Tuesday 31 October 2017

Hampshire Bus Rapid Transit

Success for Hampshire in bid for Bus Rapid Transit extension

Hampshire County Council has welcomed a recent announcement (19th October 2017), from the Department for Transport, confirming its bid for funding to extend the South East Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) scheme has been successful.
Minister for Transport, Chris Grayling MP, has confirmed that the County Council is to be awarded £6.93 million from a total National Productivity Investment Fund of £345.3 million.

Councillor Rob Humby, Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Environment and Transport, said: “This is great news. With this substantial investment, we can now take forward our long-standing plans for the £10.4 million scheme to extend the Gosport to Fareham Bus Rapid Transit busway.
“We have a strong track record in securing external funding for transport schemes, as evidenced by our capital programme for 2017/18 – 2019/20, which has a total value of £100million for new roads and improvements. The County Council is well positioned to secure external funding to help deliver the necessary transport infrastructure to address current and future growth pressures and improve access to employment and services, as well to strengthen the county’s wider connectivity.
“The South East Hampshire BRT is one of a number of major road schemes which aims to support Hampshire’s growing prosperity, and enhance quality of life, as more and more developments are built. This important road extension in Fareham will further improve journey times and reduce congestion on the A27 in Fareham. Creating easier access to key destinations will help to encourage more residents to favour travelling by bus, over making the journey by car. In turn, this will contribute to an improvement in air quality.”
BRT delivers a viable public transport alternative for people living and working in one of South Hampshire’s most congested areas. Currently, the bus-only route comprises 3.4km of dedicated busway, running along a disused public railway line, from Redlands Lane in Fareham to Tichborne Way in Gosport.

The scheme is proving extremely popular with the Eclipse E1 and E2 services now carrying 60 per cent more passengers than the services they directly replaced, the 82 and 86.
Hampshire County Council customer research has also shown that there has been a 14% shift from people using cars to the bus since the scheme was launched.
Since its launch in 2012, Eclipse has won: an Operator Excellence Award, a National Transport Award in 2013; a Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport’s (CILT) Excellence Award in 2012; and a Customer Care Award from the Gosport Access and Disability Forum.

Monday 30 October 2017

New seating layout

Horseshoe seats fitted on buses to get passengers to talk to each other

Horseshoe seats have been installed on buses in an attempt to get passengers to talk to each other.
Go South Coast, which runs services across the south of England, have installed the seats on 13 of their buses in Wiltshire and Dorset, including a fleet of new ADL E20D Enviro200 MMC single-decks operated by Thamesdown at Swindon.

It is hoped the scheme will also discourage people from putting their bags on free seats next to them and deterring strangers from sitting there, a common problem on busy routes.
The new design seats eight people at the back of a single decker bus. If the pilot scheme proves popular, it could be rolled out across other parts of the country.
It comes after a major think tank called for a "civility code" to stop Londoners from being rude and unfriendly to each other.

The seats have been designed to enable large families to sit together and have a more comfortable and enjoyable experience as well as trying to make the commute more sociable and friendly,
A spokesman for the Morebus firm, which is behind the seat design, said: "For some time, we have been looking at this innovative seating layout because it provides a comfortable space for friends and family to travel together.
"This is an excellent opportunity for us to gain an insight into which vehicles people enjoy travelling on before making big decisions about the future of bus travel."

All twelve (fleet numbers 2772/3/4/6/7/8/9/80/1/2/3/4) are in service in Swindon on route 5 with one on loan to Morebus in Poole (2775) which is used on their m1/m2 service for evaluation of the social seating.

Sunday 29 October 2017

Hythe Pier railway

Campaigners mark centenary of Hythe Pier electric locos

The locomotives were bought by Hythe Pier Ferry Company after World War One.

The 100th anniversary of the locomotives on an electric pier railway is being marked by the community group hoping to save the structure.
The locomotives on Hythe Pier on Southampton Water were originally built for a mustard gas factory in 1917.
The Save Hythe Pier community group is hoping to take over the pier from which the ferry service to Southampton operates.
Chairman Peter King said the train was "part of British engineering history".
Three locomotives were built for the World War One Brush mustard gas factory in Avonmouth near Bristol and were later sold to the Hythe Ferry Company.
One has since been used for parts but two still run along the narrow gauge railway.
It is thought to be the longest running railway service of its kind in the world, and historian Dan Snow has described the pier and railway as a "national treasure".
The ferry service was taken over by Blue Funnel Cruises earlier this year in a deal which included the purchase of Hythe Pier and the railway that runs along its 640m (2,000ft) length. 

The train still runs the length of the 640m (2,000ft) pier 
The community group is in talks to take over the running of the pier which has proved costly for ferry operators.
Mr King revealed a recent survey showed the condition of the pier to be "better than expected", but with work needed to replace planking and safety railings.
"There is 25 years of maintenance to be done. Structurally it's what you'd expect of a 138-year-old pier, but there is nothing falling down so it's quite positive."
The group is marking the centenary with heritage events and rides on the train as part of its fundraising efforts.

A trio of pictures have also been supplied by Brian Bell as follows

Saturday 28 October 2017

London Oxford Street

Two thirds back plan to turn iconic area into pedestrian 'plaza'

The pedestrianisation of Oxford Street is a step closer following public support for plans to transform the world famous shopping street.
62 per cent of residents and businesses said they support turning Oxford Street into a car-free zone, a new Transport for London (TfL) consultation found.
Of almost 12,000 respondents, 43 per cent strongly supported the proposals and were comfortable with the changes necessary to make the transformation happen.
A further 19 per cent said they supported the scheme, but had concerns about the changes.
However almost a third of those who responded said they didn’t support the transformation and TfL admitted that a range of transport, accessibility and congestion concerns need to be addressed.
Oxford Street is visited by more than 500,000 visitors every day, making it one of the busiest across the capital.
And although cars are already banned on most of Oxford Street between 7am and 7pm on every day apart from Sunday, it remains a major thoroughfare for buses and taxis.
The second consultation on the plans is expected to begin in early November 2017.

Alex Williams, Director of City Planning at TfL, said: “Along with reducing the number of buses along Oxford Street by 40 per cent, the introduction of the Elizabeth Line provides a once in a generation opportunity to tackle the challenges of poor air quality and congestion to help ensure that it retains its iconic status for years to come.
“The strong support from this consultation has shown that there is a desire to make Oxford Street and the wider area an even better place to live, work and visit.
"We will now work to further analyse the consultation responses and address the issues raised as we develop our plans for a truly transformational scheme for all.”
By the time Crossrail opens in December 2018, a transition scheme could be in place, while it is hoped plans for the full transformation will be in place by 2021.


A small but perfectly formed bus rally was held back in September at the Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway and David Heath has provided a selection of some of the attendees. These are now in an album which can be viewed by clicking  here

Friday 27 October 2017

McGill's v Glasgow's proposed city centre LEZ

ONE of Scotland biggest bus operators has said it will take legal action if Glasgow goes ahead with plans to cut harmful levels of toxic air that will mean the most polluting buses will be banned from the city centre.

Ralph Roberts, managing director of Glasgow bus operator, McGill's, says buses should not be singled out in plans for a so-called low emission zone by the end of next year.
Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) estimate the cost of retrofitting hundreds of buses with exhaust modifications to comply with clean air standards is in the region of £10-17 million. McGill's say 100 of their vehicles would be affected and require the alterations.
And Mr Roberts, who says it will be the passengers who will have to pay for the increased costs with higher fares, has said McGill's will take court action to stop the low emission zone plan if buses are unfairly targeted.
Speaking before councillors consider the plan on Thursday, he said: "We will challenge it legally [if it happens]. We will stop it happening. We will go legal.
"We will go to the Court of Session and if it involves a judicial review, we will do that. But we will challenge them. "
Mr Roberts took his own iPhone video of issues with lines of taxis idling in Hope Street, one of the most air-polluted streets in the city, to illustrate that the problem is not all about buses.
Some 2000 early deaths are caused every year in Scotland because of polluted air according to the latest medical research, with some 40,000 across the UK.
Glasgow has been described as "the most polluted city in Scotland" by environmental lawyers ClientEarth over what it called "illegal and harmful levels" of nitrogen dioxide (NO2), which comes mostly from diesel vehicles.
And data from Friends of the Earth named Hope Street in Glasgow as among the most polluted streets in Scotland for NO2, known to damage human lung tissue.
Lothian Buses in Edinburgh introduced a new fleet of 30 so-called Euro 6 vehicles to cut down on pollution. Euro 6 is the sixth incarnation of the European Union directive to reduce harmful pollutants from vehicle exhausts.

The McGill's executive has written to all councillors, appealing to them to kick the plan into touch saying: "The report you have in front of you says that this is because of the the bus. That is a very unstable assumption. "There is no way to know whether this comes from cars, taxis, buses or trucks. Buses are definitely a large part of it but to focus on buses and ignore the rest is folly and perhaps, actually, unenforceable.
He warned: "Whether you like it or not, converting existing buses with exhaust treatment to meet the Euro 6 target cannot be done by the end of 2018 regardless of who pays for it. Thereafter, those buses will be more expensive to operate so fares will go up. That is a simple fact."
The proposal to ban all but the cleanest buses by the end of next year is supported in a report by Glasgow City Council's (GCC) sustainability and carbon reduction committee convenor Anna Richardson, who said it can lead to "the most significant and immediate improvements in air quality".
She said: "Reducing bus emissions, rather than removing or reducing bus services through the city, is clearly the objective for this approach.

The planned zone.

"The case for the introduction of a low emission zone in the city centre, initially focused on buses, is clear and compelling. It is backed by detailed technical assessment and scientific evidence. Members are therefore asked to support the city’s ambition of introducing Scotland’s first LEZ, with an initial focus on buses."
Mr Roberts said the local authority should consider more basic measures first - like removing the three sets of traffic lights in one block of Hope Street between Waterloo Street and Bothwell Street, which he said causes buses to stop, start and accelerate away too many times and pollute.
"Change the lights. Take them away. Replace with one set of traffic lights, rephase them so that the buses can keep rolling and you slaughter the emissions. "We are not taking some fundamental basic steps to help ourselves, we are just saying, because we can put through our traffic restrictions, we can hit buses. Let's do that because it is easy."
Earlier this month the Scottish government released a consultation on how to deal with traffic pollution in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Dundee.

Thursday 26 October 2017

Rail development news

Self-driving trains could run every two and a half minutes in London with 'advanced testing' already underway

  • Mainline rail network will be populated by self-driving trains for the first time
  • Thameslink line through central London is being used for testing the technology
  • Proponents say it will improve safety while critics say drivers should be retained 

The mainline rail network will be populated by self-driving trains for the first time under plans to massively increase the number of services at city centre stations.

The Thameslink line through central London is being used for testing automated trains that can accelerate and brake more efficiently than those operated by a driver.
If successful, it could mean trains running every two and a half minutes at a similar frequency to the tube.
The mainline rail network will be populated by self-driving trains for the first time under plans to massively increase the number of services at city centre stations
The number of services could increase by 60 per cent, reported The Times newspaper. 
Drivers will take control of the trains outside of central London with lines stretching as far as Brighton and Cambridge.
They will also need to operate the doors and carry out safety checks while the trains are driving themselves.

Self-driving trains are currently used on the London Underground on lines including Northern and Victoria. 
They are also set to be used on Crossrail, the £14.8billion railway that will cross the capital from the end of next year.
Those in favour of the technology say it will lead to shorter journey times and improve safety.
The Thameslink line through central London is being used for testing automated trains that can accelerate and brake more efficiently than those operated by a driver
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operates Thameslink and has backed automated trains.
However, critics, including train drivers' union Aslef, say it is essential a driver is retained on all services. 
The self-driving technology has been rolled out on Siemens Class 700 trains which were first introduced to the tracks last year.
It will be used alongside a new signalling system that does away with lineside signals and instead puts the technology in the drivers' cab.  
The revamp is part of a £6billion Thameslink upgrade led by Network Rail.  

Wednesday 25 October 2017


To mark a year of operation and the completion of the refurbishment of its Musselburgh Garage, EastCoastbuses a wholly owned subsidiary of Lothian  opened its doors on Saturday 21st October to the public.

Showcasing its investment in new vehicles and the refurbishment of its premises, the business invited visitors of all ages for a behind the scenes look and a trip down memory lane with some vintage buses of yesteryear on display.
The award winning operation was set up in just five weeks after First Scotland East Ltd announced their intention to withdraw all bus services from East Lothian in August 2016. Following ongoing and significant investment in new vehicles, premises and its people, EastCoastbuses are now a regular sight on the roads of East Lothian, carrying over 70,000 customers per week, supporting the local economy and providing vital transport links for the whole community.

EastCoastbuses has also scooped the coveted Excellence in Travel Information and Marketing award at this year’s National Transport Awards.
Since operation began the business has introduced additional routes and services including a new Nightbus.  This combination of development measures and dedication to customer service has resulted in customer growth of over 22% to date.
This award recognises the implementation of a strong marketing and Customer Information strategy which was required from pre-launch through to operations to raise awareness of the  services and promote the benefits of travelling by bus. Promotion was achieved through a blend of expert development of the new EastCoastbuses brand, advertising, high levels of community engagement, marketing partnerships and digital collaboration. The award for Excellence in Travel Information and Marketing recognises the outstanding contribution and efforts that the business makes to ensure that customers know about its services reinforcing the operational excellence that is delivered every day.
Richard Hall, Managing Director of EastCoastbuses parent company Lothian said  “EastCoastBuses is a totally autonomous operation and our General Manager Mark and the team do an amazing job delivering a great travel experience for over 70,000 customers per week.

“In the last 14 months, we have invested heavily in our people, our fleet and our premises and this award recognises our ability to win back trust from the East Lothian community, at a time when bus travel across the industry is in decline.”

“We’re pleased our work to introduce and develop these services has been recognised at National level as part of these prestigious awards and look forward to being part of the local community for years to come.”
The National Transport Awards, which is in its 17th year, was held on 12th October at the Westminster Park Plaza in London, is designed to celebrate the successes achieved in national and local transport projects across all modes and disciplines, with the awards regarded as the highest industry accolades in the UK.


The second set of pictures from the Isle of Wight Museum's Beer, Buses & Walks event have been placed in an album, which can now be viewed by clicking  here

Tuesday 24 October 2017

Bus Station news & Dates for the Diary

Derby Bus Station

Government millions to end gridlock at at Derby Bus Station

£5m extension scheme is aimed at cutting serious congestion around Riverlights

Derby's congested bus station is finally set to be extended after the city council won a £3.6 million grant to help pay for the work.
The move has been hailed as a "welcome announcement which will have a positive outcome for local people, businesses and commuters".
Some buses have found it difficult to arrive, park and leave at the seven-year-old city centre complex as the number of journeys has risen to more than half a million a year.
In April, one bus driver claimed the site is “gridlocked” six times a day. Derby Telegraph photos and a video showed queues of buses waiting to enter the station.
Bus companies admitted congestion was causing delays, for which they apologised. They said they were working with the city council to solve the problems.
But the huge grant now means the work can start. Councillor Martin Rawson, cabinet member for regeneration and economy, said he was delighted funding had been secured.
He said: “This is a welcome announcement which will have a positive outcome for local people, businesses and commuters."
More capacity is needed to help the station cope with the city centre’s rising population.
The residential market in the city centre is booming, with nearly 2,400 new homes having been built or in construction – and thousands more are planned at sites including Castleward and the former Derbyshire Royal Infirmary site.
Derby City Council submitted a bid for funding earlier this year and the authority has now been allocated £3.6m from the Government’s National Productivity Investment Fund (NPIF), which aims to close the north-south gap on economic prosperity.
A planning application detailing the proposed bus station extension will be made in early 2018. Groundwork on the land where the extension will go, towards the River Derwent, has already started.
If approved by councillors, additional waiting areas and nine additional bays will be created to accommodate new and increased services from new housing sites.
The project will also create additional space for buses entering the concourse to ease congestion.
Mr Rawson said: “The bus station currently accommodates over 500,000 departures per year, and there are a number of services that terminate on-street, which can create congestion in the city centre.
“With the Derby Urban Area set to grow by 18,000 new homes by 2028, it is essential that investment is made to be able to support and encourage people to travel by sustainable modes.”
In June, Mr Rawson said the council was preparing a funding bid of £5 million. Despite receiving less from the Government, he said £3.6 million was enough for the scheme to go-ahead.
He added: “This extension will not only allow us to extend the number of services into the city from these new developments, but will further improve journey times, and reduce congestion in the city centre.
“This will encourage more residents to travel by bus, which will positively contribute to an improvement in air quality in Derby.”

Work to prepare the site for the planned expansion is already underway
Work to prepare the site for the planned expansion is already under way
The funding announcement has also been welcomed by bus operator Trent Barton. The company’s director of service delivery, Tom Morgan, said: “At Trent Barton we are fully supportive of Derby City Council’s NPIF bid which will assist with the continual investment in public transport infrastructure.
“The investment will ensure the high standard of delivery can continue, improve and grow in line with the growth we are currently seeing in public transport use.”

Saturday 4th November - Aldenham

Sunday 5th November - Lincoln

Monday 23 October 2017

Alstom presents the first Pendolino high-speed train for NTV, in Italy

On 3 October Alstom and NTV jointly inaugurated  the first of twelve Pendolino high-speed trains ordered by NTV the private Italian operator. The trains are part of Alstom’s Avelia family of high-speed trains which also includes the AGV.Italo train previously purchased by NTV.

 The ceremony took place at Expo Ferroviaria in Milan (Italy) in presence of Graziano Delrio, Minister of Infrastructure and Transport of Italy, Luca di Montezemolo, Chairman of NTV and Flavio Cattaneo, CEO of the company.
The latest version of the Pendolino Avelia high-speed train, will come into operation in early 2018.
These trains, in addition to the existing fleet of 25 AGVs, will bring up the NTV fleet to a total of 37.
The Italo EVO can reach maximum speed of 250 km/h. It consists of 7 coaches, totalling 187 meters, and features a futuristic and emblematic nose which ensures a high level of aerodynamics and safety for the driver. The train is equipped with a distributed traction system designed with high level of braking efficiency and regeneration. Its eco-design and the use of recyclable materials at construction phase make it environmentally friendly and highly sustainable. The interior configuration provides a high standard of passenger comfort.

The major innovation of the train compared to previous generations of Pendolino is its full compatibility with the very latest 2014 TSI regulations established by the European Union. This EU standard contributes to guaranteeing high levels of safety and efficiency.
The trains are produced at Alstom’s sites in Italy. The Savigliano site is responsible for the design and the manufacturing of the trains. The other sites involved are: Sesto San Giovanni (Milan) for the design and production of the traction systems, and Bologna for the signalling systems. The maintenance work will be carried out at the site in Nola (Naples), which is currently responsible for maintaining the .Italo trains.


The first of two sets of pictures from the Isle of Wight Museum's Beer, Buses & Walks event has been placed on the flickr site and can now be viewed by clicking  here

Sunday 22 October 2017

Class 385 Travels on Edinburgh to Glasgow Electric Route

The electrification of the Edinburgh to Glasgow mainline took positive steps forward recently, as the ScotRail Alliance prepares for full testing of its new trains on the electrified route.
One of the new Class 385 electric trains – which has still to be fitted with interiors – successfully travelled between Edinburgh and Linlithgow at 02:00 hours on Wednesday 18 October.
This marks clear progress for the infrastructure as this is the first time that an electric train has travelled on any section of the route.
When the final safety checks on the infrastructure along the remainder of the route are complete, full testing of the new trains will begin.
The new fleet will enter passenger service over the next few months, offering faster journeys, more seats and better services for customers travelling between Scotland’s two biggest cities.

ScotRail Alliance Programmes and Transformation Director Ian McConnell, said:
“The trial was a hugely important step towards completing the electrification of the line between Edinburgh and Glasgow. Having a train run on the route is one of the final phases of the electrification process. That it has gone so well tells us that we are almost ready to begin the next stage – which is to start fully testing the new trains themselves.
“We are building the best railway that Scotland has ever had. When we replace the diesel trains with the brand new, state of the art, electric fleet we will deliver enormous benefits to our customers. Cleaner, greener travel – with more seats and faster journeys will completely transform travel between our two biggest cities.”
Hitachi Rail Europe Programme Manager Andy Radford, said:
“It’s positive so see that progress is being made on Edinburgh to Glasgow electrification.
“We’re hopeful that we’ll be given permission to start full testing soon so we can guarantee the trains can run for passengers safely. We’ve now got trains at our factory in Newton Aycliffe ready to travel to Scotland as soon as they can run on new electric power line.”

Electrification of Edinburgh to Glasgow via Falkirk High route

The 46 miles of the newly electrified railway between Edinburgh and Glasgow went ‘live’ for testing and safety checks on 2 September 2017. More information on the project can be found at www.egip.info

Class 385s

Initially introduced on the Edinburgh to Glasgow via Falkirk High route, Class 385s will run:
  • Edinburgh – North Berwick
  • South Glasgow suburban routes - Cathcart Circle / Neilston / Lanark
  • Glasgow/ Edinburgh – Dunblane / Stirling / Alloa
  • Glasgow – Falkirk Grahamston via Cumbernauld
  • Glasgow Central – Edinburgh via Shotts
When eight-car trains are introduced on the Edinburgh – Glasgow via Falkirk High route, this will improve capacity by up to 44% at peak times (compared to a current six-car trains being used).
There will also be more seats during peak periods on the Glasgow/Edinburgh - Stirling/Dunblane/Alloa lines, Edinburgh - North Berwick, and Glasgow Central – Edinburgh via Shotts.
Once in passenger service, customers will benefit from:
  • Bright, modern, contemporary interiors
  • Faster, quieter and more comfortable journeys
  • Power sockets
  • Free WiFi
  • More luggage storage
  • Accessible toilets in every train


Jimmy Sheng has provided a set of pictures from a recent visit to Hong Kong, which can now be viewed in an album by clicking   here

Saturday 21 October 2017

Belfast Glider Unveiled

The new Belfast Glider service will come into operation during 2018 and is set to transform public transport in the city. It will offer passengers a modern, efficient public transport service with shorter, more reliable journey times and high frequency services.  

Glider services will operate every 7-8 minutes throughout the working day, linking East Belfast, West Belfast and Titanic Quarter via the city centre.  The 18metre articulated Glider vehicles will use the latest diesel-electric hybrid engine technology delivering a smoother take off from halts, lower noise, reduced vibration and lower emissions.  Each Glider vehicle will carry 105 passengers and will feature real time passenger information, audio next stop and destination announcements, CCTV, free Wi-Fi, USB charging facilities and air conditioning.  
Ciarán de Búrca, Department for Infrastructure Director of Transport Projects said: “Today we see a very significant step forward for the £90m flagship Belfast Rapid Transit project, with the launch of the Glider vehicle and brand. 
“The new Glider vehicles, which have been specifically designed for Belfast, will start arriving in Belfast later this year. They will provide a new, modern, improved public transport experience for everyone who lives, works, socialises or visits the city.

Ciarán de Búrca, added: “The new Glider service will help to meet the future transport needs of our modern, fast growing city. Glider will not only improve connectivity and social interaction across the city but will encourage active travel choices, supporting the growth of sustainable transport”
“I congratulate Van Hool on this magnificent new vehicle which I know will be a valuable asset to Belfast for many years to come”.
The new Glider service will be operated by Translink and Chris Conway, Translink Group Chief Executive, said: “Glider is the iconic new face of public transport in Belfast, helping to energise the city. Our customers can expect a modern, high-capacity and high-frequency rapid transit service which integrates with our existing bus and rail network. With additional features such as on-board Wi-Fi, USB charging facilities and a new innovative and easy-to-use, off-vehicle ticketing system, Glider will deliver quicker boarding times and offer excellent value for money fares.  
“Glider is a transformational development for public transport in Belfast. We’d like to thank the Department for Infrastructure for essential funding to deliver this major project and look forward to the arrival of the first vehicles in Northern Ireland later this year.”

The Lord Mayor of Belfast, Councillor Nuala McAllister, who helped to formally unveil the Glider vehicle, said: “As part of Belfast City Council’s Belfast Agenda we have committed to work in partnership to progress the transport infrastructure and create a modern and efficient transport system for Belfast.  This investment by the Department of Infrastructure will help to ensure that our transport infrastructure will be a catalyst for growth, not a constraint to it; and will increase Belfast’s ability to attract future inward investment.
“Belfast - like all strong and vibrant cities - needs a transport system that is befitting a global city, and I believe the new Glider service will help to deliver that for Belfast and its residents, workers and visitors.  The Glider service will encourage more people to opt for public transport which in turn helps to ease congestion and improve air quality, so it’s a win-win situation for business, the economy, the environment and public health.”

Van Hool has supplied Exqui.City vehicles to public transport systems across Europe including Barcelona, Luxembourg, Malmo, Bergen and Metz. This order for the Exqui.City is Van Hool’s first in the UK & Ireland and the first time they have supplied a right-hand drive vehicle.
The Van Hool Exqui City on display at Bus World Kortrijk
The Exqui.City’s elegant design clearly distinguishes it from traditional buses. It emphasises smooth and safe travel through the modern urban environment. The use of diffused lighting and an advanced ergonomic interior are all crucial to making the trip a relaxing experience for passengers. Spacious entrances and exits, a low floor, and wide corridors throughout the vehicle secure the optimal passenger flow and make it accessible for everyone.
The Glider vehicles provide easy boarding for people with reduced mobility and parents with pushchairs as well as a mix of standing and seating areas with good legroom. They have 3 sets of double doors and good circulation room to enable rapid boarding and alighting, minimising the time spent at halts and therefore reducing journey times. The Glider vehicles are also equipped with CCTV for both passenger and driver safety.
The first phase of Glider services will connect East Belfast, West Belfast and Titanic Quarter via the city centre.  To date work has been completed on the new 520 space Dundonald Park & Ride facility and on the following sections of the route:
•         Upper Newtownards Road between Sandown Road and Knock Road – completed March 2015;
•         Falls Road between Grosvenor Road and Whiterock Road – completed October 2015;
•         Upper Newtownards Road between Albertbridge Road and Sandown Road – completed May 2016;
•         Divis Street/Falls Road between Millfield and Grosvenor Road – completed February 2017;
•         Andersonstown Road/Stewartstown Road between Finaghy Road North and Michael Ferguson Roundabout – completed April 2017; and
•         Albertbridge Road between Castlereagh Street and Newtownards Road – completed August 2017.

    Works are ongoing on the following section of the route:
•         Upper Newtownards Road between Knock Road and Dunlady Road;
•         Stewartstown Road between Michael Ferguson Roundabout and McKinstry Road Roundabout;
•         Andersonstown Road/Falls Road between Whiterock Road and Finaghy Road North; 
•         Colin Town Centre Transport Hub & Public Square; and
•         CITI route in the city centre and Titanic Quarter.
   More information on BRT and Glider can be found at www.infrastructure-ni.gov.uk/topics/transport-initiatives/brt and www.translink.co.uk  
   Video and vehicle images can be viewed on the Department for Infrastructure Flickr collection: www.flickr.com/photos/niexecutive/collections (or you tube)

Friday 20 October 2017

Crowd easing technology on London Overground

Commuters hail innovative new technology trial showing how busy London Overground trains will be

Commuters hailed an innovative new scheme designed to show London Overground passengers how busy their trains will be.
The software, which Transport for London installed on Monday 16th October, is currently being trialled at Shoreditch High Street Overground station in east London.
If successful, TfL has said more funding could be sought to expand the project to other stations.
The new screen, placed at the entrance to the platform, shows customers a visual indication in green, amber or red to tell them which carriages will be busiest.

TfL is trialing the new technology at Shoreditch High Street (TfL)
The technology works by analysing a year's worth of "loadweigh" data from the trains, alongside back-office information on station entry and exits, all compiled to produce an estimate of each carriage's capacity.
Commuter Izzy Jones, 32, of East Dulwich, said: "This is absolutely brilliant. I love that feeling of picking out the right carriage and am always left feeling frustrated when I get lumbered with a really busy one."
Anthony Davids, 54, who commutes into London from Watford, said: "I think it's a marvellous idea. Hopefully it will make getting that rush hour train just a little more bearable.
"It wouldn't hurt to make it better signposted though - I'm not sure I would have noticed it if I was in a hurry."
But not everyone was impressed. Alexander Pelling-Bruce, 26, of Kilburn, said he couldn't see the point of the service.
He said: "Isn't this just completely unnecessary? I don't see why anyone would need to use this. Just use your eyes."
Regular commuter Jan Bowman, from Deptford, thought otherwise: "What a fabulous idea. I usually just stand at the end of the platform, where the emptier carriages tend to come in, but I can see how this would really benefit a lot of people."

Jonathan Fox, TfL's director for rail and sponsored services, said: "As the popularity of London Overground continues to grow, we want to make customers' journeys easier and more comfortable.
"The new technology and customer information being trialled at Shoreditch High Street will mean customers can board more quickly and easily and we can minimise delays."
The program will be on trial at the station until December.

Thursday 19 October 2017

New Chester Bus Station

Chester’s controversial new bus interchange at Gorse Stacks is now an award winner.
The interchange was named the winner of the Medium Category at the North West Institute Structural Awards during a ceremony in Manchester.
The £13.5m development provides a strategic link to Chester and the wider area while also acting as a transport node to the proposed £300m Northgate development.

The interchange expects to serve 1,020 bus movements per day, including national coach journeys, with an anticipated reduction in congestion and an improved user interface for rail users, pedestrians and cyclists.
The striking design incorporates glulam timber beams to create a curved roof form, providing visual interest from within the passenger waiting environment.
The roof itself is covered with an extensive sedum system which adds an element of green space to complement the nearby Cathedral.
Project director for the project Phillip Pollington said: “Chester Interchange deserves to win an award not only for its striking design but also for its vital role in improving the public transport infrastructure of Chester. It’s really exciting for Jefferson Sheard to be part of this development, which is just the beginning of an exciting new chapter for Chester.”

Wednesday 18 October 2017

Bombardier Selected to Manufacture West Midlands Trains

Bombardier Trains has been selected as one of the companies to build new trains for the next West Midlands franchise.
The new trains will provide space for an extra 85,000 passengers on rush hour services into Birmingham and London.
The 107 trains will cost £680 million and will be built in Derby.

Bombardier will manufacture them alongside Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles.

West Midlands Trains is a joint venture between Dutch firm Abellio, East Japan Railway Company and Japanese conglomerate Mitsui & Co which was awarded a nine-year tenure in August.
It will take over the West Midlands franchise on December 10 from incumbent operator London Midland to run routes such as the Cross City line between Redditch and Lichfield via New Street station.

Being selected for this important order is another huge endorsement of our workforce and the quality of the products we design, engineer and manufacture here in the UK. Our modern Aventra trains will be built in the Midlands for the Midlands, and provide passengers with greater connectivity, reliability and shorter journey times.

Tuesday 17 October 2017

Intercity Express Train's first proper outing.......

 ........and all did not go to plan

From the Daily Telegraph

The launch of a new £5.7 billion fleet of high-speed trains descended into farce as the first journey was overcrowded, hit by delays and faulty air conditioning - all while the Transport Secretary was on board.
The new fleet was hailed by Chris Grayling before the maiden journey departed as "a fantastic service" but he swiftly found himself trapped on a train packed with frustrated commuters.
The fleet launched with great fanfare but the first journey was largely overshadowed as water poured from the air conditioning and the train was delayed by approximately 40 minutes.
The new Hitachi-built Intercity Express train had been due to leave Bristol Temple Meads for London Paddington at 6am sharp but the Great Western Railway service did not depart until 6.25am because of unspecified 'technical issues'.
Passengers were forced to stand despite claims that capacity on the new trains had been increased by 20 per cent. 
Meanwhile, the air conditioning had to be turned off and passengers who paid £204 for a standard return to London were left uncomfortably warm thanks to the unseasonably mild weather.
One commuter had their laptop damaged as water from the air conditioning poured into one of the carriages with some people having to vacate their drenched seats. 
The problems undermined what was supposed to be a triumphant launch for the new trains which are supposed to deliver a better, more comfortable experience for passengers with more plug sockets and Wi-Fi throughout. 
But disgruntled passengers complained on social media that they would have settled for a train with seating they could sit on and that ran on time. 
Mr Grayling, who was on the first service, said before departure: "These are the smartest trains in the country, probably the best we have ever had in the country.
"This is going to be a fantastic service, really regular trains and far more capacity."
Karen Boswell, the managing director of Hitachi, was on board the delayed service alongside Mr Grayling and she apologised to commuters. 
She said: "I want to say to passengers that we are really sorry that the first service from Bristol didn't go as planned today.
"I was actually on the train and the delay and water leak meant that it was not the standard of service we expect and are known for.
"She said the train company “can and will do better” and that Hitachi was investigating the “root causes” of the problems.
A GWR spokesman said: "Unfortunately, the train was delayed this morning due to a minor technical matter that was quickly resolved at the depot.
“These trains have been running successfully on UK tracks for over two years and recently passed the industry standard 5,000 miles running without a fault. Hitachi will be investigating this matter thoroughly.
"There was a fault with an air conditioning unit. Hitachi engineers were on board the service to fix it.
"The first Intercity Express Train was always likely to be very popular as people seek to be a passenger on the first ever train, and this did mean it carried more people than it usually would, particularly between Reading and Paddington. In normal conditions, this train will provide enough seats to more than accommodate the number of people that would usually travel on this train.”

Not the actual train concerned, but one similar (Mike Harris)

Monday 16 October 2017

Leeds Metrodecker EV Bus Trial

Following a successful trial in York, First Leeds has launched its trial of a new fully electric double decker bus.

The “Metrodecker EV” is being trialled by local bus operator First Leeds and will be seen serving the Park & Ride sites at Elland Road and Temple Green.

The zero-emission and fully electric bus has the capacity to carry 99 passengers and has a range of nearly 150 miles from one overnight charge. The new vehicle is being trialled as part of First Leeds’s commitment to investing £71m in 284 new ultra-low emissions buses for the city.

Paul Matthews, Managing Director at First Leeds, said: “As one of the major bus operators in Leeds, we understand the vital role we play in working with the Council and West Yorkshire Combined Authority through the Bus 18 initiative, to find solutions to reduce air pollution in the city. Allied to our commitment to invest in 284 new vehicles in Leeds with the latest engine technologies that significantly reduce pollutants, I’m thrilled to welcome the trial of a fully electric double decker bus into the city.”

Speaking about the trial, West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Chair, Cllr Keith Wakefield, adds: “The Combined Authority is committed to improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions across West Yorkshire and is, through the Bus 18 initiative, working with the county’s main bus operators on the introduction of cleaner buses.

“We are also committed to monitoring the development of electric vehicle technology, such as we are seeing today and I am pleased that this ground-breaking bus has been developed by a Leeds City Region company, Optare.”

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor, Judith Blake, said: “As part of our new transport strategy for Leeds we are committed to not only offering the best possible public transport for the city but also doing everything we can to improve our air quality. Working with First Leeds and the other bus operators we are focused on making that happen so this new zero emissions vehicle is just the start with much more to follow.”

Leeds City Council executive member for regeneration, transport and planning, Councillor Richard Lewis, said: “It is very pleasing to see this, locally-built, first fully electric and zero emissions bus being trialled in Leeds and we look forward to seeing it in action on our park and ride services. We know that the future is electric vehicles with no tailpipe emissions; this is the beginning of a revolution in bus travel.”

Optare unveiled its long-awaited zero-emission Metrodecker EV in 2016, and with its range projected to rise to 200 miles on a single charge within a year the manufacturer has signalled a move away from its previous mid-day charging strategy. The vehicle was first trialled last month in York on the city’s successful Park & Ride schemes.

Robert Drewery, Commercial Director, Optare added: “After the success of the Optare electric Metrodecker trial in York I am delighted to see the bus being put through its paces once again in Leeds. The trial in York demonstrated the Metrodecker’s ability to carry out a day’s service without compromising passenger capacity or the need for opportunity charging. These trials are the first of a purpose built electric double deck bus outside London and an important step forward in improving air quality in all our towns and cities. Following the Leeds assessments, the Metrodecker will begin further trials in London.”

This news follows First Leeds’s announcement that it is holding customer consultation events across the city to allow its customers to feedback on the new designs and technologies that will be introduced on its new vehicles over the coming years.

 The vehicle has recently been operated in York. Photo Haydn Davies