Sunday 28 February 2021

Antimicrobial Coating That Protects Surfaces From Spread of Coronavirus For Up to a Year, Applied to a Fleet of 24 Brand New MAN Buses

 VT-Arriva, the Hungarian arm of one Europe’s largest public transport companies, recently inked a fresh deal with Resysten, a company that manufactures an antimicrobial coating that protects surfaces from the spread of coronavirus for up to a year, to apply its product to a fleet of 24 brand new MAN buses. The deal follows a prior one in 2020, in which Resysten was hired to coat a fleet of 450 buses.

ATP tests were carried out on the brand new buses ahead of the application of Resysten’s coating (and before they were used by the public), and once again 48 days after its application, following extensive use in Hungary’s transit networks. The tests showed a reduction of 97% in the presence of pathogens on surfaces including ticketing machines, driver cabins, steering wheels, handles, doors and windows, highlighting Resysten’s astonishing performance on public vehicles fresh out of the factory.

Resysten is the most advanced photocatalytic hygienic coating in the world today. Upon contact with light, the sprayed solution produces hydrogen peroxide, which prevents the presence of pathogens on any surface. It has been developed to integrate into any surface on a molecular level, meaning that it cannot be removed by conventional cleaning methods and so it remains active for up to a year. These two key properties result in surfaces that protect users and their environment from the spread of contamination.

The product was Initially developed in Budapest in 2014 to stop the spread of hospital acquired infections and flu outbreaks in public transport networks. Since March 2020, at the beginning of the lockdown, the company prioritised extensive testing to discover that it is also effective against the spread of Covid-19.

Early adopters include Budapest’s airport and Metro transport network (including all 27km of its escalator handrail) as well as Hungary’s public hospitals. Resysten’s latest customers also include Audi, Auchan, T-Mobile, Mylan Pharmaceutical, Philip Morris International, Stadler, Cognizant, Europart and the Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague.

To date, the company has treated a total 150,000 square metres of surfaces, and has struck partnerships in 35 countries around the world.

For more information about Resysten Protective Coatings please visit

Saturday 27 February 2021

Luton Dart Latest

Construction of the pioneering Luton DART that will provide faster, more reliable and greener seamless transfers between Luton Parkway Station and London Luton Airport has reached a major milestone with work under way to install its passenger carriages

​The fast transit’s energy-efficient, cable-hauled propulsion system is already in place, and now the carriages are being carefully lifted onto the guide rails.

The trains will then shortly be seen moving for the first time along the 2.1km route between the terminal and Luton Airport Parkway station, on their way to the maintenance units for works to prepare them for service.

The Luton DART is being delivered by Luton Council’s airport company London Luton Airport Ltd (LLAL) to provide a step change in the passenger experience for train customers travelling to and from the airport on fast East Midlands and Thameslink services, and support ongoing modal shift from road to rail.

Scheduled to open during 2022, ongoing restrictions permitting, it will enable rail journeys of just half an hour between London Luton Airport and St Pancras International by the fastest trains.

Graham Olver, Chief Executive Officer of LLAL, said: “The Luton DART brings a new competitive advantage to our airport’s position in the London system, supports the ongoing prosperity it brings to our town and the region, and demonstrates our ambition to become the greenest as well as the number one community airport in the UK.

“Latest photos and video from the site confirm the amazing progress that has been made throughout an extremely challenging year.”

Councillor Andy Malcolm, Chair of LLAL and Luton Council’s portfolio holder for finance, said: “It is without doubt the biggest and most complex construction project that either the council or LLAL have undertaken to date, and a key part of our long-term goal for 45 per cent of passengers to access the airport by public transport.

“For the project to be so far advanced in the midst of a pandemic is an incredible effort by everyone involved and testament to the importance of this project not just for our airport but also for our town.”

Despite significant challenges posed by coronavirus, safe working on the Luton DART has continued throughout 2020 by the main contractors Volker Fitzpatrick-Kier (VFK) and Doppelmayr.

More than 1,800 people, including 620 within Luton and a 20-mile radius, have already worked around 1.4 million hours on the scheme. The Luton DART has employed 38 apprentices and, through its industry-leading construction skills hub, provided bespoke training for more than 720 people to gain work experience and qualifications that will help them enter the construction industry.

At the heart of the construction are the steel guide rails, now fully installed and comprising 8km of running rails secured with more than 5,700 post-drill anchors.

The propulsion system at DART’s Parkway station is powered by two 3.8m diameter drive wheels weighing around 12 tonnes each. The 4km cables wrap around drums weighing 23 tonnes each, with the gearbox assembly units tipping the scales at an additional nine tonnes.

Network Rail continues to work on construction of the new overbridge, escalators and canopies at Luton Airport Parkway station that will allow train passengers to easily continue the next phase of their journey. Hoardings placed on the platforms for the duration of these works will soon be removed, and work will continue cladding the bridge and constructing a new waiting shelter.

This clears the way for VFK to start the scheme’s final major building work, constructing the link building between the DART and mainline stations at Parkway.

Installation of the fully-equipped central control room will also complete this month, with its power distribution and control systems comprising two 11kV transformers and switch panels.

All told, the system’s cabling amounts to some 57km: comprising 12km of fibre optics; 16km of power conductors; 4km of earthing cables; and a further 25km of signal cables along the track and in both stations.

Cllr Malcolm added: “The Luton DART underlines our commitment to invest in our airport so we can continue to drive economic and employment growth for the town and the region, reduce our environmental impact and improve people’s lives with the support of the vital community partners that we fund.

“In this way the Luton DART will make a tremendous difference not only to our airport’s passengers but also the communities that rely on its success.”

See our previous posting here  and click here for video fly through of the route as at Jan 2021

Friday 26 February 2021

RMT Strike Action to Force Overtime Payments Increase

The RMT’s plan for strike action by ScotRail conductors to force an increase in overtime payments is wrong for staff at a time of financial crisis for the railway, ScotRail has said.

Despite all ScotRail jobs being protected thanks to emergency Scottish Government support, with no staff placed on furlough or any cuts to basic wages or terms and conditions, the RMT is balloting conductors for strike action in an attempt to force an increase in overtime payments. 
The ballot began on 18th February 2021 and runs until 11 March 2021.

ScotRail is currently facing the most significant crisis in its history. Passenger numbers and revenue remain more than 90 per cent down compared to before the pandemic. Coronavirus restrictions, including the instruction for people to work from home, has resulted in the number of people travelling with ScotRail to plummet.

An emergency measures agreement (EMA) with the Scottish Government means ScotRail can continue to operate services for key workers and keep its 5,200 staff in jobs. Between March and September 2020, the Scottish Government invested an additional £215million in subsidy to allow ScotRail to operate a service for key workers and pay staff wages. Further additional subsidy will be needed to support the services that the organisation provides until the current EMA ends on 31 March 2021.

RMT bosses moved the goal posts on this matter in recent weeks. Having first claimed to be in dispute with ScotRail over ‘top-up payments’, the RMT then changed the reason for the dispute to an entirely new claim that hadn’t been raised through the formal negotiating process.

ScotRail said that cancellations to services relied upon by doctors, nurses, care workers, and other key workers are likely if the RMT follows through on its proposed course of action.

David Simpson, ScotRail Operations Director, said:

“The RMT is jeopardising the jobs of thousands of railway workers.

“Strike action over increases in overtime payments would be wrong for staff and passengers when the railway faces the biggest financial crisis in its history and is almost entirely reliant on emergency taxpayer and public support to pay wages and keep people in jobs.

“Industrial action will only result in further questions about the justification for the funding that we are receiving and negative reaction from our passengers, which puts jobs at risk.

“Rather than creating division and making the railway a less attractive option for passengers, we need everyone to work together to rebuild ScotRail and create a more sustainable railway for the future.”

Thursday 25 February 2021

Short-wheelbase Option of BYD ADL Enviro400EV Electric Double Decker Announced

Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) and BYD UK have jointly announced that their electric vehicle partnership, the UK’s leading electric bus producer, is introducing a shorter version of its successful BYD ADL Enviro400EV double decker.

With its more compact wheelbase, the 10.3m long model will increase manoeuvrability when navigating congested roads and tight corners.

ADL is a subsidiary of leading independent global bus manufacturer NFI Group Inc. (NFI), while BYD is a global leader in batteries, energy management and electric mobility. 
The partnership launched the double deck BYD ADL Enviro400EV in 2019, enabling the electrification of busy bus services. Over 450 of the standard 10.8m version have since been sold to operators in London and other UK cities.

Operators will now have the option of a new version that is just 10.3m long. This new length is achieved with a wheelbase that has been shortened by 50cm to a compact 5.4m, which benefits manoeuvrability in challenging inner-city routes such as in those found in London.

BYD’s dedicated R&D team in the UK has been responsible for the rapid development of the new 10.3m chassis, meeting the requirements of the UK government in its commitment to bring bespoke zero-emissions transport to the nation’s towns and cities. 
They worked in close collaboration with ADL’s body engineers, who ensured that the battery placement gives optimum weight distribution, while ample power remains available to deliver a full day’s operation.

A demonstrator will be available from the second half of 2021 for operators to trial on their routes.

Paul Davies, ADL President & Managing Director, said: “As bus companies across the United Kingdom make the switch to electric buses with support from national and local government, the BYD ADL partnership is preparing to ‘Build it in Britain’ with complete assembly of electric buses in our facilities here in the country, where it will benefit our local communities, develop skills and secure jobs here in the UK. 
The new, short-wheelbase option for our electric double decker further ensures operators can rely on us to deliver the buses they need, tailored to their requirements and backed up with best-in-class aftermarket support.”

Managing Director at BYD UK, Frank Thorpe, said, “This latest double deck model demonstrates the close collaboration between BYD and ADL in the UK, and our ability to develop vehicles which meet demands of more and more operators wishing to transition to electrification. 
The new 10.3m model offers a no-compromise specification for Public Transport Operators with high passenger volumes on congested and restricted route profiles. 
Above all,” he said,” the BYD ADL Enviro400EV provides passengers with a very safe, quiet, comfortable and emissions-free public transport solution.”

Wednesday 24 February 2021

Great Northern Railway ‘Atlantic’ Locomotive no.251 & Green Arrow Take Centre Stage at New Doncaster Museum

Two locomotives built in Doncaster have returned home, thanks to a partnership arrangement between the National Railway Museum and Doncaster Council.

Great Northern Railway ‘Atlantic’ locomotive no.251 built at Doncaster Plant in 1902, was the first exhibit to be formally announced for the town’s Danum Gallery, Library and Museum.

After 45 years in service, No. 251 retired in 1947. The locomotive returned to steam in preservation once in 1953 to celebrate the centenary of the Doncaster Plant Works.

Credit: Charlotte Graham

The locomotive will take centre stage in an exciting new rail heritage centre alongside LNER V2 No. 4771 Green Arrow which has also arrived back into Doncaster for the new Danum Gallery and Museum, nearly 75 years since it left Doncaster Works.

4771 Green Arrow joins No. 251 in the museum thanks to a partnership between Doncaster Council and the National Railway Museum.

The heritage centre will be a ‘must see’ exhibition when it opens later in 2021 with two steam locomotives together with artefacts from the Doncaster Grammar School Railway Collection. Other fascinating items which celebrate the importance of rail for Doncaster will also be exhibited.

Credit: Charlotte Graham

Displayed on purpose-built rail tracks, people will be able to view through a virtual tour of the building which will go live in March prior to the building being opened for the public to get up close with exhibits later in the year. All opening plans are subject to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The locomotives will remain part of the national collection and will be loaned to the museum as static exhibits for an initial three-year period.

Ros Jones, Mayor of Doncaster, said: “Danum Gallery, Library and Museum is going to be a wonderful community asset where local people and visitors to Doncaster can learn and explore a stunning selection of exhibits that celebrate our past, present and future. 
These locomotives are the first of many gems we will be revealing through a virtual tour in March, with the building opening its doors for people to explore later in the year, subject to the Covid-19 pandemic of course.”

Credit: Charlotte Graham

Cllr Nigel Ball, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Leisure and Culture, said: “It’s a real honour to welcome the two Doncaster-built locomotives into our superb new Danum Gallery, Library and Museum. Doncaster is, and always will be, a rail town so it is fitting that we have two locomotives built at our famous plant works as the showcase attractions in what will be an incredibly enlightening rail heritage centre.

“We are delighted the National Railway Museum has supported us and I can’t wait to see these two classic locomotives on display. Packed with many never-been-seen-before rail exhibits, the rail heritage centre, like the whole building, is going to be a real treat for residents and visitors. As a past worker at The Plant in the early '80s I am really excited about this and what this means for Doncaster.”

Andrew McLean, Assistant Director and Head Curator at the National Railway Museum, said: “We are thrilled to be working alongside Doncaster Council to share the stories of these fascinating locomotives. Although iconic in their own merits, for them to return to where they were built is truly special.”

Danum Gallery, Library and Museum is in Doncaster’s Civic and Cultural Quarter on the site of the former Doncaster High School.

It’s one of a number of council-led regeneration schemes helping to transform Doncaster town centre and benefit the whole borough.

The locomotive arrived at the new heritage centre on Sunday morning after travelling 90 miles via lorry from its current home at Locomotion in Shildon, County Durham. Here a team of specialist conservators and rail operations staff successfully manoeuvred the historic locomotive into place.

The move was carried out under social distancing and following Covid-19 guidance.

The Friends of Doncaster Museum have assisted in the loan of the locomotives and their continued hard work and contributions to the Museum are very much appreciated.

See a video of Green Arrow arriving at the new museum here

More information is available at: 
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Tuesday 23 February 2021

£296,000 For North Yorkshire Moors Railway From Government’s £1.57 Billion Culture Recovery Fund

North Yorkshire Moors Railway has received a Capital Kickstart Fund award of £296,000 from the Government’s £1.57 billion Culture Recovery Fund for their Yorkshire’s Magnificent Journey (YMJ) project that has been delayed as a result of the pandemic.

This is one of the latest grants, awarded by the National Lottery Heritage Fund, on behalf of the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, and builds on over £1 billion awarded to a huge range of cultural and heritage organisations from the Culture Recovery Fund last year.

Ambitious projects at 22 heritage organisations, including North Yorkshire Moors Railway will benefit from £13.5 million in targeted grants allocated by the National Lottery Heritage Fund to restart planned work that now face delays or increased costs.

The impact of Covid-19 has meant the NYMR has had to defer some of its Yorkshire’s Magnificent Journey match funding. This Capital Kickstart Award means that it can now continue and fulfil one of the major elements of the project and continue the renewal of Goathland Station bridges. 

Bridges 24 & 25 will be replaced January 2022. The YMJ project enables the NYMR to preserve the railway for future generations to enjoy.

Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said: “From restoring Georgian lidos and Roman baths to saving local screens and synagogues, our Culture Recovery Fund is helping to save the places people can’t wait to get back to, when it is safe to do so.

“All over the country, this funding is protecting the venues that have shaped our history and make us proud of our communities, whilst safeguarding the livelihoods of the people that work in them.”

Chris Price, General Manager at NYMR comments: “Our spirits have been completely lifted thanks to news that we’ve successfully been awarded this additional grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund’s Culture Recovery Fund.

“Just last month we announced that our own emergency appeal to raise vital funds from the loss during the pandemic raised an incredible £440,000. These funds helped retain our people and ensured that the railway could operate in the future.

“We knew however, that although we had overcome such an enormous hurdle that more was needed to keep projects like Yorkshire’s Magnificent Journey (YMJ) steaming ahead which is how the Capital Kickstart Award will support us.

“This project is significantly important as in addition to the major restorations of the Goathland Station bridges it enables us to continue with building our conservation and heritage apprenticeship programmes, our lineside ecological conservation work, offer fuss free access for disabled visitors, grow our learning offer at Pickering and Goathland, and of course reach out to individuals, groups and communities to share our passion for the history of the region through steam travel.

“From the whole team at the railway, and all 300,000 of our annual visitors thank you!”

Ros Kerslake, Chief Executive, National Lottery Heritage Fund, said: “These are all ongoing major refurbishment and restoration projects, funded by us, which have been threatened by the pandemic. From the oldest surviving outdoor swimming baths to a Victorian pier, and from a much-loved park to an historic abbey, these are all places that will enrich hundreds of lives when they reopen. We are delighted this extra funding from the Culture Recovery Fund will ensure that these exciting projects will go ahead.”

The National Lottery Heritage Fund, along with the BFI, Historic England and Arts Council England, are currently assessing applications for the remaining £400 million in funding from the Culture Recovery Fund, which was held back to allow the Government to support organisations through the Spring and Summer.

Recipients from the first round of the Culture Recovery Fund have contributed stunning images to a curated collection of video-call backgrounds, now released. 
The public can choose from famous arts venues and heritage sites from Durham Cathedral to the English National Ballet to use as their background and show their support for the cultural sectors. The backgrounds are free to download.


A Year Since Trans Atlantic Subsonic Crossing Record by a BA 747

With the disappearance of 747 Jumbo jets from the BA fleet and those of other major airlines due to Covid, it is appropriate to reflect that just over a year ago, a new record for the crossing time between New York and London was broken by a BA 747 Jumbo flight which was timed at four hours and 56 minutes.
Who could have imagined that world events would send many of the active 747's to the graveyard in the space of less than a year from when the record was achieved.

Thanks to amazing tailwinds and pre planning, a British Airways Boeing 747 flew from New York to London in less than five hours. Passenger plane records for the flying time between North America and Europe were shattered as Storm Ciara hurtled aircraft towards the British Isles at speeds touching more than 800 miles per hour.

Online flight tracking service, Flight Radar 24 recorded British Airways flight number BA112 as departing John F. Kennedy Airport at 11:21 PM UTC and arriving at London Heathrow at 4:48 AM UTC, a flight time of four hours and 56 minutes.

Thanks to the strong jetstream, BA112 effectively shaved 80 minutes off its scheduled arrival time.

The British Airways flight was just one minute shorter than a Virgin Atlantic A350 that was flying the same route between New York JFK and London Heathrow.

While it is quite common to have fast jetstreams at this time of year, they can prove to be either turbulent or very smooth as appears to be the case with the British Airways 747.

The British Airways jumbo jet just managed to beat the Virgin Atlantic Airbus A350 to the title by a single minute, followed by another Virgin Atlantic airliner just two minutes later.

These flights by British Airways and Virgin Atlantic smashed the previous subsonic New York to London flight time set in 2018 by a Norwegian Air Shuttle 787-9 Dreamliner.

On a flight from JFK to London Gatwick back in January of 2018, the Norwegian aircraft did the journey in five hours and 13 minutes. 
During the BA record-shattering flight, The 747 BA112 achieved a peak ground speed of 825 miles per hour as it sped by the eastern seaboard of Greenland at 35,000 feet.

When talking about the new record at the time, a British Airways spokesperson said:

“We always prioritize safety over speed records, but our highly trained pilots made the most of the conditions to get customers back to London well ahead of time.”

While possibly feeling a little hard done by after losing out on the record by a single minute, Virgin Atlantic released a statement titled:

Silver lining to the storm clouds – Virgin Atlantic’s four hour and 57 minute flight from New York JFK to London Heathrow.

“Last night the Virgin Atlantic VS4 took just four hours and 57 minutes to fly from JFK to London Heathrow (it usually takes approximately six and a half hours) getting our customers on the ground over an hour early. 
Captain Chris Pohl took advantage of a long high altitude Jetstream wind of up to 230 knots and the A350-1000 aircraft managed a top speed of 724 knots and a flight average speed of 625 knots. 
 Efficient planning from the Virgin Atlantic operations team and a steady approach into Heathrow made for unique conditions for this extremely short flight time.”

Virgin Atlantic’s statement also mentions being beaten by the BA 747. However, the airline consoled themselves by pointing out that the 747 had double the engines and burnt twice as much fuel as their new and efficient A350.

Monday 22 February 2021

Avanti West Coast Launch Smartcard Scheme

Avanti West Coast customers are set to benefit from a new convenient way to travel after the long-distance operator launched its own smartcard scheme.

Following a successful trial, customers are now able to store tickets securely on one card,
preventing issues around paper tickets being mixed up or damaged.

It works simply by customers purchasing a ticket online and then loading it on to their smartcard at a station using an enabled ticket vending machine (TVM), an automated gate or a hand-held device used by Avanti West Coast Customer Service Assistants. It can then be scanned at ticket barriers or by a train manager on board with ease. It can be ordered from the Avanti West Coast website free of charge.

Alongside digital tickets, which now accounts for 65% of Avanti West Coast customer journeys, the introduction of the smartcard will give rail users another option for moving away from traditional paper tickets, ensuring less waste.

Previously, those who ordered season tickets online would receive them in the post and in most cases a record needed to be kept in case a replacement or refund was needed. With the smartcard, the details are stored in the booking system making this process much more user friendly.

Avanti West Coast worked with Paragon ID, who produce and manufacture the cards, using
Integrated Transport Smartcard Organisation (ITSO) technology - a system that electronically
stores a travel ticket on a microchip and can be used for different journeys on other train

The company have previously worked with the train operator on staff ID cards.
Rail Minister, Chris Heaton-Harris, said: “The introduction of the smartcard scheme will allow
passengers to choose a modern alternative to the paper ticket, providing simpler journeys and
reducing time spent in stations.

“As we build back better from the COVID-19 pandemic, this Government is committed to smarter ticketing. Avanti West Coast’s scheme will allow for more convenient travel and will improve the passenger experience once it is safe to return to the railways.”

Sarah Copley, Executive Director, Commercial at Avanti West Coast said: “We are really pleased to be introducing this smartcard for our customers, especially those using season tickets, as a convenient way of travelling and saving time in the process.

“As we have seen with digital ticketing, the smartcard will enhance customer experience as well as remove the need for multiple paper tickets which has an obvious impact on sustainability. Traditional versions are also susceptible to damage which can make them unusable, so this will help solve that problem as well.”

Sarah McLaughlin, Account Director at Paragon ID, states: “We are delighted to build on our strong relationship with Avanti West Coast and work with them on this exciting new project to support the roll out of smart ticketing across its UK network.”

Sunday 21 February 2021

Second Electric Bus Trial by Harrogate Bus Company

A Yutong E10 electric bus, originally supplied by Yorkshire-based Pelican Bus and Coach, is being loaned to The Harrogate Bus Company by Tyneside-based operator Go North East to enable a new trial to go ahead. 

A second high-tech battery-powered electric bus has been brought in for a trial on the bus firm’s route 1 linking Harrogate and Knaresborough, following an initial trial with an alternative all-electric single deck bus in October 2020.

The bus is powered by 422 kWh water-cooled batteries, capable of a 370 km range on a single 3.4-hour charge.

The Harrogate Bus Company General Manager Frank Stanisauskis (left) and driver Ricki Tomlinson 
with the Yutong E10 electric bus now on trial between Harrogate and Knaresborough.

The results will be compared with the findings from last Autumn’s trial operation on the same Harrogate bus route of a BYD ADL Enviro200 EV electric single-deck bus, manufactured by Alexander Dennis in partnership with the Chinese firm BYD, the world’s largest maker of rechargeable batteries and new energy vehicles.

A spokesman said: "The Harrogate Bus Company is looking to build on its positive experience of running electric buses, after it became the first operator in Britain to introduce ‘opportunity charged’, pioneering ‘Harrogate Electrics’ buses in 2018. At that time, the Starbeck-based firm became the only operator in Yorkshire to win funding of £2.25 million from the Government to create Britain’s first Low Emission Bus Town."

Transdev CEO Alex Hornby said: “We’re delighted to begin the second phase of our electric bus trials, as we look ahead to future options for electric power on one of our most popular routes, the 1 between Harrogate and Knaresborough, all to complement the existing zero emission fleet on the local town network in Harrogate.

“With a bus usually up to every seven minutes, the 1 is a vitally important link between the two towns and an ideal place to put the bus industry’s newest technology to the test.

Harrogate is already served by a fleet of Volvo electric buses,
launched in 2018. They have already covered over 400,000 miles.

“The Yutong E10 bus is being loaned to us by Go North East and is used on a route very similar in frequency and usage as our own route here. We’re also in discussions with Pelican Bus and Coach in Castleford, who finished and supplied the buses for use here in the UK, following extensive development work with Yutong on their design and specification.

“Our comparative trials will help us to develop our aspirations for future investment as we look to make informed choices between options for electric power on one of our most popular routes.

“We’re constantly looking to build buses back better as part of our strategy for our company and industry, demonstrating our belief that our buses will continue to play a vitally important role beyond the current pandemic in boosting the economy, both locally in Harrogate and across Yorkshire and the north of England.”

See here and here for more information about the existing Harrogate electric fleet. 

Above each stand at Harrogate Bus Station is a pantograph that connects to the Volvo electric buses bus and charges it whilst customers get off and on.

It lengthens the battery life of the vehicles during the day and means they don’t need trips to the depot for charging. It gives the buses enough of a boost for their 30 to 45 minutes local routes.

Saturday 20 February 2021

East Midlands Railway and Porterbrook Salute Iconic HSTs

East Midlands Railway and Porterbrook are paying tribute to the iconic HST's by painting a power car into Intercity Swallow livery and reinstating its original number 43302.

Operated by East Midlands Railway (EMR) and owned by Porterbrook these much-loved HST's will be retiring after 39 years of service on the Midland Main Line, making way for newer fleets to join EMR in time for the May 2021 timetable change.

Power Car 43102 famously broke the Intercity World Speed Record in November 1987 when it reached 148.5mph between Northallerton and York during a test a run. 
Although it was formally renumbered to 43302 by its previous operator, today it regains its original number 43102 and the livery it carried when it broke the record.

To this day the HST remains an iconic piece of British engineering and a much-loved part of the railway while continuing to serve passengers on the Midland Main Line. It remains a true testament to TCB Miller and his design team at the BR Railway Technical Centre in Derby, who took the train from concept to working prototype in 2 years.

Upon its retirement in May, after 43 years’ service, this Power Car will be donated by Porterbrook to the National Railway Museum in York, joining power car 43002 which carries the name ‘Sir Kenneth Grange’.

Neil Bamford, Fleet Director for EMR said: “The team at our Neville Hill depot in Leeds have been working hard behind the scenes to strip unit 43302 of its current livery, repaint it in its legacy colours and reinstate its original number in homage to the ‘end of the HST’ era.”

“What an incredible way to pay tribute to the HSTs and the magnificent efforts from all our staff, who have operated and maintained the fleet over the years.

“I personally remember as a 19-year-old, way back in 1980, going on HST commissioning runs from Derby to Darlington, putting the trains through their paces and doing various tests before they entered into service, such happy memories.
“This is a fitting way to recognise the end for this iconic machine; a massive slice of railway heritage and history.”

Neil Foster, Fleet Services Director for Porterbrook said: “EMR and Porterbrook have worked closely together for many years to collaboratively manage the iconic HST fleet, these trains are much loved by the millions of passengers they have carried over the decades.

“Today’s event was a great way to mark the role played by HSTs in transforming the Midland Main Line into one of Britain’s premier rail routes. With their reputation for comfort and speed these icons of British engineering re-invigorated rail travel between Yorkshire, the East Midlands and London.

Sir Kenneth Grange at York Museum

“Celebrity power-car 43102 will proudly display its original livery whilst it continues to serve EMR passengers, before undertaking its next journey to a new home at the National Railway Museum to be reunited with Sir Kenneth Grange.”

Friday 19 February 2021

Complaints About Noisy Class 68 Trains at York & Comments on Noisy Northern Class 195's

Class 68 diesel trains at York are causing noise pollution for some residents.

Green Councillor Denise Craghill says she has been contacted by residents living close to the station complaining about an loud trains parked at Platform 4.

The noise is coming from the new TransPennine Express Nova trains which are powered by Stadler Class 68 diesel locomotives which haul sets of
 five mark 5A "Nova 3" coaches.

68029 standing at York station

Due to revised schedules, trains from Scarborough have been terminating in York rather than going through to Liverpool, so the problem has been caused by the class 68's idling at the station following the recent temporary schedule change.  

People are surprised to hear that this excess noise was being caused by the new Nova 3 diesel trains that were only introduced in 2019 and questioning why new trains are so much louder than old trains.

Noise pollution is an increasing problem and can be just as damaging for our health as air pollution.”

 68 030 heading north from York Station to Scarborough

Nova 3 trains use a powerful locomotive to haul five carriages, the older Class 185 trains had smaller engines underneath the train and didn’t make as much noise.

The 185's still operate some of the services to and from Malton and Scarborough.

City of York Councillor Denise Craghill said “Given the importance of doing more to reduce carbon emissions, it is disappointing that these new very noisy diesel trains have been introduced.

“Also I have been told that they take 15 mins to turn off and a further 15 minutes to turn back on, which according to the explanation I have been given, is a further reason for the long periods of idling experienced by nearby residents.”

There have been similar complaints of noise caused by the new trains in Scarborough.
See here

All class 68's are owned by Direct Rail Services who lease them to passenger operators. These include Chiltern Railways, Abellio ScotRail, and TransPennine Express. They haul various rakes of carriages and in some cases being fitted with push-pull apparatus, which allows the train to be operated from the other end of the train, using a DVT (driving van trailer)

Comments from the Editor

I must also criticise the engine noise from Northern's new Class 195 diesel units.
These recently introduced trains, manufactured by CAF, are much noisier than the trains they have replaced.

A noisy class 195 idles under the roof of Oxenholme Station

When idling under a station roof they certainly make their presence known and as they depart they are extremely noisy. 
Is this progress we ask? 
The trains are manufactured by CAF and owned by Eversholt Rail Group.

Thursday 18 February 2021

Transdev Bring New Look Buses to 'Hotline'

 Lancashire inter-urban bus route upgraded with new look vehicles by operator Transdev  

The company has introduced new look buses on the Hotline route, which travels between Blackburn, Burnley and Preston, feature USB power hubs, lower emission engines and audio-visual stop announcements.

Times and fares meanwhile will remain the same, with the current lockdown timetable featuring a bus every 30 minutes on Monday to Fridays and every hour on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the route.

Transdev CEO Alex Hornby said: “We’ve turned up the heat for our Hotline inter-urban bus service, with a smart new look now in place on this ever-popular route.

“With this upgrade, we’re investing now to build buses back better beyond the pandemic. Our Hotline route is vitally important to our many customers who use it to reach work and leisure destinations every week, and to the wider post-pandemic economic recovery of Lancashire."

The new look buses debuted on Monday February 15, while Transdev says that it is currently planning for a future beyond the pandemic by delivering higher quality service and more comfort for passengers.

Transdev hope that the routes will provide essential connections seven days a week for work and leisure once such trips become possible again.
The services offer a direct link to a number of the biggest business parks in the area, such as Junction 7, Shuttleworth Mead Business Park and Altham Business Park, with Hotline bus stops right outside.

For the time being however, the company says it remains committed to helping key workers with essential travel and hopes that the new look buses will be used for this purpose.

Mr Hornby said: “Our buses will continue to provide transport for key workers and those making essential journeys, just as we have throughout the pandemic.

Transdev say 'Passengers get a warm welcome on-board from Lancashire’s friendliest bus driving team.'

"With an eye-catching new livery on the outside and new features on the inside, our new-look Hotline buses are ready for what we hope will be a much brighter year ahead for Lancashire.”

For full details of the Hotline bus service, including timetables, a route map and fares, go to:

Wednesday 17 February 2021

A1 Steam Trust Almost Ready for Formal Launch of V4 Programme

 The A1 Steam Locomotive Trust, which built the 100mph Tornado and is constructing Britain's most powerful steam locomotive P2 No 2007 Prince of Wales, is starting on a project to build a third locomotive, 
and is almost ready for the formal launch of the programme.

It has already started scanning 366 original Doncaster Works drawings, which will enable it to build the yet-to-be named third Gresley class V4 No 3403.

It was recently the 80th anniversary of the unveiling of the original V4 prototype.

Trust chairman Steve Davies said: “We are in the pre-launch phase of the project to build our third new main line steam locomotive, the yet-to-be-named Gresley class V4 No. 3403 – Sir Nigel Gresley’s final design.

"With the order for construction now placed on Darlington Locomotive Works, the scanning of the drawings commenced, and further components acquired, we are well positioned for the formal launch of the project.

“We want to be ready to start assembling our new Gresley class V4 as soon as our new class P2 is completed." See here

It is anticipated the project will cost about £3m and will take five years, depending on how fast funds are raised.

Mr Davies added: "Our new Gresley class V4 is an ideal locomotive for regional main line tours, repeat main line itineraries and the longer, main line connected heritage railways.

"Unlike with our class P2, where we have had to do a considerable amount of development work to complete the job that Sir Nigel Gresley started in 1934, there will be very little redesign work needed as there were no known problems with the Gresley class V4s."

The trust is planning to launch a founder's club to help fund the early stages of the project, the details of which will be announced later in the year.

The London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) class V4 was a 2-6-2 steam locomotive designed by Sir Nigel Gresley, who also designed the Flying Scotsman.

It was Gresley’s last design for the LNER before he died in 1941. The class V4s had similarities in their appearance and mechanical layout to the class V2s of which pioneer No. 4771 Green Arrow is preserved as a part of the National Collection.
The V2s, introduced in 1936, had limited route availability and the class V4 was a lightweight alternative, suitable for use over the whole of the LNER network.

The class was tried on the Great Eastern section of the LNER, and was well received, with more power than the existing Gresley class B17 4-6-0s and better riding qualities. It was anticipated that many more would be produced, but after the sudden death of Gresley in April 1941 and his succession by Edward Thompson, no more were built.

Tuesday 16 February 2021

Go North East Introduces Volvo/Plaxton Elite Coaches Between Middlesbrough and Newcastle in a Major Route Upgrade

From yesterday, 15th February 2021, Go North East has introduced luxury coaches on its premium X10 express route that runs between Middlesbrough and Newcastle via the A19, serving Stockton, Norton, Billingham, Peterlee, Dalton Park, Heworth and Gateshead.

The Volvo B11R(T) ADL Plaxton Elite-1 Interdeck executive coaches come with free Wi-Fi, contactless payment, USB charging, luxury reclining seats, next stop announcements, an onboard toilet and are fully accessible with a step free entrance with wheelchair and accessible seating area, plus space for bikes.

The X10 service now joins X-lines, Go North East’s regional network of premium interurban express services which connect the North East’s towns and cities.

The route is cheaper and more luxurious than the train, with a return ticket costing just £8 between Middlesbrough and Newcastle, and unlimited travel available for £8.50 a day or £35 a week.

The journey time from Middlesbrough to Newcastle is also comparable with the train when you consider the city centre bus stops on offer, compared to the walking time from rail stations to town and city centres.

Coaches can also be tracked in real-time on the company’s website or mobile app showing people when the coach will arrive at their stop, so customers don’t have to waste time waiting at bus stops.

Go North East has also introduced a new drop-off stop in Newcastle on John Dobson Street near Laing Art Gallery and some minor changes to the timetable on journeys leaving Newcastle.

Stephen King, commercial director at Go North East, said: “We’re delighted to be upgrading our X10 service into our X-lines regional bus network with the introduction of these luxury coaches on our Middlesbrough to Newcastle express route.

“These coaches provide extra comfort and a first-class travel experience, running fast and direct along the A19.

“They will also play an important part in delivering congestion-busting low-carbon travel to help support the economic recovery of the region.”

The Volvo B11R(T) coaches are 2011 models,and have been transferred from Oxford Bus Company after their X90 London service ended.   

See our previous posting about X-lines here

To find out more about Go North East and to view the X10 timetable, visit

Monday 15 February 2021

Severn Valley Railway’s First Diesel Event of the Year With Covid Guarantees

From the 13th to the 16th May, diesel fans will be able to experience a special event of epic proportions at the SVR. In the largest gathering of diesel motive power at the SVR since 2019, the 2021 Spring Diesel Bash offers visitors the opportunity to travel 100 miles in one day behind their pick of locomotives!

Extensive planning has gone into co-ordinating a safe event that allows enthusiasts to travel over as many miles as possible behind their favourite locomotive classes; and there will be plenty to choose from. 
Visitors will select one of four train sets, each running three round trips. Train 1 will be hauled by Class 50s and tickets for this go on sale at 9.30am on Friday 12th February. 
The other three trains will be hauled by combinations of locomotives that include Classes 42 and 52 Hydraulics, Sulzers and English Electrics. 
Two visiting locomotives are also planned, and details will be announced in the coming weeks.

In addition to the round trips, extra shuttle services are scheduled to operate between Kidderminster and Bewdley, hauled by Class 14 and Class 17 locomotives, enabling visitors to clock up valuable extra diesel miles.

The Engine House will be open to visitors as part of the ticket price. To reduce the risk of overcrowding and maintain visitor safely, at scheduled intervals throughout the day, passengers will be allocated a timed opportunity to get off at Highley to explore The Engine House, where they can delve into the intriguing history of Britain's railways and visit the shop and restaurant. 
Passengers will also be able to leave the train at Bridgnorth and Kidderminster to make use of the station facilities.

The Spring Diesel Bash also offers the chance to see the debut of Class 17 D8568 in BR blue livery. This Clayton Class locomotive is the sole survivor of the Clayton Type 1s, of which there were originally 117. 

This unique locomotive spent all of its working life in Scotland before being sold into industrial use which enabled it to survive long enough to be preserved by the Diesel Traction Group at the end of its industrial career.
In January 2020 D8568 arrived at the SVR for work on the Paxman engines, attention to its bodywork and the repaint into BR blue livery.

Pre-booking onto a chosen service is essential, as tickets are limited. Compartments are available for households of four to six, whilst tables are available for bookings of one or two. Children under four, who do not take up a seat, travel free. 
Due to the ongoing pandemic, passengers are unable to change trains and will be required to use their reserved seats throughout the day.

Helen Smith, the railway’s general manager, said: “We have worked hard to put together an event that not only protects our visitors but will also offer an unforgettable experience. We’re taking every care to ensure we can operate in a Covid-secure way, using tried and tested methods, including reserved seating, complimentary hand sanitiser and distancing measures on platforms. 
We know from passenger feedback in 2020 that our practises meant people could relax and enjoy their day, knowing that we were looking after their safety.”

To ensure passengers can book with confidence, the SVR is backing every ticket with a Covid Guarantee, so that ticket holders can transfer to an equivalent event or date, or receive a full refund.

Click here for interactive map of the railway