Monday 31 August 2020

Go-Ahead Granted Two Year Extension to Singapore Contract

The Go-Ahead Group has announced that the Land Transport Authority (LTA) of Singapore has granted a two-year contract extension to Go-Ahead Singapore to continue operating around 450 buses in the Loyang region of the island.

The extension, granted on the basis of strong operational performance, will begin in September 2021 and run until September 2023. This follows the initial five-year contract which saw the Group’s entry into the Singapore bus market in September 2016.

Go-Ahead has drawn on its experience as the largest bus operator in London to export best practice to another major city, Singapore. Colleagues from Go-Ahead London who have spent time working with Go-Ahead Singapore have, similarly, brought back skills and knowledge that are now adding value to the Group’s UK operations.

In its four years of operation, Go-Ahead Singapore has introduced a series of new services on behalf of the LTA, has helped improve customer satisfaction and has applied innovative IT systems which improve efficiency of drivers and engineers.

David Brown, Go-Ahead CEO, commented:

“Go-Ahead Singapore has been a great addition to the Group and I am delighted that we will be running buses in Singapore until at least 2023. Our experienced management team has led the delivery of remarkable performance on behalf of the LTA in recent years and has played an important part in Singapore’s response to the COVID-19 crisis.”

Andrew Thompson, Go-Ahead Singapore Managing Director, said:

“Today’s announcement is the result of much hard work by the 1,000 colleagues based at Loyang Depot. We are grateful to the Authority for the trust they have put in us and will continue to serve passengers with a safe and reliable bus network.”

Sunday 30 August 2020

Yutong TCe12 Zero Emission Electric Coach Has Become the First Ever Coach to be Certified as an Ultra Low Emission Bus

The Yutong TCe12 zero emission electric coach has become the first ever Coach to be certified as an 'Ultra Low Emission Bus'. This means that the TCe12 is now eligible to receive the 30 pence/kilometre BSOG Low Emission Vehicle (LEV) incentive payment in Scotland when used on qualifying work.

The electric vehicle completed the test at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedford last week.

The TCe12 is already in service in Paris where over 70 equivalent vehicles have been in operation for over three years.

The TCe12 coach carries 49 passengers and comes with front and centre passenger doors on the near side. The centre door and floor section is designed to allow the fitment of a slot-in wheel chair lift if required and full PSVAR specification is available. The electric drive line and control system is identical to that used in the E10, E12 and airport buses.

The 281Kwh battery will allow operators a range of well in excess of 200 miles on a full charge. It can be charged with either a 60Kwh, 90Kwh or 120Kwh DC charger making a full charge possible in less than two hours.

Above and below the TCe12 was shown at Coach & Bus UK 2019

The introduction of zero emission vehicles in Scotland will play a vital part in reducing emissions from public transport. The forward-thinking support from the Scottish Government with the BSOG LEV scheme provides a real incentive for operators to look at the benefits of zero emission vehicles. There are over 106,000 zero emission Yutong vehicles in operation around the world, all contributing to reducing emissions.

LowCVP have welcomed the Yutong TCe12 certification an Ultra Low Emission Bus (ULEB):

LowCVP have been evaluating vehicle performance over the last two decades to support government policy with robust data to inform funding of greener and cleaner buses. The LowCVP Bus Working Group has been closely involved in developing the certification schemes for incentives such as the £48m Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme which funded over 270 electric buses and infrastructure in England and Wales in 2019.

LowCVP has also supported the development of the BSOG LEV incentive in Scotland which now offers 30 pence/kilometre for the operation of an “effectively zero emission bus”. As many bus routes in Scotland are operated by coaches, this incentive extends to coaches which can meet the same performance as effectively zero emission buses.
The Yutong ICE 12 is hopefully the first of many zero emission coaches that demonstrate comparable performance to buses and further support the shift of the UK vehicle parc to a net-zero operation.

Currently coaches are the only vehicles not eligible for support from government through the plug-in vehicle grant or other capital grant schemes. The LowCVP are currently seeking support from government to develop an Ultra Low and Effectively Zero Emission Coach definition that could be adopted by schemes such as the Plug-in Vehicle Grant.


Saturday 29 August 2020

Optare Electric Vehicle Helps Shape Future for Go North East

A British built full-electric bus from Optare has returned to Go North East.

The bus will be running on the Quaylink Q3 service alongside Newcastle’s Quayside and through the busy city centre.

Optare Electric Metrocity operating the Newcastle - Gateshead Q3 service

The trial will help shape future thoughts on electric buses and the company’s fleet, as it continues to further improve its environmental credentials, with substantial year-on-year investment, meaning that it now operates over 250 Euro 6 clean diesel buses.

In October, Go North East will be introducing the region’s first full-electric fleet of buses between Newcastle and Gateshead.

Go North East’s managing director, Martijn Gilbert, said: “This is part of a series of forward-looking strategies to make our bus services even better.

“From 5 September, our timetables will be back to 100% levels – we’ve introduced extra cleaning, more flexible tickets for part-time and home workers, and have deployed extra capacity to help ensure social distancing.

The Metrocity EV Launch at EuroBus Expo 2018

“There’s never been a better time to get on board our clean, safe and comfy low-emission buses that connect our towns, cities and communities.”

Fuel costs account for the majority of the cost of day to day running costs. With recharging costs approximately three times less than that of a diesel equivalent an Optare electric vehicle is more cost effective to operate than a diesel or hybrid equivalent. Maintenance free batteries also reduce the servicing time and costs associated with the vehicle over its lifetime.

Regenerative braking means that most of the energy which would otherwise have been lost when the vehicle is decelerating is sent back to the batteries that power the vehicle. Our EcoDrive management system allows driving styles to be monitored, providing drivers with the information they need to achieve optimum efficiency in service.

Optare say that their electric buses can complete a whole day of service without the need for opportunity charging.* 
Fast charging allows vehicles to be fully charged in approximately 3 hours and opportunity charging can be undertaken through the day where there is a requirement to further extend the range. *based on daily average UK bus mileage of 126 miles.

The Metrocity is available in 10.1m / 10.8m / 11.5m lengths 
and will seat up to 44 passengers and carry a total up to 60.

Friday 28 August 2020

South Western Announce 'Arterio' as the name for New Class 701 Fleet

South Western Railway (SWR) has unveiled Arterio as the name for the new £1 billion Class 701 train fleet set to transform travel across South West London, Surrey and Berkshire.

Unveiled by SWR’s Managing Director Mark Hopwood during a special event at Wimbledon depot, the name Arterio reflects the suburban network’s importance to the nation’s capital.

The UK’s busiest station, London Waterloo is at the heart of the South Western network and SWR’s suburban routes are the arteries which feed it, taking people to work and school, to the capital’s theatres, restaurants and bars and home again.

The 90-strong Class 701 fleet will replace some of the network’s oldest trains, and will offer better reliability and performance, delivering more passengers where they want to go, on time and in comfort. 
The Aventra trains, which only have standard-class seating, are equipped with accessible toilets unlike many of the older trains they will replace which have no toilets at all.

The first Arterio train is expected to be introduced later this year on the Reading line, with a total of 750 new carriages to be introduced over the following two years.

Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said:
"This is an important milestone for South Western Railway. This new fleet which will offer improved reliability and better facilities, getting passengers across the South West to their destination in comfort and on time.

"As services begin to return to normal levels and passenger numbers increase, it is our upmost priority to ensure everyone stays safe when travelling, which is why we continue to advise people to wear a face covering, travel at quieter times, wash their hands regularly and maintain social distancing."

Mark Hopwood, South Western Railway’s Managing Director, said:
"The name Arterio reflects how important this fleet will be in carrying people in and out of the heart of the capital.

"Although passenger numbers may be low at the moment, people will want to travel again whether that is for work or leisure and we will be ready to play our part in helping that recovery. New trains that offer a transformed travelling experience will be key to that.

"The Arterio fleet is a massive investment for our business, and we are looking forward to our passengers joining us on this exciting journey."

Matt Byrne, President UK & Ireland, Bombardier Transportation said:
"We are delighted that South Western Railway have chosen the name 'Arterio' for the 750-car fleet we have designed and are now building here in Britain.

"We are working with SWR to bring the trains into service as rapidly as possible, so they can help transform the vital routes serving London's Waterloo Station."

The new 
Bombardier Class 701 Arterio fleet is financed by Rock Rail South Western, a joint venture between Rock Rail, Aberdeen Standard Investments and GLIL Infrastructure, and will be leased to SWR.

Mark Swindell, CEO Rock Rail and Director Rock Rail South Western, said:
"We are delighted that the new and aptly named Arterio fleet is set to deliver a vastly improved travelling experience for passengers returning to these key SWR routes into and out of London.

“The new fleet represents the largest single investment by pension funds and insurance companies into UK rolling stock, reflecting Rock Rail’s and our institutional partners’ commitment to sustainable travel and, working in partnership with SWR and Bombardier, to helping transform rail travel across the region."

Customers travelling on Arterio will experience more comfortable and connected journeys with two by two seating, onboard Wi-Fi, at-seat charging points, screens showing real-time service information, air-conditioning, walk-through carriages, dedicated wheelchair spaces and fully accessible toilets across the entire suburban network for the first time.

Thursday 27 August 2020

Electric Buses Destined for Coventry

Coventry City Council has welcomed a sneak preview of National Express Coventry’s first fully electric buses, ahead of their official launch in service later this month.

On Sunday 30 August 2020, National Express Coventry will launch the BYD ADL Enviro400EV's into service on the 9/9A route to carry customers between University Hospital and Finham, via Coventry rail station and Coventry Pool Meadow.

Coventry City Council welcomes National Express Coventry's fully electric double decker bus

During a tour of the bus operator’s city centre depot, Councillor George Duggins, Leader of Coventry City Council and Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council, enjoyed a short trip on one of 10 brand new electric buses.

In 2019 Coventry City Council was awarded £2.2 million from the government’s Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme to fund the new electric buses and supporting infrastructure.

Working closely with National Express Coventry, these next generation vehicles form part of the local council’s wider plans to help improve air quality across the city.

David Bradford, Managing Director of National Express Bus, said:

“Earlier this year we announced that National Express had bought its last ever diesel - and as a leading transport company it is our aim to have a zero emission bus fleet from 2030, and white coach fleet by 2035.

“We’re very proud that National Express is bringing fully electric buses to the people of Coventry. By working together with Coventry City Council we are determined to improve bus services and drive down pollution and emissions which contribute to poor air quality and climate change.

National Express West Midlands have recently introduced BYD ADL Enviro400EV's in Birmingham  

“Buses are already one of the cleanest ways to travel. Through working together in the West Midlands Bus Alliance partnership and Coventry City Council, we’ve retrofitted our older buses with new exhaust systems, meaning the air coming out of them is cleaner than the air going in - and since 2015, we’ve bought only the cleanest diesels on the market.

“And now we’ve got fully electric buses. The feedback from our customers elsewhere has been really positive so we are really excited to launch them in service here in Coventry. As well as being great for the environment, they come with all the top-spec kit our customers expect from our Platinum buses - extra space, USB chargers and free wi-fi.”

Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council, said:

“As part of our local air quality plan Coventry City Council is keen to embrace new technologies and make improvements that have a long lasting impact on those that live and work here, as well as those that visit our great city.

“A key part of our plan is working together in partnership with bus companies like National Express Coventry to make our public transport network better, greener and cleaner.

“The new electric buses look fantastic and with no emissions they are much better for the environment. I am looking forward to seeing them out in service on the 9 and the 9A from the end of this month.”

He added: “Coventry already has one of the largest networks of electric vehicle charge points in any city outside London, the introduction of electric taxis and buses onto the city’s streets, as well as the electric fleet programme which allows small businesses to try out electric vans. The roll out of electric double decker buses is helping us to build on this work.”

Built in Britain by Scottish manufacturer Alexander Dennis, Coventry’s own electric buses follow hot on the heels of 19 others that were launched in service on National Express West Midlands’ number 6 route between Birmingham and Solihull just last month.

Bus drivers have to be specially trained to drive electric buses. The vehicles behave completely differently to combustion engine-driven buses, and drivers have to drive to preserve the charge for as long as possible and extend the range. Engineers too have been trained in a whole new kind of maintenance.

Each of the 10 electric buses has a dedicated rapid charger installed at the depot. The buses charge up in four hours, and can run for 250 kilometres before needing another charge. They also have a new dashboard system which engineers can use to monitor the buses’ performance from screens up in the depot or from their laptops.

More on the Enviro400 EV's recently introduced in Birmingham here


Wednesday 26 August 2020

70 CNG Solaris Urbino's For Warsaw

In the midst of the rush to order electric buses, other fuels are still very much in demand. 
Public transport operator Miejskie Zakłady Autobusowe (MZA) in Warsaw has placed an order with Solaris for 70 low-floor city CNG buses, with a total value exceeding PLN 116 million or 26.7 million euros.

The order consists of 40 Solaris Urbino 12 CNG and 30 articulated Solaris Urbino 18 CNG buses. In the12m CNG buses the total capacity of the CNG tanks will be over 1500 litres, and in articulated 18-metre buses 1700 litres. 
The heart of these new vehicles will be a 239 kW engine converted to run on Compressed Natural Gas (CNG). This engine will be equipped with a cold-start function to facilitate start-up at low exterior temperatures.
A video surveillance system together with a breath alcohol ignition interlock is specified. The driver will have a closed cabin with a separate entry for limiting driver’s contact with passengers, thus minimising the risk of infection. 
In 12m buses the total passenger capacity is 90 people and on the articulated buses 135 passengers can be carried.

After completion of all planned deliveries by the end of 2022, MZA will have 160 electric buses and 305 CNG's. The first Solaris Urbino CNG buses will be delivered to Warsaw in April next year with final deliveries to be completed in mid-2021. Once they are completed, the total number of Solaris buses in the fleet of Warsaw operator MZA will rise to over 1100 vehicles.

Solaris is a member of the CAF Group of companies.


Scottish Ultra-Low Transport Scheme

 The Scottish Government has opened a new Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme (SULEBS). This year, the scheme will provide £9 million to help bus operators invest in ultra-low emission vehicles to help drive a green recovery out of the COVID-19 crisis while improving air quality.

Support is available for the purchase of new buses, and assists with 50% of the cost differential between a standard diesel bus and the equivalent ultra-low emission bus. This can rise to a maximum 75% support of the differential for buses depending on their zero emission running capability. Support is also available for the infrastructure for this technology of up to a maximum 75% of the capital cost.

SULEBS is said to be an “evolution of the Scottish Government’s Green Bus Fund” through which £17 million was invested between 2011 and 2018 to help operators overcome the initial capital costs of new buses. The scheme supported the introduction of nearly 500 cleaner buses across Scotland.

This new initiative focuses on ultra-low emission technologies (hydrogen electric or fully electric propulsion) which aims to support the Scottish Government’s net zero targets, its commitment to delivering Low Emission Zones and the ambitions Scotland has for transport decarbonisation.

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity, Michael Matheson, said: “The Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme will support bus operators and bus manufacturers in what I know is a turbulent time for the industry. The investments we will make this year will help drive forward a green recovery in Scotland while supporting our air quality objectives and our world-leading climate targets.

“With around three-quarters of all public transport journeys made by bus in recent years, equating to some 380 million trips across Scotland in 2018/19, it’s always been clear to me how critical our bus industry and its supply chain is to our wider transport objectives outlined in our National Transport Strategy.

“This is why during the COVID-19 crisis we are providing up to £109 million to increase and maintain services and why we are providing £10 million for bus priority infrastructure measures. In addition, we have maintained concessionary travel payments and Bus Service Operator Grants at pre-COVID levels and have also improved our existing offer for exhaust retrofit solutions.

“I’m pleased that our Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme will provide further support for our vital bus sector which plays a key role in keeping Scotland moving, improving our air quality whilst responding both to the COVID-19 crisis and the global climate emergency.”

Paul White, Director for the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) in Scotland, added: “While COVID-19 has presented immediate challenges for our sector we cannot lose sight of important elements of public transport policy such as air quality, decarbonisation and patronage growth. The launch of SULEBS is an important step in retaining the momentum for meeting these objectives and the wider National Transport Strategy vision.”


Tuesday 25 August 2020

Pictures of Vivarail Class 484's For Island Line

The first photos of the brand new Island Line trains, which are currently being built by Vivarail in the Midlands, have now been released.

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.

The Class 484 trains will operate between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin and will replace the  former 1938 underground stock.

South Western Railway has shared photographs of the build process ahead of the first train arriving on the Isle of Wight later this year – date to be confirmed.

The ‘new’ trains are technically, 42-years-old. The 1978 former London District Line stock has been completely overhauled by Vivarail and run on bogies from the 2000s. This is a stark contrast to the current trains being used on the Isle of Wight which are older than some of the trains running on heritage steam railways.

The new trains will provide more capacity, better accessibility, USB charging, passenger information systems and onboard wifi. They will also allow the guard to easily pass between carriages to collect fares. As photographed above, the new trains have been fitted with a snow plough to clear debris from the tracks.

Five sets of  2-car trains have been ordered with each train able to accommodate up to around 188 people – a mix of 106 people standing and 86 seated. During peak times, a total of 4 carriages can be run as a single train giving a capacity of around 376 people.

Previously, it was said that the new trains would be running to a new Island Line timetable from May 2021 onwards, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, this is likely to be pushed back.

South Western Railway has confirmed that for almost 3 months no trains will operate between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin whilst work is undertaken to transform the line, including the introduction of a new passing loop at Brading allowing for a regular 30-minute service. 

Track enhancements will improve the quality of the ride, platforms will be upgraded to improve access to the Class 484 trains, and new ticket vending machines will be installed at Shanklin, Sandown and Ryde St John’s Road.

Rail replacement buses will be in operation and a minibus will operate up and down Ryde Pier – which will be particularly important during the wet months.

IOW Rail Map

Wightlink Ferry Routes

Proposed Island Line Upgrade Programme (as of September 2019)

Late 2019-2020 Build of new Vivarail Class 484 trains begins at Long Marston, Midlands
Late 2019 onwards Design and planning work for Island Line infrastructure
April 2020 Testing begins on first Class 484 Island Line unit

Spring 2020 Wifi and Ticket Machines installed at stations (not yet completed)
Summer 2020 First Class 484 train arrives on the Isle of Wight for testing (now delayed until September)
October/November 2020 More new Class 484 carriages arrive on the Isle of Wight (expected to be delayed)
Winter 2020/2021 Disruption during infrastructure works – shuttle service in operation
February 2021 Final new Class 484 carriages delivered
March 2021 Last 1938 stock Island Line train decommissioned
May 2021 Brand new timetable introduced with new trains

Monday 24 August 2020

GWR Acquires More HST's for Castle Sets

Great Western Railway has acquired three more shortened HST diesel trainsets, branded as the Castle Class.

Each set comprises four refurbished PRM TSI-compliant MkIII trailer vehicles marshalled between two diesel power cars. GWR already has 11 of these ‘short sets’, all of which have been heavily rebuilt at Wabtec’s Doncaster plant, where power doors are fitted.

With its fleet now increasing to 14, GWR expects to use 12 each day on services across the west of England. Currently the fleet is deployed on the Cardiff – Bristol – Penzance corridor, but the company is still evaluating how the additional sets will be used.

GWR is to lease 15 additional MkIII vehicles and seven Class 43 power cars from Angel Trains, but the operator is also acquiring vehicles from other sources, including three additional coaches already owned by its parent First Rail Holdings, which will be fully refurbished and made available as standby vehicles.

Power doors are fitted to the Castle Class MK111's

The company has also bought another five MkIII vehicles from Porterbrook which will be used purely as a source of spare parts for the Castle fleet. These acquisitions mean that GWR’s short HST fleet now totals 63 coaches and 35 power cars.

Sunday 23 August 2020

Stagecoach Flexi 5 Launched in Manchester

Stagecoach has launched a new ‘Flexi Day 5‘ ticket in Greater Manchester. The ‘five for the price of four’ deal is aimed at people who are now working more flexible hours, part-time or shifts, and leisure commuters beginning to get out and about as shops, cafes and restaurants open back up.

Flexi 5 is a bundle of five Manchester dayrider tickets which must be used over a month. Normally these £5 tickets would cost a total of £25 for five, but with Flexi Day 5 customers pay £20 – a 20% discount.

 “We’ve been listening to our customers closely and, it is clear, that as we move out of the pandemic there is a need for increased flexibility for both commuters and leisure customers,” Stagecoach Manchester managing director Elisabeth Tasker.

“As a result, we have introduced the Flexi Day 5 ticket to give local people the transport option they need and to ensure they can travel around the region in confidence as we look to return to normality.”

The Flexi Day 5 ticket can be purchased via the Stagecoach Bus App using PayPal, Apple Pay or Google Pay and be downloaded straight to a smartphone. Once the ticket is activated, customers have one month to use all five tickets.



According to the Stagecoach website, "The tickets are easy to buy and use, buy once and activate tickets when you need to use them – just follow these 5 simple steps:

Find the Flexi Day 5 ticket in the Multi-trip section on the App.
Add the Flexi Day 5 ticket to the basket, then checkout securely.
You now have five Manchester dayrider tickets in the My Tickets section of your App ready for use.
Activate a ticket when you need to use it
After using one ticket, it should show 4/5 tickets remaining – you've got one month from the day of purchase to use all 5 tickets."


Saturday 22 August 2020

New Wrightbus Vehicles for Oxford

Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel have further increased the volume of ultra-low emission buses in their fleets, thanks to a £2M investment in green technology.

The Euro VI buses use the latest micro-hybrid technology to minimise environmental impact. It works via energy recovered under braking being used to help power the bus. Nine Euro VI buses have been added into service, with three in the Oxford Bus Company fleet and six in the Thames Travel fleet. And in a boost to UK manufacturing all the vehicles were built by Wrightbus at Ballymena, Northern Ireland.

The significant investment is part of the Oxford bus Company and Thames Travel’s on-going commitment to introducing the latest green technology to its fleets. A recently published Oxford City Council air quality report revealed the investment is working, with NOx emissions from buses decreasing by half, from 64% of total emissions to 32% since 2013. Buses now contribute less pollution than cars to emissions in Oxford City Centre.

Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel have previously retrofitted 66 buses and five City Sightseeing buses to Euro VI technology. Oxford Bus Company also introduced the first electric bus to the city earlier this year via the City Sightseeing Oxford fleet and have committed to converting more.

The nine new buses will be used on services between Abingdon, Didcot, and Oxford. Plus, on a new newly awarded developer funded contract to provide a fast service from Wantage and Grove to Milton Park and Didcot from early next year. They will also be used to help out with busy shopping days for Bicester Village, primarily at weekends.

All the new vehicles include USB and wireless charging, comfortable high-back seating, and tables for passengers to make their journeys as comfortable as possible. Audio-visual next stop announcements are used, as has been the case for all new buses introduced to the operators' fleets since 2014. Like all buses in the operator’s fleet they also include free Wi-Fi, dedicated wheel-chair and buggy spaces and luggage capacity.

Phil Southall, Managing Director of Oxford Bus Company and Thames Travel, said: “This significant investment represents the next stage in our on-going strategy and commitment to introduce more sustainable modes of transport. We have always been committed to being at the forefront of the industry on environmental technology innovation and well over half of our buses are now powered by hybrid technology.”

Friday 21 August 2020

Wrightbus Owner Reveals Plans for Scottish Hydrogen Fuel Plant

Jo Bamford, the industrialist, owner of Wrightbus and JCB heir who is championing hydrogen power, has revealed plans to create a Scottish hydrogen fuel production plant.

He said the production unit will be sited outside Glasgow and it is expected to be operational by November next year when the rescheduled COP26 climate event is due to take place in the city.

Mr Bamford earlier said Glasgow could run 300 hydrogen-powered buses, while Aberdeen is set to put a fleet of hydrogen powered double deckers on the road.

He leads green hydrogen production company Ryse and last year acquired Northern Ireland-based manufacturer Wrightbus, and envisages around 3,000 hydrogen buses - about 10 per cent of the UK’s total fleet - could be running by 2024.

Mr Bamford said: “We will have a Scottish solution outside of Glasgow ready and running for November next year.

“A production system that will be ready for COP26 being built in Scotland.”

A fleet of hydrogen-powered double decker buses that is claimed to be the world’s first is due to be launched in Scotland later this year.

First Aberdeen is to run the 15 hydrogen-powered double deckers supplied by Wrightbus as part of an £8.3 million project been funded by Aberdeen City Council, the Scottish Government, and the European Union, with an investment of £500,000 per vehicle. Mr Bamford, who hailed Holyrood’s commitment to hydrogen, said “it is essential that strong partnerships exist between the government, local authorities and companies to unlock investments like these”.

Green hydrogen is created by electrolysis of water using power sources such as wind or solar.

Thursday 20 August 2020

Solaris Makes it to the Hamburger Hochbahn List of Potential Suppliers of 530 Electric Buses for 2021-2025.

Hamburger Hochbahn, one of the biggest public transport carriers in Germany has been investing in its fleet of zero-emission buses for some years. As an example in 2014 Solaris delivered two hydrogen fuel electric buses to Hamburg. Then from 2016 to 2019 the Polish manufacturer delivered a further 13 battery buses.

This year Hamburger Hochbahn announced a call for tender for the delivery of 530 12m and 18m (articulated) battery buses. Three potential manufacturers were officially shortlisted to deliver the buses and the results were announced today. 
Solaris is among them. The vehicles will be ordered in tranches over the next 5 years. By 2025, the Hamburg transport operator's fleet is to be expanded by a total of 530 electric vehicles.

“With the order, we are laying an essential foundation stone for the complete conversion of our fleet to climate-friendly drives. For the first time in Germany, we also applied sustainability criteria in the tender. We want to take on a global responsibility in addition to our local responsibility. An important step on the way to real green mobility and a climate-neutral company”, said Henrik Falk, CEO of Hamburger Hochbahn.

Petros Spinaris, Deputy CEO of Solaris said “Being one of three key suppliers of a total of 530 electric buses for the customer from Hamburg is a great recognition for our achievements in e-mobility. It is a framework contract and the extent of the final order might vary. However I sincerely hope that Solaris will be delivering within the next four years both 12-metre buses and articulated ones, which will at the same time allow us to maintain our leading position on the market of electric buses in Europe,” 

In its bid submitted to Hamburger Hochbahn, Solaris presented two bus models: the Urbino 12 electric and the Urbino 18 electric. In its version for the operator from Hamburg both vehicles will be fitted with 
Solaris High Energy+ high capacity batteries, engines integrated into the drive axle and facilities for plug-in charging. 
Additionally the vehicles will feature thermal preconditioning during battery recharge. The buses will have features increasing the driver’s and passengers’ safety, such as blind spot assistance system that warns the driver about passers-by and cyclists who are close to the vehicle.

Wednesday 19 August 2020

Eversholt Rail and Alstom Invest a Further £1 million in Breeze Hydrogen Train Programme

Eversholt Rail and Alstom have announced a bold plan to fast-track the hydrogen train industry in the UK with a further £1 million+ investment in British hydrogen trains, creating an entirely new class of train, the first-ever 600 series.

Taking the Breeze hydrogen train plan to the next level, this major investment means that the Breeze will be ready for early deployment in the UK to meet the Government’s need to decarbonise the rail industry. This investment from Alstom and Eversholt Rail in the UK hydrogen train will underpin other initiatives in the hydrogen sector and will support any subsequent national hydrogen strategy.

Breeze trains will be built at Alstom’s Widnes Transport Technology Centre, which is fast becoming the UK’s premier centre for train modernisation. Widnes will also become Alstom’s worldwide centre of excellence for hydrogen conversion when this project is in series production, creating over 200 high quality engineering jobs in the North West, crucial for the Prime Minister’s levelling-up agenda.

When powered by green hydrogen, these trains offer true zero-emission mobility, not just zero emission at point of use. The only emission from a hydrogen train is water; it produces no harmful particulate or gaseous emissions.

Hydrogen trains are ideally suited to regional rail services on routes that are not currently electrified. Alstom has already proven that hydrogen trains are a cost-effective and environmentally friendly solution with the success of the Coradia iLint in Germany. This new investment will ensure that Breeze trains are ready for swift deployment in the UK wherever electrification with overhead wires might be impractical or visually intrusive.

The Coradia iLint

The Alstom Coradia iLint trial has been a success in Germany

The pioneering of a hydrogen train fleet is a notable step in the path towards decarbonising the UK railway. As Breeze will be the first UK train fleet to use the Class 6xx category, it will bear the classification ‘600’. Both Eversholt Rail and Alstom are delighted with this recognition.

“It’s time to jump-start the UK hydrogen revolution. With the Government looking to invest in green technologies, Alstom and Eversholt Rail have deepened our already extensive commitment to this job-creating technology with a further million-pound+  investment. This bold move to back the Government’s ambitions on hydrogen means we are the only game in town if you want a shovel ready British hydrogen train. The Breeze is good to go, wherever the Government commits to upgrading Britain’s railway with hydrogen trains,” said Nick Crossfield, Managing Director, UK & Ireland

Mary Kenny, CEO of Eversholt Rail, said “Eversholt Rail has a proud record of innovation in key rolling stock technologies and this further investment in the Breeze programme demonstrates our commitment to providing timely, cost-effective solutions to the identified need for hydrogen trains to support the decarbonisation of the UK railway”.

Tuesday 18 August 2020

Hitachi and Bombardier to Supply Very High-speed Trains to Trenitalia for Spain’s New ILSA

Hitachi Rail SpA and Bombardier Transportation have signed a contract with Italy’s Trenitalia to supply 23 Frecciarossa 1000 very high-speed trains for the new ILSA rail operation in Spain.

The trains are for the new Intermodalidad de Levante (ILSA) rail operation, a joint venture established by Trenitalia and Operador Ferroviario de Levante SL. The contract value is €797 million in a partnership involving company participation of approximately 60 per cent and 40 per cent respectively. For Bombardier Transportation, this order relates to an undisclosed customer in Europe previously announced on 6 August 2020.

The Frecciarossa 1000 is the fastest and quietest very high-speed train in Europe. The 23 new trains for ILSA will be designed and built by Hitachi Rail and Bombardier in Italy. Each train will be approximately 200m-long with capacity for around 460 passengers and capable of commercial speeds of up to 360km/h (224mph). State-of-the-art aerodynamics and energy saving technologies give the train unmatched operating efficiency. Once onboard, passengers will be able to enjoy Wi-Fi, a bistro area and high levels of comfort in all classes. The trains are operable on high-speed rail networks equipped with multi-voltage technology fulfilling all TSI requirements. Since their introduction in Italy in 2015, the Frecciarossa 1000 very high-speed trains have set enviable standards of performance, operating efficiency and passenger comfort.

ILSA has been selected by Adif (the company who runs Spain’s rail infrastructure) as the first private operator to be granted access to the Spanish rail market. From 2022, ILSA will run high-speed services on the Madrid-Barcelona, Madrid-Valencia/Alicante and Madrid-Seville/Malaga lines.

Andrew Barr, Group CEO, Hitachi Rail, said: “The ETR1000 train, widely known commercially as the Frecciarossa 1000, has transformed passenger transport on high-speed lines in Italy, setting the standard and becoming the fastest and most admired train in Europe. 

It is a platform that we are very proud of and is proof of our continuous and positive collaboration with Trenitalia to the benefit of passengers and society in terms of comfort, sustainability, style, performance and low noise. We look forward to bringing the same advantages to Spain, and to contribute to the development program of high-speed railway services in this country with these new services.”

Franco Beretta, President and Managing Director of Bombardier Transportation Italy, said: “The Frecciarossa 1000 very high-speed train has been chosen for the new ILSA franchise in Spain to enrich the travel experience for passengers, thanks to its high levels of comfort and reliability. With cutting-edge train control and propulsion technologies deriving from the V300ZEFIRO platform, these fast and quiet trains are already very popular with long-distance travellers in Italy. The liberalisation of Europe’s railways enables ILSA to offer new rail services in Spain to encourage even more passengers to shift their journeys from cars and planes to trains, contributing towards global sustainability goals.”

Christian Andi, Executive Officer, Region EMEA, Hitachi Rail Group, said: “Working together with Bombardier as trusted partners of Trenitalia for this new international project, renews and recognises our valued experience in the high-speed rail sector. For Hitachi, a fully integrated, global provider of rail solutions, this is a further confirmation of our capability to contribute to society through the development of superior, original technology and products that deliver sustainable mobility.”

Marco Biffoni, Head of Sales Italy for Bombardier Transportation, said: “We are delighted that Trenitalia has put its confidence in Bombardier and Hitachi once again with this order for 23 trains based on Bombardier’s V300ZEFIRO platform. This innovative, super-fast train is already extremely popular with passengers in Italy and we’re looking forward to bringing this outstanding high-speed travel experience to millions of rail passengers in Spain.”

Monday 17 August 2020

An Irish Rail Story - Restoration of a Section of Clifden Line

Efforts are under way in Ireland to revive an 8km stretch on the old Clifden railway line.

Something has been missing from the mountains of Connemara for almost a century. Most tourists who pass through wouldn’t be aware that at one time, a railway connected Galway city with the coastal town of Clifden, about 80km away.

The sounds of a steam train haven’t echoed off the wild valleys since the mid-1930s. One man is determined to change that. Jim Deegan is the chief executive officer of Railtours Ireland and a lifelong railway enthusiast with a particular grá for the old Clifden line.

 Jim Deegan, chief executive of Railtours Ireland, is determined to see the return of the steam train at Maam Cross Railway Station in Connemara. Photograph: Joe O’Shaughnessy

Maam Cross is, as the name suggests, at the crossroads of Connemara, roughly halfway between Clifden and the city. There’s not much to the area apart from a hotel, garage, mart and a replica of the cottage from the John Wayne film, The Quiet Man.

Just behind the mart is the site of the old railway station. Opened in 1895, it was the centre of life and commerce in the area in its heyday, but closed on April 27th, 1935.

Deegan has been coming to the area since his early childhood, catching glimpses into the past from the car window on family holidays. His grandmother lived just up the road in the Maam Valley.

“I was fascinated by this beautiful railway line that was closed down but all the embankments, cuttings and the bridges and indeed the stations were still there. So I had this childhood ambition to try and restore a bit of the Galway to Clifden line,” Deegan explains.

It has taken some two decades to reach the point the project is at now. As we drove out to Maam Cross, Deegan is able to point out precisely where the line once ran. Through a tunnel (now being converted into a bar) under Galway city, across the river where the old stone pillars still loom over the waters of the Corrib and out towards Connemara.

The embankments and crossing keepers’ cottages are still peppered along the N59 road and in the adjoining fields. The former station buildings along the route are now private residences or have been turned into factories, leaving the site at Maam the best option to begin the line’s revival.

“Maam Cross came into my sights about 20 years ago and it took quite a long time to negotiate the acquisition [of the site]. We moved in on St Valentine’s Day 2017.”

This kind of project doesn’t come cheap. Phase one will cost some €300,000. The completion of this phase will, coronavirus dependent, see a steam train running again on a temporary pop-up 3ft narrow gauge railway.

A small steam rally will see the train running on the demonstration line and several road-going steam traction engines in late September 2020. Connemara’s first “Tour de Steam” will also see some of the road engines travel to different towns in the area.
Everyone is doing it for the love of it. We’ve got accountants, engineers, Irish Rail staff past and present, quite a cross section of people

After this event, the pop-up line will be removed and a permanent stretch of broad gauge track of 5ft 3in width (the same as Irish Rail) will be laid. It is hoped that there will eventually be 8km (5 miles) of track for the larger steam trains to carry passengers with Maam Cross roughly in the centre. Public fundraising is ongoing via a GoFundMe page.

Phase two will see further restoration of the station site and rebuilding of the original station buildings that were demolished.

But why bother? Why spend so much time, money and effort to recreate something that hasn’t been used for the better part of a century? Partly at least for the same reason the original Midland & Great Western Railway built the line in the first place.

“The railways were the genesis of tourism in Ireland. Angling was one of the main tourism activities which brought in a very wealthy clientele from the opening of the railway and was really the start of tourism in Connemara.”

The Connemara Express ran from Dublin’s Broadstone station to bring in tourists in the early 1900s. The train was painted in a blue and cream livery, which in the long term Deegan hopes to recreate behind a brand new steam engine.

“Unfortunately there were no midland engines preserved so we are looking at following a trend that’s quite common now in the UK where heritage railways are building brand-new engines. We hope to go down that road subject to funding.”

Deegan began his career in Bord Fáilte in London before moving to B&I Line ferries and then into property development. An opportunity to become the first rail-based tourism company in Ireland saw him come home to found Railtours Ireland, which uses ordinary service trains and chartered buses.

“We’re finding it extremely difficult, as are many businesses like mine that are dependent completely on overseas visitors. But we are working on an initiative for the domestic market to create a staycation with a difference using rail.”

Even with the project’s links to Irish heritage and its location on the edge of the Gaeltacht region, grants and funding have been difficult to come by. “We’ve had absolutely no assistance from any State agency unfortunately. So far it’s been extremely difficult but we are hoping for some assistance [in future].”

Deegan’s passion for the project is evident and he’s not alone in his efforts. Volunteers work on site laying track and making it presentable to the public.

“We try to make the whole experience [of volunteering] fun because that’s what it’s all about. Everyone is doing it for the love of it. We’ve got accountants, engineers, Irish Rail staff past and present, quite a cross section of people. We’ve got the Mayo gang who come from all over Co Mayo, local people from Leenane and Rosmuck and from Dublin.”

Deegan hopes his early childhood memories of an abandoned railway will be transformed into a new reality: the sight of steam returning to a place where his family tree was sown.

“To see a steam train travelling through the savage beauty of Connemara will be something that will be one of the most memorable moments of my life.”

Donations to the project can be made online and more information can be found at and