Friday, 31 March 2017

Flying Scotsman to Re-open Settle & Carlisle Line

The Flying Scotsman will be visiting the Keighley & Worth Valley Railway (K&WVR) from March 31 up to and including April 9.

It is due to take part in the official re-opening celebrations of the Settle – Carlisle line following its closure for over 12 months.

The Flying Scotsman will leave Oxenhope at 8.30am and arrive in Carlisle at around 1pm before returning at 3.30pm meaning that it will be in the city for nearly three hours for fans to view.

Its journey will be part of the official reopening of the line after the 500,000 tonne landslip which closed it at Armathwaite, North of Appleby, over a year ago.

Tickets have sold out for April 3 to April 9 inclusive, when the Flying Scotsman will be hauling passenger trains between Keighley and Oxenhope each day.

But at Ingrow West Station on April 1 and 2 the Flying Scotsman will be on display and in steam between 9am and 6pm each day.

K&WVR chairman Matt Stroh, said: "We're still very excited and looking forward to being such a key part of the reopening of the Settle to Carlisle celebrations.

"Tickets are still available for the Flying Scotsman Experience' days, and the odd ticket that becomes available where we have a late cancellation is being advertised via Twitter and the railway's Facebook page.

"We do ask those coming to photograph or visit to respect private land owners' boundaries and not to trespass on to the railway, so we can enjoy a successful and safe visit of the national collection's most famous locomotive."

A K&WVR spokesman explained: "The Flying Scotsman Experience will allow access to the locomotive itself and includes a 15 minute interpretive talk about the loco followed by a walk through the cab and, if people wish, the tender.

"They can follow in the footsteps of generations of engine-men who passed through on their journey at speed from Kings Cross to Edinburgh.

"The whole experience will last up to 40 minutes, and visitors must ensure they arrive at the Ingrow event site in time for the start of their experience."

Tickets for the event at Ingrow can only be purchased online via the website

During the weekend of April 1 and 2 there will be refreshments served at Ingrow West, including hot food as well as light snacks and a real ale bar.

The Flying Scotsman is back in action following an extensive overhaul. It is being loaned to the K&WVR by the National Railway Museum.

Thursday, 30 March 2017

Stagecoach Trading Statement

Stagecoach Group plc has provided a trading update in respect of its financial year ending 29 April 2017, ahead of a series of meetings with analysts.
The expectation of the Group's adjusted earnings per share for the year ending 29 April 2017 has not changed from the announcement in the interim results in December 2016.

Like-for-like revenue movements for the financial year to date, compared with the equivalent period in the previous year, are provided below.
UK Bus (regional operations)        - forty four weeks ended 4 March 2017    (1.7)%
UK Bus (London)                          - forty four weeks ended 4 March 2017    (0.9)%
North America                               - ten months ended 28 February 2017     (2.2)%
UK Rail                                          - forty four weeks ended 4 March 2017    1.6%
Virgin Rail Group                           - forty four weeks ended 4 March 2017    5.3%

UK Bus (regional operations)
Total like-for-like passenger journeys fell by 1.7% in the UK Bus (regional operations) Division, largely as a result of weak underlying local economic conditions in some parts of the UK and sustained lower fuel prices. Stagecoach continually review and adjust our bus networks in response to changing demand.
The company are continuing to make progress with the digital investment programme, expanding contactless payments for bus travel, amongst other measures, to further enhance the quality of bus and coach services.
The company remain positive on the longer term opportunities within the UK Bus (regional operations) Division.

UK Bus (London)
As expected, UK Bus (London) Division revenue was 0.9% below the equivalent prior year period, reflecting the contract tenders concluded in the prior year.

North America
Trading at the inter-city coach business in North America continues to improve from the positive actions taken to match services with changes in demand from customers. The market remains challenging due to the effects of sustained lower fuel prices, which have heightened car and air competition. The like-for-like revenue decline of 2.2% for the Division includes a 5.4% decline for North America, but encouragingly revenue per vehicle mile was up 2.8%.
Trading at the other businesses in North America remains in line with our expectations. Like-for-like revenue at these businesses declined by 0.7%, largely reflecting reductions in mileage at the sightseeing business in California.

UK Rail and Virgin Rail Group
The UK rail industry revenue growth has slowed over the last 18 months.  Although there has been improvement in the growth rates, they remain low by historical standards. Like-for-like rail revenue growth in the UK Rail Division (including Virgin Trains East Coast) was 1.6% in the forty four weeks, with revenue growth at inter-city businesses continuing to out-perform growth at London commuter business.  As expected, revenue growth at Virgin Rail Group's West Coast franchise was higher than the industry average, which partly reflects revenues being adversely affected in the second half of last financial year by the temporary closure of Lamington viaduct in southern Scotland. 

The company say the "We continue to work constructively with the Department for Transport and other industry partners to meet our obligations, respond to variations in infrastructure and rolling stock plans, manage contract changes and ensure the continued stability and growth of our rail businesses"  


A second set of images of buses and coaches seen recently in Derby is in an album, which can now be viewed by clicking   here

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Latest London Bus contract awards

The latest awards have recently been announced by Transport for London as follows:

5        (Romford Market & Canning Town) Awarded to Go-Ahead Blue Triangle using existing fleet 2010/11 diesel double-decks currently on routes 19,249,259,EL1 and EL2, plus new Euro-VI diesel double-deck. Currently operated by Stagecoach East London with Dennis Tridents and ADL E40D double-decks from Barking (BK) Garage and ADL E40H hybrid double-decks from Bow (BW) Garage (contract start date 26th August 2017).

6/N6  (Willesden Garage & Aldwych) Re-awarded to Metroline Travel with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks (9th December 2017).
15      (Trafalgar Square & Blackwall Station) Awarded to Go-Ahead Blue Triangle using current 2015 Euro-VI Wrightbus New Routemasters. Currently operated by Stagecoach East London with the Wrightbus New Routemasters from Bow (BW) Garage (26th August 2017).

N15   (Trafalgar Square & Romford Market) Awarded to Go-Ahead Blue Triangle using current 2015 Euro-VI Wrightbus New Routemasters. Currently operated by Stagecoach East London with a mixture of diesel and hybrid ADL E40D and E40H double-decks from Bow (BW) Garage (26th August 2017).
18      (Euston & Sudbury) Awarded to London United using existing fleet 2016 Euro-VI hybrid double-decks, plus new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks. Currently operated by Metroline West with Volvo B9TL diesel double-decks from Willesden (WJ) Garage (11th November 2017).
N18   (Euston & Harrow Weald) Awarded to London United using existing fleet 2016 Euro-VI hybrid double-decks, plus new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks. Currently operated by Metroline West with Volvo B9TL diesel double-decks from Willesden (WJ) Garage (11th November 2017).
22      (Putney Common & Piccadilly Circus) Re-awarded to Go-Ahead London General with 2012 Euro-V diesel double-decks upgraded to Euro-VI, plus new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks (21st October 2017).
N22   (Piccadilly Circus & Fulwell) Re-awarded to Go-Ahead London General with 2012 Euro-V diesel double-decks upgraded to Euro-VI, plus new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks (21st October 2017).
98/N98  (Willesden Garage & Holborn) Re-awarded to Metroline Travel with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks (9th December 2017).
115    (Aldgate Station & East Ham)  Awarded to Go-Ahead Blue Triangle with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks. Currently operated by Stagecoach East London with ADL Trident double-decks from West Ham (WH) Garage (26th August 2017).

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Stagecoach in Devon


  • Starting 29 April, Hop122 will operate up to every 20 mins, 7 days a week
  • Six buses will connect St Marychurch, Torquay, Paignton and Paignton Zoo
  • Each bus has a distinctive livery featuring a ‘bus hopper’ animal character
  • The first, starring Hop mascot Gary the Rabbit, debuted at tourism exhibition
  • The remaining ‘bus hoppers’ have all been named by local primary school children
  • Children can collect stickers of each animal from attractions around the Bay
Stagecoach South West has unveiled a fleet of open-top buses for the Bay. The sneak preview took place for businesses attending this year’s Tourism Exhibition & Conference at the Riviera Centre on 15 March.
The Golden Hop122 will start on 29 April and run right through the summer season up to every 20 minutes, 7 days a week. The fleet of six buses will connect St Marychurch, Torquay, Paignton and Paignton Zoo. Visitors will be able to enjoy a unique sightseeing experience and hop on and off as often as they like to visit destinations and attractions along the route. As well as providing a family friendly link across the Bay, the Golden Hop122 will augment the Hop12 and Hop22 to help meet the  demands of the busy tourist season.
Each ‘Golden Hop’ bus features a distinctive yellow livery with its very own ‘bus hopper’ animal character. The first bus, starring the Hop mascot Gary the Rabbit, spent the day at the popular tourism exhibition to promote the new service to businesses across the Bay.
The remaining five buses are currently being prepped ready for the start of service and each ‘bus hopper’ has been named by classes from Torbay primary schools:
  • Chirpy the Cricket (Class 2M, Cockington Primary School)
  • Porter the Penguin (Class 13, Oldway Primary School)
  • Cango the Kangaroo (Class 14, Oldway Primary School)
  • Freddie the Frog (Class 2, Priory Catholic Primary School)
  • Swash Buckle the Pirate Parrot (Class 3, Priory Catholic Primary School)
Children at Cockington Primary School were also responsible for coming up with the name ‘Golden Hop’ to describe the bus route itself. Teacher Anna Hylands commented: “Thanks Stagecoach for this amazing experience. The children have been so enthusiastic about coming up with a name. We loved thinking about the parts of travelling we enjoyed and what name reflects this. Our final idea, "Golden hop", was decided after a secret vote. The child who created the name said that her favourite part of a day out was hopping on a bus and feeling as if it can take you anywhere.
To further promote the link with local tourism, each ‘bus hopper’ character will also be hosted by an attraction along the route. Children can collect a sticker from the character from the attraction and add it to a free sticker book. This will be available from Stagecoach’s Paignton Travelshop and from their open top driver. Host attractions are members of the Attractions Partnership whose popular ‘passport’ the bus operator also sponsors.
Bus hopper locations will be:
Bygones (Swash Buckle)
Dinosaur World (Chirpy)
Kents Cavern (Freddie)
Paignton Travelshop (Gary)
Paignton Zoo (Cango)
Torquay Museum (Porter)
The new service is part of the bus company’s strategy to support the local tourism industry by providing not only a fun holiday-themed attraction in itself but also accessible public transport for residents and visitors to the area.

Bob Dennison, Managing Director of Stagecoach South West, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to be introducing a regular open top service to the Bay. Tourism is a vital part of Torbay's economy and I hope that the colourful, eye-catching buses and family of fun characters will be a hit with both residents and tourists alike.”
Richard Cuming, Chair of English Riviera Attractions and owner of Bygones added, “Over the last few years Stagecoach has been a fantastic supporter of the Attractions Partnership. This new service further proves they are committed to finding more ways to support tourism in the Bay and I can’t wait to see it pass by my front door!”
Further details of the new service, including a full timetable, will be announced by the operator soon.


Derby was the focus of attention recently with a couple of hours spent in the and around the city centre. The latest set of images featruing buses and coaches operated by Wellglade, is now in an album and can now be found by clicking  here

Monday, 27 March 2017

South West Franchise Awarded to First MTR

The Department for Transport has announced that First MTR has been awarded the South Western franchise which will run for 7 years from 20 August 2017. This is the first franchise awarded since the Secretary of State set out his vision for the future of the railways in a speech on 6 December 2016, and marks a new era in joined up working between train operators and Network Rail.

First MTR South Western Trains Limited will use the experience of one of its major shareholders MTR, who operate the busy Hong Kong metro, to deliver smooth and rapid journeys for passengers travelling around London’s suburban network. Faster journeys will be delivered through a consistent fleet of new suburban trains offering a regular, metro-style service. Passengers can look forward to more space, ensuring that the railway can support London’s growth.

Transport Secretary Chris Grayling said:
Following on from our announcement on the start of the South Eastern Franchise consultation, this deal is more great news for rail passengers.
First MTR South Western Trains Limited will deliver the improvements that people tell us they want right across the South Western franchise area, from Bristol and Exeter, to Southampton and Portsmouth, to Reading, Windsor and London.
We are delivering the biggest rail modernisation programme for over a century and this franchise will deliver real changes for passengers, who can look forward to modern trains, faster journeys and a more reliable service.

 The new franchise will see closer partnership working between track and train. A railway that is predominantly run by an integrated local team of people with a commitment to the smooth operation of their routes, improving services and performance, is at the heart of Secretary of State’s vision for the network and First MTR South Western Trains Limited expects to work even closer with Network Rail, with the shared aim of giving passengers exactly that.
First MTR South Western Trains Limited will oversee a £1.2 billion investment that will improve journeys for millions of train passengers, and provide a boost for the communities served. The next franchise will see:

  • 22,000 extra seats into London Waterloo each morning peak and 30,000 extra seats out of Waterloo each evening peak
  • a fleet of 90 new trains, providing more space for passengers on Reading, Windsor and London routes
  • refurbished existing trains with charging sockets, new seat covers and refurbished toilets
  • more frequent and additional services across the franchise
  • faster journeys across the network; journeys to London will be:
    • 8 minutes faster from Southampton
    • 5 minutes faster from Portsmouth
    • 10 minutes faster from Reading
    • 12 minutes faster from Hounslow
    • 11 minutes faster from Salisbury
  • earlier first and later last trains, including between London and:
    • Twickenham
    • Hounslow
    • Windsor
    • Reading
    • Epsom
    • Guildford
    • Portsmouth
    • Salisbury
  • more Sunday services across the network, with many routes having the equivalent of a Saturday service after 1.00pm

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Bus route cuts in Manchester

A total of 20 services, many vital to commuters getting to work and patients travelling to hospital, are to be axed, reduced in frequency or have their routes curtailed

Passengers and MPs, including Greater Manchester Mayor front runner Andy Burnham, have slammed bus service cuts across the region.
A total of 20 services, many vital to commuters getting to work and patients travelling to hospital, are to be axed, reduced in frequency or have their routes curtailed .
Run by Stagecoach, First and Arriva, the changes affect passengers in areas including Manchester, Rochdale, Salford, Bury, Oldham, Bolton, Wigan, Wythenshawe and Trafford.
Hundreds of people have reacted to the news - with many saying that the services provide a link link to jobs and training around the region.
And politicians are now demanding bus firms justify their decision.
Speaking out, Mr Burnham, Labour’s Mayoral candidate, said: “It is simply wrong that bus services can be chopped and changed at the whim of the operator.
“People will lose confidence in using the service if they’re not sure whether a bus will turn up or not.
“Bus services throughout Greater Manchester are too often run for the profit of the operators and not for the benefit of the passengers.
“In recent years we’ve seen fares going up and vital services cut, often at short notice. It’s no surprise that the number of people using buses has gone down.
“If I am elected as Mayor on May 4, I will use new powers to make buses more affordable, more reliable and work in the public interest.”
Blackley and Broughton MP Graham Stringer, whose constituency will see reductions to the 118 service from North Manchester General Hospital to the city centre via Moston, said the move was ‘yet more evidence that these bus companies are getting public money under false pretences’.
He added: “These companies do not care about public services, only their profits.”
The two services to be axed are the V3, one of three buses which runs on the busway from Manchester to Atherton and the 109 from Wythenshawe Hospital to Manchester.
Heywood and Middleton MP Liz McInnes said: “I am deeply concerned about the impact that these cuts to bus services may have on many local people.
“The fact that these decisions have been made by private bus providers and not by Transport for Greater Manchester clearly demonstrate the need for properly accountable bus services in Greater Manchester.
“For too long people in Heywood and Middleton have been let down by expensive and unreliable bus services run in the private not the public interest, and enough is enough.”
More than 600 people have already signed a petition on the website protesting against the reduction of the 378 bus service from Stockport to Wilmslow.
Set up by Janet Taylor it reads: “This not only prevents residents travelling to work, school and college but will also leave many elderly and disabled residents housebound. This service is essential to residents of Wilmslow, Handforth and Stockport.”
Haadia Mir, from Handforth, is among those who have signed the petition.
She wrote: “The Handforth and Wilmslow area is severely lacking in good transport services at the moment and by terminating the 378 route the residents of those areas will be deprived of this crucial transport link.”
Passengers have also been criticising the cuts on the M.E.N. Facebook page.
Michelle Ionn said: “So they spend a fortune on the guided bus way and bus lanes on the East Lancs only to pull one of the new ‘premium’ services. Crazy.”
Rob Inman added: “Many evening and morning services withdrawn. This is madness. They want to cut congestion and get more people on public transport yet this will make it more inconvenient to use buses across Greater Manchester.”
All services affected are not subsidised by Transport for Greater Manchester. The changes have already been run past a Greater Manchester’s bus committee and will come into force from April 23. A Stagecoach spokesman said: “There will be selected service reductions in some localised areas to reflect changing travel patterns, however most customers will continue to be served by other services or public transport options. The vast majority of Stagecoach Manchester passengers will be unaffected by these changes.
"Stagecoach Manchester is continuing to invest in services in Manchester with new buses being introduced in the Middleton area and additional buses on the 250 and X50 routes.”
Phil Medlicott, managing director of First Manchester, said there would be ‘minor changes’ to services 95, 350, 468, 471, 511 and 524.
He said improvements would also be made, with, for example, the cross-city service 18 to resume after the Oxford Road works, stopping at the Manchester Royal Infirmary.

There is a full list of the latest affected services below.



V3 - Manchester/Pendleton/Tyldesley/Leigh/Atherton - Withdrawn

17 - Rochdale/Langley/Manchester - Service 17 Monday-Saturday at 6am from Rochdale withdrawn
54 - Salford/Old Trafford/Cheetham Hill - Early morning and evening journeys less frequent
350 - Ashton/Uppermill/Oldham - Reduction to early morning journeys from Ashton
468 Tottington/Bury/Jericho - Some Bury to Tottington journeys withdrawn in early morning and evening.
471 - Bolton/Bury/Rochdale - Some Bury to Bolton journeys withdrawn early mornings and evenings
95 - Bury-Salford - some journeys curtailed to start/finish at Prestwich to/from Prestwich
524 - Bury/Bolton - some morning and evening journeys withdrawn
Boosted services:
58 - Rochdale/Oldham/Middleton - extra bus
100 - Manchester/Trafford Centre/Warrington - Extended on bank holidays


109 - Wythenshawe Hospital/Manchester - service withdrawn
118 - NMGH/Moston/Manchester - Mon-Sat evening service reduced from every 20 to every 30 min, Sunday evening service doubling frequency to every half hour.
600/601 - Leigh/Ashton in Makerfield/Bryn/Wigan - Two instead of four buses an hour on Sundays/bank holidays between Wigan and Ashton

625/626 - Wigan/Gridlow Lane/Beech Hill Circulars - frequency reduced to every 30 minutes from every 20 minutes Monday - Saturday
631/632 - Wigan/Highfield Grange/Marus Bridge Circulars - frequency reduced from 20 minutes to 30 minutes
658 - Higher Folds/Leigh/Platt Bridge/Wigan - two Saturday services withdrawn
143 - Sale/Manchester - service curtailed to run between Manchester and West Didsbury
169 - Ashton/Southern Cemetery - service curtailed to run between Gorton and Southern Cemetery
378 - Stockport/Bramhall/Handforth - Curtailed to operate between Stockport and Grove Lane only, hourly route to Wilmslow via Handforth withdrawn
Boosted services:
85- Chorlton/Alexandra Park/ManchestMon-Sat evening services extended to Arrowfield Road hourly, with last bus now 12.15am from Piccadilly rather than 11.45pm
86 - Chorlton/BrooksBar/Manchester - extra journey added Mon-Fri at 4.55am.


19 - Altrincham/Sale/Wythenshawe/Manchester Airport - First journey at 4.02am from Sale Moor to World Freight withdrawn.

18 - Trafford Centre/Stretford/Sale/Wythenshawe/Airport Early morning journeys withdrawn
245 - Flixton/Stretford/Sale/Altrincham - First Saturday journey to Altrincham withdrawn

A comment received from NMcB puts a rather different perspective on the above information.

While strictly speaking it is true to say that Vantage Service has been axed, this statement is to say the least highly misleading! What is happening is that the hourly service V3 between Leigh, Tyldesley and MRI will be replaced by V1 between the same points every 15 minutes and V2 between Atherton Tyldesley and MRI every 15 minutes.
The reported comment "So they spend a fortune on the guided busway and bus lanes on the East Lancs only to pull one of the new premium services. Crazy could not be further from the truth.
Unfortunately this is what happens when press and politicians get hold of half a story and interpret it in a way which suits their own ends. I believe the term is "Fake News"

Focus Comment 
We agree and apologise for the fact that this posting was published without further investigation. We are quite aware of the mischievous and damaging activities of politicians and some branches of the media.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Midland Metro news

Transport for West Midlands to take over the day-to-day running of its Midland Metro trams from October 2018


Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) is to take over the day-to-day running of its Midland Metro trams from October 2018 when the current concession, held by National Express, finishes.
The move will enable TfWM, which is the transport arm of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), to plough millions of pounds of future profits back into expanding the network.

Existing National Express staff will be transferred over to a new subsidiary company – Midland Metro Ltd – which will be wholly owned by the WMCA.
The combined authority is set to start a number of extensions which will see the network triple in size over the next decade, with passenger numbers forecast to increase from around 6.5 million at present to more than 30 million.
That is expected to generate profits of around £50 million over the first 11 years which the WMCA will be able to channel back into the network for the benefit of passengers and the local economy.
Cllr Roger Lawrence, WMCA lead for transport, said: “Metro is a fundamental part of our future plans not only for transport but for the West Midlands economy as a whole.
“It is a proven catalyst for economic growth and is critical to best connect and feed into HS2 so we can reap the maximum economic benefits possible from the high speed rail line.
“That’s why Metro is embarking on an unprecedented period of expansion and we believe bringing services in house will provide the extra flexibility and adaptability needed to meet this exciting new chapter while generating millions of pounds for the benefit of passengers and taxpayers.
“I’d like to thank all National Express staff for operating the Midland Metro for the last 18 years. Through their hard work and dedication, tram passenger numbers have grown significantly and they have been nationally recognised for the high level of customer service they provide.”

Cllr Lawrence said the move and the transfer of staff over from National Express would ensure existing skills and expertise were retained helping to ensure the Metro’s 99 per cent reliability and its other strengths were taken forward.
Bringing operations ‘in house’ would also enable TfWM to introduce new lines, trams, technology and operational practices safely, efficiently and with best value to the public purse, he said.
In taking the decision, the WMCA board was told that if it decided to continue outsourcing tram services from October next year then the tendering process alone to appoint a private operator would cost taxpayers several million pounds.
Laura Shoaf, managing director of TfWM, said: “The end of the existing concession provides us with an ideal opportunity to change the way we operate services to better meet the needs of passengers, the wider community and ultimately the economy.
“If we didn’t do this and instead outsourced operations to a private company at a time of such major expansion then it would be extremely difficult to accurately define the scope of services required from the operator.
“That would lead to continuous and expensive commercial negotiations to agree the price for the delivery of those network changes.
“So while bringing operations in house is not without risk we believe those risks are far outweighed by the advantages and that ultimately the move is good for passengers, good for taxpayers and good for the future prosperity of the West Midlands.”
Colin Saward, general manager of National Express Midlands Metro, added: “It’s disappointing we won’t get the chance to run the tram service when our current contract is up next year. But we appreciate TfWM’s reasons for taking services back in house when the network is about to change so much.
“We will continue to work closely with TfWM to ensure a safe handover that is as smooth as possible for passengers and staff.”
The planned expansion of the Midland Metro network includes an extension of the route from New Street Station to Centenary Square, with services expected to start running in 2019.
At its meeting last Friday (March 17) the WMCA board authorised TfWM and the Midland Metro Alliance to submit a Transport and Works Act Order application for the Centenary Square line to go further along Broad Street, past Five Ways and on to Edgbaston by 2021 and confirmed funding of £59 million towards the cost of the extension.
A Transport and Works Act Order has also been submitted for an extension through Digbeth in Birmingham, running from Bull Street via Albert Street and on to the forthcoming HS2 high speed rail station at Curzon Street.
From there it would go along New Canal Street and Meriden Street into High Street Deritend, stopping at Digbeth Coach Station and the Custard Factory. It is anticipated the line could be open by 2023.
In Wolverhampton work is set to start on an extension through the city centre as part of the £51.8 million Wolverhampton Interchange project.
The route will take trams along Pipers Row, stopping directly outside the bus station before continuing on to the railway station which is also being redeveloped as part of the project. The line is expected to open in 2019.
Meanwhile a business case is also being prepared to extend the Metro from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill.
Forthcoming extensions of the tram network will be built by the Midland Metro Alliance, a new partnership set up by WMCA.
The Alliance consists of the WMCA, rail construction specialists Colas Rail and a consortium of design experts from Egis, Tony Gee and Pell Frischmann.
The Midland Metro currently runs from Wolverhampton St Georges to New Street Station via Bilston, Wednesbury, West Bromwich, the Jewellery Quarter and Snow Hill Station.

Friday, 24 March 2017

New Cardiff bus station

Funding fears for new Cardiff Central Square bus station

Cardiff's new transport interchange will be in the Central Square area next to Cardiff Central railway station

Funding for Cardiff's multi-million pound bus station is yet to be secured nine months before it is scheduled to open, a report has revealed.
Cardiff council is negotiating a proposal for the delivery of the interchange with developers Rightacres Property.
Councillor Elizabeth Clark said she feared the capital would never "have a proper bus station again".
Cardiff council said it was right for all funding options to be considered.
The former bus station was flattened to make way for BBC Wales' new headquarters.
Leader of the council's Liberal Democrat group Ms Clark said it was "outrageous" no deal had been struck for the new interchange, which is due to open in December 2017.
"I'm increasingly worried about whether Cardiff will ever have a proper bus station again," she said.
The interchange, retail units and office aspect of the regeneration project was granted planning permission by councillors earlier this month.
A report before the council's cabinet on Thursday said negotiations were ongoing to reach a funding agreement for the bus interchange aspect of the development.
It reads: "The council is seeking to secure delivery of the bus interchange within the financial envelope of existing capital allocations and intends to conclude these negotiations in time to enable the construction to commence immediately following completion of demolition and site preparation works."
The report also says council leader Phil Bale has written to the UK government's Transport Secretary Chris Grayling to stress the "urgent need for long awaited investment" in Cardiff Central railway station.
Network Rail has put forward plans to modernise the station, but it is subject to funding being granted by the Department for Transport for the 2019-2024 funding period for rail projects.
Cardiff council confirmed the demolition of the NCP car park would begin next week ahead as part of the latest stage of the central square development.
But added that, due to the "massive scale of this development", the timeline set out was "purely a guide and wasn't definitive".
Councillor Ramesh Patel, cabinet member for transport, planning and sustainability, said the authority was simply getting on with its job, adding the old bus station had been demolished by the Lib Dems with no plan in place for a new one.
"It is always good practice to look at all the possible options - if we weren't confident we wouldn't be doing all this work.
"We are getting on with it, as far as I am concerned it is full speed ahead."

And finally, a blast from the past.

Part of the bus station and a City of Cardiff Transport AEC Regent double-deck back in August 1973.


Stagecoach Group buses and coaches operated between 1987 and 2017 are the focus of attention in the latest album on the site. These can all be viewed now by clicking  here

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Major event on the East Coast Main Line

Four trains, four generations - history to be made on Yorkshire’s East Coast Main Line

A world first will take place in Yorkshire next month to celebrate the heritage and future of one of the country’s most iconic railway lines.
Four trains spanning four generations will travel side by side, in the same direction, along the East Coast Main Line on April 23 2017.
Yorkshire’s DNA of speed and style through the ages binds together an event that fittingly comes just days before the now legendary ‘Tour de Yorkshire’ begins.

This will be a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the world famous Flying Scotsman travel alongside two trains from Virgin Trains’ revitalised fleet - an HST (Class 43), an intercity225 (Class 91) - and the rail operator’s brand new train, the Virgin Azuma (Class 800) which is being built by Hitachi in the North East, and will come into service in 2018.

The four trains will travel together for several miles north of York to showcase the past, present and future of rail travel.
The historic journey, organised by Virgin Trains, Welcome to Yorkshire, Network Rail and the National Railway Museum, will begin near the village of Tollerton. The public will get the chance to witness something never seen before on the East Coast Main Line, but those hoping to catch a glimpse are being urged to stay safe behind boundary fences and keep off the tracks and private land - trespassers will cause the trains to stop and put at risk the completion of both this event and any future plans to showcase the route and its iconic locos.

More details of the event will be released in April.
Rob McIntosh, Managing Director for Network Rail on the London North Eastern and East Midlands route, said: “I am delighted that we have been able to create such a prestigious and unique event for the people of Yorkshire. The area has a very proud rail heritage and by working closely with our industry partners we’ve been able to turn what has been a logistically challenging vision – to create an iconic railway moment on the East Coast Main Line without impacting on regular passengers - into what will be a truly special occasion.”
David Horne, Managing Director for Virgin Trains on the east coast, said: “Just one year on from unveiling our brand new Virgin Azuma trains, we’re delighted to present this unique event that showcases the past, present and future of rail travel in the UK, with Azuma travelling alongside 'Flying Scotsman' and trains from our current fleet. With our new Azuma trains entering service next year, this is an opportunity to celebrate the icons of the railways and look forward to 2018 when we’ll usher in a new era for travel on the East Coast route."
Sir Gary Verity, Chief Executive of Welcome to Yorkshire, said: “This is a major event for Yorkshire and something people will remember for decades. It once again shows how the county is leading the way and to top it off, it’s the weekend before the Tour de Yorkshire so will get the build up to the race off to a flying start!”
Paul Kirkman, director for the National Railway Museum in York which owns Flying Scotsman, said: “The East Coast Main Line has long been famed for speed and style. In the 19th century elegant locomotives were designed to haul trains on this route cementing its reputation as a railway racing stretch operated by thoroughbred engines. The four train line up epitomises the evolution of the later generation of fast, elegant and stylish trains - all with a shared bloodline - that epitomise the history of the route from the 1850s to today.
“The National Railway Museum is proud that Flying Scotsman, a symbol of engineering excellence, the first steam locomotive to achieve an authenticated speed of 100mph and the first to undertake a non-stop run between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley, is taking its place alongside such worthy successors to its speed and style mantle.”
Karen Boswell, managing director for Hitachi Rail Europe, said: “We believe our new British built Azuma trains will inspire the next generation of rail enthusiasts and show how investment in new trains will transform passenger experiences on this iconic route.”

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Hyperloop - Test Track Taking Shape

Hyperloop track is taking shape and pictures of test track built in the middle of the Nevada desert have been released.

The California based company Hyperloop One, has ambitious plans to transport people or cargo between cities at near-supersonic speed.
The Hyperloop test structure, which has a diameter of 3.3 metres, is located around 30 minutes from Las Vegas.
Rob Lloyd, CEO of Hyperloop One, shared a bird's-eye view of how construction is progressing at the world's only Hyperloop test site.
'While technology is revolutionizing many facets of our lives, we have not seen a radical change in transportation since the Wright brothers introduced air travel over 100 years ago,' said Mr Lloyd.
'Tying together the Middle East region would produce greater virtual density, without congestion and pollution, spurring innovation, productivity, job growth and more powerful sharing of knowledge, labor and investment. 
'Building a Hyperloop would vastly impact the economy and make any major city in the Middle East accessible within one hour.' 

Hyperloop One, the Los Angeles-based company set up to bring Elon Musk’s vacuum maglev concept to market, has announced the locations of the 35 semi-finalists for its Global Challenge, which were whittled down from 2,600 applications.
The challenge began in May 2016 as an “open call to individuals, universities, companies and governments to develop comprehensive proposals for using Hyperloop One's transport technology in their region to move passengers and freight point-to-point, swiftly, and on demand”.
The semi-finalists are from 17 countries, with the US producing 11 teams, India five and the UK four. Twenty proposals come with commitments of support from local, state and federal governments and agencies.
The proposals include links between London and Edinburgh, Corsica and Sardinia, Seattle and Portland, Mumbai and Delhi, Buenos Aires and Cordoba, and Mexico City and Guadalajara.
The remaining teams will now be reviewed by Hyperloop One’s panel of experts in transportation, technology, economics and innovation.

Hyperloop One expects to announce a “handful” of finalists by May.
View a list of the 35 semifinalists here.

See the previous Focus Transport Hyperloop article here

Monday, 20 March 2017

The Big Lemon

You’re hired! Former MP takes the helm at bus company

You're hired! Former Lewes MP shakes hands with The Big Lemon chief executive Tom Druitt

You're hired! Former Lewes MP shakes hands with The Big Lemon chief executive Tom Druitt

He was once MP for Lewes, but now Norman Baker has been appointed as managing director of Brighton bus company The Big Lemon.

The Liberal Democrat - who lost his parliamentary seat in 2015 - has turned his back on politics, to work at an eco-friendly firm which runs its buses on cooking oil. Mr Baker said: “I am delighted to be joining The Big Lemon, which has gone from strength to strength in recent times. I feel particularly at home with its strong environmental approach, showing you can run a successful business in an ethical manner.”
Tom Druitt, the founder and chief executive of The Big Lemon - and a Green councillor in Brighton and Hove - welcomed the appointment.
He said: “Norman has dedicated his life to his community, serving the people of Lewes for many years as their MP, and more recently bus users across the country as transport minister and latterly as chair of Bus Users UK. We’d be hard-pressed to find a stronger campaigner for better and more sustainable bus services to lead our organisation in Brighton and Hove, and we’re very much looking forward to working together.”
Mr Baker was MP for the Lewes area from 1997 until 2015 when he lost his seat to Conservative Maria Caulfield.
He was a Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport from 2010 to 2013, and took on the role as Minister of State of the Home Office in 2013, resigning just a year later.
Since leaving politics, Mr Baker served as chair of Bus Users UK, working closely with chief executive Claire Walters in raising the profile of bus users. Mr Druitt said the former MP had helped to steer the organisation towards becoming a more diverse and representative body.
Mr Baker’s new full-time job at The Big Lemon offers a salary of between £40,000 and £45,000 and involves overseeing 16 full-time staff and a fleet of ten buses and coaches. He is set to start work on Tuesday March 21st.
The Big Lemon runs bus routes and coach hire services in and around Brighton and Hove using waste cooking oil from local restaurants, and is launching two electric buses in April which will be powered by solar energy generated on the roof of the bus depot.

Mr Druitt said the appointment is part of The Big Lemon’s ambition to develop a national network of locally-owned social enterprises providing affordable public transport, with zero-emissions vehicles powered by renewable energy.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

First Class compartment changes

First Class 'to be scrapped' in radical overhaul of Southeastern's London commuter trains

First Class on London commuter trains is facing the axe under a rail revolution to tackle overcrowding, delay and poor service, Transport Secretary Chris Grayling announced today.
He proposed radical reforms in the Government’s next franchise blueprint for one of Britain’s worst performing rail services, Southeastern, as the population in London and surrounding travel-to-work areas is set to soar by 3.4 million by 2030.

The series of measures includes:
  • Considering removing First Class to make more room for passengers which would be “important” during peak hours.
  • New Metro-style carriages with fewer seats to create more space to meet growing passenger numbers.
  • Running existing trains faster and more often which could “hold down fares”.
  • An automated system for passengers to claim compensation when they suffer delays of more than 15 minutes.
  • Smarter payment systems including by mobile phone.
  • Possible new routes including a “London orbital service” connecting Ashford, Tonbridge, Redhill and Reading, to take pressure away from the M20.
  • Extending Metro trains to 12 carriages.
  • Reducing the number of central London stations served from certain locations at particular times, for example all Metro services on the north Kent, Greenwich and Bexleyheath Lines would only terminate at Cannon Street.
  • Operating High Speed services between St Pancras, Hastings, Bexhill and Rye via Ashford International.
Mr Grayling said: “Services on the Southeastern rail network have been unacceptably poor for far too long.
“Passengers have endured disruption, overcrowding and delays, particularly during redevelopment work at London Bridge Station, and they deserve better.
“Appointing a new franchise operator from 2018 provides us with a great opportunity to sort out the problems which have plagued Southeastern, and deliver the high quality of service that customers expect.”

The consultation on the future of the South Eastern network, currently run by a Go-Ahead Group consortium, is the first franchise to come up since Mr Grayling’s keynote speech in December when he outlined his vision for the rail industry, so it has implications for other routes across the country.
In particular, the Transport Secretary is demanding better working between the train operator and Network Rail to increase reliability of services and cut delays.
Smaller franchises could also be allocated in future to allow new entrants into the rail market to boost performance.
Several of the measures are controversial including ditching First Class, fewer seats and less choice of London destinations.
The consultation document states: “We recognise that First Class tickets remain popular on certain routes, notably on the Southeastern Main Line to Sevenoaks, Tonbridge and Tunbridge Wells.
“However, removing it would create more room for passengers, which would be important during peak hours.”
Ministers are also considering reducing the number of First Class carriages on the West Coast Main Line, but not axing it altogether.
The new franchise for Southeastern, which would run from 2018 to around 2025-28, also kills of London Mayor Sadiq Khan's hopes of seizing control of parts of the network, which delivers 640,000 passenger journeys on 1,900 train services every weekday.
A spokesman at Southeastern said: “We’re focused on delivering our current franchise and will continue to invest over £70million in improvements in the areas that matter most to our passengers.
“Our recent National Rail Passenger Survey customer satisfaction scores have risen, reflecting that passengers are noticing the improvements being made; but we know there is still more work to do and we will continue to work with Network Rail to improve the experience passengers have when travelling with us".


Another set of driver trainer buses and coaches has been placed into an album. This time they are the first of a series that feature vehicles used out in the provinces. These can now be viewed by clicking   here

Saturday, 18 March 2017

Stop-start Technology for Stagecoach Park & Ride Fleet in Cambridge

Stagecoach East’s new Park & Ride fleet has been fitted with the very latest stop-start technology to help reduce nitrous oxide emissions and improve air quality in Cambridge city centre.

The cutting-edge technology prevents buses from ‘ticking over’ whilst loading and unloading passengers at bus stops. Instead, it automatically switches the engine off as soon as the driver activates the handbrake and opens the doors – thereby reducing pollution by restricting the discharge of particulate matter and nitrous oxide emissions* during these times.

The leading Euro 6 technology also features an ongoing safety system whereby, if a bus is giving out more emissions than it should be, it goes into ‘limp mode’ and effectively shuts the vehicle down. Previous Euro 1-5 standards only test at new and are not on-going.

The 22 new  ADL (Alexander Dennis Limited) E400 MMC buses - which all feature the redesigned colour-coded Park & Ride livery - represent a £4.7 million investment by Stagecoach East, and are now officially the greenest in Cambridge.

Andy Campbell, Managing Director of Stagecoach East said: “This is the very latest technology and was only just available when we ordered the new Park & Ride fleet. The principle is a simple one: Turn the engine off when the bus isn’t moving and it will use less fuel, improving overall economy and, very importantly, lessening emissions.

“We see this as being a positive step forwards and a significant contribution towards improving air quality in congested Cambridge, reducing our environmental impact and hopefully encouraging more customers to opt for our greener, smarter travel.

“Looking after the environment is an important consideration for us as we have frequent bus services running every 10 minutes. When we look to invest in future vehicles, we will be looking to buy in the same technology or whatever future enhancements are available. We are committed to investing in our services as we aim to deliver the highest standards of public transport in our city, both now and in the future.”

As well as improved engine efficiency and a higher standard of emissions, the new Park & Ride fleet provides on-board Wi-Fi, USB sockets and improved comfort for passengers.

* The new stop-start system promises to reduce fuel consumption by between 4%-7% (depending on duty cycle) and cut nitrous oxide emissions by 30%-40%.

Friday, 17 March 2017

737 Max 9

Boeing rolled out the first 737 MAX 9, the second variant of the re-engined 737, at its Renton, Washington facility March 7.
The 737 MAX 9, which is 138 ft. and 2 in. long, has a maximum capacity of 220 passengers and a range of 3,515 nm. The aircraft’s first flight is expected “in the coming weeks,” according to Boeing. The CFM International LEAP-1B-powered MAX 9’s debut comes just over 13 months after the MAX 8 achieved its first flight.

The 737 MAX 8 is expected to enter service this summer with Norwegian Air Shuttle. Southwest Airlines, which placed the launch order for the 737 MAX, is expected to place its first MAX 8 into service Oct. 1.
The first 737 MAX 9 prototype “now begins system checks, fueling and engine runs on the flight line,” Boeing said. The 737 MAX 9 is scheduled to enter service in 2018.

Boeing has secured more than 3,600 orders for 737 MAX family aircraft from 83 customers, including more than 400 orders for the MAX 9.

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

Also see

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Raildar - Trains Visible in Realtime

We have had our attention drawn to another website that shows public transport movements in real time. This one is called Raildar which tracks all passenger train movements in the UK.

Zoom in and you will observe coloured icons that show all active trains in that area. Click on an icon and a list of timings for that particular train appears together with any delay minutes.
The site is uncomplicated and seems to work well with pages loading quickly.

The website can be found here

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Crisis at Crich

Crich Tramway Village collection hit by winter mould

A number of trams from a "world renowned" collection have been severely damaged by an outbreak of mould.
Crich Tramway Village, which is home to the country's biggest collection of trams, said the damage was caused by insulation problems at their depot.

Museum bosses said the outbreak of mould was "heartbreaking and devastating".
The Derbyshire-based attraction said it needed to raise £200,000 to carry out improvements to the depot.
It's thought about "five or six" trams need attention following the winter mould.
Bosses at the museum, which reopens to the public at the weekend, said they believed the mould had affected the trams because there had been a warm and damp winter and moisture had got into the depot.
"Personally it makes me want to cry," Neil White from Crich Tramway Village said.

"We spend anything up to half a million pounds restoring something and then we put it away in conditions that you wouldn't want to.
"You say each vintage tram is worth like three vintage Ferraris, you wouldn't just spend your money on that and store them in the conditions that we have so far."
The museum was awarded £100,000 earlier this year by the government towards the cost of insulating the depot, which houses the trams, some dating back to the late 1800s.
It's thought they will need a further £200,000 to fully upgrade the 1960s building.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Free Ride in the Lake District

The A592 between Bowness in Windermere and Newby Bridge in Cumbria is subject to a long term closure.

 The south bound shuttle service starts at Windermere Railway Station 

As a result a free mini-bus bus service has been put in place between Windermere and Newby Bridge using a series of minor roads. The service, which takes 46 minutes, is being operated by Stagecoach using a fleet of Mercedes mini-buses.

I sampled the service on the 4th March catching the 12.56 from Windermere Railway Station. The route initially follows the A592 south to Bowness, traffic was reasonably quiet so we were able to pause for time at the steamer pier at Bowness for a minute or so before proceeding again at 13.06 along the A592. The bus travels as far as the actual works being carried out before turning around and heading north again until a right turn is made onto a minor road which climbs away from the lake.

The route passes the point at which the road is closed
 to normal traffic

From here a series of minor roads are used to bypass the road closure, the route becoming very scenic as the bus climbs up and over the minor roads.  Eventually views of the southern part of lake Windermere are apparent as the route drops down and regains access to the A592.

 The roads are definitely more suited to mini-bus operation
We reached the terminus of the service at 13.45 a couple of minutes late but with plenty of time for the mini-bus to turn around and wait for the X6 Barrow to Kendal service with which it is timed to meet. The Kendal bound X6 arrived a few minutes late at 14.13 and I took the opportunity to hop on board in order to return to Kendal.
The free service is certainly worth trying, allowing passengers to travel on picturesque roads which don't normally have bus services running on them. It hasn't really been advertised as tourist service due to lack of capacity on the mini-buses, but it is there for anyone to use and comes highly recommended.

 Views of the southern part of lake Windermere 
 The terminus at Newby Bridge.
 The shuttle service connects with the  Barrow / Kendal X6
Scania - ADLEnviro 400 PX61 CVK is operating on the Barrow bound service.