Monday, 30 November 2020

IRIZAR Incorporates Natural Gas Into its Range of Technologies

The Irizar Group is incorporating Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) and Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) into its range of technologies.

It will therefore include all the technologies currently on the market. From integrated and conventional coaches with Euro 6D diesel, HVO, B100 combustion engine and natural gas or biogas to buses and 100% electric vehicles, including coaches with parallel hybrid technology in its class I and class II models for urban and interurban services.

The environmental benefits offered by coaches with this technology reduce CO2 emissions by between 20 and 25%, NOx by up to 60% and emissions of particulate matter by over 98%. 
In addition to higher thermal performance than diesel, vibrations and noise emissions are also minimized by between 4-5 dB. 
In relation to operating cost, it is estimated that the reduction may be as high as 35%, depending on the differential between the cost of gas and diesel. The maintenance cost remains similar to that of a conventional diesel vehicle

The vehicles have a range of up to 500 km in the CNG version and twice as long in the LNG technology.

The range of gas vehicles includes the Irizar i4 and Irizar i3le models from 12 to 15 metres in CNG version and Irizar i4, Irizar i6 and Irizar i6S from 12 to 15 metres in the LNG version, all on Scania chassis. 
The first vehicle equipped with this technology is the Irizar i4 class II model, a versatile and ideal coach for metropolitan, commuter, school transport or business coach. This is an Irizar i4 version H, 12.920m long vehicle. 
Its unmistakable attributes of versatility are complemented the range of current propulsion technologies available in integral or conventional vehicles on chassis.

With a total weight of about 750 kg, it incorporates 4 longitudinal type IV CNG cylindrical tanks, with a total volume of 1260 dm3 and an approximate gas capacity of 240 kg. 
However, depending on the needs of the operator, it can be fitted with an additional tank to increase range. It is also fitted with a filling panel with two gas outlets and a pressure gauge. The integration of the storage tanks preserves the aesthetics and aerodynamics of the vehicle and means it can perform the same type of service as a similar diesel vehicle with optimum road holding and maximum safety.

The vehicles are equipped with the same air conditioning system as diesel vehicles. The height of the interior ceiling, the interior luggage racks and the luggage compartment capacity are the same as the diesel version.

The driver has a gas control screen to comply with all safety protocols. This is used to detect leaks and monitor the start-up of the water additive aerosol fire extinguishing system.

These vehicles comply with Regulation R66.02 even with 700 kg of extra weight on the roof and with the thermal safety and mechanical safety protocols, in accordance with Regulation 110.

As a reminder, the new generation of the i4 model was presented in October 2019 at the international Busworld fair.

Irizar already has orders for these coaches in its portfolio

Sunday, 29 November 2020

Pacers Bid Final Farewell to Northern Network

Final journey – Kirkby to Manchester Victoria – completed by Pacer 142004

Northern has bid a final farewell to its fleet of Pacers after more than three decades’ service.

In more than 35 years, Pacers have travelled over 300million miles in the north

102 Pacers have now fully retired

The last Pacer to carry Northern customers completed its swansong journey on Friday November 27th having travelled from Kirkby to Manchester Victoria.

The final journey – completed by 142004 – ended at 5.45pm, marking just over 35 years of continuous service in the north of England and clocking 3 million miles in the process.

Chris Jackson, Regional Director at Northern, said: “The Pacers have kept millions of northerners on the move and, while they have served us well and provided some communities with rail services they may have otherwise lost, it is time to give them a well-earned rest.

“Northern has overseen significant modernisation in recent months and the retiring Pacers have made way for a fleet of 100 brand-new trains which are already servicing people across the north of England.”

During their time on the network Northern’s fleet of 102 Pacers travelled more than 300million miles – equivalent to 630 trips to the moon and back.

Retirement of the Pacer fleet began in the summer of 2019 and the trains have been gradually removed from service and more and more new and refurbished trains have been introduced.

Northern’s new trains feature free Wi-Fi, air-conditioning, at-seat power and customer information/media screens with real-time information. They are also more spacious and fully accessible, with spaces for wheelchairs and cycles.

Grant Shapps, Transport Secretary with Cabinet Responsibility for the Northern Powerhouse, said: “The Pacer fleet has connected communities on the Northern network for over 30 years, but today marks the sun finally setting on trains that have become loved by some, but hated by others.

“This marks a new era of transport in the north, with passengers enjoying a brand new fleet of trains, delivering more modern services and creating a more reliable network across the north.”

Saturday, 28 November 2020

Island Line Train Be Preserved by Essex Transport Group

With the final withdrawal of Island Line’s 80-year-old Class 483 trains a little over a month away, the London Transport Traction Group have announced that they’ve successfully secured one of these trains for preservation on the mainland, at the Epping Ongar Railway in Essex.

South Western Railway has confirmed to the group that they will have a unit for preservation, but it’s not been confirmed which unit – although it is likely to be 483006 or 483008. This is pending a final decision from the Science Museum’s Railway Heritage Designation Advisory Board who are managing the disposal of some of the trains.

It is speculated that the other working train will be heading to the IW Steam Railway for display within the Train Story museum.

The existing Island Line trains, which have been running between Ryde and Shanklin for 30 years, will be taken out of service on Sunday 3rd January 2021 ahead of the network being closed for 3 months to allow for major improvements. 
It’s currently anticipated that the 1938 former underground trains will be removed from the rails for the last time in March, with the new Class 484 trains then entering service.

The London Transport Action Group will be taking their unit back to the mainland for restoration and conversion to battery power.

Daniel Nash, Secretary and Founder of the London Transport Traction Group, said of today’s news:

“For us this is truly wonderful news, but it also represents only the first step in our journey that we hope will soon see a class 483 train, cosmetically restored to 1950s London Transport condition, running on the Epping Ongar Railway under its own power and visiting galas around the country. 

This will also enable us to take a tube train where none has ever gone before, allowing us to introduce the joy of the 1938 Tube stock to new audiences.

“To do this we require donations. Our pledge scheme has been very successful, but we still require support. Earlier this week we opened up membership and donation options, which may be found on our website. 
Although these are difficult times for many, we would greatly appreciate any assistance that you may be able to offer to our exciting, innovative and youthful project that has the potential to lead the way in electric railway preservation.”

Both 483006 and 483008 entered service with London Transport in 1940, before the Battle of Britain had even started. They served London Transport until 1988 when they were withdrawn from the Northern Line. 
483008 entered Island Line service with British Rail’s Network Southeast division in June 1990, followed by 483006 the following month.

If you are interested to find out more about the London Transport Traction Group and their plans to breathe new life into one of Island Line’s ancient trains then head over to

Previous Focus posting here

Friday, 27 November 2020

Go North East Launches Game-changing Electric Buses in Newcastle and Gateshead


Go North East has today launched the region’s first fully-electric bus fleet in the North East. 

The buses are capable of all-day service with a single overnight charge, supporting the company’s commitment to improve air quality.

This morning, the switch was flipped on the nine high-tech zero-emission Yutong E10 single deck buses, supplied and interior finished by Castleford based Pelican Bus & Coach, as part of a £3.7million joint-funded project from Go North East and the Government’s Ultra-Low Emission Bus Fund, following a bid that was also supported by Nexus and Gateshead Council.

This fund helps support some of the additional costs of electric vehicles over diesel equivalents and the charging infrastructure.

Martijn Gilbert, managing director at Go North East flipping the switch 
on the nine high-tech zero-emission buses

Based within a new electric bus micro depot, complete with Yutong charging units and Zenobe power management, at the company’s Gateshead Riverside site, these game-changing buses are powered by zero-emission clean sources such as solar, wind and hydro.

The extension of the depot site is capable of accommodating up to 30 electric buses, paving the way for future investment, whilst the buses are fitted with 422kWh water cooled batteries which are capable of a 370km (230miles) range on a single 3.4 hour charge, says the manufacturer.

These state-of-the-art, super environmentally friendly buses, branded ‘Voltra’ in a Best Impressions designed livery that is purposely designed to be very different to your average bus, will run between Gateshead, Saltwell Park and Newcastle on Go North East services 53 and 54. 

As well as a striking new futuristic look, they boast a whole host of onboard features to deliver a bus of the future experience, including high quality interiors with luxury seating from Esteban using a bespoke Camira Fabrics moquette paired with sustainably produced materials from their Vita range.

Other features include free Wi-Fi, wireless and USB charging through Alfatronix seat back phone holders that allow passengers to comfortably watch videos from your seat, a Mobitec next-stop audio-visual announcement system from McKenna Brothers, and ‘tap-on tap-off’ contactless bankcard ticketing through Ticketer and Little Pay, which is a first for the North East and will form an initial two route trial of this new technology.

To complement the green messaging about the vehicles, they are also fitted with a world first pre-production use of Altro’s forthcoming ‘Metris’ range of digitally printed flooring to give a grass effect throughout the saloon.

Martijn Gilbert, managing director at Go North East, said: “This is the dawn of a new era for bus travel here in the North East as we launch what we believe are the very best local buses in the UK, and probably beyond, with a game-changing bus of the future experience for customers, not just with zero-emission buses but a range of pioneering technologies and customer features to revolutionise bus travel.

“This represents a major investment of £2million topped up by the Government’s Ultra-Low Emission Bus Fund, to help boost the recovery of our region ready for unlocking and demonstrates our commitment to improving air quality for our communities.

“Sustainability is key and our Voltra buses run on electricity sourced with green credentials, but Voltra is far more than just an electric bus fleet as we’ve looked at every detail, working with Pelican Yutong and other suppliers, to maximise the use of technology and innovation to provide a new standard in bus travel including customer comfort, information and ticketing.

“We hope that by introducing these fully-electric buses, which are very different to your average bus, we can help flip the switch on people’s behaviour too and see more people across our region leave the car behind to help reduce congestion on our roads and improve air quality for us all. Clean, affordable and sustainable next generation travel has arrived.”

Richard Crump, managing director of Pelican Bus & Coach, said: “Both Pelican and Yutong were delighted to have been able to work with the team at GNE to help develop their unique and innovative concept for 21st century bus travel in the North East. We are very proud that Yutong electric buses have been chosen for such an important service”.

Ian Downie, Head of Yutong Bus UK added: “This project has taken 3 years of meticulous development, from the trial of the demonstrator to completion of the vehicles in the UK, and now the launch of the route. The exacting standards of Go North East honed the vehicles’ specification, and we are absolutely delighted with the finished product. The vehicles will make a real, lasting improvement to the air quality in the North East and also set a new standard in passengers experience.”

Councillor Martin Gannon, Leader of Gateshead Council and Chair of the North East Joint Transport Committee, said: “The launch of Go North East’s fully-electric bus fleet shows that once again the North East is leading the way in providing innovative sustainable transport options for the public. I am particularly pleased that the region’s first electric buses will be launched in my hometown of Gateshead.

“The introduction of Voltra services will help to improve air quality in the region and supports our commitment to carbon reduction across the board. As outlined in the draft North East Transport Plan, we’re keen to lead the green transport revolution and we’d encourage people to make use of these wonderful new services in the future.”

Go North East website showing videos here

News Reports here and here


Thursday, 26 November 2020

Laser and Drone Technology Recreates Ribblehead Viaduct Like Never Before

Laser scanners and drones have been used to map every inch of the iconic Ribblehead viaduct as part of a major restoration project to secure its future for passengers and tourists.

An essential upgrade to brickwork and drainage is underway on the 144-year-old structure which carries the historic Settle to Carlisle railway 400 metres across the Ribble valley.

As part the £2.1m Great North Rail Project investment, North Yorkshire’s most recognisable railway icon was 3D scanned and turned into a computer model by surveyors.

This detailed digital recreation will help engineers make repairs now and closely monitor areas needing any further attention in the future.

Phil James, Network Rail’s North West route director, said: “We’re always looking to innovate on the railway and seeing drones and lasers being used to care for such an historic structure is really impressive.

“I was at Ribblehead viaduct when we started work a week ago and saw for myself the huge scaffolding platforms now in place so my team can improve brickwork, mortar and drainage. Great care and attention is going in to make sure our work is right from a heritage perspective. This digital model plays a major role in that as we secure the Grade II listed-structure’s future for passengers and tourists as part of the Great North Rail Project.”

Network Rail has today (Monday 23 November) released the impressive footage of the Victorian viaduct as realised by the 21st century technology.

A LiDAR survey* was carried out by contractor Commendium in conjunction with heritage consultancy firm Wardell Armstrong.

Ribblehead viaduct is the biggest man-made structure Commendium has ever scanned.

Drone flights also took place as part of the survey taking high definition photographs of the Grade II listed structure.

The data gathered was then used to build up the 3D computer model by Network Rail’s specialist computer aided design (CAD) team.

Richard Walters, chief executive officer for Commendium, said: “We have all known and loved this location for most of our lives, it is even part of our childrens’ cultural awareness with them learning songs about it at school. So to survey it has been a privilege. The resulting LiDAR scan not only shows areas which need repair, but also areas where water could damage the stonework in the future, so leading to other preservation works.”

The maintenance work on Ribblehead viaduct taking place between now and February 2021 involves:

brickwork repairs, removal of vegetation and repairing the damage caused by plants and weeds, upgrades to drainage across the viaduct’s 24 arches and repainting metal and pipework.

No major disruption is expected for passengers using the Settle-Carlisle line during the viaduct's 2020/21 maintenance.

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.”