Thursday 31 May 2018

Elizabeth Line

Major milestone for Crossrail project as TfL takes over Paddington to Heathrow trains

A major milestone in the Crossrail project was reached recently as Transport for London began operating train services from Paddington to Heathrow from the 28th May.

The transport body took over the Heathrow Connect services between Paddington and Heathrow terminals two, three and four.
From the same day, TfL also took over the half hourly Great Western Railway (GWR) services from Paddington to Hayes and Harlington.
The services are now operated as TfL rail and become fully-fledged Elizabeth line services when the main launch occurs in central London in December.

Existing TfL rail trains will be used along the above routes for the time being and will eventually be replaced with the new Elizabeth line trains.
It was hoped the Elizabeth line trains could be rolled out on the route to Heathrow this month but TfL has faced some teething problems because of the complexity of train signalling and software on the branch of the line.
Val Shawcross, London’s deputy mayor for transport, said: “The opening of the Elizabeth line this year will transform travel across London, and TfL taking over services to Heathrow is a major milestone in the project.
“People travelling to Heathrow will now be able to benefit from Oyster, contactless technology and cheaper fares, providing a better service for thousands of Londoners and visitors every week.”
Howard Smith, operations director for TfL Rail, said: “Taking over the services to Heathrow is another step towards opening London's new railway. Customers will see staff at every station and will be able to use Oyster and contactless payments all the way to the airport.”

Crossrail in numbers

90 per cent – the project is over 90 per cent complete
Number 1 – Crossrail is currently Europe’s largest infrastructure project
10,000 – People working on the project at peak
100 million – working hours have been completed on the Crossrail project so far
10 per cent extra capacity – the Elizabeth line will add to central London’s rail capacity
200 million – annual passengers who will use the Elizabeth line every year
118km – the distance the Elizabeth line will run between Reading and Heathrow in the west, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east
41 stations – Crossrail is building 10 brand new stations and upgrading 30 more
£14.8 billion – funding envelope for the project
57km – new track being installed
1,500km – of cabling being laid to connect the railways signalling and communications systems
More than 200 million passengers will be carried through 26 miles of tunnels on the Elizabeth line every year, adding 10 per cent to central London’s rail capacity once it is fully completed.
The £14.8 billion rail line will run from Reading and Heathrow in the west, to Shenfield and Abbey Wood in the east, slashing journey times into central London.
Fares on the Elizabeth Line will match Tube prices across most of London, but Heathrow passengers will be charged a premium.
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.
Trains will begin operating from Paddington to Abbey Wood through the new central London tunnels in December 2018.
Elizabeth lines services will begin operating from Paddington to Shenfield in May 2019 and the full through service will be in place by December of that year.

Wednesday 30 May 2018

Britain's 'most scenic' bus route revealed

A double-decker serving the North York Moors has been crowned the "most scenic" bus route in Britain.

The route is currently operated by a fleet of relatively new Wright Eclipse Gemini 3 bodied Volvo B5L double-decks like number 3234, here within the confines of Leeds bus station from where the service commences

The 840 Coastliner runs from Leeds to the coastal town of Whitby. But it's the leg that crosses the moorland, from Pickering via Goathland and Sleights, that has earned the service the prize.
At the wheel, driver Adam Davis knows why: "You can get some misty days when you come out on top but on a clear day the colours up here are forever changing.
"People do come from all over the world to ride this route. Every day is a joy."
The award was devised by campaigner and bus enthusiast Paul Kirby and has been run by Bus Users UK.
"I've been travelling up and down the country by bus for many years and on fantastic routes like this one the scenery is just spectacular," he says.
"Rural communities do need bus services and they are a lifeline for many people. So I felt they deserved a little publicity to attract new passengers."
Mr Kirby did not just want to encourage people out of their cars but also to cherish services when funding has been squeezed.
The 840 runs four times a day, is completely commercial and run by Transdev. But it relies on subsidies in winter time and reimbursement by the local authority for the many users with a bus pass.
Les and Janet use it to get to their caravan in Thornton-le-Dale: "We've been using it for a long time, all on our bus pass. If we did not have the bus we would not get out because fuel is so dear."
Kate has epilepsy so cannot drive: "It's important for me to get to places I've been visiting all my life - I would not be able to get to the outdoors, which I love very much."

The latest Volvos have replaced most of the previous fleet of Wright Eclipse Gemini bodied Volvo B9TL double-decks such as number 423, as it approached the bus station at Whitby, prior to the long haul back to Leeds in 2011
One pensioner always makes it up to the top deck so she can enjoy the best views from the front seat. Another even said her dog refuses to hop on any other bus.
But as loved as it is, services like this one are under threat.
Last year more than 500 routes in England and Wales were reduced or completely withdrawn and now fewer than half of people living in villages have access to a bus service, according to the Campaign for Better Transport.
About £30m was cut from local authority subsidies in 2016-17 - with shire councils in rural England the hardest hit. The campaign group says those cuts have continued this year too.
"Tragically once these routes are lost they are usually lost forever, leaving whole communities looking like 'transport deserts'," says Steve Chambers, the group's public transport campaigner.
"We hear frequently from older people who are struggling to access shops and doctors' surgeries and young people cut off from colleges and jobs. Buses are a lifeline and must be preserved."
The Department for Transport says it provides £250m a year for bus services, which supports free off-peak bus travel for 10m older people and the disabled.
"Long-term social and economic factors are affecting levels of bus usage but it is for local authorities to decide which bus operations to support in their areas," it says.In another part of North Yorkshire, volunteers have stepped in to provide services between villages and across the National Park, where some local people feel abandoned.
"We rattled a cap until we found enough money to keep a service running," says Eden Blyth, from Moors Bus, which runs a handful of services over weekends.
"We take people where they want and they have to come first. I think they'll always be needed and we are happy to do it."
His team are now hoping to tap into the hiking community to boost passenger numbers and keep the wheels turning.
But the volunteers and paid driver Adam Davis both agree - there's no other routes they'd rather ride. So a prize that celebrates those services can only be a boost.

Early days of the route saw it operated by single-decks, one such being Wright Endurance bodied Volvo B10B number 454, here on the approach to Goathland back in July 1996

The route dates back to many years before the Transdev Yorkshire Coastliner operation an example here from the days of the National Bus Company during the 1970s and 80s.

The West Yorkshire Road Car Company ran a route 291 from Leeds to Whitby via much the same roads as today's 840. Fleet number 2508 an Eastern Coachworks bodied Bristol RELH6G, encountered local hostilities and a face-off in the North yorkshire Moors village of Goathland during August 1979. The village found fame years later as the setting for the 1960s period television series 'Heartbeat'. It became known as 'Aidensfield' when filming occurred for 372 episodes from 1992-2010  

Tuesday 29 May 2018

New Matlock town services

From today (Tuesday 29th May), Stagecoach has increased operations in Matlock by the mild introduction of two town routes M1 to Asker Lane and Cavendish Park and the M4 to Hurst Farm Estate. Both run during the daytime Monday-Friday on contract to the Derbyshire County Council and serve the Sainsburys superstore and bus/rail interchange.
One of the Chesterfield Stonegravels existing 2006 Optare Solos has been branded as 'Matlockbus', and interworks both routes from 0845-1745 hours. It has received a select egistration.

The two routes were previously operated by GJ Holmes who last ran them on the Saturday just passed.

The other route currently operated to serve the town is the hourly X17 route from Sheffield and Chesterfield, again operated by the Stonegravels depot, and is run by bigger buses in the shape of a fleet of Alexander Enviro400 bodied Scania double-decks.

However, this is not the first time buses from Chesterfield have run services in the town. Stagecoach had taken over the East Midland Motor Services operation based at the New Street depot and utilised a number of midibuses, like the following Reeve Burgess bodied Iveco.

Around the same time and before Chesterfield Transport was taken over by Stagecoach, the company's subsidiary Whites of Calver ran a number of the town's services to the surrounding area. This included midibuses such as Carlyle bodied Freight Rover Sherpa and larger Leyland Nationals.

Any resident or visitor to the town will no doubt have observed the expansion in progress, with a number of housing projects on various sites. This may well have an impact on future bus service development and provision.

Monday 28 May 2018


DATE FOR THE DIARY - Sunday 3rd June - Torbay

It's almost time for us to return back again to the Torbay coast and the seaside with the "Torbay Express" on Sunday 3rd June.

Kicking off the Torbay programme for 2018, our tour will start and finish at Bristol Temple Meads with a route via Bath Spa, Trowbridge, Westbury and Taunton as we head to our destination of Kingswear via PDSR metals.

Also taking place on the 3rd is the "Torbay Airshow" which will host an exciting array of aircraft for everyone to enjoy. Its free to attend so why not combine the two and book on this tour today for a really memorable day at the seaside!

Further details and tickets for the railtour can be found at

For more on the Torbay Airshow, visit for more details.

DATE FOR THE DIARY - Sunday 3rd June 2018 - Reading

DATE FOR THE DIARY - Sundays 24th June to 1st July - Worth Valley

DATE FOR THE DIARY - Saturday 7th July - Bournemouth

DATE FOR THE DIARY - Sunday 8th July - Hemel Hempstead

Sunday 27 May 2018

ScotRail 385 Windscreen Problem Solved

A new fleet of electric trains are to finally enter service on the main Edinburgh-Glasgow line after the fitment of a modified windscreen by Hitachi.This is expected "over the coming months" once driver training has been completed.The introduction of the Hitachi trains has been delayed for months because drivers said they could not see signals clearly through the curved windscreens.

A new flat windscreen has been fitted to one of the trains, which ScotRail said had been tested successfully this week. The first of the class 385 trains should have started carrying passengers on ScotRail's flagship route last September.
Perry Ramsey, operations director of the ScotRail Alliance with track body Network Rail, said today: "We have trialled the modified driver's windscreen on the new class 385 trains this week.
"The feedback from all parties including [train drivers' union] Aslef was that the flat windscreen manufactured by the existing supplier would be fit for purpose."The position of the windscreen proving has been deemed successful using this flat windscreen and the issue of multiple images has been resolved. "As a consequence, ScotRail intends to start the process of driver training and introducing the class 385 into passenger service over the coming months."

ScotRail has been forced to lease a stand-in fleet of ten trains because of the delay, which are expected to start carrying passengers from July.
This is because some of its other trains have been transferred to other operators after their leases expired.
A total of 70 class 385s have been ordered, which will also run on lines across the Central Belt, including to Dunblane and Alloa once electrification of those lines has been completed.
Aslef Scottish organiser Kevin Lindsay said: “I’m happy a practical solution has been found to fix the sighting issues on these trains.
"We will work with ScotRail to get these trains introduced as quickly as possible.
A ScotRail Alliance spokesman said: "Good progress has been made to resolve the problem with the windscreen.
"We will continue to support Hitachi, and work with our trade union colleagues, to get these brand new electric trains into service as soon as possible."


Another set of minis and midibuses has been addedto the site, this time focussed on the London area. Now in an album, these can be viewed by clicking  here

Saturday 26 May 2018

Go North East honours Fifth Fusiliers with 50th anniversary bus

To mark the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers’ 50th anniversary, Go North East has branded a commemorative bus.
The Regiment’s anniversary year goes under the title of Fusilier 50 and to commemorate this major milestone there will be a yearlong programme of events taking place throughout the country in its key recruiting areas, including Newcastle.

As a bronze partner of the Armed Forces Covenant’s employer recognition scheme with several ex-military personnel within its workforce, including former-Fusiliers, Go North East has branded a vehicle from its fleet, to mark the historic occasion.
A Volvo B5, double decker bus has been wrapped in the regimental colours of rose and primrose on a striking black background and features the Fusilier 50 logo. In service now, the replacement service can be seen transporting passengers across Tyne and Wear.
LieutenantColonel Steve Burton MBE, who recently became Commanding Officer of the Fifth Fusiliers said: “We are delighted to have a dedicated branded bus for the Regiment in this, our 50th anniversary year. The North East is a key recruiting area for the regiment and where our reservists the Fifth Fusiliers are based so it’s an honour to have this major milestone recognised in this way. A huge thank you to all
The team at Go North East for their support for the Regiment and we all look forward to seeing our bus in service throughout 2018.”
Kevin Carr, Managing Director of Go North East added: “We take our role in the community very seriously and are always looking at ways to be involved with initiatives which not only have regional importance but that our customers and team members are passionate about too.
“That’s why we were so keen to celebrate the Fusilier’s 50th anniversary as several of our team members previously worked in the military, including a number of former Fusiliers. We’re glad we can help promote the occasion in this way and show our continued support to current and ex-service men and women in the North East.”
With a regional workforce of over 2000 local people, Go North East has been successful in actively recruiting new drivers and engineers who held previous roles in the military.
Former 1st Battalion Fusilier, Michael Sparkes has been a bus driver at Go North East’s flagship Riverside depot in Gateshead, since 2009.
With 23-years served in the Army, joining at 16 and hanging up his boots aged 40, Michael has the British Forces in his blood. He said: “My dad was a Paratrooper, my brother was also in the Fusiliers and now my son is joining the Military Police. Being in the Fusiliers is like having an extended family, there’s always someone for you to help, or someone to support you and that’s what’s also great about working at Go North East.
“Looking for a new job was hard. Most companies wanted at least two years’ experience and after working away for so long, including two tours in Iraq, I wanted to be home in the North East. The funny thing is, when I applied for the driver role, I had every driving qualification available, except for a bus!”
Now, with almost a decade spent on the frontline of Go North East’s regionwide services, Michael is grateful to have a job that offers security and a strong team culture. He added: “As a Fusilier, I trained recruits, served in Northern Ireland, Bosnia, Kosovo – always under fire, and I miss the action, but with Go North East I’m grateful to have a job for life.”
Receiving a Long Service Award from Go North East this year, in recognition of three decades dedicated to the job, bus driver Stephen Lowery joined the company immediately after leaving the 3rdFusiliers in 1987.
The 61-year-old, who lives in Blyth with his partner, recalls being eager to follow in the footsteps of his older brothers, beginning his Army career aged 17. He said: “I remember my brothers serving in Northern Ireland, but I wasn’t old enough to join the conflict - you had to be 18. I saw my fair share of action later - helping tourists during the invasion of Cyprus, three tours of Northern Ireland, and a four-year posting in Germany. Some of the best years of my life were spent in the Fusiliers with getting married, and the comradeship. I’m still great friends with a few of the lads.”
Based at Go North East’s Percy Main depot, Stephen has seen a lot of change in the bus industry over the past 30 years, but still believes the role is a great option for veterans. He finished: “Go North East is a good local employer and as a driver, you can be part of a team but still have independence. If that’s what you like and are used to being out and about, it’s ideal.”
The Royal Regiment of Fusiliers, known as ‘The Fusiliers’, is an English infantry Regiment in the British Army, formed from four historic Fusilier Regiments in 1968. Since then, the Fusiliers have seen service across the world in Northern Ireland, Cyprus, the Balkans, the 1st and 2nd Gulf Wars and Afghanistan. The Regiment has two battalions – First Fusiliers in Tidworth and Fifth Fusiliers in Newcastle – and both adapt readily to challenging scenarios.


It's another set of mini and midi buses that we focus our sights upon a regiment of colour, these being the fourth set from the UK provinces. Now in an album they can be viewed by clicking  here

Friday 25 May 2018

Go Ahead Trading Update

The Go-Ahead Group plc has announced its trading update for the period from 31 December 2017 to 23 May 2018. The next scheduled market update is the Group's full year results for the year ending 30 June 2018 which will be released on 6 September 2018. 

The year to date growth rates shown in this statement are for the period from 2 July 2017 to 28 April 2018. 
Overall full year expectations for bus unchanged; uplift in rail
Record customer satisfaction in our regional bus business
London bus expectations improved, with strong Quality Incentive Contract income in the period
Successful bid for a second bus tender in Dublin
Southeastern franchise extended to April 2019; bid submitted for new franchise

Go-Ahead Group Chief Executive, David Brown, said:

"In a challenging market environment with reduced retail footfall and pressures on local authority budgets, our businesses have performed well overall.
 "In bus, our London operations have seen an improvement in service performance resulting in higher Quality Incentive Contract income. Revenue and passenger trends remain mixed across our regional bus businesses.
"In rail, trading has been good in the period, largely due to efficiency improvements and helped by the resumption of full Southeastern services through London Bridge station. In partnership with the industry, this week we began the introduction of the largest timetable change in decades. The modernisation of the network will lead to new routes, greater connectivity and increased peak frequency through central London with the new technology of automatic train operation.
"As part of our strategy to develop for the future of transport, we announced the UK's largest demand responsive trial of high-quality minibuses in Oxford - called 'Pick Me Up' - which will begin operating next month. Passengers will use an app to route journeys according to their needs. We are also working with logistics partners including a pilot at our Crawley depot to manage deliveries in the area.
"The Board is confident the Group will deliver full year results that are slightly ahead of its previous expectations."



Year to date underlying growth rates*
Passenger journeys
* Revenue and passenger journey growth rates exclude the impact of a programme of route restructuring (estimated at -0.5%). This principally reflects reductions to the route network in East Anglia

Revenue and passenger journey growth trends in regional bus remain subject to challenging market conditions with the adverse weather dampening growth rates since the half-year. Across the division growth continues in some regions and regional bus profit for the second half of the year is expected to be close to last year's level.

The customer-centric approach resulted in Go-Ahead achieving the highest-ever passenger satisfaction score from Transport Focus (91%), including achieving the highest scores for punctuality and journey time.


Year to date growth rates
Peak vehicle requirement (PVR)**
*Includes Singapore bus for the period from January in both years.
** Peak vehicle requirement is the number of vehicles required to operate the highest service frequency on a route. This measure provides a useful indication of the volume of contract work being operated from one year to the next.    
In London bus, mileage was flat and peak vehicle requirement was down as expected. Continued improvements in operational performance resulted in strong Quality Incentive Contract income and was recognised by Go-Ahead winning Bus Operator of the Year at the London Transport Awards. The timing of some contract losses means that full year mileage is likely to be down by up to one per cent.

Strong financial discipline in bidding against a backdrop of budget pressure for Transport for London with anticipated medium-term impacts on PVR and mileage.  Looking ahead, fewer contracts are coming up for renewal over the next two financial years. Therefore significantly lower levels of capital expenditure are expected giving corresponding increases in free cash flow in those years.
The bus operation in Singapore, reported within the London bus division, continues to perform well, delivering high levels of punctuality on behalf of the Land Transport Authority. 

The second half of the year is expected to deliver operating profitability at London bus that is comparable to the first half, representing an improvement on previous expectations.

The rail division operates the Southeastern and GTR franchises through our 65% owned subsidiary Govia.

Year to date growth rates
Passenger revenue
Passenger journeys

Underlying passenger journeys and revenue growth have improved since the half year, having recovered well from a reduction in journeys during the Christmas period. This was boosted by the resumption of full services through London Bridge station, after three years of partial closure. Continued good progress in the delivery of the efficiency programme has led to an increase in our profit expectations for the year.
During the period, the DfT confirmed a 12-week extension to the current Southeastern franchise to 1 April 2019. Customer satisfaction and reliability has steadily improved over the past four years and the company will continue to focus on delivering the best possible service for passengers through the extension period. Govia has been shortlisted for the next South Eastern franchise to be awarded by the DfT in the Autumn.


Go Ahead continue to deliver improvements on GTR with higher passenger satisfaction levels on Thameslink service than at any point since 1999, according to the latest National Rail Passenger Satisfaction (NRPS) survey which showed an 83% overall satisfaction rate, an increase of 10% over the previous year.
New trains, more punctual services, better information and more helpful staff have helped to improve results according to the independent national passenger watchdog Transport Focus. Better punctuality on Southern has also seen passenger satisfaction climb by 7% over the previous year to 72%. 
The introduction earlier this week of the largest timetable change in decades boosts capacity for our passengers with almost 400 more trains running every day and space into London for an extra 50,000 passengers in the morning peak.
Discussions with the DfT regarding a number of contractual variations are ongoing.
International development
The Group was made preferred bidder for a second bus tender in Dublin by Ireland's National Transport Authority. This will bring the total number of routes operated by Go-Ahead in the Irish capital to 30. The contract will run for five years from early 2019 with a possible two-year extension. The mobilisation of existing Dublin bus contract and German rail contracts continue to progress ahead of their respective 2018 and 2019 start dates. Meanwhile, the group development team continues to pursue value adding opportunities in current and new international markets, where there is a strong pipeline of bid opportunities in both bus and rail.

Thursday 24 May 2018

London bus routes speed assessment

London's slowest bus revealed: Number 15 from Tower Hill to Trafalgar Square crawls at 4.9mph - slower than a mouse

From a report in the Daily Mail

  • Number 15H bus runs between Tower Hill and Trafalgar Square via Fleet Street
  • Service crawls at 4.9mph, making it slower than a running mouse or chicken
  • Route operates with a heritage Routemaster but travels at 1.5x walking speed 
  • London bus passengers travelled at average of 10.6mph from 2017 to 2018

Britain's slowest bus has been revealed to be slower than a mouse or a chicken.
Many commuters could travel faster by donkey than if they take the number 15H bus that runs between Tower Hill and Trafalgar Square via Fleet Street in London. 
The service crawls along the capital at just 4.9mph, making it slower than a running mouse, which can sprint at 8mph, or a chicken, which can do 9mph.

The number 15H bus runs between Tower Hill and Trafalgar Square via Fleet Street in London
The route, which operates with a heritage Routemaster vehicle, also travels at only 1.5 times the average walking speed, hardly making it ideal for those in a rush.
The 15H, which is the only preserved AEC Routemaster route in London, copies a 2.5-mile central route taken by the 15 from Blackwall station to Charing Cross station.
This means it takes about 30 minutes for the bus to complete the route - which could be completed in just under 20 minutes by a continually sprinting mouse.
Therefore, in theory, by the time the mouse completes the route, the bus running towards Trafalgar Square would have only made it to the Royal Courts of Justice.

It takes about 30 minutes for the bus to complete the route from Tower Hill to Trafalgar Square - which could be completed in just under 20 minutes by a continually sprinting mouse

It takes about 30 minutes for the bus to complete the route from Tower Hill to Trafalgar Square - which could be completed in just under 20 minutes by a continually sprinting mouse


The top ten slowest bus routes in London 

1) 15H: Tower Hill to Trafalgar Square - heritage Routemaster (4.9mph)
2) 656: Emerson Park School to Gallows Corner - school special (5.1mph)
3) 65X: Ealing Broadway to Gunnersbury Park - London Mela special (5.8mph)
4) 11: Fulham Town Hall to Great Winchester Street (5.9mph)
5) 14: Putney Heath to Warren Street Station (6.1mph)
6=) 38: Clapton Pond to Victoria Bus Station (6.4mph)
6=) 655: Mitcham to Raynes Park High School (6.4mph)
8=) 15: Blackwall Station to Charing Cross Station (6.6mph)
8=) 22: Putney Common to Oxford Circus (6.6mph)
8=) 23: Westbourne Park to Aldwych (6.6mph)


The top ten fastest bus routes in London 

1) 637: Kemnal College, Sidcup to Grove Park Station - school special (22.3mph)
2) 636: Kemnal College, Sidcup to Grove Park Station - school special (19.6mph)
3) N33: Hammersmith to Fulwell (19.1mph)
4) N34: Barnet High Street to Walthamstow Bus Station (18.5mph)
5) N321: Foots Cray Tesco to New Cross Sainsbury's (18.4mph)
6) N119: Bromley North Station to Purley Way (18.4mph)
7) N213: Kingston to Sutton Bus Garage (17.9mph)
8) N111: Kingston to Heathrow Central Station (17.9mph)
9) 246: Bromley North Station to Chartwell (17.9mph)
10) N22: Twickenham to Oxford Circus (17.7mph)

Buses on the 15H route run every 20 minutes from 9.30am to 6.30pm, allowing people to travel on the iconic Associated Equipment Company Routemasters.
The next slowest buses is a school special - the 656 from Emerson Park School in Upminster, Essex, which runs to Gallows Corner at an average of just 5.1mph.
The third slowest is the 65X special from Ealing Broadway to Gunnersbury Park that runs once a year for the London Mela Asian festival, running at 5.8mph.
In fourth place is the 11 from Fulham Town Hall to Great Winchester Street at 5.9mph, then in fifth is the 14 from Putney Heath to Warren Street at 6.1mph.

Buses on the 15H route run every 20 minutes from 9.30am to 6.30pm, allowing people to travel on the iconic Associated Equipment Company Routemasters
Bus speed data from Transport for London shows passengers travelled at an average speed of 10.6mph on buses between April 2017 to March 2018.
Richard Freeston-Clough, from the London TravelWatch watchdog, said: 'We remain very concerned about bus speeds and therefore journey times for London's bus passengers. It is a significant reason for the decline in ridership.
TfL and the London boroughs must do much more than they are in terms of bus priority on the streets buses use 
Richard Freeston-Clough, London TravelWatch
'We have noted that there has been an upturn in speeds in the last few quarters on some routes, but this is nowhere near up to the speeds of four years ago.
'In the short term TfL and the London boroughs must do much more than they are in terms of bus priority on the streets buses use.'
Claire Mann, director of bus operations at TfL, said: 'Buses in London are more reliable than ever and after more than 120 schemes to give buses priority and a thorough review of traffic light timings, speeds are improving.
'We remain committed to improving journeys for Londoners, so we're investing millions of pounds into bus priority measures, coordinating roadworks better and improving how we manage our road network.'

Want more information on the full London bus scene, then why not view 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

Wednesday 23 May 2018

Operator change for trains in Wales

Wales' trains to be run by European firms KeolisAmey

A contract to run Wales' rail service for the next 15 years has been awarded to two European firms, who will run it jointly.
France's Keolis and Spanish-owned Amey's bid triumphed over a rival offer from Hong Kong's MTR commuter railways.
It will also drive forward the the south Wales Metro project, worth £5bn.
The company said while the changes would not happen overnight Wales' railway "would be unrecognisable" in five years time.
It already runs Greater Manchester Metrolink and London's Docklands Light Railway.

But full details of KeolisAmey's plans for Wales will not be revealed until next month.
This is to allow for the potential challenge to the process by the other bidder.
An official announcement was made today (Wednesday 23rd May) after a bidding process which started with four companies.
Arriva, the transport company which has run the Wales and Borders franchise for the last 15 years, pulled out of the running in December.
KeolisAmey is expected to have included other forms of transport - including so-called "active" travel like cycling - in its overall proposals.
There is £5bn earmarked over the next 15 years for the Metro, to improve public transport across the south Wales region and includes taking over control from Network Rail and upgrading the Valleys lines.
Their vision for meeting this challenge - when it is eventually unveiled - will be particular interest to business and commuters alike.
But they have already promised "transformative solutions" for all in Wales and future generations.
The new franchise will come into effect from October 2018, replacing the one run by Arriva Trains Wales for the last 15 years.

Transport for Wales (TfW) - which is advising the Welsh Government on the contract - said the new franchise holder will be held to account on issues like punctuality, cleanliness and service quality - or they will not get paid.
But there will be challenges ahead in terms of rising passenger numbers, which have nearly doubled in the last 15 years.
Since Arriva started running the franchise, passenger journeys have risen from 18m in 2003 to more than 30m a year in 2017, but the contract with Arriva was based on zero growth in usage - which means they are stuck with the same number of trains they had in 2003.
This has led to complaints about overcrowding and ageing carriages.
Economy Secretary Ken Skates said: "Throughout the procurement process we have prioritised investment in the quality of trains, stations and services for the Wales and Borders Rail Service and South Wales Metro.
"We are grateful to all those who have participated in the procurement process."
He said no further comment would be made until the end of the 10-day standstill period.
Andy Milner, Amey's chief executive, said: "While the proposed changes won't happen overnight, the railway will be unrecognisable in five years thanks to the vision of the Welsh Government."
He added they would focus on working with TfW to transform the existing infrastructure and introduce new trains to "significantly improve the passenger experience" as well as creating hundreds of new jobs and apprenticeships.
Alistair Gordon, chief executive of Keolis UK, said it would be a transformative new rail service and see it combine its worldwide expertise in passenger operations with Amey's "engineering excellence".
Both politicians and the rail operator alike will hope the system will be the most attractive option for travellers.
TfW will regulate fares and they will not be expected to rise more than inflation.
But new trains might take at least a couple of years to appear.

Tuesday 22 May 2018

Robin Hood Line Diversion

Planning consent to expand Derbyshire quarry will result in the diversion of the rail line which runs between Nottingham and Worksop. The Robin Hood line which runs through a tunnel in this area will have to be re-routed to the south of the present alignment to allow expansion of the quarry. The current rail tunnel site will be mined for a further 6.8 million tonnes of high-quality stone.

The 472-acre Whitwell Quarry has been mined since the 1950s and is one of just two sites in the UK which extract high-quality dolomite. Roughly one million tonnes are quarried each year at the site, which supports more than 220 jobs and brings in £6 million a year for the local economy. Owners Tarmac has now been given planning permission by Derbyshire County Council to extend the site in four areas. Approving the plans, county council officers wrote: “The development hereby approved comprises both a continuation of mineral winning and working at Whitwell Quarry, and an extension of the mineral winning and working onto four areas of land known as the north, northeast, east and southeast extensions.” The latest extension will give four or five more years of service at the site, although it is thought the quarry will remain in use until 2040 with final restoration of the site being completed by 2043.
The original plans were given the green light in the Review of Old Minerals Permissions in 1957, with further revisions in 1984, 1998 and 2006. Tarmac wrote in the recently approved planning application: “The working of the rail tunnel reserves will remove the long-term tunnel maintenance obligation from Network Rail and will result in an improved landform for the restored site. “Taking into account the remaining reserves and the proposed extension areas, it is anticipated that the life of the site for the extraction and sale of mineral will extend to 2033 for kiln feed stone and 2040 for civils stone. “Final restoration of the site will take a further three years and would be completed by 2043.”

The majority of the main quarry area has been excavated and is partially backfilled with quarry waste, kiln dust from the adjacent lime kiln and colliery spoil. Nearly 70 conditions have been attached to the approval of the latest plans for four new extensions to ensure that the quarry is restored on time and that blasting only takes place between reasonable hours, along with many more issues, such as dust control. The planning officers said: “The development hereby approved shall be completed no later than December 31, 2043. “On, or before that date, the extraction of minerals shall have ceased, all plant, machinery, structures, buildings, access and haul roads shall have been removed, and the whole site shall have been restored in accordance with the further conditions of this permission.”

Monday 21 May 2018

ADL Enviro400's for Southern Transit

Southern Transit, a unique transport business based in West Sussex and famed for its diverse mix of iconic and new-generation vehicles, has taken a giant step into the future with the introduction of two state-of-the-art Enviro400 City buses from Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL). 

Ten years after acquiring the business Neil Bird describes the new double decks as “the start of the next chapter”, as he bids to create and exploit a niche market for high capacity excursion vehicles that offer luxury and all mod cons. 
He commented: “We have spent 10 grueling years steering the business in the right direction and progressively establishing a reputation for exceptional customer service, whether it be for private hires, school contracts, corporate events, rail replacement work or operating public service routes across West and East Sussex. “Part of our modus operandi is that we offer affordable, high performance buses and coaches alongside a range of iconic, historic vehicles, and that approach is endorsed today with the introduction of our new Enviro400s. “They represent the start of the next chapter for our business, as we grow and exploit what I am convinced is a niche sector with huge potential. There is a definite gap in the market for modern, yet stylish eco-friendly buses that offer luxury, high capacity and are ahead of their time.” Neil added: “To exploit this opportunity to the full we are also launching a new marketing initiative today under the banner of ‘Splendid Trips’ which will promote our new focus on private hires to London and across the southern counties. As part of this effort we will also be branding our new double decks as ‘Citymaster’ vehicles, again combining traditional and modern.” In terms of promoting “the new”, the 10.8m Enviro400 City is bristling with design and technology features and does exactly that. Southern Transit’s new additions incorporate:

 Wi-Fi and USB charging points at all 72 passenger seats.  Glazed stairwells with illuminated glass.  LED lights at staircase steps.  Panoramic windows and sky view glazing on the upper deck.  High back seats with three-point safety belts.  A London Routemaster tartan trim on all seats.  Four centrally located meeting tables on the upper deck.  No seat-to-roof hand poles on the upper deck, creating clear lines of vision. These are replaced with hand grips built into the seat backs.  Wireless bell pushes.  Under-seat lighting.  Passenger information systems linked to 19” screens.  Two-tone wood effect flooring throughout.  Disabled access, wheelchair space and vehicle lowering system.

Martin Brailey, ADL’s Sales Director for London and the South, commented: “We are delighted to be working with Southern Transit on this breakthrough project. Passengers today are unquestionably more demanding. They want luxury, innovative design, the very latest in technology, and a passenger experience that is second to none. “Southern Transit has raised the bar with the specification they have determined for their new Enviro400 City vehicles. They are bristling with design innovation and forefront technology and, put simply, are among the most advanced, low emission, two-axle double decks in the world.” He added: “There is growing evidence of real business opportunities for those prepared to invest in class-leading, high capacity buses that set the pace in terms of passenger numbers, comfort and vehicle performance, and I’m sure Southern Transit will reap the rewards. “This is a very significant investment by Neil Bird and his team, however it is also the ideal vehicle upon which to launch their exciting ‘Splendid Trips’ business venture. We wish them well.” 

Mark Lyons has kindly provided a further set of pictures to illustrate the vehicles both outside and in. Note the nod to earlier bus production in the registration marks.

Sunday 20 May 2018

Latest London Bus Contract awards

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

3       (Trafalgar Square & Crystal Palace) and
N3    (Oxford Circus & Bromley North Station) Both LBSL (QC) contracts re-awarded to Abellio using existing fleet 2016 Euro-VI New Routemaster double-decks (contracts start date 9th January 2019)

104   (Stratford & Manor Park Station)  LBSL contract awarded to Go-Ahead Docklands Buses using existing fleet 2011 Euro-V diesel double-decks. Currently operated by Stagecoach East London ADL Trident and E40D diesel ouble-decks from West Ham (WH) Garage (8th December 2018)

300   (Canning Town & East Ham) LBSL (QC) contract re-awarded to Go-Ahead Blue Triangle using existing fleet 2011 Euro-V diesel single-decks (8th December 2018)

304   New LBSL (QC) contracted route from Manor Park to Custom House awarded to Go-Ahead Docklands Buses using existing fleet 2011 Euro-V diesel double-decks (8th January 2019)

493   (Manor Cross & Tooting)  LBSL (QC) contract re-awarded to Go-Ahead London General using existing fleet 2012 Euro-V diesel single-decks (30th March 2019)

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