Tuesday, 4 August 2020

New and Upgraded Vehicles for Go North East X45, X46 & X47 Routes

Go North East is upgrading its X45, X46 and X47 services that soar through red kite country, serving Consett, Rowlands Gill, Metrocentre and Newcastle, with buses running directly up to every 10 minutes.

The services, which support the region’s recovery from lockdown, are the latest to join Go North East’s premium X-lines brand, that take the route you would in your car and are instantly recognisable with their striking gold colour scheme.

These upgraded double-deck buses offer more space on board and also come with free Wi-Fi, USB charging, next-stop audio-visual announcements and tables on the upper-deck.

The modern, environmentally friendly buses will be complemented by the arrival of six brand-new state-of-the-art buses soon, which were ordered prior to the UK lockdown, and also feature all the latest onboard creature comforts.

Go North East has ensured that the red kite is still pride of place, featuring prominently on the outside of the buses and includes fun facts about red kites on the inside, as well as promotion of the red kite trail along the route which the company has promoted over the years alongside the Friends of Red Kites.

The company has additionally introduced a range of flexible tickets called Flexi 5 to help those working part-time or sharing time between home working and offices catering for the flexible style of working the region is seeing at the moment.

Go North East’s commercial director, Stephen King, said: “We’re delighted to be introducing the next instalment of our new high-standard X-lines buses on our services between Consett and Newcastle. Operating direct down the Derwent Valley and red kite country, they also offer the perfect way to head out along the Derwent Walk.

“This is the continuation of us reinvigorating, improving and investing in our network of fast and direct bus links to key towns and cities across our region support the region’s economy as we back on our feet after lockdown.
“With great value fares and buses that are clean, safe and comfortable, this is a great time to give the bus a try.”

Monday, 3 August 2020

Metrodecker Zero Emission Fleet Launched in York

THE biggest zero emission park and ride fleet in the UK has been launched in York.

The first of 21 new all-electric double-deckers enter service on the York Park & Ride network, a partnership between First York and City of York Council, starting with the Askham Bar corridor to the south west of the city.

The full order of Metrodecker EVs, manufactured by Optare in Yorkshire, will be brought into operation this summer, replacing existing diesel vehicles in an investment totalling £9.3 million and expanding the fully electric fleet on York Park & Ride to 33 buses.

These are the first new vehicles to be introduced by First Bus anywhere in the country since the company announced on July 8th its commitment to achieve a zero carbon fleet by 2035.

Marc Bichtemann, managing director of First York, said: "We’re proud to be the operator of the biggest zero emission park and ride fleet in the country as we continue to partner with City of York Council to improve air quality in York.

“This is an important stage in our shared ambition to expand sustainable transport in the city. We are determined to attract more customers to using buses and realising the real impact this has in reducing congestion, creating cleaner air and supporting the local economy, not least as York continues its revival from the pandemic.”

The buses can carry 98 passengers (currently restricted due to social distancing) and have a range of 160 miles from one overnight charge, which means they can operate on the network all day without recharging.

Optare issued a press release saying "We were thrilled to be with First York and the City of York Council to help celebrate this landmark event.

We have worked with First York and the City of York Council since 2014 when we introduced the battery electric Versa running on a Park and Ride service.

In 2014, the Versa was the state-of-the-art electric single deck with a range of 70 miles. We have been developing the product alongside York in a successful operation and over the last 6 years, those buses have now completed over 1 million miles.

Technology does not stand still, and we see the future of public transport in lightweight, efficient zero emission battery electric buses.

Since 2014 there have been changes in battery technology and we introduced the Metrodecker EV in 2016.

The team in York were the initial operators of the Metrodecker and the trial was very successful. It proved the concept of the bus as a means of delivering very high zero emission passenger loading to support further growth of Park & Ride.

The first generation of the Metrodecker EV had a winter range of 120 miles. With rapid changes in electric drive technology, by 2018 we were able to offer the same bus at the same price with a 160-mile range and this is the bus that you see today. Again, York were the first to operate this bus in service.

This bus has lots of unique features which were created alongside the team at First York. We hope these will delight customers on Park & Ride for many years to come and hope these buses are the next step on the road to York’s zero emission future".

Sunday, 2 August 2020

North Yorkshire Moors Railway is Open

The North Yorkshire Moors railway has re-opened, operating services from Saturday 1st August in line with Government guidance.

A statement on the NYMR website says

"The pandemic has impacted the railway and we have lost vital income from not being able to operate during the 2020 season. Please help to keep us steaming by purchasing a ticket to travel. Your support makes and enormous difference and will help us keep the railway secure for the future.

As part of a phased reopening, we are offering pre-booked, non-stop steam-hauled, services with limited capacity. Services will operate between Pickering and Levisham, Grosmont and Goathland return 7 days per week. Services are approx. 60 minutes. 

Advance tickets are now available to purchase online and passengers will be able to travel from Saturday 1st August, Yorkshire Day. Tickets will be released in two-week blocks, as we closely monitor the situation. Passengers can book either a private compartment (max 6) or travel in a standard TSO Carriage (min 2/max 4) with social distancing measures in place. Passengers include children from 1 years old.

Although we won't be opening our Tea Rooms or station shops as usual, there will be an opportunity to get refreshments before you board the train. Visit the Tea Room at Grosmont, or on Platform 2 at Pickering, where you will find a selection of hot and cold drinks and delicious snacks for you to take on board.

Services 1st to 14th August

Pickering & Grosmont Departures: 09:30, 11:30, 13:30 & 15:30*, non-stop return services.

Standard Tickets:
Compartment: £100 (max 6 people)
Family: £80 (min 2/max 4 people)
Duo: £40 (min 2 people)
Single: £25 (only available on the 15:30* Pickering service)

Covid-19 Control measures in place at the NYMR

Advanced booking required. To help us maintain capacity we are asking all guests to book online in advance.
Enhanced cleaning regimes. We will be cleaning carriages and compartments after each service.
Hand Sanitiser Stations will be provided for you to use.
Contactless payments for all refreshment and retail purchases.
We will be asking our guests to maintain social distancing whilst using our facilities.
Toilets are available at Pickering and Grosmont Stations. There will be no onboard toilets available.
Unfortunately, you will not be able to visit the following areas at this time: All Booking Offices, Pickering Tea Room & Gift Shop, All Facilities at Levisham & Goathland and Grosmont Gift Shop. 

Passenger responsibilities

We ask for your co-operation and that you always follow Government advice and local mitigations at all times including:
Wear a face covering/mask whilst moving around the railway and on the train. These may be removed whilst seated in a compartment.
Wash Your Hands often and use the hand wash stations provided.
Avoid touching your face.
Observe social distancing.

We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you up to date with any changes, either from the Government or from our own plans. We can't wait to get back to doing what we do best – operating Britain’s busiest heritage railway.

*15:30 Pickering service will be mixed traction. Steam hauled to Levisham & Diesel hauled to Pickering. 50% discount for members and 20% discount for non-members. 

Statement from Chris Price, General Manager: “We are delighted to be welcoming back passengers, staff and volunteers to the railway from the 1st August. It’s great to see activity up and down the line, preparing for re-opening on Yorkshire Day.”

“The railway’s fundraising initiatives and the ‘Welcome Back’ services are part of the railway’s phased re-opening and sustainability programme. As part of phase one, our primary objective was to get the railway operational. Behind the scenes this has been a major undertaking. The majority of staff have been furloughed and continue to be under the government scheme. The decision of operating with shorter journeys was due to a mix of factors and was the best option to kick-start the attraction.”

“Every heritage railway has different operational requirements and varying levels of resource. A major challenge has been to manage the operational requirements, implement Covid-19 mitigations, control the railway’s funds and deliver a great passenger experience. All these factors have played a major part in the railway’s decision-making process.”

“The railway’s operating costs are extremely high and along with limiting ticket capacity, prices are having to reflect this. To help support the charity, to ensure it is sustainable for the immediate future, come and travel on a ‘Welcome Back’ service. Your ticket is a donation and will support not only the railway but the wider community.”

“The second phase of re-opening is to enhance our public offering. Therefore, we have only released tickets in a two-week period. We are currently exploring alternative services and our goal is to re-open the entire line, including all stations.”

“During lockdown we have spent the past few months closed to passengers, however behind the scenes we have been focussed on fundraising initiatives and have so far raised £400,000 to help keep the heritage attraction on track. I would like to thank everyone who has supported us so far, whether you have given a donation or bought a ticket to travel along the line. We still have a challenge in front of us, however we will still continue to pushforward.”

Saturday, 1 August 2020

South Western Looking for New Homes for 1938 IOW Trains

South Western's 5 Class 483 trains, built in 1938 for the London Underground, have been serving the Isle of Wight since 1989. However, as announced in September 2019, following a £26m investment to secure the future of Island Line, the current fleet is due to be replaced by the Class 484 trains.

South Western Railway is looking for new homes for the trains as soon as possible, to make room for the arrival of the first Class 484s for testing this year. SWR has already received several expressions of interest from preservation groups, including the neighbouring Isle of Wight Steam Railway.

Organisations interested in adopting a soon to be former Island Line train will need to demonstrate the capacity and financial security to remove and look after the train, as well as providing a suitable long-term physical location for the train. They may also need to prepare a plan to manage potentially hazardous substances where these remain on the units, which will need to meet the satisfaction of the Office of Rail & Road and other statutory bodies.

The trains are also subject to a statutory Designation Notice following the decision of the Board of Trustees’ of the Science Museum on 4 March 2020. Prior to ownership transferring, SWR would need to ensure the future plans for some or all of the vehicles were acceptable to the Board of Trustees.

The trains are in varying states of repair, with two of them having been used largely for spares in recent years.

Mark Hopwood, Managing Director for South Western Railway said: “The Class 483 trains have been running for 82 years, serving passengers first on London Underground and most recently on the Isle of Wight. Despite their age our team at Ryde St John Depot has worked miracles keeping these trains going to provide a vital service for the island.

“With new trains arriving, now is the time for these trains to find new homes, for a well-deserved retirement.”.

Organisations interested in rehoming a former Island Line train should express their interest by emailing 484Project@swrailway.com. The deadline for expressing interest is Wednesday 12 August.

The history of the Class 483s

Originally built in 1938, these trains operated London Underground’s Northern Line until they were withdrawn from service in the late 1980s.

In July 1989, the first of the 1938 stock, now the Class 483, arrived on the Isle of Wight to operate the 8.5-mile Island Line, from Ryde Pier Head to Shanklin.

The trains have now seen over 80 years of passenger service, 30 of which have been on Island Line

In September 2019, South Western Railway announced £26m of investment in Island Line that would see the Class 483 replaced by VivaRail’s Class 484 trains, as well as improvements in infrastructure allowing for a trains service at regular 30 minute intervals.

In keeping with Island Line’s tradition of former London Underground trains, the new trains will be refurbished former District Line trains, but with modern features including WiFi, passenger information screens and dedicated wheelchair spaces.

See last years announcement on Vivarail trains for IOW here