Saturday, 19 September 2020

Transport Authority De Lijn Suspends Order for 970 Electric Buses

Flemish public transport authority De Lijn has suspended an order for 970 new electric buses..

The buses were ordered in December last year as part of the authority’s plan to clean up its fleet, which includes buses and trams, as well as the metro system in Antwerp. The order was for 970 buses and accompanying charging infrastructure.

Last week the region’s mobility minister Lydia Peeters (Open VLD) presented the first of six electric buses which will take to the streets of Leuven as a pilot project.

However what was not said at the time was that the authority had put a stop to the order for the rest of the buses back in July, claiming to have ‘new information’.

“Following the preparation of the specifications and the start-up with all stakeholders and third parties involved, it appeared that an optimisation and a change in the set-up of the assignment would be appropriate,” said Karen Van der Sype, spokesperson for De Lijn.

Without giving details, the company said its re-think was based on “technical, operational, financial and strategic” considerations.

De Lijn still intends to relaunch the order, but this time in several lots instead of all 970 at once. That would avoid a situation where one contractor had all of the contract, as well as allowing De Lijn to spread the financial burden.

The intention is still to phase in the buses from 2023, however.

“The theoretical delay of a few months at the start of the tendering process will certainly be recovered in the later phases,” Van der Sype said.

But the clock is ticking. The governing accord of the Jambon government holds that De Lijn will be able by 2025 to service town centres using only emission-free vehicles.

That covers the 13 central cities (Aalst, Antwerp, Bruges, Genk, Ghent, Hasselt, Kortrijk, Leuven, Mechelen, Ostend, Roeselare, Sint-Niklaas and Turnhout) and the towns of the Flemish periphery of Brussels.

A question mark also hangs over the matter of how the Flemish government is to pay the bill, currently standing at €1.148 billion, including €540 million for charging infrastructure and changes to bus depots.

Peeters will be faced with the first instalment of the bill next year.

Friday, 18 September 2020

2.8 Million Page Views




WMT Class 730 Shown by Bombardier

Bombardier have unveiled one of the new Class 730 Aventra emu's at their Derby factory which is destined for service by West Midlands Trains.

‘Designed and built in Derby they really are made in the Midlands for the Midlands’, said Matt Byrne, President UK & Ireland at Bombardier Transportation.

Inspecting the 25 kV 50 Hz EMU , Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street said the ‘state-of-the-art trains will make a real difference to commuters on the Cross-City Line, not only with their modern new features but by adding extra capacity onto a line that has been a victim of its own success.’

Street said ‘public transport has been one of the real success stories of the West Midlands in recent years, with every mode — train, bus, and tram — seeing an increase in patronage. Clearly coronavirus has stalled that progress but we must not get knocked off course.’

The EMUs will offer ‘intelligent’ air-conditioning, free wi-fi, at-seat power and USB sockets, dedicated wheelchair spaces and bicycle storage.

In October 2017 the West Midlands Trains Ltd consortium of Abellio, East Japan Railway and Mitsui & Co which holds the West Midlands passenger franchise announced an order for Bombardier Transportation to supply three types of EMU.

The order covers 36 three-car high-capacity ‘metro’ units with a maximum speed of 145 km/h for use on Cross-City inner suburban services. The first of these has been sent to the Velim test track in the Czech Republic for testing, and the fleet is expected to start entering service next year.

WMT also ordered 29 five-car units with a maximum speed of 175 km/h for outer suburban services from London and Birmingham, and 16 five-car 175 km/h units for use on longer distance services on the London – Birmingham route.

‘These superb new electric trains will enhance the travelling experience for our customers and I am delighted to see for myself that progress has been continuing apace despite the challenge of coronavirus’, said Julian Edwards, Managing Director of WMT’s West Midlands Railway business, when he visited Derby.

WMT has also ordered 12 two-car and 14 four-car CAF Class 196 diesel multiple-units for use on services from Birmingham to Hereford and Shrewsbury. The first of these is currently on test in the region.

Financing of the orders for a total of 413 vehicles worth £680m was led by Infracapital and Deutsche Asset Management.

Thursday, 17 September 2020

Eastern Airways Makes Heathrow Debut as Teesside Service Takes Off

 Eastern Airways has touched down for the first time at London Heathrow.

Monday saw the first service by the regional operator to the UK flagship airport, re-connecting Teesside with the international hub after more than a decade since the previous operator pulled out.

The first Eastern Airways Flight to Heathrow takes off from Teesside

The Humberside-based airline became the only regional airline to operate into Heathrow, with an initial daily service.

On the same day that also saw Eastern’s original route, the Humberside - Aberdeen energy cluster hop, increase to twice daily as demand increases post pandemic lockdown.

The London flight, announced early last month, was served by a 76 seat E-Jet Embraer 170 aircraft

Roger Hage, general manager for commercial and operations at Eastern Airways, said: “As the UK’s regional airline, we at Eastern Airways are all about connecting people and places, which by providing a rare new domestic service into London Heathrow adds a wide array of onward destinations for business and leisure needs, vital for the economic recovery and prosperity of the Teesside region as a whole. 
It also makes for a quick and comfortable option for all to reach the capital or Teesside and adds to our growing network of services supporting the region. We also become the only UK regional airline operating into the capital’s hub in our own name.”

The independent UK-based operator was formed in 1997 and it quickly returned to its own standalone identity in March, when then franchise partner, Flybe, went into administration.

Aviation Minister Robert Courts said: “Re-establishing the route between Teesside International and Heathrow is not only a positive sign that the aviation sector is getting back up and running despite Coronavirus, but also that levelling up the UK is central to Government’s plans and is powering ahead.

“I’m delighted to welcome this route, providing more connections for local people, and boosting communities and businesses.”

Passengers purchasing our Flex fare will have access to the Lufthansa Senator and Business Lounge at Heathrow among its other connection facilities.

The Eastern Airways E-Jet at Heathrow

Heathrow chief executive John Holland-Kaye also marked the arrival. He said: “Today’s first flight is the start of an exciting new partnership between Teesside International, Eastern Airways and Heathrow Airport, after an absence of over a decade. 
The Tees Valley region now has the world at their doorstop, and this sort of connectivity will facilitate the economic recovery and future growth for people and businesses across the region.

“The importance and value of hub connectivity to the UK’s regions is critical to the Government’s levelling up agenda. If regions cannot connect to global trade, productivity and skills they will instead experience higher unemployment skills shortages and an investment decline.”

Eastern is developing a strong relationship with Teesside, as it continues to carefully reintroduce services.

Tees Valley Mayor, Ben Houchen said: “In just 18 months we’ve gone from our airport facing the prospect of imminent closure, before we did the deal to save it, to an ever-expanding list of destinations and the first plane departing to Heathrow in over a decade.

“This amazing new route gives holidaymakers from Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool access to more than 180 destinations across the world and will play an important role in our plan for jobs for local workers as we recover from the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Linking Teesside to Heathrow, one of the world’s best airports, will mean our amazing companies are not only able to do business in London but can capitalise on our global aspirations with onward flights to scores of worldwide destinations. 

We will also be able to welcome more investors from around the world through our terminal, investors who will create the good-quality well paid jobs we want to see come to Teesside, Darlington and Hartlepool.”

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Is the End Already in Sight for Britain’s Tilting Trains? by Gareth Dennis

TransPennine Express’s new trains are missing one key feature that is indispensable for other 125mph trains on the West Coast Mainline. GARETH DENNIS looks at the future of tilting trains.

Since 2002, Class 390 Pendolino tilting trains have enabled 125mph running on the curvaceous West Coast Mainline. By leaning further into curves to counteract outwards acceleration (more on the science later), these trains can reach speeds that conventional trains travelling on the line cannot.

Or at least that was the case until a few months ago.

You might not have noticed, but the first of TransPennine Express’s new CAF Class 397 and Hitachi Class 802 trains have been running up and down the West Coast Mainline (WCML) north of Preston at speeds of up to 125mph without any tilting capability at all.

A CAF Class 397 TransPennine Express Train heading along the West Coast main line

This is exciting for a few reasons, but it also raises a few questions. How are these new trains managing without tilt? If they can do it, why do we need tilt in the first place? Does this mean the end for tilt on Britain’s railways?

Perhaps the simplest and most important question is whether this is good news or not.

I love seeing (or being on) tilting trains. Gliding through the Lune Gorge whilst elegantly rolling this way and that to keep speed up puts me in mind of the prototype Advanced Passenger Train (British Rail’s first commercially operating tilting train) making the same trip in the early 1980s. That glorious engineering marvel remains my favourite electric multiple unit despite its anticlimactic demise. There’s something very satisfying about a train tilting its way through tight reversing curves.

However, just like “bi-mode” trains are a compromise resulting from a lack of up-front infrastructure investment (in that case, overhead electrification), so too are tilting trains a compromise where an alignment is considered too expensive to straighten out (or bypass). Tilting trains are heavier and more complicated than their non-tilting equivalents, and so are more expensive to buy, operate and maintain. They require a series of balises to be mounted on the track, increasing infrastructure maintenance costs. They are also less roomy, which reduces the quality of the passenger experience.

On a strategic level, removing the need for tilt is very important. Given that High Speed 2’s “classic-compatible” fleet will most likely not have tilt, it proves the viability of their proposed operations beyond the limits of new infrastructure.

Until now, discussions about High Speed 2’s train service north of Manchester compared it unfavourably to the current long-distance high-speed services (LDHSSs), with suggestions that HS2 speeds and journey times would be worse once they joined the WCML. Now that TPE have shown that tilt isn’t necessary for fast timings, not only will this reduce the cost of any new fleet, but it will reduce the conflicts between the tilting and non-tilting fast trains operating through the North West and into Scotland. This avoids increased headways and the reduced capacity that conflicting speeds would result in.

But why exactly do trains tilt over in the first place? Let’s briefly look at railway curve design.

When a train goes round a curve, it exerts an outwards acceleration on the track — thanks to Newton’s second law, this is independent of train mass. Outwards acceleration is a function of train speed and curve radius (faster trains or tighter radius curves give greater outwards accelerations).

By raising the outer rail above the inner rail (applying cant, also known as crosslevel or superelevation), a component of the acceleration due to gravity results in an inwards acceleration. Inwards acceleration is a function of applied cant and track gauge (more cant or a smaller track gauge increases inwards accelerations).

Lifting the outer rail so that these accelerations are equal to each other (cancelling them out, in other words) gives us “equilibrium cant”, but to allow for variations in train speeds and to improve passenger comfort, the “applied cant” should always be lower than the equilibrium cant. The resulting difference between these two values is called “cant deficiency”, which is essentially a measure of the amount of unbalanced force through a curve.

It is important to note that limits of cant are defined by comfort and maintainability, rather than by safety. Trains have to run significantly above the design speed through a curve before derailment becomes a risk.

Engineers vary the amount of cant (and thus cant deficiency) based on the intended traffic on the railway. In the Crossrail tunnels or on HS2 where only one type of train with a very set performance will be operating, it is possible to optimise the cant alignment and carefully control lateral forces through curves.

On most of the rest of the mainline network, however, the railway has to be comfortable for trains travelling at the maximum permissible speed whilst not being hammered by stopping passenger trains or slower freight trains travelling at lower speeds. Excess cant can result in damage to track materials and an increased rate of track geometry degradation, both of which raise maintenance costs. The solution is to increase the amount of cant deficiency through curves.

On the WCML, where the speed differential between slow trains and fast trains is at its most extreme and curves are plentiful, the application of enough cant to enable 125mph for LDHSSs resulted in significant excess cant for freight trains and an unacceptable long-term maintenance liability. Hence the development and use of the tilting train, which essentially adds its own cant on top of that applied by track engineers.

Over the years, however, permanent way engineers have realised that maximising cant deficiency is actually beneficial for the operational railway, particularly in reducing the occurrence of rolling contact fatigue (gauge corner cracking, a type of rolling contact fatigue, caused the 2000 Hatfield derailment).

At the same time, the performance of stopping passenger and “slow” freight trains has increased. More electric trains and multiple units with faster acceleration, freight wagons that are capable of better ride quality at higher speeds, as well as the great leap in intermodal rather than bulk freight all contribute to a reduced speed differential between the slowest and fastest trains.

On the WCML, there’s another factor at play. Unlike the East Coast Mainline with its long straight sections and the occasional curvy bit, the West Coast Mainline has a speed profile like a sawtooth, with or without tilt in operation. Even the Pendolino isn’t particularly quick at accelerating out of curves and, in a few cases, drivers can’t make much use of the short stretches of higher permissible speeds.

This isn’t the case with the latest generation of electric multiple units. Both CAF’s Class 397 and Hitachi’s Class 802 (IET) trains have an immense rate of acceleration, and for a railway with lots of changes of speed, acceleration to make the most of the fast stretches is as important as the overall top speed.

TPE’s new fleet of Class 397 and Class 802 trains are capable of traversing the 
WCML at up to 125mph without the need for a tilting mechanism.

Here’s a quick example: for various reasons, some recent Leeds-bound LDHSSs on the East Coast Mainline have been hauled by Class 90 locomotives with a top speed of 110mph rather than the Class 91 with its 125mph top speed. However, the gearing of the Class 90 means that it has a notably better acceleration than its sleeker cousin, and can thus reach 110mph more quickly. Spending longer at 110mph means that despite not reaching the full East Coast line speed of 125mph, the Class 90-hauled trains only reach Leeds a few minutes behind their scheduled arrival time.

Whizz back to the curvier WCML, and the new trains with their better acceleration (and driver advisory systems that really make the most of their nippy performance) can get very close to the timings of the tilting Pendolinos.

TPE, CAF, Hitachi and Network Rail have undertaken extensive modelling to assess the requirements for non-tilting 125mph operation. The overhead traction equipment (not least the tension of the contact wire), signalling distances and vertical alignment (even a railway has to consider vertical accelerations to keep passengers comfortable and track materials intact) are 125mph-capable without any alteration.

Only curving forces present an issue, and having identified several test sections, CAF in particular have been running their Class 397s at the proposed speeds and ensuring that comfort in the passenger saloons isn’t impacted. Testing of this aspect of the new trains’ operation has shown that 125mph without tilt is comfortably feasible, and that the better acceleration of the units allows them to make more use of the short straight sections between curves.  

It remains to be seen if this will be extended southwards too, but given the reduction in costs that it would appear to represent and the potential benefits to passenger and freight operations, I’d be surprised if tilting capability (or the track-mounted enabling equipment) was retained anywhere beyond the life of the Class 221s and 390s.

[Edit: Given that the contract for Avanti West Coast’s new trains is for the same type of train as the TPE Class 802s, it is highly likely that this capability is going to be extended southwards.]

Within the route strategies for both Scotland and the North West, there are extensive plans for new, straighter parallel alignments to better regulate slower and faster trains — there’s no better way to improve capacity than extra steel, after all — but this is not expected to be delivered until Control Period 8 (2029–34) in readiness for HS2 Phase 2B.

In the meantime, some pragmatism from rolling stock and infrastructure engineers has gained a quick win for passengers. 125mph operations without tilt are happening as you read this.  

Was the development of tilt worthwhile? Of course. Should we mourn the loss of this clever kit? I don’t think so. In any case, the last tilting train in operation on our railway might well be departing sooner than you think

Pendolino, the last UK  tilting train in operation?

Tuesday, 15 September 2020

IC225 Fleet Lease Extension and Overhaul

Eversholt have announced that that they have extended the lease of seven high-speed, inter-city IC225 trains to London North Eastern Railway (LNER).

The lease runs up to summer 2023 with a possible extension to summer 2024. The original was to cease using IC225 trains when the Azuma fleet was complete.

The trains will provide extra capacity to LNER to boost that provided by the new fleet of 65 Azumas introduced since May last year.

This includes ten Class 91 locomotives, some of those being retained by LNER are 91101 Flying Scotsman, 91107 Skyfall, 91109 Sir Bobby Robson, 91110 Battle of Britain Memorial Flight, 91111 For the Fallen 91114 Durham Cathedral, and 91130 Lord Mayor of Newcastle.

A further two Class 91 locomotives are expected to be contracted. In total this will provide LNER with five spare locomotives.

Eversholt have also awarded Wabtec Faiveley UK a contract in parallel, to undertake the overhaul of the LNER IC225 fleet at their Doncaster facility.

The coaches and DVT's (Driving Van Trailer) will be overhauled by Wabtec Faiveley UK. 
Here DVT 82227 is heading a train at Newcastle on a London bound express in 2014.
The class 91's always push the trains southbound with 
the driver controlling the train from the  DVT .

The locomotives will receive a G exam, comprising an overhaul of the bogies including gearboxes and wheelsets, cardan shafts, compressors and traction motors. A number of reliability improvement modifications are also planned.

The Mark4 fleet will receive an OH1 exam including the overhaul of bogies, couplers and doors and an interior saloon and vestibule exam.

Class 91 007 one of the class 91's to be retained, is seen at the head of a 
northbound train at Newcastle in 2014

This work will be complete in January 2022.

Steve Timothy, Stakeholder Director, Eversholt Rail says, “We are pleased to continue to work with both LNER and Wabtec, to provide a safe and high-quality train experience for East Coast Main Line rail passengers.”

Andy Derbyshire, Group Managing Director, Wabtec Faiveley UK says “The award of this contract is excellent news for Wabtec Faiveley UK and our facility at Doncaster. We have developed a longstanding involvement with the IC225 fleet having worked on the vehicles since 2006. This continued collaboration has also been supported by the great working relationship we enjoy with both Eversholt Rail and LNER which contributes to the overall success of contracts and projects like this”.

Monday, 14 September 2020

Face Coverings Raise £2,400 for Charities

 BUS operator Transdev’s specially designed face covering featuring all the colours of its services across the North have raised more than £2,400 for NHS charities – with more to come as sales continue.

On June 15, the day Government instructions to wear face coverings when using public transport were introduced, Transdev began offering its designer “All the Colours of Transdev” face coverings online and at its bus stations.

Transdev CEO Alex Hornby hands over a cheque for £2,475 to Harrogate District Hospital’s Community and Events Fundraiser Georgia Hudson, representing NHS Charities Together

The colourful coverings quickly proved a big hit with customers in Yorkshire – so much so that extra supplies had to be ordered to keep pace with rapidly rising demand.

Transdev CEO Alex Hornby has now presented a cheque for £2,475 – the first wave of proceeds from sales of the washable and reusable face coverings – to community and events fundraiser Georgia Hudson, on behalf of NHS Charities Together, who support NHS staff and volunteers caring for Covid-19 patients nationwide.

Alex said: “We’ve always set out to make our buses places people want to be seen, and the same unique touch of style we’ve become famous for went into the design of our ‘All the Colours of Transdev’ face coverings.

“Our customers tell us they really like the bright and stylish appearance of our face coverings, and that they can be washed and used again and again, which is much better for the environment than disposable masks. They also encourage all those who can to wear a face covering every time they travel with us, and as more and more people continue to come back to the bus, that’s good news for everyone.

“We’re delighted by the positive response from our customers, and thanks to their generosity in buying our face coverings, we’ve now been able to present the first cheque to NHS Charities Together, with more to come as sales of our coverings continue.”

Transdev Blazefield leads the way in UK public transport as a visionary, forward-thinking bus operator providing high quality, award-winning bus services from eight centres across the North of England.

Its high-profile branded services are at the heart of everyday life for thousands of customers, while driving standards ever higher in competitive markets. 
In 2020’s Bus Passenger Survey, by independent transport watchdog Transport Focus, Transdev Blazefield’s The Keighley Bus Company achieved a highest-ever 93 per cent overall satisfaction rating, placing it among the top five per cent of England’s bus operators.

Sunday, 13 September 2020

Grand Central Blackpool to Euston Service Now 'Unfeasable'

According to a press release from Grand Central, they will not now launch the planned North West route train service between Blackpool and London after COVID-19 rendered plans ‘unfeasible’.

Company executives at Grand Central and parent company Arriva said following months of exploring all options to launch the proposed expansion of services to the North West route as planned, it is not now viable due to the economic uncertainty and changed travel patterns caused by COVID-19.

Employees who may be affected by the decision have been advised of the potential risk to jobs, and suppliers and stakeholders are being briefed.

Richard McClean, Manging Director of Grand Central, said: “So much effort has been put into these exciting plans to launch services between London and Blackpool, that it is heart-breaking to have to abandon them at this point but the pandemic and its effect on our expansion plans have just proved too big an obstacle.

HST's were originally used by Grand Central. Here 43468 heads a 
train out of Kings Cross on 19th March 2013

“Because Grand Central operates under an Open Access business model, we receive no external financial help and we rely completely on what we generate in ticket sales. Despite months of work to adjust our costs, and monitor travel behaviour for signs of change it became more obvious to us that to invest in what is essentially a start-up enterprise in this climate was simply not feasible and therefore we reluctantly reached the very tough decision to cease the project permanently.

“We will now concentrate on rebuilding our two existing routes, which returned to service earlier this summer, following lockdown.

The expansion of Grand Central’s services to the North West Route would have linked communities in Blackpool, Preston, Nuneaton and Milton Keynes directly to London Euston, The project had seen Grand Central establish offices in Blackpool and take on extra staff, including drivers. A period of consultation has begun between affected employees, rail unions and Grand Central executives.

Mr McClean added: “We have explored every possibility to continue with plans to start the North West route and protect these jobs. The people we took on have shown incredible patience and professionalism during what has been a period of great uncertainty. They have been at the forefront of our motivation to continue with the route and deliver services to new customers.

“The great support we have also received from Blackpool and the other communities along the route has been a massive inspiration for us to find a solution. I want to thank you all so much.”

Also see Focus posting from July here showing one of the Class 90 locos specially prepared for the new service and here showing a video of rolling stock for the Blackpool service.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

Urbino 12's for New Customer in Würzburg

Solaris Bus & Coach S.A. has delivered two Urbino 12 electric buses to the German city of Würzburg.
It is the first Solaris delivery for the operator NVG Omnibus-Betriebs-GmbH and the first time that the customer has opted for battery vehicles.
Solaris will also provide chargers as part of the order.

Both supplied vehicles are Solaris Urbino 12 electrics. The charging infrastructure consists of two stationary chargers with a maximum power of 150 kW and a mobile charger of 50 kW.
The investment in state-of-the-art emission-free buses will improve the air quality in the city and increase the life comfort of residents.

Rolf Oneis, Director of Sales at Solaris Deutschland GmbH said “The fact that operator NVG Omnibus-Betriebs-GmbH has decided to order its first electric buses from Solaris means a lot to us. We are extremely happy that we have been given the opportunity to supply both buses and the whole charging infrastructure to Würzburg, and that we can be part of the process of developing zero-emission transport also among private carriers on the European market”

The buses will be powered by electrically driven axles with two integrated traction motors boasting a power of 125 kW each. The power used by the vehicle will be stored in a set of Solaris High Energy batteries with a total capacity of 300 kWh, and it will be replenished using a classic plug-in system.

Featuring a 2+2+0 door arrangement and a passenger counting system, the electric vehicles will be able to offer room on board for 70 passengers at a time, of whom 38 can travel seated.
The buses feature a range of improvements considerably raising the user comfort both from the point of view of passengers, the bus driver and also the operator managing the bus fleet. The vehicles will contain a monitoring system, internal LED lighting, a passenger information system, air-conditioning, USB chargers and an electric heating system. Ramps will ease the entry and exit of wheelchair-bound passengers.

The German carrier has also opted to order the modern system for remote diagnostics eSConnect, dedicated to Solaris’ clients who have ordered zero-emission vehicles.
Designed by an inter-disciplinary team of Solaris experts, the software is a precision instrument which enables the efficient management and optimal use of an electric bus fleet.
The eSConnect system provides i.a. tracking data on the location of the bus fleet at given times, including the updated battery status. Furthermore, it allows for the remote detection of potential errors reported by the vehicle on the driver’s panel, which makes it possible to quickly respond to possible defects. The data collected by the app is presented in a visually appealing form of charts and graphs.

The buses also feature a system to control the heating and the air-conditioning systems of the vehicle, including the function of thermal pre-conditioning launched via the eSConnect system. This is used during the bus charging and optimises the consumption of electric power during the ride. Thanks to this feature it is possible to increase the range of the vehicle on a single charge.

The move towards environmentally friendly municipal transport is a growing trend across Europe due to the advantages of electric buses, such as low-noise and smooth driving, the lack of pollutant exhaust emissions. 

So far Solaris has delivered or secured orders for nearly 1000 electric buses which are in operation on the streets of 80 cities in 18 countries. In Germany alone Solaris has supplied or contracted over 200 electric vehicles.

Friday, 11 September 2020

'Restoring Your Railway' - Successful Bids Announced

Following submissions for the 'Restoring Your Railway Scheme', the following bids have been successful

The Department for Transport has invited MPs, local councils and community groups across England and Wales to propose how they could use funding to reinstate axed local services and restore closed stations.

This funding is split into 3 categories to ensure support is offered for different projects at different phases of development. The 3 categories are:
the Ideas Fund, early stage ideas to restore rail services (other than rail station creation or restoration)
advanced proposals, to increase development of a previously submitted rail proposals
proposals for new or restored rail stations

To see a full list of all applications submitted, click here


Thursday, 10 September 2020

Final LNER Azuma Joins the Fleet & 'Let's Eat' to be Introduced by LNER to Give At Seat Catering

The last of the 65 new Azuma trains have joined the LNER fleet

They have replaced the existing fleet of 45 trains which run along the 940 miles of track between Scotland, North East England, Yorkshire, the East Midlands and London.

David Horne, Managing Director of LNER, Tweeted: “The last new Azuma leaves the depot. Our 65th Azuma train joined the LNER fleet today – thank you to the cross-industry team especially at Hitachi, DfT, Agility, Network Rail, GB Railfreight and LNER who have worked together to test and deliver all 65 new trains in just 18 months.”

The first of the new Azuma trains arrived in May last year.

Speaking when the first one was launched, David said: “Setting new benchmarks in rail travel is part of our DNA, and the new Azuma trains are the next big step for LNER in making the customer experience the best that it can be.

“From extra leg-room and improved Wi-Fi to being more environmentally friendly and accessible to more people, the Azuma experience is a real revolution in rail travel.”

Seen here in June 2019 at Edinburgh Waverley, is HST power car 43315. 
These trains have been replaced by the new Azuma's

In their first 12 months, Azuma carried over 4.5 million passengers more than five million miles. To celebrate the public have been invited to name a train, with the new names being drawn from a shortlist later this year.

LNER are introducing a new service will enable customers to order and pay for food and drinks from their phone in the comfort of their own seat, without having to visit the onboard cafe bar.

The digital in-seat app ‘Let’s Eat – At Your Seat’ will be available to customers in both Standard and First Class.

The service will also provide a layer of confidence and reassurance to customers who are looking to stay seated for the duration of their journey.

Let’s Eat – At Your Seat will offer customers on LNER trains a more enhanced, personalised customer service, with the added benefit of being more convenient for those who do not wish to leave their seat and possessions unattended. The ‘at-seat’ service also addresses the 40 per cent* of UK consumers who want to access digital ordering and payment technology to minimise physical contact and support social distancing measures.

Let's Eat - At Your Seat was developed by QikServe, and is the first project to come out of the LNER FutureLabs accelerator programme, which is fast tracking the development of digital projects to improve customer journeys in the rail industry.

Dan Rodgers, Founder and President at QikServe said: “As part of LNER’s FutureLabs Programme, we’re delighted to be the first to deliver Let’s Eat – At Your Seat for a personalised food and drinks offering on LNER train services.

“People are accustomed to ordering food and drinks whenever they want on their phone, so why not on a train too? It has been a privilege working with the team at LNER to create technology that puts the customer at the heart of their service by allowing them to order refreshments when they want.”

With the UK Government advising food retailers to provide contactless solutions to support the economy, Let’s Eat – At Your Seat will allow customers to access the ordering platform through a QR code scan, without the need to download another app.

Developed for use on LNER trains, the Standard Class menu offers a wide range of drinks, snacks, sandwiches and breakfast items. The First Class menu offers extra meals including LNER breakfasts, hot meals and an extended drinks service.

Wednesday, 9 September 2020

Classic Northern General Routemaster Deployed to Help Keep People Moving

 Extra buses, including a classic 1964 Northern General Routemaster, deployed in the north east to keep people moving as schools return

Go North East, has deployed 56 extra buses to ensure there is sufficient extra capacity on its network as more schools and workers return and use the region’s buses.
The extras are covering both Go North East’s and some other bus operators' services and have been implemented in partnership with Local Authorities.

This week a 1964 Northern General Routemaster bus is even helping out to provide additional peak time capacity.

Running alongside a scheduled journey with a modern and fully wheelchair accessible bus, the vintage Routemaster, once a common sight in Tyneside, is reflective of the company pulling out all the stops to get extra vehicles on the road to provide a capacity boost to services.

The return to service of the vehicle, part of the North East Bus Preservation Trust collection since 2007 and originally new to Go North East’s predecessor, the Northern General Transport Company, was supported by the company last year as part of the opening of a replica Northern Bus Garage at Beamish Museum.

Northern operated a large fleet of front entrance Routemasters. 
This preserved example has been a regular attendee at north east events

It was also intended to help engage with the local community and supporting communication of the company’s rich local history at a number of other events planned for this year, but sadly now cancelled due to the pandemic.

Capacity on board buses is restricted to help ensure social distancing, but face coverings are also required to be worn on all public transport and are especially helpful for circumstances where social distancing cannot always be fully observed.

The deploying of these extra buses is designed to try and ensure buses can still transport everyone who needs to use them and the company is reporting very few ‘bus full’ instances, with extra vehicles being dispatched, or a bus already very soon behind, as soon as this occurs.

Go North East’s managing director, Martijn Gilbert, said: “Our hardworking team has gone to huge efforts to make sure our buses are clean and safe for everyone to use.

“As the schools reopen and more people return to work, we know buses will get busier and that’s why we’ve done everything possible to put extra capacity into the network.

“We’ll keep this under daily review as patterns of use and any issues emerge, but we want to assure customers that we’re doing all we can to pre-empt issues and are monitoring things very closely to ensure everyone can get to where they need by bus.

“There have been many fleet changes to help with this and it’s been a great opportunity to get the vintage Routemaster into service for a couple of weeks to help out with the additional capacity, whilst also raising the profile of everyone's extra special efforts to bolster services and keep our region moving.”

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Just Go North Lincs

Go-Ahead bus company East Yorkshire has launched a demand-responsive bus service in North Lincolnshire

The scheme, called ‘JustGo North Lincs’ is funded by North Lincolnshire Council, providing a sustainable financial model for demand-responsive transport
Passengers in the region can book a bus on demand through a few taps of an app

Go-Ahead bus company East Yorkshire has won a contract from North Lincolnshire Council to provide demand-responsive buses in the region.

East Yorkshire will operate the new ‘JustGo’ on-demand services across North Lincolnshire, aimed at connecting communities, providing access to jobs and growing the local economy. The service uses the latest customer technology, enabling passengers to hail a ride through a smartphone with the ‘JustGo’ app, was developed in conjunction with tech company Liftango.

With just a tap on the app or a phone call, passengers can request their journey and choose where they get picked up (using local meeting points). The on-demand service enables journeys to families, friends or vital services, and provides a solution for accessing workplaces such as Scunthorpe and Humberside airport, at times to suit shift patterns and staggered working hours.

Demand-responsive buses provide a flexible solution for passenger journeys, helping people leave their cars at home and choose an environmentally friendly option.

This is the third time Go-Ahead has ventured into demand-responsive transport. It follows from a one-year trial in Sutton in conjunction with Transport for London, and a two-year trial in Oxford of the PickMeUp service.

PickMeUp was the most successful scheme of its type in the UK, proving a high level of demand for ride-sharing service, but lacked additional funding support to make it commercially viable. 
 As JustGo is contracted by North Lincolnshire Council, East Yorkshire can focus on providing a high-quality transport service and building a customer base without revenue risk. 

The fleet of minibuses will follow all social distancing regulations and provide hand sanitiser on board, so passengers feel safe and secure. There will be WiFi and charging points available on every bus.

David Brown, Go-Ahead Group CEO said: “It is a great opportunity for us to operate North Lincolnshire Council’s new on-demand bus network. We will be using all the lessons we learned in Oxford and London to build a technology-driven service that will provide convenient journeys and connect communities.”

Kevin Orr, CEO, Liftango said: “We are pleased to partner with East Yorkshire and North Lincolnshire Council to ensure that rural based residents have a convenient & affordable transportation option and can move around the County in a safe, reliable manner at times most convenient to their personal schedules.

“It’s great to work with organisations like East Yorkshire that are continually improving the services they offer. Demand-responsive transport is such a fundamental part of creating a sustainable transportation network for rural areas. Our technology is enabling coverage and experiences not previously provided with traditional fixed-route transit services.”

A video here showing the first bus to leave the depot on launch day

Find out more about JustGo North Lincs and sign up for email updates at

Monday, 7 September 2020

Waverley Damaged in Collision With Brodick Pier

 Further to our recent posting about the completion of repairs to the Waverley Steamship, the sad news is that during one of its early trips, the recently relaunched Steamer has cancelled the rest of its sailings this season after it crashed into a pier on Arran.

Emergency services were called to Brodick Pier at around 5.28pm on Thursday of last week.
The Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) said 213 passengers and 26 crew were on board at the time of the collision.

Of those, 24 people reported injuries and were treated at the scene with a number taken to hospital on Arran or on the mainland by helicopter.

A statement on the MCA website said: "HM Coastguard was made aware at 5.28pm yesterday (September 3) of an incident in which a paddle steamer collided with Brodick Pier on the Isle of Arran.

"A coastguard search and rescue helicopter from Prestwick and two Helimed were sent, along with Arran coastguard rescue team.

"Scottish Fire and Rescue Service, Scottish Ambulance Service and Police Scotland were at the scene.

Passengers on the excursion were scheduled to leave the Broomielaw in Greenock at 11:15am cruising down the Clyde viewing the islands of Bute and Cumbrae before crossing to Arran. The boat had been expected to return at 8pm.

The statement added: "Along with partner agencies we worked to ensure everyone was taken safely from the vessel, and those who did not require medical treatment were taken to Ardrossan by ferry.

"The Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) has been informed."

The Waverley is the last seagoing passenger-carrying paddle steamer in the world.

It regularly attracts crowds of onlookers during its frequent visits to many parts of the UK.

The Waverly only resumed sailings on 22nd August after missing two seasons, having been halted due to lockdown restrictions following installation of new boilers.   
See here

Finance was raised by more than 8,000 members of the public and £1 million was given to help the 70-year-old ship and its crew by the Scottish Government.

The Waverley, named after the debut novel of Sir Walter Scott, embarked on her first trip in June 1947, when she went from Loch Long to Arrochar, Argyll.
A statement on the Waverley's website on Wednesday said: "Waverley's short season of cruises on the Clyde has been extended and she will now operate until Saturday 12th September."

But an update on Friday morning added: "Waverley made heavy contact while berthing at Brodick Pier on Thursday 3rd September and will be unable to undertake any further sailings this season.

"We extend our thanks to everyone who has supported the restoration and booked to travel with us."

Also see this recommended article click here

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Caetano e.City Gold Orders for Frankfurt + 34 Already in London

The German operator In-der-City-Bus GmbH (ICB) has placed orders for Caetano e.City Gold vehicles for the Frankfurt public transport system. The carrier, a subsidiary of Stadtwerke Frankfurt am Main group, has signed a contract for two vehicles for delivery during late 2020. 
They will be the first Caetano e.City Gold vehicles to be operating in Germany. 

The same operator has purchased 9 articulated electric buses from Irizar and 5 Solaris Urbino 12 Electrics. An order for thirteen 12m Ebusco 2.2 low-floor models has also been placed by Transdev for operation in Frankfurt.

ICB chose the 12m version with three doors offering a capacity of 34 seated passengers. The e.City Gold model is equipped with a 349 kWh battery pack. These buses will be developed to fully comply with all the requirements of Frankfurt Public Transport Authority. Available in 10.7 or 12m, LHD and RHD versions, it is easily adaptable to any urban environment.

The e.City Gold units are part of Caetano’s portfolio of zero-emission vehicles for urban mobility, many of which have already been delivered to several Portuguese cities and recently also to London (see below).

“One primary goal of the City of Frankfurt is to convert urban bus transportation and thus the entire ICB bus fleet to alternative drive technologies by 2030. With the Caetano Bus models, we are adding a new manufacturer to our fleet. We are delighted to be taking a further step towards environmentally friendly, climate-neutral mobility in our city,” said ICB Managing Director Christian Schaefer. The carrier operates a fleet of 162 buses.

Kohei Umeno, Chief Commercial Officer for CaetanoBus, said: “We are very proud to deliver our first e.City Gold units to Frankfurt, a major city that is moving towards a clean and 100% emissions-free urban public transport system. This project represents the first Caetano electric buses in Germany, and CaetanoBus will continue to reinforce its presence in this market as it is one of the European leaders in the decarbonization of bus fleets.”

Caetano Electrics in London

Caetano have had success in London with 34 electric buses supplied for the C10 and P5 bus routes.
The 10.7m e.City Gold models from CaetanoBus feature low floors and zero-emission heating. 

The fully-electric buses also comply with TfL’s Bus Safety Standard specification. Camera monitoring systems replace traditional wing mirrors, and the buses have intelligent speed assist, acoustic vehicle alert system and a revised front design to improve road user safety.
The deliveries mark the first use of Caetano electrics in the UK.