Monday, 31 May 2021

Leicester Yutong E12's Enter Park & Ride Service

11 fully electric buses, powered by 100% renewable energy, entered service in Leicester on 11th May to bring zero-emission public transport to Leicester for the first time.

The Pelican website stated

It was a pleasure to deliver this contract of Yutong E12 zero emission buses to Leicester City Council. Our contract included vehicles, civils & infrastructure. The fleet will be operated by Roberts Travel Group on three park-and-ride services in Leicester. The distinctive green buses are equipped with on-board digital screens, USB charging points at every seat and provide free WiFi to passengers.

These 11 Yutongs will be joined by a further seven zero-emission buses in autumn 2022. Four will be introduced on the Hospital Hopper service, and three more will be used to launch a new, free city centre shuttle. Named the Green Line Bus Project, these vehicles are part of Leicester’s ambitious programme of investment in sustainable transport to help address the urgent climate emergency we are all facing.

Leicester’s successful bid to the Transforming Cities Fund (TCF) has funded most of the £7.1m required for 18 new electric buses. The TCF is also funding the £7m required for complementary works, such as bus priority measures, bus shelters, digital ticketing and real-time displays, as well as the creation of two new electric bus park & ride sites at Beaumont Leys and the General Hospital.

City Mayor Peter Soulsby said:

Thanks to our successful bid for government funding through the Transforming Cities Fund, we’ve been able to make this significant investment into sustainable public transport.

We know that if we are to persuade people to leave their cars outside the city centre, we need to offer them attractive and affordable travel alternatives.

These Greenline buses are clean, green and comfortable – and the more people use them, the more we can reduce congestion and improve air quality in the city.Roberts Travel Group has played a key role in the electrification project, installing a brand new charging station at its depot in Coalville in partnership with Zenobe Energy. The vehicles are charged overnight and operate all day on a single charge.
Managing director Jonathan Hunt enthused:

I am really pleased that Roberts Travel Group will be the first operator in Leicester to operate fully electric buses.

I am extremely proud that our loyal team of drivers will continue to drive the very best vehicles available, as we continue to invest in the latest technology for the people of Leicester.
We are extremely proud that despite the challenges brought on by COVID-19, the buses and their associated infrastructure have been delivered on time and on budget. That has come about through partnership working between all parties concerned.

Ian Downie, Head of Yutong Bus UK said

The vehicles were fully completed in the UK at the Pelican premises in Castleford, with driver and engineering training undertaken with the excellent team at Roberts. We are delighted to see these buses enter service in Leicester, improving air quality and the passenger experience while encouraging people to get out of their cars and onto public transport.

See a video of the new buses here

Sunday, 30 May 2021

End of Service for Class 365 Great Northern EMU's

The last Great Northern Class 365 train departed from King’s Cross on Friday 14th May 2021, after 25 years of service.

The 18:12 farewell service, lengthened from eight to 12 carriages for the special journey, called at Stevenage, Biggleswade, St Neots and Huntingdon on its way to Peterborough.

Driver Paul French (left) and Route Operations Assurance Manager Steve Castle proudly hold the headboard ahead of the last Class 365 out of King's Cross

It displayed a commemorative headboard with the Network South East “Networker Express” branding carried by the 365 fleet when introduced by British Rail in 1996.

The Class 365s entered service badged as 'Networker Express' trains from 9 December 1996 on the London King's Cross to Peterborough and King's Lynn routes. They have been used to carry the Her Majesty The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh to King’s Lynn for Sandringham.

Since 2017, with the arrival of more modern 387s and 717s on Great Northern’s routes, the 365s had been used only as ‘peak-busters’, providing extra capacity on limited-stop peak-time services.

Tom Moran, Managing Director for Great Northern and Thameslink, was on Friday’s‘Network Express’ to Peterborough.

“It was a real honour to be on the last Class 365 out of King’s Cross. I’d like to thank every member of the team who’s played a role in keeping them running so reliably for the last quarter of a century!

“You could see the affection our customers and colleagues have for these trains from the response we had as we set off from King’s Cross and at each stop on the route.”

Chief Operating Officer Steve White was also on board. He said: “Today marked another milestone in the progressive renewal of our fleet as we said goodbye to our Class 365s. When they were introduced 25 years ago, they were ahead of their time and they have served us well.

“With the introduction of our summer 2021 timetable, newer, air-conditioned, Class 387 trains will temporarily support the GN network. This will help our passenger recovery from COVID-19 and also reduce our costs ensuring better value for taxpayers.”

The Class 365s entered service badged as 'Networker Express' trains from 9 December 1996 on the London King's Cross to Peterborough and King's Lynn routes, and in the following year on Connex South Eastern between London and Kent. 

By 2004, Connex South Eastern’s part of the fleet was transferred to join the majority of the 365s, so that all 340 were operating out of King’s Cross.

In the short term, subject to the expected rising passenger demand, Great Northern’s parent company Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) will replace the 365s with Class 387 trains that normally provide Gatwick Express services.

They have not been in use during the major Gatwick Airport station expansion programme, but now Great Northern passengers will benefit from the air conditioning and security CCTV that the older trains lack.

In the longer term, when air passengers return to Gatwick in volume and the airport station redevelopment is complete, Great Northern will work with the Department for Transport to introduce additional trains as required. This will enable the Class 387 trains to be returned to Gatwick Express, while also ensuring that Great Northern customers continue to enjoy the benefits of more modern trains.

Abellio ScotRail leased 10 class 365 units, for a year from May 2018 as short term cover until sufficient numbers of newly built class 385 units were brought into service. The 365 fleet were maintained at Glasgow Shields Road Depot and the class was taken out of passenger service in March 2019. More info here

365523 at Falkirk High » Thursday 10 May 2018, the first day of driver training runs.
The unit is working 11:04 Glasgow Queen Street to Linlithgow UPL. Photo by GregBee

The Class 365s will be returned to the Department for Transport, who took ownership of them in 2019 under the terms of the original procurement contract

Saturday, 29 May 2021

Class 69 Unveiled in Large Logo Livery

The first GB Railfreight Class 69 loco to be painted is 69002. It has been outshopped in large loco livery

GBRf purchased a number of redundant Class 56 Locomotives in 2018 from UK rail leasing in various conditions. These are now being repowered in a programme being undertaken by Electro Motive Diesels at their Longport UK facility. The locos have been given Class 69 allocations.

The previous Ruston RK3 engine and Brush controls are removed and a new EMD 710 power unit with cleaner 3A emissions and electronic control is being fitted. 
The EMD12N-710 engine is what is fitted in a Class 66 so the 'new' locos will be as close to running 66's which are no longer available for sale new, due to tighter emission controls on brand new locos.

The project allows the locos to be classed as upgrades as many components are retained

Retaining the main structure, weights, bogies, motors and drawgear enables GBRf to retain the track dynamics and rail interface of a Class 56, and thus the project can be classified as an upgrade, rather than a new loco which would require a more modern power unit.

 69001 was load tested on the Severn Valley Railway

The cost of conversion is much lower than buying brand new locomotives. The resultant Class 69 is very similar to the Class 66 that has proven so successful for the GBRf business.

Testing of the first of ten locos Class 69 was carried out on the Severn Valley Railway in January

See the GB Railfreight Loco Fleet here

Friday, 28 May 2021

New Plaxton Panther for Sanders Coaches Ltd

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”), has announced that it has delivered a new, fully accessible Plaxton Panther coach to Norfolk-based Sanders Coaches Ltd.

The new 49 seat vehicle - which is built on a Volvo B8R chassis - has space for up to five wheelchairs on board and will join the Sanders high quality coach hire fleet primarily to be used to transport Norfolk residents with additional mobility needs to events all over the country.

The new coach is PSVAR compliant and offers a series of customer-centric features including a wheelchair lift, one permanent wheelchair space with further flexibility to accommodate up to five wheelchair passengers. It also has on board a saloon level toilet, full server as well as audio visual entertainment equipment.

Sanders Coaches is a family-owned business that has been operating quality coach services in Norfolk since 1975.

Sanders Coaches Director, Charles Sanders, said: “We’re delighted to have added this high quality, reliable and comfortable vehicle to our coach hire fleet. We are committed to continued investment in our fleet and are pleased to introduce this fabulous new coach to our customers. ADL were superb to with work from start to finish on the design of this coach.”

ADL Sales Account Manager Martin Dunleavy said: “This vehicle is a quality addition to the Sanders Coaches fleet and we look forward to working with this long-standing family business in the future.”


Thursday, 27 May 2021

Stagecoach Manchester

Stagecoach Manchester is celebrating 25 years of serving communities and connecting people across Greater Manchester, with a special livery bus featuring 30 of its longest serving members of staff.

The recently launched bus will be servicing routes mainly in the South Manchester area throughout 2021.

The special anniversary livery bus features colourful photo collages of some of the operator’s longest serving employees. Every member of staff featured has been with the company for 25 years or more and has been integral to the success of Stagecoach Manchester.

Driving Instructor Steve Bowe from Wythenshawe, one of the staff members to have his photo featured on the bus, commented: “I’ve worked with some great people and it’s a fantastic team at Stagecoach Manchester. I can honestly say I still look forward to coming to work every day, and helping new and existing drivers with their journey in the industry.”

Joining Stagecoach Manchester in 1979, Steve described his initial role with the company as a ‘career stop gap’, originally intended to last for eight weeks. This evolved into 22 years as a Driver, before a move into his current role as a Driving Instructor.

Another member of staff featured on the special livery is Cornel (Junior) Grant, from Old Trafford. With over 38 years’ service at Stagecoach Manchester, Junior joined the company in 1982 and is currently a Driver at Sharston Depot, where he serves the local community.

Junior has also played a key part in supporting fundraising for Stagecoach Manchester charity partners, including Prevent Breast Cancer, Royal Manchester Children’s Hospital Charity and Forever Manchester. All this is in addition to his day job: keeping buses on the road and people moving.

Lee Wasnidge, Managing Director at Stagecoach Manchester, said: “We have a proud history in Greater Manchester, and over the last 25 years our staff have helped millions of our customers to get to work, go to school, college and university, get their shopping, enjoy their leisure time, and stay in touch with family and friends.

“Anniversaries are a great time to reflect and look back at what’s been achieved and we know we couldn’t have done any of it without our dedicated staff. So, it’s fitting to mark this anniversary by dedicating a bus to the staff who have shown such commitment, provided such great customer service and played an integral role in making Stagecoach Manchester the company it is today.”

“It’s also important that we keep looking forward. We are proud to be a trusted part of daily life across Greater Manchester and as we start to move out of the current restrictions our services will continue to be central to the future of our economy, protecting our environment and keeping communities connected.”

Wednesday, 26 May 2021

Eurostar Rescue by French Railways and Other Investors Will Allow Green Speed Project to Proceed

Following the  £250m rescue package of Eurostar from banks and investors as it continues to battle a severe drop in demand due to the Covid-19 crisis, it is hoped that Eurostar will have the opportunity to recover and successfully complete its merger with Thalys, as part of the Green Speed project.

The refinancing package of £250m mainly consists of additional equity and loans from a syndicate of banks guaranteed by the shareholders: SNCF, the French state railway group and Eurostar’s majority shareholder, 
Patina Rail LLP, a vehicle backed by Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (“CDPQ”) and funds managed by the Infrastructure team of Federated Hermes, and SNCB, the Belgian state train operator.

Jacques Damas, Chief Executive of Eurostar, said: “Everyone at Eurostar is encouraged by this strong show of support from our shareholders and banks which will allow us to continue to provide this important service for passengers. 
The refinancing agreement is the key factor enabling us to increase our services as the situation with the pandemic starts to improve.
Eurostar will continue to work closely with governments to move towards a safe easing of travel restrictions and streamlining of border processes to allow passengers to travel safely and seamlessly. Their co-ordinated actions and decisions are crucial to the restoring of demand and the financial recovery of our business.”

Over the last year, this international business dedicated to routes connecting the UK with the continent, has experienced a more severe decline in demand resulting from the global covid-19 pandemic than any other European train operator or competitor airline. 
With this package of support, Eurostar will be able to continue to operate this vital link and meet its financial obligations in the short to mid-term.

Going forward, the focus will be on restoring demand for travel on Eurostar’s core routes between London and Paris, Brussels and Amsterdam, and on maintaining rigorous cost control to ensure the repayment of loans.

Eurostar will increase the number of trains on its London-Paris route to two daily return services from the 27th May, and three per day from the end of June with a view to gradually increasing the frequency over the summer period as travel restrictions are eased.

Eurostar remains committed to its role in reducing the impact of climate change, particularly in light of the COP 26 summit taking place in the UK in November this year, and the growing appetite of passengers for high-speed rail travel.

This refinancing package secures Eurostar's future as restrictions ease and travel begins to gradually resume. With the refinancing in place, Eurostar will have the opportunity to recover and successfully complete its merger with Thalys, as part of the Green Speed project.

Green Speed Project to combine Eurostar and Thalys

The aims of the project are

An attractive alternative to air and road travel for nearly 30 million passengers per year by 2030.

A high-speed train service relying on renewable energy and an ambitious sustainability policy

Simpler international travel for every customer

Attractive offers and a single passenger loyalty programme

A multicultural, warm and friendly service


Tuesday, 25 May 2021

Northern Introduces Bi-mode FLEX Trains

Northern has finally welcomed eight innovative FLEX trains onto its network.

The Class 769 bi-mode trains, constructed by Porterbrook in partnership with Wabtec/Brush, made their debut on the Southport – Stalybridge/Alderley Edge route as part of Northern’s new timetable for May 2021.

In development for several years, the Class 769s are a variant of former Class 319 electric trains which are able to operate seamlessly over electrified and non-electrified routes, spreading the benefits of electrification to more rail users.

Chris Jackson, Regional Director at Northern, said: “We are really proud to be involved in this pioneering development. Bi-mode trains bring the benefits of railway modernisation, to more customers, more quickly.

“Northern is determined to make a positive impact for the north of England and this technology opens up new opportunities to spread the benefits of electrification to non-electrified routes, delivering more efficient journeys and increased capacity for our customers.”

FLEX trains operate by having diesel powered alternators under each of the driving trailer cars. The diesel alternators provide power to the existing traction and auxiliary equipment to allow the former EMU to operate without an overhead or 3rd rail supply. The systems provide power through the trains’ DC bus, avoiding any significant changes to the existing equipment and creating a unit capable of operating from different power sources whilst maintaining its full capabilities on electrified routes.

Mary Grant, CEO of Porterbrook, said: “The introduction of the FLEX fleet into traffic is the result of a collaborative partnership between Northern, Porterbrook and our suppliers. I would like to thank Northern for their unstinting commitment to the successful introduction of this highly innovative fleet, as well as my own team for their relentless focus on the needs of our customer.

“The bi-mode capability of the Class 769 fleet will ensure that communities across the Southport – Alderley Edge route can share in the benefits of electrification.”

Chris added: “Our customers are at the heart of all we do and the introduction of Class 769s complements other improvements Northern has made to the network in recent months. As part of our A Better Way to Go campaign, which is delivering enhancements for customers across the north, we have introduced 100 brand new trains, completed the refurbishment of all our older trains, and delivered significant improvements – including enhanced accessibility – at many of our stations.

“Wherever people travel on our network we want them to have full confidence in Northern and A Better Way to Go demonstrates our commitment to customers as we continue to transform rail travel in the north.”

Monday, 24 May 2021

Scania Launches New Fencer Bus Range

The UK has been chosen for the global launch of Scania's new Fencer bus range, the first model of which is the Fencer f1, a single deck, fully built-up bus. 

The vehicle, which is the first complete Scania single deck bus to be released in the UK for ten years, will subsequently be introduced to many other markets worldwide and will form the basis of a new platform of sustainable Scania buses going forward, offering the widest range of fuelling options available on the market today.

"The Scania Fencer f1 is a truly innovative and exciting new product which is the result of several years of research and development by Scania's engineers in conjunction with our colleagues at Higer, with whom we have enjoyed a strong, professional partnership with for the past 15 years," comments Martin West, Sales Director – Bus and Coach for Scania (Great Britain) Limited.

"The Fencer will contribute significantly to the sustainability objectives of the UK Government's recently announced national bus strategy. As a completely built-up Scania product, the Fencer will be fully supported by the Scania network of 84 UK service centres"

"The Fencer will be built on a new chassis, which has been designed from the outset as a future-proofed platform with a comprehensive selection of renewably-fuelled drivetrains including full battery electric and hybrid versions and biogas options 
Initially, we are launching the vehicle with our tried, tested, proven and highly regarded nine-litre engine, which can be operated on 100 percent HVO (Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil) biofuel. This engine option has been missed in recent years by our rural and inter-urban customers and we are delighted to be reintroducing it to the market at this time.

"Looking ahead, the single deck Fencer f1 is just the beginning of a new bus platform for Scania. Articulated and double deck options are also planned, meaning we will soon have a solution for every UK bus fleet operator."

Scania Fencer: features and benefits

The nine-litre Scania engine fitted to the first Fencer vehicles will be SCR-only and meets the requirements of the Euro 6 Step E emissions standard. Paired with ZF's Ecolife 2 fully automatic six-speed gearbox, the vehicle is capable of achieving substantial fuel savings compared to its predecessors. 
Other features of the transmission include fast and smooth shifting and a new 'unloaded starting' feature which enhances passenger comfort by reducing noise, improving starting performance and delivering consistent acceleration.

Scania's in-house modular chassis development approach focuses on safety, performance and quality, and ensures all major components are under Scania's direct control. Suspension, brakes and electrics are all controlled by Scania's own software, and all systems communicate with Scania's own diagnostic tool, thereby simplifying trouble shooting and programming. In this way, Scania seeks to maximise uptime of the Fencer while maintaining optimal efficiency and performance at all times.

An all-new driver's area features an adjustable instrument panel for increased driver comfort. Ergonomically designed, all controls are within arm’s reach for ease of use and to reduce driver fatigue and stress.

Externally, the Fencer's bodywork displays an innovative and contemporary profile, with low windows contributing to the natural flow of the vehicle's lines and kerbside appeal. Also incorporated into the design are stylish LED lights and enhanced side lighting. Inside, the modern, spacious design approach continues, with a light and airy saloon complemented again by full LED lighting to create a stylish and relaxed ambience.

 As a vehicle which is produced responsibly and is to be offered with a wide choice of fuelling options, the Scania Fencer will contribute significantly towards achieving Scania's Science Based Targets.

The Fencer range will be available with a choice of renewable powertrain technologies with hybrid, gas power with BioCNG and BioLNG options. In addition, Scania's entire diesel offering can run on HVO without any modification.

The Scania Fencer will have Scania’s 100 percent battery electric powertrain, available to order this year. A new fully integrated chassis will allow for an eight- or ten-battery pack set-up. This chassis will also feature a host of mechanical revisions, new electrics and ECU, new independent front suspension and a new rigid front axle for improved passenger capacity load capacity and turning radius as well as increased comfort and aisle width.

Scania’s development engineers have created a new battery electric platform which is Scania technology end-to-end throughout the entire drivetrain. A Scania battery will power Scania’s own 300kW electric motor driving through Scania’s own two-speed gearbox. The chassis has been climatically tested in city, interurban and pure urban environments to ensure the fully electric will deliver zero emission transport as it expands beyond the city centre and into inter-urban environments.

Science Based Targets have been created to help achieve the objectives of the Paris Agreement, a legally binding international treaty which provides a framework to limit global warming to well below 2°C, preferably 1.5°C, compared to pre-industrial levels. The Agreement was ratified on 5 October 2015 and came into force on 4 November 2016.

Sizes & Specifications here

Sunday, 23 May 2021

National Railway Museum & Locomotion Welcomes First Visitors of the Year

The National Railway Museum in York and Locomotion in Shildon reopened on 19th May for the first time this year, as national Covid restrictions are eased.

Since tickets were released two weeks ago, 10,219 people have booked their free tickets to visit the National Railway Museum, with another 5,441 people booking to visit Locomotion in Shildon.

The railway museums are part of the Science Museum Group which temporarily closed its five sites across the UK at the end of 2020, as a result of the Covid pandemic.

As well as seeing the museums’ famous locomotives and carriages, visitors at Locomotion and the National Railway Museum will be able to see a new photographic exhibition called Railway Heroes which celebrates the work of railway workers during the pandemic.

At the National Railway Museum, people will be able to take part in a new audio trail which reveals details of York’s railway heritage. Visitors to Locomotion will be able to see the original Locomotion No.1 which goes on display in the museum for the first time and see the museum’s newly restored historic buildings.

Visitors to both museums are being asked to observe social distancing, wear a facemask (unless exempt) and book online in advance. Ticket numbers will be limited to timed slots to help keep people safe and entry will remain free of charge.

Judith McNicol, Director of the National Railway Museum, said: “I would like to extend a warm welcome to everyone who has booked a ticket, whether they are regular visitors, or those travelling to see us for the first time. The response so far has been really encouraging with more than 15,000 people registering to visit and we are really looking forward to reopening for the first time this year.”

Ahead of reopening, staff and volunteers have carried out additional cleaning with hand sanitiser and signage in place to help with social distancing.

The National Railway Museum will be open 10.00 –17.00, Wednesday to Sunday. Locomotion will open 10.30 –16.00, Wednesday to Sunday. During school holidays, both museums will open seven days a week - Monday to Sunday.

Entrance to both museums is free but visitors must book online in advance and observe social distancing and follow marked routes.

To book tickets for the National Railway Museum, visit:

To book tickets for Locomotion, visit


Saturday, 22 May 2021

500TH BYD ADL Electric Bus Delivered To Go- London as Orders Across The UK Now Top 1000

BYD UK and Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) have jointly announced that their electric vehicle partnership, has handed over its 500th electric bus. 

The zero emission double decker has joined the fleet of the partnership’s launch customer, Go-Ahead London, as orders for the next 500 BYD ADL electric buses have already been confirmed for public transport operators across the UK.

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).

BYD and ADL combine their strengths to offer reliable and cost-effective electric buses for operators in the United Kingdom, Ireland and New Zealand. Having entered a partnership agreement in October 2015, the partnership delivered its first buses the following summer. 
Its electric buses for the UK and Ireland are built in Britain, ensuring that investment in cleaner transport benefits communities across the country, as well as the environment.

Less than five years after rolling out the first, the partnership has now delivered the 500th BYD ADL electric bus. This BYD ADL Enviro400EV double decker is one of 20 that have joined the Go-Ahead London fleet for Transport for London route 69 between Walthamstow and Canning Town.

Go-Ahead London has worked closely with the BYD ADL partnership since its inception, becoming its launch customer in 2016 and continuing to support product development with its operational experience. 
The very first BYD ADL electric bus – a BYD ADL Enviro200EV single decker – joined the handover of the 500th as the manufacturers paid tribute to Go-Ahead London’s crucial role in the deployment of electric buses in the UK. This has made Go-Ahead the country’s biggest operator of electric buses, including nearly half of the 500 BYD ADL electric buses delivered so far.

Frank Thorpe, Managing Director of BYD UK, said: “We were delighted in 2015 when Go-Ahead London embarked upon their journey towards electrification with us, and we’re even more thrilled today as we celebrate the handover of the 500th BYD ADL electric bus. It’s a very significant milestone, and not only for the BYD ADL partnership. 

It demonstrates clearly the commitment of the nation’s capital to decarbonisation, with eMobility playing an increasingly fundamental role in delivering a cleaner transport system for millions of people. 
Operators like Go-Ahead London, with the BYD ADL partnership in support, really are leading the charge.”

The very first BYD ADL electric bus – a BYD ADL Enviro200EV single decker, joined the latest BYD ADL bus at the hand over

ADL UK Sales Director, Martin Brailey said: “As we prepare to transition chassis assembly to our UK facilities to deliver a product fully built in Britain, the BYD ADL partnership’s winning combination of class-leading technology and design expertise continues to set the standard for electric buses. 
This has been made possible by our customers, and none more so than Go-Ahead London, who were the first outside China to convert an entire depot to electric operation with the launch order five years ago and who continue to challenge us to deliver ongoing innovation.”

John Trayner, Go-Ahead London's Managing Director, said: “It is fitting that this significant milestone took place at Waterloo, our global award-winning all-electric bus garage. 
Waterloo pioneered electric bus technology in 2013 and it quickly proved reliable in the capital's high frequency and demanding stop/start operating environment. Along with the Mayor, Transport for London and other important infrastructure partners, we are seamlessly transitioning the capital's iconic red bus fleet to deliver a zero-emission public transport offering. 
Congratulations to the BYD ADL partnership on reaching 500 e-bus deliveries.”

Richard Harrington, Go-Ahead London's Engineering Director, added: “We know that our people enjoy driving and maintaining what was, until relatively recently, a new technology. Go-Ahead London has a proud history of innovation and as our buses switch from diesel to other technologies, our experience as the UK's largest e-bus operator, with over 200 BYD ADL electric vehicles in service, will prove invaluable.”

As the transition to zero emission transport continues to accelerate, the BYD ADL partnership has already taken firm orders for the next 500 electric buses, expected to be delivered over the next twelve months and taking the partnership’s total to over 1000.

Friday, 21 May 2021

'Great British Railways' Announced as a New Single Accountable Leadership for UK Rail

A quarter-century of fragmentation on the railways will end as they come under single, accountable national leadership, as the government yesterday (20 May 2021) unveiled a new plan for rail that prioritises passengers and freight.

A new public body, Great British Railways (GBR), will integrate the railways, owning the infrastructure, collecting fare revenue, running and planning the network, and setting most fares and timetables.

GBR will simplify the current mass of confusing tickets with new flexible season tickets and a significant roll-out of more convenient Pay As You Go, contactless and digital ticketing on smartphones. 
A new GBR website will sell tickets and a single compensation system for operators in England will provide a simple system for passengers to access information and apply for refunds.

There will remain a substantial and often greater role for the private sector. GBR will contract private partners to operate most trains to the timetables and fares it specifies, with a model similar to that used by Transport for London in its successful Overground and Docklands Light Railway services.

The new Passenger Service Contracts will include strong incentives for operators to run high-quality services and increase passenger numbers. They will not be one-size-fits-all: as demand recovers, operators on some routes, particularly long-distance, will have more commercial freedom. Affordable walk-on fares and season ticket prices will be protected.

The Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, published yesterday, sets out the path towards a truly passenger-focused railway, underpinned by new contracts that prioritise punctual and reliable services, the rapid delivery of a ticketing revolution, with new flexible and convenient tickets and long-term proposals to build a modern, greener and accessible network.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said:

I am a great believer in rail, but for too long passengers have not had the level of service they deserve.

By creating Great British Railways and investing in the future of the network, this government will deliver a rail system the country can be proud of.

Grant Shapps Transport Secretary said:

Our railways were born and built to serve this country, to forge stronger connections between our communities and provide people with an affordable, reliable and rapid service. Years of fragmentation, confusion and over-complication have seen that vision fade and passengers failed. That complicated and broken system ends today.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps

The pandemic has seen the government take unprecedented steps to protect services and jobs. It’s now time to kickstart reforms that give the railways solid and stable foundations for the future, unleashing the competitive, innovative and expert abilities of the private sector, and ensuring passengers come first.

Great British Railways marks a new era in the history of our railways. It will become a single familiar brand with a bold new vision for passengers – of punctual services, simpler tickets and a modern and green railway that meets the needs of the nation.

Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail video

Keith Williams, Chair of the Williams Review, said:

Our Plan is built around the passenger, with new contracts which prioritise excellent performance and better services, better value fares and creating clear leadership and real accountability when things go wrong.

Our railway history – rich with Victorian pioneers and engineers, steam and coal, industry and ingenuity – demands a bright future. This plan is the path forward, reforming our railways to ensure they work for everyone in this country.

COVID-19 has caused deep, structural challenges to the railway, with use still far below pre-pandemic levels. This strategy re-emphasises our commitment to rail, with tens of billions of pounds invested in more electrification, new and reopened lines and a rail revolution.

GBR will drive significant efficiencies in the railways’ inflated costs, reducing complexity and duplication, increasing flexibility, changing working practices and making it easier and cheaper to invest. Reform is the only way to protect services and jobs in the long term.

In the short and medium term, we will work closely with the sector on measures to encourage passengers back to rail. To reflect changes in the traditional commute and working life, the government has today announced that a new national flexi season ticket will be on sale this summer, with potential savings of hundreds of pounds a year for 2 and 3 day-a-week commuters. Tickets will be on sale on 21 June, ready for use on 28 June.

The new Passenger Service Contracts will also help to build a more financially stable industry. By removing barriers to new market entrants, including by no longer basing competitions on complex and uncertain revenue forecasts, private operators will be challenged to provide a competitive and customer-focused offer, delivering greater value-for-money for the taxpayer.

Local communities will work closely with GBR on designing services with local leaders given greater control over local ticketing, timetables and stations. The new model will encourage innovative bidders, such as community rail partnerships who want to bid for the GBR contract to operate their local branch lines.

The journey to this new passenger-focused model has begun. New National Rail Contracts will be announced this year. They will be in operation for 2 years and act as a bridge to reform.

Thursday, 20 May 2021

Pulham's Coaches Takes Delivery of New ADL Plaxton Leopard Coach As Part of Continued Fleet Investment

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”), has announced that it has handed over a brand new Plaxton Leopard coach to Cotswolds-based Pulham's Coaches.

Built on a Volvo B8R chassis, the 70-seat coach is PSVAR compliant thanks to a side-mounted wheelchair lift and is equipped with gull wing mirrors and wood effect flooring.

Pulham's Coaches is a fourth generation, family owned and operated business, formed in 1880. The business has been serving the Cotswolds community for over 140 years, providing twenty two crucial bus routes within Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire; school transport; school, college and university groups with educational tours; as well as corporate coach travel throughout the UK and Europe.

The new vehicle will go into service on the company’s home to school transport services along with school private hires.

Pulham's Coaches Director, Andy Pulham said: “The addition of this new coach is great news for our customers in Gloucestershire and is part of our continued investment in our fleet to help us deliver the highest quality services to our passengers.”

Lee Salt, ADL Sales Account Manager, added: “Pulham's Coaches is a long-standing customer and it’s always a pleasure to work with them. We’re delighted to have handed over this new coach which will deliver excellent comfort and reliability for their customers.”

Wednesday, 19 May 2021

GB Railfreight and Maersk Sign Deal to Move Freight Through the Redeveloped Tinsley Marshalling Yard Site

GB Railfreight (GBRf) has announced a new two-year deal with the global provider of end-to-end logistics services, the Danish company A.P. Moller -Maersk. The first rail collaboration between the two companies.

The service will operate from Felixstowe to Newell & Wright in Tinsley and will consist of daily trains, five times a week. The new built facility at Tinsley will bring new exciting opportunities to the market.

Newell & Wright have been working night and day to reopen an unused rail terminal which sits half in Rotherham and half in Sheffield.

Tinsley Marshalling Yard, was once the rail hub of the borough, home to over 200 locomotives, however due to its decline in the early 80's the site had become wasteland until this years resurrection.

This new agreement sees GBRf operating from the new terminal in Tinsley, but is a continuation of a longstanding relationship with Newell & Wright, whom GBRf have long worked with.

The announcement also allows for the already strong relationship between GBRf and Maersk to flourish over the coming years. Maersk, a global integrator of container logistics company, active in ocean and inland freight transportation and associated services, such as supply chain management and port operation, has been the largest container shipping line and vessel operator in the world since 1996 and is a leading player in the logistics space.

The new service will incorporate five new eco-fret 2 wagons which have recently been procured from VTG.

John Smith, Managing Director at GB Railfreight, said:

“I am delighted we have agreed this contract with Maersk, one of the world’s most renowned logistics and shipping companies. We are a growing organisation, always looking for the next opportunity and working with Maersk was an excellent opportunity. We hope this is the beginning of a great relationship.”

“We are also thrilled to be able to continue to build on our relationship with Newell & Wright, and to be operating from another of their terminals. We look forward to strengthening our ties over the course of the next two years.”

Jeremy Haycock at Maersk said:

“Maersk´s ultimate aim is offering our customers reliable options that streamline their supply chains. As a provider of logistic services, rail is key for us to increase supply chain flexibility for our customers. We will continue to strength our reliability in the UK and for that matter, the relationship with GBRf and Newell & Wright has proven to be of paramount importance.”