Friday 31 December 2021

ATM Milano Extends Contract With Solaris and Orders 50 Trolleybuses

ATM Milano is expanding its zero-emission public transport fleet with new Solaris trolleybuses. An order for the supply of 50 Trollino 18 trolleybuses was signed in mid-November 2021. The contract is worth nearly €40 million.

The order for 50 Trollino 18 units, placed by operator ATM Milano, is an extension of an agreement signed in 2018, on the basis of which Solaris has already supplied 30 trolleybuses.

Photos above & below: Kiepe Electric.

This is not the only contract to have been awarded to the Italian operator. In 2018 and 2019, a total of 165 Solaris Urbino electric buses were previously delivered. The low-floor, articulated Trollino 18 vehicles are extremely quiet and locally emission-free. 
The units for Milan will be fitted with traction motors boasting 160 kW each and 45 kWh batteries.  
The trolleybuses will be able to top up the energy in the batteries while driving, by connecting to the overhead power grid. Also, they will be able to drive a distance of up to 15 km without using the traction power supply. 
This is particularly handy in the historic part of the city, or in the event of failure of the wires. The articulated trolleybuses will be able to carry up to 135 passengers, including 31 seated. Travel comfort will be ensured by high-efficiency air-conditioning.

The Milanese Trollinos will also feature an advanced surveillance system. It will consist of 10 cameras, including a rear-view camera, a 10’’ screen on the centre console and a data logger. 
One of the elements improving safety standards will be the continuous monitoring of the insulation of high-voltage components from the chassis. Should any irregularities be detected, the system will automatically lower the current collectors. 
The vehicles will also boast a passenger counting system. The first Trollinos covered by the new order will make their way to Italy at the end of 2022.

Alberto Fiore, Managing Director of Solaris Italia S.r.l said
“We are very glad to enjoy such successful collaboration with ATM Milano, proof of which is the extension of the contract in question by another 50 Trollino 18 trolleybuses. 
We are proud that zero-emission Solaris vehicles, of which there will be almost 250 units after the completion of the latest order, successfully serve the inhabitants of the capital of Lombardy and contribute to reducing exhaust gases and noise levels. 
Milan’s large-scale investments in zero-emission vehicles demonstrate how seriously the city is taking the challenge of the green transformation of public transport. It is an honour for us to be a partner in this important undertaking”.

The partnership between Solaris and ATM in Milan began back in 2014. Since then, over 300 vehicles, including about 200 trolleybuses and e-buses, have rolled off the production line of the factory in Bolechowo and made their way to Milan. The Italian operator intends to completely forgo diesel buses in favour of locally emission-free vehicles by the end of 2030.

Thursday 30 December 2021

£6.2m Awarded to 20 Scottish Bus & Coach Operators For Engine & Exhaust Retrofitting

The Scottish Government has awarded a further £6.2m in grants to 20 Scottish bus and coach operators to help with the financial costs associated with engine and exhaust retrofitting.

The fourth round of the Bus Emission Abatement Retrofit Fund (BEAR) will see 379 older buses and coaches adapted to achieve the Euro VI emission standards required of Low Emission Zones across Scotland through the installation of accredited retrofit technology. 

This brings the total number of mid-life buses and coaches to be upgraded through the BEAR scheme to over 1,000.

Glasgow's LEZ is Scotland's first - introduced in 2018 and modelled to reduce levels of harmful air pollution from road traffic which we know disproportionately impacts upon the most vulnerable, including those with existing heart and lung conditions. LEZs are key to improving air quality, protecting public health, and supporting Scotland's wider climate change ambitions by encouraging more sustainable transport options.

This most recent round of vehicle retrofits represents the latest stage in investment from the Scottish Government, as well as bus operators, in improving fleet emissions and tackling air pollution in Glasgow.

Minister for Transport Graeme Dey said: "I'm delighted to announce this funding for bus operators in and around Glasgow to retrofit mid-life buses - adding to the £12.4m we have invested through the BEAR programme in the previous three rounds. We know buses will have a key role to play in our world-leading ambition to reduce car kilometres by 20% by 2030, as well as helping to support the delivery of Scotland's Low Emission Zones. 
These bus and coach retrofit systems will reduce emissions of harmful pollution to improve local air quality and benefit public health as we introduce LEZs in Glasgow and our other three biggest cities next year."

Cllr Anna Richardson, Convener for Sustainability and Carbon Reduction said; "The continued uptake of BEAR funding is excellent news and I'm heartened that the city's bus operators continue to back cleaner air, with their ongoing work to make fleet changes that ensure more and more of their vehicles meet the cleaner emission standards required by Glasgow's Low Emission Zone. 

The phasing in of Glasgow's LEZ is making good progress and we remain committed to encouraging a shift towards alternative travel options such as bus - positioning this mode of transport in the long term as a viable and sustainable alternative to the car. Ensuring Glasgow is served well by a high-quality bus service will help us deliver on our commitment to improve air quality to protect public health and ensure the city centre is a vibrant place to live, work and visit."

Phase 1 of Glasgow's LEZ applies to buses only, however when Phase 2 is enforced from 1 June 2023, all vehicles entering the city centre zone must meet the required emission standards to avoid a penalty unless the vehicle is exempt.

List of companies awarded here

Click here  for information about the Glasgow Low Emission Zone

Wednesday 29 December 2021

Hong Kong's KMB Orders Another 72 ADL Enviro500 Double Deckers

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”) has announced that it will supply a further 72 Enviro500 double deck buses to Hong Kong’s largest bus operator The Kowloon Motor Bus Company (1933) Limited (“KMB”).

KMB is the largest franchised bus operator in Hong Kong, operating on over 400 routes with a fleet of around 4,000 buses, including more than 2,500 Enviro500 buses bought from ADL since the current generation model was launched in 2012.

The new order is for 46 buses built to a length of 12.8m, able to carry up to 144 passengers including 92 on seats fitted with three-point safety belts and two wheelchair users, as well as 26 shorter vehicles. At 11.3m length, these will have 78 safety-belted seats, one wheelchair space and a total passenger capacity of up to 124. They feature a steered tag axle to ensure excellent manoeuvrability on routes serving the hills of the New Territories as well as in narrow city streets.

ADL President & Managing Director Paul Davies said: “We are delighted that we continue to meet KMB’s expectations as it once again places its confidence in Alexander Dennis with this latest order for 72 double deck buses. We are honoured to contribute to Hong Kong’s world class transport system and look forward to further supporting KMB’s commitment to innovation and first class customer service.”

Saturday 25 December 2021

Best Wishes for Christmas and The New Year

Sending Best Wishes for Christmas and the New Year. The Focus Transport website will take a short break during the Christmas holiday week. It is hoped that you have enjoyed visiting the website during 2021 and that you will continue to do so during 2022.

What the new year will bring we don't know, as COVID is again spoiling most people's plans. Bus and train operators are cancelling services due to staff catching the virus.

Passenger numbers are again falling, following the advice for people to work from home.

Who would have thought that a second Christmas would have been spoilt by this cruel virus.

Looking for positives, we do know that we can bounce back to near normality as we did during 2021. In spite of the problems, many transport operators were able to keep investing in new vehicles and trains, a large number of them using the very latest battery and hydrogen technology. 

It is hoped therefore that the current situation will improve and that research and development will continue to bring transport to the forefront of modern technology.

The high cost of electrically powered cars with limited mileage range, coupled with the current problem of expensive and inconvenient charging facilities will possibly help to convince many people that car ownership is no longer viable and the hopefully the transport industry will step up and fill the void.

The Focus Transport website reached the 3.5 million page view mark during the latter part of the year, so thank you to all who visit the site and thank you to those that have helped by contributing to our pages.

During the short break why not look back at our previous postings by using the search box facility?

It is fascinating to see how things have changed since we first started in 2011. Who would have thought that the transport sector would have changed and  progressed so much in that comparatively short time.

David Gambles


Friday 24 December 2021

224-kilometre Battery Range for FLIRT Akku - Stadler sets world record for Guinness Book of Records

Stadler has set the record to be officially entered in the Guinness Book of World Records for a battery train journey in battery-only mode. 

Travelling on the route from Berlin to Warnemünde in the company of independent technical consultants, the FLIRT Akku test train reached a range of exactly 224.00 kilometres (139 miles) at wintry temperatures around freezing point.

The three-car FLIRT Akku used for the record journey has been developed by Stadler since 2016 as a local CO2-neutral mobility solution for the climate-friendly operation of non electrified railway routes. 
The vehicle was approved by the German Federal Railway Office and introduced to the public for the very first time in 2018. Since then the FLIRT Akku test train has travelled around 15,000 kilometres in battery-only operation, before setting the world record for a regional train journey in battery-only mode without charging.

"We designed and calculated the vehicle for an operational range of 80 kilometres, depending on the route requirements of the respective network. But on various journeys testing the technology, we were able to achieve significantly greater ranges, so that we even dared to attempt the world record at wintry temperatures. 
The vehicle had already had to cope with various scenarios like making up for unplanned delays on the track or operating under extremely hot or cold weather conditions in the testing after all", explains Evelyn Thiel, Technical Project Leader for the FLIRT Akku at Stadler.

"We are very proud to be the official holder of the world record for travelling the longest route in battery-only mode with a regional train now – having reached this result under weather conditions which are anything but ideal for batteries. 
Stadler has already worked in the area of battery technology for rail vehicles over 75 years. We consistently continued to pursue this approach for unusual technological solutions in the company, and developed a flexibly deployable train that also enables CO2-neutral mobility on so-called diesel routes with the FLIRT Akku. 
As a market and technology leader in battery technologies for rail vehicles, the decision to undertake the record journey was a logical consequence", said Dr. Ansgar Brockmeyer, Executive Vice President Marketing & Sales and Deputy CEO of Stadler.

"We can confirm that the FLIRT Akku test carrier travelled exactly 224.00 kilometres in battery-only mode on the journey from Berlin-Gesundbrunnen to Warnemünde without charging its batteries from an overhead contact line or other external energy source", said Heiko Hüserich, TÜV Nord.

With the FLIRT Akku, Stadler has developed a so-called BEMU (battery-electric multiple unit) that will run as both a classic EMU (electric multiple unit) under overhead contact cable or battery-operated on unelectrified routes. 
This makes it optimal for partly electrified routes that currently still need to be served with diesel trains. Stadler had already won the first green technology tender in Germany and sold 55 FLIRT Akkus to NAH.SH, the Schleswig-Holstein Local Transport Association in 2019. In November 2021, another order for 44 vehicles followed from Deutsche Bahn Regio. 

In addition to which Stadler is also building the first hydrogen-powered FLIRT for the San Bernardino County Transportation Authority (SBCTA) in the USA.

Thursday 23 December 2021

ADL Delivers Plaxton Elite Coaches to West Coast Motors

Alexander Dennis Limited (“ADL”) has announced that it has delivered two brand new Plaxton Elite coaches to long-standing Scottish operator West Coast Motors.

Delivery of the new 13.2m long coaches is part of West Coast Motors’ celebrations to mark 100 years in business, after the company’s first passenger service operated between Campbeltown and Tarbert in 1921.

The 53-seat PSVAR-compliant coaches are built on a Volvo B8R chassis and are equipped with a range of high-specification features including entrance mounted wheelchair lift, alloy wheels, head up display driver warning system with haptic driver seat, vehicle wash-down and vacuum systems, heated front upper and lower windscreens and 360-degree view CCTV system installed.

A number of high-quality customer-friendly features have also been installed, including seats fitted with leather headrest, piping and sports trim, armrests, extended headrests and automatic de-recline, seat back tables, magazine nets and fixed footrests, two TV monitors, Smart audio system with Bluetooth, USB sockets to all seats and provision for Wi-Fi.

Managing Director of West Coast Motors, Colin Craig said: “There’s no better way to mark our 100th anniversary than by taking delivery of two very high-quality coaches for our passengers. We are proud of our company’s rich history and look forward to introducing these new coaches to our many customers.”

ADL Sales Account Manager Charlie Miller added: “We’d like to congratulate West Coast Motors on their continued business success, and we are delighted to be able to help them celebrate such a fantastic milestone by providing these two high-specification coaches. We look forward to working with the team further in the future.”

Wednesday 22 December 2021

87035 Painted in Virgin Trains Livery

The BR Class 87 87305 Restoration Group have shared photos of the completed repaint of 87035.

It is now complete in Virgin Trains livery exactly as it was outshopped over 22 years ago. This repaint was a long time in the making and took a small team over 8 months to complete between March and November 2021. 

The group say "With the state of the bodywork when we started the loco really has come along way and the group hope that this paint job will last a lot longer than the rest"

87035 joins a very small group of preserved locos repainted in a post-privatisation era livery. Permission from Virgin Group was granted for the branding.

It has not yet been refitted with its nameplates as it is due to be renamed ‘Robert Burns’ at a naming ceremony on January 25th next year. There is some involvement with Hornby model railways and details are yet to be confirmed.

The class 87's were designed and built by British Rail Engineering Limited (BREL) between 1973 and 1975. A total of thirty-six locomotives were constructed built to work passenger services over the West Coast Main Line (WCML).
All but one of the Class 87s were transferred to Virgin Trains who continued to operate them until the new Class 390 Pendolinos were introduced.
The locos were then used on various duties with other operators and a large proportion of the fleet was eventually exported to Bulgaria, where they have entered regular use once again.

Tuesday 21 December 2021

Final Airbus A380 Handed Over to Emirates

The final Airbus A380 ever to be built has been handed over to its new owners, the Dubai-based carrier Emirates.

The giant of the skies will continue to fly, but its long-term future remains uncertain.

Emirates, which owns roughly half of the A380's in service, looks set to continue using it for many years to come.
Several other airlines stopped using their plane during the pandemic, and some A380's have already been scrapped.

The A380 is the world's largest passenger jet. In standard configuration, it carries 545 passengers - although in theory it can carry a maximum of 853.

The massive double-decker has four engines, an 80-metre wingspan and a maximum take-off weight of 560 tonnes. It is also very complex - containing around 530km (330 miles) of wiring.

By the time the A380 made its first commercial flight in 2007, the seeds of its demise had already been sown.

While Airbus engineers struggled to get the superjumbo onto the market, Boeing was quietly marketing long range versions of its economical twin-engine 777 - and developing the 787 Dreamliner.

The 787 was a design which made the most of advances in engine technology, as well as in composite materials and aerodynamics. The result was an aircraft that was much more efficient than previous models, used less fuel and was therefore cheaper to run.

Together with Airbus' own A350, launched a few years later, it changed the shape of the market.

Instead of using giant planes to transport huge numbers of people between 'hub' airports, before placing them on connecting flights to other destinations, airlines could now fly smaller planes on less crowded direct routes between smaller cities which would previously have been unviable.

Compared with these new designs, the four-engine A380 was expensive to buy and costly to run.

"The technology on the A380 was basically from the 1980s," says Peter Morris, chief economist at the aviation consultancy Ascend by Cirium. "It was frozen into the design before the step-change in aircraft technology - before carbon composites and highly efficient engines".

As a result, Airbus struggled to sell it. Only 251 planes were ever built, and the programme struggled to break even - let alone recoup the more than $25bn invested in it.

Yet according to Airbus executive Philippe Muhn, the project still brought significant benefits to the organisation, which had developed from a grouping of manufacturers from different countries.

"This was an aircraft that allowed the company to integrate, from a technical standpoint, industrial standpoint, and culturally as well", he explains.

"Then of course all the investment in the A380 technology was the foundation of what the A350 is today."

But, while it may have been a commercial failure for Airbus, the superjumbo has clearly been a success for its primary customer.

Emirates used it to create a global network of high-density, long-haul routes centred on its base in Dubai. That helped it to become one of the world's largest airlines.

"For Emirates it created a niche in the market", explains Peter Morris.

"Without the A380, I contend that Emirates would never have reached the level that it did. They managed to make something which helped build the prestige of Dubai, and created a market for the plane as well. It did work."

For other airlines, the superjumbo was less of a success. Filling all of those seats could be a challenge - and when the Covid pandemic hit, virtually the entire fleet was grounded.

While some carriers are now bringing them back, others, such as Lufthansa and Air France have decided to retire their fleets for good.

That raises the question of what will happen to the unused planes. In theory, they could fly for decades. But according to Ascend by Cirium, the second-hand market for such large aircraft is "small to non-existent".

It is likely, then, that more A380s will simply go to the scrapyard, following the seven that have already reportedly been sent.

But others will remain in service. Emirates, which now has 123 A380s, says it will continue to fly them for the next two decades - though over time their number is likely to shrink as newer planes are brought in.

However long it continues to fly, aviation historian Shea Oakley thinks the superjumbo has already sealed its place in history.

"Tragically for Airbus, they built a technological masterpiece, but they chose the wrong vision. It was a fine aircraft, but the wrong choice for the times", he says.

"I'm not sure there will ever be a larger commercial aircraft than the A380."

Monday 20 December 2021

New Glasgow Subway Trains Begin Testing On The City's System

The first of Glasgow's brand new Subway trains has been seen on the city's system for the first time.

Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) said two trial exercises had taken place successfully in the Glasgow Subway.

The first bespoke train - built by contractors Stadler and Hitachi - rolled into the system on 5 December.

Tests were carried out while the Subway was closed to the public at night.

The milestone is part of the system's modernisation programme and marks the start of extensive testing of the new trains that will continue throughout next year.

The trains have been designed specifically for Glasgow's underground and so every facet has to be tested, monitored and adapted until the trains pass the rigorous safety standards.

The new trains are not likely to be in general use until 2023, with 17 eventually expected to be running.

The first trial involved running one of the new trains from a testing site to Broomloan Depot and then to Govan Station to see that the train could travel under its own power into the Subway.

The second stage was to see if the depot locos - normally used to move equipment around the system for night maintenance and to rescue broken-down trains - could take the train out of the system should they be needed at any point to "rescue" a train.

Both exercises were successful, so intensive testing of the new trains in the Subway system can begin next year.

SPT Subway director Antony Smith said: "I am delighted that these initial exercises, ahead of the in system testing which is due to begin next year, went well.

"This has been an event long in the planning. It is an indication that things are moving forward again after a challenging year for the project with the impact of Covid and lockdowns as well as the subsequent travel restrictions for our contractors.

"However, as 2021 comes to an end, getting the first train into the system is real progress and a sign, that we can hope 2022 sees us get back on track with the modernisation programme."

Sunday 19 December 2021

Kings Ferry To Cease London Commuter Services

Kings Ferry has announced that its long standing commuter coach service between Kent and Medway and to London for nearly 40 years is to be axed from next Friday, Christmas Eve.

National Express owned Kings Ferry will continue to provide private hire, corporate and contract services

The announcement from Ian Fraser on the Kings Ferry website says

It is with much regret that I have to inform you The Kings Ferry commuter service will cease operating on Friday 24 December.

This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make and has not been taken lightly. The ongoing challenges created by COVID 19 have reduced demand to such an extent that means our services are not commercially viable and unlikely to become so in the near future.

There are no current plans to reinstate the service however we will continue to monitor travel patterns and if circumstances change in the future we will look at ways to reintroduce our commuter services.

I would like to thank all our customers past and present for their support over the last almost 40 years, it has been a pleasure transporting you to and from London on a daily basis.

Ian Fraser

Managing Director – South East Region

Kings Ferry will continue to provide VIP, private hire, corporate and contract services

Chatham and Aylesford MP Tracey Crouch said it was "desperately sad" that the service was to be scrapped.

She described it as a "vital service for constituents, while also highlighting the free travel it gave to people doing work experience with her.

She added: "I wish those who work for KF well as they come to terms with this news just before Christmas and thank them for their hard work over many years."

A commuter, who does not wished to be named, switched to the coach service three years ago because it's significantly cheaper than forking out on high-priced train fares

The 47-year-old, who works for an insurance company in the city, said: "I was getting the high speed rail link which is costing about £6,000.

"It's £20 return on the coach compared to £50 peak travelling on the train, that's a massive burden financially."

The passenger is also angry about the lack of notice given about the withdrawal of the service.

She said:"Kent's major coach commuter network has gone with just over a week to go.

"I have heard of some people saying they might have to leave their jobs in London because they can't afford to get to work."

Above & below. Kings Ferry always supplied transport to the Busworld Kortrijk Exhibition

The Kings Ferry was started by businessman Peter O'Neill in Gillinghan in 1968. He remained as chairman until November 2007 when the Kings Ferry Travel Group was sold to National Express.


Saturday 18 December 2021

New Stagecoach Electric Bus Fleet in Perth Supplied By BYD ADL Partnership

Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) and BYD UK have jointly announced that Stagecoach East Scotland is launching nine electric buses 
on local services in Perth.

The buses were part-funded by the Scottish Ultra Low Emission Bus Scheme (SULEBS) of the Scottish Government.

left to right: Paul Davies (President & Managing Director, Alexander Dennis Limited), Martin Griffiths (Chief Executive, Stagecoach), Graeme Dey (Minister for Transport) and Sam Greer (Regional Director for Scotland, Stagecoach).

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

The fleet of nine BYD ADL Enviro200EV single deckers will operate on busy Perth routes 1 and 2, connecting housing areas with the city centre, retail and leisure developments, Perth Royal Infirmary, educational establishments and local football ground.

The zero emission buses were built locally in Falkirk by ADL in partnership with BYD as the manufacturer’s partner for electric buses in the UK and Ireland. The partnership combines BYD’s world-leading expertise in batteries and electric technology, with ADL’s unparalleled experience in bodywork assembly and passenger-centric interiors. Locally headquartered, low carbon energy company SSE are partnering with Stagecoach to deliver the new electrical infrastructure at Perth depot.

Not only do Stagecoach’s new buses benefit the planet by not having exhaust emissions, but they are also quieter and have USB charging points at each seat as well as interior LED lights and contactless payment facilities to create a relaxing experience for passengers.

Stagecoach is introducing a total of 46 new fully electric buses in key transport networks in Aberdeen, Kilmarnock and Perth as part of SULEBS, all of which are supplied by the BYD ADL partnership. 

SULEBS helps bus companies invest in electric vehicles and associated infrastructure to support a green recovery out of the coronavirus pandemic, improve air quality and advance Scotland’s ambitions for a net zero economy. 
The Scottish Government has set a legally binding target to achieve net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2045.

Scottish Minister for Transport Graeme Dey said: “I’m looking forward to seeing these new buses hit the road, thanks to the awards from the Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme. By helping operators invest in greener fleets, we can support our green recovery and keep more people moving with fewer carbon emissions and better air quality as a result.

“More journeys are made by bus compared to any other public transport mode and a vibrant bus industry can provide the solutions to complex challenges in our society. With the buses being manufactured in Falkirk, we are also helping the Scottish bus industry and wider supply chain.”

Douglas Robertson, Managing Director for Stagecoach East Scotland, said: “We are all really excited to be introducing our first fully electric vehicles in East Scotland thanks to the Scottish Ultra-Low Emission Bus Scheme and the funding made available for us to deliver this. There has never been a more important time to take action to address the climate emergency and play a part in helping Scotland deliver on its net zero ambitions.

“Stagecoach is the UK’s biggest investor in hybrid-electric bus technology, and we have invested more than £1billion in new greener buses over the past decade. Without Stagecoach bus services, there would be an annual increase of 190,000 tonnes of CO2 through passengers using alternative transport. These investments are expected to deliver an estimated annual reduction of around 67,000 tonnes of CO2e from its fleet of more than 1,200 buses in Scotland in less than 15 years.”

ADL President & Managing Director Paul Davies said: “Stagecoach continues to be at the front of investment in sustainable mobility and this new electric bus fleet for Perth is further testament to the group’s ambition in supporting not only the Scottish Government in its targets, but also underpinning skilled jobs and apprenticeships in the world-class UK bus manufacturing industry.

“We are proud that our innovations continue to enable Stagecoach in delivering greener journeys. We look forward to continuing to work with Stagecoach and the Scottish Government in decarbonising the country’s bus fleet.”

Frank Thorpe, Managing Director, BYD (UK), said: “BYD is a world-leader in eMobility solutions, and we are delighted to share our expertise in batteries and electric technology as part of our ongoing successful eBus partnership with ADL. It is a privilege to be involved in such a momentous delivery of pure-electric buses to Stagecoach East Scotland, in the knowledge that while benefiting the environment, their production has also supported the local economy, directly helping people in Scotland.”

Kevin Welstead, EV Sector Director of SSE Energy Solutions, said: “We fully support the drive to decarbonise public transport in Scotland through our role as the EV infrastructure partners of choice for Stagecoach in this project. Given that SSE is headquartered at Perth we want to see cleaner and greener transport options for the area. We are also proud to be working with Stagecoach on a pilot scheme to trial EV community hubs, which mean the local population could also benefit from charging infrastructure once the electric buses are out on shift in the day.”

Friday 17 December 2021

Go North East Has Marketing Efforts Praised Alongside Global and National Leaders

Go North East is a company that has long-standing success in marketing, and the bus operator has now received recognition alongside global and national big hitting brands including Barbour, Greggs and Clearly Drinks.

Earlier this month, the region’s largest bus company featured as a finalist at the North East Marketing Awards, in both the ‘Product Launch of the Year’ and ‘In-House Marketing Team of the Year’ categories.

Recognition included the launch of ‘VOLTRA’, with Go North East’s brand for its electric buses up against Barbour, Greggs, Clearly Drinks, and many more local companies.

The game-changing electric buses, which have helped deliver a ‘bus of the future’ experience for its customers, were introduced over a year ago in Gateshead and Newcastle.

In that time, the electric buses have covered nearly 300,000 miles, saving 180,000 litres of diesel and preventing 470,000kg of CO2 emissions hitting the atmosphere.

Winners on the night included Barbour’s Father Christmas to the Rescue campaign, Greggs’ innovative PlayStation launch box, and Clearly Drinks’ Northumbria Spring product.

In recent weeks, Go North East was also commended at the UK Bus Awards, where managing director Martijn Gilbert picked up the Build Back Better Champion award for the company’s ongoing work throughout the pandemic, and how campaigns such as the £1 evening fare have helped passenger recovery.

The bus company has additionally received recognition by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), where it will battle it out with Transport for London and Reading Buses in the Passenger Transport category at the Awards for Excellence on 17 March 2022.

Stephen King, commercial director at Go North East, said: “It’s been a difficult last 18 months for the majority of companies across the region and beyond, and it was great to recognise that at the North East Marketing Awards.

“I was delighted to see that the Go North East brand and our team received recognition amongst other well-known more consumer brands.

“It’s particularly satisfying that we’ve not only had acknowledgement at an industry level, but also with some of the region’s biggest exports.

“Away from marketing, it was also great to see Martijn pick up his award for the company’s efforts throughout the pandemic and pre-Covid, and we look forward to CILT’s Awards for Excellence next year.

“The whole team here at Go North East have worked incredibly hard, showing great endeavour to innovate and keep the region moving, in what has been a difficult time for many, so it’s brilliant to have this recognition from external awards panels.”

Thursday 16 December 2021

Xplore Dundee Cuts Out Emissions With ADL /BYD Electric Double Deckers

Alexander Dennis Limited (ADL) and BYD UK have jointly announced that their electric vehicle partnership, the UK’s leading electric bus producer, has supplied 12 British-built electric double deck buses to bus operator Xplore Dundee where they will cut out emissions along one of Scotland’s most polluted streets.

ADL is a subsidiary of leading independent global bus manufacturer NFI Group Inc. (NFI), while BYD is a global leader in batteries, energy management and electric mobility. Xplore Dundee is part of the McGill’s Group.

Built locally in Scotland at ADL’s factory in Falkirk utilising BYD’s pioneering expertise in batteries and integrated powertrain technology, the dozen BYD ADL Enviro400EV are Dundee’s first zero emission buses. Once driver training is complete early in the new year, they will run on Xplore’s service 28, serving the Dundee’s Lochee Road which is the fourth most polluted street in Scotland. 
Their introduction will further improve local air quality in a city that is at the forefront of the electric vehicle revolution with a council-owned fleet of more than 150 EVs and which is gaining recognition worldwide for its ambition and vision.

All the pure-electric buses benefit from BYD Iron-Phosphate Batteries, an advanced battery technology that delivers an impressive driving range of up to 160 miles on a single charge, making them a practical and efficient choice for busy operators such as Xplore Dundee.

Their deployment in Dundee comes shortly after the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, also held in Scotland, where similar BYD ADL electric buses played prominent roles in the transport of delegates as well as state leaders, demonstrating that electric buses are an essential part of the solution to the climate emergency.

Managing Director of Xplore Dundee, Christine McGlasson said: “This is a milestone moment for us at Xplore Dundee – we are so proud to bring these electric double deckers to Dundee, the first of their kind for the city.

“Our fleet is now three-quarters low or zero emission – and we’re not going to stop there. We believe that buses are the solution to pollution, and as part of the McGill’s group we intend to continue investing in our fleet to provide a cleaner, greener public transport offering to the people of our Dundee.”

Delivery ceremony to of the BYD ADL eBuses to Xplore Dundee.
On the left, ADL Sales Account Manager, Charlie Miller; on the right,
Managing Director of Xplore Dundee, Christine McGlasson

ADL Sales Account Manager, Charlie Miller said: “We’re delighted that Dundee is another city on the road to net zero thanks to this investment by Xplore Dundee. Built in Falkirk, these buses have boosted skilled jobs and apprenticeships in Scottish manufacturing as well as benefiting residents in Dundee and helping to mitigate climate change – they’re really a win for everyone.”

Frank Thorpe, Managing Director, BYD UK, said: “We strive to play our part in making a difference through practical and viable electric mobility solutions to address climate change. To think that BYD ADL zero-emission electric buses will make such a valuable contribution to clean air in such a recognised polluted route, is a very positive step forward. 
We are excited that Xplore Dundee has chosen BYD ADL eBuses in pursuit of their zero-emission goals for green transportation and pleased to support them on their ongoing electric journey.”

Wednesday 15 December 2021

National Express £470 Million Offer for Stagecoach Agreed

National Express has agreed an all-share takeover of rival Stagecoach but admitted the £1.9bn tie-up could face regulatory hurdles to get over the line.

The two companies indicated the tie-up would result in cost savings and provide new growth opportunities as they recover from the huge hit to business inflicted by the COVID-19 pandemic that saw demand for travel collapse.

The deal will bring together the two largest UK companies who operate buses and coaches including Nat Ex and Megabus brands. 

About 50 jobs are expected to be cut from the head offices, IT and corporate departments of the two firms, under plans to slash annual costs by at least £45m following the merger.

But the companies stressed there would be no job losses among drivers, or depot closures, as a result of the deal.

The terms would see Stagecoach shareholders receive 0.36 new National Express shares for each Stagecoach share they own, giving them around 25% of the combined company,
that figure valuing Stagecoach at around £470m.

It would give them a 25% stake in the merged group.

The terms represent an 18% premium on the closing price of Stagecoach shares on the night before the talks were revealed.

Stagecoach was launched by Sir Brian Souter and his sister, Dame Ann Gloag, in 1980. The takeover marks the end of the Souter family’s long interest in the sector, having grown out of a small local bus company to one of the main players in Britain’s privatised bus and rail industries.

The operator’s fortunes dipped when it overbid for the East Coast rail franchise and its Virgin Trains operation was lost due to disagreements with the DfT over risks in funding of pension funds.

National Express made its approach 12 years after it spurned the offer of a £1.7bn merger from Stagecoach.

It admitted that the deal, which is subject to shareholder approval, was also likely to attract the attention of the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) as the enlarged company would control 40,000 vehicles and 70,000 staff.

National Express said it could not rule out the prospect of the combined company being required to take "remedial action" in a bid to secure a green light in advance.

Both companies have exited from UK rail operations, but National Express still runs trains in Germany and buses in the US, Canada, Morocco and Spain.

CMA concerns would be likely to centre on whether the deal weakened competition in certain regions and routes or raised the prospect of higher fares.

Ignacio Garat, the National Express CEO, has said: "The proposed combination of National Express and Stagecoach, and the unique strengths of both companies and their teams, will create a leading multi-modal passenger transport business in the UK, aiming to deliver superb services to customers and forging the way to a carbon free future with a new generation of zero-emission buses and coaches.

Stagecoach chief executive Martin Griffiths said: "This is an exciting opportunity to bring together two of the UK's iconic transport brands to create a strong, diverse business that is well-placed to grow the market for greener and smarter public transport for the benefit of all stakeholders."

Tuesday 14 December 2021

Wrightbus To Double Production at Ballymena

Ballymena bus maker Wrightbus is to double production next year as demand for its zero emissions vehicles soars.

The company said it will manufacture 600 buses in 2022, more than two thirds of which will be from its zero emissions range, including the world’s first hydrogen double decker bus and the fastest-charging EV double decker on the market.

That is a significant swing from this year when 70% of the buses the company produced were diesel powered and just 30% were zero emissions.

The rush to meet tightening emission targets by governments around the world has played in Wrightbus’s favour since the company was bought out of administration in 2019 by the heir to the JCB empire Jo Bamford.

Under his guidance the business has seemingly flourished, developing its hydrogen and other zero emission models at speed.

The company claims that since the launch of its hydrogen bus – known as the Streetdeck Hyrdoliner – it has prevented over 1,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions compared to the diesel-powered version of the bus, the equivalent of taking more than 230 cars off the road for a year.

Buta Atwal, Chief Executive of Wrightbus, said the ambitious plans are good news for workers and the wider economy at the Ballymena plant.

“Working at scale, Wrightbus has a clear plan in place to reduce the costs of the buses to be comparable to diesel for the total cost of ownership,” he said. “Wrightbus believes that hydrogen fuel cell buses, manufactured in Ballymena, can and should be used and powered across the UK and Ireland.

Hydrogen powered Streetdeck Hyrdoliner 

“Not only will it secure and grow jobs at our factory in Ballymena, it will support the many other innovative businesses, supporting the growth of a hydrogen sector that will enable us to become a world leader in this low-carbon technology.”

Battery powered Streetdeck Electroliner

Mr Atwal was speaking as Northern Ireland’s first minister visited the plant.

“Wrightbus is hugely important to the local economy and an example of how Northern Ireland can produce world-leading technology.

“The buses and technology being developed in Ballymena are helping to lead the way globally and I want to commend Wrightbus for their ongoing drive to grow Northern Ireland’s hydrogen economy which will in turn secure and create green jobs at their factory in Ballymena.”

Monday 13 December 2021

Middlesbrough to London LNER Direct trains Start Today

The first new 
London North Eastern Railway (LNER) trains to run between Middlesbrough and London will start this morning on 13th December.

The daily weekday service in each direction will also connect nearby Thornaby with London King's Cross.

The services will depart Middlesbrough at 07:08 and Thornaby at 07:15, arriving at King's Cross at 10:22.

Northbound from London will leave at 15:25, stopping at York, to Thornaby at 18:08 and Middlesbrough at 18:18.

When the route was first announced, LNER Managing Director David Thorne said:

"The new, direct services from December will see journey times of around three hours between London and Middlesbrough, offering more opportunities for business travel, tourists and international visitors wanting to travel to the Tees Valley."
LNER said more direct services were planned after further work was completed at Middlesbrough station.

 "The new, direct services will see journey times of around three hours between London and Middlesbrough, offering more opportunities for business travel, tourists and international visitors wanting to travel to the Tees Valley," he said.

Conservative Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen said it would "show businesses all the benefits of being based right here, and help our local companies forge new partnerships".

Middlesbrough Labour MP Andy McDonald said it had to be "just the start" but "being connected to our capital city will be a huge positive for jobs and for our local economy".

The Azuma trains being used on the line will run using overhead electric wires between London and Northallerton then operate under diesel power to and from Middlesbrough.