Saturday, 31 March 2018

Megabus news

Megabus ads promising £1 seats are banned

Megabus ads promising fares from £1 have been banned after the company admitted as few as one seat per coach was available at that price.
The web ad for a new Aberystwyth to Birmingham Megabus route featured the text "From £1".
The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said consumers would expect to be able to find the "from" price if they booked in advance.
A Megabus spokeswoman said future marketing would not focus on prices.
The ASA also took the Stagecoach-owned operator to task for another web ad that listed routes from Leeds to new Yorkshire destinations, claiming: "As always our fares are from £1*."
And it questioned a Facebook post that promised "day trips from £1*" from London to Bath.

Two complainants, who searched for tickets and believed that fares were not available at the stated price, challenged whether the claim "fares are from £1*" was misleading and could be substantiated.
The ASA found that only 4% of fares for the Aberystwyth to Birmingham route were available at £1, and 3% for the London to Bath route.
The watchdog ruled that the ads must not appear again in their current form: "We told Megabus to ensure in future that when using 'from £1' price claims a significant proportion of the advertised fares were available at £1, so that consumers would have a reasonable chance of obtaining the products at the advertised 'from' price."
Megabus said the number of fares available at £1 for any given route varied due to many factors, such as the number of intermediary stops and the number of tickets booked for the partial and full routes.
The coach operator said £1 fares were generally available if the booking was made more than four weeks in advance, but this depended on the route.
A Megabus spokeswoman said it had always provided clear and transparent pricing and its future marketing would focus on the value offered by its fares, as well as extras such as onboard wi-fi and phone charging points.


In stark contrast to the fleet of large long coaches operated by Megabus, the latest album on the site features a selection of much smaller, but necessarily useful vehicles. Minibuses and midibuses referred to by some as 'breadvans' can now be viewed by clicking  here

Friday, 30 March 2018

Heathrow Express

  • New agreement confirms Heathrow Express for at least a decade
  • Will improve rail service connections, resilience and reliability for Heathrow passengers
  • Rail services to Heathrow to rise from 18 trains per hour to at least 22 trains per hour from December 2019
  • Confirms Government support for developing western and southern rail links to Heathrow

Heathrow Express (‘HEx’) rail service has been preserved to at least 2028 under a new agreement announced today. This agreement, which confirms fast, non-stop rail connections for Heathrow passengers over the next decade, has been approved by the Department for Transport and will see Heathrow Airport retaining the commercial aspects including marketing, ticket pricing and revenue, while FirstGroup’s Great Western Railway (‘GWR’) subsidiary will run the operational aspects of the Heathrow Express service under a management contract from later this year.

As a result of this agreement, a new Heathrow Express Langley depot will no longer be needed. The depot would have been required to service trains because the HS2 building schedule requires HEx to vacate the Old Oak Common depot by the end of 2019.

Heathrow Airport will continue to own the HEx service, and will be responsible for managing rail stations at the airport.  Passengers will also benefit from new ticket readers at Heathrow and Paddington, which will allow users of Heathrow Express and TfL Rail (soon to be Elizabeth line) to use pay as you go Oyster or a contactless device.

GWR will manage the introduction of a new, dedicated fleet of trains for the Heathrow Express service, which will be specially converted by December 2019 to provide first class carriages, high speed Wi-Fi, additional luggage racks and on-board entertainment. Until that time the HEx service will continue to be provided by the existing fleet of trains.

Building an integrated transport hub and ensuring at least 50% of Heathrow’s air passengers travel by public transport by 2030 is a priority for Heathrow.

This May, the initial phase of Heathrow Crossrail services will be introduced. From December 2019, and the full opening of the Elizabeth line, rail services to Heathrow will increase from 18 trains per hour today to at least 22 trains per hour. A train will depart Central London to Heathrow on average every two-and-a-half minutes, including:

  • 12 Piccadilly Line trains per hour – 6 trains serving Terminals 2, 3 and 4 and 6 trains serving Terminals 2, 3 and 5
  • 6 Elizabeth line trains per hour – 4 trains serving Terminals 2, 3 and 4 and 2 trains serving Terminals 2, 3 and 5
  • 4 Heathrow Express trains per hour – all trains serving Terminals 2, 3 and 5

Heathrow, the DfT, TfL and Network Rail are also conducting a joint feasibility study into increasing the frequency of the Elizabeth line service to 8 trains an hour by the mid-2020s.

As part of the arrangements, the Department for Transport will progress the development of the proposed new western and southern rail links to Heathrow. These new links would make it quicker and easier for people from the across the south and west of England, and south Wales, to get to the airport.  

Rail Minister Jo Johnson said:
“We are investing in the biggest modernisation of the UK rail network since Victorian times and improving the provision and frequency of rail services to Heathrow is crucial to our plans. 
“New western and southern rail links to Heathrow would make getting to the airport quicker and easier for holidaymakers and business travellers across the south west, south Wales and south of England, as well as helping connect UK exporters to new international markets.”

Heathrow Chief Executive John Holland-Kaye said:
“This agreement secures convenient and reliable public transport journeys to Heathrow in this decade and beyond.  We have ambitious plans to transform rail journeys into the airport, and our passengers will reap the benefits of having Heathrow at the heart of an integrated, sustainable transport network.”

FirstGroup Chief Executive Tim O'Toole said:
“Today’s agreement demonstrates the transport industry working in partnership for the benefit of passengers, allowing fast and convenient connections to continue on this crucial airport link. We are an experienced rail operator with a strong track record in delivering customer improvements, and through this management contract we look forward to building on this operational expertise, as we work with Heathrow to bring in a dedicated fleet of high-specification trains that will help keep people moving and communities prospering in the future.”

DATE FOR THE DIARY - Sunday 1st April - Hucknall

Thursday, 29 March 2018

Rail & Road disruption over the Easter weekend

Easter rail disruption

  • Bristol Temple Meads: Closed
  • London Euston: No long distance trains on Easter Sunday
  • Manchester Victoria: Closed
  • Edinburgh to Glasgow: Buses replace trains
  • Hull to Selby: Buses replace trains
  • London to Ingatestone: Buses replace trains
  • Barking to Grays via Rainham: Buses replace trains
  • Crewe to Liverpool: Buses replace trains
  • West Croydon and Sutton/Epsom Downs: Buses replace trains
  • Sevenoaks and Tonbridge: Buses replace trains
  • Luton and Sutton: No Thameslink trains
  • London Bridge and Brighton: No Thameslink trains
  • Carlisle and Glasgow/Edinburgh: Buses replace trains
  • Liverpool and Newcastle: Services only between Leeds and Newcastle 
  • South Western Railway: Possible strike action
  • Docklands Light Railway: Possible strike action 
  • Arriva Rail North (Northern): Possible strike action

Highways England said it will remove works on 99 per cent of motorways and major A-roads in anticipation of the increased traffic.

But motorists still face roadworks including 12 miles of 50mph speed restrictions on the M6 near Coventry and 10 miles of narrow lanes on the M4 near Reading, as some works cannot be paused for the weekend.
And the RAC has warned of congestion on major routes across the UK.

Traffic hotspots  

M25 between Gatwick Airport and M1
M3 south west of London
M4 west of London and between Cardiff and Swansea
A23/M23 to Brighton
A47 Swaffham to Great Yarmouth
M4/M5 around Bristol
M5 from Bristol to Taunton
A303 Stonehenge
A30 and A38 Exeter to Cornwall
M55 between Preston and Blackpool
A14 between the Midlands and the coast
A66 between M6 and the coast
M53 between Liverpool and Chester
A55 North Wales Expressway, Chester to Bangor
Meanwhile, Londoners face disruption to rail services as part of Network Rail’s £118 million works, with London Euston, the UK's fifth busiest station, closed on Sunday, with a reduced service on the previous and following day.
Passengers travelling to and from London Bridge, Waterloo and London Paddington should also expect cancellations, diversions and replacement bus services.
Those travelling between London and Scotland via the West Coast Main Line between Saturday and Monday will have to use replacement buses between Glasgow and either Carlisle or Preston, depending on the day of travel.
And significant work in the Bristol area means no trains will run between Bristol Parkway, Bristol Temple Meads and Yatton/Bath Spa from Friday to Tuesday April 3.

There will also be changes to services at Liverpool Street, while TfL has announced closures on TfL Rail, London Overground, the Northern, Circle, Hammersmith & City and District lines between Friday and Monday.
RAC spokesman Rod Dennis said: “While Easter is a little earlier this year than last, our research suggests drivers are just as keen as ever to get away and make the most of the long weekend. In fact, between Thursday and bank holiday Monday our data indicates around a million more confirmed leisure journeys by car than in 2017.”
The firm said likely Easter traffic hotspots include the M25 between Gatwick Airport and the M1, the M3 south west of London and the M4 west of London and between Cardiff and Swansea.
Highways England confirmed 30 sets of roadworks will remain over the Easter period, including five miles of works on the A64 Bramham to Askham Bryan, four miles on the A1 Leeming to Barton and three miles on the A1(M) (Jct 59 to Jct 60).

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

Electric bus on trial in Kent

Kent County Council trials the future for buses

Kent County Council has secured a seven-week electric bus trial for the county, only the second local authority to do so in the UK.
Working with Volvo and ABB, a Swedish-Swiss engineering group, the electric bus produces no emissions and is driven by electric motors.

It now operates as an additional hourly service – running on the Fastrack A route between Greenhithe, Bluewater and Dartford until the 9th May.
During the trial, the electric bus recharges outside Greenhithe train station in under six minutes using Innovative OppCharge pantograph high-power charging technology.
The OppCharge makes the range of the bus limitless by allowing the bus to charge at convenient locations along the line of route – in fact, a bus can charge within 30 seconds.
The vehicle uses an electric driveline featuring an energy storage system used to power and electric motor drive system.
The trial was launched by the Leader of Kent County Council Paul Carter on Tuesday (March 20).
Mr Carter said: “We’re very proud to be only the second local authority to trial this innovative transport scheme.
“The trial lasts for seven weeks as part of Volvo and ABB’s one-year demonstration programme which will see the vehicle and infrastructure operate around the country with the majority of costs being covered by both Volvo Bus and their technical partner ABB.
“The aim of the trial is to try this new innovative electric vehicle technology for ourselves and to show that electric buses with limitless range can work for the county.
“It has great benefits for improving air quality and reducing CO2 emissions which are important to all of us and will allow us to provide evidence that electric vehicles can provide both financial and environmental benefits for the council in the longer term
“If this proves a success it will allow us to build a case to roll out similar schemes across the county.”
The bus, a Volvo 7900e, provides up to 80% lower energy consumption than an equivalent diesel bus.
Nick Page, Managing Director of Volvo Bus added: “It has been exciting watching the full electric Volvo 7900e continue on its journey of demonstrations across the UK.
“Kent is the third location following the initial trial in Manchester in September last year and subsequently at Heathrow Airport.
“The 7900e, which is part of the Volvo Electromobility range, has been making great strides throughout Europe with successful operations in Sweden, Belgium, Germany and Luxembourg.
“Increasingly vehicles and technologies are creating a new era in passenger transport which offers a choice to customers and a variety of options to operators.”
The first permanent use of the Opp Charging technology in the UK will be in Harrogate expected to go live in May 2018.
Director of Property Management for Prologis UK Steve Haddock said “Prologis UK has been providing funding for the Fastrack A service for over a decade and this is a vital service for the residents and businesses located on our development at The Bridge.
“Sustainability is a core part of our business philosophy and we are pleased to support this trial to provide clean, green, public transport.”
Frank Muehlon, Head of ABB’s global business for EV Charging Infrastructure added: “As the global leader in EV fast charging solutions we are proud to be partnering with Volvo and Kent County Council on delivering the third phase of the UK’s first ever fast charging bus installation.
“The usage and feedback from the first two phases of the pilot have been very encouraging and we are delighted to be able to now bring this sustainable urban mobility solution to Kent.
“We are confident that this trial will continue to demonstrate the huge improvement which electric buses can make on the environmental impact of public transport, with this bus delivering up to 80 percent lower energy consumption than its regular diesel equivalent.
“We look forward to working closely with the bus industry and others to bring this exciting technology to all parts of the UK.”
Christine Gayle, General Manager, Arriva Northfleet, said: “Arriva are both pleased and excited to be taking part in this trial in partnership with KCC, Volvo, Prologis, ABB and other stakeholders.
“Given that buses are seen as the solution to reducing congestion and poor air quality a bus that is powered by electricity will produce Zero emissions at the point of delivery and is seen as a good alternative to natural gases or diesel.
“Arriva fully support this trial and the prospects of providing cleaner transportation, with substantial benefits to the environment.”
The timetable for the service can be found here and the latest news can be found by following @KentElectricBus on Twitter.
Key stakeholders include Kent County Council, Volvo and ABB infrastructure charging partners, Arriva is the bus operator for the Fastrack A route, Prologis who manage the Fastrack A contract,
Other stakeholders involved include Dartford Borough Council, Southeastern, Ebbsfleet Development Corporation and Bluewater.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

Stagecoach Trading Statement

Stagecoach Group plc has provided a trading update in respect of its financial year ending 28 April 2018, ahead of a series of meetings with analysts.  The expectation of the Group's adjusted earnings per share for the year ending 28 April 2018 has not changed from when the company announced thei interim results in December 2017.

Revenue growth
Like-for-like revenue growth for the financial year to date in each of the Group's main businesses is provided below.
UK Bus (regional operations)                   - forty four weeks ended 3 March 2018     (0.1)%
UK Bus (London)                                   - forty four weeks ended 3 March 2018     (4.3)%
North America                                       - ten months ended 28 February 2018      (0.6)%
UK Rail (excluding South West Trains)    - forty four weeks ended 3 March 2018     3.2%
Virgin Rail Group                                    - forty four weeks ended 3 March 2018     2.8%
UK Bus (regional operations)
Trading at UK Bus (regional operations) continues to reflect the actions taken in early 2017 to adjust pricing and services to respond to changes in customer demand.  Vehicle miles operated for the year to date were 2.9% lower than in the equivalent period last year. Revenue per vehicle mile grew 2.9%, journeys per vehicle mile grew 0.2% and revenue per journey increased 2.7%.  
The reported like-for-like revenue growth has been suppressed in recent weeks by the widespread snowstorms throughout the UK. During the most recent four-week period, like-for-like revenue declined by 2.5% from the equivalent prior year period, illustrating the scale of the impact of these extreme weather conditions. Excluding the most recent four-week period, like-for-like revenue growth for the forty weeks ended 3 February 2018 was 0.1%.
UK Bus (London)
The reported revenue decrease for the UK Bus (London) Division is in line with expectations and reflects the impact of contracts lost in the prior year.  Stagecoach remain satisfied by the performance on current year tenders for Transport for London contracts.

North America
The recent revenue trends in North America are lower than growth seen in the first half of the year, reflecting the timing of contract work during the year and more severe weather than forecasts anticipated over the winter months.  The like-for-like revenue decline of 0.6% for the Division includes a 4.6% decline for North America, reflecting previously implemented mileage changes at with revenue per mile for the period up 1.1%.  The other businesses in North America reported like-for-like revenue growth of 1.2% for the year to date.

UK Rail and Virgin Rail Group

Further progress has been made in UK rail.  Discussions are continuing with the Department for Transport regarding new contractual terms for the Virgin Trains East Coast business, and the company have submitted their bid for the new South Eastern franchise.  They are progressing work on the shortlisted bid for the next competitively tendered East Midlands franchise and on the shortlisted bid with SNCF and Virgin for the West Coast Partnership franchise.  Revenue growth across existing rail operations has been broadly consistent with the trends seen in the first half of the year.

Monday, 26 March 2018

15 Electric Vehicles for Madrid

The Municipal Transport Company of Madrid (EMT) has unveiled the first 15 electric buses to be added to its fleet. The 12-meter Irizar buses will serve three central lines in the Spanish capital. Each bus has a capacity of 76 passengers and a range of over 124 miles.

Irizar has also provided 15 chargers for overnight charging at the bus depot. Irizar’s e-bus features the company’s Eco Assist system, which helps the driver to optimize driving behavior in real time, reducing energy consumption and increasing range.
This model has already been operating for almost four years in a dozen European cities. Irizar also offers a 10.8-meter city bus, an 18-meter long articulated bus and other EVs.


We stay on the subject of vehicles that operate outside of the UK, with three albums of pictures from the Far East. Recently Martin Ruthe visited Hong Kong and has kindly supplied a broad selection of the current bus scene. These can now be viewed by clicking   here   here  and  here

Sunday, 25 March 2018

Proposed new railway station off the ECML

Doncaster Robin Hood airport rail line 'to create 73,000 jobs'

Plans to build a railway station at Doncaster Robin Hood Airport would create 73,000 jobs, bosses have said.

Sheffield City Region said the station - connected to the East Coast Mainline - would help boost passenger numbers from 1.2 million to 4.7 million each year by 2037.
Dubbed Aerotropolis, the £170m project also includes building 3,000 homes and doubling the terminal size.
A spokesperson said the proposals were still at the "conceptual stage".
The economic and regeneration body said the plans also included a new shopping, hotel and leisure complex, 5.5 million sq ft of space for businesses, as well as extending the airport's capacity to handle up to 250,000 tonnes of cargo per year.
The rail connection, officials say, would mean a travel time to Newcastle and London of about 90 minutes.

Sheffield City Region said the project "would help transform the North of England, creating 73,000 new jobs for the Sheffield City Region and provide exciting advanced manufacturing, logistics and aviation-led innovation opportunities".
Airport chairman Robert Hough CBE described the plans as "exceptional value for money".
"It is straightforward to build and deliverable in five years. It is of national significance for aviation and the economy, particularly the North, and we want to see it realised as soon as possible."
Mayor of Doncaster Ros Jones CBE said: "Doncaster Sheffield Airport is a huge asset for Doncaster and we are committed to making it a big success.
"This vision shows how the airport can be an integral part of the local community, a place to live, work and travel."
A public consultation has started and will run for eight weeks.

Focus comment:

When the former RAF base was transformed into the commercial airport it is today, some of the first transport links were provided by First in South Yorkshire, Stagecoach East Midlands, Yorkshire Traction and Wifreda Beehive with a selection as follows:

Saturday, 24 March 2018

Latest London Bus Contract awards

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

12 (24-hours)(Dulwich & Oxford Circus) Renewal of LBSL contract to Go-Ahead London Central using the existing fleet  2015 LT-class Euro-VI New Routemasters (NRM) (contract start date 2nd November 2018)

79  (Edgware Station & Alperton) LBSL contract awarded to RATP London Sovereign with new Euro-VI hybrid double-decks. Currently operated by Metroline Travel with VW-class Volvo B9TL double-decks from Perivale (PV) Garage (24th November 2018)

223  (Harrow & Wembley Central) LBSL contract awarded to RATP London Sovereign with new Euro-VI diesel single-decks. Currently operated by Metroline West with ADL E20D Enviro200 single-decks from Alperton (ON) Gargae (13th October 2018)

224  (St.Raphael's, Neasden & Wembley Stadium Station) LBSL contract awarded to RATP London United with new Euro-VI diesel single-decks. Currently operated by Metroline West with ADL E20D Enviro200 single-decks from Alperton (ON) Gargae (13th October 2018)

318  (Stamford Hil & North Middlesex Hospital) Renewal of LBSL contract to Arriva London North using existing fleet 2008 Euro-IV diesel single-decks (10th November 2018)

403  (West Croydon & Warlingham) LBSL contract awarded to Go-Ahead Metrobus using existing fleet 2011 Euro-V diesel double-decks. Currently operated by Arriva London South with DW-class DAF double-decks from South Croydon (TC) Garage (27th October 2018)

452  (Vauxhall Station & Kensal Rise Station) LBSL contract awarded to Tower Transit using existing fleet Euro-V diesel double-decks. Currently operated by Abellio London with ADL E40D double-decks from Battersea (QB) Garage (1st December 2018)

453  (Marylebone Station & Dulwich Bridge Station) Renewal of LBSL contract to Go-Ahead London Central using existing fleet 2015 LT-class Euro-VI New Routemasters (NRM) (17th November 2018)

H25  (Hatton Cross Station & Hanworth) Renewal of LBSL contract to Abellio West London using existing fleet 2013 Euro-V diesel single-decks (17th November 2018)

S1     (Lavender Fields & Banstead) Renewal of LBSL contract to RATP London United/Quality Line using existing fleet Euro-VI diesel single-decks ( (1st December 2018)

All Euro-IV and Euro-V vehicles will be upgraded to Euro-VI emissions standard

Want more information on the full London bus scene, then why not have a look at the London Omnibus Traction Society's website at
Better still why not join and gain the benefits of the regular monthly newsletter along with other useful publications

Friday, 23 March 2018

Irish Transport Heritage

Irish Transport Heritage (ITH) regrets to advise that its popular Annual Bus and Coach Rally, which attracts visitors from across the United Kingdom and Ireland, has had to be cancelled for 2018 and apologises to its many friends for any inconvenience which might result. The Directors are sure you will be as disappointed as they are.

In these days of severe financial restraint, National Museums Northern Ireland (NMNI), which runs the site at Cultra, Co. Down, has been conducting a review of its operations, including events joint with other organisations. Whilst this review has been ongoing all such events including the Rally had been previously agreed were put on hold. By 20th March NMNI advised that the review was ongoing and that they could not confirm that the site would be available to ITH on 28th April. They advised in these circumstances they were unable to provide the facilities this year.

At such short notice ITH is not in a position, even if an alternative suitable venue was available, to make alternative arrangements which includes providing notice to the Police Service of Northern Ireland for transmission to the Parades Commission.

Your Directors will without delay consider if the Rally or similar event can be re-arranged for later in the year. Updates will be posted at and on our Facebook page.

ITH looks forward to working with NMNI in the future building on the successful relationship which has existed for many years and welcoming back its many friends.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

London Elizabeth Line

Fares to match TfL Tube prices............ but Heathrow passengers set to pay £7 premium

Fares on Crossrail's Elizabeth Line will match Tube prices across most of London, but Heathrow passengers will be charged a premium, it was announced today.
Travelling between the airport and zone 1 in central London at peak times will cost £12.10 - £7 more than the same journey on the Piccadilly line.
Passengers travelling between zone 2 and the airport will pay a Heathrow premium of £4.50 compared with the Tube.
Crossrail journeys everywhere else within zones 1-6 will cost the same as pay-as-you-go fares on the Tube.
The Heathrow to Paddington peak Crossrail fare of £10.20 is less than half the cost of the £27 standard fare on the 15-minute Heathrow Express shuttle, though the Crossrail journey will take about 10 minutes longer.
Peak fares apply between 630am-930am and 4pm-7pm. Crossrail services between Paddington and Heathrow will replace the Heathrow Connect trains, and be 10p or 20p cheaper, depending on the time of day.

Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “I’m delighted to announce that the cost of travelling on the Elizabeth Line in zones 1-6 will be the same price as a similar journey on the Tube – fulfilling a key manifesto pledge to deliver truly world-class transport infrastructure which is also accessible and affordable for all Londoners.”
Crossrail, to be renamed the Elizabeth line when it opens under central London in December, will add 10 per cent capacity to the transport network and offer a quicker alternative to the overcrowded Central line.
Transport for London hopes it will boost revenues by more than £200 million a year but admits some Tube passengers will switch to the new line, which will eventually link Reading with Shenfield and Abbey Wood via two new tunnels under central London. There have been 44 million fewer journeys on the Tube in 2017/18, reducing TfL income £89 million below expectations.
The opening of the £14.8 billion line will mean Oyster and contactless fares will be accepted on rail services to and from Heathrow for the first time.
As with the Tube, children under 11 will travel for free. Londoners aged 60 and older will also travel free.
Daily fare capping means that someone arriving at Heathrow and using Crossrail to reach central London will pay only 40p more for the rest of their Tube and bus travel that day, as the daily Oyster or contactless charge will be limited to £12.50.
Heathrow Connect will switch to Crossrail on May 20, bringing the slightly cheaper fares and Oyster and contactless ticketing at the same time.
Transport for London commissioner Mike Brown said: “When Elizabeth line services through central London open in December, they will transform travel across London. The railway will provide many new direct journey options between Canary Wharf, central London and Heathrow Airport, and will cut journey times dramatically and ensure London remains a world-leading city.”
Jasmine Whitbread, chief executive of business group London First, said: “London’s businesses have worked hard to support, and help pay for the Elizabeth line and we’re counting the days until it opens its doors.”

Wednesday, 21 March 2018

The Mendip Mule 2018


I always promised I would issue an update on our situation, after our shock withdrawal last September, so here goes. Please understand that, as you might expect, all planning is in a rather transient stage at present and I don't expect we will be in a state to make any firm announcements, and update the website accordingly, until around Easter. I am receiving frequent queries so I thought I would issue this statement in a Q&A format for ease of comprehension (you can then just read the section that interests you).

A decision has been made since Xmas to operate again this summer, however for a much shorter season than in 2017 to attempt to stem the considerable losses made in those wing periods. However - importantly - for this to happen we need to raise the £3,000 of our Crowd Funding appeal to cover the restart up costs, as the awful summer of 2017 left us in a financially depleted state (travel incentives, in excess of sums pledged, are being offered). On top of this, if our flagship single deck open top bus is to run this season, we need to raise a further circa £2,000 to cover some essential mechanical work to enable it to go for retest. We are hoping local councils may also be able to help us towards these two sums via their community grant schemes.

Yes, but only for the Summer school holiday period, with a special relaunch day on Sunday 22nd July, when a good part of the revenue will be donated to charity. The service is expected to run daily from Wednesday 25th July until Tuesday 4th September (the actual primary school holiday dates in the area). It will again be a two bus service, operating hourly from Newlands Holidays at Charmouth in the east, to Beer in the west, via Lyme Regis & Seaton. However we are exploring adding an extra ingredient for this season that would possibly involve a third bus.

Yes, we have run out of time with exploring external funding streams to be able to upgrade our fleet for 2018, so we will once again be operating the heritage open top fleet. We will still be exploring the upgrade for 2019, so this could well be our last season as a heritage operator. To mark this we will be holding an end of season Gala Day, to coincide with Seaton Carnival, on Saturday 1st September.

Yes, but with no layover time allowed at the stop there. Nor will our buses, under normal circumstances, be using the coach park there. This is to reduce our impact on local residents.

Yes, there will be specials and later services for Lyme Regis Red Arrows Day (tbc), specials for Beer Regatta Thursday, and a special to visit Sidmouth Red Arrows & Battle of Britain Memorial Flight Day.

Sadly no longer on a daily basis, but we won't forget the town completely as we will be offering specials from Colyton to Lyme Regis Red Arrows, Beer Regatta, Sidmouth Red Arrows, Gala Day Specials and Seaton Carnival. Plus we will be happy to talk about picking up any prebooked groups there.

Our new Operations Manager is working on this at present and it looks like he has found a suitable venue, as we will no longer be using the car park at Colyton Station as our base (to remove our impact on nearby residents). We also, just today, have information that a second site, closer still to the route, may be available.

With my announced partial retirement, due on my 65th birthday in May, the day to day reins will pass to our new Operations Manager, who we will be announcing shortly. He has operated his own heritage coach business in the past and now lives locally to the route. Such is his belief in the project that he has offered to work this season on an expenses only basis. Working closely alongside him will be Richard, returning for a second season in charge of PR and social media, and also generously giving his time on an expenses only arrangement. I of course will remain in overall charge, again taking no payment, and will be present on site on some days still, as well as reverting to a few days back behind the big wheel, and I am looking forward to getting back to basics (instead of daily hair tearing!).

Again we will be bringing together a pool of heritage open top buses to operate our services. Returning of course will be our own TDL 564K ("Eric") subject to the work mentioned above being carried out. Also we have an arrangement that returns our old faithful BJG 674V ("Baz") to the fleet, along with the same owners VDL 613S. Returning also is Steve Salter's UWV 614S ("Frankie"). I thank these owners for agreeing very generous rates. Also Rob Sly has offered us an amazing deal that could well see VDV 138S ("Illustrious") returning to the pack, along hopefully with perhaps a briefer stay from his soon to be reborn SWC 24K ("Dreadnought"). I must state that not every bus will be running, or even perhaps present, on every day of the season. There is also the possibility of a "surprise bus" for a few weeks as well.

Yes, I am afraid that overall our tour fares will have increased by an average of £1 per ticket. Put simply, we cannot risk a fourth season's loss in a row. Hopefully this has a chance of bringing us in at break even. I hope you will understand? I am sure however that Richard will again have some pop up social media special deals in store to enable you to save £££s.

I am pleased to say that most of our super team have confirmed that they will be returning in 2018. They are also coming aboard by accepting a slightly less advantageous financial deal (which, to face facts, was pretty modest for the responsibility even before). But such is their belief in the project. A few have even offered to work for further reduced rates, expenses only, a three days for two pay, or in one case nothing at all. I am truly humbled by this level of support from the team.

I had said last year that TDL 564K wouldn't be returning 'home' in 2018, thus meaning no Island weekend. However at that stage I had no idea that former Isle of Wight bus VDL 613S would be joining our fleet in 2018. This has prompted a rethink. I can now announce that we expect to run an Isle of Wight weekend with VDL 613S (with thanks to its owner) on 7th & 8th July. It is expected to be similar to the last two years, but with the itinerary swopped to offer a Closed Railways Tour on the Saturday and a Bus Enthusiasts Interest Day on the Sunday. The Saturday evening is expected to see a four hour "50 Years of the Isle of Wight Pop Festivals" Tour, which will visit the sites of the legendary festivals of 1968 (Hell Field, near Godshill), 1969 (Wootton) and 1970 (Afton, near Freshwater). On the evening tour there will be a pick up at Yarmouth for those planning on attending the Bournemouth Bus Rally earlier that day (with transport provided between Bournemouth & Lymington) and wishing to join our bus enthusiasts Sunday itinerary, which will also include a late afternoon ferry connection at Yarmouth.

We are solely supporting the Alton Bus Rally this year on Sunday 15th July. Our flagship single deck open topper TDL 564K should be present. There is also a chance that VDL 613S will be present, following its Isle of Wight appearance the previous weekend (in fact there is a remote possibility of both buses being together on the Island the previous day, Saturday 14th July). This pair running together again would be very appropriate as these are the only two buses ever to have carried Shanklin's Pony yellow and blue livery during their Isle of Wight lives.

Yes, we will have plenty of shifts to cover, especially if we run a third bus on many days. You need to be 25 to 70, hold a full PSV and Driver's CPC, a clean licence for the last five years, and have had recent PSV experience, and at some point heritage bus experience. Living locally to our Jurassic Mule patch would be a huge advantage, but we can help with finding accommodation. We will provide route learning etc and vehicle familiarisation. However, new for this year, we do ask that incoming members to our team are available for a minimum of 5 days during the season (these can be split). We can offer expenses/accommodation packages in lieu of a wage if preferred.
So there you have it. I think this answers the most often asked questions. Once again, we hope to be able to announce final details around Easter time (although the Jurassic Mule timetable may be a few weeks after that even). In the meantime can I thank absolutely all of our supporters for sticking with us, and keeping the faith, through what was a slightly sticky autumn. I think we have now turned the corner, but I would ask if you can please consider supporting our Crowd Funding appeal? Thank you.
Derek Gawn

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

DfT Proposals to Ensure Wheelchair Uses Can Access Buses

New measures to ensure that wheelchair users can safely access on-board wheelchair spaces on buses will be introduced by the government.
This follows a Supreme Court judgment last year concerning the ‘reasonable adjustments’ which bus operators should provide for passengers in wheelchairs, and will be aimed at challenging the barriers still faced by some people with disabilities when using bus services.

The Department for Transport has announced that it will begin developing proposals to ensure that wheelchair users can access buses and that drivers can fulfil the duties given to them by the courts.
Transport Minister Nusrat Ghani said:
Passengers with disabilities must have the same opportunities to travel as other members of society, and it is essential that the services they rely on are accessible and work for them.
Where people live, shop, go out, or park their car should not be determined by their disability and accessible transport networks are vital if we are to support those with disabilities to live independent lives and fulfil their potential.
This follows close engagement with representatives from passenger groups, and the government will continue to work closely with these groups and other stakeholders as plans progress. This will include drivers, disabled people and members of the public travelling with young children, in order to ensure the plans are informed by those most affected by them.
In order to fully understand the implications of the judgment for all passengers and for the bus industry, and to identify actions for the government and others to take to ensure that any adjustments can be provided on buses, the DfT established a stakeholder ‘task and finish group on the use of wheelchair spaces on buses’.
Keith Richards, Chair of Disabled Persons’ Transport Advisory Committee, said:
The committee welcomed the speed of the department’s response to the Supreme Court’s judgement on the use of wheelchair spaces.
Fighting for what is essential space should not be part of the day-to-day experience wheelchair users have when using buses. We hope the department will maintain its pace into the implementation phase, to ensure that wheelchair users no longer face these challenges or have to fight for facilities provided for them in law. Without a greater degree of certainty over the use of the space confidence in using public transport will be difficult to achieve.
The group considered the impact of the current situation on disabled passengers and the options available to address them, and we now need the jigsaw of interventions proposed to be put in place to make a meaningful difference for wheelchair users.
People with disabilities make 10 times as many journeys by bus as by rail, so accessible buses are crucial in supporting them to live independent lives and fulfil their potential.
The implications of the Supreme Court ruling are that passengers who do not require the wheelchair space should be required to move when it is needed by a wheelchair user.
Today the government has announced its acceptance of expert legal recommendations aimed at ensuring that wheelchair users can access bus services.

Monday, 19 March 2018

Isle of Wight railways

Newport and Ventnor railway lines could reopen as Beeching cuts reversed

We aim to bring interesting news items that are as up to date as possible. However, we missed this one so here goes.

THE old railway lines to Ventnor and Newport could be reopened as part of ambitious government plans to restore routes lost to the Beeching cuts.

Transport secretary Chris Grayling said reinstating rail services axed in the 1960s could create jobs and economic growth.
Speaking in the Commons (back in November 2017), Isle of Wight MP Bob Seely asked if Island Line services could be extended from Shanklin to Ventnor, and from Ryde to Newport.
Mr Grayling agreed to work with him on the project, and said: "We'll be publishing in the New Year a new process for evaluating and moving into development of new projects, and I'll be very happy to talk to my honourable friend about the Isle of Wight and how that process will work and how he can get his projects into consideration."
Mr Seely, who has already spoken to South Western Railway (SWR) about extending Island Line services, welcomed the possibility of restoring the routes but warned it would not be easy.
"I am delighted at this announcement. This new rail strategy is very helpful. It makes clear lines closed in the 1960s and 1970s could be opened again," he said.
"I am delighted SWR accepted my suggestion and put in a question in the consultation about extending the line. I am talking now to transport and rail stakeholders on the Island about whether they would support extending Island Line.
"I believe there is potentially a strong case to extend the railway to Newport, to link the Island's two biggest towns and help ease traffic congestion, and also to link Ryde with Ventnor, supporting Ventnor's regeneration.
"However, both possibilities are not without difficulty.
"The route to Newport would require greater integration with the Isle of Wight Steam Railway, and I recognise their principal objective is to maintain a popular heritage route for visitors. However, the steam railway has long term aspirations to extend both into Ryde St Johns and closer to Newport, so there is certainly the potential for closer working and the extension of existing lines, subject to the current services provided by both Island Line and the steam railway continuing, as a minimum.
"Regarding Ventnor, getting the train back into the town would help the town and help connect it better with the east of the Island. However, there will be issues about potential routes through or around Wroxall, as well as access to the tunnel.
"The important thing is that, if there is a desire to see the routes extended, we should look to secure a feasibility study to offer an up-to-date assessment of the potential costs and opportunities of either extension."


The Keighley & Worth Valley Railway recently held their annual Spring Gala. In attendance was Simon Kerry who has kindly supplied the Focus website with a splendid set of pictures. These are now in an album which can be viewed by clicking  here

Sunday, 18 March 2018

North & North East Norfolk bus developments

Update from Lynxbus

From Sunday 29th April 2018 we’re making several changes to our bus services in and around King’s Lynn and West Norfolk. This includes making changes to some of our more established routes, as well as commencing new routes that would otherwise no longer exist as a result of Stagecoach in Norfolk’s withdrawal from most routes in the area.
As a relatively small, independent bus operator it has not been possible for us to replace all Stagecoach services on a like-for-like basis due to the relatively short timescales involved and also of the requirement to more closely match supply with demand, ensuring that routes are more sustainable in the longer term than had been the case. Demand on the new routes will be closely monitored over summer and changes made at a later date, where necessary.

A summary of our changes are as follows:

Service 34/35/36 (King’s Lynn to Hunstanton)
- There will now be up to four buses per hour operating in each direction on this route with an evening service introduced.
- Service 34 will be doubled in frequency (now up to every 30 minutes) to provide more buses to/from the Q.E Hospital. This route will now operate via Princess Drive in Hunstanton (not Oasis Way) and continue to operate via Mountbatten Road in Dersingham.
- Service 35 will operate hourly with the routing revised to replace most of the withdrawn Stagecoach Coasthopper R route. This route will now operate via West Newton, Sandringham and Dersingham Manor Road/Chapel Road.
- Coastliner 36 will operate hourly along the main road through Dersingham and Snettisham then Heacham and then continue at Hunstanton to Wells-next-the-Sea and Fakenham.

Coastliner 36 (King’s Lynn – Hunstanton – Wells – Fakenham)
- This will replace the King’s Lynn – Hunstanton - Wells-next-the-Sea section of the former Coasthopper route on an hourly frequency, 7 days per week (with extra buses at certain times to make the service up to every 30 minutes).
- At Wells-next-the-Sea the bus will continue onto Fakenham via Walsingham (also hourly) to provide a replacement for Stagecoach in Norfolk’s withdrawn Service 29.
- The Wells-next-the-Sea – Sheringham – Cromer section of route will be operated by Sanders Coaches. Information on Coasthopper tickets will be published at a later date.

Service 37 (King’s Lynn – Downham Market – Southery/Ten Mile Bank)
- There will be minor changes to the timetable of this service with buses at either end of the route departing five minutes earlier than currently.

Service 38 (King’s Lynn – Fair Green)
- No changes to route or times.

Service 39 (King’s Lynn – RAF Marham)
- Revised timetable with a slight reduction in frequency of buses on Monday to Fridays to reflect patronage of the service.

Service 42 (Fairstead Estate circular)
- Service introduced to replace withdrawn Stagecoach in Norfolk Service 1.
- Buses will operate every 20 minutes daytimes Monday to Saturday and every 30 minutes from 1800hrs to 2100hrs.
- On Sundays and Public Holidays the service will operate every 30 minutes.
- Unfortunately we’re not able to serve the King’s Reach section of this route due to the estates poor road design which means it’s not able to safely accommodate larger buses.

Service 43 (North Wootton – King Edward Academy School Bus)
- One return journey to/from school to replace the school bus 3 that was formerly operated by Stagecoach in Norfolk.
- The daytime North Wootton – Reffley – Gaywood – King’s Lynn service 3 will be provided by West Norfolk Community Transport.

Service 43A (Castle Rising to King’s Lynn)
- One Monday to Friday return shopping journey to town from Castle Rising and Wootton Road to replace part of the withdrawn Stagecoach Coasthopper R service which operated through Castle Rising village.

Service 46 (King’s Lynn – St Germans – Wisbech)
- Service introduced to replace Stagecoach in Norfolk Service 46 between Wisbech and King’s Lynn via St Germans.
- Service will operate hourly Monday – Friday and every 2 hours on Saturdays.
- The Wisbech to March section of the route will not be operated by Lynx. The Wisbech to Marshland High School journey is being operated by West Norfolk Community Transport.

Service X46 (Three Holes – Upwell - Outwell – Wisbech – CoWA)
- Service replaces withdrawn Service 67 with a revised timetable. The return journey from CoWA in the afternoon is numbered service 46.
- Revised route means that Emneth Hungate and Marshland St James are no longer served by this service. Norfolk County Council are looking to source a replacement service for this section of route.

Service 48 (King’s Lynn to Grimston)
- No changes to route or times.

Service 49 (King’s Lynn to Fakenham)
- Replaces King’s Lynn to Fakenham section of the former Stagecoach in Norfolk service X29.
- New timetable with buses running every two hours Monday – Saturday to reflect demand on this route.
- Fakenham to Norwich section of X29 will be operated by First.
Service 414 (Dersingham to Alderman Peel High School)
- No changes to route or times.

Please note that former Stagecoach in Norfolk services 2 (North Lynn), 3 (North Wootton), 4 (Pandora Meadows), 5 (Gaywood Park) will be operated by West Norfolk Community Transport. The Coasthopper services between Wells-next-the-Sea and Cromer will be operated by Sanders Coaches and Service X29 (Fakenham to Norwich) will be operated by First.


Four more albums have now been filled on the flickr site and focus their attention on the large presence of Go-Ahead North East in the city centre. These can all be accessed by clicking  here  here  here  and here

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Emirates Cable Car & Boris Bikes

Thames cable car set to be sold off and Boris bikes 'under review'

The boss of Transport for London has revealed that Boris Johnson’s cable car across the Thames is set to be sold off.

The former Tory mayor’s flagship bike hire-scheme could also eventually be phased out, Transport Commissioner Mike Brown said.
But he denied that TfL faced a financial crisis despite heading for a £1 billion operating deficit next year.

He insisted: “I’m very confident that we have a credible budget going forward”.
Mr Brown admitted there were tough times ahead for TfL, which is losing its £700 million grant from central government this year. However, it made savings of £135 million last year and is likely to cut even more this year.
He added that there was much to look forward to with the opening of the Elizabeth line later this year, station upgrades across the network and a £2.1 billion investment over five years in safer and healthier streets. He also insisted Crossrail 2 would happen despite the Government seemingly going cool on the idea.
Revealed that TfL’s “very best brains” were working on protecting the Underground from a cyber attack.
Claimed he had seen “positive evidence” of a change in tone from ride-hailing app Uber since revoking its licence.
Suggested relations with the unions had improved since Sadiq Khan had become Mayor with his “no strike” promise.
Mr Brown admitted he was prepared to make “tough” decisions about where the axe should fall to make ends meet. He has already “paused” upgrades of the Northern and Jubilee lines, scrapped all “non-essential” road repairs and is reviewing up to 6,000 jobs.
The flagship projects brought in by Mr Johnson, now Foreign Secretary, are set to come under review. The transport body could decide to scrap the Emirates cable car across the Thames, which opened in June 2012 in time for the Olympics, although it is marginally profitable. “That’s actually something we would consider but there is a timing issue,” he said.
He added that TfL would “absolutely” be prepared to sell the cable car, which has always had lower than hoped for passenger numbers, once it had paid back capital receipts on the project in 2021.  The £36 million, 10-year sponsorship deal agreed between Emirates and Mr Johnson expires at the same time.

Mr Brown also raised the prospect of phasing out the Boris bike hire scheme, if it had fulfilled its primary role of getting more Londoners cycling.
The decision will rest on the popularity of alternative dockless bike hire schemes and whether TfL feels it can continue to justify the cost, £21 million last year, of which TfL paid £3.6 million.
“It still fills a very important role but we have to keep this under review,” he said.


The first two albums from a visit to Newcastle are now in albums on the Focus Flickr site. They feature Arriva and a couple of other companies in one album and Stagecoach in the other. These can now be viewed by clicking  here  and  here