Sunday, 31 January 2021

ADL and Kiwi Bus Builders welcome New Zealand funding for electric buses

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”), has welcomed the announcement by the New Zealand Government of NZD50 million funding to help councils fully decarbonise their public transport bus fleet by 2035. 

ADL is to build zero emission buses in New Zealand in cooperation with local partner Kiwi Bus Builders, creating jobs and adding value to the local economy.

The funding to be given to councils for the procurement of zero emission buses is part of a series of measures intended to help meet New Zealand’s 2050 carbon neutral target that have been announced by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Transport Minister Michael Wood. By decarbonising the bus fleet, the country aims to prevent up to 4.5 million tonnes of CO2 emissions.

Above and below ADL Enviro200E buses in New Zealand

ADL recently announced that it will assemble zero emission buses locally in New Zealand, renewing a partnership with local manufacturer Kiwi Bus Builders. ADL’s electric buses for New Zealand are part of the BYD ADL Enviro200EV range using latest BYD iron phosphate battery and driveline technology. In addition to two-axle models, 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.

Richard Drummond, Managing Director of Kiwi Bus Builders, said: “We are primed to kick start the partnership, we have already started the process to create apprenticeships, creating jobs and supporting jobs that have been lost due to the coronavirus. This is in line with the New Zealand Government’s plan to build the economy back stronger.”

ADL President & Managing Director, Paul Davies, said: “With a strong track record of innovation and as a member of NFI Group, we are leveraging global expertise in the design and deployment of clean buses while collaborating in close partnership with our customers by tailoring our vehicles to their requirements and assembling them locally. Together with Kiwi Bus Builders, we look forward to helping councils across New Zealand deliver on the Government’s commitments for a sustainable future.”

Saturday, 30 January 2021

Highways England Demolishing & Infilling Railway Assets Without Consideration for Future Use.

The Department for Transport (DfT) has been told to stop Highways England from demolishing and infilling hundreds of decommissioned railway assets that could instead be used by walkers and cyclists or returned to rail use.

The structures are part of the Historical Railways Estate managed by Highways England on behalf of the DfT and comprises 3,800 bridges, tunnels and viaducts, including 77 listed structures.

According to the HRE Group – an alliance of engineers, active travel campaigners and greenway developers – 135 structures are currently at risk of demolition or infilling by Highways England. Click here to see the list, many of which have been earmarked for future use.

In many cases the works to destroy or block these structures are being carried out under so called permitted development powers, rather than applying for planning permission. 
Permitted development powers are designed to be used in emergency situations, covering, for instance, the possibility of immediate collapse.
The structures listed  do not come under these rules, which also require them to be returned to its previous state within six months.

To carry out the first phase of work, Highways England has been given a one-year settlement of £13M for 2021/22.

Some of those assets are already used by walkers, some are earmarked as potential walking and cycling routes and others have been flagged as eligible for the DfT’s ‘Restoring your Railways’ fund, which aims to reopen local rail lines closed under the 1960s Beeching cuts.

In a letter to transport minister Chris Heaton-Harris – and seen by NCE – the group claims that Highways England and its consultant Jacobs are planning to demolish or infill many of these structures despite them being at low risk of collapse.

In fact, in many cases the HRE Group claims that maintaining the assets would be cheaper than demolishing or infilling.

“Whilst [demolition or infilling] options are entirely legitimate in asset management terms, it is a matter of concern that the vast majority of structures identified for inclusion have not first been assessed to determine whether their loss would prejudice the proposed reuse of alignments or compromise routes with clear strategic value,” HRE Group’s letter to Heaton-Harris states.

“The list of 135 schemes currently in development includes many structures with very low risk rankings, suggesting that the programme’s selection criterion is at least partly opportunistic.”

It adds: “It should be recognised that, in many cases, extensive repair will cost less than infilling and deliver similar benefits in respect of risk reduction and the long-term financial burden of maintenance, as would the installation of a steel/concrete arch beneath the original brick/masonry/ironwork to maintain access beneath a span.”

Instead, the HRE Group has called for each scheme to be thoroughly assessed and that only structures deemed as “high risk” should be considered for demolition or infilling.

In response, a Highways England spokesperson confirmed that 130 bridges and structures will be removed or infilled in the next five years.

The spokesperson added that "most" of the structures are over 100 years old.

“To maintain the safety of communities living near to Historic Railway Estate structures, and the drivers who use the roads that cross them, we are planning to infill 115 bridges and remove 15 structures over the next five years," a Highways England spokesperson said.

“Most of the bridges earmarked for infilling are over 100 years old and were never designed to carry the weight of modern traffic.

“Local highway authorities have responsibility for applying weight restrictions, closing the roads, or restricting traffic. Around 200 of the public road bridges managed by HE/HRE have failed their most recent structural assessment (BD21) but haven’t had any restrictions implemented. Therefore, our planned infilling is the safest and most appropriate option and will maintain access across the structure.

“Ten of the 15 removals are abutments which had their bridge span removed several decades ago and no longer serve a purpose.

“We’ve contacted all local authorities affected to advise them of our plans and to see if they have any use for the structures. In addition, we have arranged for seven structures to be transferred to local authorities which aspire to use them for cycle routes.”

Some 54 structures have been earmarked for the first phase, including the controversial abandonment of Queensbury Tunnel in West Yorkshire where £5.2M has already been committed to preparatory works.

It’s understood that 80 further schemes are already being explored. Of the structures that face demolition or infilling, 102 are located in England, 27 in Scotland and five in Wales.

Jacobs will be in charge of overall management of monitoring assets within the estate.

Six firms have also been named on a framework to carry out the works, with each contractor responsible for a specific area of the country. Winners include Balfour Beatty and Dyer & Butler.

Friday, 29 January 2021

Fewer Trains to Run on Scotland’s Railway from Monday 1st February

ScotRail will reduce the number of trains running across the country from Monday (1 February) as the train operator continues to revise the critical service being provided during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The ongoing lockdown restrictions in place are severely reducing the number of people travelling, and the changes being made to the timetable reflect the current demand from customers, while delivering better value for the taxpayer.

This is the second change from the operator in recent weeks, after the number of carriages on services were reduced earlier in January, with customer numbers down by almost 90 per cent compared to the same time last year.

With a focus on continuing to provide a safe and reliable service, particularly for key workers and in support of the vaccination rollout, the number of services is being reduced to 65 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, while delivering 72 per cent of seats. ScotRail has consulted with NHS boards across Scotland to ensure shift patterns for key workers are supported as far as possible.

At a time when businesses throughout the country are working under financial constraints, ScotRail is no different, and making changes in a safe and controlled manner is part of that process. 

The train operator’s ability to fully staff the different areas of the business have also been impacted, including staff having to shield, and others having to self-isolate with increases in positive tests across the country. The suspension of driver training due to the pandemic also means ScotRail is unable to train new drivers or increase the number of routes on which existing drivers can operate.

All changes being made will be constantly reviewed, particularly if there is any change to passenger numbers. This will ensure that physical distancing guidelines can be observed.

The operator is reminding passengers that the law allows only essential journeys on public transport. People who do have to travel by train should follow the five rules for safer travel, including wearing a face covering and maintaining physical distance in stations and on-board trains.

Customers are reminded that they should only be travelling if they meet the criteria set out by the Scottish Government guidelines. Customers should also check their journey before they travel on 1 February, as online systems will still be in the process of being updated.

David Simpson, ScotRail Operations Director, said:

“Everyone across Scotland’s Railway is working incredibly hard to deliver for our customers, and this latest change to our timetable helps us to ensure we keep getting people to where they need to be.

“We have constantly adapted our timetable throughout the pandemic to reflect restrictions in place at any given time, allowing those travelling to be able to rely on ScotRail, and these alterations will again ensure that we deliver that critical service. There will also be minimal change for those currently using our services, as we have matched changes with the current demand.

“Like any business during the pandemic, we need to continue to make sensible financial decisions, and reducing the number of services means a reduction in costs for the taxpayer, while continuing to deliver a safe and reliable rail service.”

Robert Samson, Transport Focus Stakeholder Manager, said:

“Train timetables must still meet the needs of those who have to travel. Many key workers rely on the first and last services of the day so it’s important that these are maintained. Providing enough capacity for those who are travelling to properly social distance remains vital.

“The focus on adapting the timetable to continue to provide a safe and reliable service, particularly for key workers and in support of the vaccination rollout should ensure a train service that passengers can rely on.

“If you do decide to travel I would strongly urge you to plan your journey in advance, allow plenty of time for it, avoid busy times and always follow the safe travel and car sharing guidance. Once you arrive at your destination, check and follow the local restrictions relevant to the area you are in.

Thursday, 28 January 2021

Prentice of Haddington Reduces Carbon Footprint With ADL Enviro200 Low Emission Buses

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”), has announced that it has delivered two Alexander Dennis Enviro200 low emission buses to family-owned Scottish bus operator Prentice of Haddington.

The 10.8m long buses are fitted with ADL’s award-winning SmartPack efficient diesel
technology, developed in-house by the manufacturer, which will assist in reducing the carbon footprint of Prentice of Haddington. 

This saves fuel and reduces emissions by combining engine stop/start and electrically driven cooling fans with the smart management of alternator and air compressor to only charge during vehicle deceleration when they place no additional load on the engine. 

The Enviro200 with SmartPack is certified as a Low Emission Bus by the UK’s Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership.

With 41 fully seatbelted ADL SmartSeats, the new buses provide additional room for social distancing on Prentice’s route 108 that connects the East Lothian county town of Haddington with the Fort Kinnaird shopping centre in Edinburgh. The buses have dedicated wheelchair and buggy bays along with free WiFi and USB charging points at every seat.

Managing Director Ross Prentice said: “We are delighted with these two new Enviro 200 buses. They join 10 Classic models in our fleet and are the perfect solution for our needs.

They operate through the ‘East Lothian Air Quality Management Area’ so it was important that they had as low emissions as possible, which is why we opted for the SmartPack technology.

“We have been a customer of Alexander Dennis and its predecessors for over twenty years and throughout that time the support provided has been second to none and we look forward to a continuing relationship for many years to come.”

Charlie Miller, ADL Sales Account Manager for Scotland & North West England, commented: “With these two new Enviro200 low emission buses, Prentice Coaches again show their commitment to providing the best buses for its customers, who will love the comfortable ADL SmartSeats,
 with Ross and his forward-thinking team continues to be a pleasure and privilege.”

Prentice Coaches was founded in 1991 and provides local bus services, school buses and coach hire. Regular investment in new vehicles – always built to the latest environmental standards as part of a programme to minimise the company’s environmental impact which also includes the exclusive use of rainwater to wash vehicles – and a focus on customer care have seen the company win awards as one of the UK’s top independent bus operators.

Companies and individuals are able to work out their carbon footprints. See here

Wednesday, 27 January 2021

Fourth Boeing 777X Makes its First Flight

It's the anniversary of the the new Boeing 777X making its first flight. On Monday 25th January 2020 the fourth new 777X took off from Paine Field Seattle airport at 10.08.
The plane is the world’s largest and most efficient twin-engine jet, unmatched in every aspect of performance. 

The plane now joins her three 777X stablemates outside Seattle while cabin systems and extended operations get thoroughly run through before the aircraft type begins flying paying passengers in 2022.

According to Boeing "With new breakthroughs in aerodynamics and engines, the 777X will deliver 10 percent lower fuel use and emissions and 10 percent lower operating costs than the competition. 

The 777X offers low-risk, profitable growth, industry-leading reliability and seamless integration with the 777 and 787 Dreamliner families for even more flexibility. 

But performance is just part of the story, with a spacious, wide cabin, new custom architecture and innovations from the 787 Dreamliner, the 777X will deliver the flight experience of the future".

The 777X has folding wing tips. 
The longer wings allow for more efficient in-flight operations, and folding them on the ground means it can access more airports.

The 777X is closer to the capacity of some four-engine aircraft. The A340-600 (the largest A340 variant) offers a two-class capacity of 440. The 747-8 has a typical three-class capacity of 467. 
The capacity and distance gap between four and two engine aircraft has been narrowing for some time. With ETOPS improvements, there are limited areas that twins cannot fly. And with engine improvements, larger airframes are achieving higher capacities.

The GE9X engine used on the 777X is bigger than the 737 fuselage

See video covering of the flight of the 777X here

Tuesday, 26 January 2021


Stagecoach has set out package of proposed partnership measures in Greater Manchester to help the post-Covid acceleration of bus use in the region and act as a trailblazer for other locations across the country.

Britain’s biggest bus and coach operator proposed a two-year programme of measures delivered jointly by the public and private sector to help Greater Manchester’s economy recover from the pandemic.

Stagecoach believes a series of pilot projects in the region could help deliver the planned National Bus Strategy for England, which is due to be published within the next few months, and act as a blueprint to speed up bus use across Britain.

The Department for Transport strategy is expected to include a focus on measures to help tackle greenhouse gas emissions and air quality, deliver better passenger information, innovative new services, fares and ticketing initiatives and an extension of bus priority to speed up journeys.

Before Covid, buses accounted for around 50% of all journeys on public transport, with over 4 billion journeys a year made by bus in England. In Greater Manchester, some 75% of all public transport journeys have continued to be made by bus despite the pandemic. This reflects the critical role of buses locally in helping people access jobs, education, training and essential public services.

But car use has returned rapidly in regions around the country and, despite the latest lockdown measures, is at 57% of pre-Covid levels, compared with 27% for bus use1. As the UK gets ready to host the COP 26 climate change summit in November, the focus is now turning to how more people can be convinced to swap the car for public transport and active travel.

One double decker bus can take up to 75 cars off the road and a 1% switch from cars would increase bus use by 12% or more. In Greater Manchester, around 1.2 billion car trips were made every year by residents before the pandemic. A 1% switch to bus could reduce congestion in the region by 12 million car trips a year, helping deliver faster journeys and cleaner air.

Stagecoach believes Greater Manchester should be the pilot for an integrated package of joint interventions and investments that can deliver national and regional government objectives. The programme proposed by Stagecoach to help kickstart a rapid growth in bus use includes:
A combined public and private sector ‘Partnership Board’, chaired by the Mayor to develop bus improvement plans in the Greater Manchester city region.
Faster bus journeys in the city centre through bus infrastructure improvements such as:
traffic light improvements at Crown Point, and on Ashton Old Road and the A6 through Salford.
improved road junctions on Stockport Road West in Bredbury, New Bailey Street/Bridge Street in the city centre, Hindley centre and Mottram Moor.

Delivering cleaner air through:
an accelerated roll out of more electric buses and associated depot infrastructure
offering green mobility credits2 to city centre car users to incentivise bus use and encourage people to reduce unnecessary car trips

Making buses easier to access by expanding flexible ticket options to reflect changed travel patterns during Covid-19, simplifying fare types and further integrating bus tickets with tram.
Better connected communities by expanding Stagecoach’s successful Stagecoach Connect demand responsive transport solution in Sale and Altrincham with connections through to Manchester Airport.
Improved end-to-end journeys by testing first and last-mile extensions to the bus network using e-bikes and e-scooters in Ordsall, Salford Quays and Media City, with journeys purchased in one transaction. This would also include expanding bus depot facilities to accommodate e-bike and e-scooters.
Clearer customer information through a common platform for all timetable and real time journey data across the region.

These measures would be supported by a proactive joint bus marketing campaign, both to rebuild consumer confidence and to promote the wider green credentials of travelling by public transport.

Stagecoach said the blueprint could be delivered as part of a Recovery Partnership approach, which is supported by the UK Government and which involve an agreement between local transport authorities and bus operators. Ring-fenced funding would focus on passenger improvements, there would be clear objectives for all parties, and the approach would have the flexibility to deliver local solutions to tackle local priorities.

Lee Wasnidge, Managing Director of Stagecoach Manchester, said: “There is a huge opportunity for the bus to drive a re-energised country coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic. We’ve seen in 2020 what our country can achieve when we all pull together. We can build on that spirit of partnership as we move forward in 2021 and beyond.

“As the UK Government looks to finalise its National Bus Strategy, we believe an innovative package of partnership initiatives in Greater Manchester, one of the most important regions in the country, can show the way to boost bus use across the country.

“More electric buses, mobility credits incentives, and new innovative on-demand services to meet people’s changing lifestyles, combined with better infrastructure and more bus priority, can deliver greener and more connected towns and cities.

“This comprehensive approach will not only help Greater Manchester truly deliver on its huge potential, it is a blueprint for other regions to accelerate bus use and build more sustainable communities.”

Buses have huge potential to drive a greener, smarter, and fairer Greater Manchester. Across the North West of England, Stagecoach already delivers £286m a year in value to the region's economy as well as supporting a total of around 6,000 direct and indirect jobs. Over the past five years, Stagecoach Manchester has invested more than £37million in new buses and services, including the region’s first double decker electric buses representing one of the biggest single investments in electric buses anywhere in Europe. Stagecoach recently announced that it is targeting a zero-emission UK bus fleet by 2035.

Monday, 25 January 2021

£1.7 Billion Order for Bombardier in Derby

A CONSORTIUM led by Bombardier Transportation has confirmed a deal with the Egyptian Government to build two new monorails, with the support of a guarantee from the British government which is worth £1.7 billion.

The funding will allow a monorail car production line to be created at Litchurch Lane in Derby.

The monorail cars will be the first rail vehicles to be built at Derby for export since Bombardier supplied the Gautrain fleet for lines in the Johannesburg area, based on the Electrostar series, more than a decade ago.

International trade secretary Liz Truss said the government guarantee will support highly skilled jobs in Derby. The monorail production line will need 100 staff, and create more jobs in the supply chain, much of which is based in the East Midlands.

The news came as the UK hosted the Africa Investment Conference, the first of its kind since the UK left the European Union.

Liz Truss said: ‘Trade is an incredibly powerful way to propel growth and create jobs as we recover from the pandemic. This deal shows why we are so determined to get businesses to grasp these opportunities and take advantage of the support available from Government.

‘One third of our economy is exports. That’s why support from our export credit agency is vital. It can help the UK get a bigger slice of the global economic pie, secure jobs across the country and make the most of our newfound independence as a trading nation.’

The president of Bombardier Transportation in the UK and Ireland Matt Byrne added: ‘The Cairo Monorail export win, against international competition, shows that that the UK rail sector can fight and win in key growth markets such as sustainable transport.’

The deal has been completed just a few days before Alstom completes its acquisition of Bombardier on 29 January.

Sunday, 24 January 2021

Ten Caetano Fuel Cell buses for ESWE Wiesbaden & Caetano Success in London for New Electric Fleet

Caetano has reported its first major order from a major German city. ESWE, Wiesbaden’s municipal public transport company, has ordered ten “H 2.City Gold” hydrogen buses of the type . The buses are scheduled for delivery in the fourth quarter of 2021.

A first order for H 2.City Gold vehicles was received last year from North Friesland. Two Caetano City Gold hydrogen buses will be delivered to the DB subsidiary “Autokraft” as part of the “eFarm project” in the Niebüll region. 
Four more Caetano hydrogen buses were ordered by “moBiel”, the transport subsidiary of Stadtwerke Bielefeld, just a few weeks ago. Another Caetano “H 2.City Gold” was recently on test at Regionalverkehr Köln.  

Until recently Caetano was only known in Germany as a coachbuilder using chassis of well-known large manufacturers, like the Mercedes-Benz O 510 Tourino midi coach, which was based on a chassis from the Mercedes factory in Sámano, Spain, and for which Caetano supplied the body.

Now Caetano also supplies complete buses on its own Caetano floor chassis. One example  is the city bus series “City Gold” with “H 2.City Gold” Also offering this bus with hydrogen propulsion and with it the Portuguese manufacturer is increasingly becoming more and more successful in Germany.

The ten 12-metre long two-door buses will be used on Wiesbaden’s lines 16 and 17. They will have fuel cells from Toyota and batteries with a capacity of 44 kWh. 
Propulsion will be provided by a Siemens electric motor with a nominal power of 180 kW. The tank storage capacity is 37.5 kg of hydrogen, which gives the buses a range of more than 400 kilometres. (248 miles)

Two bus routes convert to fully electric operation using Caetano e.City Gold at Abellio London.

Abellio London are operating a fleet of 34 Caetano e.City Gold zero emission buses on London routes C10 and P5. The new Caetano buses are helping improve air quality across south London, supporting the Mayor of London’s commitment to improve the city’s air quality and help towards being a step nearer to total zero-emission vehicles on the UK’s roads.

The 10.7m Caetano e.City Gold are fully compliant with TfL’s latest specification delivering a step change in safety, driver and passenger comfort, including a number of features from the rigorous TfL bus Safety Standard such as a Camera Monitoring Systems to replace traditional wing mirrors, Intelligent Speed Assist, Acoustic Vehicle Alert System and a revised front design to improve pedestrian and vulnerable road user safety. The Caetano e.City Gold is a 100% electric urban bus that includes zero emission heating.

Positive feedback on the Caetano electric buses from Abellio’s drivers and operations team has been highly appreciated, describing the buses as “magic”, “a dream to drive” and “so cool”. Just as important were the comments from passengers including, being very pleased about their experience, one describing the Caetano buses as “amazing”, “spacious” and “very nice”.

Abellio’s Twitter has also received phenomenal feedback including such comments as “10/10 for comfort!” and “I really love the C10 & P5s Caetano e.Golds!”.

The project also represents a proud and significant moment for Caetano as it marks the first use of Caetano’s electric buses in the United Kingdom, a strategic market for CaetanoBus, where it has been supplying buses and coaches for more than 50-years.

Caetano is also providing a maintenance contract as part of the support package for Abellio, as well as fully supporting local delivery of a full aftercare support and spare parts to all Caetano vehicles sold in UK.

“Abellio is delighted to become the first operator of the Caetano e.City Gold in the UK, allowing the conversion of two bus routes in London to full electric operation. The vehicles have been well received by staff and provide a quality solution for future use as we move to convert the fleet to zero emissions” – said Tony Wilson, Managing Director at Abellio London.

“TfL and Abellio are committed to improving air quality and bus safety in London. We are very honoured to contribute to this forward-looking commitment through the delivery of our electric buses” – said CaetanoBus Sales Director, Kohei Umeno.

Saturday, 23 January 2021

First Bus Shows Commitment to Environment with Milestone Retrofit Achievement and New Appointment

First Bus, has announced that it has reached a significant milestone in its air quality retrofit programme, completing the refit of 1,000 buses across its UK network with new exhaust systems and e-Fans to comply with Euro VI emission requirements.

The £16m retrofitting programme has been successfully delivered in partnership with the Joint Air Quality Unit of the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) and the Department for Transport (DfT), Transport Scotland, local authorities and suppliers - Eminox, HJS and Grayson. This has involved significant financial investment and time commitment from First Bus and government departments.

The milestone has been completed in just over two years and the 1,000th bus was retrofitted in Manchester. Alongside scheduling challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, First Bus has worked hard to ensure that operations have continued with limited interruption to customers during the retrofitting programme.

John Dowie, First Bus Strategy Director, said, “We are committed to doing everything we can to make our buses as environmentally friendly as they can be for the communities we serve. We’re proud to have achieved this milestone at the turn of the year, highlighting the ongoing work of our engineering teams. We estimate that each retrofit reduces air pollutants and harmful emissions by up to 95%, and this makes a considerable positive impact to air quality for our towns and cities. Bus services will be a fundamental part of economic recovery as the UK starts to emerge from the pandemic.”

The milestone has been reached at a critical point for First Bus, following their commitment to operate a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035, and their pledge not to purchase any new diesel buses after December 2022. In the past 12 months the operator has introduced several new bus models powered by diesel alternatives to their UK fleet. These include hydrogen-powered, bio-methane-fuelled, and electric buses. Retrofit investment is an important step which ensures the vehicles’ full lifecycles are utilised while reducing emissions. This helps support longer term clean air ambitions.

First Bus’s dedication to first class environmental performance has been bolstered further through the appointment of Jon Tivey as Head of Environment. Jon joins the operator with wide-ranging experience of managing environmental programmes, having previously advised the Olympics and Gatwick Airport. Jon will focus on supporting the operator’s ambitions to deliver best-in-class environmental performance across all areas of its business, working in collaboration with key internal and external stakeholders.

Jon Tivey, Head of Environment at First Bus said: “First Bus has been on the trajectory towards a zero-emission bus fleet for a few years and I’ve joined at an exciting time for the business and the industry as we look to decarbonise public transport and significantly contribute to the green recovery. The retrofitting milestone is a great reminder that the environment is an ongoing focus for the business. The retrofitting programme is one way in which we can significantly reduce harmful emissions on our roads. I am particularly looking forward to using my experience in improving performance in all aspects of the environment over the long term, and working closely with colleagues, our supply chain, client/partners, and importantly our customers to achieve our ambitions.”

Friday, 22 January 2021

Leeds Platform 0 is Open and Ready for Business

Network Rail has completed a brand-new platform, Platform 0, at Leeds station.

The new platform will mean major improvements to passenger journeys by providing more trains, more seats and fewer delays due to an improved track layout, allowing trains to enter and exit Leeds station more easily.

Work on the £161million investment began back in 2018 and the final touches were carried out by hundreds of Network Rail workers between the last service on Christmas Eve and early morning on Sunday, 27 December.

Over the 2.5 days, final work to the overhead lines, track and signalling systems took place, as well as rigorous testing to make sure the platform was ready for train services.

The platform initially will be available for trains to use during times of disruption, helping to minimise delays for passengers, and will see timetabled services call there next year.

Matt Rice, Route Director for Network Rail’s North and East Route, said: “Over the last two years, we have invested heavily into Leeds railway station to create a transport hub which the city can be proud of and which offers a warm welcome to visitors.

“The completion of the platform is a huge part of this work and will make journeys more punctual and reliable for all those travelling to, from or through Leeds. The platform will help to make things easier during times of disruption, meaning fewer delays for passengers and getting them on the move again more quickly.”

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The completion of Platform 0 is an important milestone in improving Leeds railway station as a key transport hub. It will enhance the region’s infrastructure and is a boost for the north.

“I want to say a huge thank you to the hundreds of Network Rail engineers who worked tirelessly over the festive period to complete this platform, which will improve punctuality and reliability for passengers for years to come.”

Tony Baxter, Regional Director at Northern said: “The creation of Platform 0 is vital for our plans to increase capacity and provide improved services for our customers. Our aim is to make a positive impact for the north of England and the improvements carried out at Leeds will help us achieve this. I would like to thank everyone who has been involved in the project, including Network Rail who carried out the work.”

Cllr Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, said: “Completing Platform 0 is extremely positive news for Leeds and the wider region, because it is a step towards securing the improved regional and national connectivity we so desperately need to better connect our towns and cities, and boost our economic recovery.

“The increased capacity on the rail network that Platform 0 provides means more people will travel through our city station. This demonstrates the importance of our partnership work under the Leeds Integrated Station Masterplan to improve the station experience for the benefit of current and future rail users.”

Cllr Kim Groves, Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, said: “Investment to improve capacity and punctuality at Leeds station is important not just to the city and West Yorkshire but also impacts on the reliability of services across the North of England and the national rail network. I look forward to passengers seeing the positive impact of Platform 0 on their journeys in the coming year.”

Matt Gillen, a Civil Engineer who authorised the upgrades from the Office of Rail and Road, said: “We were pleased to assist Network Rail and approve these important upgrades; bringing a new Platform 0 in to operation and the upgrade of Platform 1. 
Despite some work remaining, we recognised the importance of improving operations at Leeds station and ultimately for passengers when they come into use in May 2021. 
This will make it easier for trains to enter and exit the station and provide more reliable journeys thanks to the improved track layout.”

To allow for the construction of Platform 0, the long-stay car park has been closed since late 2018. Network Rail plans to reopen the car park in Spring 2021.


Thursday, 21 January 2021

East Midlands Railways Unveils Newly Designed Seats for Forthcoming State-of-the-art Aurora Fleet

Passengers travelling on East Midlands Railway’s (EMR) new class 810 Aurora trains will be able to sit back and relax thanks to unique seats specifically designed for the company’s new fleet.

Working closely with Derby-based design firm DGDESIGN, EMR has taken the proven product of a FISA Lean seat and refined it to offer enhanced comfort and support. It has also improved the appearance to match what they believe customers expect from an InterCity service seat.

The seat rework has included increasing the size of cushions, headrests and armrests and making sure that high quality durable materials are used throughout, such as a wool-rich moquette and leather.

At the same time, EMR has also ensured the seats include all the practical and technological features that customers require, such as power and USB points, generous legroom, coat hooks , well-sized seat-back tables for all airline seats and space to stow a cabin-bag under each seat.

Rachel Turner, Head of New Trains at East Midlands Railway, said: “We know the FISA seat has a good level of comfort, but we wanted to further enhance this by providing additional support in key areas, developing something that looks comfortable, inviting, and unique to EMR. All this has been done whilst ensuring we still meet the latest seat safety standards.

“Our customers are used to large comfortable seats, as found in our Meridian trains, so we wanted to maintain this character but go even further.

“It has taken a lot of work but we are delighted with the final product, not only are they comfortable to sit in and look refined, but they are also easy to keep clean and include all the features passengers should expect from a new generation of trains.”

David Gordon, Director at DGDESIGN, said: “After safety and punctuality, seat comfort is probably the most important customer requirement and therefore a key focus for our interior design work, with every effort being made to optimise the at-seat experience by further enhancing an already proven seat system.

“Headrests have improved lateral support for added comfort and privacy, cushions have been widened, armrests are softer and deeper, additional privacy screening has been introduced and upholstery detailing has been refined to improve aesthetics and cleanability.”

EMR's new InterCity fleet, which will be able to run on electricity and diesel, will be built by Hitachi Rail in County Durham and financed by Rock Rail East Midlands.

Mike Kean, Chief Originations Officer at Rock Rail, said “Comfortable seating plays a key part in delivering great passenger travelling experiences. We are delighted that the new Aurora seats will help transform passenger journeys together with the many other improved passenger, operational and environmental features of this state-of-the-art fleet.”

Amy Webb, Head of Programmes – Commuter, Hitachi Rail, said: “Hitachi is excited to be working with EMR to deliver the new Aurora Fleet for its passengers. As today’s announcement underlines, Aurora passengers can expect to benefit from a comfortable journey, with more capacity and a new, modern interior.

“The manufacturing of the trains is also benefiting over 75 suppliers across the UK – a number that will continue to rise – and will also support hundreds of jobs at Hitachi Rail’s factory in County Durham.”

When it enters service in 2023, Aurora will offer significant advances on the existing fleet, with passengers benefiting from more seats and modern interiors.

The trains will also include features that passengers have said they want to see, including air conditioning, free WiFi throughout, plug sockets and better passenger information screens.

EMR have ordered a completely new fleet of 33 five-car Class 810 Hitachi bi-mode electric + diesel trains for the InterCity services between St Pancras and Nottingham, Derby and Sheffield.
They will replace a mix of ageing diesel HSTs and Class 222 Meridian DEMUs. Hitachi will also be responsible for maintaining and servicing the fleet at EMR’s existing Etches Park depot in Derby.

The Class 810 EMR units will be an ‘evolution’ of the AT300 design supplied to other UK operators, with 24 m long vehicles rather than 26 m, and a slightly modified nose profile. Each five-car set will have four underfloor diesel generator modules rather than the three used in the Class 800 and 802s. Abellio expects the units to operate ‘regularly’ in 10-car formations, providing increased seating capacity.

Wednesday, 20 January 2021

Denmark, Luxembourg & Netherlands Lead the Way on Emission-free Buses

Denmark leads the way when it comes to putting zero-emission urban buses on the streets in Europe, with 78% of new vehicles being electric, according to the latest data from green NGO Transport & Environment. 

In Luxembourg and the Netherlands about two-thirds of new buses were zero-emissions. T&E said other EU countries now have a chance to catch up by including emissions-free buses in the Covid recovery plans they must submit to the European Commission by the end of April.

In Sweden, Norway and Finland, respectively 26%, 24%, and 23% of urban buses registered in 2019 were zero-emission (electric or hydrogen). Worryingly, Italy, Poland, Germany, the UK, Spain and France, which buy 70% of the urban buses sold in Europe, lag behind. 
In 2019, less than 10% of their newly-registered urban buses were electric or hydrogen.

Germany took a significant step forward in 2020 though and is now financing 80% of the higher purchase cost of e-buses. And Poland announced that in cities with populations of 100,000 or more, all public transport will be fully electric by 2030, and allocated €290m to support this objective.

But more member states need to step up, and T&E said the EU’s €750 billion Covid recovery fund is a clear way to finance e-bus deployment. This will be essential for the countries at the bottom of the table: Austria and Ireland registered no zero-emission urban buses in 2019, while in Switzerland and Greece less than 4% of new buses were emissions free.

James Nix, freight manager at Transport & Environment, said: “Urban bus fleets drive millions of kilometers every year. If we want to decarbonise our cities, these vehicles must become emissions free as soon as possible. Nordic states, Luxembourg and the Netherlands are showing how to put e-buses on the road. 
Other countries, especially those buying a lot of buses, like Italy, Spain and France, and those at the very start of the transition, such as Austria, need to step it up.”

T&E also today publishes a report identifying five key steps to get e-buses on the road, starting with political leadership and financial support. For example, the Dutch government specified in 2016 that all newly-procured buses must be zero-emission from 2025, and from 2030, all buses in use must be zero-emissions. And as part of the public procurement process, bus contracts should be awarded only to operators meeting or exceeding these targets.

James Nix concluded: “Zero-emission urban buses help us combat air pollution, tackle climate change, reduce noise and cheaper total costs than diesel buses over their lifetime. EU member states must ensure the Covid recovery plans they are currently writing fund the replacement of fossil buses with zero-emission ones.”