Monday, 18 November 2019

Vivarail Moving to Southam

Warwickshire-based Vivarail is moving to a new facility in Southam (near Leamington Spa) to underpin its growing order book, as it develops a range of emission-free trains.

Crucially, the relocation from its present site at the Quinton Rail Technology Centre (QRTC) 26 miles away will enable its core team of skilled workers to remain with the company.

Vivarail ( began operations five years ago at the QRTC, where it designed, built and tested its prototype DEMU (diesel-electric multiple unit), using the 3km circular test track.

The company then went on to build the UK’s first modern battery train and launched unit 230002 in Scotland in 2018, proving that emission-free battery-powered trains are viable.

Adrian Shooter, CEO of Vivarail, said: “I find it hard to believe all we have achieved in such a short space of time. We have grown from start-up to fully fledged manufacturer, and it is with a touch of sadness that we will have to say goodbye to our friends and colleagues at QRTC.

"However, we need to consolidate all our operations under one roof, and our new facility at Southam will ensure a seamless method of working with stores, design, engineering and production.

"It means we can continue to refine our build and delivery processes and to deliver high-quality trains to our customers.”

As well as moving production to Southam, Vivarail will also have a new test track at Barry in South Wales. A contract has been signed with Cambrian Transport to use its 1.5-mile track for testing and mileage accumulation.

John Buxton, managing director of Cambrian Transport, said: “We are excited that Vivarail has chosen to use our railway to test its trains. Our operations at Barry continue to expand, providing training and employment opportunities for local people.”

Vivarail trains are created from ex London Transport D stock trains. The Warwickshire company acquired almost the entire fleet of the D stock which were originally earmarked for scrap. The D stock trains are stripped down to basic body shells, bogies and traction motors; fitted with underfloor diesel-electric power units; and re-engineered to form self-powered 2- and 3-car trains for the national rail network. Other power units such as electric and hydrogen are now being offered.

 Vivarail are moving to Southam near Leamington  Spa

Sunday, 17 November 2019

New Volvo Double Decker

In early 2020 Volvo Buses will launch a new express coach to supplement its latest 9000 range. The new arrival is a double-decker with a body by Carrus Delta OY of Finland.

The 4.25m tall double-decker will be called the 9700 DD and it is designed primarily for the Nordic market.

When the new 9700 DD is launched, it will be part of Volvo’s product range for express coaches along with the Volvo 9700 and the award-winning Volvo 9900.

“With the launch of the 9700 DD we are taking things to yet another level and will offer a comprehensive range of express coaches with several different versions for customers to choose between. 

Even now, ahead of the launch, there is already notable demand for the 9700 DD from our customers, which goes to prove that the new model is highly attractive on the market,” says Niklas Orre, Vice President Coach Sales, Business Region Europe at Volvo Buses.

The Volvo 9700 DD is powered by the Volvo D11K460, Volvo’s 11-litre 460 hp engine that is certified to run on diesel, HVO and B100 biodiesel. 
Further information about the new vehicle will be supplied at its launch in early 2020.

Saturday, 16 November 2019

High Spec Enviro200 for Grant Palmer

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”), a subsidiary of NFI Group Inc. (“NFI”), has announced that it has delivered an Enviro200 midibus to independent operator Grant Palmer. The bus was converted from the manufacturer’s immediately available stock to the bus company’s high specification.

Grant Palmer, a family owned business established in 1999, runs a fleet of 35 buses on a network of local bus services and bespoke contracts, serving the communities of Bedfordshire from a modern depot in Flitwick.

The new Enviro200 is allocated to the operator’s route 34 from Ampthill and Flitwick to Milton Keynes, which has been further upgraded with an improved timetable. Alexander Dennis adapted the manoeuvrable, 8.9m long bus from its stock, applying Grant Palmer livery and changing its 30 seats to match the operator’s signature red colour.

The operator’s Managing Director, Grant Palmer, comments: “Once again I’m pleased to be purchasing from ADL. Their British-built products and the after sales back up are class leading. The recent purchase is receiving great feedback from our customers as well as positive comments from our drivers”.

Friday, 15 November 2019

Amsterdam & Haarlem Order for 156 Electric Ebusco Vehicles

Ebusco, based in the Dutch city of Deurne, has received an order from Transdev Netherlands for 156 electric city and regional buses. They will be delivered from November 2020 in the cities of Amsterdam and Haarlem and the surrounding regions. The new electric buses will replace current diesel and gas buses.

The order is worth 130 million euros. Transdev has chosen Ebusco vehicles because of the potential range of 350 kilometres on a single charge. At Busworld, Ebusco showed a citybus made or composite material. click 
The Ebusco 3.0 - which will weigh only 8500 kilograms - is expected to enter the market in 2022. 
The large Transdev order for 156 of its Ebusco 2.2's is the biggest order for Ebusco so far in the seven years they have been manufacturing electric buses.  
The Ebusco's are being built in China. The electric buses emit no CO₂ (carbon dioxide), NOx (nitrogen) and particulate matter. This results in 1 kilogram of CO₂ reduction per bus per kilometre driven. Based on this order for 156 vehicles, this results in a reduction of 15 million kilograms of CO₂ reduction over the entire contract period.

Thursday, 14 November 2019

£2 million To Small Bus Operators for Audible and Visible on-board Information.

..Buses around Great Britain should become more accessible for disabled passengers thanks to a new partnership with the Real Time Information Group (RTIG), announced at the end of October.

The group, which supports good practice in the use of communications technology on public transport, will work with the Department for Transport to allocate £2 million of funding to small bus operators for audible and visible on-board information.

With around 50% of public transport journeys made on buses, this funding will help to ensure that passengers can board more buses with greater confidence, knowing where they are and when to get off.
 Small bus operators will benefit from the £2m fund
It coincides with the launch of the It’s everyone’s journey campaign, the first stage of a new government-backed initiative to highlight the part we can all play in improving disabled people’s experiences when using public transport.

The department is now calling on charities, transport operators, and commercial organisations to join the campaign, helping to raise awareness of the needs of disabled travellers and share some of the improvements being made to make travel easier for the one in 5 disabled people in the UK.

Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Virgin Trains More Popular than Scottish Flights

The number of people opting to travel on Virgin Trains’ Anglo-Scottish services instead of flying has reached record levels, contributing to a drop in carbon emissions.

In the 12 months to July 2019, 29% of passengers chose to travel with Virgin Trains as opposed to flying between Glasgow and London, the UK’s second-busiest domestic air route.

This is nearly two percentage points higher than a previous record set in 2014, when visitor numbers were boosted by the Commonwealth Games, and comes as the number of passengers travelling between England and Scotland’s biggest cities grew over the year by 6% to a new record of 717,592.

The operator’s success in convincing people to choose train over plane has pushed up rail’s overall market share relative to airlines on total journeys between Glasgow/Edinburgh and London, which increased from 34% to a new record of 35% in the 12 months to July 2019.

New analysis by sustainable transport charity Transform Scotland has shown that rail’s increased market share and a reduction in flights has helped drive down carbon emissions between Glasgow and London over this period.**

Colin Howden, Director of Transform Scotland, said: “The current level of air travel is incompatible with the Climate Emergency so it’s heartening to hear that rail is growing its market share over air for travel between between Central Scotland and London. Comparable distances across Europe use rail rather than air as the dominant mode of transport, so it is overdue for Scotland to take action to cut the excessive volume of flights from Edinburgh and Glasgow to London. Rail produces a fifth of the climate emissions that comes from air travel. It’s definitely the greenest option for Anglo-Scottish travel.”

Phil Whittingham, Managing Director of Virgin Trains, said: “The number of people choosing train over plane is testament to the investment and improvement Virgin Trains has made in Anglo-Scottish services over the last two decades. This growth is critical in supporting Scotland’s economy and helping achieve government targets to de-carbonise transport and achieve net zero emissions.”

The new benchmark comes after 22 years of investment and improvement in Anglo-Scottish services by Virgin Trains, and as the franchise to operate West Coast passenger services is due to be handed over to First Trenitalia on December 8.

Virgin’s tenure has seen the introduction of tilting Pendolino trains, a new focus on customer service and the launch of the revolutionary Virgin High Frequency timetable a decade ago which delivered faster, more frequent services to Scotland.

The latest surge in passenger numbers comes two years after Virgin introduced its industry-leading on-board entertainment service, BEAM, and became the first operator to deliver automatic repayment for delays.

In 2017, Virgin Trains commissioned research by sustainable transport charity Transform Scotland which showed the carbon savings delivered by modal shift from air to rail between Glasgow and London between 2005 and 2015 amounted the equivalent of taking 145,000 cars off the road for a year.


Tuesday, 12 November 2019

Ex LNER HST's to Run on East Midland's Routes

The Department for Transport has confirmed that cascaded HSTs from LNER will be the option to replace the non-compliant HST's on the East Midlands Railway. It has taken three years to decide how this problem will be solved.

 LNER HST's are about to withdrawn and sent to operate on East Midlands Services

Electrification for the East Midlands line to Sheffield was cancelled by the then Secretary of State for Transport, Chris Grayling who said that new bi-mode trains could be used north of Wellingborough.

No new trains are in the offing however and now it has been decided to cascade the HST's from LNER to run on East Midlands tracks until new trains arrive.

The current MML’s existing HST fleet will not meet accessibility regulations that come into force from January 1 2020, so they will have to be withdrawn by the end of this year - leaving a major shortfall in the inter-city fleet.

Nine rakes of eight coach HST's owned by Porterbrook and three six coach HST's owned by Angel Trains are due to be removed from traffic.

When Abellio won the East Midlands franchise in April, the Department for Transport said that cascaded HSTs from LNER would be an option.

This has now been confirmed, with six nine-coach HSTs from Angel Trains and three eight-coach sets from Porterbrook set to temporarily join the EMR fleet, although they do not fully meet the accessibility regulations and will require heavy maintenance in the short term.

EMR Fleet Director Chris Wright said: “By December 2022, we will have replaced our entire train fleet to provide modern and accessible trains better suited to the routes they operate. That work is already well under way, but it does not happen overnight."


Monday, 11 November 2019

Scotland’s Railway Supports Scottish Poppy Appeal

Scotland’s Railway is showing its support for the Scottish Poppy Appeal with a range of fundraising and remembrance activity.

Memorial services will take place at Ayr station, Glasgow Central and Edinburgh Waverley at 11am on Armistice Day, Monday, 11 November, where ScotRail and Network Rail will invite customers to join them in a two-minute silence.

Poppyscotland volunteers and pop-up shops are in place at three of Scotland’s busiest stations - Glasgow Central, Edinburgh Waverley and Haymarket – until Sunday, 10 November.

Customers can also buy poppies and donate to the Scottish Poppy Appeal through collection tins at ticket offices in staffed ScotRail stations.

ScotRail hopes that donations will surpass the record-breaking fundraising total of £127,912 set last year.

James Ledgerwood, ScotRail Head of Economic Development & Communities, said:

“I am exceptionally proud that Scotland’s Railway is supporting Poppyscotland once again this year.

“We should never fail to remember the sacrifice of those who have served, and those who continue to serve, our country.

“It’s the donations we make now that helps this excellent charity do its work all year round.”

Sunday, 10 November 2019

Remembrance Celebrations 2019

On Remembrance Sunday we show below how some of the UK bus operators have marked the 2019 event

Lothian Poppy Bus 2019

A striking new bus designed to commemorate Remembrance Day 2019 has been launched onto the streets of West Lothian.

The ‘Poppy Bus’ will be part of the 2019 Edinburgh Poppy Day event at St Andrew Square and to make the occasion extra special, Lothian Buses invited former service personnel who now work for the company to attend.

The bus will run on various routes throughout Edinburgh and the Lothians across November so keep your eye out for it hitting the roads in West Lothian.

Gordon Michie, head of fundraising at Poppyscotland said: “The poppy bus is a stunning tribute and underlines Lothian’s continued support of Poppyscotland. We are incredibly grateful to them for their ongoing commitment to the charity, and in turn to the Armed Forces community. Together, we are Behind Them. Always. The poppy bus will help to remind the people of Edinburgh and the surrounding area about the importance of the Scottish Poppy Appeal and the Remembrance period. We hope it will encourage the public to dig deep so we can continue to provide our life-changing support in the year ahead.”

As well as the specially created bus the company will fund raise internally by making poppies and remembrance garden crosses available for sale to its staff. The company will also be offering a free hot drink for all current and ex-services personnel every morning in November from its CoffeeHub inside the Shandwick Place TravelHub.

Richard Hall, Lothian’s Managing Director, said: “Lothian is proud to have many employees across our business who currently serve in the reserves or are ex-armed forces personnel and the Poppyscotland appeal is particularly close to the hearts of both our staff and our customers.

“We hope that our various activities running throughout the month of November, along with this years Poppy bus, will help raise both awareness and vital funds for this great charity to allow them to continue to support the Armed Forces Community across Scotland.”

Stagecoach Poppy Buses

Stagecoach Merseyside has once again rolled out its ‘poppy bus’ onto the streets of Merseyside ahead as part of the 2019 Remembrance Activities.

Redesigned for 2019, the commemorative vehicle features two photographs of real war heroes who contributed to Britain’s victory in World War II, and highlights the male and female efforts at home and on the front throughout the World Wars.

Stagecoach Merseyside Poppy Bus

Stagecoach Merseyside, Cheshire and South Lancashire’s striking remembrance bus has been an annual feature since 2017, when the company announced its partnership with The Royal British Legion.

The images were both chosen from the Imperial War Museum’s archive photo collection. Created by graphic designer, Chris Sankey, the bus design and photographs used are intended to celebrate and honour the sacrifices and bravery shown by ordinary people during war time.

The first image depicts soldiers in the trenches at The Battle of Crete, 1941 – the scene of the

largest German airborne operation of World War II. The battle was the first time the Allies had advance notice of a major German offensive due to intercepted Enigma transmissions. The Battle of Crete is also famous due to the remarkable bravery shown by the Cretan civilian resistance.

The second photograph being showcased on the Remembrance Bus features Irene Stacey from Bristol at her workbench in a UK factory. The image signifies the vital home effort led by British women who supported the front line by taking jobs in transport, engineering, mills and factories to keep the country moving throughout the war.

Rob Jones, managing director at Stagecoach MCSL said: “We are incredibly proud to be marking Remembrance Sunday and honouring the brave men and women who served at home and abroad to defend the freedoms of Britain and our allies.

“Our new bus design is a tribute of recognition and appreciation for the unparalleled sacrifices made by the men fighting on the front line and the women leading the support effort back in the UK.

“Many of our team across the region have joined us from careers in the forces and our partnership with The Royal British Legion is incredibly important to us. Their work in supporting and caring for our veterans and Serving personnel is unparalleled, and it is only right that we support them in this important endeavour.”

In 2015, Stagecoach Group signed the Ministry of Defence’s Armed Forces Corporate Covenant in support of the Armed Forces Community.

Stagecoach South West is once again showing its support for military personnel past and present. As part of the company’s activities to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women, Stagecoach South West will be covering one of its buses in an eye-catching poppy design, while the rest of the fleet will have poppies on display. 

Stagecoach South West Poppy Bus

In addition, the bus company has also made a contribution to the Royal British Legion, giving all drivers the opportunity to wear a poppy.

On Remembrance Sunday, Stagecoach South West will be offering free travel to armed forces personnel wearing their uniform or carrying a military ID card and to veterans wearing their uniform or veterans badge.

Remembrance Sunday is a day to commemorate the contribution of British and Commonwealth military and civilian servicemen and women in the two World Wars and later conflicts and to remember and honor those who have sacrificed themselves to secure and protect our freedom. With Remembrance services planned at memorials across the county, it is hoped that personnel wishing to pay their respects will take up the offer to travel to the service of their choice.

Bob Dennison, Managing Director of Stagecoach South West, said;

“We are proud to be supporting armed forces personnel and veterans, by offering free bus travel on Remembrance Sunday. We appreciate and recognise the commitment the Armed Forces community has made to our country over the years and are delighted to be honoring our brave servicemen and women with the launch of our decorative poppy bus.”

Stagecoach Group signed the Ministry of Defence’s Armed Forces Corporate Covenant in support of the Armed Forces Community in 2017. As a signatory of the Covenant, the company recognises the value serving personnel; regular and reservists, veterans and military families contribute to both the country and businesses across the country.

Below, spotted in Honiton, Devon on 7th November 2019 were Stagecoach vehicles carrying the poppy emblem.


Go North East Free Travel Offer for Remembrance Sunday 2019

Go North East is offering free travel on all of its buses across the North East for all veterans and members of the Armed Forces on Remembrance Sunday, the 10th November 2019.

The company, which has many veterans in its workforce, and operates over 600 buses across the region, is making it as easy as possible for people to travel to Remembrance events across the North East whilst showing its appreciation and recognition of the sacrifices made by members of the Armed Forces past and present.

Free travel is available on any Go North East bus across the North East on Remembrance Sunday to serving personnel who can produce a current ID card, veterans displaying a veterans badge and all travelling in uniform.

Stephen King, Commercial Director at Go North East, said: “We are proud to show our appreciation to those in the Armed Forces past and present by making it even easier to travel to a Remembrance Event this Sunday. We have many veterans across our team of 2,000 people as well as the many serving and veteran members of the armed forces who use our services each day."

Transdev Poppy Buses

A heartfelt tribute to the district’s war heroes will be given after North Yorkshire bus operators Coastliner, Cityzap and York and Country buses agreed to honour the fallen.

Parent company Transdev is adorning 200 of its buses across the North with large sized commemorative poppies to encourage its thousands of customers travelling each day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Serving members of the armed forces will also be able to travel free on any bus service operated by the three bus companies on Remembrance Sunday, November 10.

The poppies will be prominently displayed on the front of buses on routes across the region, from York to Leeds, Tadcaster, Malton and the Yorkshire coast.

Parent company Transdev’s CEO, Alex Hornby, said: “Our customers welcomed our decision to place poppies on several of our buses in previous years, so we felt it was right to continue our support this year for the important work of the Royal British Legion.

“We hope that by prominently showing our support for the Poppy Appeal on our buses, many of our customers will join us in contributing to this excellent cause.

“All our teams at our depots across the North are fully behind this – we want to remember those who gave their lives for our freedom, and to support those living with the impact of conflict today.”

If you can send us photos of Poppy Buses from your area please do so by sending to

Saturday, 9 November 2019

Stagecoach Delivers Major Cuts in Carbon Emissions

  • 14% cut in carbon emissions in five years helps tackle climate change and boost air quality
  • Company initiatives cut passenger fleet emissions by 7% and buildings emissions by 21%
  • Investment of more than £1b in 7,000 greener vehicles in past decade
  • One of Europe's biggest electric bus fleet orders due to be delivered in 2020
  • Backing for industry pledge for all new buses to be ultra-low or zero emissions from 2025
  • Development of new Stagecoach sustainability strategy and targets underway

Stagecoach has cut carbon emissions from its businesses by 14% over the past five years as it continues efforts to tackle climate change and boost air quality, according to new data published today.

Between 2013-14 and 2018-19, the multi-modal transport group reduced its passenger fleet emissions by 7% and buildings emissions by 21%.

Overall, the business has slashed its annual carbon impact by more than 168,000 tonnes of CO2e a year since 2013-14. In the company's bus and coach operations alone, it has reduced its passenger fleet emissions by more than 78,100 tonnes of CO2e a year, with annual buildings emissions cut by over 7,250 tonnes of CO2e.

It follows a 30% reduction in Stagecoach’s carbon intensity in the previous five years and the achievement of stretching environmental targets 12 months ahead of schedule.

A range of multi-million-pound investments and company-wide sustainability projects have helped drive the environmental improvements.

These include the introduction of new greener buses and coaches, investment in eco-driver technology, training for bus drivers and engineering teams, measures to tackle bus idling, and use of state-of-the-art environmental management systems at the company's facilities.

Stagecoach, Britain's biggest bus and coach operator, has invested more than £1billion in 7,000 new greener vehicles in the past decade, more than any other operator in the UK. In May, the company announced an £80m investment in a further 350 cleaner vehicles for 2019-20.

For several years, Stagecoach has been the biggest operator of hybrid electric vehicles in Britain. The latest Euro VI buses emit fewer emissions overall than a Euro 6 car, as well as having up to 20 times the carrying capacity.

Early next year, Stagecoach will introduce into service one of the biggest orders of new electric buses in Europe. Around 50 zero emission e-buses,-part-financed by the UK Government’s Green Bus Fund, will go into service in Manchester and Caerphilly in South Wales, supported by new charging infrastructure. It follows new electric buses introduced by Stagecoach on park and ride services in Guildford earlier this year.

Stagecoach is also working with other bus operators across the country to ensure that every new bus is an ultra-low or zero emission vehicle from 2025.

Stagecoach is progressing the development of a new sustainability strategy for 2020 and beyond in partnership with the Carbon Trust. The strategy will include plans around fleet investment, buildings measures and other initiatives, as well as stretching targets to drive further improved performance.

Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach Group Chief Executive, said: "Climate change and poor local air quality are two of the biggest challenges our planet faces today. Governments, businesses and individuals all need to play their part in meeting that challenge head on.

"We welcome the stretching targets being set by government to address these environmental problems, but the reality is that are unachievable without a major switch from polluting private transport to sustainable public transport.

"Our greener and smarter public transport services are a vital part of the solution. Not only do they help support the economy and keep communities connected, they can help cut congestion and deliver cleaner air.

"We have made huge strides over the past decade in becoming a more sustainable business as well as making a positive social and economic impact for our country. But we need to do more and we look forward to finalising our sustainability strategy for 2020 and beyond."

Surface transport is the single largest producer of carbon emissions and the only sector where these are growing. In the UK, the government has introduced a “net zero” target for GHG emissions by 2050 Buses and coaches are responsible for just 6% of pollution from road transport, compared with 41% from diesel cars and 30% from diesel vans.

Research by Greener Journeys, a UK campaign dedicated to encouraging people to make more sustainable travel choices, suggests that everyone switching from car to bus for just one journey a month would mean one billion fewer car journeys and would save two million tonnes of CO2 every year in the UK.

In addition to cutting its carbon impact, Stagecoach has achieved significant reductions in water consumption in the past year. Water consumption at its bus and coach operations across the UK was reduced by 22% between 2017-18 and 2018-19, with a cut of 47% at its tram operations over the same period.

Reductions have been achieved through installing urinal cistern controls at bus and rail depots, using lower flush toilets and push taps, and extending recycling at wash facilities. The introduction of automated meter readers has also help identify and address leaks from the water supply system.

More than 90% of waste handled by Stagecoach, including a significant volume generated by customers using public transport services, continues to be diverted from landfill. Stagecoach companies are working with waste management specialists to improve segregation at operational facilities and offices, and raising awareness of the issues with employees and customers.

As well as meeting and exceeding its regulatory obligations, Stagecoach is also focused on reducing business travel; developing green travel plans and incentives for our people, customers and other organisations; working with other companies and organisations to improve sustainability in the supply chain; improving the accessibility of its public transport services; and managing biodiversity issues.

Friday, 8 November 2019

New Enviro400's for Go North East X30 Route

Go North East, has invested £720k in 3 brand-new, state of the art, environmentally friendly buses for its X30 route which serves Consett, Catchgate, Annfield Plain, Stanley, Sunniside, Whickham, Dunston and Newcastle.

The high-specification, state of the art, environmentally friendly buses join the company’s premium brand ‘X-lines’, with consistent standards of high-quality buses on its express services.

The new X-lines X30 buses, which were built in the north at the Scarborough factory of Alexander Dennis, will be rolled out over the coming weeks and have all the latest mod-cons, including comfortable luxury seating with mobile phone holders, free Wi-Fi, upper-deck tables featuring wireless charging pads and at-seat USB charging points. There is also no need to worry about missing your stop, as the buses are fitted with next stop audio and visual passenger information systems.

Go North East will be launching the Enviro400 buses at Tanfield Railway on Sunday 10 November, along with giveaways, goodies and free coffee.

For those travelling from Consett or Stanley into Newcastle, the all zones Go Zones ticket is available for £7 a day or £25 a week when bought in advance on the Go North East app (£30 on the bus).

Additionally, anyone aged between 5 and 25 can get unlimited travel on Go North East buses for £4.50 a day and £17 a week, with those aged under 19 also having the option of travelling for just £1.20 per journey. ID is required for anyone aged or looking 16 or over.

Go North East also offer a family day ticket that covers all zones for just £12 a day – covering up to two adults and three children under 16, with a minimum of one adult and one child required.

Martijn Gilbert, Managing Director at Go North East, said: “These buses represent the next round of major investments following the recent £1.8 million investment we have made for the people of Newcastle, Gateshead and Whickham on our Green Arrow service.

“We have worked hard with the manufacturer to develop these high-specification, environmentally friendly buses to improve the customer experience.

“These buses are packed full of new high-quality features that help raise the bar buses travel, especially for commuters on these faster X-lines services. We hope more people will embrace public transport as it continues to get even better and enables them to play their part in helping to tackle rising congestion and improve air quality.”

Thursday, 7 November 2019

BAE Announces Next-Generation Power System for EV's

New battery electric system will help operators decrease emissions while increasing travelling distance before a charge.

BAE Systems has more than 10,000 electric-hybrid systems in service around the globe including major cities such as Paris, London, New York, and San Francisco

The company, a world leader in electric propulsion systems, has unveiled its next-generation full battery electric power and propulsion system for transit buses. The newest system positions cities around the world to get to zero transportation emissions and improve the range and efficiency of their electric bus fleets.

The technology adds to the company's 20-plus years of experience developing and integrating electric-hybrid propulsion systems and accessories for buses. The Series-EV system builds on that core technology, but eliminates the need for a combustion engine to drive the bus. Instead, it uses electric motors, controls, and batteries to create a clean and emission-free mode of public transportation.

"Many cities are striving to get to zero emissions with their bus fleets and we are committed to supporting them with all-electric solutions that meet their needs and exceed their expectations," said Steve Trichka, vice president and general manager of Power & Propulsion Solutions at BAE Systems. "Our Series-EV system provides operators with a highly reliable and low-cost battery electric option that not only gives them more flexibility and capability, but allows them to completely eliminate emissions on their bus fleets."

The Series-EV system uses fewer, lighter, and more compact components to make it easy to install and reduce the need for future maintenance. The system's light weight and reduced number of connections help to make the most of its power and paves the way for buses to travel longer distances on a single charge. 
As part of this unique design, it also allows operators to customise based on their propulsion or accessory power requirements. Larger buses would require more traction power and the addition of air conditioning on the bus would increase the accessory power needed.

Every year its systems travel over 330 million miles and transport nearly 2 billion people. The company's electric propulsion systems are contributing to a cleaner world by saving more than 22 million gallons of fuel and eliminating 250,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year across the globe – the equivalent of taking 42,000 cars off the road or planting 4 million trees.

Wednesday, 6 November 2019

Carlyle to Purchase Arriva from DB?

American private equity firm Carlyle is the front-runner to buy Arriva in a deal worth £2.2bn.

Carlyle has entered talks with one of the UK’s largest public transport operators, which runs rail franchises including Northern and London Overground, as well as buses across Britain.

Arriva’s German parent group, Deutsche Bahn, has been exploring the possibility of selling the company or floating it on the stock market. Any takeover would not include the Northern Rail contract, however.

Northern Rail would not be included in the sale

The delay to Brexit has complicated any possible sale and a decision is not likely before the end of this year.

Carlyle is at the front of the queue should Deutsche Bahn opt to sell the subsidiary and a formal offer is expected this month, the report says.

A number of parties have been linked with an offer for Arriva, including Apollo Global Management, while transport groups such as Stagecoach and Keolis are said to be interested only in acquiring parts of the company.

Arriva employs 53,000 people and was purchased by Deutsche Bahn in 2010 for £1.5bn, but the group is looking to reduce its €20bn debt.

A spokeswoman for the Deutsche Bahn said on Friday: “We have always made it clear that we are working on a dual-track process for DB Arriva. In concrete terms, this means a sale to an investor or an IPO.”

Global investment firm Carlyle has around $222bn of assets under management.

Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Multi-million Pound Investment in New Luxury Double Deck meagabus Coaches

Customers travelling on megabus, are benefitting from a multi-million investment in luxury new double deck coaches, with six new Plaxton Panorama coaches introduced this week. The new coaches feature a range of improved customer facilities, with free WiFi, new comfortable seating and wireless charging, as well as a bespoke designer interior.

The coaches, which each carry 87 people, will initially be operating on the popular Anglo-Scottish services along the M11; London-Manchester-Glasgow-Aberdeen and M9; Glasgow-Perth-Dundee

Representing an investment of £2.5million, the coaches have been built by Alexander Dennis, one of the world’s largest independent coach manufacturers.
As a result of megabus recently introducing optional seat reservations on its services, customers can also reserve seats on these coaches, including the popular seats around the tables on the lower deck.

Mark Venables, Managing Director for megabus, said: “We’re really excited to be introducing these brand new luxury double deck coaches on our services between England and Scotland this week. As well as customers benefitting from improvements such as free WiFi, wireless charging and really comfortable seating, the introduction of double deck coaches also means we can now offer even more seats on our great value services.

“We’re always looking for new and innovative ways to improve our customer offer and encourage both new and existing customers to keep on travelling with megabus. We’re confident that our customers will love travelling on these new coaches.”

megabus was first launched in the UK in 2003, linking over 90 locations across the UK , carrying more than 5 million passengers a year.

Monday, 4 November 2019

New Durham Coach Park

A new coach park has opened in Durham at Belmont park and ride site, on the outskirts of Durham. There are 30 spaces for coaches on the site which is located on the A690, approximately 300m east of Junction 62 of the A1. It is about ten minutes’ drive from the city.

Coach drivers can access facilities to clean their vehicles both inside and out, toilets, on site washroom and will soon have the facilities to empty chemical toilets.

Drivers can also travel in and out of the city centre for free from this coach park on the Park and Ride service. Available 7am - 7pm Monday to Saturday (no service on Sundays).

Passenger drop-off and pick-ups are at Freeman's Place. From Freeman's Place passengers can walk up to the city centre, or catch the Durham Cathedral Bus, which operates from the bus stop at Freeman's Place. 

Major concerns were raised that moving a city centre coach park could have an impact on tourism.

The coach park has been moved from The Sands, where the council plans to build a new headquarters, though it said that the coach park proposal predated the plans.

When the plans were announced the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT), said it had “major concerns” about the loss of central coach parking space and that using Belmont would make visits to Durham less attractive.

Above & below, the Park & Ride  site is taken over each year on Father's Day by the 
North East Preservation Group who run the service using a collection of classic and modern vehicles

The CPC raised practical issues, including difficulties with “double running”, necessary for drop-offs and pick-ups, and the possibility of reducing visiting time because of the need to give drivers adequate rest, as well as the inconvenience to drivers.
The Park & Ride doesn't operate on Sundays - a major problem for coach drivers who will be isolated at the new coach park.

Focus Comment

Time will tell on this but one certainty is that if given any choice on where a driver can drop passengers as part of a tour, the driver will always choose a location where break-time can be maximised. Valuable driving time is lost in dropping passengers and then travelling to an out of town parking facility and then returning later to pick up passengers. Depending on traffic conditions this can sometimes add an hour to driver's working time. 

A good example of this being the closure of the K Shoes Outlet in Kendal where the on-site coach park was taken away and driver's were forced to travel to the sports centre to park.
Coach driver's voted with their feet so the steady stream of coaches dwindled to nothing, leaving the outlet with a much reduced footfall. A massive investment has been lost and the site is now being re-developed as a hotel.

Unfortunately, we've seen a number of examples of town centre bus stations and coach parks being moved to the outskirts, where passengers are just expected to walk to the centre. Land owners and planners sometimes give priority to potential development of the sites and ignore the inconvenience that passengers can be subjected to.

Sunday, 3 November 2019

First Bus Sale

THE potential sale of First Bus will be discussed by Councillors from across West Yorkshire next week.

West Yorkshire Combined Authority's Transport Committee will receive updates on the Authority’s decision to participate in the forthcoming sale of First West Yorkshire, potential additional government funding for local bus services and the West Yorkshire Bus Alliance at a meeting next Friday.

Earlier this month the Combined Authority agreed that with First Group PLC’s planning to sell off its bus operations, it was important to protect local passengers’ interests. Legal and consultancy support was approved to explore how the Authority can respond actively to the situation and ensure the growth of bus services in West Yorkshire.

At the end of September, the Transport Secretary announced a funding package of more than £200 million for bus services for 2020/21 along with a commitment to ‘the UK’s first-ever long-term bus strategy and funding settlement’. The additional funding indicated that a proportion of the £200 million would be spent to help local transport bodies such as the Combined Authority supporting the "socially necessary" but commercially unviable bus services.

The introduction of electric buses and the trial of on-demand services will also be funded, and a long-term funding package has been promised as part of the 2020 Government spending review.

The West Yorkshire Bus Alliance emerged from the successful Bus18 partnership and is made up of the Combined Authority, West Yorkshire bus operators and West Yorkshire’s councils. It is committed to putting passengers at the heart of any developments and has the main objectives of keeping buses moving and ensuring a sustainable bus network. 
Work being done through the Alliance is focusing on affordability of bus travel, customer service, highway infrastructure and air quality.

Councillor Kim Groves who chairs the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee said: “When you consider despite falls in passenger numbers, people still make over twice as many bus journeys as train journeys in West Yorkshire, making buses vital to achieving our aims of creating economic growth that benefits everyone, while at the same time combating climate change.

“That importance of buses is the very reason why the Combined Authority initiated the 
Bus 18 initiative with bus operators and our district partners. We all recognise the need to work together to stemming the decline in passenger numbers and make buses the natural option.

“We have the clear shared goals of developing a simple fares structures which include ensuring young people’s access to opportunities through affordable travel, and a network that is understandable and easy to use for everyone. And we are investing in works to tackle congestion points on the local road network to improve the punctuality, the reliability and attractiveness of buses, and a bus fleet with the reduced emissions levels that will enable us to achieve our aim of zero-carbon city region by 2038 or sooner.”

Commenting on the Combined Authority’s decision to participate in the sale of First West Yorkshire, Cllr Groves said:

“Around 70 per cent of West Yorkshire’s bus services are run by First West Yorkshire, which equates to over 100 million journeys per year so the implications for local people of the company being sold are huge.

“Although we know the sale of the company will be a complex and competitive process, we feel it is vital that the Combined Authority takes an active role in the process to guarantee passengers’ interest are represented and taken into account whoever ends up owning the company and running services.

“It is also important that the overall economic and environmental objectives of the Bus Alliance are part of any new owner’s commitments and by participating actively in the sale process, the Combined Authority Transport Committee will have the level of control to ensure this happens.”

Last year West Yorkshire Combined Authority spent over £17 million supporting ‘socially necessary’ bus journeys which would otherwise not run because they are not profitable.

Commenting on the government’s recent £200 million funding announcement, which includes additional support for these services, Cllr Groves said: “These are the journeys that connect people to early-morning or late-night shifts, that provide a lifeline for isolated communities, that enable people to visit friends and relatives on Sundays and take advantage of local facilities and services.

“Ongoing pressure on the West Yorkshire councils’ budgets has put pressure on the funding we have available to support these journeys, without which some people may not be able to work, attend college or training opportunities while other could face isolation and loneliness.

“Extra government funding for these journeys and other initiatives is welcome but rather than one-off announcements we need to see Ministers, some of whom claim to have an interest in buses, making good on their promises of multi-year funding settlements that would provide greater stability and a National Bus Strategy that recognises the sector’s importance to our local and national economies.”

At next week’s Transport Committee meeting, members will also be asked to approve the Combined Authority’s updated Bus Information Strategy. In line with feedback from over 1,000 people in a public consultation, the Strategy takes a ‘digital first’ approach but also recognises there are people who still rely on printed information, which will continue to be provided.