yousaf now has to listen to the public and demand that Abellio get their act together or face being stripped of their contract.”

The demand was backed by the Rail Maritime and Transport Union, who last week ended a long-running row with ScotRail over driver-only trains. here

Scottish Labour transport spokesman Neil Bibby said: “The number of signatures on this petition shows just how disgruntled passengers are with ScotRail services.

Saturday, 15 October 2016

New West Croydon Bus Station opens

London's Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross, officially opened a new bus station in West Croydon on the 12th October.

The station, which cost £4.5m, has been completely rebuilt with an open, pedestrian-friendly layout, and 21% increased capacity.
The station will serve 25 bus routes and 150 buses per hour at peak times, with 23,000 passengers able to use it every day.
Situated on the site of the previous station, it will provide close links to the London Overground station and Tram station.
Val Shawcross, Deputy Mayor for Transport, said: 'I'm delighted that West Croydon has a new bus station to be proud of.
'This new safe and accessible station will be a real boost to the town centre, improving journeys for tens of thousands of passengers every single day continuing the regeneration of the area.'

Gareth Powell, TfL's Director of Strategy and Contracted Services, Surface Transport, said: 'The new bus station will provide customers with a safer, more accessible and congenial environment and play a key part in the redevelopment of Croydon town centre.
'With its greater capacity to meet increasing numbers of bus passengers both now and in the future and sited so conveniently alongside the London Overground station, and tram, it will provide a transport hub which will help regenerate this part of Croydon.'
Councillor Stuart King, cabinet member for transport and environment, said: 'It's fantastic to see West Croydon bus station re-built, modernised and given the makeover it deserves.
'West Croydon is hugely significant to us as a major transport hub and gateway to our town centre, so this is a really important regeneration milestone for Croydon.

'We are revitalising and transforming the streets and public realm around the West Croydon transport interchange with a £6m package of improvements and the new bus station is right at the heart of this.'
The new bus station was designed by TfL's in-house team. They ensured the new low-rise building will make a significant and positive contribution to both the immediate environment and the wider Croydon town centre.

The new facilities include:
  • A large sheltered waiting area
  • Real time travel information
  • A modern public address system
  • State-of-the-art CCTV and improved lighting
  • Accessibility improvements
  • 18% more seating
  • A retail outlet
  • A fully accessible public toilet
  • Fifteen solar panels on the roof of the building

And finally. In order to provide a comparison of what the new structure has replaced. Herewith an image of the opening day of the then new bus station back on 17th May 1985, 31-years ago. A  special appearance was made by Leyland Fleetline DM 2629, which had been previously decorated in a livery to celebrate the centenary of the Croydon Corporation Tramways.

All the images published here have been kindly provided by John Parkin

Friday, 14 October 2016

DATE FOR THE DIARY - Saturday 22nd October - Warwickshire

Vintage Running Day

On Saturday 22nd October 2016, Stagecoach Midlands will be running a special vintage bus service on selected routes and journeys around picturesque Warwickshire towns to celebrate 50 years of FLF 19953 & RML 12565 - and you are invited to come and experience a ride!

FLF 19953 will be running the following journeys:

09:10 Stratford to Chipping Norton - route 50
10:05 Chipping Norton to Stratford - route 50
11:20 Stratford to Redditch - route 26
12:20 Redditch to Stratford - route 26
14:10 Stratford to Chipping Norton - route 50
15:02 Chipping Norton to Stratford - route 50
16:18 Stratford to Warwick - route X17
17:15 Warwick to Stratford - route X18

And RML 12565 will be running the following journeys:

08:43 Rugby to Leamington - route 63
09:41 Leamington to Stratford - route X18
11:05 Stratford to Shipston - route 50
11:35 Shipston to Stratford - route 50
13:05 Stratford to Shipston - route 50
13:35 Shipston to Stratford - route 50
14:18 Stratford to Leamington - route X17
15:40 Leamington to Rugby - route 63

Normal fares will apply and valid passes may be used on all trips.
Alternatively a standard Stagecoach bus will also run if you do not wish to travel on the running day buses.


Warwickshire was also host to an earlier event during August when the now annual BUSES Festival was held at the British Motor Museum at Gaydon. A variety of buses and coaches old and new were present, as were members of the Focus Transport team and two further albums have been created. A set of single-decks can now be viewed here whilst another just of coaches can be viewed here
An earlier set of double-decks can still be viewed here

Thursday, 13 October 2016

Midlands Metro news - Part 2

Midland Metro extension work across the Black Country 'will begin next year'

Multi-million pound plans for a Midland Metro extension link from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill ‘will start’ next year, according to a council chief.

Midland Metro
The scheme, which has been in the pipeline for nearly two decades, finally looks set to get off the ground after gaining Government backing.
West Midlands Combined Authority bosses have said the Metro extension is set to be the first project completed as part of the region’s devolution deal.
The extension runs for around seven miles from the existing line at Wednesbury to Great Bridge.
Under plans it would continue to Horseley Heath, Dudley Port, Dudley town centre, the Waterfront and Merry Hill, before terminating at Brierley Hill town centre.
Business leaders have hailed its potential impact on the region’s economy.
Dudley Council chief executive Sarah Norman tweeted: “Good progress on Brierley Hill Metro reported at @WestMids_CA Board Meeting.
“Will start in 2017 & be first Devo deal scheme completed.”
Black Country LEP board member Ninder Johal said: “For too long this region - and other parts of the UK – have been blighted by poor infrastructure.
“If we’re going to continue to attract inward investment then infrastructure is the number one priority.
“The formation of the West Midlands Combined Authority and the devolved funding it will bring will hopefully bring much improved infrastructure.
“The extension from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill is an example of that and also ties in with the extra investment into the Merry Hill shopping centre by intu.”
Dudley Council’s Conservative group leader Patrick Harley said the move was a statement of intent by the Combined Authority.
“This is something people have been talking about as a pipe dream for about 20 years,” he said.
“If we can get this done and people can see the construction, preparation and clearing of sites for tracks as quickly as 12 months’ time it will give them confidence in the merits of the combined authority.
“If one of the benefits is the Metro link and that’s one of the first achievements it will give people the belief [the combined authority] isn’t just a Birmingham initiative.”

A report is due to be brought before the Combined Authority in March
According to board papers, chiefs will seek ‘approval to progress the early delivery works in 2017-18 and submit an outline business case to Government’.