Thursday 31 October 2019

Gatwick Easy Jet Trial Cuts Boarding Time by 10%

The frustration of waiting for someone to put their bag in an overhead locker may soon be over if a trial to get people on planes quicker is successful.

Gatwick says it is working with EasyJet to try out new ways to board passengers at the London airport.

They include boarding people in window seats first, starting at the back, followed by middle then aisle seats.

Gatwick said different boarding methods could reduce the journey from airport gate to seat by about 10%.

The airport operator says that the window-to-aisle seat pattern of boarding is best suited for individuals and business passengers.

Groups of people who want to sit together such as families will be seated by row, again starting at the back of the plane.

Gatwick said it was experimenting with flexible boarding patterns, "depending on the passenger make up on any individual flight - number of families, individual travellers etc".

The two-month trial has already begun and Gatwick said an airline managed to board 158 passengers on one plane in 14 minutes. "This is typically 2-3 minutes better than the usual time," said a spokesman,companies are experimenting with plane seating - most notably Japan Airlines which has introduced a new booking system which helps passengers avoid sitting next to young children, thereby potentially avoiding a noisy flight.
'Bingo boarding'

Gatwick is also experimenting with better ways of telling passengers when they need to queue up at the boarding gate.

Instead of the often inaudible tannoy announcement informing which rows of passengers to line up, flyers will now learn which seat numbers are ready to board via a digital screen.

A spokesman for Gatwick said: "One challenge in any controlled boarding process is our ability to communicate the pattern to passengers and the willingness of passengers to comply. It is almost impossible to do that effectively through audio announcements."
He said that so far passengers "get it intuitively and comply with it".
"Passengers can be seated until their seat number comes up on the large screen and then board the aircraft without queuing.
"Some even appear to enjoy it and are calling it 'bingo boarding'."
The company said the trial was being run with EasyJet from just one gate at present, but other airlines are expected to become involved.
It said: "This is about improving the experience for passengers - not just in terms of making the boarding process more relaxing - but also helping to reduce delays."
Passengers who have booked priority boarding, or those who require special assistance or are travelling with young families, will still board first during the trial.

Wednesday 30 October 2019

Moving to Brussels is a Great Success for Busworld Europe

The biggest Bus and Coach only exhibition in the world organised its first visit to

Brussels from 18th to 23rd October 2019. The exhibitors, visitors, members of the press and

the organising teams have all agreed that it was a great success. 

Busworld was bigger and better than ever.

All numbers increased: more space (50,000 to 79,000 sqm), more exhibitors (376 to 511

of which 176 were newcomers) and more visitors (37,274 to 39,798). Overall
feedback was very positive meaning that 2019 has been a milestone in Busworld’s


International audience

511 exhibitors came from 37 countries with top attendances from Turkey, Germany and China.

Visitors came from 143 countries which is a significant difference in comparison with

118 countries in 2017.

Redgy Deschacht, President of Busworld, said " Due to the continuous growth of the Busworld show, it was decided to move to 
Brussels Expo, a bigger exhibition centre: . 

Previously Kortrijk Xpo was a very popular location, although it had been too small for some years. Today everyone is unanimous: Brussels was the right choice.

Electrification, a natural theme

Although Busworld never determines a specific theme, electrification developed itself naturally for 2019. Almost every bus, present inside and outside the Brussels Expo, was equipped with an electric driveline. It was all about batteries, autonomy, kWh, charging possibilities,… clearly electricity was in the air.

Busworld Awards, the winners

Like in previous editions, Busworld organized its own competition: the Busworld

Awards. All vehicle manufacturers were invited to take part in it with the vehicles they

presented during the show.

The Grand Award Bus went to the hydrogen-powered Van Hool Exqui.City FC Design

Pau. Thanks to its capacity of operational autonomy, which totally surpasses that of

other vehicles, the hydrogen fuel cell bus has also been awarded the Ecology Label.

The jury praised the safety features, the completely separated driver space with

centrally located controls, the excellent visibility for the driver and the multitude of

cameras covering the entire external area of the bus.

The hydrogen-powered drive converts hydrogen and oxygen into electrical energy through reverse electrolysis. On the one hand the electricity is used to power the vehicle and, on the other, unused energy is stored in lithium batteries for additional power where and when needed, such as when pulling away from a stop. 
The only emission from this “zero emission” vehicle is water vapour.

The Grand Award Coach went to the Volvo 9900. It wins through good scores on design,

maintenance, driving quality, comfort and acceleration. Safety is another asset of this

coach, which yields Volvo the Safety Label once again. 

The jury was impressed by the passive ; active safety automated fire extinguishing system, black box system and on board computer, the driver passive safety (energy absorption zone) and the passenger safety (light entrance and exit).

Below is an overview of the awarded Labels of Excellence:


• Comfort Label Bus: Mercedes-Benz eCitaro

• Safety Label Bus: MAN Lion's City Hybrid

• Design Label Bus: Yutong U12

• Ecology Label Bus: Van Hool Exqui.City FC Design Pau


• Comfort Label Coach: Van Hool EX11H

• Comfort Label Coach: Setra Topclass S 531 DT

• Design Label Coach: Yutong T13

• Ecology Label Coach: Yutong ICe12

• Safety Label Coach: Volvo 9900

Pictures from the exhibition below

More pictures can be found here

Tuesday 29 October 2019

Avigon Tramway Inaugurated

The initial section of the French Avignon tramway was inaugurated on October 19 with a day of free travel.

The 5·2 km route T1 runs east from Saint-Roch Université des Métiers to Gare Centre, then south along Avenue Saint-Ruf and Avenue de Tarascon, before turning east again to reach Saint-Chamand Plaine des Sports, where the depot is located. There are 10 stops and the end-to-end journey time is 15 min.

The city’s first-generation metre-gauge tramway closed in 1932. In September 2010 the city authorities approved a plan to build a standard-gauge tramway, but this was cancelled in 2014. A scaled-back version was approved in January 2015 and preliminary works began in October 2016. In May 2017 a contract was signed with a TSO-led consortium including Alstom, Guintoli, EHTP and Agilis.

The total value of the project is €135m. The tramway is owned by the Grand Avignon local authority, and managed and operated by Orizo. Services run every 6 min.

Alstom is suppling a fleet of Citadis X05 trams, the first of which was delivered in December 2018, ahead of test running that started the following month. Four vehicles are being delivered for the future route T2, with the remaining 10 to be used on route T1.

The bidirectional three-section trams are 24 m long with capacity for 140 passengers. The 100% low-floor vehicles are equipped with LED lighting, air-conditioning and CCTV. The fleet is being assembled at Alstom’s La Rochelle factory, with components coming from other Alstom sites in France.

Expansion Plans

A second route is in the planning phase, the city authorities having granted approval in March 2018. Work on T2 is expected to begin in 2021 for opening two years later.

T2 would run for 3·2 km from Île Piot to Saint-Lazare Université Arendt, serving seven stops. It would use the Gare Centre – Saint-Roch Université des Métiers section that is currently operated as the western end of route T1; a 300 m extension of T1 from Gare Centre to Jean Jaurès would open at the same time. Services on T2 would run every 6½ min.

Longer-terms plans envisage an extension of T1 from Jean Jaurès to Place de l’Horloge in the city centre. T2 would be extended from Saint-Lazare Université Arendt to the former Gare du Pontet railway station, which would be reopened. A branch to Zone Commerciale de Réalpanier is also planned, where a second depot is to be built. Once both branches are open, services to Le Pontet would be designated T2a and those to Réalpanier T2b.

Monday 28 October 2019

LNER HST's To Be Withdrawn from November 18th

LNER High Speed Trains will be start to be withdrawn from November 18th, to be replaced on long-distance services by Hitachi Azumas.

Record breaker 43102  (originally 43302). This power car reached 148.5mph on
 1st November 1987 setting the world speed record for diesel traction.

The HSTs have operated on the East Coast Main Line since 1978, but are now into their final weeks as more Class 800/801s enter traffic.

They will be replaced on London King’s Cross-Aberdeen trains from November 25, and on London King’s Cross-Inverness trains from December 9. 

Four sets serve the Granite City in each direction (three to/from London King’s Cross and one to/from Leeds), while there is one per day in each direction to Inverness.

LNER has 14 HSTs plus one set leased from East Midlands Railway that will be returned imminently. All are due off-lease by the end of the year.

 LNER HST power car 43290 enters York station on 8th October 2019

There are 65 Azumas on order, of which 12 nine-car bi-mode, ten five-car electric and four five-car bi-mode sets have so far entered service. More will come into use by the end of the year, including the first nine-car electrics.

 LNER Azuma 800 108 departing from York station on 8th October 2019

Speculation remains that the LNER High Speed Trains will transfer to East Midlands Railway, as although they are not compliant with disability regulations that come into force at the end of the year, they are more so than the EMR HST fleet (RAIL 888). However, the LNER sets will be due heavy maintenance, whereas this has recently been completed on the EMR vehicles.

Sunday 27 October 2019

Short Take Off & Landing ATR Announced

 ATR’s CEO Stefano Bortoli has officially announced that the company will soon be welcoming a new member in its aircraft family.

The ATR Board of Directors has approved the launch of the ATR 42-600S (for STOL – Short Take-Off and Landing).

This new version, which doesn’t replace the ATR 42-600, offers take-off and landing capabilities on runways as short as 800m with up to 42 passengers on board. This makes the ATR 42-600S the best performing aircraft in this segment.

To-date, ATR has already recorded 20 commitments from operators and lessors for this variant, including Elix Aviation Capital (10 aircraft) and Air Tahiti (two aircraft) which were announced at this year’s Paris Air Show. The certification of the ATR 42-600S is expected for the second half of 2022, with the first delivery expected immediately after.

Compared to a standard ATR 42, the 42-600S will have a larger rudder for increased control of the aircraft at lower speed. It will be able to symmetrically deploy its spoilers to improve braking efficiency on landing, and will come with an autobrake system, to ensure that the full braking power occurs immediately upon landing.

Adding the ATR 42-600S to the family paves the way for the company’s future. With this new version, ATR forecasts to expand its addressable market by 25%. Close to 500 airports across the globe have a runway comprised between 800-1,000m and could welcome the ATR 42-600S. This is clear illustration of the company’s dedication in helping more people and remote communities benefit from being part of a connected world, in a sustainable way.

Saturday 26 October 2019

Mulling Things Over - A Trip to Mull

Currently the Focus Transport website is being run from the Isle of Mull where the editor is taking a break from hustle and bustle of the real world. 
Time seems to have stood still here on the sparsely populated island, which can only be reached by ferry from the mainland.
Roads are mostly single track with passing places which encourages driving at a leisurely pace, whilst looking ahead for oncoming vehicles.

Imagine our surprise on Sunday when we spotted a West Coast Motors Van Hool coach heading towards us, to Craignure from Fionnphort where ferries cross to Iona.

West Coast Motors run a variety of  vehicles in various shapes and sizes. Some of the pictures below were taken at Tobermory where WCM vehicles mix with various touring coaches from the mainland.

Tobermory is the main town on the island which attracts visitors to see the brightly painted buildings which were made famous when shown on the TV programme 'Balamory'.

The main bus services terminate in the coach park at the southern end of the main street.

Whilst travelling through Craignure the West Coast Motors depot was spotted so a brief visit to photograph the vehicles took place.

All major ferry services to and from the island are operated by Caledonian Macbrayne. Our return journey will be via the Craignure to Oban service shown below.

 Snow on the surrounding hills in October illustrates how winter soon arrives in Scotland

 Caledonian MacBrayne ferry at Craignure

 Above & below a visit to Iona took us on yet another CalMac ferry

The Corran ferry which we used outbound combined with the Lochaline ferry

Normal Service will be resumed tomorrow!       D.G.

Friday 25 October 2019

Cycle Carriages for Scotland’s Scenic Railway

Designated carriages for bikes and large sporting equipment are to be introduced on one of Scotland’s most scenic routes, a first for the UK rail industry.

ScotRail is transforming five Class 153 trains to carry up to 20 bikes to enhance existing services on the West Highland Line, providing custom designed racks to accommodate bikes, sporting equipment and large items of luggage as well as more seats for customers.

The trains will also support winter sports in Scotland during the winter months, accommodating large bulky items such as ski bags and rucksacks.

Modified by Brodie Engineering in Kilmarnock, forming part of the firm’s expansion plans, the carriages will receive a full interior and exterior refresh including installation of free WiFi, at seat power sockets and a refurbished toilet with controlled emission toilet (CET) tank.

This unique project supports the Scottish Government’s commitment to economic development through active tourism and improved transport connectivity, getting more people to make active travel choices and providing opportunities to do so.

The first refurbished Class 153 carriage is due for delivery in 2020 and will be gradually rolled into service on the completion of staff training.

ScotRail Project Manager Tom Smith said:

“This innovative pilot is the first of its type in the UK and we’re delighted to have come up with something truly bespoke for Scotland and the West Highlands.

“We are continually looking to enhance the experience our customers have when travelling on our trains, and the introduction of these carriages will be a welcome boost for cyclists and those in search of outdoor pursuits.

“This project will support tourism, and bring wider economic benefits, along Scotland’s most scenic railways.”

Transport Scotland Director of Rail Bill Reeve said:

“This unique initiative will provide an affordable and accessible way to access the great outdoors and support more people to make active travel choices whilst delivering wider economic benefits for Scotland.

“It’s a very exciting time and we are another step closer to realising our ambitious Programme for Government commitment.”

Brodie Engineering Business Development Manager Jim Thomson said:

“Everyone is absolutely delighted that yet another ambitious and exciting project is coming to life here at Brodie Engineering in Kilmarnock.

“Vehicle modification design is a core competency for our talented in-house engineering team and our highly skilled production team have extensive experience with Class 153s and the similar Class 155s, which we’ve been modifying for Northern over the past two years.

“The ability to design and manufacture on the same site really sets us apart from our competitors.”

Thursday 24 October 2019

McGill's MD Criticises Local & National Government for Favouring Cars & Trains

McGill’s Buses Managing Director Ralph Roberts has criticised local and national government for “favouring the car and train” over buses. He says the bulk of infrastructure money goes to those modes despite buses delivering 74% of public transport journeys.

“Buses receive peppercorn levels of infrastructure investment,” he adds. The Greenock operator carries almost 750,000 passengers per week and since 2014 it has invested around £21m in its fleet.

McGill’s Buses Managing Director Ralph Roberts 

The McGill’s chief, who has given evidence to the Parliament’s Rural Economy and Connectivity Committee, said: “The first thing they (the government) have to do is acknowledge there is a problem. There is no quick fix to this. It has taken almost decades to get to this situation we have with roads.”

Mr Roberts went on: “It is going to take policy to change that. Only when they do that can we start working with local authorities, [and] with utilities who are digging up roads and causing mass disruption out there. It is not just bus passengers that get disruption, it is any road user.

“And part of that problem is that the infrastructure is swamped in many areas.
Mr Roberts says that McGill’s is in discussions with government at both local and national levels to release more funding for buses. Local politicians see doing so as a high-risk strategy that may lead to a voter backlash.

“They need to remember that bus users are also voters,” he adds.

However, he accepts that it is unsurprising that Renfrewshire – where the bulk of McGill’s revenues are earned – chooses to prioritise cars. Renfrewshire has the highest car ownership in Scotland.Mr Roberts was speaking after McGill’s revealed its financial results for the year ending December 2018. On a turnover of £38m it recorded a pre-tax profit of £1.4m, an increase on 2017.

However, the operator recorded a drop in passenger numbers that it believes has been driven by high street decline. Echoing Mr Roberts’ views, Director Sandy Easdale has called for more investment in waiting facilities and better management of car parking and roadworks.

The company, owned by brothers James and Sandy Easdale, made commitments totalling £3.8 million for new vehicles last year, when it introduced 27 new buses to its fleet. The average lifespan of its buses ranges from 12 to 15 years.

Wednesday 23 October 2019

Van Hool Provides Shuttle Service to Busworld Europe Exhibition

Bus and coach builder Van Hool and Flemish Operator De Lijn will operate free shuttle between Brussels Airport and Brussels Expo where Busworld Europe is being held from 17th till 23rd October 2019.

From 19 till 23 October 2019 the Busworld Europe Shuttle will be accommodated by the Van Hool diesel hybrid Exqui.City 24 trambuses. A premier for Belgium, as it will be the first time that these trambuses are in operation on the public roads. These trambuses will be put into daily operation later on the BRT line 820.

The Busworld Europe Shuttle leaves every hour at the bus parking lot (level 0) in Brussels Airport and will bring passengers non stop to Busworld Europe in only 45 minutes.The shuttle will drop off at the main entrance in front of Hall 2.

Tuesday 22 October 2019

Bombardier 'Global 7500' Completes 8,225 Mile Non-stop Flight

Bombardier’s Global 7500 has completed an 8,225nm (15,230km) nonstop flight, which the manufacturer bills as “the longest city-pair flown by a purpose-built business aircraft”.
The journey from Sydney, Australia to Detroit, in Michigan on 6 October was undertaken by the company demonstrator, N750GX. It eclipsed a previous record set on 4 March, when the ultra-long-range twinjet made an 8,152nm nonstop flight between Singapore and Tucson, Arizona.
Asset Image

The GE Aviation passport-powered Global 7500 has an advertised range of 7,700nm.
Peter Likoray, Bombardier Business Aircraft’s senior vice-president, worldwide sales and marketing, says since entry into service in December 2018, the flagship aircraft “continues to go above and beyond expectations, flying farther and farther, setting new benchmarks for exceptional performance and comfort”.
Cirium fleets data records an in-service fleet of 11 of the aircraft from a backlog of around 80. The Canadian airframer plans to deliver between 15 and 20 examples in 2019 and up to 40 aircraft next year.

Monday 21 October 2019

Defibrillators Being Fitted to Part of the Plymouth Citybus Fleet

Life-saving defibrillators are being fitted to part of the Plymouth Citybus fleet in a groundbreaking new charity partnership.

Sixteen defibrillators donated by local charity Hearts Together, will be on board the company’s 16 Spark buses, which serve one of the busiest routes in Plymouth, with the aim to eventually have one on every single bus.

They can be used to restart the heart in case of cardiac arrest and can raise survival rates from 6% to an incredible 74%.

Plymouth Citybus - part of the Go Ahead Group, has worked closely with local charity Hearts Together, who support patients, families and carers in the South West, to deliver the project. Defibshop, who are experts in their field, have also provided support and resources to assist this new venture.

This is the first scheme in the UK to place defibrillators on buses and was officially launched on Wednesday 16th October - World Restart a Heart Day - with a display on the Piazza in Plymouth City Centre.

One of the buses with a defibrillator will be on show with volunteers on hand to demonstrate how it can be used. Drivers will also be trained to operate them.

Plymouth Citybus Managing Director Richard Stevens said: “We're hoping this investment will help save lives. In times of crisis our buses are often first at the scene, so it makes sense for them to be equipped with defibrillators.

“Members of the public will be able to use them and we are also training all our drivers in the hope that should someone suffer a cardiac arrest we’re doing our very best to significantly improve their chances of survival.

“I’d like to thank Hearts Together for working with us to deliver this remarkable project, which we believe will make a genuine difference not just to the health of our passengers but for the communities we service.”

Each of the buses will have signs to advise passengers that a defibrillator is aboard their bus, with clearly labelled QR codes next to them, which members of the public will be able to scan to play a video showing how to use them.

The aim is to have a defibrillator on every bus, with a fund-raising drive by the charity now underway.

Hearts Together Chief Executive Liz Harding said: “I’d like to thank everyone at Plymouth Citybus and defibshop for all their help with this project, which not only increases the opportunity to save lives but raises awareness of the work we do.

“Defibrillators make a tangible difference to communities - tragically 90-95% of cardiac arrests prove fatal when they go untreated, yet the likelihood of survival is altered dramatically by their use.

“Every minute without CPR or defibrillation, the chances of someone surviving a cardiac arrest reduces by seven to 10% - it’s that important.

“Buses are central to everyday life and it makes perfect sense for defibrillators to be fitted to them - it means one is never far away from those in need.

“I’d urge everyone who can to pop by to find out more during the event in Plymouth City Centre and to watch the video which shows you how to use the defibrillator, available from the QR codes next to the defibrillator signs on the Spark buses. Working together we can create heart-safe communities.”

Vick Smith, Account Manager, defibshop said: “Defibshop is very proud to be part of this Plymouth Citybus and Hearts Together defibrillator scheme.

“It is vitally important the message around the use of defibrillators is foremost in the public mind, and the understanding that anyone can help in the event of an emergency.

“Hearts Together work tirelessly to bring the public access to defibrillators, and Plymouth Citybus have supplied the perfect vehicle to do this.

“We are convinced this initiative will be a very positive one, which is planned to be rolled out to the entire Plymouth Citybus fleet and, we hope, other public transport providers across the UK will follow suit.”

Plymouth Citybus and Hearts Together will be demonstrating the new partnership all day from 9am on the Piazza in Plymouth City Centre on Wednesday 16th October, supported by defibshop and a team of volunteers.

Hearts Together provides accommodation for patients, carers, relatives and healthcare professionals as well as essential lifesaving equipment to local hospitals and communities in the South West. The Plymouth-based charity also offers support and counselling to anyone affected by heart disease.Plymouth Citybus was formed in 1986 to take over the operations of Plymouth City Council Passenger Transport Department. However, its origins can be traced right back to 1892 when its predecessors introduced horse trams to the Plymouth, Stonehouse and Devonport areas.

Sunday 20 October 2019

NEW VDL CITEA SLE-129 ELECTRIC Launched at Busworld

The VDL Citea SLE-129 Electric is a full size low-entry public transport bus that will be shown for the first time during Busworld in Brussels. 

Its powertrain is based on that of the SLF and is equipped with a 288 kWh high capacity battery pack. This allows the bus to be used regionally at longer intervals between loading sessions.

Fast charging is done via a pantograph mounted on the roof. The bus as it will be shown at Busworld has a layout based on a maximum number of forward-facing seats and also has a third door.

In addition VDL will present at Busworld a Citea SLFA-180 Electric with a 288 kWh high capacity battery pack and a pantograph. VDL say the with over 260 units in operation, the Citea SLFA-180 and SLFA-181 Electric are the forerunners for busy city lines.

The delivery of approximately 420 electric buses is still on the VDL schedule for 2019. In the Netherlands alone, more than 300 electric VDL buses are in operation. They contribute to a cleaner environment by saving CO2 emissions of more than 20,000 tons per year.

Saturday 19 October 2019

Second New Speed Record for GWR

Train operator Great Western Railway has recorded its second modern speed record within a fortnight as it celebrates the release of its new timetable, which comes into effect on 15 December.

GWR’s bullet-style Intercity Express Train, which has been in service since October 2017 and now operates on all of GWR’s long-distance routes, took just 44 minutes 22 seconds to travel 77 miles from Swindon to London Paddington.

GWR Driver Bryan Duncan
GWR Driver Bryan Duncan takes the train through Swindon on its way to London. Photo by Mark Watkins/Gloucestershire Live.

It follows another modern speed record being posted on September 24, 
here when an IET took just 72 minutes to travel between Bristol Temple Meads and London Paddington.

The special train runs mark the new December timetable being made public for the first time. The biggest timetable change on the network since 1976 will offer faster journey times and more frequent services to key locations.

The most recent special run left Cheltenham Spa at 1020, Gloucester at 1036 and Swindon at 1121 – arriving into London Paddington at 1205.

GWR Managing Director Mark Hopwood was accompanied on board the service by special guests and media. He said:

“Once again we have seen the capacity of these Intercity Express Trains.

“We have been working hard behind the scenes to prepare to implement the biggest timetable change on this network since the 1970s, enabling us to take advantage of the full benefits that new Intercity Express Trains are bringing.

“In providing more frequent and quicker journeys, our new timetable will for the vast majority of users quite literally mean ‘all change please’ and we are pleased the new timetable has now been published.”

Changes will mean typical journeys between Cheltenham Spa to London will be shortened by 10 minutes to 2 hours. The fastest journeys will come in at 1 hour 57 minutes.

The first train to Cheltenham from London will also leave earlier at 0533 compared to 0733 today, and the last departure will be at 2133, rather than 1948.

Daily services from Swindon to London will increase from 73 to 85, providing an average of 5,000 additional seats per day. Typical journey times will be cut by 5-10 minutes.

Francis McGarry, Investment Director Wales and Western, Network Rail, said:

“We’re now able to fully realise the significant benefits from our investment in the rail infrastructure. Setting this new speed record shows what is possible, and we will continue to work with GWR to deliver timetable and journey time improvements in December.”

The new December timetable is so significant, especially for those who travel regularly and are used to catching a particular service every day, that GWR has launched an awareness campaign to highlight the changes ahead, and make sure customers are prepared. It is encouraging customers to find out more at