Tuesday 31 December 2019

Go Ahead Launches Norway Train Service

The Go-Ahead Group has launched Norway’s first privately-operated train service.

Go-Ahead Nordic’s inaugural service departed from Stavanger to Oslo at 06.47 on 15th December, representing the first journey of the new Norway South rail franchise.

The Norway South contract was awarded by the Norwegian authorities in October 2018. Go-Ahead – the owner of Southeastern and GTR in the UK - won the eight-year award with an optional two-year extension.

Go-Ahead’s offer was priced 21% below that of its nearest competitor.

Go-Ahead will be paid around NKr 1.5bn ($US 183m) over the 10-year duration of the contract, with the remuneration profile skewed towards the early years of the term.

Go-Ahead will receive around NKr 250m in 2020, compared with the NKr 486m being paid to Norwegian State Railways (NSB) for the operation of these services.

The new service covers three historic lines in Norway including the Jæren line, which dates back to 1878, as well as the Sørlandet and Arendal routes, covering a mixture of long-distance and suburban services across 5.5 million train kilometres.

David Brown, Chief Executive Officer at Go-Ahead said, “We are delighted to be given this opportunity to deliver Norway’s first contracted rail services.

“Working with the Norwegian authorities to bring our international rail expertise and our customer focus together to deliver Norway’s first contracted rail service is another step forward for Go-Ahead.”

The Norwegian contract further builds on Go-Ahead’s international footprint, which has already seen the FTSE-250 listed transport operator launch services in Ireland, Germany and Singapore.

Nelaug Station, located at the village of Nelaug in Åmli
municipality in 
Aust-Agder county, NorwayThe station functions as a meeting station of the Sørlandsbanen and Arendalsbanen railway lines. 
Passengers from 
Oslo to Arendal must change trains at Nelaug. 

Magnus Hedin, Managing Director of Go-Ahead Nordic commented: “Our focus is on customer satisfaction, reliability and local decisions taken with our partners.

“We will be a local operator who understands Norwegian transport needs and the local Norwegian customers, while benefiting from extensive experience in the UK.”

Go -Ahead Nordic is expecting to carry more new passengers on the Jaerbanen and Sörlandsbanen routes during the period 2020-2025.

Since its creation a year ago, Go-Ahead Nordic has recruited 244 conductors, drivers and administrators. 
 Staff who were currently employed on the routes have transferred to Go-Ahead with their existing pay and working conditions. Go-Ahead will also offer a pension scheme similar to the previously negotiated agreement for operational personnel.

Monday 30 December 2019

New York Volvo Prevost Order for 330 Coaches

New York State’s Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has awarded Prevost, subsidiary of Volvo Buses in the USA, two contracts for in total 330 coaches. It is the largest order ever in terms of value for Prevost.

Between 2020 and 2022 Prevost is to deliver 307 coaches and MTA has taken an option for 23 additional buses to be delivered at a later date. 
“We are sincerely proud and grateful for the continued trust that MTA is putting in the Volvo team by awarding Prevost the largest order ever in the history of the company. MTA has the largest bus and coach fleet in North America and we want to make a difference for the citizens of New York”, said Håkan Agnevall, President of Volvo Buses. 

The order is also important for employment and it allows Volvo Buses to double its production of buses at the Prevost factory in Plattsburgh. 
“This is great news for Prevost to obtain these new contracts from the North America’s largest transportation network, which will continue to reinforce Prevost’s leadership position in the North American coach market”, added François Tremblay, General Manager at Prevost.

Sunday 29 December 2019

TfL 5 year Plan

Transport for London (TfL) has set out how transport will support sustainable growth in its draft business plan covering the period from 2020/21 to 2024/25.

TfL says it essential for there to be long-term certainty around Government investment in existing and new transport assets to ensure that services support the growing city.

Since last year’s plan, Crossrail has been delayed further, with more time required to complete software development for the railway’s signalling and train systems, and for overall safety approvals on the line.

As a result, the opening of the central section of the Elizabeth line will not occur in 2020 but as soon as “practically possible” in 2021, it says.

As announced at its Board meeting in November, between £500 million and £750m in lost revenue needs to be absorbed in addition to the £600m highlighted in last year’s plan. 

This revenue shortfall is spread across the next four financial years and will be managed through further savings and by encouraging more people to use public transport.

TfL says it has reduced the net annual cost of operations by more than £1 billion since 2015/16 and it remains on track to generate an operating surplus by 2022/23.

Investment plans include:

Completing the signalling upgrade and increasing capacity by 33% on the Circle, Hammersmith & City, Metropolitan and District lines. Delivering refurbished trains on the Central line and new, spacious state-of-the-art trains on the Piccadilly line. 

The Hammersmith & City Line 

TfL will also continue to make the case for Government investment to replace the life-expired signalling system on the Piccadilly line, which it had to pause last year owing to a lack of certainty around Government funding. It remains TfL’s intention to press ahead with this essential work as soon as funding is confirmed.

Continuing the electrification of London buses, already the largest electric fleet in Europe, with more than 2,000 zero-emission buses by end of 2024/25. 
TfL will also work with bus operators to implement its Bus Safety Standard, including all new buses purchased from August 2019 having Intelligent Speed Assistance as standard.

Reducing TfL’s environmental impact through installing new solar panels on selected London Underground, DLR and tram depots to deliver more than 1.1 megawatts of power, and the continued retrofitting of lighting across the network to energy-efficient LEDs. 

TfL will also be increasing the amount of low-carbon energy supplied to its infrastructure which comes from renewable energy sources with an aim for its rail services to be 100 per cent carbon-free by 2030.

Maintaining and upgrading existing core assets across the transport network to provide safe and reliable journeys. This includes replacing rails to offer customers a smoother, quieter ride, and maintaining lifts and escalators. 

 CAF has won the Transport for London contract
 to supply 43 trains for Docklands Light Railway.

New walk-through trains on the DLR will be delivered, increasing capacity on the lines and providing more frequent, direct services. Following a two-year pause, proactive renewal of roads and paving will also recommence with a focus on improving the experience for those walking, cycling or taking public transport.

Supporting Crossrail in the remaining and complex technical work necessary to allow the Elizabeth line to open. From Sunday (December 15), TfL Rail will began running services to Reading from Paddington, with direct services between Heathrow from Paddington beginning in spring 2020.

Construction continues around the clock in stations and tunnels on the rest of the Elizabeth line, with safety-critical systems now being installed and tested. The central section of the Elizabeth line will in 2020 undergo extensive trial running and testing to ensure it is safe and reliable and will open as soon as practically possible in 2021.

Helping further to clean up London’s toxic air by tightening the Low Emission Zone standards in October 2020 and, in October 2021, expanding the successful central London ULEZ - the toughest air quality standard of any city in the world - to cover the area within the North and South Circular Roads.

Working with boroughs, investing in new high-quality cycle routes across London and working with local communities to improve high streets, making them safer and accessible to everyone. 

Delivering these schemes forms part of TfL’s commitment to Vision Zero, which aims to eliminate death and serious injury from London’s roads by 2041.
Delivering 10,000 homes and two million sq. ft of commercial floor space across London, with 50 per cent of the homes being affordable.

Introducing new services on the Northern line extension to Battersea and the Barking Riverside extension on the London Overground.

TfL will also continue to make the case for future transport infrastructure to support the growth of London and support the wider South East region and the UK overall, such as Crossrail 2 and the Bakerloo line extension, it says.

Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, said: “I am hugely proud of what we have achieved improving transport across London – this is despite the ongoing economic uncertainty and the average reduction of £700m per year in TfL's funding from central Government.

“Alongside our continuing modernisation of the Tube, TfL fares will be frozen again this January, and we continue to take some of the boldest action of any city in the world greening up our transport network and improving air quality across the capital.

“But London also needs a Government that recognises the importance of continued investment in new infrastructure for the future of our economy, and it is essential the new Government commits to working with us to deliver vital projects such as Crossrail 2 and the Bakerloo Line extension.”

London’s Transport Commissioner, Mike Brown, added: “Since our formation in 2000, there has been enormous commitment and sustained investment to revitalise our transport network, supporting our city’s economic growth.

“In this time of uncertainty, this Business Plan is focused on running safe and reliable services while investing to improve travel. But cities can only thrive if they benefit from steady, sustained funding in existing and new infrastructure.

“We are working urgently to secure this, and I will be writing to the Government to seek this investment to keep London and the country moving.”

A copy of the draft TfL Business Plan will be available to download here: https://tfl.gov.uk/corporate/publications-and-reports/finance-committee

Saturday 28 December 2019

Riviera Sleeper Sleeper at Hayle

Further to the posting of pictures in Hayle by Ken Jones here are pictures of the sleeper service that runs to and from Penzance and Paddington. The train is known as the Night Riviera Sleeper and is operated by GWR.

It passes Hayle eastbound Mon - Fri at around 10 pm but calls at Hayle station westbound at 7.40 am, this being the first train passengers at Hayle can use to get to St Erth and Penzance by using one of the non sleeper carriages. 

Ken Jones found motive power alternating between 57602 and 57605 during his stay at Hayle. 

The westbound train was running late every morning, normally in the order of 15 mins.

On 18th October on departing Plymouth the Class 57/6 locomotive No. 57605 'Totnes Castle' failed near Hemerdon with the train unable to proceed it was declared a failure.
 The train was rescued by the DB Cargo/ Network Rail Rail Head Treatment Train (which happened to be at Plymouth at the time of the failure). The sleeper service was hauled back to Plymouth station. Passengers on board the train were then asked to vacate their beds and transfer onto a Class 802 IET No.802021 for their onward journey to London. 

Such is the lack of capacity on the network GWR had no choice but to split a ten car Class 802 set, which would also leave them short with another short formed set for 1A77 later that morning.
No.802021 finally reached Taunton at 05:13 (197 minutes late) and rolled into London Paddington at 07:20 (134 minutes late).
The Class 57/6 was later hauled to Reading Depot by a pair of GWR powercars, passing Taunton in daylight at just after 12:00.

All pictures © Ken Jones

Friday 27 December 2019

Airbus A350-1000 Selected by Qantas

Qantas has selected Airbus’ A350-1000 to develop its plans for the world's longest commercial flights.

It has been picked as the preferred aircraft for its ultra long-haul non-stop research flight programme, dubbed Project Sunrise, after making a “detailed evaluation” against the Boeing 777X.

The Australian flag carrier wants to be able to operate regular, non-stop commercial flights from the east coast of Australia to London and New York.The 17,000km flights take around 21 hours.

It said today that it will now make a “final go/no go decision” in March 2020 on whether to operate the flights.

The A350-1000 uses the Rolls Royce Trent XWB engine, which is used exclusively on the A350 and, according to the airline, has a “strong reliability record” after being in service with airlines for more than two years.

The airline added that Airbus will add an additional fuel tank and slightly increase the maximum takeoff weight to “deliver the performance required for Sunrise routes”.

Qantas said no orders have been placed so far, but it would work closely with Airbus to prepare contract terms for up to 12 aircraft ahead of a final decision by the Qantas board.

Airbus has agreed to extend the deadline to confirm delivery slots from February 2020 to March 2020. This provides additional time to negotiate an industrial agreement without impacting the planned start date of Project Sunrise flights in the first half of calendar 2023.

The last of three Project Sunrise research flights (New York to Sydney) will be conducted on December 17. Once complete, Qantas will have almost 60 hours of ‘Sunrise flying’ experience and thousands of data points on crew and passenger wellbeing.

The data for crew will be used as part of final discussions with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority to approve an extension to current operating limits required for these ultra long haul services. Based on detailed information already provided by Qantas on its fatigue risk management system, CASA has provisionally advised that it sees no regulatory obstacles to the Sunrise flights.

Thursday 26 December 2019

New Sound for Electric & Hybrid London Buses

An innovative new bus sound is set to be trialled on the capital’s latest electric bus route from January.

Transport for London has developed the sound, which is played through special speakers inside the front of the bus, to ensure that all road users are aware of electric and hybrid buses when they are moving at slow speeds. 

Without this sound, these vehicles are almost silent which could pose a safety risk, particularly for people who are blind or are partially sighted. 
The trial on the 100 bus route comes ahead of an artificial sound becoming a regulatory requirement for all new ‘quiet’ running vehicles in 2021.

The sound has been developed with input from Guide Dogs for the Blind, London Travelwatch and other key accessibility, walking and cycling groups. This has helped ensure that it accommodates the needs of all road users including pedestrians and cyclists, children and disabled people. Bus drivers, operators and union representatives have also provided input.

The sound will play until the bus reaches 12mph, or when it is reversing or stationary at bus stops. 

When travelling above 12mph, the bus will make enough noise that an alert is unnecessary. The pitch of the sound will vary with the speed of the vehicle, helping people know where the bus is and which direction it is going.

 The sound will be trialled first at varying volumes on the 100 bus route – which runs between St Paul’s Cathedral and Shadwell – over a six-month period from January. It will also be trialled on other routes – including the C10 route between Canada Water and Victoria from March, and the P5 route between Elephant and Castle and Newington Causeway from May – as new zero-emission vehicles are introduced.

Feedback from road users, residents, passengers and drivers across all routes will be collected to help develop the most effective system for all road users.

The artificial bus sound is one aspect of TfL’s world-leading Bus Safety Standard, which works towards the Mayor’s Vision Zero of no deaths or serious injuries on London’s roads by 2041. The Bus Safety Standard is already improving safety on London’s roads by requiring technology that automatically limits the speed of buses and increased use of mirrors and cameras.

Claire Mann, Director of Bus Operations at TfL, said: “We are committed to ensuring the safest buses are driven on London’s roads and pleased to announce this latest development with the Bus Safety Standard as we work towards Vision Zero.
“Working with a broad range of stakeholders and trialling AVAS on the 100 bus route and other routes in the following months will ensure the system is best equipped to alert all road users to the presence of quiet running buses, preventing collisions and making deaths and serious injuries on our roads a thing of the past."

Kirsty Hoyle, CEO at Transport for All, said: "Understanding the lived-experience of navigating London’s streets with a visual or sensory impairment, and designing services with this in mind, is a fundamental part of inclusive design; our disabled members have been delighted to work with Transport for London to find a solution that can now be live tested. We are excited and interested to see the results."

The new artificial bus sound is part of an acoustic vehicle alerting system (AVAS) that will mandatory for all new ‘quiet’ running vehicles to use a system after September 2021.

AVAS will be consistent across all London bus operators and will be available to transport providers across the UK to ensure that people can detect and recognise a bus regardless of where they are in the UK.

Tuesday 24 December 2019

Seasons Greetings

Best Wishes for Christmas and The New Year to all our Readers and Contributors.

Focus Transport had planned to take a short break over the Christmas holiday period. However! There seems to be a surplus of interesting news items hitting our screens, so we will try and find time to write up some of these and schedule them to appear over the holiday period. Whatever happens, we plan to re-commence our normal routine postings on January 2nd.

In the meantime we hope you have an enjoyable Christmas and New Year and we look forward to you joining us in 2020. 

May we also suggest that you use the 'Search this Blog' facility on the right hand side of this page. By typing in key words you can look back as far as our original postings in 2011. Try it, it works well!
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Scroll down for today's posting

LNER Bids Final Farewell to HST

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) has given a fond farewell to the iconic InterCity 125 High-Speed Train (HST) on the special tour for its last journey on the East Coast route.

Having broken speed records and transformed rail travel since they were first introduced in the 1970’s, LNER has marked the retirement of the InterCity 125 with a four-day farewell tour. The first leg of the journey to Inverness via Aberdeen set off on 18th December from Edinburgh Waverley at 09.46.
To make the final trip extra special for those on board and people keen to see the train, both power cars and carriages were painted in the original British Rail InterCity 125 livery.

David Horne, Managing Director of LNER, said: “After four decades of service, it’s brilliant to be recognising the contribution of the InterCity 125 trains with one last trip along the East Coast.
“These trains had a huge impact when they were first introduced, no more so than in Scotland where it reduced journey times between Edinburgh and London King’s Cross by up to an hour. Launching our farewell tour at Edinburgh is therefore a perfect way to begin our goodbye to these iconic machines.
“With the full train in its original livery, the tour will give people along the route a once in a lifetime opportunity to see the train in all its glory as it travels by world famous landmarks and landscapes.”
Following the first day to Inverness via Aberdeen, the train then returned from Inverness to Edinburgh via Stirling on day two before heading southbound on day three. The tour culminated with the final journey from Leeds to London King’s Cross on Saturday 21 December.

Nicknamed ‘The Journey Shrinker’ for the reduction in journey times it brought about, the very first High-Speed-Train made its public debut in October 1976. In 1978 they were officially introduced onto the East Coast route.
Money raised from the tour will go towards LNER partner charity, Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). The charity works to prevent male suicide and has already benefited from more than £100,000 in donations from LNER customers donating ‘Delay Repay’ claims to help support the campaign.
The farewell tour followed the last scheduled InterCity 125 passenger service on the East Coast which was the 19.35 London King’s Cross to Leeds on the 15 December.

Excellent Video here

See Previous Focus posting here

Monday 23 December 2019

Friends of King Alfred

THE Winchester-based Friends of King Alfred Buses (FoKAB) has confirmed details of its services for New Year’s Day.

Whilst in keeping with the policy of recent years, the main Running Day will be in the spring on Sunday May 3, a smaller operation involving several King Alfred Buses vehicles will again take place on Wednesday January 1. This will maintain a long-established tradition and provide a service for the many supporters who would still like to travel on these historic buses from one of the last independently-owned companies that closed in 1973.

The services will be again be centred on the Broadway with the first departure at 9.15am and the last at 4.20pm.

A feature this year is the planned use of the two King Alfred 1964 AEC Renowns, 595 LCG and 596 LCG. 595 has seen a complete internal re-trim using specially-commissioned authentic material whilst 596 has been repainted in National Bus poppy red, recalling the 1970s after King Alfred operations and vehicles had passed to National Bus (Hants & Dorset).

Also envisaged is a free vintage bus service to/from Southampton via the former Hants &

Dorset route 47, departing at 9.45am and 2.45pm from the Broadway to Southampton Civic Centre Road, returning at 10.45am and 3.45pm. Appropriately, this is planned to use 596 LCG in its current guise as Hants & Dorset No. 2212.

A full timetable may be obtained in advance by post from: David Morgan, 34 High Street, Nutfield, Redhill, Surrey, RH1 4HQ, 01737 823436. Price: £2 (Cheques payable to ‘Friends of King Alfred Buses).

Sunday 22 December 2019

West Midlands Bus Travel Increases

Bus travel in Birmingham is booming - with millions more people using it for local journeys this year.

Some 267.1 million bus trips were taken across the West Midlands Integrated Transport Authority in the financial year 2018/19, according to figures released by the Department for Transport this week

That is up from 259.3 million in 2017/18. The huge increase reverses years of decline.

The number of trips had previously dropped for four years in a row from a high of 279.1 million bus trips in 2013/14.

Across England as a whole, use of local bus services fell in 2018/19 to 4.32 billion trips taken during the financial year.

That was down from 4.35 billion in 2017/18, and as many as 4.61 billion at the start of the decade.

London remains responsible for nearly half the local bus journeys taken across the country.

There were 2.20 billion journeys in the capital, down slightly from 2.22 million in 2017/18.

Separate DfT figures show that the bus remains the most important form of public transport for commuters in the West Midlands.

Some six per cent of people usually take the bus to work, compared to three per cent who use rail.

Eight per cent walk and two per cent use the bike - but 90 per cent commute by car.

Across England as a whole only 67 per cent of people use the car to get to work.

That figure is, however, skewed by London: the capital’s layout and efficient public transport options mean only 28 per cent of people there use the car to get to work.

Saturday 21 December 2019

ADL Supply Reading Buses for Thames Valley Services

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”), has again supplied Enviro200 vehicles from stock to meet demand. This time ADL have supplied three stock-built Enviro200 buses to Reading Buses for its newly relaunched Thames Valley Buses network in Slough and Windsor.

Council-owned Reading Buses took the decision to consolidate its network in Slough and Windsor after the purchase of Courtney Buses added routes to the operator’s existing operation. Thames Valley Buses now runs six services in the towns, extending to Maidenhead and Heathrow Airport.

The operator turned to ADL to meet their vehicle requirements in time for the launch of the new network. Chief Executive Officer Robert Williams explains: “ADL had some vehicles to the right specification, and they were available quickly, which was the thing that decided it for us.”

The 10.8m long single deckers have latest generation Euro 6 engines, ensuring low emissions. Passengers enjoy a light, airy interior with 41 comfortable ADL SmartSeats.

Robert Williams confirms the buses have been well received on the new Thames Valley Buses network: “They are bright and reliable. Customers love them and we are really pleased with them. In the future, if there is another short-term need for a piece of work to be done quite quickly, we would look at buying from stock again.”

Friday 20 December 2019

Abellio ScotRail Franchise to End Three Years Early

THE Scottish Government has cut short the contract for running Scotland’s railways after years of complaints about the service provided to passengers.

The 10-year ScotRail franchise with Dutch-owned firm Abellio will now end three years early in March 2022 instead of 2025.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson told MSPs his officials considered continuing the franchise to its full term would not deliver value for money.


Services will continue with Abellio working to its existing franchise conditions until 2022.

Mr Matheson said: “Our rail network is of significant social, economic and environmental value to the people of Scotland, and Ministers must ensure that the services we secure are high performing, financially sustainable and offer value for money. 

“We currently provide around two thirds of the running costs for our railway and it is essential that this is sustainable going forward. Our record investment in rail is already delivering more seats, more trains and more stations.

“Any changes to the level of subsidy paid by the government must deliver new benefits for passengers and taxpayers and whilst there have been improvements in recent years, the proposed changes were not sufficient to justify additional subsidy.

“Of course, the Scottish Government must plan for the future of our rail services, beyond 2022 and work is already underway to examine the options open to us in this regard.

“Longer term, this Government has already made clear its position that the current franchising regime, which is a matter reserved to the UK

The current franchise agreement requires Scottish Ministers and Abellio to revisit the level of government subsidy provided for the remaining five years of the contract to determine whether additional subsidy should be paid, a process known as “rebasing”.

Mr Matheson said that after careful analysis of the information provided by Abellio ScotRail, Ministers had decided that a significant increase in Government subsidy proposed would not secure delivery of commensurate benefits to passengers, communities and the economy.

Ministers had therefore served a “No Rebasing Notice” on Abellio ScotRail, informing them the contract was coming to an early halt.

ScotRail operates about 2,400 train services a day, and covers all services in Scotland except those run by other operators which cross the border.

It is not responsible for the maintenance of the track, which falls under Network Rail nor the operation of the main rail routes from Glasgow and Edinburgh to London.

Thursday 19 December 2019

Name the Stagecoach West Enviro200's

To celebrate the launch of 14  brand new buses in Cheltenham, Stagecoach West are giving people the chance to name a bus! 
After all, people name boats, so why not buses? 
Until the 31st December, they will be accepting suggestions for names through the form below and via Twitter using the hashtag #14newbuses.    
The most popular names will be shortlisted in January, ready for the final vote on  which names should make it onto the 14 new buses. 
So whether it's your own name, or the name of someone  important to you, or just a name you think would be perfect for a bus, submit your nomination below for a chance to see your suggestion on a bus!

The 14 new ADL Enviro200 buses in Cheltenham will come with the following features:

USB charging points 

Next stop announcements 

Better for the environment - Euro 6 engines on the new buses produce 95% less emissions than the previous Euro 5 engine so catching the bus is even better for the environment! 

Enter the competition here

Wednesday 18 December 2019

arriva Click Watford

A new on-demand bus service will operate in Watford from March next year.

Watford Borough Council is striving to make the town more sustainable and less congested, and alongside a bike hire scheme, mayor Peter Taylor is introducing a flexible minibus service.

It won't work like your normal bus service - in fact there will be no bus stops at all.

Instead, passengers can call for a minibus at the touch of a button and like a taxi, you will be taken to your doorstep or destination.

There is a catch though.

Fellow passengers may not be going the same way as you, so although the minibus takes you exactly where you want to go, they may be ahead of you in the queue, therefore making your journey a little bit longer.

But you'll only ever pay for the length of your requested journey.

Seven 15-seater minibuses will run around the whole borough, as well as Croxley Park and Warner Bros Studios in Leavesden.

Each bus will have seating, tables, free wifi, USB charges, and air conditioning.

The buses, which will be delivered by ArrivaClick, are fully accessible, with front kerbside double door access and a low-level fold-out wheelchair ramp. Passengers can pre-register as a wheelchair user. There will also be space for pushchairs.

Journey prices will range from £1 to £2.50 per mile, while weekly passes will also be available.

The service, which will come into force in March 2020, will run Monday to Thursday 6am to 10pm, Friday and Saturday 6am to 11pm and on Sundays from 8am to 9pm.

Journeys can be booked via the ArrivaClick smartphone app but there will also be an online and telephone service.

The council says the minibus service will provide an "effective and carbon efficient way" for people to get around town without using a car.

Asiya Jelani, business development director for ArrivaClick, said: "We’re delighted to bring truly flexible, demand responsive shared transport to residents and visitors in Watford, which will provide improved connectivity between main transport hubs such as Watford Junction and local points of interest."

The contract will last four years, with the option of a two-year extension. Residents and visitors will benefit from a new and easier way to get around, that will reduce the need for private car ownership and provide a more environmentally friendly way to travel.

Alistair Hands, Commercial Director, said: "We’re delighted to be working with Watford, who should be applauded for their forward-looking approach to addressing connectivity issues. We’re in conversation with a number of other local authorities and interested third parties to explore the role that DRT can play as part of the mix in encouraging uptake of public transport.”

This is the fourth DRT service Arriva has introduced in the UK since 2017 and builds on existing operations in Liverpool and Leicester. It’ll form part of Watford council’s wider strategy to develop an integrated approach to improving sustainable transport options throughout the town, which also includes a bike hire scheme.

The new service will mean improved connectivity between Watford Junction, only 20 minutes away from London Euston, and local points of interest including Watford town centre, Croxley business park and the major tourist attraction of Warner Brother Studios, home of the Harry Potter studio tour.

Seven buses, that can seat up to 15 people, will be introduced within a defined operating zone. 

The group ended the launch pilot in Sittingbourne, Kent on 16th November, while overall it continues to see strong growth by attracting customers from private cars and taxis. 


Tuesday 17 December 2019

Sheffield Tram-Train Service Cancelled Until Further Notice

Stagecoach Supertram has announced that the entire fleet of Stadler Supertrams being used in Sheffield has been withdrawn.

Stagecoach is unable to run any Tram-Train services until further notice.

This is because the manufacturer, Stadler, has told Stagecoach Supertram that they need to temporarily withdraw the fleet.

In April the service was suspended because a of a fault on the underside of one of the vehicles.

A further update will be provided as soon as Stagecoach has been updated by Stadler.

Due to suspension of the tram-train service between the Cathedral and Rotherham-Parkgate, tickets are now being accepted on Northern trains between Rotherham Central / Meadowhall and Sheffield.

Tickets are also being accepted on the following Stagecoach / First bus services: Meadowhall / Rotherham X1, X10, X78 Rotherham Interchange / Parkgate 8, 8a, 9, 22x*, 218, 218a, 221 22a, 22c

Monday 16 December 2019

Battery Powered Trams Start Service in Birmingham

Ken Jones has visited Birmingham city centre to travel on and photograph the trams now running between Grand Central and Centenary Square.

In a UK first, all of the trams serving Centenary Square will all run on battery power from Grand Central which preserves the visual aesthetics of this part of the city centre and also has saved on the cost of erecting the catenary.

There will be be no overhead cables obscuring the views of landmarks including the 1879 Council House and 1834 Birmingham Town Hall.

There has been no fanfare of an opening ceremony although it is thought there will be an official opening in the New Year.

The Town Hall stop also serves Victoria Square

The Library stop seems to have several names. The actual tram stop is physically labelled Library Centenary Square - the moving LED display on the trams says Library for Centenary Square, the display at Grand Central shows Library - although one tram terminated here and went back to Wednesbury Parkway whilst the display on the monitors inside the trams read Library Centenary Square.

In addition the information on the westbound platform at Grand Central still reads 'use this platform for Wolverhampton', confusing many people, but they were not charged by conductors for their extra ride. Trams currently have about 4 min at Library Centenary Square

The pantographs are raised and lowered at Grand Central platforms

Tram 28 descending Pinfold Street - this tram was recently named Jasper Carrott 

 Tram 37 at Grand Central having lowered its pantograph before heading for the Town Hall

Tram 28 approaching Grand Central  

Trams 20 and 37 in Pinfold Street 

 Tram 25 leaving Town Hall heading West towards Library Centenary Square 

Tram 20 approaching Town Hall stop heading for Wolverhampton 

 Above & below, Trams at Centenary Square

 Platform at Library Centenary Square - showing the
different layout to previous metro stations

Previous Focus Posting here

Battery Powered Trams for other UK Cities - See below

The battery-powered trackless tram, or ART, in operation in Zhuzhou, showing the trackless autonomous guidance system. 

An impressive start to battery running in Birmingham rather than depending on overhead power. 

When trams are being considered by other UK cities maybe the idea of battery running will allow the system to run totally on battery power, dispensing with overhead lines completely.
We could even move to the idea of tram like guided vehicles on tyres avoiding the upset of laying rails through city streets. Something to think about!