Saturday 31 October 2020

First Solaris Trolleybuses Delivered to Norway In Advance of December Launch

The new Trollino buses will be used on the only trolley route in Bergen, which is 7.5km in length. They are powered by a 240kW electric motor and equipped with 55 kWh traction batteries, making it possible to cover a distance of over 11k without the need to connect to the catenary system.
The batteries are charged while driving with the use of 'in motion charging' technology, through current collectors mounted on the vehicle, which are connected to the overhead catenary.

The vehicles were welcomed by County Mayor, Jon Askeland, City Councilor, Thor Håkon Bakke and Målfrid Sønstabø, CEO of Skyss, which is the local public transport authority.

“I am delighted to welcome our first Trollino trolleybuses in Norway. This is the most modern type of trolleybus in Europe to date. It is easy to handle and has a hybrid solution, that means that it can also function as a fully electric bus. Soon whole 10 trolleybuses will start passenger service enlarging at same time the zero-emission Solaris fleet in our country. Bergen and Keolis are investing strongly in emission free solutions in public transport and better life quality in our cities”, said Sverre Skaar, Managing Director of Solaris Norge AS.

Thanks to the ergonomic use of passenger space, as many as 42 belted seats are fitted. 10 seats are available from the low floor level, which will make it easier for passengers with reduced mobility   One of the seats behind the driver's cabin folds down, creating a place for a guide dog. For those traveling on wheelchairs or with prams, two bays with straps are provided, as well as a folding ramp located at the second door. The buses are of course be fully low-floor and have a kneeling function, further lowering the right side of the vehicle by 7 cm when stopping at the stop.

Air conditioning for the driver's cabin and passenger compartment is fitted, as well as passenger information systems with two large screen monitors and voice announcement of stops. The buses also have CCTV systems with cameras monitoring the interior of the vehicle, door area cameras, a reversing camera and one on the roof, watching the pantograph. Above each of the doors, mounted in a 2+2+2+2 system, there is a passenger counting system installed.

The trolleybuses ordered by Keolis Norge AS have a built-in breathalyser to check the driver's sobriety before starting the vehicle. They are also equipped by the manufacturer with a special Scandinavian thermal insulation package, which improves the thermal comfort of passengers and reduces energy consumption at minus temperature. 
It includes, among others additional insulation of the side walls, the ceiling and the chassis in the area of the wheel arches, as well as double side windows. The vehicles are also adapted for the use of snow chains.

Friday 30 October 2020

ADL Supplies Plaxton Panorama's for Scottish City Link Services

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”),  has announced that it has supplied six new Plaxton Panorama double deck coaches to Park’s of Hamilton for operation on the Scottish Citylink express network.

The new Plaxton Panorama coaches, built on Volvo B11RLE chassis, have entered service on the ‘Saltire Cross’ routes connecting Scotland’s six major cities with frequent services every 60 minutes from Glasgow or Edinburgh via Perth to Inverness, Dundee and Aberdeen.

Built to Citylink Gold specification, the coaches have 71 reclining seats, offering additional legroom and more space for passengers to socially distance on journeys. 

Plaxton’s focus on accessibility means that in addition to the dedicated wheelchair space, 14 seats are step-free on the lower deck. Full-length overhead luggage racks on both decks provide stowage for personal baggage, with larger items accommodated in the rear luggage hold.

The six coaches are the third delivery of Plaxton Panorama double deckers for the Scottish Citylink network, following five vehicles for the AIR service connecting Glasgow with Edinburgh Airport and 18 coaches for the frequent route 900 between the centres of Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Robert Andrew, Scottish Citylink Director, said: “The Saltire Cross network is at the heart of our Scottish operations, connecting the key cities across central Scotland through our reliable, affordable and high-quality coach services. We are proud to be introducing these high-specification, luxury vehicles for our customers – they deliver a further upgrade in comfort and amenities and are a fantastic addition to the Saltire Cross network.”

Michael Andrews, Director at Park's of Hamilton, said: “Having operated Plaxton coaches for many years, we knew we were in good hands with these latest double deckers, which follow on from similar vehicles which we operate on the Citylink 900 service where they have proven themselves to be reliable and efficient vehicles on intensive work.”

Mark Ballam, Coach Commercial Manager at ADL, said: “It has been a pleasure to continue our close collaboration with Citylink to design the best coaches for Scotland’s express coach network, and the Plaxton Panorama once again demonstrates its versatility with this bespoke specification for comfortable inter-city travel. We are also delighted to build on our long-standing relationship with Park’s of Hamilton to add to their extensive fleet of Plaxton coaches.”

Thursday 29 October 2020

Appeal For Donations After WW2 Plane Suffers Engine Failure On Loch Ness

So far, more than £22,000 has been raised for the aircraft which is one of the world's only airworthy Catalina flying boats

An appeal has been launched to help repair a Second World War seaplane after it suffered an engine failure on Loch Ness.

Picture © CenturyPR

The PBY Catalina flying boat, named 'Miss Pick Up', was flying over the loch on Saturday while filming for a TV production and then got stuck in the water after landing.

The aircraft's starboard engine failed to restart and it had to be lifted out of the water by crane.

The damaged engine must now be replaced - a process made more difficult with the plane being more than 500 miles away from its base at IWM Duxford in Cambridgeshire.

The plan is to now drive a spare engine to Scotland to complete an engine change.

Once the engine is running, the aircraft will then return to Loch Ness and fly to Inverness Airport for refuelling, before flying back home to Duxford.

Paul Warren Wilson, former RAF Harrier pilot and leader of Plane Sailing’s Catalina operation and The Catalina Society, said: "The logistics involved are massive.

Picture © CenturyPR

"Once the damaged engine is replaced we need to put her back onto the water so she can be flown home, otherwise she will be at the mercy of the harsh Scottish winter on a loch - which as we all know is home to a certain wee beastie - rather than her usual cosy hangar in Duxford.

"The damage this could do to the aircraft – an important piece of aviation history – could be irreparable."

Picture © Plane Sailing

So far, more than £22,000 has been donated for the repairs.

The RAF veteran added the team is "absolutely staggered and humbled by the generous donations".

Developed for the US Navy, Catalinas were used in anti-submarine warfare, patrol bombing, convoy escort, search and rescue missions and cargo transport.
They can take off and land on water or land so are very useful and adaptable planes.

Catalinas were also flown by the RAF, as well as the air forces of Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands and the Soviet Union.  

'Miss Pick Up' is one of the world’s only airworthy Catalina flying boats and is largely self-funded.

The aircraft typically appears at up to 20 airshows every year and is not operated for profit, with Plane Sailing saying their aim is to keep the aircraft flying and honour her legacy.

Donate here

Wednesday 28 October 2020

Rail Operations Group Assists with DATS OHLE Testing on Midland Mainline

Last week saw Rail Operations Group supporting a huge joint industry collaboration along with Network Rail, Data Acquisition & Testing Services Ltd (DATS) and Train Operators. 

After a period of preparation and pre-testing, the DAT's OHLE test train commenced testing of the new overhead line equipment on the Midland Main Line, with ROG operating the test services. 

Mechanical testing at 110mph was carried out last week with dynamic testing planned for next week.

The Midland Main Line has been electrified from Bedford-Corby/Kettering. It’s planned that electric trains should start running north of Bedford from next May, although Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris has previously suggested that trains could start running earlier once the testing is complete.

Testing of the Midland Main Line OLE is being led by Network Rail and supported by DATS. The testing, prior to commissioning of the equipment is an important part of the approvals process. 
ROG have been commissioned by DATS as the operator of the test train. 
Dynamic testing, simulating in service train requirements,will be with a two pantograph train and eventually with a three pantograph operation.
HST power cars are being used, together with Mk 3 coaches, ex LNER class 91's together with a DB Class 90 loco to test the new infrastructure.
Hitachi Class 810's are on order and all line testing must ensure that the wires are suitable for the new trains, so the three electric locos used for the dynamic testing have been fitted with class 810 style pantographs.

The new EMR bi-mode class 810's will be named Aurora's and will run between London, Nottingham and Sheffield

ROG Managing Director Dave Burley said "Facilitating testing of a new test train on an open railway was always going to be a challenge. Only the co-operation of all parties and real industry co-operation made this happen. 
It really is teamwork at its best. I am immensely proud of the part that ROG is playing in this testing. Our ability to partner projects such as this and be both creative and flexible in our approach to problem solving pays testament to what we bring to the industry table. 
Last week's testing success demonstrates just how robust this approach is in terms of excellence in service delivery."

Tuesday 27 October 2020

More New Low Emission Buses for Go Cornwall

More new low emission buses will be taking to Cornwall’s streets over the next few weeks as part of a £16.5 million investment into public transport.

Part of the Transport for Cornwall fleet, the Euro 6 vehicles are the latest generation of cleaner diesel buses and are said to produce 75 per cent less nitrogen dioxide than earlier models.

Go Cornwall Bus won the tender to run the Transport for Cornwall supported bus network earlier this year. To deliver the new service, the company ordered 92 buses – 17 double deck vehicles and 65 single deck buses of varying lengths, designed to cope with Cornwall’s varied road network and narrow streets.

Half of the buses were delivered before the coronavirus lockdown put a temporary halt on production. Now the remaining buses, which can take contactless payments, are on their way.

The new buses will make up two thirds of the total supported bus network, with the remainder being refurbished to include engine upgrades to help make them more environmentally friendly.

Richard Stevens, managing director for Go Cornwall Bus, which operates the supported Transport for Cornwall routes in partnership with Cornwall Council, said: "We are hugely excited that the Transport for Cornwall vision is coming to life on the road. The most publicly visible parts of a bus operation are the buses on the road, so putting the new bus fleet into service will make a significant difference to the standard of public transport that passengers in Cornwall can enjoy.

“Forward thinking by Cornwall Council during the tender of the subsidised bus network in Cornwall required buses to be Euro 6 by 2024. This meant a big investment in the fleet from the outset, bringing ambitions forward." 

Geoff Brown, Cornwall Council cabinet portfolio holder for transport, said: “Over recent years we have strived to give local residents choices about how they travel – we have several air quality management areas across Cornwall and most of these are in areas which are home to some of our most congested roads.

“These new vehicles provide greener buses which produce the lowest emissions available – passengers are not only doing their bit by helping to reduce the number of cars on our roads, they are also travelling in more environmentally friendly vehicles.”

Monday 26 October 2020

Stagecoach to Help Families Discover Oxford This Half Term & New Oxford Fleet Additions

Stagecoach has announced the launch of a new scheme designed to help families in Swindon enjoy a staycation in Oxford.

The new Stagecoach Rewards scheme will provide exclusive discounts to customers.

With Stagecoach’s S6 service allowing customers to travel from Swindon to Oxford and back for just £7, there are a host of rewards on offer for those looking to experience a family day out in Oxfordshire.

Oxford Castle & Prison will be offering 15 percent off guided tours to Stagecoach customers as part of the scheme.

Visitors can get 15 percent off food and drink at Organic Deli Café & Wholefoods and an exclusive buy-one-get-one-free offer on coffee from Colombia Coffee Roasters.

The exclusive offers are part of national Stagecoach scheme that has been designed to support local attractions, retailers and restaurants, and encourage people to return safely to the activities they enjoyed before the pandemic.

New Fleet Additions

Stagecoach in Oxfordshire has announced the roll out of its new fleet of 21 ADL Enviro400 buses will commence on 28th  October. The new buses worth over £5million will launch on the S1 and S2 routes, operating between Witney and Oxford.

It’s the first major upgrade since the gold fleet was launched 10 years ago.

Pictured (L-R): Stagecoach in Oxfordshire Managing Director, Chris Coleman, Commercial Director; Karen Coventry, Operations Director; Martin Gibbon, Chief Engineer; Terry Absalom.

The brand-new Stagecoach buses are being introduced as part of an £80million nationwide bus and coach investment. From 28th October two of the new buses will go into service with the remaining 19 being gradually added to the fleet, with completion set for November 2019.

Passengers using the S1 and S2 service will be able to enjoy brand new features including USB charging points, LED reading lights and on-board next stop announcements.

Stagecoach in Oxfordshire managing director Chris Coleman said: “Stagecoach in Oxfordshire is committed to investing in the latest technology to help lower our emissions and this is an important milestone for us in Oxfordshire.  We are able to combine greener and cleaner vehicles with additional features that provide the latest in passenger comfort.

“Our customers can now charge their devices, read with a reading light and be confident they won’t miss their stop with the on-board next stop announcements.”

The 21 new ADL MMC E400 double deck buses, which will be branded in standard Stagecoach livery, are built in the UK and will replace the current Stagecoach Gold fleet which were introduced in 2009.


Sunday 25 October 2020

Swiss Schaffhausen Electric Bus Project Almost Ready to Begin

The Schaffhausen electric bus project, Switzerland, is ready to commence: the Federal Office of Transport has approved the two vehicles (ordered in March 2019), which means they will soon be allowed in service as the testing sessions continue. 15 Irizar e-buses (seven Irizar 12m long and eight Irizar tram type articulated versions) will be delivered to the city.

Before public transport vehicles are procured and prepared for daily operation, they must first be tested and approved by the Federal Office of Transport (FOT) so the two new electric buses from Schaffhausen have been thoroughly evaluate. Since the test was positive and no objections were raised, VBSH, the operator was granted permission to use the buses for road transport and passenger services.

One interesting feature on the Schaffhausen project, is that the electricity to feed the buses will be generated by the River Rhein.

Schaffhausen electric bus

Following the installation of the first temporary charging station on Bahnhofstrasse at the beginning of August, the preparatory work for the charging infrastructure in the bus depot is now well advanced. 
In addition to an overnight charging station, a rapid charging station will also be installed. The transformer stations have been completed and will be put into operation shortly, so that the charging process can be tested this month with the electric buses.

An Irizar tram bus on trial in Santander. Irizar vehicles are running in Aix-en-Provence and Madrid with orders coming from an number of other towns and cities

However, before the people of Schaffhausen can travel with the two electric buses in regular traffic, further tests will be carried out in the next few weeks. 

The charging process at the station, the rapid charging process and the overnight charging at the bus depot must first be successfully tested.


Schaffhausen electric bus

Saturday 24 October 2020

Dunfermline Rail Link to be Restored?

 Another Rail Link to be Restored.

Campaigners have shared their delight at news the city of Glasgow's direct link to Dunfermline could be returned after six decades in the sidings.

It comes amid proposals to electrify the Alloa to Longannet route, which currently stops in Clackmannanshire via Croy, and extend the line through West Fife.

Jane Ann Liston, secretary at thinktank Railfuture Scotland, said: “Railfuture Scotland backs a direct line from Glasgow to Dunfermline via Alloa which would clearly benefit travellers at both ends of the journey by cutting out the extra time spent going in and out of Edinburgh, and taking passengers away from the very busy lines through Haymarket into Waverley would be a great advantage.

“It would also benefit the towns of Clackmannan and Kincardine by restoring rail services which they have not enjoyed since 1930.”

The Kincardine Line was originally built to serve settlements along the north shore of the Firth of Forth, between Alloa and Dunfermline.

It was opened in two stages by the North British Railway: from Alloa to Kincardine in 1893, and the eastern section in 1903. Passenger traffic was disappointing, and closed in 1930.

Goods traffic was poorly used as well, that is until in 1962, when a large coal-fired power station opened on the line. A second followed, and the entire line was re-opened in stages to bring in coal for the power station requirements.

The power stations were decommissioned in 2016, bringing heavy mineral traffic to an end. 

Network Rail engineers will be carrying out survey work in the coming months to determine if it will be possible to enhance the former freight line and introduce three new stations at Clackmannan, Kincardine and Longannet.

However, it is hoped it will eventually lead to the restoration of a direct link between Glasgow and St ­Andrews.

Ms Liston added: “Railfuture Scotland would like to see the line extended in time to St Andrews, thus bringing about Glasgow-Stirling-Alloa-Dunfermline-Cupar-St Andrews trains and better connecting three university towns, particularly as the direct bus between St Andrews and Stirling has been taken off.”

Douglas Chapman, Dunfermline and West Fife MP, believes the line could be the “final piece in the ­puzzle” in linking Glasgow and the town.

He added: “Currently, people across Fife need to firstly travel to Edinburgh before connecting to Glasgow and that is discouraging us from taking rail travel seriously and hopping in the car, because it is easier.”

Graeme Stewart, Network Rail’s sponsor for the development work on the new West of Fife enhancement proposals, said: “While it is still at a very early phase, there are ambitious plans to expand the railway and develop transport options that improve connectivity between towns in Clackmannanshire and Fife.”

Friday 23 October 2020

Electric Buses for Newport

The first electric buses in Wales are in operation in Newport in a step that has promised to massively improve air quality in the city.

Newport Transport are operating the fleet of 15 new buses on routes across Newport, including the 29 route to Cwmbran via the brand new Grange University Hospital.

Newport Transport has been working in partnership with Zenobe Energy on bus battery systems and charging stations in order to effectively introduce the electric buses as part of its fleet.

Seven of the 15 Yutong buses will be dedicated to the three routes between Newport, Caerleon and Cwmbran, including picking up the staff and patients at the new specialist critical care centre at the Grange hospital.

The zero-emission vehicles will also be passing through two zones in the city with poor air quality.

Scott Pearson, Managing Director at Newport Transport said: “Newport Transport is pleased to provide our customers with an important cleaner choice of public transport now and for the future.

"This is a massive step forward for the company. Delivering such an innovative scheme, during a pandemic, with a strategic vision beyond these trying times is absolutely key to reducing our environmental impact, thus doing what we can to slow climate change.

"We are determined to lead the way in Wales and demonstrate what can be done.”

As the national government and Welsh Assembly drive towards a 2028 zero emission bus target in Wales and following promises to bring ‘Clean Air Zones’ to Welsh towns and cities, the fleet highlights a milestone for Newport Transport in reaching this target.

Much of Wales, including Newport, is currently in local lockdown due to Covid-19. With high infection rates being linked to poor air quality, the zero-emission vehicles will bring desperately needed sustainable services to the area, particularly passing through two zones in the city with poor air quality.

Zenobe, which powers 25% of the EV bus market in the UK, is providing Newport Transport with its end-to-end solution, including financing for batteries, the charging system at the depot with nine dedicated rapid chargers, and a software platform that helps monitor and optimise energy use.

Steven Meersman, a co-founder of Zenobe Energy, said:

“We are delighted to see our partnership with Newport Transport drive the improvement of air quality in Newport, leading the way for Wales. Our solutions are helping the UK meet its net-zero commitments, reducing pollution and ultimately helping to save lives. We’re passionate about ensuring that people in Wales’s towns, cities and villages can travel in a safe, sustainable way, on a mode of transport which is a lifeline to so many.

“Our service-based model means we’re there for our partners throughout their whole journey, not just on day one. During these unprecedented times, we hope our work alongside transport operators will make sure the UK continues working towards a cleaner, greener future, and ensuring the public can get to where they want to be.”

Thursday 22 October 2020


Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”), has announced that the first two Enviro500 buses have been unveiled by Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe (“BVG”), ahead of a new fleet of double deckers for the transport operator of Berlin, Germany.

Berlin’s new generation of iconic yellow double deck buses is the first to have been designed in Britain by ADL, the world’s leading supplier of double deck buses. Using its global expertise, the manufacturer has tailored the Alexander Dennis Enviro500 to the requirements of bus services in the German capital while maintaining its proven benefits, including a lightweight aluminium body construction that improves fuel economy without compromising on longevity.

The first two Alexander Dennis double deckers for BVG are part of a framework contract for up to 430 Enviro500, signed in October 2018. In addition to the two buses now delivered, an order will be placed for 198 units following the successful completion of a testing programme with the initial pair of vehicles.

BVG Chief Executive Officer Eva Kreienkamp said: “Big yellow buses are as much a part of Berlin as the television tower and Brandenburg Gate. I am delighted that we are now able to continue this tradition, while observing market developments for electric buses.”

Berlin’s Enviro500 are 13.8 metres long and 4.06 metres tall. With three doors and two staircases, they facilitate rapid boarding and alighting on busy urban services.

Passengers will benefit from USB chargers at each of the 80 fixed seats, while the maximum capacity of 112 passengers allows for additional standees, buggies and two wheelchair users. A live indication of upper deck seat availability is provided at the bottom of the stairs and large screens throughout the vehicle show next stops, connections and other relevant information. Stop request buttons that provide acoustic feedback and tactile handrails at all doors benefit the travel experience of visually impaired customers.

The novel interior lighting changes colour tone according to exterior air temperature, assisting passengers’ subjective thermal comfort in addition to full air-conditioning and auxiliary heating.

Paul Davies, ADL President & Managing Director, said: “It is an honour for ADL to have been selected as the supplier of a new generation of double deck buses for Berlin. We have drawn on our experience with over 18,000 double deckers deployed around the world – in Canada, the United States, Mexico, United Kingdom, Ireland, Switzerland, Hong Kong, Singapore and New Zealand – to jointly develop a bus that fully responds to BVG’s needs and delivers an outstanding travel experience for bus users in Berlin.”

To support the testing programme and the future serial production vehicles, ADL has recruited local teams and invested in an office, service workshop and parts warehouse in Berlin, which will also function as the regional hub for further European expansion.

It is expected that the first two Alexander Dennis Enviro500 will enter passenger service in mid-November on Berlin’s flagship route 100, which this autumn celebrates its 30th anniversary of linking East and West following the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Wednesday 21 October 2020

Urbino 15 LE Electric Launched for Intercity & Municipal Routes

Yesterday, the online premiere of a 15m battery bus from Solaris – took place. The manufacturer had announced the unveiling of the Urbino 15 LE electric at the beginning of the year, before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in Europe. 
Because of the of the pandemic Solaris decided to celebrate the premiere of its new electric bus online to ensure safety for everyone. The battery novelty opens a new chapter in Solaris emission-free vehicles as it is the first Solaris electric bus that can be used on intercity routes.

The new vehicle offers a range of flexible solutions. The characteristics of a low entry bus, large range on a single charge and a wide range of options for additional equipment will meet the needs of both urban traffic and suburban routes. A variety of technical solutions also allows the bus configuration to be perfectly tailored to individual operator needs.

The heart of the Urbino 15 LE electric is 300 kW electric motor. To boost efficiency and to reduce energy consumption even further, propulsion is made using innovative SIC technology, i.e. by using silicon carbide-based circuits. 

The motor is liquid-cooled and the driving power is transmitted to the second axle of the vehicle. Energy derived from a set of 6 batteries, with a total capacity of 470 kWh, is fed into the propulsion system. 4 packs have been installed in the rear of the bus, the remaining two have been mounted on the roof.

The latest generation Solaris High Energy+ batteries offer ranges of up to a few hundred kilometres on a single charge. This new vehicle will therefore be of interest to municipal carriers, as well as intercity transport operators. 
The batteries in the new model can be recharged in fast mode, using a pantograph – both a conventional, roof-mounted one, as well as an inverted one, lowered onto the bus roof at the charging station. 
Also, each model of the tri-axle electric bus is fitted with a plug-in connector for recharging of the vehicles at a bus depot. For the convenience of the clients, the manufacturer has devised four options positioning of the charging plug: it may be placed above the first axle in the left or right part of the vehicle, or in the front  or the rear of the vehicle.

The newly released model features an air conditioning system with a heat pump function, which uses heat drawn in from outside to reach the right vehicle temperature. This solution allows to raise the energy efficiency of the vehicle, which translates directly to an increased driving range. The device uses carbon dioxide as the working fluid. The Urbino 15 LE electric guarantees comfortable travel conditions not only due to the quiet and smooth operation of the motor, reduced vibrations and the lack of any exhaust gasses whatsoever.

Urbino 15 LE electric is a modern combination of safety, comfort and style. The air-conditioned interior of the showcased bus seats 53 passengers. There are two additional folding seats two of which are fitted with ISOFIX – i.e. a system that enables the securing of a child seat. The two-door version the Urbino 15 LE electric can hold up to 65 seated passengers

The infrastructure of the vehicle has been designed in line with ITxPT standards. Three large screens created by Solaris engineers shall ensure legible information for passengers. Also, the Urbino 15 LE electric is fully adapted to be integrated with the company’s own remote fleet management system, dubbed eSConnect, which ensures full telemetry, data analysis and the logging of defects that have already appeared, as well as some that might emerge in the near future.

The interactive driver’s panel with touch screens combines many advanced security functions. Starting with warnings advising the fastening of seatbelts, automatically switched on lights and windscreen wipers. Wide-angle cameras in lieu of side mirrors ensure excellent visibility, and offer active driver assistance system Mobileye Shield+. 
These innovative solutions render the problem of so-called blind spots void for all times. Also. the Mobileye Shield+ notably lowers the risk of direct collisions with pedestrians and vehicles, by detecting their presence around the vehicle and notifying the driver about them using audio and visual alerts.

The first two Solaris Urbino 15 LE electric were constructed chiefly with Scandinavian operators in mind. Bearing in mind the tough climate conditions, the designers made sure that both thermal and travel comfort are ensured during rides. 
Vehicles of this type may contain other components that facilitate their operation in difficult conditions – for instance additional high beams, a sandspreader or a cache for snow chains.

Solaris has vast experience in the production of 15-metre tri-axle buses and so far, the manufacturer has already delivered nearly 1300 vehicles of that type to customers. The première Urbino 15 LE electric is the first model crafted on the basis of solutions already applied in new generation vehicles. Crucially, this is a new product which, for the first time in the company’s history, was designed solely for the purpose of zero-emission drivelines.

Tuesday 20 October 2020

DB and SBB to expand services between Germany and Switzerland

As well as introducing new direct services between the two countries, SBB and DB will work to ensure that travel times will be further reduced.

Deutsche Bahn (DB) and SBB are to further expand international passenger services between Germany and Switzerland over the medium-term. The two railway companies signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on the proposals on 15 October 2020.

This will involve the introduction of new direct services from Hamburg to Ticino and from Germany to Valais. Travel time between destinations in the two countries will also be further reduced. 

Demand for international rail services between Germany and Switzerland has increased rapidly in recent years. At the Basel border crossing alone, the number of passengers has increased by over 25 per cent in the past five years.

Given the increasing importance of climate protection, the increase in travel by rail – an environmentally friendly mode of transport – is a trend which is expected to continue.

Despite the current challenges presented by the COVID-19 crisis, the two rail companies firmly believe that there is tremendous growth potential in rail services between Germany and Switzerland over the medium- and long-term. As a result, DB and SBB are planning a significant increase in services.

The planned increase in services will be made possible thanks to the opening of Stuttgart 21 and the completion of the Karlsruhe–Offenburg and Müllheim–Basel stages of improvements by 2026.

The increase in services involves switching operation of all ICE services between Switzerland and Germany to ICE 4s, this being DB’s most modern train, and the use of SBB Giruno compositions in Germany.

The key features of the service increase planned from the 2026 timetable are:
The number of direct services between Switzerland and Germany will rise from 26 at present to 35 connections a day
Two new direct 1,100km services a day from Hamburg via Basel to Lugano will improve the services on the north-south axis via the Gotthard route. The use of the Giruno on this line means that further direct connections from Germany to Milan could be added in the future

The new plan also involves running new direct services from Germany via Bern to Valais
The deployment of the ICE 4 on the Dortmund–Cologne–Basel line makes it possible to provide new direct services from North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany’s most populous federal state, to Switzerland
The half-hourly frequency in the future on the Zurich to Chur route will allow additional direct connections from Germany to Chur to be provided
The journey time between Frankfurt and Zurich will be reduced by 20 minutes to three hours and 40 minutes.

In conjunction with the joint increase in services, SBB Giruno trains will also now be used on routes between Switzerland and Germany. SBB also plans to procure additional Giruno compositions from Stadler Rail using existing options available.

The RABe 501, nicknamed 
Giruno, is a high-speed electric multiple unit train under development by Stadler Rail of Switzerland for the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB).
According to Stadler 
Rail it is to be the world's first single-decker low-floor high-speed train

CEO of SBB, Vincent Ducrot, believes that this increase in services is another major step which underlines SBB’s strong commitment to significantly improving international passenger services: “We want to make rail travel in Europe easier for our customers. Rail offers major advantages in terms of travel time and comfort, and has gained further impetus from the climate debate. This is why we are focusing on the further development of international services. It is important to look at sustainable and efficient mobility at the European level. Infrastructure projects, such as the Ceneri Base Tunnel and Stuttgart 21, are pioneering in this respect.”

Richard Lutz, CEO of Deutsche Bahn, said: “2021 is the European Year of Rail. Projects such as the revival of the Trans Europ Express for cross-border services and the development of our cooperation with SBB demonstrate this. These are wonderful indications that rail travel is growing across the entire continent and, first and foremost, that people and economic activity in Europe are coming closer together.”

DB and SBB have been cooperating closely on cross-border long-distance services between Germany and Switzerland for many years. The two companies will continue to increase services together over the next few years. With the launch of the new timetable in December 2020, the number of services to Munich will increase from six to 12 each day. The current journey time from Zurich to Munich will be cut by 40 minutes to four hours in an initial expansion phase. In a subsequent expansion phase, travel time will be cut by a further 30 minutes to three hours and 30 minutes.

Monday 19 October 2020

Oxford Tube upgrade WILL now go ahead say Stagecoach

A £13m upgrade of the Oxford Tube service is now going ahead after being postponed due to coronavirus.

Owners Stagecoach in Oxfordshire announced the investment earlier this year in new coaches which run between Oxford and London.

Then in June bosses said the investment in 34 new coaches would be put on hold due to falling passenger numbers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now the £13million investment by Stagecoach will start to deliver major improvements for Europe’s most frequent express coach service as the first new coaches launch into service before Christmas.
As Stagecoach celebrates its 40th anniversary this month, this major investment will see 34 new coaches started to be rolled out in the company’s largest ever coach order.

One of the new Plaxton Panorama coaches for the Oxford Tube which have
been built at the Plaxton factory in Scarborough

The investment marks a major upgrade for the Oxford Tube service, representing Stagecoach’s ongoing commitment to improving the customer experience even during the difficult circumstances of recent months.

In addition to providing a service for people commuting to London, Oxford Tube also encourages visitors to Oxford, helping to boost the local economy.

The 34 new coaches will offer passengers at seat charging and reading lights, free wifi, foot rests for added comfort and 3 point seat belts.

In addition, the coaches will have the leanest diesel Euro 6 engines which limit exhaust emissions. Stagecoach continues to lead the deployment of cleaner technologies, including electric, hybrid electric and hydrogen-fuelled buses. 
It has investment more than 7,000 in new greener vehicles in the past decade, more than any other operator in the UK.

With sustainability being key to Stagecoaches operations and values, five of the 34 coaches are being fitted with solar panel systems by the multi-award-winning UK company, TRAILAR. The 3mm solar panels will be fitted to provide clean solar energy to power all on-board electrical equipment, reducing the vehicles requirement to create electrical energy via the burning of diesel. 
The technology, which is the first for Stagecoach will aim to save over 1,500 litres of fuel and over 4 tonnes of CO2 per bus. 
Across the five vehicles fitted, their combined annual saving of over 7,500 litres of fuel and 20 tonnes of CO2, would require 331 trees being planted and grown for 10 years in order to obtain this level of carbon offsetting impact.

Chris Coleman, Managing Director at Stagecoach in Oxfordshire said: “This major investment into Europe’s most frequent express coach service will ensure that we can provide our customers with a more comfortable and modern service.

“The last eight months have been amongst the most difficult we have ever faced – COVID-19 has turned the world upside down and public transport continues to be impacted. But we are committed to continuing to invest in areas where we believe it’s important and we are delighted to be launching the first of our new coaches today.

“Public transport will continue to play a huge role in the country’s economic and sustainable recovery. We are confident that this continued investment will help us to encourage more people to ditch their cars and use our comfortable new coaches for their journeys between Oxford and London.”

The new premium coaches will have the latest in passenger comfort with on board features including wireless and USB charging, reading lights and extendable tables complete with mobile device and cup holders throughout. This, in addition to extra leg room and reclining seats, ensures that the service can continue to offer the best customer service.

New on board information screens will be fitted and used to keep customers up to date with changes to their journey and estimated times of arrival. Customers will also benefit from the enhanced complimentary WiFi service available throughout.

In addition, the new coaches have been designed to improve the service for those with additional accessibility needs with a more seamless boarding process for wheelchair users.

The 34 Plaxton Panorama coaches have been built by Alexander Dennis factory at Plaxton in Scarborough.

Mark Ballam, Coach Commercial Manager at Alexander Dennis said: “We are proud to have worked closely with our long-standing partner Stagecoach on the design and specification of these new coaches for the Oxford Tube, making sure they provide an outstanding experience for customers.

The last fleet renewal was in July 2014 when 26 new Van Hool TD927 Astromega's
were introduced. 
The 2020 order is for 34 vehicles

“This order is a boost to UK manufacturing as Plaxton continues over a century of British coachbuilding tradition at our factory in Scarborough.”

Aaron Thomas, Co-founder and Managing Director at TRAILAR said “We are excited to be working with Stagecoach and supporting them in their green agenda by further reducing their environmental impact and operating costs, through reduced fuel and maintenance spend. TRAILAR offersolar solutions across a wide range of commercial vehicles such as trucks, trailers, refuse trucks and of course buses and coaches. TRAILAR is committed to delivering sustainable transport for all and achieving zero emissions sooner with solar!”.

See our previous posting here

Sunday 18 October 2020

LT Buses Reach Potters Bar

Our posting today covers the use of LT type buses, that have been introduced onto
a route that ends 13 miles north of London, in the county of Hertfordshire. 
It was originally published on the BUSANDTRAINUSER website and is reproduced here by kind permission of Roger French.

When TfL introduced the politically inspired New Bus for London – I hesitate at using its official ‘New Routemaster’ name for want of not denigrating the great iconic London bus designed in the late 1950s – nor its nickname after the vanity seeking Mayor who set the hare running by introducing it in the first place – anyway, if you’re still with me, when TfL introduced the you-know-what-bus in 2012, who’d have thought they’d end up on route 313 – a relatively quiet route running from Chingford via Enfield to TfL’s northern served outpost of Potters Bar over the border in Hertfordshire.

Answer: no one.

But, this week sees the start of the transformation of this Arriva London operated route running every 20 minutes daytime (30 minutes evenings and Sundays) from single deck Enviro200 buses to the infamous LT class. 
Within a matter of days, all of the route’s commitment of seven vehicles (plus an extra or two in the peaks) will be LT type buses which until last weekend plied their way along one of central London’s most frequent routes between Victoria and Clapton Pond: route 38.

Reductions in passenger numbers led TfL to slim down the frequency of Arriva London operated route 38 last weekend from a peak hour every 3-4 minutes to every 4-5 minutes, thereby saving ten buses to a newly reduced peak vehicle requirement of 43. 
Probably a sensible move, even with the need for social distancing.

Today’s route 313 has its origins in a former London Transport country area green RF operated route between St Albans and Enfield via Potters Bar (even reaching Whipsnade Zoo in the summer) and central area red RF (and sometime RT) route 121 between Enfield and Chingford making it a long way down the list of suitable routes for LT class buses with their three doors, two staircases, unfriendly lower deck seat layout with a paucity of accessible seats (just 8) and a preponderance of backward facing seats (10). 

But needs must, and the fact the 313 is also operated by Arriva London and has a PVR under ten makes it an ideal candidate as a home for the ten surplus buses. 
Whether it’s suitable from a passenger perspective is neither here nor there of course. This is TfL and London. Although social distancing requirements does mean a welcome allocation of double deck buses to the route.

That was my preconceived thinking, but to test it out in practice I took a ride out to Enfield earlier today to track down the two LT type buses that have so far switched Shaftesbury Avenue and Piccadilly for Southbury Road and The Ridegway.

According to the very helpful 
 London Vehicle Finder website, first thing this morning, three LTs were out on the 313 but by mid morning that had reduced to two with a gaudy all over advert adorned class member also out for driver familiarisation.

It didn’t take long before LT185 arrived in Enfield heading towards Potters Bar.

This northern end of the route is much less busy than the eastern side towards Chingford. Indeed at most stops we had more doors than passengers wanting to board.

After passing through the grounds of Chase Farm Hospital where extensive redevelopment and house building is taking place the journey takes on rural characteristics …

… as the bus speeds along The Ridgeway passing farms…

…. and fields ….

….. until it crosses the M25 and reaches Potters Bar.

We took half a dozen passengers to Potters Bar and on the next journey back towards Chingford ….

…. left the terminus on the station forecourt with a similar number with just a couple more boarding on the journey back down to Chase Farm Hospital.

I took a break in Enfield before continuing on to Chingford on LT176, the second bus on the road today.

As mentioned earlier, this is the busier end of the route but numbers on the upper deck never exceeded six and I’d estimate about a dozen on the lower deck.

After passing Arriva London’s Enfield bus garage where the buses for route 313 are based (and which I note on destination blinds is called – more geographically accurately – ‘Ponders End Bus Garage’) the route’s eastern trajectory passes through Lea Valley reservoir territory…

… where we got held up for about ten minutes in a queue for Sewardstone Road (the A112).

…. before reaching Chingford and ending the journey in the bus station alongside the station.

The end to end daytime journey time from 
Chingford via Enfield to Potters Bar is scheduled to take 55/56 minutes rising to up to 67 minutes in the peak.

On LT185 I noticed two pairs of forward facing seats over the wheel arch were ‘out of bounds’ …

… whereas not so on LT176.

I’m not sure what the official policy is.

It’s always a pleasure to take a ride on a double deck along the 313 with some great views, especially along The Ridgeway but it’s debatable whether the use of these ridiculously expensive buses on a relatively marginal route in TfL’s bus network could ever be justified. The answer is clearly, another no.

But this is London. And strange things happen.

This afternoon I spotted the special green liveried LT2 at Victoria bus station. What a pity that wasn’t one of the ten vehicles selected to transfer over to the 313.

This afternoon I spotted the special green liveried LT2 at Victoria bus station. What a pity that wasn’t one of the ten vehicles selected to transfer over to the 313.

That really would have been a nice touch.

A London Transport green bus back on the route where it belonged.

Roger French       

..      All photographs © Roger French