Wednesday 30 September 2020


The People’s Friend’s colourful yarn-bombed bus has hit the streets during September to let the UK’s older generations know that the nation is behind them during coronavirus pandemic

The bus, Alexander Dennis Pointer-bodied Dart, fleet no.34865, donated by Stagecoach, has delivered cheer and dropped off magazines and knitted bunting to care homes and residential streets, as the clamp down on visitors and socialising has tightened again.
The travelling spectacle was adorned with hundreds of donations from knitters across the UK, sending a warm message of friendship to those shielding or feeling lonely due to the pandemic
The activity is in partnership with loneliness charity Re-engage to raise funds for a telephone befriending service

We've clapped for our carers, we’ve cheered children with rainbows and now knitters from across the UK have sent a message of friendship to our older generations – with a yarn bombed bus hitting the road to deliver a colourful pick-me-up to anyone experiencing loneliness due to the pandemic.

The People’s Friend, in partnership with friendship charity, Re-engage, and the UK’s biggest bus and coach operator, Stagecoach, has launched a colourful knitted bus which has toured the length of the country to show older generations that the nation is behind them - as many continue to shield or feel the effects of the pandemic on their social lives. 
Loneliness is at a high amongst this demographic, and the bus's visit coincides with new restrictions placed on care home visitors.

The nation’s knitters have sent in hundreds of hand-made bunting triangles to adorn the bus, which will deliver magazines and knitting to care homes, as well as collect funds for Re-engage’s new telephone befriending service ‘Call Companions’. 
The service was launched in response to Covid-19 to offer free, friendly, and regular calls to ensure that those most vulnerable to isolation remain connected to the outside world.

Alongside the donated bunting, the bus has embraced the trend of yarn bombing and was adorned with friendly crocheted faces, including The People’s Friend mascot Marmalade the Cat, delightful pom poms and brightly coloured squares which cover the length of the 40ft single decker bus.

Angela Gilchrist, Editorial Director of The People’s Friend, said: “Smiles have been in short supply for all of us this year, but especially so for those who live alone or who have been missing close contact with family and loved ones. We know that life is better when shared with a friend, so we decided to enlist the help of our hundreds of knitters across the UK to cheer up everyone who may be feeling lonely or downhearted.

“Our colourful bus has brightened the day of anyone who has seen it. And I believe it sends a message of hope, too, that even when times are tough, we can all share moments of joy.”

Re-engage CEO, Meryl Davies, said: “The Covid-19 crisis has intensified feelings of loneliness for many older people who have really struggled without regular social contact. We hope that older people who have seen The People’s Friend Yarn-Bombed bus will be reminded that they are not alone, and will get in touch with us to be matched with a volunteer with similar interests for regular, free calls.”

Martin Griffiths, Chief Executive of Stagecoach, said: “We have been proudly connecting communities up and down the country for 40 years, and our buses have continued to provide a lifeline for people during the pandemic.

“We are all delighted to be working with The People’s Friend and Re-Engage on this special bus tour and we would like to thank all the knitters for their valuable contributions. 
We hope that the colourful Yarn-Bombed bus has brought smiles to people’s faces as it traveled across the UK.”

The People’s Friend Yarn-Bombed Bus started its tour in Torquay, followed by Barnsley (22nd September), then Cumbria (24th September) with its final stop taking place on Saturday 26th September in Dundee - the home of The People’s Friend for the last 150 years.

To donate to Re-engage, please visit

Tuesday 29 September 2020

Boost for Warrington's Plan for All Electric Bus Fleet

AMBITIOUS proposals for the borough to develop an all-electric bus fleet depot, as it bids to become carbon neutral have been boosted.

Warrington’s Town Deal plans have been bolstered thanks to an accelerated £1 million funding grant.

The funding aligns with the council’s previous bid for £25 million through its town investment plan as part of the national Town Deal initiative.

It will be allocated to supporting the Labour-run authority’s ambition to relocate the current Warrington’s Own Buses current depot, close to Wilderspool Causeway, to land off Dallam Lane.

A key strand of the council’s town investment plan and bid for funding was to deliver an all-electric bus fleet depot, which will provide the stimulus for the full electrification of a Warrington bus fleet and replace the current depot with land for sustainable housing.

Confirmation of this £1 million advanced funding, therefore, provides the council with welcome support to prepare Warrington for delivering a bus fleet ‘fit for the future’, as well as modern town centre accommodation.

Leader Cllr Russ Bowden said: “I am pleased to see that our ambitions through our Town Deal work has been recognised.

“We have been working very closely with our business, education and political leaders across the borough to create an ambitious, yet realistic, vision for the town centre, so to receive this accelerated payment is recognition that the Government agrees with our plans for Warrington.

“We have the opportunity now to begin work in our town to deliver a new all-electric bus fleet, which can play a vital role in helping us achieve our target of carbon neutrality by 2030.

“The prospect of being able to unlock space in the town centre at the site of the current depot, for housing for our residents is also a positive step in the continued economic growth of our town.”

Through the £3.6 billion Towns Fund, the Government has announced an immediate £80 million funding for more than 100 towns to use in this financial year.

Conservative Warrington South MP Andy Carter says the cash will give towns and high streets across the county the opportunity to drive economic growth and improve prospects for their communities.

He added: “I’m delighted after speaking to the secretary of state from communities last week that we have been able to secure this funding for Warrington.

“Regeneration of the town centre is one of our top priorities and this initial funding will go towards plans to relocate the current bus depot on Bridge Foot for an all-electric bus fleet. This is in addition to the £5.2m already confirmed.

“This is just the start and is part of the Towns Fund Deal worth up to £25 million.

“It was promised when I was elected that I would get Government support for our hospital, schools and town centre and I will keep pressing Government every single day to make sure we get our fair share.”

Monday 28 September 2020

Mid Hants Watercress Line Illuminated Train

 The Watercress Line has announced an exciting, new event this winter: 

Steam Illuminations.

Steam Illuminations is a unique, world-first digital LED train which creates an incredible light show both on and inside the steam train, consisting of thousands of fully controllable colour mixing LED lights and LED wristbands. 

The lights are programmed to perform an impressive light show, consisting of different colours and flashing patterns that are a marvel to see. 
Everyone is given an LED wristband to wear on the train to be part of the show and can take them home after the event.

Trains will depart from either Alresford or Alton and complete a round trip, back to the starting station.

Steam Illuminations is a unique, world first, the incredible light show on consisting of 13,174 fully controllable pixel mappable digital colour mixing LED lights and LED wristbands. This makes the train look magical both inside and out!

Marvel at the wonderful light show with different colours and flashing patterns, whilst sitting back and relaxing on one of the steam trains as it travels up and down the 10 mile line. You will have a chance to see the outside of the train at the start, middle and end of your journey to capture it by camera.

Everyone is given an LED wristband (included in the price of your ticket) to wear on the train and take home after the event.

Popular and traditional music will play along with the lights to enhance your experience.

Trains depart from either Alresford or Alton and complete a round trip, back to the starting station.

The railway say "this is a wonderful experience for the whole family and is sure to be an event to remember!"

Click  here to see a video, More about the railway here


Sunday 27 September 2020

Dundee to Edinburgh Electric Coach Service Announced

The new 63 mile, electric service operated by Ember, between Dundee and Edinburgh using Yutong TCe12's will begin on October 1st. 

As Ember got ready to welcome delivery of its first vehicle in March, COVID-19 hit – from the factory to shipping, the entire supply chain felt the repercussions of the global pandemic, leading to an unavoidable six month delay.

Happily, things are turning around, with a new launch date in autumn now announced by Ember.

“We’re now planning to launch on October 1st with two coaches. The COVID delay gave us additional time to build more of our technology platform and partner with Triodos, a leading sustainable bank. Having a partner who is totally aligned with net zero and the need for green, patient capital is critical,” says Keith Bradbury, co-founder of Ember.

“This has allowed us to launch with two coaches rather than one. It will allow us to offer a more frequent service from the get-go and expand faster in the coming months and years.”

Launching with two coaches means that, from October, Ember will be able to run eight return trips a day between Dundee and Edinburgh, offering an almost 24 hour service. Costing £7.50 each way, the main stop in Dundee will be at Greenmarket, where a high powered EV charging unit and loading bay has already been installed to facilitate electric powered heavy goods vehicles. Services will also stop off in Dundee’s west end and will serve several towns along the way before reaching Edinburgh.

Whilst allowing Ember the chance to boost its plans and launch with two coaches, the lockdown period has also emphasised the importance of the company. Keith and business partner Pierce Glennie started Ember with the goal of building a business that had net zero goals at it’s core.

This net zero approach to business and public transport is helping to ensure Scotland can ‘build back better’ as it recovers from the pandemic, with lower air pollution, a cleaner environment and a more resilient economy.

Specifically in Dundee, Ember will be able to create seven new jobs. It also has ambitious plans to expand rapidly and add further jobs over the coming months and years, so looks set to play an exciting part in the city’s green recovery going forward.

The new electric coach service will also offer passengers an environmentally friendly and convenient new way to travel between cities in Scotland.

“One of the silver linings of lockdown has been that it has shown the benefits of living in less polluted cities with less traffic and more active travel,” says Keith Bradbury who, with Piece Glennie, formed the new company.

“We want Ember to be part of making this change permanent as lockdown eases, rather than seeing a rush back to cars. For example, we’re very supportive of changes that councils have been making to reallocate road space to cyclists and pedestrians.

“An electric coach network is the perfect complement for active travel – we allow people to make long-distance journeys in an eco friendly way, whilst encouraging them to travel the final mile by walking or cycling if possible.”

As part of this, passengers can bring bikes onboard and Ember even has plans to provide further mobility options in future, like a service to allow passengers to hire a scooter or e-bike for use directly from the coach.

Keith also mentions that ‘there’s a lot of stigma’ around public transport, whether it’s reliability or being squeezed in like sardines, so – alongside offering an eco-friendly travel option – Ember have also focused on creating an enjoyable travelling experience for passengers.

They have purposefully removed seats to increase passenger space and comfort. Passengers are encouraged to book in advance to allow seamless boarding, although onboard contactless payments will be available for those who don’t book in advance. 

Concessions cards can be used for free travel, including when booking online. Live location tracking also means pre-booked passengers will receive accurate service updates and ETAs, to help them plan journeys more easily.

Some of this would have been available had Ember launched in May, but they’ve been working really hard behind the scenes during lockdown to improve the service on offer for October. 
This dedicated hard work during the delay period has allowed Ember to get to where they’d hoped to be by this point of the year, despite not being able to launch the first coach when initially planned.

And of course, Ember has also continued to receive support from partners at Dundee City Council too, over the past few challenging months.

“Dealing with supportive councils and governments, who are aligned with our objectives of reducing emissions and traffic, makes it much easier to work in a collaborative manner,” said Keith.

From installing charging points to switching to electric vehicles, Dundee City Council has become a trailblazer in electric vehicle infrastructure. The City Council announced that it was supporting Ember in its bid to launch the UK’s first intercity electric coach service, running from Dundee to Edinburgh in May.

“Dundee City Council continued to roll out charging infrastructure in Dundee despite COVID, a demonstration of their commitment to electrification and reducing emissions.”

The launch of Ember is just one part of Dundee City Council’s mission to boost the city’s electric vehicle infrastructure. Under Drive Dundee Electric, it has the ambitious goal to convert 20% of all vehicles in Dundee to electric by 2027, which would see the city sit at the forefront of EV technology in the UK and Europe.

It’s also working with other partners – including the University of Dundee, NHS Tayside and local taxi companies – to create a shared network and fulfil its ambitious plans.

And it’s already proving a success – a switch to electric vehicles has seen the council travel over 5.6 million miles on pure electric, saving an estimated 250,000 tons of CO2.

Mark Flynn deputy convener of Dundee City Council’s city development committee said: “This innovative project works on so many levels for us to help deliver on our goals.

“Clearly the first intercity electric coach service in the UK is a feather in our cap and the improvements that it will bring about in terms of air quality and other environmental benefits are notable.

“But in addition as we reopen facilities and tourists come back to the city it offers a unique way of getting to and from Dundee that in itself is a visitor attraction that fits perfectly with our position as a leader in the field of sustainable transport.”

The launch of Ember will be an exciting step forward for the local authority’s plans, as well as for the company.

Ember will continue to provide updates online as the October launch date draws closer and, as it has already done so over the past few months, will continue to monitor and make the best of the situation to ensure its coaches are safe and ready to welcome customers.

“One thing we have seen over the last few months is that it’s hard to predict the future. We don’t know what the guidance will be when we launch but we will be following it in full. Whether that means face masks, enhanced cleaning and social distancing, or something else, we are prepared for all eventualities. As long as public transport is able to operate then we will run all our services, even if that is at a reduced capacity,” says Keith.

Travelling with Ember: what you need to know

Ember will run eight trips each way per day between Dundee and Edinburgh from October 1st. Journey time is just over 90 minutes.

Tickets cost £7.50 each way at or £9.50 if bought on board. You can book online as little as 30 seconds before departure, and the site works great on mobile.

Concessions cards are accepted for free travel. There are no booking fees so concessions can even reserve a seat online, completely free of charge.

You can track the bus in real-time on your phone so you’re never left waiting. There’s also fast, free wifi and USB charging on board.

Ember have reduced seating to 41 passengers to ensure extra legroom. There are also wheelchair and bike spaces which can be booked online anytime before departure.

Find out more about Dundee’s electric vehicle vision at
For the latest Ember launch updates, check out

Saturday 26 September 2020


 The Oxford Bus Company has launched the new round of its annual Brand the Bus competition – for a good cause to have its branding on a double-decker bus.

It has pledged to continue the popular competition for the third year running to support good causes as they face increased challenges due to COVID-19. Entries are now open for good causes, or its supporters, to submit a short video or PDF presentation on why it should win the Brand the unique Bus competition. 

The winner will have its logo and messages proudly displayed all over an Oxford Bus Company bus which will operate on its City services.

Girl Guiding Oxfordshire won the inaugural 2019 Brand the Bus competition and Home-Start Oxford scooped first place this year. Both good causes now have a branded bus emblazoned on a double-decker.

Above & below, Girl Guiding Oxfordshire were the winners of the first competition in 2019

The 10 entries for 2021 that are deemed best according to a public vote will be shortlisted and examined by a judging panel. This time the Brand the Bus competition is being supported by BBC Radio Oxford and one of its presenters will join the judging panel.

Prizes will be awarded to the competitors who have, in the panel’s opinion, fulfilled the brief to the highest standard. The winning organisation will be invited to work with the Oxford Bus Company to design a bus wrap featuring the brand colours, logo, and messages of the good cause. Runners-up will receive support via digital on-board bus advertising.

Phil Southall Oxford Bus Company Managing Director said: “Our Brand the Bus competition has become a popular part of Oxfordshire life and provides excellent support to deserving good causes.

“The transport industry is facing significant challenges due to COVID-19, but we felt it was important to continue the Brand the Bus competition this year, at a time when good causes need more support than ever before. One of our core values is being socially responsible and central to this is giving something back to the communities we serve, and this competition has proved to be a great way to do that.

Home Start Oxford were the winners this year

“It is a great opportunity for good causes to get involved and raise their profile. Many of the previous entrants and winners have fed back that the Brand the Bus competition has helped them increase awareness of their good cause and engagement within the community. There are so many good causes that do such good work across the county and we’re looking forward to considering all the entries again this time.”

In addition to the Brand the Bus competition winning buses, the Oxford Bus Company have wrapped other buses to support good causes. It has previously wrapped a bus in Oxford Pride colours as part of its commitment to embracing diversity and the Oxfordshire Prostate Cancer Support Group bus. Oxford Bus Company selected the Oxfordshire Prostate Cancer Support Group as worthy of a branded bus, as some of its employees have been affected by the disease.

The Brand the Bus competition originated in 2018 after the Oxford Bus Company decided to invite public nominations for a bus to be branded in a good cause’s identity. It was introduced as an extension of the company’s policy of inviting colleagues to internally recommend organisations to support across the year, rather than have one chosen beneficiary.

The deadline for Brand the Bus entries is 29th November 2020 and public voting closes on 13th December 2020. The winner will be announced in the new year.

Friday 25 September 2020

Work Begins on Class 380 Train ‘Makeover’

ScotRail has begun work to refurbish its fleet of Class 380 electric trains ahead of their 10-year anniversary later in the year.

Key elements of the ‘makeover’ include the installation of new flooring, new seat upholstery including prominent priority seating, a paint refresh, and general repairs to tables, bins and handrails.

The overhaul is taking place at the train operator’s Shields Road Depot in Glasgow.

The 38-strong fleet of trains consists of 130 carriages and is ScotRail’s second largest fleet of electric trains.

Class 380s were introduced to Scotland’s Railway in December 2010, operating in Ayrshire and Inverclyde initially, but now serve customers on routes across the country, including:

Glasgow Central – Edinburgh via Carstairs
Glasgow Central – Ayr
Glasgow Central – Largs / Ardrossan Harbour
Glasgow Central – Gourock / Wemyss Bay
Edinburgh – North Berwick / Dunbar

Syeda Ghufran, ScotRail Engineering Director, said:

“Since their introduction, our Class 380 trains have been incredibly popular with customers right across the country.

“This work to refresh their interior demonstrates our commitment to delivering the highest quality service, and helps make rail travel a more modern, comfortable and popular option for customers.”

Steve Timothy, Eversholt Rail Stakeholder Director, said:

“We are delighted to continue working in partnership with ScotRail to improve our fleets in Scotland.

“Our investment in the overhaul of the Class 380 fleet demonstrates our commitment to delivering safe and high-quality trains to our customer and their passengers.”

Thursday 24 September 2020

First Zero Emission Bus Fleet for Leeds Nearing Completion

Pelican Bus & Coach are providing the first-ever zero emission bus fleet for Leeds. The nine Yutong E10 electric vehicles (EV) are being prepared to enter service in a multi-million pound investment by First Bus in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Council.

Electricity charging infrastructure for the fleet is nearing completion at First’s Hunslet Park depot in the city. The equipment and installation are being managed by Zenobe Energy, a tech start-up that entered the market four years ago and is already one of the largest independent owners and operators of battery storage, with some 160MW of contracted storage assets and around a 20 per cent market share of the EV bus sector.

A battery energy storage system (BESS) comprising two giant Tesla batteries - 390kW and 498kWh – will support the power requirements including fleet charging and grid services. The BESS is powered by the grid but returns electricity to support the grid when charging the buses.

Total investment in the fleet and infrastructure is £7.3m and includes £1.7m funding from the Department of Transport’s Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme (ULEB) which First West Yorkshire secured in 2019 with the support of the combined authority.

Yutong E10 electric demonstration vehicle 

This is the first phase of the plan to bring zero emission buses into fleet operations to further benefit the cleaner air ambitions of Leeds. First Bus, Pelican and Zenobe Energy have worked in partnership to combine vehicle, battery and charging technology that heralds a new era in public transport from the Hunslet depot. 
The First Bus engineering team have embraced the challenges required for running electric vehicles compared to traditional combustion engine technology. 

The Yutong E10 boasts innovative battery technology on-board which stores energy generated when applying the brakes. It also has fully electric air conditioning, seat-sited USB charging points and LED-powered headlights, indicators and interior lighting. The bus can travel 200 miles on a single charge and is estimated to save 45 tonnes of carbon a year compared to a Euro 6 diesel engine.

Pelican say that "It is with great pleasure that we can deliver these state-of-the-art zero emission vehicles to First Bus. The passenger experience will be second to none, with smooth driving and quiet interiors. It is a real demonstration of First’s commitment to the environment that these vehicles will soon be in operation in Leeds"

Ian Downie, Pelican’s Head of Yutong Bus UK
We are delighted to be partnering with Zenobe Energy again with this exciting and innovative approach to vehicle electrification. Zenobe have agreed a contract using its infrastructure-as-a-service-model to provide support to First West Yorkshire. This includes match-funding the infrastructure and battery service costs for the life of vehicle, which has an 8-year warranty. Its Zenobe Management Platform proprietary software monitors and optimises all aspects of energy use on the buses and by the depot itself.

Zenobe is proud to be partnering with First West Yorkshire to support their active transition to a zero-emission bus fleet. The electrification of buses is a vital part of producing cleaner air in Leeds. We are encouraged by First’s pioneering vision to implement environmentally friendly transport infrastructure across the UK and Zenobe is excited to be a part of their journey.

Business Development Director, Arron Dowie, Zenobe Energy
"The Yutong E10 buses are due to begin operating in October on the Service 5 Halton Moor Circular which includes the Leeds City Bus route through the city centre.

We have set out ambitious plans to tackle the climate emergency with a target of being net carbon zero by 2038 and changing the way we travel is central to achieving this aim. These nine electric buses are the first zero emission buses in West Yorkshire and an important first step towards a zero-carbon public transport network.

It’s more important than ever that we reduce emissions which impact on health by reducing unnecessary car journeys across the region. We are committed to working with our partner councils and bus operators to make bus travel greener and more attractive across West Yorkshire and these new buses will help achieve this"

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee
"Leeds City Council’s executive board member for climate change, transport and sustainable development" Councillor Lisa Mulherin stated:

The Yutong E10 was shown at Coach & Bus UK 2019

"I am delighted to see the first zero emission electric buses begin to be rolled out in Leeds. Over the next year I look forward to seeing more of these operating from our new 1,200 space Stourton solar-powered Park and Ride site. 
It will make more and more people’s journeys greener and enhance our efforts to keep the air cleaner in Leeds. Re-building people’s confidence in using more environmentally friendly public transport is an important step toward achieving our carbon reduction targets and reducing polluting greenhouse gas emissions in Leeds.
It has been a pleasure working with everyone involved in bringing the first full electric, zero-emission bus fleet to Leeds and we can’t wait to see them in operation in October"

Wednesday 23 September 2020

Nexus Shows New Metro Colour Scheme

A vibrant yellow colour scheme for Metro’s £362m new train fleet has been revealed for the first time, as Nexus launches a major public consultation on its interior design.

Nexus, the public body which owns and manages the Tyne and Wear Metro, has chosen a modern and eye-catching yellow paint job with black and pale grey along the train sides, following input from passengers and employees. 

Artists impression of the new trains showing the new livery

The new colour scheme is a nod to the Metro’s iconic yellow PTE livery when the system first opened 40 years ago.

The new Metro fleet, which is being built by the Swiss train manufacturer, Stadler, is set to enter service in 2023, transforming the experience for passengers and boosting reliability.

Customer Services Director at Nexus, Huw Lewis, said: “This is a hugely exciting moment for Metro as we unveil the colour scheme for our new trains.

“We have used the iconic yellow of Metro to give the trains a vibrant, modern feel accentuated by black and pale grey along the train sides – providing clean delineation of train doors to modern accessibility standards.

“The colour scheme is built round Metro’s strong brand heritage and refers back to the original ‘PTE’ Metro livery, while taking the system into the future. It has been refined through feedback from passengers and the technical input of the people who work on Metro – in cleaning, maintenance, marketing and accessibility roles.

“We have made sure our passengers have had a major role in the design of Metro’s new fleet from the start, and that continues today as we ask them what to help with all those crucial little details of the carriage interiors.

“We had hoped to take a mock-up cross section of a carriage around the five local authority areas, but pandemic restrictions make this impossible. Instead we will be creating a VR-supported experience at the Rail Academy where we can invite key passenger groups in a covid-secure way. This will be led by Nexus supported by Newcastle University’s Open Lab team.”

Rob Baxter, UK managing director for Stadler Rail Service UK, added: “The unveiling of the livery for the new Tyne and Wear Metro trains is an early, yet significant landmark in the process to deliver the new fleet. We applaud Nexus for involving passengers in the design, which both acknowledges its heritage and embraces its future.”

As part of the Metro Futures programme the Open Lab team has created a website and a series of online events that will allow passengers to explore a virtual model of the train and have their say on the trains’ interior features, including handholds, wheelchair and cycle spaces and information displays, with particular attention to meeting the needs of less able passengers.

Senior researcher at Open Lab, Simon Bowen, said “We’ve built some exciting interactive tools so people can explore the inside of the new trains in a full 360 degree immersive experience, pick out the finishing touches and think about how the trains meet the needs of different people.”

People can explore and comment on the new Metro trains at and register at to have a say on shaping the new Metro fleet.

Stadler is building a total of 42 new Metro trains for Nexus, which will be delivered up to 2024. They will be responsible for servicing and maintaining these trains for 35 years, underscoring their commitment to the regional economy.

The trains, which will be 15 times more reliable and will cut energy consumption by 30%, will have modern features including charging points, air conditioning and a step-change in accessibility.

Among new features will be an automatic sliding step at every door of the new trains, making travel easier for Metro’s 50,000 wheelchair passengers as well as people with children’s buggies, luggage or bicycles.

The Metro system opened in stages from 1980 and since then has expanded to Sunderland and South Hylton using the original Metro car fleet. The route between Pelaw and Sunderland shares Network Rail track.


Tuesday 22 September 2020

Free Electric Bus Service Launched in Slough

 A THREE-MONTH electric bus service trial for passengers travelling to and from Slough town centre is to be launched.

Slough Borough Council has announced a trial period, starting in the last week of October, for residents to use the electric buses for free on the experimental bus and cycle lanes along the A4.

The buses, 
BYD ADL Enviro200EV's - which will operate Mondays to Saturdays – will produce no fossil fuels and lower carbon emissions and will help with the council’s efforts to improve air quality on the route and reduce noise.

The trial is in partnership with Iver based electric bus specialists BYD UK and Thames Valley Buses where the fully electric vehicles will offer a fast, reliable and environmentally friendly service, the council claims.


The hourly loop service will start from Station Road, near Junction 7 of the M4, through the town centre, and onto the Sainsbury’s roundabout at the junction of Yew Tree and Uxbridge Road.

It will also incorporate St Andrew’s Way, Cippenham.

On board, the buses will have modern seating, air conditioning and USB ports for phone charging.

Councillor Rob Anderson (Labour: Britwell and Northborugh), cabinet member for transport and environmental services, said: “The experimental bus and cycle lane was introduced to help residents socially distance during the ongoing pandemic alongside making road space available for active and sustainable travel.

“I am delighted we have provided the funding to now introduce a free, fast and environmentally friendly electric bus service which will operate daily along the length of the temporary lane.

“Residents often quote the price of public transport is one of the key blockers stopping them leaving the car at home and jumping on the bus. So, we have taken the blocker away with this trial.

“This free service will provide residents with a speedy, frequent service into central Slough and I look forward to seeing them on the buses.”

The BYD ADL Enviro200EV brings together the proven battery and electric technology of BYD and the outstanding design and build expertise of Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL). 

BYD is already the world’s leading manufacturer of all-electric buses having produced more than 10,000. 
ADL is the UK market leader and one of the world’s fastest growing specialists in designing and building buses that meet the demands of modern operators

Monday 21 September 2020

H2Bus Consortium and Wrightbus Join Forces to Transform Public Transit with First Truly Zero Emission Fuel Cell Electric Buses

The H2Bus Consortium has announced an agreement with Wrightbus for the supply of hydrogen fuel cell electric buses in Europe. 

The Consortium is now on track to deploy 1,000 hydrogen fuel cell electric buses, along with supporting infrastructure, in European cities at commercially competitive rates. 

This news concludes the consortium’s tendering exercise and subsequent due diligence, which made it clear that Wrightbus offers the most attractive hydrogen solution.

Following the industrial recovery of Wrightbus, led by Jo Bamford (owner) and Buta Atwal (CEO), Wrightbus is now entering the European market with a world-leading zero emission single-decker bus, supported by a world-class maintenance package. 

Wrightbus is in a better position than ever before to supply customers and to provide first-class after-sale support. This new offering is the most cost-effective truly zero-emission option available, with a single decker bus price below €375,000 after funding, a hydrogen price between €5 and €7 per kilogram and a service cost between €0.25 and €0.35 per kilometre, all depending on operator and route requirements. 

The zero-tailpipe emission feature of the fuel cell bus operation will be complemented by zero-emission hydrogen production from renewable energy sources, yielding a “well-to-wheel” emission-free transportation solution. 

“Wrightbus is leading the way with the world’s first hydrogen double-decker bus and, together with the H2Bus Consortium, we can show the UK, Europe and the rest of the worlds what we have to offer.” says Buta Atwal, CEO at Wrightbus. 

“This agreement will deliver hundreds of hydrogen fuel cell electric buses to a wider European market, providing extensive range, acclaimed operational ability and a lower cost for operators compared to an electric bus equivalent.

Wrightbus have a good track record of producing fuel cell vehicles. 
They ran successfully in London for some years.

Public transport is being transformed in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic with a huge focus on zero emissions, so we feel privileged to be at the vanguard of this revolution alongside our other consortium members." 

Jacob Krogsgaard, CEO of Everfuel, said, “We are excited to work with Wrightbus to deliver the H2Bus Consortium’s ambition of the lowest cost truly zero emission fuel cell electric buses in Europe. Through our bus supplier Wrightbus; hydrogen cylinder and distribution module supplier Hexagon; hydrogen fuel cell supplier Ballard; and electrolyser and refuelling station supplier Nel, the consortium brings European engineering expertise to our streets.

This will create and secure highly skilled jobs for the next generation of transport technology and fuelling solutions in Europe.” The first phase of the project, totalling 600 buses, is supported by €40 million from the EU’s Connecting Europe Facility (CEF1 ). 

The funding will enable the deployment of 200 hydrogen fuel cell electric buses and supporting infrastructure in each of Denmark, Latvia and the UK by 2023. 
In parallel, the H2Bus consortium will remain active in other clusters across Europe to reach the targeted 1,000 bus deployment.


Everfuel, Wrightbus, Ballard Power Systems, Hexagon Composites, Nel Hydrogen and Ryse Hydrogen, leading players in the hydrogen fuel cell electric value chain, have joined forces to form the H2Bus Consortium. The members are committed to deploying 1,000 hydrogen fuel cell electric buses, along with supporting infrastructure, in European cities at commercially competitive rates. H2Bus

Sunday 20 September 2020

Keighley Bus Museum in Search for New Home

Keighley Bus Museum are searching for new home. They moved to their museum building off Dalton Lane in 2005, which was only intended to be a temporary home for their collection, but now, 
due to the poor state of the current building, they need to find a replacement.

Tribute was paid by the town’s MP, Robbie Moore, during a visit to the site.
He has pledged support to the museum trust as it strives to find a new ‘home’ for the collection.

KBMT Secretary Norman Shepherd says that due to the poor state of the current building, a former foundry, the trust is unable to access grants or discretionary funding.

It is seeking premises with facilities including toilets and a cafe so that more people can enjoy the collection in the future.

During his visit, MP Mr Moore met trustees and was shown around the museum.

He said the venue was a popular attraction for local people and tourists alike.

Its collection of around 100 vehicles had received a five-star review on the Trip Advisor website.

“The museum is symbolic in the history of the town’s own connection to the transport industry,” said Mr Moore.

“Keighley pioneered trolleybuses and the last operational trolleybus in the UK is located here.

“The trustees have also sought to appeal to visitors with other interests, housing the fire engine used in James Bond’s Skyfall movie and television sets from shows including Eastenders.”

He added: “I was really pleased to be able to meet with my friends at the museum.

“They’re incredibly passionate about what they do and about sharing it with others.

“Their collection is a real draw for visitors to the area, which is fantastic for other businesses in the town too.

“I know they’ve had some trouble with their current building and I will do all I can to help support their move to a better facility, where they can grow their offering.”

The museum was founded in 1992, prompted by a need to find covered accommodation for a growing number of vehicles entering preservation.

A shed – once part of an abattoir – was located at Denholme, and the museum was ‘born’.

Following the acquisition of vehicles from the then West Yorkshire Transport Museum, there was then an urgent need for expansion. After considerable searching, Keighley Bus Museum moved into an old college building in Dalton Lane.

The collection was later moved further down Dalton Lane to the current location, Riverside, once one of two sites operated by West Yorkshire Foundries.

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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

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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.