Sunday, 17 October 2021

Ffestiniog & Welsh Highlands Railways Awarded £3.1 million National Lottery Grant

NORTH WALES’S largest tourist attraction - the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highlands Railways, is celebrating after securing £3.1 million from The National Lottery Heritage Fund. 

The £3,144,000 investment will boost the railways’ plans to attract more visitors by providing “a high-quality tourism experience”, and work, training and volunteering opportunities for the community of Porthmadog. It will also fund the restoration and conservation of buildings including the Boston Lodge Works which is in the Guinness Book of Records as the ‘oldest railway workshop in continuous operation’. 

Supporters will be providing an additional £900,000 of matched funding for the three-and-a half-year project which, once it is complete, should help attract up to 250,000 visitors to the railways annually. 

UNESCO World Heritage Site At their peak, the railways were at the centre of the global trade in Welsh slate and served the largest underground slate mine in the world - the Oakeley quarry in Blaenau Ffestiniog. 

Today, the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highlands Railways which became part of the UNESCO Slate Heritage of Northwest Wales World Heritage Site in July, brings in up to 200,000 visitors a year. And its two railway lines - the Ffestiniog Railway and Welsh Highland Railway, share an impressive railway heritage with the Ffestiniog Railway being the world’s oldest narrow-gauge railway and the Welsh Highland Railway is the UK’s longest heritage railway. 

Andrew White, Director of The National Lottery Heritage Fund in Wales said: “Thanks to National Lottery players, this £3.1 million investment will allow the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways – a truly world-class, high quality attraction, to provide work and training opportunities for the local community and boost the economy of north west Wales by bringing an additional 50,000 visitors to the area every year. 

“As well as the many economic and employment benefits of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways, this project which centres on the Boston Lodge works is a great example of how heritage can help us understand who we are and where we come from and how the communities we are part of have been shaped by the past by bringing history to life.”

Built between 1833 and 1836, the Ffestiniog Railway carried slate from Blaenau Ffestiniog’s slate mines to the seaport in Porthmadog and shipped across the world. The Ffestiniog Railway carried its last load in 1946 and in 1954 volunteers started bringing it and the Boston Lodge Works back to life. 

The Welsh Highland Railway was restored in the 1990s and the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways was created. Sharing our stories with future generations Commenting on the Boston Lodge Works project, Paul Lewin – Director and General Manager of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highlands Railway said: “We are a Welsh railway and our history is intertwined for 200 years with the local community. 

We want to build on those existing links so that the local community can have pride in and be involved in the heritage of the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railways and Boston Lodge.

 “Through our project, we want to capture our stories and make sure they’re shared with future generations and that we continue to play our part in the economy and success of north Wales. 

“Our railway has survived by adapting and embracing technology and thanks to this investment from The National Lottery Heritage Fund we will do that again now to make sure that we offer a high quality tourism experience that brings real benefit to the North Wales economy.


Saturday, 16 October 2021

CrossCountry Has Renewed Corporate Partnership With The National Railway Museum.

CrossCountry announces its renewed corporate partnership with the National Railway Museum.

The partnership provides opportunities to work together towards the museum’s Vision 2025, to capture the hearts and minds of the next generation of engineers, innovators and thinkers

The National Railway Museum is committed to highlighting the work of today's railway network, as seen in the recent Railway Heroes exhibition showcasing railway workers who gave back to their communities—and country—during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vision 2025 is a six-year journey to transform the National Railway Museum, York, and Locomotion in Shildon into the ‘World’s Railway Museum’ by becoming a global engineering powerhouse and a space to celebrate the past, present and future of railway.

Judith McNicol, Director of the National Railway Museum, said: “I am thrilled that CrossCountry has committed to supporting the National Railway Museum once again. The support of our partners will allow us to achieve our aspiration to become the World's Railway Museum through the transformational Vision 2025 masterplan.”

Anna Weeks, North East & Scotland Regional Director at CrossCountry Trains said: “We are delighted to be renewing our partnership with the National Railway Museum to show our support towards Vision 2025 and help inspire the engineers and railway employees of the future.”


Friday, 15 October 2021

Freightliner Moves From Electric to Diesel Due to Massive Electric Cost Increases

Freightliner has mothballed all its electric locomotives and is running diesels in their place after the cost of electricity rose by 200%.

Freightliner normally runs many electric-hauled freight trains from Felixstowe to the north west of England via the north London line. Because the line to the port is not electrified, diesels haul them as far as Ipswich where electric traction takes over.

Now, however, class 59, 66 & 70 diesels will be used on all journeys and on all other routes that are normally operated by electric locos. 

Freightliner has been first to react. to the soaring prices on the UK’s wholesale electricity market. The price Network Rail charges operators for power for the electric services has increased by more than 210 per cent between September and October.

Freightliner say “This unprecedented rise in electricity charges has resulted in a sharp increase in the cost of operating electric freight services. As a result, Freightliner has taken the difficult decision to temporarily replace electric freight services with diesel-hauled services, in order to maintain a cost-effective option for transporting vital goods and supplies across the UK.”


Thursday, 14 October 2021

Regular Dartmoor Line Services to Resume for First Time in Half a Century From 20th November 2021

For the first time in nearly 50 years, regular passenger services will run on the Dartmoor Line, connecting Okehampton to Exeter. 

Services will launch on Saturday 20 November, marking the first reopening under the Government’s Restoring Your Railway programme which is exploring ways to return old lines and stations to service across the country.

The route will connect Exeter St Davids, Crediton and Okehampton providing a launchpad for visitors to explore Dartmoor and regional links for local commuters. Around half of services, including at peak times, will also carry on to Exeter Central. The reopening of the route is expected to boost local businesses, the tourism sector, and provide greater access to education and work for thousands of people who live locally.

The Department and its partners have accelerated the reopening of the railway, delivering passenger services in only 9 months from the original funding being approved to entry into service, and saving money at the same time. As the Government continues its overhaul of the railways following the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail, more lines and stations will be re-opened.

To make this possible, Network Rail’s team of engineers has worked tirelessly to deliver a huge programme of work to physically reopen the line in just 9 months, including laying 11 miles of new track and installing 24,000 concrete sleepers and 29,000 tonnes of ballast in record time. 
Repairs have also been made to 21 structures along the route including 4 bridges and a range of works including vegetation clearance, earth and drainage works and fencing are ongoing in preparation for the return of regular services.

More work will be carried out over the winter including further work on the station buildings to enable the restoration of the café and other facilities.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “The project, funded by over £40million from the Department for Transport, is part of the wider campaign to reverse catastrophic cuts to the rail network primarily led by the Beeching axe.

“The work has been a successful collaboration between the DfT, Network Rail, GWR, Devon County Council, Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership, and local campaigners and MPs.”

Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s Western route and strategic operations director, said: “We’re delighted that we’ve reopened this much needed railway line for passenger services in just 9 months and ahead of schedule.

“Our team has worked incredibly hard alongside our project partners GWR, Devon County Council, Devon and Cornwall Rail Partnership and the local community to ensure this railway is ready to open.

“We can’t wait to welcome passengers back to the Dartmoor Line after an absence of nearly 50 years, linking passengers to Exeter and services to the rest of the country.”

Mark Hopwood, GWR Managing Director, said: “This has been a key aspiration for the community and the rail industry for some time and today is a significant day for everyone who has been involved.

“Their support and advocacy over the years has helped deliver a fantastic new service for customers, which we hope will grow from strength to strength.”

Richard Burningham, Manager of the Devon & Cornwall Rail Partnership, said: ”What a day Saturday 20 November will be – the day Okehampton fully re-joins the national rail network. All of a sudden, a large area of west Devon and north and east Cornwall will be 30 miles nearer the railway than it is today. It’s going to make a big, very positive difference to many people’s lives.”

Mel Stride, MP for Central Devon, said: “I am thrilled that after a decade of campaigning, a regular passenger service between Okehampton and Exeter has become a reality. I am very proud that our Central Devon constituency is the first in the UK to have a service, lost to the Beeching Cuts, restored by the Government. 
It has been a huge amount of hard work by so many people – but it has absolutely been worth it. It will provide thousands of my constituents with a rail service on their doorstep, will be a huge economic boost as we bounce back from the impact of Covid-19 and will reduce carbon emissions by taking cars off the A30. I can’t wait to book my first ticket!”

Councillor Andrea Davis, Devon County Council Cabinet Member for Climate Change, Environment and Transport, said: “The reinstatement of the Dartmoor Line has been a long held ambition of all of the partners involved, and it's incredible to think that we're now almost there. 
Devon County Council has led the charge over many years to have regular services up and running on this line again and its fantastic that the opening day has now been announced and tickets are on sale. Everyone is working extremely hard to ensure the line opens on schedule and they should be congratulated for their efforts.”

Regular passenger services will run on the route for the first time since 1972 following years of campaigning by local supporters. Since 1997, the line has only been open during the summer.

Railfuture are pressing for the Passenger services to be extended along the original route as soon as possible from Okehampton to Tavistock, Bere Alston and Plymouth.
This would provide an alternative route for when the sea disrupts normal Exeter to Plymouth train services via Dawlish and Teignmouth
See here

After regular services ceased, some summer only trains ran on the line

About the line and services
The line between Exeter and Okehampton originally opened in October 1871. The last regular train service operated in 1972, when passenger services were withdrawn by British Rail.

After 1972 the line remained in use to serve Meldon Quarry, situated west of Okehampton, a supplier of railway ballast and related materials.

The line between Coleford Junction and Meldon Quarry was sold at the time of privatisation in the 1990s to the quarry owner, now known as Aggregate Industries. It was reacquired by Network Rail earlier this year.

Journey time between Exeter and Okehampton will be approximately 40 minutes.

Station Facilities will include new information screens, a Help Point, smartcard validation points, ticket vending machines, and a waiting room.

GWR operated services will run between Exeter and Okehampton, initially providing a service every two hours, which will rise to an hourly service from Spring 2022.

Exeter is a key hub for the wider region and the new rail service will provide access for education, work, shopping as well as other opportunities on offer in the city. Customers will also be able to connect at Exeter St Davids for trains to a host of destinations including London, Bristol, the North of England and Scotland.

Okehampton is a historic town situated on the northern flank of Dartmoor National Park. It also marks the start of The Granite Way, an 11-mile multi-use trail connecting Okehampton with Lydford.

The new train service will open up sustainable access to various leisure opportunities in the town and surrounding areas. The bus service to Tavistock is being amended to connect with trains at Okehampton.

Wednesday, 13 October 2021

Van Hool Delivers First Hydrogen Bus for STIB-MIVB in Brussels

Van Hool, the independent Belgian bus, coach and industrial vehicle manufacturer has delivered a hydrogen bus (model A330FC) to 
STIB-MIVB (the public transport company responsible for bus, metro and tram transport in Brussels)

STIB-MIVB wants to test the vehicle over a two year period on as many bus routes as possible, so they can thoroughly analyse its performance in different weather conditions (summer/winter) and various topographies on the Brussels network.

Filip Van Hool, CEO at Van Hool, was delighted with the unveiling of the new hydrogen bus at STIB-MIVB:
 “It’simportant for Van Hool as a Belgian company to be able to deliver this hydrogen bus to STIB-MIVB in Brussels, our capital and Europe’s capital. It’s our calling card to other customers all around the world. 
Since 2005, when Van Hool introduced the first hydrogen bus in North America, we have been convinced that hydrogen is an efficient and eco-friendly fuel for public transport. We now have Van Hool hydrogen buses operating in almost every country in Western Europe and North America, and the interest in hydrogen zero emission public transport rises exponentially in our neighbouring countries. 

Here at Van Hool we are making every effort to work closely with STIB-MIVB on this comprehensive and detailed research project. As part of this, training and education of the STIB-MIVB employees by the Van Hool Academy and a proficient aftersales service are essential to the success of this project. 
We are doing everything we can to help realise STIB-MIVB's strategic vision for an eco-friendly and efficient public transport system in Brussels.”

Van Hool hydrogen buses operating in almost every country in Western Europe
and North America

Brieuc de Meeûs, CEO at STIB-MIVB, explained: “STIB-MIVB is committed to making its fleet increasingly eco-friendly, in line with the ambitions of the Brussels Capital Region. 
That is why we have spent several months studying hydrogen technology as an alternative power source for our buses. The test that is being launched will enable us to learn more about the vehicle itself, its fueling and the day-to-day management during operations. 
That way, we will be able to determine whether hydrogen can be an option for the buses of the future.”

The 12-metre long hydrogen bus is a hybrid vehicle (fuel cell and battery) of the Van Hool A330 model with two axles and three entry/exit doors. The bus is designed for 25 seated and 48 standing passengers, with space for one wheelchair user and a pram. 
The vehicle is equipped with an FCvelocity-HD85 Fuel Cell module from Ballard Power Systems of Vancouver, Canada, and fitted with a 210 kW Siemens PEM electric traction motor.

Van Hool has been building hydrogen buses for the North American market since 2005, and for the European market since 2007. The company has so far produced 162 hydrogen buses for North America (21) and Europe (141). 
Thanks to the hybrid power source, the bus, with a tank capacity of 38,2 kg of hydrogen, will be able to carry out a full day's schedule of potentially 350 km.

Together with the traction battery and the electric engine, the fuel cell forms the basis of the power source, which is fully electric. Hydrogen is converted to electricity in the fuel cell, with water vapour as its only emission, while the battery provides additional power wherever and whenever it is needed. Thanks to this hybrid power source and the re-use of braking energy, only around 8 kg of hydrogen are consumed over a distance of 100 km.

Van Hool is an independent Belgian bus, coach and industrial vehicle manufacturer. The company, which was founded in 1947, is based in Koningshooikt. 
The vast majority of units produced are destined for Europe and North America. Van Hool has around 3,500 staff worldwide, the majority of whom work at the production facilities in Koningshooikt (Belgium) and Skopje (North Macedonia).

Tuesday, 12 October 2021

Genoa Order for 30 Solaris Electric Buses

The Italian transport operator (Azienda Mobilità e Trasporti SpA) in Genoa has placed an order for 30 Solaris electric buses. The investment is part of the Italian operator's extensive plan to fully electrify the city's bus fleet. 
The vehicles will be delivered in the first quarter of 2022. The value of the order is over EUR 15 million. (£!2.74 million)

Solaris buses have been known to the inhabitants of Genoa since 2013 and now for the first time, the manufacturer will deliver electric vehicles to a coastal Italian city. The carrier decided on the flagship Urbino 12 electric, which was hailed the Bus of the Year 2017.

‘I am delighted that Genoa has decided to transform public transport with Solaris. I believe that 30 exceptionally innovative buses will bring the city closer to achieving its ambitious goals to electrify the bus fleet by 2025. It is worth emphasizing that our products received the maximum number of points in the tender technical evaluation, which is one of the reasons why Solaris' offer turned out to be the winner - despite strong competition’, said Alberto Fiore, Managing Director of Solaris Italia.

Extremely quiet operation of the drive, no emissions at the place of use, smooth and comfortable driving that guarantees a high travel experience for both passengers and the driver – these are the features for which more and more European carriers are choosing electric buses. 

The vehicles ordered by AMT in Genoa will be distinguished by innovative equipment and the highest level of safety. The carrier decided to use Solaris High Energy batteries with a capacity of over 250 kWh, in which the energy will be charged via a plug-in connector. 
Each of the Urbino 12 electric in Genoa will have two plug-in connectors – on the right and left above the front wheel arch. 
The drive unit, which will be a 220 kW central engine, is said to ensure a harmonious and reliable ride.

The comfortable interior of the Urbino 12 electric can accommodate 24 seated passengers. Climatic comfort will be ensured by efficient and ecological air conditioning with a CO2 heat pump. 

The complete driver's cabin will additionally facilitate the driver's work, and the safety of driving will be increased by MirrorEye cameras instead of side mirrors, which increase the field of view, but also improve visibility in strong sunlight, in rainy weather and after dark. Moreover, thanks to this solution, the vehicle is narrower, which increases its aerodynamics and allows easier maneuvering in the narrow and narrow streets, which are common in Genoa.

To increase safety during the coronavirus pandemic, the carrier has opted for an internal air purification system that will help stop the spread of the virus. In addition, the interior of the bus will be covered with a nanotechnology-based transparent protective coating with microscopic ceramic particles.

This order confirms the strong position of Solaris in the field of electromobility, not only in Italy. Today, more than half of the electric buses that run on Italian streets are Solaris vehicles, and in 2020 the manufacturer had almost 70 percent of the electric bus market share.

Monday, 11 October 2021


Eversholt Rail and Transport Design International are delighted to announce the launch of the Revolution Very Light Rail (RVLR) Demonstrator vehicle at Ironbridge.

The RVLR programme was born out of a challenge set by the Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) and the Department for Transport to provide an attractive, low-cost rolling stock solution that will encourage modal shift to rail, supporting better services on branch lines and facilitating the reopening of disused railway lines as well as network extensions.

The Revolution VLR Demonstrator vehicle is now showcased at the purpose-built marketing facility at Ironbridge, where stakeholders and potential sponsors can understand the design journey and then experience the Revolution VLR in a representative line reopening context.

Eversholt Rail and Transport Design International have worked closely with site owners Harworth Developments over the past 6 months to develop the Ironbridge demonstration site. The speed with which the passenger line, unused since 1963, has been recommissioned and the necessary buildings, platform and other infrastructure features installed illustrates how rapidly a reopening can be implemented when all stakeholders are aligned and committed.

Since its launch in 2014, the project has involved 7 consortium companies from the automotive, rail and other sectors working in partnership to combine their experience and expertise to realise this first-of-a-kind Demonstrator vehicle. The RVLR Demonstrator is truly a transport solution for the future, delivering on the Government’s decarbonisation goals and supporting the Williams-Shapps Plan for Rail in the UK.

The RVLR Demonstrator is equipped with hybrid diesel-electric powerpacks, providing zero-emissions operations and low noise running in stations and built-up areas and at speeds up to 20mph. These use a 2.8 litre turbocharged Cummins common rail diesel engine with Euro 6 emissions standards in its road applications, the first time a Euro 6 engine has been used in a rail application. In Demonstrator configuration RVLR is capable of speeds up to 65mph. The powerpack/battery mix can be adapted to suit specific operations.

Light weighting is fundamental to minimising costs and ensuring economic sustainability. In Demonstrator configuration the RVLR has a mass of 24.8 tonnes, a saving of nearly 40% compared with a single-car self-powered heavy rail vehicle of similar capacity. 
 The lighter the vehicle, the less energy it requires to propel it and the less wear it causes to the track. As well as operating on existing rail infrastructure RVLR’s low mass enables it to operate on light weight modular slab track that is less costly to acquire, install and maintain than traditional heavy rail infrastructure.

Modularity is another key feature of the vehicle design, so that in service operations the vehicles can be easily maintained and supported without the need for costly bespoke facilities, special tools and test equipment, a significant benefit for rail operators.

Paul Sutherland, Client Services Director at Eversholt Rail.

“Eversholt Rail has a proud record of investment in innovative rolling stock programmes, and we are delighted to have played an active role in the RVLR programme since 2018. We believe that RVLR’s characteristics and cost-effectiveness will really assist the business cases for rail line reopenings and extensions across the UK.”

Chris Heaton-Harris, the Rail Minister:

“VLR is new technology that offers a glimpse into the railways of the future. This low cost, low emission transport might be the sort of thing you see in your town in years to come.

“Our funding is supporting innovation and new technology, helping create the transport network of tomorrow.”

Tim Hurdiss, Associate Director – Major Projects, Harworth Group

‘We’re delighted to be working with TDI and Eversholt Rail to bring Revolution VLR to our Ironbridge site, where we are transforming the former Ironbridge Power Station into a mixed-use development of up to 1,000 homes, alongside a range of commercial, leisure and community uses. 
Together we are exploring the possibilities of how the former sidings and freight line could be brought back into use, opening up the prospect of passengers one day being able to arrive at Ironbridge by rail.’

Darren Smith, Head of Transport Design International.

“The modular design of Revolution VLR facilitates the rapid and cost-effective development of different internal layouts to suit customers’ specific needs, together with variants tailored to specific roles, such as a freight version with dedicated loading and offloading doors.”

TDI has also been engaged to design, develop and build an innovative, very light rail vehicle which will be part of a new transport solution for Coventry.
The Coventry VLR vehicle is a zero emission battery electric prototype representing a novel, low-cost, low-carbon, rail-based public transport system, interoperable with existing rail systems and will ultimately be capable of operating without a driver.

TDI’s prototype Coventry electric vehicle will be capable of carrying 20 seated passengers and a maximum of 70 including standees. It will be tested at the BCIMO in Dudley before a permanent tracked route is installed across Coventry and a fleet of vehicles manufactured. See our posting here about the Coventry VLR

Sunday, 10 October 2021

First Bus Selected to Operate Official COP26 Delegate Shuttle Between Glasgow City Centre and Blue/Green Zones

First Bus has been appointed operator of choice by SPT & Transport Scotland for the official COP26 delegate shuttle service between Glasgow city centre and the Blue and Green zones on the event campus.

• First Glasgow will operate the shuttle service using their brand-new fleet of Scottish-built Electric buses, which were part funded through Transport Scotland’s SULEB scheme.

• SPT, Transport Scotland and First Bus will work closely with the Cabinet Office to deliver a sustainable shuttle service for all delegates attending the COP26 event.

First Bus has been appointed the official transport operators of the COP26 delegate shuttle service. This follows a tender process run by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) on behalf of the UK and Scottish Governments.

The shuttle service will provide a fast and frequent link for all delegates attending the event between the city centre and the Blue and Green zones on the event campus based at the SSE Hydro and Scottish Exhibition & Conference Centre site.

The shuttle service will be fully operated by First Glasgow’s brand new fleet of 22 fully electric buses built in Scotland by manufacturer Alexander Dennis Ltd.

The new buses, which were part funded through Transport Scotland’s Scottish Ultra Low Emission Bus fund (SULEB), can operate a range of up to 160 miles on a full charge with zero emissions and will provide delegates with a state-of-the-art new fleet to take them to and from the event.

Duncan Cameron, Interim Managing Director, First Bus in Scotland said, ““First Bus Scotland are delighted to have been chosen to operate the official COP26 shuttle service and will be working closely with SPT, Transport Scotland and the Cabinet Office to ensure a smooth and efficient service can be delivered for all delegates attending the event.

“It has been a long time in the planning and it is exciting to now be in the build up to the event officially. It is vitally important that everyone takes the time to familiarise themselves with all diversions and transport plans in order to keep Glasgow moving and deliver an event that the whole world will be proud to be a part of.

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 and we look forward to showcasing this to delegates over the course of the event.”

SPT Chair of Operations Committee Councillor, David Wilson, said: “COP26 is a huge opportunity for Glasgow and we all want to ensure the visiting delegates from across the globe are able to travel around the city as easily and efficiently as possible.

“SPT is, once again, proud to play its part assisting with the transport organisation across Glasgow while the city hosts yet another major international event. We’ve procured on behalf of the UK and Scottish Governments this Zero Emission shuttle bus service to ensure we meet the transport demands of COP26 and to ensure our international visitors can move around the city.

“Working with First Bus Scotland to deliver the official COP26 Zero Emission shuttle service will mean delegates can travel to the event by sustainable public transport and, where they hopefully, can work to deliver a Glasgow climate agreement we can all be proud of.”

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.

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.

Minister for Transport Graeme Dey said:

“I’m really pleased to see Transport Scotland’s SULEB scheme helping to fund this significant order of new electric buses, as part of our commitment to meeting Scotland’s world leading climate change targets and leading a green recovery from the pandemic.

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

Saturday, 9 October 2021

Class 195 Northern Train Named ‘Pride of Cumbria’ to Mark 175 Years Of The Furness Railway

A Northern train has been given the honorary name ‘Pride of Cumbria’ to celebrate 175 years of the railway in the region.

The Furness Railway and Lakes Line opened in 1846, transforming the way goods and passengers were transported in the county.

195 109's new name was unveiled at a ceremony at Barrow-in-Furness station by Mayor Helen Wall and it will proudly display its new nameplate as it provides services along the line in Cumbria as well as on routes in the north west and Yorkshire.

The event was attended by Simon Fell, MP for Barrow and Furness, as well as dignitaries from Northern and volunteers from Community Rail Cumbria and the 175 Committees.

Chris Jackson, Regional Director at Northern, said: “A huge thank you to everyone who’s been involved in making today happen, including Community Rail Cumbria and the 175 Committees, who are our fantastic volunteers.”

“Northern is proud to be a part of such rich heritage and community and as we look back on 175 years of progress, we also look forward to delivering further improvements in the area to continue to make a positive impact for the North.”

Simon Fell MP for Barrow & Furness said: “It is an honour to speak at the naming ceremony for the ‘Pride of Cumbria.’ The story of Barrow is the story of the Furness Railway. The discovery of iron ore showed the potential of Barrow to the world, and Henry Schneider’s railway opened it up. We owe our growth and community to the iron and steam of the railways and I hope that this train reminds people of our incredible heritage, and of the enviable role that Barrow plays in the UK and the world now.”

New boards detailing the history of the local railway will also be displayed in the waiting room at Barrow-in-Furness station for customers to enjoy.

Kerstin Esbjornsson Community Rail Partnership Officer, Furness Line & Lakes Line, said: “The 175 anniversary events are celebrating rail history with a firm view to the future, our communities along the lines and engagement with rail users and the younger generations.

“The commemorations, community events and work with schools wouldn’t have been possible but for the fantastic contributions from our volunteers, aided by the robust support from community stakeholders and the rail industry.

“A special thank you go to our funders and major supporters; Community Rail Network, Northern, Avanti, TransPennine Express, Network Rail, Furness Railway Trust and Barrow BID together with the awesome 175 artist Dez of Loveartpix.”

Graphic artist Dez also know as Loveartpix donated artwork of Grange-over-Sands station in honour of the event. The station is a favourite of visitors to the area and was recently named Best Small Station of the Year at the National Rail Awards.

David Stubbins, Chair of Furness Railway 175 Anniversary Committee, said: "It's been an honour to have been asked to Chair the Delivery Group for the Furness Railway 175 celebrations. Despite many challenges brought about by COVID-19, the Group have put together a series of roadshows at stations in the area which have showcased the history of the Railway and the work of the station adoption groups. I'm grateful to the other members of the Group for their support."

Ian Conway, Chair Lakes Line 175 Anniversary Committee, said: “On behalf of the Lakes Line Rail User Group which also runs the Friends of the Lakes Line, I would just like to say a big thanks for everybody’s help with all the events which includes all the volunteers on all the Cumbrian Lines. All the groups work hard to help keeping the station that bit extra tidy.”

Friday, 8 October 2021

Diamond Bus Invests in Electric Powered MAGTEC Conversions From Diesel to Electric

Diamond Bus are working towards a cleaner, greener future with the launch of their first electric buses.

The first of 5 electric vehicles will commence service on local Black Country routes, enabling Diamond to monitor performance and viability of expanding more electrical vehicles into their fleet in future.

MAN 18.240 Plaxton Centro in service after conversion from diesel to electric power

Diamond Bus say that they are committed to understanding and identifying the most suitable Zero Emissions Bus Technology for their operating areas, to ensure they can move towards a more sustainable fleet in future.

They have already invested over £9 Million in more than 75 brand new Euro 6 Low-emission certified micro-hybrid buses since 2018, however, the latest vehicles are fully electrically powered and produce no carbon emissions or exhaust fumes from the tailpipe, which means they go even further to improving air quality in local towns and cities.

These buses green credentials don’t just stop there!

In order to minimise their environmental impact, existing diesel-powered Diamond vehicles.
have been sustainably converted  to electric power In partnership with UK-based EV specialists, MAGTEC. 
The buses go through a process whereby the existing engine is removed and replaced by a fully electrically-powered motor and battery packs, which provide 200 kWhr of battery energy storage.

By reusing and refurbishing existing vehicles, it has allowed the company to invest in zero-emission technology, without the need to dispose of existing service-ready vehicles. Diamond Bus say "The converted electric buses really do epitomise the ultimate green goals; to reduce emissions and reduce waste!"

"Buses are already one of the cleanest ways to travel; by reducing car-use, one single bus can help to lower traffic-related carbon emissions and congestion problems and by choosing to invest in more environmentally friendly vehicle options, Diamond Bus really are committed to working towards a greener future and a brighter Diamond".

Diamond have also invested in a fleet of Micro-hybrid Streetlite buses

Diamond Bus have already invested in new Euro 6 buses that operate on various routes in the West Midlands and Worcestershire and offer some great benefits. The vehicles are already the cleanest Euro 6 buses available, but the micro-hybrid system included in these vehicles makes them even cleaner with a 20% improvement over standard Euro 6. 
This means they are Low Emission Bus Certified and help to contribute to better air quality for local towns and cities.

Thursday, 7 October 2021

Wrightbus Unveil Two New Single Deck Zero-emission Buses

The manufacturer of the world’s first hydrogen-powered double deck bus has unveiled two new single deck zero-emission buses at the world-famous Millbrook Proving Ground  

The new single deck GB Kite Hydroliner bus at the Cenex LCV21 was shown together with the new single deck GB Kite Electroliner battery powered bus.

Wrightbus recently announced the creation of up to 300 permanent jobs after winning a string of orders from the UK and Ireland. It is also converting 120 existing temporary jobs into permanent positions as it looks to ramp up production at its Ballymena headquarters.

Its new buses have been developed following the award of funding from the Advanced Propulsion Centre’s Advanced Route to Market Demonstrator (ARMD) Competition.

Jo Bamford, Wrightbus Executive Chairman, said: “The funding from the ARMD competition has been invaluable in allowing us to develop the technology for our two new zero-emission single-decks at considerable pace.

“At Wrightbus, we’re proud to be at the very forefront of zero-emission bus manufacturing. The creation of our new single-deck hydrogen and single-deck electric battery buses means Wrightbus is proud to be the only UK manufacturer currently able to offer four zero-emission vehicles to the market - which include the Hydroliner, the first hydrogen double decker bus in the world.

"It’s vital that the transport industry continues to take strides to reduce its CO2 emissions to enable the UK to achieve its ambitious net-zero goals, and LCV21 gives the perfect platform to share the very latest innovations.”

The buses are expected to go into production in the first quarter of 2022.

Both GB Kite models can carry 90 passengers. The Hydroliner has a range of up to 640 miles while the Electroliner up to 300 miles on a single charge, the fastest charging version can be charged in just 2.5 hours. 
Both buses share an 86% parts commonality with their Double Deck sisters which delivers significant benefits to operators in terms of reducing complexity and costs for fleet maintenance.

“We’re continuing to invest not only in employees, but in the technological advances that will keep our buses at the very pinnacle of the industry,” said Mr Bamford.

“I’m proud to say Wrightbus is firmly back in business, creating jobs not just in Northern Ireland but indirectly across the UK supply chain.”

Ian Constance, Chief Executive at the APC, said: “We launched our ARMD competition at the height of the pandemic, when the global automotive industry was at a near standstill. The aim was to kick-start innovation back into action and ensure that late-stage R&D projects continued to accelerate towards net zero.

“What we see unveiled at this year’s Cenex-LCV and Cenex-CAM, are 12 projects we have supported, that have made phenomenal progress in less than a year. In some cases the technology developers behind them have significantly increased their operations, leading to jobs and growth. It’s the very definition of building back better.

“This event allows Wrightbus to showcase the technological capability they have developed and the opportunities that provides to anchor clean automotive manufacturing in the UK.”
“The funding from the ARMD competition has been invaluable in allowing us to develop the technology for our two new zero-emission single-decks at considerable pace.”


Wednesday, 6 October 2021

Riding the Greater Anglia 755's With a Plus Day Ranger Ticket

Ken Jones and Roger Burdett travelled to East Anglia to try out the new 755 units in East Anglia using a greater anglia plus day ranger ticket. 

After driving to and from the West Midlands to Cambridge they were able to travel on the following rains in daylight, missing out only the Sheringham Branch, the line via Diss and Ely to Kennett line.

In summer it would be possible to travel on all the lines in daylight. There are other specific rover tickets available which would allow exploration of individual lines.

Cambridge 8.45 Ipswich 10.04

Ipswich 10.58 Felixstowe 11.24

Felixstowe 11.28 Ipswich 11.54

Ipswich 12.16 Lowestoft 13.42

Lowestoft 13.48 Norwich 14.33

Norwich 14.40 G Yarmouth 15.13

G Yarmouth 15.17 Norwich 15.55 via Berney Arms [The least used station in the UK]

Norwich 16.27 Cambridge 17.47

greateranglia have been investing in many units including class 720 / 745 / 755's with the aim to change every train on their network. More information about these units can be found on sites such as Wikipedia and greateranglia. See here

All the journeys on this trip used 3 and 4 car class 755 units, which are bi-mode multiple unit trains built by Stadler Rail of Switzerland for greateranglia.
The 755's operate on the more scenic rural routes out of Norwich and Ipswich. They have the same high spec as the Intercity fleet, but offer Standard Class only.

Part of the FLIRT modular train family. FLIRT stands for (Fast Light Intercity and Regional Train; German: Flinker Leichter Intercity- und Regional-Triebzug)

The units had good acceleration, were very clean and the staff very pleasant and helpful.

Information from personnel and displays in the carriages include time of arrival at stations, with clearly legible internal display notices. It will be interesting to see how they are in a couple of years in service.

The triangle at one end of each unit by the unit number indicates the end for bicycle and disabled access. All the units have flush entrances to the platforms. Some stations will not take a full-length unit. The staff advise this at the start of the journey.

755328 is seen at Cambridge

720557 is seen at Ipswich.
The 720 Aventra EMU's were produced by Bombardier and were ordered in
five car and ten car configurations

755325 is seen arriving at Ipswich from Felixstowe

 755402 and 755409 are seen at Lowestoft

 Above & below, views of the of the internal display system

click here  to see a video of the 775's

Many thanks to Ken Jones for this posting. 

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