Wednesday, 12 May 2021

Crossrail Starts Trial Running in Central Section

Crossrail has officially entered trial running on the central section of the London railway line with four trains per hour initially running through the tunnels. Testing will ramp up over the coming weeks with the final Elizabeth line service due to run 24 trains per hour when it opens to the public.

Central Section of Crossrail

Trial running involves the extensive commissioning of the railway and their website says "Crossrail Ltd plans to bring the Elizabeth line into passenger service as soon as practically possibly in the first half of 2022.

Above & below, a Crossrail train which is in service between Reading and Paddington.
It is hoped that trains should be running in the central section and beyond during the first half of 2022

Delivery of the Elizabeth line is now in its complex final stages and is being completed at a time of great uncertainty due to the risks and potential impacts of further Covid outbreaks. Our focus is on meeting the immediate challenges posed by COVID-19.

We expect to commence extensive commissioning of the railway in spring 2021. We are in the phase of Trial Running, which involves multiple trains operating in the central operating section to test the timetable and build reliability, while the final works to the stations are completed. 
It will take a period of time to fully test the Elizabeth line before it can open for passenger service. This includes a final phase known as Trial Operations involving people being invited onto trains and stations to test real-time service scenarios to ensure the readiness of the railway.

Following the opening of the central section, full services across the Elizabeth line from Reading and Heathrow in the west to Abbey Wood and Shenfield in the east will be introduced. The introduction of full services will be aligned with the National Rail timetable change.

Trial running will see multiple trains operating in the tunnels to simulate the Elizabeth line timetable.

The initial phase of Trial Running will see a limited number of trains in operation on the central operating section to allow the infrastructure manager, TfL, to undertake a number of activities to achieve full readiness. The number of trains will gradually increase before further activities such as timetable operation, timetable demonstrations and integration testing can be undertaken.

Trial Running is vital to unlocking the pathway to passenger service. It involves multiple trains operating in the central operating section to demonstrate that the railway is capable of reliably meeting the capacity and other requirements, whilst the final works to the stations are completed.

Outstanding works have been scheduled into the programme and will take place during the Trial Running period. These works include a combination of project maintenance, snagging and enhancements and some testing and commissioning activity.

There will also be four train signalling software upgrades during Trial Running and time has been allocated in the Trial Running programme for each to be tested as appropriate and deployed.



Tuesday, 11 May 2021

New London City Sightseeing Hop on Hop off Operation to Hit The Streets From 20th May

Stagecoach, and the world's leading open-top bus brand, City Sightseeing, have joined forces with Grupo Julià, a specialist in global tourism and mobility services, to launch a brand new sightseeing service for London.

At a time when the country is re-opening and people are planning day trips and holidays, boosting domestic tourism will be absolutely crucial in supporting the restart of London’s economy, and in the longer term, encouraging the return of overseas tourism. The three partners have therefore come together to launch the new service to become a leading operator.

City Sightseeing London will launch on 20th May and will offer an open-top hop-on, hop-off service giving visitors to the capital and Londoners a tour of the city’s most historic and iconic sights in the most fun and informative way.

Big Ben, the Houses of Parliament, the Tower of London and St Paul’s Cathedral, among other iconic sights, can all be seen from the top deck of the City Sightseeing London tour, as well as a trip over Tower Bridge. An entertaining and informative commentary available in 11 languages will be in place to welcome overseas visitors as soon as they can return to this world-class city.

City Sightseeing is present in more than 100 destinations in 6 continents and Grupo Julià operates sightseeing buses across 10 cities worldwide. Their open-top double-decker buses have become synonymous with tourists in some of the world’s top destinations. Both companies reinforce their commitment to the capital demonstrating their confidence in the UK tourism market.

Enrique Ybarra, CEO of City Sightseeing: "Since we founded City Sightseeing, London has always been an inspiration. After developing the hop-on hop-off service around the world through more than 100 cities on 6 continents, I am very happy to see City Sightseeing at the cradle of the HO-HO business. Together with renowned partners Stagecoach and Grupo Julià, we want to provide the best experience to the city’s visitors, as we put all the experience gained and our industry network to make City Sightseeing London the leading operator."

Paul Lynch, Regional Director for Stagecoach, said: "Buses will play a crucial role in the recovery of the country and of course, our capital city. Boosting domestic tourism is a key priority and as people now start to plan the return to doing the things they enjoy doing, such as day trips and staycations, the launch of this new open-top tour bus service will provide an easy, convenient and environmentally friendly way for people to tour the great sights of London.

"London is well-renowned all over the world for being an exciting and historic city that people want to visit, and by joining forces with City Sightseeing and Grupo Julià, we also have a great opportunity to encourage overseas visitors back as soon as we are able."

Jose Adell, CEO of Grupo Julià said: "Offer the best hop-on hop-off service available in London. This is going to be the objective of Stagecoach Group, Grupo Julià and City Sightseeing in this new stage. Three operators, experts in our respective fields of activity and who share the vocation of service, quality and safety as three fundamental areas of our action."

Grupo Julià City Tour operates in: Barcelona, Madrid, London, Marrakech, México, Tangier, San Sebastián, Roma, Fuengirola, Granada, Peñíscola and Gijón.

All services will be fully Covid-19 secure, with regular touchpoint cleaning, hand sanitiser dispensers, PPE for staff, and the rest of the health and safety measures included in the City Sightseeing Covid-19 protocol.

To book tickets or for more information visit:

Monday, 10 May 2021

Avanti Introduces At Seat Food Ordering app

Avanti West Coast has rolled out a new service across its UK network where customers can have food and drink delivered to their seat.

Introduced on trains operating across the West Coast Main Line, this new feature follows a successful trial onboard last year.

Whilst customers in First Class have always enjoyed being served at their seat, this will enable customers in Standard to order refreshments and have it delivered to them.

Known as At-Seat Order, this additional customer benefit has been introduced across services on Avanti West Coast’s routes.

Customers can log on to the onboard Wi-Fi using their mobile phone, tablet or laptop and then visit the dedicated page in their browser to choose their items.

Payment is through debit or credit cards and PayPal. The order is then delivered to their seat by an onboard Customer Service Assistant.

As part of At-Seat Order, a click and collect function has also been introduced on Pendolino trains – giving customers the option to choose food and drink at their seat before collecting from the onboard shop. A notification will be sent to customers on their phone when their order is ready to collect.

Feedback for At-Seat Order has been overwhelmingly positive with customers rating the service as good or excellent.

Accessibility groups also welcomed the new service, citing it was helpful for disabled customers who find it difficult to leave their seat.

At-Seat Order will also run alongside the onboard shop on Pendolino services if customers prefer to buy their food and drink in the more traditional way.

The onboard shop on Pendolinos have been installed with protective screens and safety lines in place to enable social distancing.

“The results of our trial proved At-Seat Order was a great addition to services and a perfect solution for customers who did not want to leave their seat,” said Sarah Copley, Executive Director, Commercial at Avanti West Coast.

“It’s a new, easy way for those travelling to enjoy great food and drink with us and to pay digitally, providing extra reassurance during a journey so customers can travel with confidence.”

When onboard, customers on Avanti West Coast can visit At-Seat Order here: You will need to connect to the onboard WiFi to place an order

Sunday, 9 May 2021

Hitachi 800's Removed from Service for Safety Checks

Services on the UK's busiest railways are facing severe disruption after cracks were spotted on some high-speed trains.

Most Great Western Main Line trains to and from London Paddington have been cancelled, while London North Eastern Railways is asking passengers not to travel on the East Coast Main Line. TransPennine Express Nova 1 trains had been affected by the issue and were being checked and Hull Trains are also affected.

Hitachi apologised after the issue was found on some of its 800 series trains.

The railway minister 
Chris Heaton-Harris warned disruption was likely for a "prolonged period".

He said the issue had been found on part of the chassis of some trains on Saturday morning following routine checks.

He said trains would be returned to service as "quickly as possible", but warned that Great Western Railway services in particular were likely to face continued disruption.

He said: "I share the frustration of passengers who are experiencing significant disruption, and would ask people whose journeys are affected to check before travelling."

The minister added he has asked the rail industry to conduct "a rapid and comprehensive review to resolve the issue".

Hitachi said some of its 800 series trains had been taken out of service as a "precautionary measure to allow for thorough investigations", adding it was working to resolve the issue as quickly and safely as possible.

Andrew Barr, CEO of Hitachi Rail, said the decision to withdraw the trains had been taken because of cracks found on the metal that linked the train's body with the underside of the train- known as the bogie.

"We would like to offer our sincerest apologies to passengers for the impact this may be causing for their travel plans."

TransPennine Express and Hull Trains have also been affected by the problem.

Hull Trains said its services would resume as normal following "thorough checks by Hitachi" on its fleet of Class 800 series trains.

However, the operator added that it expected services to be "extremely busy" and could not guarantee that social distancing guidelines would be adhered to.

Passengers have been advised to check train operators' websites before travelling.

180 trains being taken out of service on Saturday morning for inspection. The fault is potentially a serious one that requires action because if metal fatiguing is allowed to continue, the cracks could spread, and the body shell strength will be weakened".

Repairing aluminium trains can be difficult because any of the electronic equipment close to the repair needs to be disconnected and removed and then re-installed after welding repairs have been completed.

Up to 1,000 carriages could be affected by the problem

  • The Class 800 is an electric multiple unit - but almost half of them also have diesel engines, enabling them to operate on lines that have not been electrified
  • Formal orders for the trains were made in 2012 and 2013 at a cost of around £5.7bn for a 27.5 year programme, including maintenance
  • The Class 800 began regular service for Great Western Railway in October 2017 between London to Bristol
  • In May 2019, they began service on the East Coast Main Line, with operator LNER branding the train Azuma - or "east" in Japanese
  • They were hailed by operators as helping to increase capacity and reduce journey times
  • The trains were assembled at Hitachi's plant in Newton Aycliffe in County Durham

Last month, six of the trains were taken out of service by GWR after hairline cracks were found in the suspension system during routine maintenance.

Also see here for a recent posting about Northern Class 195's suffering yaw damper problems

Saturday, 8 May 2021

Solaris Wins Its First Major Contract in Madrid to Supply 250 CNG Buses

Earlier this year, Empresa Municipal de Transportes de Madrid (EMT)  issued a significant Request for Offers for the supply of up to 520 12- metre CNG vehicles, and out of these, 250 will be supplied by the CAF Group subsidiary as part of a contract totalling almost €75 million. 

The delivery schedule calls for the buses to be supplied between 2021 and 2023, with 91 units expected to be providing revenue service on the streets of Madrid later this year.

Empresa Municipal de Transportes de Madrid (EMT) is the largest public transport operator in Spain and the second largest in Europe. The operator's strategy plan includes the ambitious goal of having only fully electric, hybrid and CNG buses operating on the streets of Madrid by 2023, in fact, the entire existing fleet of diesel vehicles will be replaced with CNG buses.

The buses purchased by the capital city's operator will be equipped with 239 kW engines adapted to run on compressed natural gas (CNG). Five CNG storage tanks with a total capacity of 1,575 litres will be mounted on the front of the vehicle’s roof. 

This amount of fuel, together with a reserve capacity to guarantee the minimum required CNG concentration, will ensure the buses can run at least 400 km on a single fill up.

EMT opted for high quality equipment both for the passenger compartment, which has a capacity for up to 100 passengers, and for the driver cab. These include a modern and complete passenger information system, USB ports to charge mobile devices and a video surveillance system for improved safety.

This is the largest bus order the CAF Group has secured to date in Madrid, although Solaris has already supplied over 250 vehicles, including electric, hybrid or CNG models in cities such as Barcelona, Burgos, Elche, Bilbao, Castellon, Badalona and San Sebastián.

Solaris closed the 2020 financial year with a significant increase in sales and revenue, the company setting new records last year in terms of vehicle sales, selling a total of 1,560 units, the highest figure ever reached in its 25 years of existence. 
On top of this, 2020 saw Solaris rank as the leading urban electric bus manufacturer in Europe, with a 20% market share as a result of the 457 vehicles, 12 and 18-metre long, supplied during the year.

Friday, 7 May 2021

Aberdeen Hydrogen Buses Hit 100,000 Milestone

First Aberdeen and Aberdeen City Council are celebrating this week after their hydrogen double-decker bus fleet notched up its first major milestone - completing 100,000 miles of operation.

Since launching into customer service in January, the fleet of 15 First Aberdeen buses, manufactured in the UK by Wrightbus, has already saved a total of 170,000kg of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere – the equivalent of taking 42 cars off the road for a year – marking a significant step forward in improving the city’s air quality for its residents.

The exhausts of this world-first zero-emission fleet emit nothing more than water vapour and the hydrogen fuel is made from just electricity from wind power and water. Aberdeen makes its own hydrogen to power the buses, making it an even greener energy source for the local community.

Aberdeen City Council Co-Leader, Councillor Douglas Lumsden, said: “Transforming the city's carbon footprint on a large scale is no easy feat, but we're committed to making continuous progress and are proud to be leading the way in the transport industry with First Aberdeen to bring our joint vision of low emission public transport to life.”

The existing 15 hydrogen buses are now in service across the city with the majority of them predominantly operating on the Service 19 route in Aberdeen.

Ian Gillott, Wrightbus Group Director, said: “To reach 100,000 miles is a significant milestone. It is a credit to Aberdeen City Council and to First Bus that they have embraced this new technology so readily, putting Aberdeen firmly and historically on the zero emissions map.”

Michelle Thomson, hydrogen bus driver at First Aberdeen, said: "Drivers and the public absolutely love the new hydrogen buses - sailing smoothly and silently through the city's streets is an absolute joy. We get people hopping on just for a ride, to enjoy the experience.

“It’s been especially lovely during lockdown, too, as the buses are so quiet that socially distancing passengers wearing masks can still have a natter from either end of the bus. As drivers, it makes us much more in tune with what’s going on on board, so we’re able to deliver the best in customer service.

“In fact, they’re so quiet that we’re getting more customers nodding off on board – I imagine this will start to happen more as hospitality opens up and people take the opportunity to make their way back from the pub!

“It’s lovely driving through countryside routes as well, knowing that we’re not disturbing the peace – we can glide through, hardly noticed. But most of all it’s great knowing that we’re doing our bit to help protect the planet - that’s really important to us all."

To support the fleet’s deployment, Wrightbus installed a support team of hydrogen specialists on the ground in Aberdeen as well as an escalation team and a technical back-up team on 24-hour call.

The hydrogen buses will continue to make a valuable difference to the environment as well as Aberdonians’ cardiovascular and respiratory health as each one is expected to save 80 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year - the equivalent of removing 38 petrol or 40 diesel cars from the road.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

Megabus and Yellow Buses Offer New Service Between London and Bournemouth

As the country starts to re-open and people plan ahead for day trips and UK breaks, megabus, the UK intercity coach operator has joined forces with Bournemouth-based Yellow Buses to offer a new service from Bournemouth to London, via Heathrow Airport.

The new service will be operated by drivers from locally-owned Yellow Buses, and will run from Thursday to Monday every week offering five daily journeys in each direction starting from 21 May. The timetable has been created by megabus and Yellow Buses to cater for day trippers from Bournemouth to London and vice versa, and also provides a 23:30 departure from London offering a late night return for theatre goers and football supporters when people are able to return to these venues.

As with other megabus services, reserved seating will be offered as well as additional leg room seats, complimentary WiFI on board, as well as an on-board toilet.

Screenshot from megabus website, other departures were available at 18.30 and 23.30.
The 23.30 departure was priced at £10.50, all other departures were £9.00

In addition to the Bournemouth service, there will also be one journey a day between Weymouth and London.

Mark Venables, megabus Managing Director said: "The staycation summer is fast approaching and the south coast is a firm favourite for many of us.

“We are making day trips and longer stays to visit loved ones and tourist hotspots easier than before and at the same time, creating connections between the largest cities as well as airports across England, Wales and as far as Scotland*.

“Yellow Buses are a highly respected local operator and it’s great to be able to partner with them to provide this service, as well as connecting journeys onto their local bus network to locations such as Christchurch and Wimborne”.

"More and more people are discovering and coming back to the exceptional value and comfort of choosing megabus coaches as we emerge from the pandemic, with the added advantage of coach being an incredibly sustainable travel choice."

David Squire, Managing Director of Yellow Buses said “It is great to be able to partner with megabus in providing these services. As the local operator of bus services in the Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole conurbation and south Dorset area, it's for the local operator to be able to work with megabus to provide the services.

“megabus offer a great service, and like us, expect the highest of standards from their drivers, so you can be sure of a great experience when travelling with us. The drivers are all local to Bournemouth and the surrounding area, so always have some help and advice to anyone visiting the area for the first time.

“With connecting tickets to be made available for the local service from Bournemouth to Christchurch and Wimborne, this will mean customers can purchase one simple ticket for their journey. We will also be selling megabus tickets at our travel shop in Bournemouth”.

The service will start on Friday 21 May, and tickets are available for purchase now from


Wednesday, 5 May 2021

Realtime Trains to Support 4VEP Restoration

The Southern Electric Traction Group has announced that it has reached an agreement with Realtime Trains to sponsor the continuing restoration of the Bluebell Railway’s unique 4VEP Electric Multiple Unit No. 423 417.

3417 has been under restoration at Strawberry Hill since 2015. Attention is currently focused on making the unit fit to be hauled on the National Network, and refurbishing the passenger accommodation to allow the unit to be used either as push-pull stock with suitably equipped locomotives or as hauled stock on preserved railways. 

Future developments for the unit will including the installation of GSM-R digital cab radio, On-Train Monitoring and Recording equipment as well as CET toilet equipment and Central Door Locking.

Steve Upton, SETG spokesman, said “It’s astonishing and gratifying to receive such a huge vote of confidence from Realtime Trains. This sponsorship, along with the support we have already received from our regular contributors and the wider railway industry, brings 3417 an enormous step closer to carrying passengers once again.”

Tom Cairns, owner of Realtime Trains commented “I am delighted to be able to help contribute towards the SETG’s ongoing work to return 3417 to passenger service. 
Having seen the work first-hand at Strawberry Hill the SETG team have demonstrated their will and capability to fulfil this goal. Since 3417 spent its entire operational life operating out of London Waterloo, the route I grew up with, it felt right to be supporting this project. 
I, like many others, look forward to being able to ride aboard this classic train once again in the near future.”

Roy Watts, for the Bluebell Railway, remarked “This is a fantastic gesture. In the midst of the disruption and uncertainty of the last twelve months of lockdowns and restrictions we applaud this hugely positive step in the restoration of No. 3417.”

The Southern Electric Traction Group was founded in 2009 by staff members of South West Trains, based at Wimbledon Park depot. In mid-2014, they agreed a long-term loan agreement with the Bluebell Railway to provide specialist operational and technical knowledge to protect the operational future of 4VEP No. 3417. 
The SETG’s stated aim is to “Return 4VEP No. 3417 to Mainline Operation.”

Realtimetrains was founded by Tom Cairns in 2012, this website is the premier provider of live realtime running information for the Great British railway network for the railway industry, passengers and the enthusiast community.

The Bluebell Railway took ownership of 4VEP unit No. 3417 Gordon Pettitt from South West Trains in January 2009. The unit was named by Gordon Pettitt, former BR Southern Region General Manager and now President of the Bluebell Railway Preservation Society, at a ceremony in June 2004.

Tuesday, 4 May 2021

Transport Secretary Praises Cut in Prices on Contactless Payments on Visit to Black Country

National Express West Midlands has made the move to roll back the price of its daily and weekly fares for when restrictions ease on June 21.

A new weekly contactless ticket price cap will be introduced across the network in June to help simplify the process of paying for a ticket.

During a visit to the West Midlands by the Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, he described it as "brilliant news"

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on National Express West Midlands
bus at their garage on the Pensnett Trading Estate

"Contactless is per-day capped and brilliantly it's going to cap it off on a week fare as well, so you won't be able to pay more than £15 a week"

"I've got no doubt at all if you come back in a year's time we'll find there will be people travelling who perhaps haven't done before. I've been inside the buses and they're lovely – you would want to be in there, there's Wi-Fi and they're beautiful machines and clean."

The contactless weekly ticket price capping means people will be able to travel as much as they like – with people showing their contactless bank card, or the banking app on their phone, to the bus ticket machine each time they get on.

At the end of seven days, they will be charged no more than the cost of a weekly ticket – however many journeys they made.

Mr Shapps added an additional benefit of the fares dropping is that more people would be inclined to use buses – which, in turn, would lead to emissions being cut across the West Midlands.

He added: "It's terrifically important. We've always looked at "how do you make transport more convenient for people?' – if they can jump on public transport they don't need to take their cars, they don't want to take their cars because actually, you don't have the hassle and it's cheaper."

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: "Before the pandemic more people were using public transport across the West Midlands in all of its forms – eight million more bus journeys in the year before, and think how many emissions have been saved there with those journeys.

"Rail usage and metro usage is well up, so we've got this circle – usage is up, so people will invest in it, the service improves and now we're seeing the last bit of the circle – the price coming down. It really is working.

"Buses remain the backbone of our public transport – we get excited about new railway lines, and of course we've just had the money from the Department for Transport for the opening of the Walsall to Wolverhampton line, but buses are still the most popular form of public transport and that's why we've got to do these things: make it more affordable, cleaner and of course, make it more reliable."

The bus company is cutting the price of the peak day ticket from £4.60 to £4 on June 21 – when restrictions are expected to ease – and the price of a weekly ticket will drop from £17.50 to £15.

It is expected the average commuter will save over £130 a year on bus travel as a result of the fares being cut, with the cost of a child ticket becoming £2 a day – down from £2.50.

Tom Stables, managing director for National Express UK, said: "We think it's crucial to attracting people back after the pandemic, it's clearly been a tough year but we've had good patronage despite that.

"But we want to see people back and we believe good value, getting the prices right, encourages people to come out of their cars and back onto the buses. We have a lovely bus fleet too.

"I think it's not only about the lower price but also about the capping as well – we're putting on a weekly cap product at £15, which is a reduction from £17.50, and that makes it easier. One of the barriers to public transport sometimes is that you don't know what it's going to cost you, you don't know what you're going to get charged.

"[With this] you can use your card, it's £15 and it's totally transparent. The price is lower and the product is good."

Monday, 3 May 2021

ADL Delivers Bespoke Enviro400's to Independent Operator Lynx For West Norfolk Coastal Route

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”),  has announced the delivery of two low carbon Enviro400 buses to independent West Norfolk operator Lynx.

Lynx is a locally owned and totally independent bus operator in West Norfolk which was set up in 2015 by a group of local people with many years’ experience of running quality bus services in the area.

The two new Enviro400 vehicles represent Lynx’s first order with ADL and have gone into service on the Coastliner 36 route between King’s Lynn, Hunstanton, Wells-next-the-Sea and Fakenham.

The 11.5m long, 76-seat buses are equipped with personalised Lynx-brand interior colours, glazed skylights, luggage rack, tables, USB chargers and bespoke moquette on the seats, which are generously spaced to give passengers a comfortable journey experience.

Lynx Managing Director Julian Patterson said: “We’re delighted that these new buses are now in service. They will be a great addition to our fleet as we continue to develop our business further and deliver even more for our customers.”

ADL Retail Sales Director Richard Matthews said: “We’d like to thank Lynx for this first order with us. These new buses will deliver a high standard of comfort and reliability for their customers and we look forward to working with Lynx again in the future.”

Sunday, 2 May 2021

Vivarail Class 484 Train Issues Delay Island Line Reopening

South Western Railway has said that it is disappointed to announce that, due to challenges with the delivery of the new fleet of class 484 trains, the reopening of the Island Line will be delayed.

Rolling stock manufacturer Vivarail had been set to deliver all the trains to the Island well before Easter, but complex software issues mean the fully refurbished trains are yet to be delivered. As soon as the trains can be delivered to the Island, SWR can begin the extensive process of operational testing, safety assurance and training required to bring them into service.

As a result, the reopening of the Island Line will be delayed until later this summer. Given the complexity of the challenges faced, primarily with the software on the trains, it is too early to provide a firm date.

SWR and Vivarail are now conducting a full review to build a strong programme in which all parties can have confidence and will provide further updates on that programme in due course.

In the meantime, SWR is committed to keeping customers on the Island moving and has pledged to double the capacity of the rail replacement bus service from 17 May, to match the capacity of the previously expected rail timetable.

Alex Foulds, Major Projects Director at SWR, said:

“We are as disappointed as our customers by this delay. Our infrastructure works are largely on track, but there is a delay to the delivery of the trains and we apologise for the impact that will have on our customers and the communities we serve. We continue to work incredibly hard in partnership with our train supplier Vivarail to reopen a safe, reliable and fully upgraded Island Line as soon as possible.”

Statement by Adrian Shooter, CEO, Vivarail:

This is an announcement I hoped I wouldn’t have to make. I must tell you that, regrettably, there will be a delay in delivery of our trains for the Island Line. Whilst we were able to deliver the first train to the Isle of Wight several months ago, the rest of the fleet are still at Eastleigh for mainline testing before delivery.

We know that this is the second delay to the introduction of the new service, and acknowledge that South Western Railway is on schedule with its infrastructure upgrades.

As a company we take full responsibility and offer our apologies to the passengers and staff of the Island Line. It would be easy to hide behind Covid and point the finger at the pandemic, but we had in fact managed to claw back a lot of that lost time and brought the build back on schedule and all trains have now left our factory.

However, we have unforeseen difficulties with the software. Although in essence it is no different to the version we have used previously it needed some changes to enable the train to run on the 3rd rail. Planning and analysis began over 18 months ago and did not bring any problems to light, but the live tests have uncovered some serious issues. Our priority is to deliver safe and reliable trains, so I have instructed my team to undertake a thorough review rather than try to ‘patch’ the software.

Although this is a difficult time I would like to acknowledge also the help that we have had from our friends in the Railway Family. Bombardier allowed us to use their test track at Derby, Arriva have let us use their depot at Eastleigh and Network Rail could not have been more helpful. Above all the support from SWR has been invaluable. Their team of engineers and project manager have given us help and guidance throughout and it is testament to their professionalism that we still have a robust testing, delivery and training programme in place.

We have a team of engineers on the Island already, working with SWR’s depot engineers on unit 484001 to ensure a smooth handover of responsibilities as the rest of the fleet begin to arrive.

As part of the infrastructure works, which have largely progressed on schedule, SWR has:
Improved the ride comfort of the line by trimming, rejointing and adjusting the rails on over 6.5 miles of railway, as well as installing new sleepers and rail at various locations between Shanklin and Ryde St Johns.
Installed new electricity cables, an upgraded power supply and new signalling cables and equipment across the line to provide greater resilience and reliability for years to come.
Constructed a ‘passing loop’ at Brading which allows trains to pass each other and make possible a new regular half hourly service.
Upgraded stations which will see new ticket machines at 3 locations and Wi-Fi at all stations
Improved accessibility by raising platforms or lowering tracks at 5 stations to reduce the step between the train and the platform.
Transformed the Ryde St Johns depot to accommodate the new 484 class trains, with a new crane and hi-tech software to maintain the fleet

Saturday, 1 May 2021

Volvo Launch New 9700 Fully Integral Coach Via Video Channel

The launch of the new Volvo 9700 fully integral coach to the UK and Irish markets has taken place via the company’s official social media channels.

Built on the established and highly successful Volvo B11R driveline, the all-new Volvo 9700 is said to blend luxury, performance, practicality and flexibility for any operation. It provides class-leading safety, a fuel-efficient driveline and a design which not only maximizes passenger comfort and experience but has an incredible road presence.

According to Volvo's press release "Stunning design with smooth contours compliment the Volvo driveline and combine to ensure outstanding fuel economy with an interior that is as stylish as the exterior. The driver’s environment with a sleek curved dashboard is ergonomically designed to give the driver a comfortable, spacious and efficient environment. Within the saloon, expectations are surpassed, offering a true feeling of Volvo quality"

David Porter, Sales Manager for Volvo Bus UK & Ireland, said: “After a hugely challenging 12 months for the whole industry, we’re delighted to announce some really positive news. The launch of the Volvo 9700 complete coach to the UK and Irish market is an exciting development for customers and Volvo Bus.

“Operators will no doubt be familiar with the new Volvo coach family, the 9700 shares many of the futuristic design features incorporated into the 9900 coupled with others, such as PSVAR capability making it the perfect, versatile addition to our customers fleets.”

David Porter continued, “We know as the industry is getting back on its feet, operators will be reassured by having the support of a manufacturing partner, who understands more than ever the importance of reliable vehicles and quality aftermarket back-up and support. Volvo Bus, the 9700 and Volvo’s dedicated dealer network delivers this and more.

Above & below, the new 9700 was revealed in left hand drive format at the
Coach & Bus UK event in 2019

The new 9700 forms part of what Volvo Buses described as the biggest revision of its European coach range in recent history and serves to demonstrate the organisations commitment to the market.  Traditionally Volvo coaches have been based on Volvo chassis, with bodywork supplied by a number of independent body builders. The 9700 and the 9900 offer coach operators a complete Volvo vehicle with all the assurance of a single sourced product.

9900 Delivery to Lochs & Glens

Renowned, family-owned Scottish holiday and coach tour operator Lochs & Glens has taken delivery of five new Volvo B11R 9900 premium specification fully integral coaches. The delivery is a highly significant landmark joint venture for both companies, as it is the first time Lochs & Glens has ever specified a complete Volvo product. The right hand drive versions of the upmarket 9900 were introduced in advance of the above mentioned 9700.

The five new B11R 13.9 metre, 57 seat coaches join an already impressive all Volvo fleet, now numbering 16 vehicles. Lochs & Glens make a deliberate decision to update and renew a third of the fleet each year, to continue to ensure the very best standard of holiday is maintained for the company’s loyal customers.

All five of Loch & Glens new premium Volvo 9900 are supported on Volvo contracts to ensure they are kept in top working order and that anything that does occur through wear and tear can be rectified as quickly and efficiently as possible.