Wednesday 31 March 2021

Multi-million Pound Scheme for Zero-emission Buses Across England Launched

On 30th March Transport Secretary Grant Shapps launched a multimillion-pound scheme to enable local transport authorities to roll out zero-emission buses as the government continues to build back greener.

Up to £120 million is being made available through the Zero Emission Buses Regional Area (ZEBRA) scheme, which will allow local transport authorities to:

Bid for funding to purchase zero-emission buses
Reduce the carbon emissions from their local public transport
Improve air quality in towns and cities across England

The funding will deliver up to 500 zero-emission buses, supporting the government’s wider commitment to introduce 4,000 zero-emission buses.

The funding comes from the wider £3 billion fund announced by the government on 15th March to improve bus services in our national bus strategy.

The major new strategy – the biggest shake-up to the standard of bus services in the country for a generation – will see passengers benefit from:

Lower, simpler flat fares
More frequent services
Requirements that will see councils set yearly targets for improving the reliability of services

To ensure the funding from today’s zero-emission-bus fund is used quickly to help provide British bus manufacturers with an injection of orders, the government is calling on consortia of local transport authorities, energy companies, bus operators and manufacturers to come together to work up strong cases for funding. 
This will help make sure that buses are built, bought and being driven on our roads efficiently to the benefit of local economies and communities.

Bidders will have until 21 May 2021 to submit expressions of interest for a fast-track process that will allow local transport authorities with well-developed proposals to move quickly in their bid to secure funding.

Link to Apply for ZEBRA funding.

However, the government has said it wants all local authorities to have the opportunity to submit bids and, therefore, those who need more time to develop their proposals will have until 25 June 2021 to submit expressions of interest.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, said:

We’ve set out our vision of how we’re going to make buses better in this country, and now we’re getting on with delivering it.

The launch of the scheme today means we’re giving businesses and local authorities the tools to help deliver the 4,000 zero-emission buses we said we would introduce, which will dramatically improve air quality in towns and cities across the country, helping us achieve our net-zero ambitions.

Silviya Barrett, Head of Policy, Research and Projects at Campaign for Better Transport, said:

Zero-emission buses are great news all round. As well as addressing climate change and air pollution, this funding will boost the bus manufacturing sector and give more passengers the best modern buses.

We’re glad that the government has appreciated the need to speed up the transition to zero-emission buses.

Jane Gratton, Head of People Policy at the British Chamber of Commerce (BCC), said:

The BCC very much welcomes investment in initiatives that boost public transport infrastructure and the UK’s drive towards net-zero.

This is a welcome injection of cash and confidence for businesses in this sector and for towns and cities across the country. Access to affordable, reliable and greener public transport will be a key to rebuilding local economies.

The national bus strategy contains several pledges to improve the environmental friendliness of the country’s bus sector. This includes a consultation on the end date for sales of diesel buses, which was launched alongside the strategy.

This week's announcement comes as Coventry recently received the historic first pot of funding from the all-electric bus towns and cities competition, giving the city £50 million of funding to revolutionise its bus services and entirely replace their current fleet with electric buses.

It also comes as the government announces over £30 million of funding to support pioneering research into battery technology, the electric vehicle supply chain and hydrogen vehicles.

Twenty-two studies will receive a share of £9.4 million, including:

Proposals to build a plant in Cornwall that will extract lithium for use in electric vehicle batteries
A plant to build specialised magnets for electric vehicle motors in Cheshire
lightweight hydrogen storage for cars and vans in Loughborough

Funding from the ZEBRA scheme will help the UK build back greener as the government publishes its transport decarbonisation plan, setting out how all modes of transport – sea, rail, road and aviation – can help deliver net-zero by 2050.

Tuesday 30 March 2021

25 Years of Solaris

Twenty-five years ago Solaris produced its first low-floor city bus. Almost everything has changed at the company since then. European urban transport has, too, undergone a profound transformation, with the great help of Urbino buses. 

Now, Solaris is celebrating its anniversary, stressing that the unusual history of the company, and its spectacular development, are the result of, above all, the efforts of its employees who all share the same values.

Although Solaris doesn't yet produce right hand drive vehicles, they have had a tremendous influence on the European transport market. Their low floor vehicle development and now their current success in the electric powered vehicle sector has been impressive. Their creativity and development skills have resulted in a range of vehicles that are meeting and exceeding today's demands for innovative passenger transport.

22 March 1996 was the day the first bus rolled out of the Bolechowo factory. At that point, the company employed barely 36 people, and it produced 56 low-floor vehicles in a whole year. Today, over 2700 people work – in Poland and abroad – for the international success of Solaris, whereas the number of vehicles deployed to European cities in the past 12 months reached 1560 of which nearly 700 featured electric drives.

The exceptional experience of the past year, filled with unexpected challenges and difficulties caused by the pandemic, has proven that today Solaris is a mature and responsible company. Thanks to its greatly committed team the firm not only managed to secure its best results ever, but it also produced the biggest ever number of vehicles for its clients.

Innovation has been the key to the firm’s market success right from the start. Two decades ago Solaris put its money on electromobility and it has since been working on technologies reducing the impact on our natural environment. 
Nowadays, the zero-emission Urbino portfolio encompasses hydrogen buses, electric buses and trolleybuses, whereas Solaris has risen to a leading position in Europe in this respect – an award-winning expert in the sector and an active member of associations and consortia.

With the advantage of know-how gained from designing and building over 20,000 vehicles, Solaris can now look into the future with confidence, setting itself the ambitious goal of changing the image of public transport to a greener, more accessible and sustainable one - with each new contract it performs. 

Apart from offering its customers the best products and services, Solaris is determined, above all, to support public transport operators and city authorities in the process of transforming that transport into a clean, quiet and appealing service for residents. This goal arises from the conviction that modern public transport is the foundation of sustainable cities.


Monday 29 March 2021

New Charging Options Add Operational Flexibility For BYD ADL Electric Buses

BYD UK and Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) have jointly confirmed that their UK electric vehicle partnership, is adding operational flexibility to its British-built electric buses with the introduction of additional charging options.

In addition to AC plug charging, all of the partnership’s zero emission buses can now be specified with DC sockets, while double deckers also have the option of roof-mounted connector rails for OppCharge pantographs.

BYD is a global leader in batteries, energy management and electric mobility, while ADL is a subsidiary of leading independent global bus manufacturer NFI Group Inc. (NFI).

The partnership, which has delivered and taken orders for over 750 electric buses since it was launched just five years ago, has a strong track record of working with utility companies and charging infrastructure suppliers to deliver turn-key solutions to bus operators.

As standard, the BYD ADL Enviro200EV single deck and BYD ADL Enviro400EV double deck buses are fitted with dual AC sockets, allowing them to be charged with one 40kW plug, or with two plugs for a combined charging power of 80kW. With compact infrastructure, AC charging continues to be a highly cost-effective solution for a majority of use cases in bus depots.

DC plug charging offers higher charging power through a single connection and is now available as an option on all of the BYD ADL partnership’s single and double deck electric buses. Batteries can be charged at up to 102kW on the BYD ADL Enviro200EV, and up to 112kW on the BYD ADL Enviro400EV.

Drawing on its expertise in battery technology and energy management, BYD has developed new, high-voltage distribution technology. All BYD ADL electric buses can be specified optionally with the provision for both AC and DC charging on the same vehicle. Additionally, to provide parking flexibility while charging, the system offers options for charging socket location with customers able specify various installations of AC and/or DC sockets on the nearside or offside, subject to vehicle type.

Although their battery range comfortably covers many all-day duties, high-power opportunity charging can further increase operational flexibility of the BYD ADL Enviro400EV double decker, which can now be specified with roof-mounted rails to connect with pantographs built to the international OppCharge standard, which are lowered from their gantry to the vehicle’s roof. 

BYD’s Battery Thermal Management System (BTMS) is also installed with the capacity to deliver a peak charging power of 300kW for rapid recharge of batteries, although it may also be used at lower power in bus depots where infrastructure constraints prevent the installation of plug chargers next to the vehicles’ parking positions. 
BTMS is a liquid-cooled, emissions-free technology designed to maintain an optimum battery temperature and, therefore, maximum efficiency for the vehicle.

Paul Davies, ADL President & Managing Director, said: “As a business we pride ourselves on innovation and customer focus and we understand that bus operators require operational flexibility to facilitate the transition to zero emission buses. That is why we are adding DC charging and pantograph solutions for our electric buses, which are built in Britain to benefit our economy and develop the country’s expertise in clean vehicle technology.”

Frank Thorpe, Managing Director at BYD UK, said, “This development underlines BYD’s world-renowned expertise in battery technology and energy management, in addition to its BEV manufacturing capability. Working in partnership with Public Transport Operators has allowed us to develop solutions that benefit customers out on the road and also back at the depot. These close relationships,” he said, “are helping bring clean, sustainable public transport to more and more people in towns and cities across the UK.”

The first BYD ADL electric buses with DC sockets and roof-mounted charging rails will be delivered to operators in the United Kingdom this spring and summer.

Sunday 28 March 2021

Eversholt Rail to Develop “Swift” Express Freight Train

An innovative new Express Freight train which will provide a cost-effective and low carbon solution for transporting parcels around the UK is being developed by Eversholt Rail.

The Swift Express Freight has been designed in partnership with Ricardo and will be a conversion of one of the Class 321 trains, unit 321334.

It will be capable of 100mph and able to hold up to 12 tonnes of freight per vehicle.

The Swift Express Freight will be launched for trials in June this year following works to be carried out by Wabtec at their Doncaster facility, which are due to commence in April.

The scope of works includes removal of passenger features, installation of new flooring and equipment to retain containers and a new livery.

Paul Sutherland, Client Relations Director at Eversholt Rail said:

“We are excited to be developing the Swift Express Freight train which will help to support customers with a cost-effective solution to help them meet the growing demand for home delivery of parcels around the UK. This project demonstrates Eversholt Rail’s continued innovation across our rolling stock portfolio as we continue to showcase our commitment to helping the UK meet its decarbonisation targets.”

Jonathan Brown, Technical & Innovation Engagement Lead (Rail), Ricardo said:

“We are delighted to be supporting Eversholt Rail with the Swift Express Freight project, providing the engineering and conversion of this vehicle for trial use. This demonstrator will show the potential for a modal shift of parcel freight to rail for rapid delivery to urban centres around the UK, removing trucks from our streets, reducing carbon emissions and improving air quality”

Andy Derbyshire, Group Managing Director, Wabtec UK said:

“We are proud to be part of this exciting and innovative project building on a long-established relationship with Eversholt Rail and it is great news we will be continuing this collaboration. It is fantastic to be part of a project which will support the decarbonisation of our sector as well as promoting the benefits of an increased use of rail for freight traffic”.

Saturday 27 March 2021

Scotland to Benefit From £21.4M Investment in New Electric Buses in Key Stagecoach Transport Network

Stagecoach has announced that it will be introducing a further 46 new fully electric buses representing an investment of £21.4m across Scotland as part of its drive to improve air quality and support the Scottish Government’s environmental targets.

The order for new electric buses follows the announcement by Scottish Government of additional funding being awarded through a second round of the Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme. The initiative helps bus companies invest in electric vehicles and associated infrastructure to support a green recovery out of the coronavirus pandemic, improve air quality and advance Scotland’s ambitions for a net-zero economy.

Scottish Government has set a legally binding target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2045. Transport has a critical role to play in the economy reaching net zero, as rising car use has resulted in a rise in carbon emissions from the sector.

Stagecoach has recently announced that it is targeting a zero-emissions bus fleet by 2035.

Funding has been awarded to bus operators following a competitive bidding process with Scottish Government investing £8.9m from its grant scheme in the new Stagecoach buses.

The new electric bus order is made up of:
22 electric double-decker ADL E400 buses for use in Aberdeen City
15 electric single-decker ADL E200 buses for use on Kilmarnock Town Services 3, 6 and 7
9 electric single-decker ADL E200 single-deckers for use in Perth on bus routes 1 and 2

The investment provides a boost for Scotland’s world-leading bus manufacturing sector, helping to protect and grow jobs in Scotland. The new buses will all be built in Falkirk by leading independent global bus manufacturer ADL in partnership with BYD, the company’s partner for electric buses in the UK and Ireland.

The award from Scottish Government also includes funding for electric infrastructure for depots. Stagecoach is partnering with Scottish-headquartered low carbon energy company SSE to deliver the new electrical infrastructure needed in Aberdeen and Perth depots.

Sam Greer, Regional Director for Stagecoach in Scotland, said: “Sustainable public transport is critical to the future of our planet: decarbonising local journeys, reducing road congestion, improving air quality and tackling climate change. We welcome today’s announcement by Scottish Government of additional funding to support the roll out of 46 new electric buses in Scotland.

“This major investment will also provide a boost for Scotland’s world-leading bus manufacturing sector, helping to protect and grow jobs in Scotland. As major investment is made in zero and low emission buses, it also enables us to build further on developing in skills and training for our engineering teams to maintain the new greener fleet as we transition to new zero emission technologies.

“As Scotland gears up to host the COP 26 climate change summit in November, it’s a crucial time for us all to think about how we can help deliver a greener recovery from Covid-19. Major investment in new zero-emission buses also needs to be matched by better road infrastructure and more bus priority measures to help encourage people to make the switch from car to sustainable public transport.”

Over the past decade, Stagecoach has invested more than £1 billion in 7,000 new greener vehicles – more than any other operator in the UK – including electric, hybrid electric and hydrogen and bio-fuel technologies.

Paul Davies, ADL President & Managing Director, said: “This substantial order of new electric buses continues Stagecoach’s track record of strong investment in cleaner buses. We look forward to working closely with Stagecoach to get these new buses onto the roads of Aberdeen, Perth and Kilmarnock at pace.

“These zero emission buses will be built at our factory in Falkirk and it is great news for Scotland that this investment is being recycled into the local economy, allowing the benefits to be felt across our communities whilst helping to underpin skilled jobs.”

Kevin Welstead EV Sector for SSE Enterprise said: “SSE Enterprise is delighted to partner with Stagecoach to help them deliver their planned bus electrification programme across Scotland. Ensuring that we provide this and the next generation with clean and green public transport is a priority for us – especially with COP26 coming to Glasgow this year, of which we are proud to be a major sponsor.”

Independent research by the Centre for Economics and Business Research* (Cebr) published last year shows that Stagecoach delivers cleaner communities and annually saves £12.4million in emissions impact costs, which could power 9,800 homes for a year.

Without Stagecoach bus services, there would be an annual increase of 190,000 tonnes of CO2 through passengers using alternative transport, mainly cars. Some £343 million in potential congestion-related savings are also delivered by Stagecoach through a reduction of 1.22 billion miles of traffic.

Friday 26 March 2021

Heaviest Freight Train Ever to Run on the West Coast Main Line

The heaviest freight train ever to run on the West Coast main line has made its debut journey from the Peak District to London with essential construction materials.

On Wednesday, March 17, the so-called ‘jumbo service’ hauled 3,600 tonnes of aggregate 203 miles from Tarmac’s Tunstead quarry in Derbyshire to Wembley Yard in London.

It saw two Freightliner trains coupling together, with a combined total length of 590 metres and consisting of 39 wagons, headed by a Class 70 and a class 66.

It was carrying aggregate for use in roads and major infrastructure projects in the south east, such as HS2.

On arrival into London the train split into two, and each continued on their separate journeys - 20 wagons headed to Battersea and the remaining 19 to Paddington New Yard.

It’s hoped the jumbo train experiment will benefit the environment by taking construction traffic off roads and with more transported by rail instead.

Network Rail, Tarmac and Freightliner were able to test the concept of merging two heavyweight freight trains while fewer services are running on the West Coast main line during the coronavirus lockdown.

click here and here to see videos of the train in operation, headed by 70017 and 66620.

David Hunter, senior route freight manager for Network Rail, said: “The pandemic’s made us all think differently and in rail freight’s case, we’re taking advantage of the space available in the timetable.

“It’s the first time we’ve seen a train of this weight and length take this route. By transporting more and further afield, we’re showing how the rail industry is building back better - adapting more efficiently to the needs of our economy and environment.”

Tim Shakerley, managing director of UK Rail Services at Freightliner said: “Freightliner has worked closely with Tarmac and Network Rail to demonstrate the viability of running jumbo services from the Peak District.

“Transporting more freight on each train boosts both improvements to the productivity and efficiency of services and drives further environmental benefits by reducing the carbon emissions of each tonne of freight moved.

“We welcome the cross-industry support to trial these initiatives while demand for passenger travel is reduced and look forward to working in partnership with all stakeholders to secure these efficiency gains into the future.”

Chris Swan, head of rail at Tarmac, said: “Effective use of the rail network is key in supporting the transition to a net zero society, and collaborative approaches are vital in helping the industry drive forward more innovation and sustainable solutions.

“We’re delighted to see the successful trail our first 40 wagon train transporting essential construction materials from Derbyshire to London as part of our ongoing commitment to supporting the delivery a low-carbon built environment.”

Since the start of 2020, Network Rail and rail freight operators have collaborated to allow freight trains to move more goods each time they run, and to operate more efficiently on the network.

With reduced demand for passenger travel, trains have been rescheduled to make better use of network capacity, unlocking benefits for rail freight customers and the UK economy. It's hoped this collaboration is the start of other jumbo train opportunities across the network.

Every 24 hours, 188,000 tonnes of critical supplies - including food, fuel and medicine - are moved by rail between London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow.

That’s 1.13 million tonnes every week - most of it transported along the West Coast main line (WCML), the busiest mixed-use (passenger and freight) railway in Europe, and its key spurs.

Other materials carried across NW&C:

• Biomass (between Liverpool and Drax Power)

• Steel (various flows)

• Sand for glass making (Ravenhead & Ince and Elton near Chester)

• Aggregates (Peak Forest & Arcow to Manchester, London, West Midlands, Eastern Counties)

• Gypsum – imported rock for plasterboard making

• Coal – limited flows to remaining power stations

• Household waste – Knowsley to Wilton, Manchester to Liverpool

Thursday 25 March 2021

Green Light for Coventry to Become UK’s First £50m All Electric Bus City

Pollution-busting plans for Coventry to become the UK’s first All Electric Bus City have been backed by the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) leaders.

Under the ground-breaking project, every bus in Coventry will be electric powered by 2025, leading to improved air quality, reduced greenhouse gas emissions and lower running costs.

Approval from the WMCA Board means that £50 million Department for Transport (DfT) funding will now be handed to the region to deliver the project.

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM), which is part of the WMCA, will work with bus operators to replace buses and install charging infrastructure on the streets of Coventry. This includes pantograph, or overhead, charging points which will be available to all bus operators.

Mayor of the West Midlands Andy Street, who chairs the WMCA, said: “It took a lot of lobbying and persuading, but I am delighted we won the Government’s national competition to turn Coventry’s bus fleet all electric.

“It was great to welcome the Prime Minister to Coventry this week to talk about our all-electric plans, and crucially today’s confirmation by the WMCA board now unlocks his Government’s £50 million investment, meaning we can get on with rolling out the clean, green, electric buses onto the city’s roads.

“Not only will the clean bus fleet improve the public transport offering in Coventry, but it is also another step towards tackling the climate emergency and helping to attract people to leave their cars at home in favour of taking the bus.

“This is a great time for bus users in Coventry, with our newly refurbished Pool Meadow bus station, the trial of West Midlands On Demand buses serving the University of Warwick campus, as well our wider investment in fare-capping and better value fares, bus priority measures, real-time travel information and on board facilities like wi-fi and USB charging.

“It is a bus revolution here in the West Midlands, and Coventry is right at the heart of it.”

Transport Minister, Baroness Vere, said: “Our £50m investment will see Coventry’s entire fleet of buses replaced with new, all-electric vehicles. This will have a profoundly positive effect on air quality and emissions in the area and reduce noise pollution.

“This Government is committed to decarbonising the transport network across the UK, as we build back greener and strive to achieve net zero by 2050.”

Councillor Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council, said: “We have finally got this over the line after we were able to convince the government that this city is the ideal location and this will make a major dent in addressing air pollution.

“We already have a range of schemes to improve air quality and this will help exceed our targets.

“We have great working relations with bus companies in the city and these are exciting times for all of us. The hard work starts now.”

TfWM will lead the project in partnership with Coventry City Council, Warwickshire County Council and local bus operators – who are together paying 25% of the added costs of electric vehicles over diesel and charging infrastructure.

This is a major project for bus operators across Coventry, and attracts significant investment from them to replace every bus in their fleet within five years. Operators, including National Express Coventry, which launched 10 electric buses in service last summer, and Stagecoach, will also ensure the new buses offer customers the best in on-board comfort and technology, as well as being good for the environment.

The clean air benefits will be felt beyond the city boundary, as many services which start or finish in Coventry serve Warwickshire, Solihull, Birmingham, Rugby and Leicester. This will support the target for the region to be net-zero carbon within two decades

Coventry was selected to be the UK’s first All Electric Bus City following a successful bid to the DfT. Applicants were required to demonstrate support from stakeholders in their local areas, outline existing plans to reduce greenhouse gases and improve air quality, and show how the plan would tackle an existing air quality problem.

In 2020 TfWM bought their last diesel bus see here

This year TfWM is already on target to for buses to be Euro-VI compliant low emission vehicles – but this plan sets the region well on the road towards a zero-emission bus fleet.

Wednesday 24 March 2021

First Bus to Invest £35m + in Green Transport for Glasgow with Help From SULEB Funding from Transport Scotland

First Bus have announced that over £59m will be invested in new fully electric and zero emission vehicles for the city of Glasgow. These new buses are scheduled to be introduced to the Glasgow city bus network by December 2022, thanks to a successful bid in Transport Scotland’s latest round of Scottish Ultra Low Emission Bus (SULEB) funding.

The successful bid awards First Glasgow, the city’s largest bus operator, £24.3m, and First Bus has committed to spend a further £35.6m. The investment will bring a further 126 electric single and double-decker vehicles to the city, adding to the 22 new electric buses that are scheduled to hit the streets of Glasgow before the city hosts the UN’s annual climate change conference, COP26, this November. see here
The addition of 126 new electric vehicles will take the total number of electric vehicles operating in Glasgow to 150, nearly 20% of the total First Glasgow fleet.

Last year First Bus announced its commitment to operating a zero-emission bus fleet by 2035, as well as pledging not to purchase any new diesel buses after December 2022. 
This commitment goes above and beyond current regulations, solidifying First Bus’s position as a leader in the transition to a low-carbon future.

First Glasgow Launched a fleet of Electric vehicles in 2020 which serve the M3 Route

Janette Bell, First Bus’s Managing Director said, “As leaders in sustainable mobility, we are fully aligned with the Government’s ambitions for a net-zero carbon transport system, including zero-emission bus fleets. We have already committed to achieving this by 2035. We will continue to ensure that our progress doesn’t just exceed national guidelines, but that it also puts the expectations of our customers front and centre.”

The SULEB scheme funding aims to help bus operators bridge the gap between the cost of diesel and zero emission fleets. The ambitious collaboration with Transport Scotland will not only help First Glasgow replace 126 of the oldest buses in its fleet with new zero emission buses; it will also help transform their Caledonia bus depot on the south side of the city centre. Already the UK’s largest depot, the investment will see it converted into one of the UK’s largest electric fleet charging stations, with the potential for over 150 vehicles to be recharged at a time.


Working closely with Local Authority partners is another key focus for First Bus. First Glasgow has demonstrated a strong track record in this area, collaborating effectively with Glasgow City Council for several years. Sustained investment over the last three years in new vehicles, retrofit of existing vehicles and the new plans to introduce even more electric buses mean that First Glasgow is well on the way to achieving the city council’s Low Emission Zone standard by the end of 2022.

Andrew Jarvis, Managing Director for First Glasgow, said, “We have led the way with bus operators in Glasgow as a key partner of Glasgow City Council for the country’s first ever Low Emission Zone rollout and this latest announcement helps us to deliver shared objectives and make up lost time due to the pandemic.

“Across Scotland our collaborative working has been central to accelerating the transition to zero emissions, both in Glasgow with the investment for our electric fleet and in Aberdeen where our sister company introduced the world’s first double-decker hydrogen buses earlier this year. 
Our ambitious approach to transitioning our fleet for our customers and communities will continue to be the driving force for our investment and united approach with local stakeholders.”

The 126 new electric buses announced today follows the news in February that First Glasgow’s 22 new electric buses have entered production as part of a £9m investment from the first round of the SULEB scheme.

Further demonstrating First Bus’s commitment to the communities it serves, the 126 new vehicles for Glasgow will be built by Scottish bus builder Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) with their partner BYD. Their Scottish base in Falkirk will play a significant role in delivering these vehicles over the course of the next two years.

Andrew Jarvis added, “We are delighted to have been awarded this funding, which will allow us to rapidly ramp up our plans to deliver more zero emission vehicles to the city of Glasgow. Cleaner air and lower carbon emissions are vitally important for all of us, and we are committed to continuing to improve air quality in the communities that we serve. 
This is a significant step forward on our journey to operating a zero-emission fleet by 2035.”

Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said:

“With this significant order of new electric buses, First Bus is showing a welcome commitment to helping meet Scotland’s world leading climate change targets.

“It’s a real success story that these buses will be built by ADL in Falkirk – supporting jobs in bus manufacturing and benefiting the wider economy before they enter service for communities across Glasgow.”

Paul Davies, ADL President & Managing Director, said, “This is a very large investment by First Bus in new electric buses and is yet another step on their journey to achieve a zero-emission fleet by 2035, and we look forward to working closely with them to get these new buses onto the streets of Glasgow at pace.

These zero emission buses will be built at our factory in Falkirk and it is great news for Scotland that this investment is being recycled into the local economy, allowing the benefits to be felt across our communities whilst helping to underpin skilled jobs.”

Tuesday 23 March 2021

Further Tram Funding for for Nottingham, Sheffield, Newcastle, Blackpool, Manchester and Birmingham

 A further £33 million of emergency coronavirus (COVID-19) funding has been provided to support light rail and tram operators during the pandemic.

Operators will receive emergency funding of up to £33 million over the next 11 weeks, building on over £160 million in funding that has already been announced by the UK government for light rail and trams during the pandemic – and taking the total support so far to nearly £200 million.

The funding will support operators as they continue to face reduced revenues caused by low passenger numbers. It will ensure these vital services remain viable for the future, as the country prepares to ease lockdown restrictions and people start travelling more frequently.

Transport Minister Baroness Vere said:

As the country opens up in line with the roadmap out of lockdown, we want light rail and tram services to be available to passengers and running as normal.

That’s why we’re continuing to fund these vital transport systems, ensuring that they’re available now and are ready for people to use when restrictions ease.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay said:

At the start of this pandemic, we promised to do everything we could to support people and businesses. That includes making sure our country’s vital infrastructure is running for people who rely on it – such as key workers and those travelling to schools.

Today’s funding means thousands of people across the north of England and the Midlands can continue to travel on public transport when they need to, and that trams will be ready for when the country comes out of lockdown.

Funding will be provided for the next 11 weeks, with a review of the need for further funding for these systems taking place before the end of that period.

Before the pandemic, more than 119 million journeys were taken by light rail or tram each year on systems outside of London, highlighting the importance of these transport networks across the North and Midlands.

Monday 22 March 2021

First Bus Orders 5 BYD ADL Enviro400EV Electric Double Deckers for Leeds Park & Ride

Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) and BYD UK have jointly announced that their electric vehicle partnership, the UK’s leading electric bus producer, has taken an order from First Bus for five BYD ADL Enviro400EV electric double deck buses, which will be used on Park & Ride services in West Yorkshire.

This additional award from First Bus reflects the ongoing success of the BYD ADL partnership in the UK. Since launching in 2015, the partnership has gone from strength to strength, with over 750 electric buses delivered or on order, and has completed more than 16 million emission-free miles of service.  

The British-built zero emission buses will operate from First’s Hunslet Park depot in Leeds, where charging infrastructure was introduced last year to support the expansion of zero-emission buses in the city fleet.

First has chosen the larger model of the BYD ADL Enviro400EV at 10.8 metres long and a height of 4.3 metres. The buses will have 69 seats and will use zero-emission heat pump technology to control interior heating and cooling.

The all-electric vehicles are part of an ongoing investment programme by First West Yorkshire to upgrade its fleet in the city with zero emission and ultra-low emission buses, and part of a wider commitment by First Bus to operate a fully zero-emission fleet by 2035.

Simon Carlisle, Engineering Director of First West Yorkshire, said: “I’m delighted to confirm this latest vehicle order which continues our strong relationship with Alexander Dennis. It is also further evidence of our commitment to develop a zero-emission fleet in the years ahead and play our role in creating cleaner air in Leeds and other towns and cities in the region.”

Martin Brailey, UK Sales Director for Major Bus Groups of Alexander Dennis, said: “Our British-built double deck electric bus is the state-of-the-art solution for cleaner transport in our cities. We are delighted to continue to support First Bus in its response to the twin challenges of air pollution and the climate emergency, and we know passengers and residents in Leeds will love the smooth and quiet ride of their new buses.”

The BYD ADL Enviro400EV uses BYD’s Iron-Phosphate battery technology which enables the buses to run all day on a single charge using cost effective off-peak electricity.

Frank Thorpe, Managing Director of BYD UK Ltd., said: “Park & Ride operations provide the ideal scenario for the BYD ADL Partnership to showcase its eMobility credentials,” he said, “both for First Bus and the people of Leeds. Hundreds of CO2 emitting cars swapped for just five double deck BYD ADL Enviro400EVs delivering pure-electric, emissions-free journeys into Leeds for thousands of passengers. 
Our double decker boasts excellent range capability,” he added, “with intensive Park & Ride services providing exactly the right platform for the BYD ADL fleet to prove its viability as a safe, comfortable, sustainable public transport solution.”

Sunday 21 March 2021

Bid to Save Llangollen Railway as Assets Put up For Sale

Following the announcement earlier this year that the Llangollen Railway PLC is not legally able to continue to trade after becoming insolvent, the railway will see its assets go up for sale. Now the railway is appealing for help to secure the line's future.

 Llangollen Railway PLC has said that it is not legally able to continue to trade with the company insolvent to the extent of £350,000 - with £250,000 relating to engineering contract disputes.

Photo: John Berresford

Alan Coleman and Jason Mark Elliott of Cowgill Holloway Business Recovery LLP have been formally engaged to assist the Directors with placing Llangollen Railway Plc into Administration.

The operating and engineering assets, together with the business potential, are currently being marketed for sale and the administrators have been instructed by the board to try and find a buyer and save up to 15 jobs.

Final and/or indicative offers will be required by 5.00pm on Mon 22nd Mar 2021.
See here for details of the sale.

The line is estimated to be worth around £8-10m a year to the local economy in north-east Wales.

2,580hp Brush Type 4 D1566 (Class 47/4 47449), built in 1964 at Crewe Locomotive Works.
Owned by Llangollen Diesel Group.

The Trust has released the following press release.

The directors of Llangollen Railway Trust Ltd have greatly appreciated the extensive and sensitive support of the media when the impending demise of the PLC was announced. The coverage engendered much support from the general public for which the directors would like to express their gratitude.

We have also received much support from local MP, Simon Baynes and AM, Mark Isherwood, Denbighshire County Council and Llangollen Town Council, all of which is much appreciated too.

Whilst the PLC will go into administration or liquidation shortly, the Trust remains fully solvent and debt-free, and the directors will be considering the options over the next few days and weeks. The first task is to preserve the line and then to bid for such assets of the PLC as limited resources will permit. Directors and key volunteers are compiling a list of assets they consider essential for the continued running of the railway.

The Trust does own 3 locomotives as well as passenger rolling stock which, together with the Railcar and Diesel Groups, will be able to operate after regulatory, legal and licensing matters have been resolved.

The assets of the PLC are now effectively available for sale to the highest bidder. Consequently the Trust needs to raise as much money as possible for this purpose in 3 ways:
Donations – the easiest way to donate is perhaps online at and click the Donate button, or via our Facebook page.

For taxpayers, the Railway can apply for 25% Gift Aid. Alternatively, supporters are invited to send cheques payable to Llangollen Railway Trust Ltd to The Station, Abbey Road, Llangollen LL20 8SN.

Contrary to some comments in social media, every donation will be for the benefit of the

Opportunity to acquire heritage assets – by bidding for the assets, such as rolling stock, individuals or groups have a unique opportunity to acquire heritage coaches and other items. It is hoped that, following sale, the items would remain on the Railway.

Thirdly, the opportunity to purchase one or more of the Trust’s steam locomotives – the Trust does not have the income or resources to own and maintain them. Sale of one or more, if completed quickly, would enable the Trust to be a more competitive bidder for the assets of the PLC. Again, it is hoped that the locomotives would remain on the Railway.

We hope to be able to run trains again later this year but placing a timescale on that would be purely speculative at the moment.

The volunteers building Corwen station have made excellent progress, albeit necessarily slowed by lockdown, and we do anticipate being able to run to Corwen when the Railway reopens.

Shareholders of the PLC are reminded that any annual ticket allocation entitlements and lifetime passes will continue to be honoured. 
Shareholders would need to join the Trust if they are not members already.

The directors would like to take this opportunity to appeal for members and volunteers to join what is one of the most scenic lines in the heritage movement.

“It is the aim of the directors to refocus the Trust as an outward looking organisation centred on delivery of a high quality visitor experience, and strengthen partnerships with external agencies to help develop our business plan and articulate what is unique about our railway, its situation and how it complements Llangollen, Corwen and the Dee Valley,” commented chairman, Pete Edwards. “This will require a significant culture change at board level as well as elsewhere, as we look at how we tie in with the cultural life of of the Dee Valley and how we can enhance the events and locations for which Llangollen and the surrounding area are already well known.”

Anyone wishing to contact the Railway, please do so by e-mail at and details will be passed on as appropriate.

See our Focus posting from 2020 here from when the line to Corwen was connected


Saturday 20 March 2021

Innovative Project to Bring New Hydrogen Buses and Refuelling Facilities to Liverpool City Region Set to Begin

A new project which is seeking to bring 20 hydrogen powered double decker buses to the streets of the Liverpool City Region will take an important step forward with the project business case and funding set to be approved at an upcoming Combined Authority (CA) meeting on 19th March.

The state-of-the-art zero-emissions vehicles will be directly funded by the Combined Authority and, like the new trains for the Merseyrail network, will be owned by the people of the Liverpool City Region.

The new buses will be powered by hydrogen fuel cells, safe and reliable technology which lends itself well to heavy duty vehicles such as buses.

The project – which is set to secure a funding boost of up to £12.5m from the Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) – is a key part of the Metro Mayor’s ‘Vision for Bus’, which commits to using the powers available through devolution to build a better, more reliable and affordable bus network for the Liverpool City Region.

The announcement also follows the publication this week of the government’s National Bus Strategy.

Plans for the hydrogen bus project also include the building of refuelling facilities, which will be the first of their kind in the North West. Construction on the new hydrogen refuelling facilities is planned to begin later in the year.

With the Metro Mayor having set a target for the Liverpool City Region to become net zero carbon by 2040, hydrogen buses will join the existing fleet in the city region which is already more than 70% low emissions, via the use of cleaner engines, hybrid and electric power and biomethane gas.

It is anticipated that the buses will initially serve the 10A route between St Helens and Liverpool city centre – the City Region’s busiest bus route, operated jointly by Arriva and Stagecoach.

Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region said:

“In the Liverpool City Region we are already leaders in green technology and the low-carbon economy and this project, which if approved, will bring 20 brand new hydrogen-powered buses to our streets is another very exciting step forward.

“The new state-of-the-art vehicles will help our city region tackle poor air quality and achieve our ambition of being net zero carbon by 2040. And, like the new trains for Merseyrail network, they’ll be owned by the people of the Liverpool City Region and can be built to serve their needs.

“It’s another example of how we’re using the power of devolution to make things greener and cleaner and improve our transport system to make it more reliable, attractive and affordable for everyone who lives and works here.”

click here to see a video of the route

Friday 19 March 2021

Scottish Rail Services to be Nationalised

The Scottish Government has announced that the Scottish train services are to be run by a public sector body.

Dutch firm Abellio will stop running the ScotRail franchise at the end of March 2022.
They have been running the franchise since 2015 but had its contract ended early amid criticism over cancellations and performance levels.

After this an "arms-length" Scottish government company will take over the running of services.

All ScotRail staff will transfer to the new Scottish government-owned entity.

The arrangement is being made under powers which allow the Scottish government to take over the rail franchise without a bidding process.

Transport Secretary Michael Matheson said he was not able to say how long these "operator of last resort" arrangements would last for.

He said: "I have decided that it would not be appropriate to award a franchise agreement to any party at this time, either through a competition or a direct award.

"That is why I have confirmed that, from the expiry of the current franchise, ScotRail services will be provided in public hands through a company wholly owned and controlled by the Scottish government.

"This approach will provide a stable platform for ScotRail services and certainty for passengers and staff."

In February this year, The Wales and Borders rail franchise went into public ownership after being nationalised by the Welsh Government.

Thursday 18 March 2021

HST Power Car 43002 Video from National Railway Museum Website

Named after its legendary designer, this 'flying banana' is a beautifully preserved example of the High Speed Train which blazed a trail in 1976 and remains the world's fastest diesel locomotive.

The loco might not be available to see while the museum is closed, but see below for the Curator with a Camera video so you can enjoy it from home.


Sir Kenneth Grange is the very first production Class 43 High Speed Train (HST). More commonly known as the InterCity 125, this locomotive was built in 1975, the same year the National Railway Museum opened.

Considered Britain's most influential modern loco, these powerful engines—which achieved a world-record 148mph top speed—quickly formed the backbone of Britain's high-speed rail routes and revived interest in rail travel after years in the doldrums.


Anthony Coulls, Senior Curator of Rail Transport and Technology, takes you on an in-depth tour of the interior and exterior of our Class 43 High Speed Train power car and tells the story of this impactful locomotive.
Click here to see the video 


Class 43 no. 43002 was named after its designer Sir Kenneth Grange in 2016, when it also returned to its original blue and yellow livery.

Sir Kenneth created the loco's iconic, aerodynamic wedge-shaped nose cone. His design feats don't end there, though—he was also involved in the design of the Kenwood food mixer, Kodak Instamatic camera and Royal Mail post boxes, to name just a few.


As well as being the first InterCity 125 produced, Sir Kenneth Grange was the last 125 to operate a passenger service before this type of locomotive was retired from London express services .

Angel Trains and Great Western Railway generously donated the power car to the museum after its working life was concluded in 2019.

Wednesday 17 March 2021

£137M Investment for Hope Valley Line

The government has committed to investing £137M in the delayed upgrade of the Hope Valley railway between Manchester and Sheffield.

To help meet future demand, the Hope Valley capacity scheme is designed to remove bottlenecks on the line by creating places for fast passenger services to overtake slower moving freight trains, allowing more trains to run and increasing the reliability of services.

A Transport & Works Act Order (TWAO) for the scheme, which is seen as a key enabler for the Northern Powerhouse Rail route upgrade, was granted by the Department for Transport (DfT) in February 2018.

Northern 142001 calls at Hope station during February 2011

At the time, Transport for the North said it was pressing for the release of funds for the detailed design work during 2018/9, with a view to starting on site in April 2019. However since then progress on the scheme has stalled.

Network Rail is now finalising detailed designs that will improve sections of the railway between Bamford station and Jaggers Lane Bridge in Hathersage, and around Dore & Totley station, where a second platform will also be added. Work is expected to begin in 2022 and will be completed in 2023.

Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said he is “delighted” to confirm the funding for the scheme, describing Sheffield and Manchester as “two dynamic Northern Powerhouse cities”.

He added: “We are committed to levelling up infrastructure across the North, and these important upgrades will make a huge difference to passengers, providing the punctual, reliable services they deserve, as we build back better from Covid-19.”

He said: “I cannot make an announcement about it today, but I can say that ministers are investigating the possibilities to increase the capacity there and I don’t think you will have to wait too long for an answer on that.”