Tuesday 31 July 2018

Plans for Next Phase of East West Rail Link Submitted

THE second phase of a new Oxford to Cambridge rail link could begin next year after Network Rail submitted plans to the Government.
Phase one - between Oxford and Bicester - was completed in December 2016 and the next phase, to be delivered by 2024, will see Bicester linked with Buckinghamshire.

The proposed works will see major improvements to local travel, with the phased introduction of new rail journeys between:
Oxford and Milton Keynes, with trains stopping at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow and Bletchley
Oxford and Bedford, with trains stopping at Oxford Parkway, Bicester, Winslow, Bletchley, Woburn Sands and Ridgmont
Milton Keynes and Aylesbury, with trains stopping at Bletchley, Winslow and Aylesbury Vale Parkway

But a decision on the route of a £3bn Oxford to Cambridge expressway, also part of a Government's growth plan for the region, has been delayed.
Campaigners have called for the road element of the plan to be scrapped or to run alongside the railway and not plough through the countryside.
County councillor, John Howson, said funding for the rail link should be prioritised ahead of the controversial £3bn expressway scheme.
He said: "East West Rail is not yet a done deal and could be at risk if other projects such as HS2 overspend.
"The Growth Board meeting next week should urge the Secretary of State to put aside funds for Phase 2 of East West Rail as a better option than an expensive road link between Oxford and Milton Keynes."
He also called for more platform space at Oxford to be included in the plans.
He said: "The project, along with the reopening of the Cowley Branch Line requires more platform space at Oxford and that requirement should be added to the Phase 2 proposals as a matter of urgency."
Peter Rutt, chairman of Expressway Action Group, which represents 38 village in Oxfordshire, welcomed the news.
But he said it was crucial the expressway corridor, which may not be chosen until September, ran alongside the railway.
He said: "It's good that rail link is moving forward, it will take a lot of pressure of the expressway and the two will complement each other.
"We feel the rail link and expressway should be broadly aligned, as was the National Infrastructure Commission's original idea.
"It should use existing roads, improving them, rather than building an expensive new road through the countryside - it would save at least £500m."
Chairman of the East West Rail consortium, councillor Mark Shaw, said: "East West Rail will drastically reduce journey times within the region, bringing key economic and cultural centres within easy reach of each other."

All submission documents can be seen here


Staying with railways, the blockade of Derby Railway Station began in earnest on the 30th July, when various rail replacement bus and coach services were implemented. East Midland Trains and Cross Country Trains between Sheffield and Derby were each diverted via the Erewash Valley Line, and Stagecoach supplied a fleet of coaches for the replacement from around the empire. On the first day a couple of hours at Chesterfield Station provided photographers the splendid sight of various tri-axle double and single-deck coaches in service, which now in an album, can be viewed by clicking  here

Monday 30 July 2018

Volvo Electric Bus Fleet Unveiled in Harrogate

The Harrogate Bus Company has unveiled their all-electric Volvo7900e-buses destined to create Britain’s first low emission bus town.

The Transdev-led initiative is a joint investment of almost £4 million is bringing eight new high-tech “Harrogate Electrics” single deck buses to the town, after the operator became the only bus firm in Yorkshire to win funding of £2.25 million from the Government’s Low Emission Bus Scheme.

The ground-breaking fully electric buses are delivering a silent revolution in the Swedish city of Gothenburg, where they have proved so quiet in operation that a bus stop has been placed inside the city’s university library.
Now the buses, which will operate under the name “Harrogate Electrics” are to enter service for the first time in the UK next month on three urban routes in the North Yorkshire spa town, as soon as upgraded power supplies are in place.
  Andrew Jones MP, Nusrat Ghani and Alex Hornby
at the launch of the new fleet

The Harrogate Bus Company CEO Alex Hornby said: “It’s the technology which powers these new buses – using ‘opportunity charging’ via masts on three departure stands in Harrogate Bus Station – which really sets these buses apart from anything seen before in this country. We’re immensely proud to be first in the UK to introduce these amazing new buses and in the process, achieve our vision of creating Britain’s first Low Emission Bus Town right here in Harrogate.”
The company has worked closely with manufacturer Volvo on a bespoke specification for the new buses, packed with customer-friendly features including ‘countdown to departure’ destination displays, audio-visual next stop announcements, USB at seat power points, Wi-Fi and wireless mobile device charging.

The bus company and its parent, Transdev, have worked closely with Harrogate Borough and North Yorkshire County Councils and the electricity infrastructure owner 
Northern Powergrid to install the infrastructure for the new buses. Charging masts are in place above three departure stands in Harrogate Bus Station, each fitted with a built-in transformer which converts uprated power at 1600 volts AC into a 600 volts DC supply, delivered via a pantograph on the roof of the bus. In addition, each bus will receive an overnight charge at the depot every two days to maintain peak performance.
CEO Alex Hornby explains: “Each bus will receive a rapid power charge at the bus station as customers board the vehicle, providing enough power from a seven minute charge to complete 35 miles – which is ample to support the three routes on Harrogate’s urban bus network where these buses will run.
“The infrastructure providers will go live with the uprated power supply in mid-August, at which time we’ll introduce these superb new vehicles to Harrogate.”
Buses Minister Nusrat Ghani said; “I am delighted that the Harrogate Bus Company has taken advantage of the government’s Low Emission Bus Scheme and is doing its part to make motoring cleaner.
“These vehicles are an integral part of our plans to improve the air that we breathe and I look forward to seeing their rollout in further towns and cities across the country.”
Transdev was one of only 13 organisations across the country, and the only one in Yorkshire, to bid successfully for finance from the Government’s Low Emission Bus Scheme towards the cost of the buses and infrastructure. Transdev itself is investing £1.7million alongside the Department for Transport finding of £2.2million.


Tony Wilson recently visited the area (and missed the launch by one day !). However, twenty odd miles to the west of Harrogate along the A59 is the North Yorkshire township of Skipton, which he did visit. A selection of local buses and coaches passed before the camera's lens in and around the bus station, which have been placed into an album and can now be viewed by clicking  here

Sunday 29 July 2018

Launch of DLR Discovery Train

Londoners and visitors to the capital will have the opportunity to be part of a brand new, first of its kind experience on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) this summer as TfL and its operator KeolisAmey Docklands (KAD) launch the DLR Discovery.

Ticket holders will be taken on a guided tour between two of London's most iconic destinations, Tower Gateway and Cutty Sark, on a special non-stopping service on a route not normally served by the DLR.

Each train will include a professional tour guide on board as it travels along raised tracks through the transformed Docklands area of east London, known for its vibrant neighbourhoods and rich cultural heritage.

The DLR is a unique way to see how this part of the capital has grown and developed over the last 100 years and locals and visitors are encouraged to explore and discover more of the area they live and work in, or pass through every day.
Informative and engaging

The guide will offer an informative and engaging commentary, providing insight into some of east London's most well-known sights that passengers can see as they wind their way past the towering skyline of the financial and cultural district at Canary Wharf and the futuristic Crossrail Place and Roof Garden above the newly-built Elizabeth line station.

The tour will also take in the historic Billingsgate Fish Market, Limehouse basin and its astonishing network of navigable canals as well as the iconic Cutty Sark tea clipper.

The experience will continue with a thirty-minute guided walking tour around the historic heart of Greenwich, giving customers the opportunity to learn more about the World Heritage Site with a professional guide.

The walking tour will start and end at Cutty Sark DLR station and take in the Cutty Sark, one of the only remaining tea clippers from the nineteenth century, and pass by the Royal Naval College and National Maritime Museum.
First of their kind

The tours are the first of their kind to operate on TfL services and will start on 4 August 2018, running every Saturday and Sunday until 9 September 2018. Trains will depart on the hour every hour, starting at 10am each day, with the last tour leaving Tower Gateway at 5pm. Tickets for the exclusive DLR Discovery train are £8 for adults and £4 for children and include a return journey on the DLR. These can be purchased via tfl.gov.uk/dlr-discovery.

Trish Ashton, General Manager of the DLR, said: 'DLR Discovery tours are an exciting addition to our services and a perfect day out for families, visitors and locals alike.

'I hope people from across the city, as well as those visiting London, take the chance to ride the special, non-stopping train between two world-famous London landmarks, and gain insight into a historically fascinating area of east London.'

Jade Gilmore, Visitor Experience Manager at the Museum of London Docklands, said: 'The DLR holds great historical importance for the local area and its creation helped to transform London's Docklands, which up to then was isolated from the rest of the city.

'After guests have completed their journey on the DLR Discovery train, I would encourage them to explore our New Port, New City gallery, which includes a range of memorabilia from some of the earliest journeys on the line.'
Unique perspectives

Barrie Kelly, Chief Executive of Visit Greenwich, said: 'DLR Discovery tours are an excellent way to see Greenwich and the surrounding area from a different angle.

'DLR trains offer unique perspectives of the Docklands and we warmly welcome such an innovative addition to our outstanding attractions and services.

'We look forward to working with TfL to ensure that these tours become the success they deserve to be, taking a front seat during the summer.'

Angela Morgan, a Blue Badge Tourist Guide at the Association of Professional Tourist Guides, said: 'We look forward to working with TfL on this exciting new venture.

'Guiding is our passion, and all Blue Badge Tourist Guides have trained intensively for two years and passed the highest Tourist Guiding qualification in the UK.

'The DLR Discovery tours offer a wonderful opportunity for our Guides to tell visitors about the East End of London and Greenwich, as well as the places beyond the DLR stations that people can return to for further exploration.'

Alongside DLR Discovery trains, TfL is working to encourage Londoners to explore all that London has to offer by public transport during off peak travel times and through walking and cycling.
Transformation and regeneration

The DLR opened in 1987 and helped kick-start regeneration in the Docklands, playing an integral role in the transformation and regeneration of the area while supporting the creation of thousands of jobs and homes.

The network began with just 11 single-carriage trains that served 15 stations and has since been extended six times to help meet east London's growing population.

Thirty years on from its opening, the growth and redevelopment of the Docklands continues, with good transport links essential in enabling further developments in the area.

DLR customers will benefit from new trains in 2022, helping boost capacity on the DLR by 30%. The new trains will feature onboard real time information, air-conditioning and mobile device charging points for the first time.

The new trains are part of the Mayor of London's Transport Strategy, which looks to create a fairer, greener, healthier and more prosperous city by improving public transport and encouraging active travel.

Saturday 28 July 2018

Go Ahead Opens Dublin Depot

Go-Ahead have opened their new bus depot located in Ballymount, Dublin 12 (Ireland).

The company is preparing to take over the operation of 24 existing bus routes, or 10% of the capital's network, commencing in early September 2018.

Officially opening the new Depot, Minister for Transport, Tourism & Sport Shane Ross 

“This is an exciting time for Public Transport and particularly for those of us who travel by bus. Recently, I launched my part of the government’s Project Ireland 2040 -‘Linking people and places’, which will see investment of almost €25billion in our transport, tourism and sport infrastructure over the next 10 years. €8.6 billion of this investment is specifically for public transport. We are planning major investment in programmes such as BusConnects which will involve a complete redesign of our Dublin Area Bus Network and 16 core bus corridors. The opening of the new bus depot today marks the next step in the bus market opening process. Introducing competitive tendering into the market encourages everybody to focus on their customer’s needs and we must place passengers at the centre of our public transport policy. It also encourages innovation and improvements to service quality. I am therefore delighted to welcome Go Ahead into the Irish market and the creation of 425 local jobs and an €8.5 million investment in its operation". 

Speaking at the opening was Ed Wills, Managing Director, Go-Ahead Ireland who commented, "The opening of the Go-Ahead Ireland depot is a key milestone for our operations in Dublin and we are very excited to see our colleagues and the new fleet of buses located in this modern facility. We are creating new jobs, investing in developing new skills and with the interest we have already received we are confident that there is a lot of interest in our company. We believe in working closely with the communities we serve and wish to provide a friendly service that our customers can rely upon".

The indicative switch-over schedule is as follows;

9th September 2018:

Introduction of the new 175 from Citywest to UCD

7th October 2018:

45A, 75, 184, 63, 185, 111 & 59

18th November 2018:

17A, 102, 33A, 220, 33B & 104

20th January 2019:

18, 76, 239, 270, 238, 76A,236, 17, 114 & 161

The buses will serve communities from Balbriggan in North County Dublin to Newcastle in Co Wicklow; drop off and collect from 1,721 bus stops and travel hundreds of thousands of kilometres annually. 

Fleet information 
61 buses will transfer for use by Go-Ahead Ireland with a variety of ages ranging from 1-4 years old 
All will be rebranded in the new Transport for Ireland* (TFI) livery 
40 Single deck Euro 6 buses 
24 Double Deck Euro 6 buses 
All will be operated by Go-Ahead Ireland and driven by Go-Ahead Ireland bus drivers 

*TfI is the National Transport Authority brand. 

"There have been a number of announcements made in relation to changes to the transport landscape in Dublin recently and it's important that customers using the existing routes know that the Leap Card and Free Travel Cards can be used on all our buses; Real Time Passenger information will still apply, and fares will remain the same. The first difference people will see is that their bus will be operated by Go-Ahead Ireland and driven by our drivers. The second is the new Transport for Ireland livery which sports a blue, white and green design", concluded Ed Wills of Go-Ahead Ireland.

Anne Graham, NTA CEO said: “I welcome the opening of the Go-Ahead Ireland depot and the jobs that are being created here. I believe that Go-Ahead Ireland will bring a new dynamic to the PSO bus market, something that will ultimately be of great benefit to the travelling public.”

The new Go-Ahead Ireland depot is a modern depot with capacity for up to 500 colleagues and 250 buses. These buses will be maintained to the company's exacting standards and colleagues will service the buses underneath sky lifts, rather than pits, as part of a well-designed, generously equipped and modern workshop, complete with a drive through bus wash. The building additionally benefits from a canteen, gym, showers, electric vehicle charging points and a cycle park area.

About Go-Ahead Ireland

Go-Ahead Ireland (GAI) is Ireland's newest private bus company. The company is registered in Ireland and is operationally an autonomous arm of the Go-Ahead Group (details below). It currently employs close to 85 colleagues (425 by year end) and is privately funded. It is located on Lower Ballymount Road, Dublin D12 X201, where all colleagues and its fleet of 125 buses will be located.

In August 2017, the National Transport Authority (NTA) selected Go-Ahead Group Holdings as its preferred supplier to take over the operations of 24 existing Public Service Obligation (PSO) bus routes.

In March 2018, the NTA awarded Go-Ahead Ireland the contract to operate 6 Dublin Commuter bus routes. These existing routes will commence in 2019 and are the 120, 120C, 123, 124, 126 & 130.

The Go-Ahead Senior Management Team consists of;
Ed Wills, Managing Director, Go-Ahead Ireland
James Caffrey, Head of Finance, Go-Ahead Ireland
Chris Stringer, Head of Engineering, Go-Ahead Ireland

National Transport Authority & Transport for Ireland (TfI)

The National Transport Authority (NTA) sets all routes and fares. Current payment options i.e. Leap Card will work on all buses operated by Go-Ahead Ireland as will the Free Travel Scheme. The NTA will also continue to manage and operate the Real Time Passenger information and National Journey Planner.

Friday 27 July 2018

Edinburgh 20 days of Summer

Edinburgh Bus Tours is set to take a step back in time with the launch of its new limited edition 20 Days of Summer Tour.

The tours will operate during festival time on board one of the company’s recently refurbished vintage Routemaster buses and will feature a live guide providing a wealth of knowledge on the local area. Taking in various picturesque locations around Edinburgh including Braid Hills, Colinton Village, Fettes College, Newhaven Harbour and Portobello Beach, the tour offers customers many photo opportunities along the route.

Kenny Campbell, General Manager, Edinburgh Bus Tours said: “August is an extremely busy period for our city. We have designed our 20 days of summer tour to offer a short escape for residents and visitors during the festival. Operating for a limited time only, this tour will take customers to see some of the most breathtaking views of our city’s landscape from the comfort of an iconic vintage Routemaster. We are sure it will be a very popular addition to our tour offering.”

Departing Waverley Bridge at 10am, 11.30am, 1pm and 2.30pm every day between 4 August and 26 August, these tours offer customers a unique way to explore in and around Edinburgh.

Tours take two and a half hours. Tickets are priced at £15 adult, £14 concession and £7.50 child. Children under 5 travel free.

Thursday 26 July 2018

New Owner for Solaris

After months of rumours and speculations who would become the new owner or partner for Solaris, the polish bus and tram manufacturer has chosen for Spanish CAF. 
In a joint press release both companies has expressed intentions of investing in Solaris without revealing details.

One of the biggest public transport operators in the Netherlands, Connexxion, has received 40 Solaris Urbino's
Further details of the transaction will be negotiated in the coming weeks. The combination of potentials of both companies is an important step in the implementation of the development to gaine a leading position in Europe in sustainable urban mobility systems.

In the past year several bus manufacturers has shown interest in Solaris although no explicit information was given except what the rumours like at Busworld Kortrijk told us, although Solaris Bus & Coach ceo Solange Olszewska stated in the press release that several candidates from Poland and abroad had shown interest. CAF as a partner is a surprising one, were as CAF is since 2013 also involved with Spanish busmaker Castrosua in the joint venture Vectia for electro mobility. According to a statement by Andrés Arizkorreta, President and Chief Executive Officer of CAF, the main interest of CAF is that the investment in Solaris opens new strategic markets to the Spanish company especially in the e-mobility segment. 

A Solaris Tram in Poznan
For Solaris CAF opens up markets on a global scale, whilst CAF is operating worldwide. Andrés Arizkorreta says in the press release that CAF wants to develop Solaris’ valuable brand and maintain its Polish character. "The combination of both companies’ know-how in production, design, technology and services, together with Solaris’ innovation as well as its experience in bus building business will allow us to better serve our clients while creating shareholder value.”

  Solaris Bus & Coach S.A. was founded in 1996 by Solange and Krzysztof Olszewski and employs currently 2,300 people in its production facilities in Bolechowo near Poznań and in Środa Wielkopolska. Solaris’ products are present in 32 countries in over 700 cities. 

Over 16,000 vehicles, including trolley's, have left Solaris factories so far: traditional diesel drive, hybrid buses, electric buses, hydrogen fuel cell vehicles and CNG. In 2017, the company delivered a record number of 1,397 buses city buses manufacturers. The Solaris Urbino electric was awarded the prestigious "International Bus of the Year 2017" title.

CAF has more than 100 years of history and is listed on the Spanish stock exchange. The company is engaged in the design, production, maintenance and supply of rolling stock and rail vehicles, solutions for urban transport, including e-mobility.

Wednesday 25 July 2018

PickMeUp Launched by Go-Ahead

Following our previous posting about the proposed launch here of PickMeUp by the Go-Ahead Group of its ground-breaking on-demand bus service in Oxford, more than 1,600 riders have signed up to use the service, beating initial expectations.

PickMeUp, which began operating on June 25th, allows passengers in eastern Oxford to summon buses to pick them up on a street corner of their choice, to go to a bespoke destination.

The service, which is being managed by the Oxford Bus Company on behalf of Go-Ahead Group, is the largest scheme of its kind to be launched by a UK bus company. It offers complete flexibility, allowing customers to choose both the starting and finishing point of any journey, within a zone around eastern Oxford and surrounding districts.

Phil Southall, Managing Director of the Oxford Bus Company said: “We’re delighted with the initial reception to this service, which underlines latent demand for buses that people can summon on demand. We knew from our research that people are looking for a swift, convenient affordable alternative to cars and taxis, which offers more flexibility than a traditional bus.

“This is a new idea in transport, using the very latest mapping and co-ordination technology, and it’s got the potential to be part of the solution in tackling air quality and traffic congestion in many towns and cities.”

PickMeUp has been launched in an area with high concentrations of car use, with more than nine out of ten commuters travelling to work in their own vehicles. The initiative is intended to tackle worsening traffic congestion and a shortage of parking as Oxford’s economy grows.

Go-Ahead has partnered with cutting edge New York ride-sharing startup Via to launch the service. Via is a global leader in ride-sharing technology with operations in New York City, Chicago, Washington DC, London, and Amsterdam, and a growing number of partnerships with cities, public transit authorities, and private operators around the world.

At an introductory price of £2.50 per journey, the service is much cheaper than a taxi ride, while offering a more bespoke service than a traditional bus. Employers in Oxford can specifically benefit from the service, with competitive packages available providing free or discounted travel to work for employees.

PickMeUp will be operated using a fleet of 17-seat minibuses offering USB sockets, on-board WiFi, wheelchair accessibility and comfortable high-back seating.

The launch builds on recent transport innovations by Go-Ahead, which operates the largest fleet of electric public transport buses in Europe, and runs the UK’s only all-electric bus garage, located in central London.

In February, the company invested in a Frankfurt-based all-electric car sharing business, and Go-Ahead piloted the UK’s first bus ticket system using iBeacons in Southampton earlier this year.

Go-Ahead Group’s Chief Executive David Brown said:

“PickMeUp is the latest step in Go Ahead’s vision of taking care of customer journeys. We are always looking at ways to better understand and meet customer needs in the future through technology and innovation.

We look forward to seeing how this develops and how it can be rolled out across the UK in the future.”

Employers in Oxford are particular targets for the scheme, with competitive packages available providing free or discounted travel to work for employees.

Via Co-Founder and CEO Daniel Ramot said: “Via's powerful technology is seamlessly integrating with public transit infrastructure around the globe, redefining the way people get around cities. We're delighted to join forces with Go-Ahead to launch this ground-breaking on-demand service in Oxford, providing residents with a convenient, affordable, and congestion-reducing dynamic transportation alternative."

Tuesday 24 July 2018

2018 Scottish Transport Award for ADL

Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) has won the 2018 Scottish Transport Award for Contribution to Sustainable Transport with its SmartPack and SmartHybrid technology for efficient diesel Low Emission Buses. The technology is used by bus operators across the country to improve air quality in towns and cities. 

SmartPack and SmartHybrid are efficiency enhancements for Euro 6 diesel buses, reducing emissions and improving fuel economy to make the provision of bus services more costefficient and sustainable. Keith Watson, ADL Customer Development Director, accepted the award and commented: “We are delighted with this recognition of our efforts to provide an affordable means of delivering cleaner buses on a large scale. Combining low emissions with low investment cost over conventional buses, ADL Enviro200 and Enviro400 buses with SmartPack and SmartHybrid efficient diesel technology are part of the solution to the air quality challenge not only in Scotland.” SmartPack is centred on the smart management of alternator and air compressor, which are controlled to only charge during vehicle deceleration when they place no additional load on the engine. This is combined with engine stop/start technology, which ADL was the first manufacturer worldwide to bring to market in a diesel bus, as well as electrically-driven cooling fans and a vehicle mass reduction through structure optimisation.

Keith Watson, ADL Customer Development
Director (centre), accepts the 2018
Scottish Transport Award for
Contribution to Sustainable Transport.
SmartPack has been available since 2016 on most variants of the market-leading Enviro200 single deck and Enviro400 double deck buses, which together account for over 60% of all new diesel buses registered in the United Kingdom. Enviro200 and Enviro400 buses with SmartPack are accredited as Low Emission Buses by the Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership (LowCVP), in whose tests the technology delivers an 18% reduction in well-to-wheel greenhouse gas emissions compared with a Euro 5 bus on the Enviro400, and a 24% reduction on the Enviro200. They qualify for grants from the Scottish Green Bus Fund. First in West Lothian is using the technology to reduce emissions on services from Bathgate and Livingston into Edinburgh city centre. Similar funding was awarded to First Glasgow and First Aberdeen and led to the introduction of low emission buses in these cities. Other Scottish operators, including Stagecoach and independent Whitelaws Coaches, have also invested in ADL low emission buses with SmartPack technology. SmartHybrid is now available on the Enviro400 double deck bus and with a 33% well-towheel reduction in greenhouse gases also is a LowCVP-accredited Low Emission Bus technology. It builds upon SmartPack and adds a 48V hybrid system, which recovers kinetic energy during vehicle deceleration, stores it on-board, and uses it to provide a torque assist to the driveline when required during subsequent acceleration. The energy storage is supercapacitor based rather than using batteries, removing the need for component replacement during the vehicle’s normal operating life. The development of SmartPack and SmartHybrid has formed part of a wider investment by ADL in the development of low and zero emission technologies for buses. This multi-year, multi-million pound programme has been financially supported by the Scottish Government through Scottish Enterprise. 

Monday 23 July 2018

ScotRail Class 385's Will Enter Service on 24th July

ScotRail customers will be able to travel on the first new Hitachi class 385 electric train this week, the rail operator has announced.

The first of the class 385 Express trains will run on the Glasgow Queen Street-Edinburgh Waverley via Falkirk High route from Tuesday, 24 July. The remainder of the new class 385 trains for that route will be phased in over the course of the coming months, before the rollout is extended to other routes across the Central Belt.

The new Hitachi trains are part of ScotRail’s £475 million rolling stock investment, following the £858 million electrification of the line between Edinburgh and Glasgow by Network Rail Scotland.

Key elements of the overall investment programme include:
Significantly upgraded stations along the route, including the redevelopment of Glasgow Queen Street;
Electrification of the Central Belt, including the route between Glasgow/Edinburgh and Stirling/Dunblane/Alloa;
Extended platforms at Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh Waverley to accommodate longer trains.

ScotRail recently introduced class 365 ‘happy’ trains between Glasgow Queen Street and Edinburgh, which boosted capacity by more than 17,200 seats a day.

ScotRail Alliance Managing Director Alex Hynes said:

“I am delighted that customers will be able to travel on our new Hitachi class 385 electric trains from next week. This is a significant moment as we work to build the best railway Scotland has ever had.

“The investment we are making will deliver faster journeys, more seats, and better services for our customers.”

Roy Brannen, Transport Scotland Chief Executive, said:

“It’s great to see the investment in the class 385 fleet come to fruition with their imminent entry into service. This is another example of partnership working to help make Scotland’s railway the best it has ever been.

“I am sure passengers using these trains will enjoy the extra capacity and improved facilities they will bring.”

Karen Boswell, Managing Director of Hitachi Rail Europe, said:

“When passengers step on board this first train they’ll find it light, spacious and modern with loads of more seats – up to 130 extra compared to the existing diesel trains.

“And there is more to come. Our UK factory is working tirelessly to deliver the rest of the fleet, which will allow the current 51 minute journey time from Edinburgh and Glasgow to be cut by up to a fifth. Thanks to their high quality Japanese engineering these trains have the best 0-60mph acceleration of any in Scotland.”

The class 385 trains will be rolled out to the following routes (in no particular order):
Edinburgh – Glasgow Queen Street via Falkirk High
Edinburgh – North Berwick
South Glasgow suburban routes – Cathcart Circle/Lanark
Glasgow/Edinburgh – Dunblane/Stirling/Alloa
Glasgow – Falkirk Grahamston via Cumbernauld
Glasgow Central – Edinburgh via Shotts
Train specifications
Hitachi is building 70 new class 385 trains for ScotRail. This will deliver 234 carriages, made up of 24 x four-car trains and 46 x three-car trains.
Four-car trains have 273 seats, with a total of 546 seats for eight-car trains.
Three-car trains have 206 seats.

Less energy is required in operation – the class 385 trains are 18 per cent more energy efficient than the diesel trains they will replace.
Reduced noise pollution for those living and working near the line.

No CO2 emissions from the trains. 

CO2 is produced at the source of electricity, so cleaner air – resulting in a 21 per cent reduction in the CO2 footprint.

Later this year Hitachi Rail will manage and employ 250 staff at Craigentinny depot as part of the 27 ½ year maintenance contract. Scotland’s busiest and biggest depot will become Hitachi Rail’s maintenance and training hub in Scotland, where Hitachi’s Class 385 and LNER Azuma train will be serviced. Managing Craigentinny is part of the wider investment in Scotland, which includes £20 million upgrading depots in Aberdeen, Inverness and Glasgow so they can maintain modern Hitachi trains.

Sunday 22 July 2018

Heathrow-Gatwick rail line proposed

A proposed M25-style high-speed railway could cut journey times between Gatwick and Heathrow airports to just 15 minutes.
The £10billion HS4Air line would run partly alongside the M25, looping around London and providing the first direct route between the UK’s two busiest airports.
The line would run for a total of 87 miles between Ashford in Kent and Denham, northwest of London.
It would provide a link between HS1, which runs between the Channel Tunnel and London, and the planned HS2 rail line, which will run from the capital to major cities in the north.

The new route would help connect the Channel Tunnel to the north of England (Weston Williamson)
This week architects Weston Williamson + Partners released a new image of what they expect the new line to look like.
HS4Air has been developed by London-based Expedition Engineering with Weston Williamson + Partners and planning and development consultants Turley.
Plans will be submitted to the Department for Transport by the end of the month

Plans will be submitted by the Department for Transport later this month (Weston Williamson)
Nick McGough, associate partner at Weston Williamson + Partners, said: "HS4Air takes the problem of linking HS1 with HS2 and turns it into an opportunity in by-passing London entirely whilst better connecting the UK's two largest airports and the country generally through high speed rail.
"This generates huge regeneration potential and much wider economic benefits for the whole country."

HS4Air will reduce journey times as follows:

Ashford to Gatwick: 25 minutes (typically 1 hour 50 mins today)
Manchester to Heathrow: 1 hour 10 mins (typically 3 hours 20 mins today)
Heathrow to Gatwick: 15 minutes (typically 1 hour 30 mins today)
Cardiff to Heathrow: 1 hour 40 mins (typically 2 hours 50 mins today)
Birmingham to Paris:  3 hours (typically 3 hours 50 minutes by air)
Alistair Lenczer, director of Expedition Engineering said: "HS4Air will overcome the barrier that historic London represents in terms of rail connectivity between the UK regions and Europe.
"By allowing London to be bypassed at high speed, economic activity between the UK regions and Europe can expect to grow."

Friday 20 July 2018

Stockport Interchange

Plans to build a multimillion-pound bus station below a new park in Stockport have been given the go-ahead.
Part of a £1bn investment in the town centre, the plans also include a residential block and an upgrading of a section of the Trans Pennine Trail.
They were passed at a meeting of Greater Manchester Combined Authority.
The region's mayor Andy Burnham said they "demonstrate a clear ambition" for the town to "become a key urban centre in South Manchester".

A Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) spokesman said the plans included "enhanced CCTV across the interchange", 20 bus stands and a covered concourse for passengers.
They would see the Trans Pennine Trail, a route for walkers and cyclists, upgraded alongside the River Mersey and the bus station.

Stockport Council leader Alex Ganotis said it was "such an important project... and will take our transformation of the town centre to the next level".
"We believe that the creation of a new park, new homes and modern public transport facilities will all be great additions," he added.
Mr Burnham said the proposals were also "a fantastic example of integrated town centre planning, with TfGM and Stockport Council working together to build something that will benefit an entire community".

Thursday 19 July 2018

Nottingham City's Transport & Clean Air Zone

No Clean Air Zone for Nottingham as plans render it unnecessary

Nottingham City Council recently announced that citywide measures already under way to improve air quality mean a Clean Air Zone is no longer being considered.
Cllr Sally Longford, Portfolio Holder for Energy and Environment, told full council on Monday, July 9 that existing measures would reduce air pollution to below the legal limit, without the need for a Clean Air Zone.
Projects include retrofitting 180 NCT buses with clean exhaust technology, requiring every taxi and private hire vehicle in the city to low emission, and the council replacing its own heavy vehicles – such as bin lorries – with electric or other low emission vehicles.
Cllr Longford said: “Results of air quality modelling showed these measures will have a significant effect in reducing emissions, bringing Nottingham into compliance by 2020. Although we considered a Class B Clean Air Zone – which would have affected HGVs, buses and taxis – the actions we’re taking will have a positive impact across the whole city, rather than just in one area.
“Our priority has always been the health of our citizens, rather than meeting government targets, and this hasn’t changed. Road vehicles are one of the largest contributors to air pollution, and it’s thanks to the council’s significant and sustained investment in green public transport, like the trams and low emission buses, that we are in a really strong position to be able to improve air quality.
“We have one of the UK’s largest all-electric park and ride fleets, an electric tram that carries more than 17 million people every year and NCT has the world’s largest fleet of low emission bio-gas buses. These measures have already gone a long way to achieving cleaner air in the city.”

Air pollution is associated with a number of adverse health impacts, and can contribute to the onset of heart disease and cancer. It particularly affects the most vulnerable – children and older people, and those with heart and lung conditions.
The City Council has been directed by the government to take action to meet legal air quality limits as soon as possible, and is required to submit a local plan to DEFRA in September.

The council’s Executive Board will consider the following proposals later this month:
  • Delivering the retrofitting programme for NCT’s older buses with clean exhaust technology to meet Euro VI standards
  • Enforcing the Taxi and Private Hire Vehicle Strategy age policy to reduce the age of hackney carriage and private hire fleet, supported with the introduction of an incentives package to shift the taxi fleet to ward low emission vehicles, including a ‘try before you buy’ leasing scheme
  • Delivering the council’s own fleet renewal programme to purchase new EVs in its specialist/heavy fleet
The board will also be asked to approve, in principle, further measures, including amending the city’s two Air Quality Management Areas to cover the whole city, and seeking to enforce anti-idling legislation.

If agreed, a public consultation will take place in August, before the city’s final local air quality plan is submitted.
Councillor Longford said: “We know from earlier consultation there is a lot of support for prioritising measures to improve air quality, and we’re looking to go beyond the minimum requirements of the Air Quality Directive to introduce further measures.
“These include seeking to amend our existing Air Quality Management Areas to cover the whole city, and to enforce anti-idling legislation. We’re also looking at revising the city centre Clear Zone, introducing emissions criteria for some classes of vehicle, including a taxi permit scheme.”

Wednesday 18 July 2018

Edinburgh Tram firm loses appeal to keep files secret

The company at the centre of the Edinburgh trams inquiry has lost an appeal to have documents it provided to the probe kept secret.
Bilfinger UK had instructed lawyers to return to the Court of Session in Edinburgh seeking a ruling from appeal judges over a decision made by their colleague Lord Tyre earlier this year.
The firm wanted judges to block moves to publish paperwork.
It said the documents were commercially sensitive and could help competitors.
Lord Tyre refused to allow the company permission to stop the inquiry publishing the documents which includes monthly reports made during the tram project to the firm's German HQ.
Lawyers acting for the company argued Lord Tyre had incorrectly interpreted the law.
However the appeal judges Lord Carloway, Lord Menzies and Lord Malcolm ruled Lord Tyre had acted correctly.

Contractual restraints

In a ruling written by Lord Carloway, Scotland's most senior judge, the appeal judges concluded the documents did not contain sensitive information which could damage the business's interests.

The Edinburgh trams project, which caused massive disruption to the capital, was delivered years late and more than £400m over budget.
The contract to bring trams back to Edinburgh was an "extremely poor deal for the council" which should never have been made, the inquiry has heard.
Douglas Fairley, a lawyer representing directors of the tram delivery company Tie, said it allowed the contractor to hold the employer to ransom.
Edinburgh's trams were delivered years late, hundreds of millions of pounds over budget on a shortened route.
The inquiry into what went wrong has run for three years and cost £7m.

Tuesday 17 July 2018

A German visit

Following on from Terry Wong Min's visit last year to Wuppertal (see album on the Flickr site by clicking here ), Haydn Davies recently visited Germany and has provided a small but perfectly formed set of pictures accompanied by text as follows:

After many visits to Wuppertal, have now managed to get the classic shot in sun of the Schwebebahn at the Vohwinkel end of the line where it runs above the main shopping street for half a mile (the rest of the 8 mile route is mainly above the river Wupper). There was only one spot where you can get about the same height as the tram - the first floor of a Netto store, and because of a double gantry (seen on the left) there is a bigger gap before the next gantry so that the whole of the tram fits in. Because the original building next door is demolished and now a car park, sunlight now gets onto the whole structure and the tram. It has to be an early morning shot, as very soon the tram is covered in shadow from the overhead.

The new trams on the Schwebebahn in Wuppertal are very bland compared to the old. At the moment, about half the trams are old, and half new, with about half of the old ones being in advert livery. All the new trams have an advert on the centre section, and the underneath only.

The ex-Docklands trains are still running in Essen, and are now in 3 slightly different liveries. The nearest unit is in the first livery (with blue bands). The furthest unit is in the 3rd livery (a brighter yellow with no bands). The 2nd livery just had some blue above the windows.

Dusseldorf Airport has a Skytrain to access the terminals and car parks, seen here with the control tower in the background. Everything at this airport seems to be in various shades of grey !

Dortmund University is a huge campus, and there is a 3-line H-bahn to enable students to access the different sites and halls of residence.

Monday 16 July 2018

Macmillan Cancer Support bus

Bright green 86 bus running from Romford to Stratford unveiled in honour of ‘much-loved’ driver who died of cancer.

From the Romford Recorder

A new bright green 86 bus that will travel throughout east London honouring the memory of a much-loved bus driver has been unveiled this week

The Stagecoach bus, sponsored by Macmillan Cancer Support, has been rebranded in honour of former driver Martyn Henderson, who lost his own battle with cancer in July 2017 – it even bears his name in large lettering down the side of the vehicle.
Martyn, who had become Assistant Garage Operations Manager at the Romford garage in North Street before he died, was supported throughout his treatment by the charity, and to commemorate his passing, Stagecoach and Macmillan have announced a new £50,000 partnership over the next two years.
The bus, which is just a small part of a public awareness campaign the two organisations have planned, was unveiled at a special ceremony at the Romford depot on Monday, July 9.
The emerald 86 bus will soon be seen travelling from Romford through Chadwell Heath to Ilford and then onto Stratford, and vice versa.
Bill Daly, Romford Garage Operations Manager and close friend of Martyn Henderson, said: “Martyn worked for bus and coach companies for most of his career and for Stagecoach since 2008.
“So, we are delighted to be honouring him in this way, with his own special bus.
“We are all looking forward to getting involved in lots of fundraising events for Macmillan over the coming months to raise money for the charity that supported Martyn throughout his treatment.”
Martyn’s brother Brian also attended the unveiling ceremony with his wife Jean.
Carole Heffernan, Macmillan Area Fundraising Manager for London, added: “Every day, more than 90 Londoners hear the devastating news they have cancer – that’s enough people to fill a Number 86 bus.
“And with that number set to possibly double by 2030, Macmillan Cancer Support will be needed more than ever to help people with cancer find their best way through.
“This exciting new partnership with Stagecoach sees the launch of a Macmillan-branded bus commemorating a much-loved colleague, Martyn Henderson.
“It will also see Stagecoach employees undertaking fundraising challenges and events to raise money in Martyn’s memory over the next two years.”

DATE FOR THE DIARY - Sunday 22nd July - Billericay

Sunday 15 July 2018

Development Works for Electrification of the Midland Main Line

HS2 Ltd has been asked by the Department for Transport to begin preparatory works for the future electrification of a 25km section of the Midland Main Line from Clay Cross to Sheffield Midland Station.

 East Midlands Trains Meridian unit approaches
Chesterfield on a Sheffield to London Service
Following the government’s announcement last summer that the preferred HS2 route would include a spur into Sheffield via Chesterfield, the Secretary of State has asked that electrification of this section of the Midland Main Line be included within the next hybrid Bill for HS2.

HS2 Ltd will begin its preparatory works with a series of land surveys to further inform the work programme. A public consultation on the works required for electrification will be undertaken at a later date, prior to any hybrid Bill being brought to Parliament.

An HS2 Ltd spokesperson said:

"The benefits that HS2 will deliver are significant and should not be underestimated. The new railway will play a crucial role in rebalancing Britain’s economy; driving business growth, creating jobs and securing investment right across the country.

 Arriva Cross Country Voyager unit in the Amber Valley 

Ensuring the Midland Main Line is electrified between Clay Cross and Sheffield Midland Station will enable Chesterfield and the wider Sheffield City Region to benefit from direct services on the new high speed trains."

The new option proposes that HS2 services between London and Sheffield would take a spur off the new north-south high speed line and travel directly to the existing Sheffield Midland station using the existing railway line. These trains therefore could potentially also call at Chesterfield.

There is also the future option of HS2 services extending onwards to the existing Meadowhall station, Rotherham, or Barnsley.

 East Midlands Trains  Meridian unit at Unstone, between
Sheffield and Chesterfield
A city centre station solution for Sheffield high speed services would allow the main HS2 line to be built east of the previously proposed route, through less densely populated areas that would avoid the complexities of building a line via Meadowhall.

The newly proposed route would cut journey times on services heading to Leeds, York and Newcastle, and would also reduce the cost of the project by around £1billion.