Wednesday, 31 October 2018

Euro Bus Expo 2018 Optare

Optare has unveiled its ‘next generation’ of fully electric buses at Euro Bus Expo. 

 Above 10.8m Metrocity EV. Capacity of 60 passengers and 150 mile range.

Above & below 10.5m Optare Metrodecker EV. 150 mile range and capacity of 94 passengers. ZF AVE bub motor driveline.

Above & below 8.5m Euro 6 Solo xFE. Total Capacity 41

Above & below Optare Versa xFE


Euro Bus Expo 2018 Wrightbus

We visit the Wright stand

Hybrid efficiency

One concept that will enable Wrights to keep costs as low as possible with alternative technologies is its utilisation of significant cross-platform commonality.

The 96v hybrid system, christened HEV 96, has already been delivered in StreetLite and StreetDeck models to a number of operators. 

The manufacturer is coy on exactly how it works, but it is accepted by Transport for London as a hybrid and it is “significantly cheaper” than earlier diesel-electric products. For a HEV 96-equipped StreetDeck, unit cost is below £300,000. 

A StreetDeck HEV for Translink is shown above, one of 28 with the Northern Irish operator. Besides the propulsion package, it has third-generation Micro Hybrid technology and engine stop-start to give what the manufacturer claims is “the most fuel efficient bus of its type.”

Above, Translink StreetDeck HEV interior

A more mundane development is the addition of the 7.7-litre, six-cylinder Daimler OM 936 engine to the diesel StreetDeck. At the moment only the 5.1-litre, four-cylinder OM 934 has been fitted to buses for the UK, but the larger unit is required in export markets. One such vehicle is currently on trial with Kowloon Motor Bus, and a demonstrator for Mexico also has the OM 936.

Harnessing hydrogen

A second StreetDeck on show is a fuel cell electric vehicle (FCEV) variant. Wrightbus’ approach to hydrogen utilises a common platform across double- and single-deck.

The StreetDeck FCEV at the show has been tested in Aberdeen. Wrightbus has been selected as the sole supplier of hydrogen-powered double-decker buses to the UK under the European JIVE project, which is designed to promote the commercialisation of fuel cell vehicles,

As a result, it expects to build around 50 StreetDeck FCEVs for use in Aberdeen, Birmingham and London, and Wrightbus is working closely with those cities to develop an implementation plan. It is also talking to a handful of other potential domestic customers.

Fuel cell technology has proved itself. The StreetDeck FCEV has a range of 200 miles, which can be extended. A hydrogen bus looks and behaves much like a diesel in terms of infrastructure.”

Another important point with fuel cell is that hydrogen-powered buses can replace diesels on a one-for-one basis as there is no ‘range anxiety’.

Additionally, Wrightbus sees hydrogen as sustainable. It is the most abundant element in the universe, but separating it is energy intensive. To mitigate that, the OEM is working with partners in Scandinavia, where renewable electricity is used at night for that purpose.

Longer term, it envisages a vertically integrated supply arrangement, where the operator pays a pence-per-kg fee that includes both the hydrogen and the associated infrastructure.

The vehicle on show uses a Ballard FCVelocity fuel cell, a Siemens drivetrain and a 48kW traction battery pack. Refueling takes around seven minutes. Remote diagnostics are available.


Although much focus is on fuel cell, Wrightbus has not forgotten battery electric. It is working on new EV technology and it regards diesel-electric hybrid as merely an intermediate step towards zero emission. To that end, battery electric will be available on all sizes of StreetLite, the StreetAir and the StreetDeck.



Above and below, StreetLite Micro Hybrid. StreetLite platform will include diesel with Micro Hybrid, hybrid, and EV.

Above, a StreetLite on view in the outside display area

 Meanwhile, at the smallest end of Wrightbus’ product range, news of a 9.05m long, 2.28m wide diesel StreetVibe. It is one of a batch of 31-seaters ordered by the States of Guernsey, where vehicle width is a key consideration.

The domestic bus market may well be tough, but with a technology roadmap, a focus on R&D and a refreshed management team, Wrightbus remains bullish for future.

Alexander Dennis at Euro Bus Expo 2018

We are at the show and bring you reports as we make our way around.

Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) are exhibiting the market’s widest range of low and zero emission buses together with members of the versatile Plaxton coach range.

Zero emissions are the hallmark of the Enviro200EV, built in partnership with BYD.


 The double deck Enviro400 is shown with different drivelines, including buses with SmartPack and SmartHybrid technology and – on the Scania stand which we will visit later – a biogas-fuelled example.

SmartPack enhancements for Euro 6 diesel buses, reduce emissions and improve fuel economy, helping to make the provision of bus services more cost-efficient and sustainable

The buses on display show a wealth of specification options to enhance passenger experience.

Plaxton’s new flagship Panorama double deck coach is shown to a wider audience for the first time. It combines high seating capacity with flexible luggage and accessibility arrangements fit for all operational requirements.

Below, a touring-specification Panther demonstrates the benefits of the best-selling British-built coach. 

Re-visit our website later to see more of the show, next on our list is the WrightBus stand.

Euro Bus Expo 2018

Focus Transport is visiting Euro Bus Expo 2018 at the NEC in Birmingham. The exhibition has almost 300 exhibitors and is expecting more than 9,000 visitors over the three day event. A record 130 vehicles will be on display at the West Midlands venue.

Additions and updates to the Focus site are planned so keep checking back today to see the exhibition, as we make our way around. We will show you the very latest models and innovations from UK and European manufacturers.

Tuesday, 30 October 2018

Boeing Sheffield

Aircraft firm opens European factory

US aircraft manufacturer Boeing has officially opened its first European manufacturing site in South Yorkshire.

The £40m Boeing Sheffield plant in Catcliffe, near Rotherham, has 52 staff producing aircraft components in its 6,200 sq m (66,736 sq ft) factory.

The actuation system parts are then assembled at Boeing Portland, in Oregon, before being sent to factories to be installed on plane wings.

Boeing said the new site proved the firm's commitment "to UK prosperity".

More than 100 different parts for the company's 737 and 767 planes are made at the factory before being shipped to the US. Actuation systems move the flaps at the back of the wing to provide extra lift at low speeds during takeoff and landing.

The factory, which has 25 apprentice staff and is in the Sheffield Business Park, was built next to a research centre founded in 2001 by Boeing and the University of Sheffield. The company said many of its suppliers for the factory were in the UK, including a steel company based three miles away.

James Needham, operations manager at Boeing Sheffield, said: "Today's about celebrating the milestone we've achieved in opening our factory.

"We have a tough challenge ahead to make the parts and hit the ferocious rate we need to achieve to keep these commercial airplanes flying us all on holiday next summer."

Julie Dore, Sheffield City Council leader, said: "One of our top priorities is to provide the opportunities for young people in Sheffield.

"That's why it is so welcome not only to see such globally renowned brand like Boeing here, but their commitment to local apprentices who will make up much of the workforce."

Monday, 29 October 2018

Heliox Multi-Standard Charging System

Heliox has developed a new charging system for e-buses. It is multi-standard charging system that allows different e-buses to charge with one Heliox fast charger independent of the normal interface they use for charging. Vehicles that use Bus-Up pantographs and those that use the Oppcharge system can use the same Heliox charger which automatically switch from one to the other.

Sales Lentz and Heliox have installed the Multi-Standard Charging System as it is called, in the city of Bascharage, Luxembourg in the Sales Lentz depot . The inauguration was attended by Luxembourg’s Secretary of State of the Economy, Francine Closener. She said that thanks to the win-win partnership of Heliox and Sales-Lentz, the Grand Duchy is one of the front-runners of e-mobility in Europe.

Sales-Lentz has always been an early adopter of new technologies. “We understand our role as a public transport operator to trigger our suppliers, bus manufacturers, software developers, to deliver and develop technologies that meet the market needs. Sales-Lentz sees itself as a development partner and an entrepreneur ready to invest in sustainable mobility,” said General Director Sales-Lentz Technics, Georges Hilbert.

Heliox and Sales-Lentz have worked together now for some years. “Heliox sees that with the experience of the Luxembourg projects the transportation sector throughout Europe is turning further towards alternative forms of mobility and our reliable and robust innovations are well-received”, says Koen van Haperen, Business Development Manager Heliox.

Heliox says it is global market leader in fast charging systems within public transport, e-truck, marine, mining and port equipment. It delivers a unique combination of CCS depot charging systems from 25 to 150kW and Opportunity Charge System with a power up to 600kW.

Heliox operates on a global level with headquarters in the Netherlands and local offices in the UK, Australia, Singapore and India.

DATE FOR THE DIARY - Saturday 10th November - Yardley Wood, Birmingham


Join us to celebrate Yardley Wood Bus Garage's 80th birthday!

On 9th November 1938, Birmingham City Transport opened a new bus depot in Yardley Wood, a quiet parish of Birmingham surrounded by lush green fields. Today the garage still stands and is one of National Express West Midlands' 9 bus depots.
2018 marks the 80th anniversary of the garage's opening and to celebrate the occasion, Yardley Wood's passionate team of drivers, engineers, and operational support staff are opening the garage for one very special day.
The garage will be open to the public on Saturday 10th November 2018, between 10am - 3pm; entrance is free so come and have a look around a real working bus garage!
Here's what you can expect on the day:
  • Vehicle Exhibition - If you like strolling down memory lane or you just really like buses, there will be a range of vehicles on display from across the National Express business and some kindly loaned from our friends at Wythall Transport Museum.
  • Live Music - We're extremely lucky to have live music throughout the day from The City of Birmingham Brass Band and The Shirley Pipe Band!
  • Ride the Bus Wash - Ever wanted to be on a bus when it's being washed? Now you can!
  • Children's Party Bus & Bouncy Castle - Let the little ones have a play on a cleverly converted soft play party bus, or jump around on a bouncy castle!
  • Charity Raffle - Enter our raffle for the chance to win prizes including 4 tickets to Alton Towers, cinema tickets and a game of tenpin bowling! All proceeds from the raffle will be donated to the West Midlands Air Ambulance Charity. 
  • Memorabilia & Stalls - Browse a range of stalls and meet Trams to Trenches author Doug Smith.
  • Refreshments - Our canteen will be open on the day serving a range of hot food and drinks, we'll also have our Sweet Cart on site for those with a sweet tooth...

Yardley Wood and the Home Guard

As well as celebrating the garage's milestone birthday, the day will also be spent remembering and honouring those who have served their country, with November 2018 marking 100 years since the end of World War I.
Through independent research, the team at Yardley Wood have also found that during World War II over 3,500 Birmingham City Transport staff members were enrolled in the Home Guard, an organisation of local defence volunteers comically immortalised by the BBC sitcom Dads Army.
To commemorate the efforts of these men, there will be the opportunity to learn more about the Yardley Wood and the Home Guard on the day, including the names of those who served in the local regiment.

How to find us...

You can visit us at: Yardley Wood Bus Garage, Yardley Wood Road, Yardley Wood, Birmingham, B14 4BN
Get to us by bus: Services 218 27 stop right outside!

Travel to the garage in style and relive the past, with a ride on a bus of yester-year!
Yardley Wood will be operating a heritage bus service throughout the day, which will serve run a circular route from the garage to Yardley Wood train station, Billesley and Maypole.

Fare Information:
Adult Single£2
Adult Day Ticket£4
Child Single (5-15 Years)£1
Child Day Ticket (5-15 Years)£2
Family Day Ticket
(Up to 2 adults and 4 children)
Concessionary Pass Holders£1
Special Offer - 50% off fares when presenting a valid National Express West Midlands travel card, daysaver or mTicket. 

It's not everyday that you get to ride on a heritage bus or explore a working bus garage, so make sure that you share your day out at Yardley Wood on social media!
Tag us in your photos and videos - @nxwestmidlands - and use the hashtag #YardleyWood80 and we'll share some of our favourites with our followers!

Sunday, 28 October 2018


Government hands London mayor Sadiq Khan £350m loan for delayed Crossrail

The bailout will cover additional costs to the £15bn project as a result of its opening date being pushed back to next year.

The government has given London Mayor Sadiq Khan a £350m loan to cover additional costs caused by delays to the Crossrail project.

The financial help for the capital's new railway was revealed in a written statement to parliament by Transport Minister Jo Johnson on Friday 26 October.

Earlier this year, it was announced the new £15bn route through central London will open almost a year later than planned.

Crossrail's initial opening date was December this year, but its central section now won't run until autumn 2019.

The extension was said to have been required for "final infrastructure and extensive testing".

Mr Khan admitted the delay had caused additional costs for the project - to be known as the Elizabeth Line when open - which will be met by the central government bailout.

He said: "I was angered, disappointed and frustrated when I was told by Crossrail Ltd that the central section of Crossrail wouldn't open in December as had been promised for a number of years now. It's quite clear, as a consequence of that delay, there are additional costs to be expended. I've met with the chancellor, I've spoken on a couple of occasions with the secretary of state for the Department for Transport. As joint sponsors, we agree this amazing project has got to be finished."

The Canary Wharf Elizabeth Line development above the new station built inside a cofferdam, a structure
being a watertight enclosure pumped dry to permit construction work below the waterline, as when building bridges or repairing a ship.

Speaking in Brussels after meeting the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, the London mayor added he is "optimistic" a deal can be struck to make sure the capital can afford for Crossrail's construction to be completed.

However, Mr Khan signalled the overrunning costs would not impact on his promise to keep public transport fares frozen in the capital when he was elected as mayor in 2016.

"When Crossrail opens it's going to be a fantastic line, the Elizabeth Line is going to be amazing; an increase in public transport capacity by more than 10%," he said. "A public transport system fit for the 21st century."

The mayor added: "I campaigned to freeze TfL [Transport for London] fares, I've frozen them for the first two-and-a-half-years. I intend to continue to freeze for the remainder of my term."


Once finally completed, Crossrail will take passengers from Abbey Wood, in London's south east, to Heathrow Airport to the west of the capital.

Services are also planned to run from Shenfield in Essex to Reading in Berkshire.

Mr Johnson has already announced this year that Crossrail's budget was being increased from £14.8bn to £15.4bn due to "cost pressures".

Revealing the latest increase in costs on Friday, Mr Johnson wrote: "As an interim measure, we are announcing that £350m of short-term repayable financing will be made available to the mayor for the year 2018/19. This will ensure that full momentum is maintained behind Crossrail. This project is already delivering benefits for the whole of the UK through its cross-country supply chain and its UK built train fleet. When open, Crossrail will be transformative and carry up to 200 million passengers a year, delivering £42bn of investment into the UK economy. A further update will be provided once the discussions on the financing arrangements have concluded.

Mr Johnson stressed London would bear any additional costs via the financing arrangement.

An independent review of Crossrail's running and financing has been commissioned by the Department for Transport and TfL.

Saturday, 27 October 2018

PickMeUp Reaches 30,000 Journeys

The UK’s most ambitious demand-responsive bus service has provided passengers with more than 30,000 journeys in just over three months since its launch.

PickMeUp, which allows passengers to summon buses to collect them from a location of their choice, reached the landmark last week in Oxford, where it is currently being trialled.

The service is accessed via a smartphone app and it is the largest scheme of its kind to be launched by a UK bus company. Technology behind the service was developed in partnership with Via, a US-based market leader in ride-sharing technology.

In total, more than 12,000 users have signed up to the app since it the service was launched on 25th June.

After requesting a pickup, passengers can be collected from the nearest safe pick up point. Journeys are matched with others making similar journeys to enable ride sharing.

David Brown, Chief Executive of Go-Ahead, commented: “The success of this initiative shows how we are moving forward in taking care of customers’ journeys. For students, commuters and those accessing medical appointments, it provides a new convenient way of using public transport in one of the UK’s major cities. 

Phil Southall, Managing Director of the Oxford Bus Company said: “This is another fantastic landmark for PickMeUp that has been delivered ahead of our expectations. People have really taken to the service and it is continuing to grow. Students have embraced the service since the start of the new academic year and we have noticed students have been signing up to the app and using it.”

The service covers the Eastern Arc of Oxford, which includes the railway station, Thornhill and Redbridge Park & Ride sites, the Science Park, Oxford Business Park, the John Radcliffe, Churchill and NOC hospitals, University Science Area and Brookes University.

It operates between 6.00am and 11.00pm Monday to Friday and between 8.30am and 7.30pm on Saturday and 8.30am to 7pm on Sundays, with an average response time of 10 to 15 minutes. 

The introductory fare of £2.50 per journey is still being charged, with a surcharge of £2.50 if the journey could be made via an existing Oxford Bus Company bus route and the walk is 200 metres or less.

Oxford Bus Company invested £850,000 in six 17-seat ultra-low emission Euro 6 minibuses, with Wi-Fi, USB charging points, wheelchair access and comfortable high-back seating to launch the service.

DATE FOR THE DIARY - Sunday 4th November - LVVS at Lincoln

Friday, 26 October 2018

Tram Train Launch & Serious Accident Involving One of the Trams

On Thursday 25th October the UK’s first Tram Train was launched at the newly opened Rotherham Parkgate Tram Train stop.

Project partners from Stagecoach Supertram, Network Rail, South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and the Department for Transport were joined by representatives from local authorities and businesses for the unveiling of a commemorative nameplate by Jo Johnson MP Minister for Rail and the Mayor of the Sheffield City Region, Dan Jarvis.

Passengers in South Yorkshire are the first in the country to benefit from the innovative Tram Train pilot, which entered public service at 09.39 at Sheffield Cathedral. The special tram-type vehicles use pioneering technology to run on both Sheffield’s tramlines and the rail network to Rotherham.

Jo Johnson, Rail Minister said: “The first tram-train journey is a milestone moment that will give commuters cleaner, more frequent and more reliable journeys across Sheffield and Rotherham.

“This pioneering project brings together innovation, state-of-the-art technology and our existing infrastructure to give passengers better journeys. It lays the groundwork for ambitious transport schemes right across the country that should give commuters more choice .”

Rob McIntosh, Route Managing Director at Network Rail whose responsibility it was to work with the regulator and operators to design and build the new infrastructure said: “I’d like to thank the people of Sheffield and Rotherham for their patience while we developed, built and tested Tram Train. The project has been a complex one and it is genuinely exciting to be ready to welcome the first passengers on board. Tram Train will bring new choices for travellers in this area, supporting jobs and the local economy. It’s also important to us at Network Rail as the national infrastructure provider, as it gives us different options when we are looking to improve connections between communities across Britain.”

Stagecoach Supertram has trained 27 existing tram drivers to become tram train drivers across the route. By providing three services per hour in each direction, it is expected that the new addition to the Supertram network will give people a convenient travel option into and between Rotherham and Sheffield, and enhance the local economy.

Managing Director, Tim Bilby said: We’re so very proud and excited that Supertram and South Yorkshire have been chosen to pilot this state of the art technology and we’re delighted to be able to invite our first passengers on board today. We know that our passengers are as excited as we are about this launch and we can’t wait to hear what they think about it.

“This Tram Train service offers a quick, environmentally friendly and good value alternative for this busy commuting route, and also opens up leisure and retail venues to people across the wider City Region.“ 

Three Tram Trains an hour will travel in each direction, linking Sheffield Cathedral and Meadowhall South on the existing Supertram Network, before proceeding over the new section of track called the Tinsley Chord and continuing on the national rail network to Parkgate Retail Centre via Rotherham Central station.

South Yorkshire’s Tram Train pilot will run for two years while customer satisfaction, passenger numbers, reliability and costs are tested. Tram Train will then continue to run as part of the Supertram system.

Sadly on the day of the launch one of the new Tram Trains was involved in a serious accident with a lorry on Staniforth Road, Sheffield.The tram which was braking hard before impact pushed the lorry sideways along the tracks until the lorry hit a traffic light and lamp post causing the tram to derail. Serious damage was caused to the front and underside of the tram.
There were no reports of anyone trapped but some passengers on the tram suffered minor injuries. One of our Founding Contributors, Colin Sellers was travelling on the tram at the time. He sent us the pictures below.

The floor of the tram was forced upwards during the accident