Wednesday, 25 November 2020

VLR Track Laid in West Midlands

The first sections of track being installed as part of a multi-million train development in Dudley.

The images show track on the ground in a currently forgotten tunnel that runs between Castle Gate and Cinder Bank.

The line, which is being laid along a disused rail track, will be two kilometres long when complete and be used as a test track for Very Light Rail.

A test passenger platform will be located at Cinder Bank at the end of the track.

It comes as work is already well under way to construct the VLR National Innovation Centre at the old Dudley Train Station in Castle Hill.

The centre will boast a triple-height engineering hall, research laboratories, conference and seminar rooms and offices for 45 people. There will also be public areas, including exhibition spaces and an auditorium.

The whole project is expected to be complete in early 2022. It will put the area at the national forefront of new rail technology looking for cheaper and more efficient alternative to heavy rail and tram transport.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of 
Dudley Metropolitan Borough Council  said: "It is fantastic to see this ground-breaking project moving forward at pace.

"Seeing the first sections of track laid are a real symbol of the positive developments on the way in our borough.

"This facility and the VLR test track will place Dudley at the forefront nationally of game-changing works in the rail industry. They will benefit the economy as well as the environment.

"We are forging an exciting and bright future for Dudley town centre, with a billion pounds worth of regeneration works including this and the Metro coming very soon. It’s exciting times."

Councillor Ian Kettle, cabinet member for regeneration and enterprise, said: "It gives me great pride to see the first sections of track laid down, following on from the excellent progress being made in building the innovation centre.

"This project will help to create jobs and put Dudley on the national map once again for innovation, technology and manufacturing.

"The recently formed Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation (BCIMO) will oversee the launch and operation of the centre."

Nick Mallinson, chief executive officer of the BCIMO, said: "I’m looking forward to the test track coming into use in February 2021, when we will commence testing of the Coventry VLR shuttle vehicle."

See more here here

See our previous posting here

Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Eversholt Award Class 334 Maintenance Contract to Alstom

Rail Leasing company Eversholt Rail has awarded supplier Alstom Transport UK a £12∙4m contract to undertake the mileage-based overhaul of its fleet of 40 three-car Class 334 Juniper electric multiple-units which are operated by ScotRail.

The programme will commence in October 2021 with the work on the approximately 20-year old EMUs being carried out at Alstom’s Polmadie depot in Glasgow and its Longsight depot near Manchester.

The scope includes overhaul of the bogies and other mechanical and pneumatic underframe components, together with electrical subsystems including the pantograph, compressor, auxiliary fans and analogue control units.

‘This comprehensive refurbishment of our fleet of Class 334 trains will greatly enhance the service we provide customers travelling across Scotland’s central belt’, said ScotRail Engineering Director Syeda Ghufran on November 20. ‘Eversholt Rail and Alstom’s expertise in carrying out this work will allow us to improve comfort and reliability for passengers as we continue to provide them with a cost-effective service for years to come.’


Monday, 23 November 2020

Auction of LNER Namplates Raises £41,000 for Charity

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) nameplates have raised £41,000 for charity, after famous names from the iconic Class 43 Intercity High Speed Train (HST) fleet attracted interest from around the world at an online auction.

43308 Highland Chieftain proved most popular among enthusiasts, selling for £13,900, with 43300 Craigentinny and one Crest fetching £6,500. Auctioneers claim these are record prices for Class 43 HST nameplates.

The proceeds from the auction will go to LNER partner charity, the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), in support of suicide prevention.

David Horne, Managing Director of at LNER, said: “We are delighted these symbols of rail history have generated such interest and raised much needed funds for CALM.

“CALM has seen record demand for its helpline services this year with teams answering more than 70,000 calls and chats since lockdown in March. This money will help support even more people during these uncertain times.”

Seven nameplates were up for auction and all sold:

43308 Highland Chieftain - £13,900
43300 Craigentinny and one Crest - £6,500
43238 National Railway Museum 40 Years 1975-2015 - £6,100
43290 MTU Fascination of Power - £4,600
43257 Bounds Green - £4,100
43274 Spirit of Sunderland - £4,100
43208 Lincolnshire Echo - £1,700

The proceeds of the auction will be added to the £230,000 LNER has already raised for CALM since the start of the partnership in October 2018. The charity works to prevent suicide, the single biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK and the cause of 18 deaths a day.

Simon Gunning, CEO of CALM said: “LNER has been absolutely brilliant championing the CALM cause and raising funds for our vital helpline services. This auction is another example of its generosity.

“A lot has happened over the past eight months and the pandemic has affected our lives in many ways, which is why people are needing CALM and our helpline services more than ever.”

The nameplates, celebrating the heritage of the East Coast route, were auctioned on 14 November 2020 by G.W Railwayana Auctions. 

Sunday, 22 November 2020

17 More Metrodecker EV's for GoAhead London

Optare have announced that GoAhead London have placed an order for 17 Metrodecker EV’s for route 200 in London. This route will operate out of the company’s Merton garage, the first electric route from this depot. This order marks the 3rd order for the Metrodecker EV in London, the 5th to date, which will bring the total number in service to 108 by May 2021. 

Optare has worked closely with GoAhead London over a number of years in the development of its latest generation of battery electric buses. The Metrodecker EV prototype first saw service in the Capital with GoAhead London on a 5 month trial at New Cross on route 36 and route 21 in January 2018. 
During this trial, a lot was learnt about the bus and the zero emission heating systems in particular as the trial took place during the 'the Beast from the East' extreme cold spell; . GoAhead’s trial feedback played a key part in the final design of the production bus launched at the NEC in October 2018. 

Richard Harrington, Engineering Director, Go Ahead London commented: “As an EV leader in London we have built a good understanding of zero emission bus operation. We were pleased to provide feedback & guidance to Optare during their development process and we have been impressed with the production Metrodecker EV in recent service trials. 
The bus is a good fit for Route 200. We look forward to successful roll out and partnership with Optare.”

Robert Drewery, Commercial Director, Optare stated: “We are thrilled to be involved in the electrification of route 200. We see this order as another step in our cooperation with GoAhead London and the development of our ZEV solutions”.

Saturday, 21 November 2020

Pulham's Boosts Home-to-School Contracts With PSVAR Compliant Plaxton Leopard

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”), has announced that it has delivered a wheelchair-accessible Plaxton Leopard coach to Pulham’s Coaches of Bourton-on-the-Water, Gloucestershire.

Award-winning Pulham & Sons Coaches has provided transport services in the Cotswolds since 1880, making it one of the longest-established bus and coach operators in the United Kingdom. The fourth-generation family-owned and operated business offers coach hire and school services along with a network of crucial bus routes in Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire.

Home-to-school transport has contributed strongly to the company’s growth in recent years, taking its fleet size to 55 coaches amid consistent investment in modern vehicles.

The operator’s latest investment is a 57-seat Plaxton Leopard. Built on Volvo B8R chassis, the new addition is fully built to PSV Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR), making it accessible to wheelchair users and future proofing Pulham’s Coaches’ fleet. The new Plaxton Leopard has replaced an earlier, non-accessible vehicle of the same type.

Pulham’s Coaches Director, Andrew Pulham says: “We have been getting on the front foot with PSVAR. The Plaxton Leopard has already been a strong performer in our fleet, giving us excellent value for money, so the decision to invest in the latest accessible version was an easy one as this ticks all the boxes for a versatile vehicle.”

Lee Salt, ADL Sales Account Manager for Central England and Wales, comments: “Pulham’s Coaches are renown and respected for their immaculate fleet, which has facilitated the part exchange against an existing Plaxton Leopard in the knowledge that it would generate strong interest from potential buyers, and indeed it has sold on immediately. 
It continues to be a pleasure to work with the successful family team at Pulham’s, and we’re honoured that our Plaxton coaches and ADL buses are a key part of this high-profile fleet.”


Friday, 20 November 2020

Hitachi to Re-assess Design of the Intercity Express Trains to Improve Crashworthiness Standard

Following the collision of an empty LNER Intercity Express Train, and a LNER High Speed Train at low speed when entering Neville Hill Depot, the Rail Accident Investigation Branch has recommended that Hitachi re-visit the assessment of the design of the Intercity Express Train against the requirements of the crashworthiness standards.

The incident occurred at 21:41 hrs on 13 November 2019, when an empty LNER Intercity Express Train, approaching the maintenance depot at Neville Hill in Leeds, caught up and collided with the rear of an empty LNER High Speed Train moving into the depot. 

The leading HST train was travelling at around 5 mph (8 km/h) and the colliding train at around 15 mph (24 km/h). No one was injured in the accident, but the trailing bogie of the second and third vehicles and the trailing wheelset of the fourth vehicle of the new Intercity Express Train derailed to the right, by up to 1.25 metres.

The derailment occurred because the design of the Intercity Express Train is susceptible to derailment in low speed collisions. This susceptibility is related to the use of high-strength couplers with large freedoms of movement in pitch and yaw. 
These features were part of the train’s design. However, the impact of these features on the train’s resistance to derailment and lateral displacement in low speed collisions, was not considered by the train’s designers.

The crashworthiness standard used to design the Intercity Express Train did not specifically require consideration of the likelihood of derailment during collisions at lower than the 22.5 mph (36 km/h) specified design speed, nor did it include specific criteria for assessing the derailment performance. As such, the assessment and validation of the design did not identify any issues with these design features.

Following a full investigation the RIAB have made the following recommendations.

Hitachi to revisit the assessment of the design of the Intercity Express Train against the requirements of the crashworthiness standard

LNER to assess the risk of a derailment of an Intercity Express Train involved in a low speed collision

RSSB to consider whether it is appropriate for the crashworthiness standard to be modified.

The RIAB have also issued two recommendations which are addressed to LNER and relate to correcting its understanding of the setup of the train management system and ensuring that the documentation provided by Hitachi has not led to any other safety issues.

43300 was badly damaged in the collision and has been written off

It was found that the collision occurred because the driver of the Intercity Express Train was focused on reinstating an on-board system which he had recently isolated, instead of focusing on the driving task. This was exacerbated by him unintentionally commanding too much acceleration due to his lack of familiarity with the new train.

See our original report here

Thursday, 19 November 2020

Milan Orders Another 100 Urbino 12 Electric Buses

The Milanese operator ATM has decided to commission another 100 12 meter zero emission electric buses from Solaris, following a framework contract signed last year. The first batch of 40 Urbino electric buses under the same contract has been already delivered.

The newly ordered 100 vehicles will be delivered to the Italian fashion capital in the first half of 2021. Once the contract is fully complete, there will be up to 275 zero-emission Solaris vehicles operating in Milan. The first electric buses – 25 Urbino 12 electric – appeared in Milan already back in 2018 and 2019.

“We are extremely happy that we have the opportunity to supply ATM in Milan with more electric Solaris buses. It is a huge investment, not only in modern, safe and comfortable municipal transport, but above all in clean air and improved quality of life,” notes Alberto Fiore, Managing Director of Solaris Italia.

Milan-based ATM has decided that the new buses with two innovative solutions. The first of these is Mobileye Shield+, a warning system – using acoustic and visual alerts – indicating objects in a driver’s blind spot, indicating when a vehicle changes lanes without signalling beforehand or signalling that the appropriate distance to the vehicle in front is not maintained.

The second one is MirrorEye, a solution which will be implemented – for testing purposes – in one electric bus for Milan. This involves replacing side mirrors with cameras giving much better visibility, in particular at night and in difficult weather conditions.

ATM in Milan will eliminate diesel buses by the end of 2030. The co-operation of Solaris and ATM in Milan began in 2014. Since then, the manufacturer has already delivered 200 vehicles, including the first 25 electric Urbino's.

“The possibility of co-operation with such an accomplished carrier as the ATM in Milan is an invaluable experience for us. It is an honour to be once again invited to co-create a future of public transport in Milan free of pollution and noise,” remarks Petros Spinaris, Board Member for Sales, Marketing and Customer Service, Solaris Bus & Coach sp. z o.o.

It is worth noting that the 1000th electric bus to roll out of the Solaris factory will be among the 100 newly ordered Urbino 12 electric for Milan. The first Urbino electric was presented in 2011. Since then, electric Solaris vehicles have been ordered by nearly 100 customers from 18 countries. In 2017, the Solaris Urbino electric was elected the best city bus in Europe.

“Electromobility is not an empty phrase. 1000 sold electric buses is a proud accomplishment all of our company’s employees have worked for. We have been setting new standards of urban transport for years and have a real impact on the sustainable development of transport in cities. All of that would not have been possible without the trust of our clients. We thank you!”, underscores Petros Spinaris.

Wednesday, 18 November 2020

Island Line Class 484 On The Move

One of the new trains for Island Line has been seen rolling along the tracks for the very first time ahead of its arrival on the Isle of Wight.

Mark Hopwood, Managing Director of South Western Railway, has shared a video of the refurbished 1978 former London District Line stock undergoing testing in Worcestershire.

The Class 484 trains will operate between Ryde Pier Head and Shanklin and will replace the ageing 1938 former underground stock. The new trains are 42-years-old but have been completely overhauled by Vivarail and run on bogies from the 2000s. They are effectively brand new trains with all the latest modern technology.

Once they are on the Island, the Class 484s will run off the third rail system. To overcome this in testing, Vivarail has used forklift batteries as an innovative way to move the carriages.

It’s understood that the new trains will begin to arrive on the Island from as early as this week. They will then undergo several hours of night testing before being introduced to the network full-time in Spring 2021. Island Line will be closed completely in January, February and March to allow for improvement works.

To see the video click here

See our previous posting here

Tuesday, 17 November 2020

New Air-con Equipment Provides Extra Protection to London Bus Drivers From Covid-19

A Birmingham manufacturing specialist has helped to further protect London bus drivers against Covid-19 after developing a new way of pushing air around their cabs.

Commissioned by Transport for London and taking expert advice from University College London (UCL), Grayson Thermal Systems (GTS) came up with a way of changing air conditioning recirculating systems into units that circulate fresh air into the driver’s cab from outside the vehicle.

The company’s team of engineers took just three weeks to come up with the prototype solution and was then invited by eight London fleet operating companies to convert more than 1200 buses over a two-month period, meaning all 9,300 buses in London’s fleet meet TfL’s strict driver safety guidance and new specifications.

The work joins a raft of measures taken by TfL to protect bus drivers against Covid-19, including improving the screen around the drivers’ cabs to prevent the virus entering the cab area and a rigorous cleaning regime.

Ian Hateley, Group Aftermarket Director at GTS, explained: “The loss of London bus drivers to the pandemic is tragic and we were pleased to be part of a solution to build on TfL’s existing safety measures to reduce the potential spread of the virus.

“We looked at our existing air conditioning systems and developed a way of converting them so that they created positive pressure in the enclosed driver cabin, forcing existing air out and replacing it with air from outside the bus.

“Now complete, the modification gives in excess of 100 air changes per hour within the driver cabin and ensures that a wider initiative to seal the driver cabin away from passengers is enhanced, as air is no longer moving from the entrance area into the cab area.”

Grayson Thermal Systems, which designs, manufactures and supplies engine cooling, heating and air conditioning products to customers around the globe, created a new positive air retrofit unit for each vehicle type and then set about a capacity plan to convert each of the 1200 vehicles in London.

Six centres were set-up across London and a fifteen-strong team of engineers from GTS and Alexander Dennis were trained up for the project, the latter proving a perfect fit as over 1000 of the buses were their models.

A specialist scaffolding gantry was designed and built by partner London Network Scaffolding so experts could work on the roof of the vehicles whilst being completely secure. They completed a weekly inspection process on all structures to ensure safety was paramount.

All 1200 air conditioning systems were additionally health checked upon modification and a triage system was set up to rectify any vehicles where faults were identified within the GTS standard 5-year warranty.

“This was a massive logistical task and one that we overcome as every partner in the project was fully on board so that we could make the changes as quickly as possible and further protect London bus drivers who are doing a great job. In the end, the final project delivery came in ahead of plan for every site,” continued Ian.

“I’m very proud of how our designers and engineers came up with a solution and delivered it in a very strict time frame, playing a small but important role in helping to combat the spread of Covid-19.”

Tom Cunnington, TfL’s Head of Bus Business Development, said: “We always put the safety of our bus drivers first, and making changes to the driver cabs, along with other measures like our enhanced cleaning regime, has played a role in minimising risk of infection.

“By working with Grayson Thermal Systems, UCL and bus operators, we were able to act quickly and add an extra layer of protection to the cabs to prevent the air from the passenger section of the bus being recirculated into the driver cab and ensure our drivers breathe the safest air possible.”

GTS, which employs 200 people at its base in Tyseley, design and manufacture original equipment and aftermarket cooling and heating products for bus and coach, specialist off-road vehicles, commercial vehicles and rail.

It boasts extensive manufacturing facilities, a service centre and dedicated engineering research and test operations in Birmingham and, from the heart of England, serves customers in more than 50 different locations across the world.

Monday, 16 November 2020

East West Railway Company Start Second Phase of Rolling Stock Procurement

East West Railway Company (EWR Co) is to restart market engagement with potential train suppliers, as its rolling stock procurement process enters a new phase.

The move follows an initial phase of procurement activity, which EWR Co concluded earlier in the year. A new PIN Notice has been published to restart engagement with potential suppliers, which includes a set of technical specifications taking account of feedback from the market gained during the initial procurement phase. 

The eastern section was closed and the trackbed lost to development. The central section 
from Bicester to Bedford via Bletchley which was mothballed is being restored and upgraded.
The section between Oxford and Bicester has already opened.

The procurement aims to secure a short-term, interim solution to leasing a small fleet of self-powered trains for the Western Section of East West Rail. 

Simon Blanchflower CBE, Chief Executive at East West Railway Company said:

“We listened to what the market had to say about our technical specification, and this has enabled us to reshape our requirements in a way that give us more flexibility in achieving the right outcomes for passengers.

“It’s essential we get this public procurement absolutely right, to make sure we give the best value to taxpayers and provide the best solution to the communities who live and work along the East West Rail route.” 

EWR Co launched its rolling stock Invitation to Tender in March 2020, when the company announced it is taking an interim approach to securing trains in order that passenger services on the Western Section of East West Rail could be up and running as quickly as possible. This remains a priority as the EWR Co engages again with the rolling stock market, with this activity expected to conclude by the end of November.

EWR Co will continue to keep the industry updated on the progress of this procurement.

Link to Prior Information Notice: here

See Previous Focus posting here

Sunday, 15 November 2020

EVM to Offer PSVAR Conversions on Tourismo's

EVM are offering PSVAR conversions on 
Mercedes-Benz Mk1 Tourismo coaches

The retro-fit is available for the 12m and 13m two-axle versions, as well as the 13m three-axle versions.

Secondhand Tourismo's  are popular as Mercedes-Benz moved to Euro 6 much earlier than the legal deadline, meaning that a PSVAR conversion is much more worthwhile on a Euro 6 vehicle than anything less.

The collapse of Shearings earlier this year due to the impact of COVID-19 has resulted in large volumes of second hand Tourismo's coming onto the market at attractive prices.

This combined with the high demand for PSVAR coaches for most school contracts used on services which don't serve the public has made life difficult and expensive for those operators who haven't invested in PSVAR vehicles. The offering of the conversion can be a life saver for those who have been wrong footed by the change in ruling on PSVAR.

The complete conversion – using a PLS cassette lift – will also include front, side and rear destination equipment to fulfil PSVAR requirements.

It has the integration of a well-engineered access door, with glazing matching matching the shape, tint and size of the original OEM offering.

 The conversion will not affect the structural strength of the coach and is designed to look as close 
as possible to the original design. To the casual observer it will look original. 
Also, all regulations will be covered including 107.06 for the wheelchair space and Regulation R80.02 for seat anchorage strength.

Vehicles can be collected, converted, painted, certified and re-delivered to customers by EVM who are best known for work on Mercedes Mini Coaches

 The conversion work will take around four weeks per vehicle with EVM's capacity to deal with up to 16 coaches per month.

 The EVM website can be found here here 

Saturday, 14 November 2020

West Midlands Trains and Porterbrook Partner to Improve Reliability

West Midlands Trains (WMT) and Porterbrook have signed an agreement to reduce costs and improve the reliability of the train operator’s Class 172 fleet.

In a rail industry first, the partnership will see responsibility for the heavy maintenance of the trains move from WMT to Porterbrook.

This new, more collaborative, way of working between the train operator and the rolling stock asset manager, covers the delivery of heavy maintenance, future maintenance optimisation and product enhancements.

The partnership builds on the ongoing improvements to the quality and performance of the fleet which have taken place over the last year during a pilot scheme, whereby Porterbrook provided additional support beyond the standard train leasing arrangements. That scheme was built around maintenance optimisation and remote condition monitoring.

Mary Grant, Porterbrook CEO said: “Porterbrook is committed to supporting and adding value to our train operating customers. By working collaboratively with West Midlands Trains, utilising digital technology and drawing on the asset knowledge of our own engineers we can jointly reduce costs and provide a step improvement in rolling stock reliability that will benefit passengers.”


Friday, 13 November 2020

Dublin Hydrogen Bus Trial

The first bus in Ireland to be powered by a hydrogen fuel cell is set to enter service in Dublin as part of a trial.

Hydrogen Mobility Ireland, a national association “for the hydrogen community on the island of Ireland”, confirmed news of the trial which will see a hydrogen-powered bus travel on several Bus Eireann and Dublin Bus routes.

‘Hydrogen Mobility’ projects have begun around the world and are combining the efforts of industry and government to plan the introduction of fleets of vehicles and refuelling stations to raise the profile of hydrogen as a fuel and prove its viability.

In Ireland, initial hydrogen mobility discussions are occurring, but are at a very early stage.

Hydrogen differentiates itself more clearly from full battery electric vehicles when the weight of vehicles are heavier, so application of fuel cell technology for use in buses, trucks, trains and boats is progressing quickly.

For refuelling, pressurised hydrogen gas is pumped into a tank on board the vehicle which is combined in a fuel cell with oxygen to power an electric motor.

The resulting waste product emitted from the back of the car is just water vapour, unlike internal combustion engine vehicles.

The Caetano ‘H2.CityGold’ pre-production bus to be used in the Dublin trial will be powered by a 60kW Toyota fuel stack and will run on hydrogen produced in Dublin by BOC Gases Ireland using electricity and water.

The trial aims to examine how hydrogen buses perform in everyday conditions and in challenging winter weather.

The CaetanoBus bus will be operated on different routes by CIÉ Group bus companies Bus Éireann and Dublin Bus, as well as by Dublin City University (DCU) and Dublin Airport over a number of weeks in November and December.

As part of HMI’s roadmap for hydrogen deployment, the collaborative trial will extend from November to mid-December giving real in-use information on the practical operation of the technology in varying weather, usage, and traffic conditions.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, the bus will carry a limited number of passengers.

Speaking at the launch of the Hydrogen Fuel Cell Bus on the road, HMI Chairman Mark Teevan said:

“This should be viewed as an important event, not because it’s the first H2 bus on the road; but because it is a first step into the future for Ireland, enabling us to begin to envisage the practical solutions that will allow us to fully decarbonise road transport.

Abellio London are buying into the Caetano e.City Gold battery-electric single-deckers
which, up to the cantrail are identical to the fuel cell version

“We are all very conscious of the environmental challenge we face in meeting our 2030 targets and the need to find zero-emissions solutions that will satisfy the varying needs of different users; public transport, haulage, van delivery, taxi or private car.

“FCEV’s are Electric Vehicles, providing specific benefits that include very quick refuelling, long-range, and a particular suitability for heavy and long-distance requirements. We are delighted that Dublin has been selected to host the very first trial of the Caetano RHD prototype fuel cell bus.”

Thursday, 12 November 2020

The Scottish Government's £500m Bus Partnership Fund to Deliver Bus Priority Infrastructure has Opened For Applications

The fund was established to enable local authorities, in partnership with bus operators, to use bus priority measures to tackle the negative impacts of congestion and increase patronage.

The initial funding tranche is expected to pay for development of local appraisals and business cases and so the application process is 'designed to be light-touch', Transport Scotland said.

However it added that 'applications will also be considered for quick wins: i.e. smaller infrastructure projects which already have an evidence base and which are aligned to the longer-term vision'.

In accordance with the Place Principle, adopted by the Scottish Government in 2019, bidding partnerships must take 'a collaborative, place-based approach to the proposed developments'.

The funding criteria also states bids must be from 'partnerships working towards Bus Service Improvement Partnership (BSIP) status, as defined by the Transport (Scotland) Act 2019'.

There must be a lead local authority as accountable officer for the funding and the infrastructure projects will be owned by local roads authorities.

Although work on the fund had been paused due to the COVID-19 pandemic, ministers reaffirmed their commitment to the programme in the Programme for Government.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson said: 'We are committed to achieving a just and green recovery and I believe that supporting bus travel is key to that.

'As set out in the National Transport Strategy, the benefits of bus, particularly to addressing the climate emergency and tackling inequality, are clear. The Bus Partnership Fund is a key part of delivering on the priorities outlined in the strategy.

'I believe that a strong partnership approach is essential and I want to see ambitious proposals placing bus priority at the heart of our sustainable transport future – linking with active travel alongside further action and investment from local authorities and bus operators.'

Paul White, director for CPT in Scotland, which represents bus and coach operators, said: 'Congestion is the biggest issue holding back buses in our communities. Reducing journey times will make buses more attractive for customers, reduce the number of cars on our roads, improve local air quality and free up resources to deliver improved bus networks and better value fares.

'Every £1 invested in bus priority can generate up to eight times that amount in wider economic, social and environmental benefits. So, investment in buses is an investment in Scotland's future.'

Wednesday, 11 November 2020

ADL Delivers Electric Buses To Auckland's Waiheke Island & Renews New Zealand Partnership

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”), yesterday announced that it has delivered six electric buses to Fullers360 for Auckland Transport services on Waiheke Island and that it is renewing its partnership with New Zealand manufacturer Kiwi Bus Builders.

ADL will supply an additional two electric buses to Fullers360 subsidiary Waiheke Bus Company before Christmas, allowing half of all buses on the island to be converted to zero emission operation. The Auckland Transport Waiheke Island bus network connects communities with Fullers360’s frequent ferries to the mainland.

At the launch event, attended by the Mayor of Auckland and the British Consul General in Auckland, ADL announced its renewed partnership with local manufacturer Kiwi Bus Builders. This will now include the assembly of electric buses, which for the New Zealand market had until now taken place overseas.

In addition to two-axle models like those for Waiheke Island, the partners will produce 12.6m long, three-axle electric buses, which ADL has designed for the specific requirements of bus operation in New Zealand by carrying 78 passengers without the requirement of an overweight permit, a first for New Zealand. 
As the country prepares to fully transition its bus fleet to zero emission vehicles by 2035, their local assembly will support up to 100 jobs at Kiwi Bus Builders.

ADL’s General Manager for New Zealand, Tony Moore, said: “We have been a major supplier to New Zealand for almost ten years and during this time have already supplied 500 vehicles with the help of our friends at Kiwi Bus Builders. 
As Auckland Transport and other transport authorities prepare to move to a zero emission fleet, we are renewing this partnership in a clear sign of our support for New Zealand jobs and our commitment to this market.”

Richard Drummond, Managing Director of Kiwi Bus Builders, said: “The Enviro200 range of electric buses are not only designed for our local requirements here in New Zealand, but are also built in this country. With investment in updated build techniques, we will be able to scale up our production to meet demand from Auckland and elsewhere in New Zealand as the fleet transformation gets under way ahead of the 2035 zero emissions target.”

ADL’s electric buses for New Zealand are part of the BYD ADL Enviro200EV range using latest BYD iron phosphate battery and driveline technology, which has demonstrated its reliability and efficiency in over 60,000 zero emission buses worldwide.

Tuesday, 10 November 2020

New Manchester Trams Set to Boost Capacity and Social Distancing

The first of 27 new Metrolink trams is set to arrive this week, boosting capacity on the network and providing more space for social distancing.

According to the tfgm website 

"Once testing and commissioning is complete, the first tram will be put into service before Christmas, with further trams set to arrive every 3-4 weeks after that.

Each new tram will be the M5000 model – the same as the existing fleet – and, once tested and commissioned, the new arrivals will increase capacity on the network by 15%, enabling Metrolink to run more double trams for customers." 

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said: “Public safety has, and will remain, my absolute priority as we continue to navigate our way out of this pandemic – and these new trams will be vital to helping us provide more capacity on Metrolink when we come out of lockdown and once again focus on building back better from this virus. 

Above & below, the new trams are Bombardier M5000's the same as the current fleet

“We know concerns over using public transport – including social distancing – can be a real barrier that prevents people from travelling, and measures like this will help restore and build confidence in our networks.

“With infection rates across Greater Manchester still high it's important that we continue to work together to stop the spread so, if you must use public transport, please remember the basic rules – wear a face covering and sanitise your hands when using our buses, trains and trams.”

The new trams are being funded by the Transforming Cities Fund, and were first announced as part of the Congestion Deal (March 2018), the city-region’s approach for tackling congestion by improving public transport and providing a genuine alternative to driving.

The £72m contract with manufacturer Bombardier Transportation UK and Kiepe Electric was signed in July 2018.