Friday, 6 December 2019

Luton Dart Bridge Lifted Into Place

A 1,000 tonne bridge has been lowered into place as part of Luton airport’s Direct Air-Rail Transit (Dart) project to connect Luton Airport with Luton Airport Parkway railway station.

The steel truss structure that spans 80m was constructed offline and installed over Airport Way, the main road into the terminal area.

The bridge was constructed offline, and driven 500m down the A1081 dual carriageway and lifted onto abutments on either side of the road.

The move, which was planned using computer simulation tools, took two hours.

London Luton Airport Ltd programme delivery director Ciaran Scanlon said: “This has been an exciting achievement and a hugely significant milestone in the delivery of the innovative DART scheme.

“The whole project has been full of engineering challenges and to move an object of this size ranks as one of the biggest. To see such a large object calmly trundle down the A1081 under complete control was a great testimony to both the vision of the project and the technical expertise of our contractor, Volker Fitzpatrick Kier (VFK).”

Once operational in 2021, the £225M Luton Dart will transport travellers from Luton Airport Parkway station to the terminal of London Luton Airport in under four minutes.

DART will be a double-shuttle, fully-automated people-mover (APM) based on latest system technology and design innovation, and capable of operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The cable-driven system is energy efficient and environmentally friendly.

The 2.1km route will run between two purpose-built stations at Bartlett Square and the airport terminal, crossing a new gateway bridge over Airport Way. In peak time, a service will leave each station every four minutes.

It will allow passengers to travel between St Pancras and London Luton Airport in just 30 minutes.

VFK project director at the Luton Dart Phil Hobson added: “This was an especially challenging project milestone to reach and required a huge collaborative effort between all parties. The team worked incredibly well together to successfully install the bridge.

“Every aspect of the installation was specialised and complex. From setting up the temporary ramps to moving the bridge, which took us over two hours. Each operation over the weekend was expertly planned and we are really pleased to have reached this vital point in construction of the project.”

The 1,000t asymmetric Gateway Bridge, designed by Knight Architects, has a structural truss in the central spine, the top chord of which traces a parabola rising from the deck. The spine is designed to take the live load when a train passes over the bridge.

The project is being funded and delivered by Luton Council’s airport company, London Luton Airport Ltd.

In addition to main contractor VFK, Tony Gee & Partners are acting as lead designer and lead geotechnical consultant with Coffey subcontracted as an additional geotechnical consultant.

The scheme design was carried out by Arup, and Doppelmayr Cable Car is supplying the cable-driven autonomous transportation system, which was selected for its low environmental impact.

Thursday, 5 December 2019

Reading & Maidenhead Now on Latest Tube Map

TfL has released its latest version of the tube map which includes several new stations.

It's the first tube map to show Crossrail — officially known as the TfL Rail — branching out to Reading. Previously, the Heathrow branch of what will soon be Crossrail — and eventually the Elizabeth line — was on there, but the nine stations from West Drayton to Reading were absent.

Does this mean Crossrail's opening is imminent? Unfortunately we're not going to travel the Elizabeth line until at least 2021. However, certain sections of the route are up and running, and are being managed as TfL Rail.

The western Paddington to Heathrow and eastern Liverpool Street to Shenfield sections have been operating as TfL Rail for sometime now. It's the central section running underneath London that is incomplete. 

Bond Street and Whitechapel stations are both still unfinished, a year after they were originally scheduled to open, and other issues such as signal testing have caused further delays.

TfL Rail officially takes over the Paddington-Reading route on 15 December 2019 — hence its addition to the tube map — but the new Crossrail trains are already in use on this route, a few weeks early. Also, the trains have been in use on the Shenfield-Liverpool Street and Paddington-Hayes & Harlington routes for quite some time.

One of the new Crossrail trains in use on the service

The new additions to the tube map mean that its geography is now sketchier than ever. Northolt and Reading — towns located about 30 miles apart — now appear closer together than, say, Tottenham Court Road and Bond Street, a distance of under a mile.

Under TfL Rail, West Drayton is the last station at which Oyster cards are valid. 
Stations between Iver and Reading will not be accepting Oyster cards (that's Iver, Langley, Slough, Burnham, Taplow, Maidenhead, Twyford and Reading). 
However, from 3 January all stations will be accepting contactless, with automatic capping to follow a couple of months later.

Wednesday, 4 December 2019

New Reading Buses Route to Heathrow

Reading buses are operating a new route between Iver, Colnbrook and Heathrow Airport. 

The company have been working in partnership with Slough Borough Council and Heathrow Airport to introduce the new route to help commuters and holiday makers from those areas have a sustainable link to the airport. 
The new route will be implemented in three phases as different bus types are trialled.
The new route is numbered 459 and runs through Poyle, Colnbrook, Langley and Iver to Heathrow Terminal 5.

Initially, the service will be free until the full timetable is introduced in early 2020. 

Phase one - electric power

The first of the three phases of the new Reading Buses 459 service is up and running until December 20.

The initial timetable will operate Monday to Friday between approximately 9.30am and 2.30pm – and will be completely free to use. This first phase will be trialled using a full electric bus.

Phase two - using gas knowledge

For phase two, one of Reading's single deck buses that run on compressed natural gas will be used - this phase will run between January 2 and January 31.

Phase three - full timetable

Once the the electric and gas buses have been trialled, Reading Buses will be in a position to implement the full timetable from February 3 - which will include a service running from 3am until after midnight and, of course, include weekends. From phase three, full fares will be in operation, with these communicated well before they start. 
The service will be run by a  Euro 6 diesel engine bus – which has fewer emissions than even a single occupancy modern car.
Reading Buses hope that customers try out this new service and give feedback on what works, and what doesn't work so they can ensure this route runs well into the future.

Tuesday, 3 December 2019

NCT Acquire Ten Enviro200's from ADL

Alexander Dennis Limited has announced that it has supplied ten Enviro200 buses to

Nottingham City Transport (NCT) which will complete the operator’s upgrade to a fully

Euro 6 fleet in accordance with Nottingham City Council’s clean air plan.

The new single deck vehicles began service this week on the busy urban Bridgford to Nottingham Bus routes.
The light, spacious buses feature on-board Wi-Fi, USB chargers, comfortable seating and double passenger information screens which NCT have on trial.

NCT will operate a fully Euro 6 environment-friendly fleet from January 2020, which is no mean feat, given the company didn’t own any Euro 6 vehicles in May 2017. The new buses also reduce the average age of the fleet from six years to four and a half years which brings with it the benefit of reliability, easier maintenance, increased uptime and higher passenger satisfaction.

Recently crowned UK Bus Operator of the Year at the UK Bus Awards, NCT enjoys an

excellent relationship with ADL and has exclusively bought ADL products for the last six years.

NCT MD, Mark Fowles, commented: “We chose the Enviro200s because they best met our

requirements in terms of specification and they came in at the right price point. The support

we receive from ADL as a long-term partner is brilliant.”

Monday, 2 December 2019

First Volvo 9900 in Scotland for Whitelaws

One of Scotland’s leading coach operators, Whitelaws Coaches, has taken delivery of a new Volvo integral B11R 9900. This is the first 9900 premium coach for the Stonehouse based company and the first to be delivered to an operator north of the border.

A long established Volvo customer over many years, Whitelaws owns and operates a number of Volvo integral 9700s, the forerunner of the 9900, within its fleet.

Sandra Whitelaw, Managing Director of Whitelaws, explains: “We were the first Scottish operator to take delivery of the original 9700 all those years ago and we are pleased and proud to bring the first 9900 coach to Scotland. While we do have vehicles featuring bodywork from other manufacturers, our preferred choice is to have the Volvo integral coach as we believe this delivers the complete package for us with its aesthetic appearance and fuel economy.

“Along with the proven B11R chassis that has been so successful for us in terms of operational performance and fuel efficiency, the new 9900 has a very different and impressive look with the ‘Z’ shaped styling on the windows that our passengers really like when they see it for the first time. We see adding this superior coach to our fleet as a natural progression for us as our strong partnership with Volvo continues.

“As a long standing Volvo customer, we have always enjoyed a good experience when working with Volvo. They never take any operator’s custom for granted and always work hard to provide us with the best possible vehicles and aftersales support we need to keep our business successful in today’s competitive marketplace.”

Craig Connolly, Retail Bus & Coach Sales Manager for Volvo Bus, said: “It is great to be working with Sandra and her team again and to be seeing them add their first 9900 to their fleet.

“While the first 9900s have been arriving and going into service across the UK throughout this year, they have been operating across Europe for some time now and are a thoroughly tried and tested premium coach for today’s market. We are confident that Whitelaws will be pleased with all aspects of their new 9900.”

Whitelaws Coaches is a family owned and operated business and provides a range of coach and bus route services throughout Scotland.

Sunday, 1 December 2019

Trains in Hayle Cornwall

A selection of pictures taken by Ken Jones in Hayle, Cornwall recently. including 4 car HST sets + 2 power cars being used on Penzance to Plymouth services and class 800 sets on services to and from London