Monday 28 February 2022

More Lorries off the Roads as Timber Freight Train Runs for the First Time in 18 Years

A sawmill in Abergavenny in Wales has received its first load of rail-transported timber since 2004, thanks to a partnership between Network Rail and freight operator Colas Rail.

The timber, felled in a forest in Bickleigh, south Devon, was loaded onto a Colas Rail freight train at Hackney Yard near Newton Abbot to be transported 92 miles to Pontrilas Timber in Abergavenny as part of a trial run, which could see the return of ‘log trains’ as a regular sight travelling on the railway along the south Devon coastline.

Pontrilas Timber, who wanted to explore the practicalities of moving timber by rail, are encouraged by the success of the pilot and hope to work with Network Rail to produce a plan for carrying commercially viable loads, which would include improvements to the sidings and the adjacent road in Abergavenny.

As part of this pilot project, the freight train carried a total of 320 tonnes of timber in eight wagons, with the aspiration to more than double the load to 720 tonnes across 18 wagons in the future.

Transporting this much timber by rail removes 76 lorries from the road, helping both reduce traffic congestion and carbon emissions. It is estimated that over 0.45 tonnes of carbon dioxide is saved by using the railway for this journey, which equates to 54,739 charges of your smart phone or the carbon emissions per passenger taking a one way flight from Paris to New York.

The trial was made possible following Network Rail strengthening one of the bridges at Hackney Yard, increasing the weight limit of vehicles entering the yard to 44 tonnes. This increase means larger HGVs (Heavy Goods Vehicles) are now able to access the yard and load their cargo onto a freight train for transportation across the rest of the country via the rail network.

The strengthening of the bridge will also allow Aggregate Industries to use Hackney Yard to load freight for transportation to the south east in the near future.

Jess Lippett, Network Rail senior route freight manager, said: “Rail freight is a vital part of our infrastructure, providing a fast, green, safe and efficient way of transporting goods.

“This trial run shows how we can work together to have a positive impact on the environment and the economy. The work to strengthen the bridge at Hackney Yard means that we can facilitate the movement of heavy goods across the country more effectively, a benefit that will last for years to come.”

Simon Ball, Colas Rail UK freight director, said: “This is a great opportunity to expand our freight business, especially as we lead the field in the transportation of timber by rail.

“We provide a sustainable alternative by operating on rail, also reducing the number of HGVs on the road, especially during the shortage of drivers.

“Working with the client and Network Rail, I’m convinced that we can move forward and build on the success of the trial.”

Photographs by Alan Peters at Colas Rail

Sunday 27 February 2022

Trans Pennine Named Train Operator of the Year and Rail Business of the Year

TransPennine Express (TPE) is celebrating after being Train Operator of the Year and Rail Business of the Year, at The 24th Rail Business Awards at Royal Lancaster Hotel in London.
TPE captured the two prestigious titles as well as the Marketing and Communications Excellence Award and a highly commended in the Education and Training Excellence category at the 24th Rail Business Awards.

Well established as the first national awards for the UK rail sector, the Rail Business Awards celebrate the achievements across every aspect of the rail industry.

TPE secured Train Operator of the Year and Rail Business of the Year for demonstrating overall business excellence, exceptional performance and providing the most outstanding customer service.
Despite the challenges faced during the pandemic, TPE’s passenger numbers grew during 2021 as the rail operator delivered improvements across stations. 
In addition, TPE made tremendous progress in getting performance back on track and rebuilding the trust and confidence of their customers with performance remaining at over 90% in 2021.

In the Marketing and Communications Excellence category, TPE picked up the award for deploying a marketing and communications campaign reassuring customers that train travel was safe as the country emerged from the pandemic. 
The campaign was a success with 82% of customers feeling reassured, 71% feeling positive about rail travel and 75% were encouraged to use trains.

In the Education and Training Excellence Category, TPE secured a highly commended for their work undertaken at the Learning and Development Hub located in Huddersfield where the Mission Room, a state-of-the-art facility of which offers interactive and immersive display systems is located. 
The facility is also home to the TPE apprenticeship programme which currently has the highest conversion rate ever into full time employment.

Matthew Golton, Managing Director for TransPennine Express, who attended last night’s ceremony said: “I’m delighted that we have been named Train Operator of the Year and Rail Business of the Year as well as picking up the Marketing and Communication Excellence Award, it’s a fantastic achievement.

“I’m thrilled to see that the hard work of our colleagues has been recognised at this level and it feels particularly special given the challenging backdrop of the pandemic over the past couple of years.

“At TPE we want to be at the heart of delivering positive change for rail customers and for the communities that we serve in the North of England and into Scotland and I’m looking forward to building on our success and working with our colleagues and stakeholders to realise that."

The awards recognise the work done day-in, day-out to keep passengers and freight on the move, as well as the research and innovation taking place as suppliers and operators strive to improve performance and efficiency, creating the foundations for the railway of the future.

The 24th Rail Business Awards ceremony took place at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London on Wednesday 23rd February, in front of a capacity crowd of more than 450 guests and was hosted by comedian Suzi Ruffell, described as one of the most promising comedy talents of her generation.

TransPennine Add Extra West Coast Services here

Saturday 26 February 2022

Stagecoach & Go-Ahead Will Contribute to Oxford Council Application for Electric Bus Funding

A new fleet of state of the art electric buses could be coming to Oxford and its surrounding areas after a bid for government funding was submitted.

Oxfordshire County Council has applied for £32.8 million from the Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme. Along with £6m from the council and £43.7m from bus companies Go Ahead and Stagecoach, the scheme could deliver 159 electric buses and the infrastructure to charge them in a package worth £82.5m.

If successful, the electric buses would operate in an area stretching from Kidlington in the north to Sandford in the south, and from Cumnor in the west to Wheatley in the east. They would save an estimated 9,200 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions each year – the equivalent of taking more than 6,000 cars off the road.

Councillor Tim Bearder, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management, said: “This government's levelling up agenda aims to ‘bring the rest of the country's public transport up to London standards’. That is a laudable and ambitious aim. It can only be achieved by significant and determined investment in our bus network and doesn't currently match the reality on the ground.

“That is why I hope our transformational electric bus bid is supported. The county council will then do its bit to re-engineer the network to make that investment work effectively and efficiently. This is what government say they want, what our bus operators need and, ultimately, what our residents deserve.”

Councillor Tom Hayes, Oxford City Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Green Transport and Zero Carbon Oxford, said: “To clean up our air, we need to clean up the emissions produced by getting around. The importance of a zero emissions bus fleet is clear as we seek to achieve our ambitious target to become a net zero city by 2040 or sooner.

“It's also important for improving the experience for bus passengers. As we introduce Britain’s first zero emission zone pilot, the submission of the ZEBRA bid is timely and critically important to bring about the large-scale adoption of electric buses across our city. I am looking forward to hearing the outcome of this bid and taking the next steps towards a zero carbon Oxford by 2040.”

Phil Southall, Managing Director of Oxford Bus Company, said: “We are hugely supportive of this ambitious and exciting vision to significantly improve Oxford’s air quality and carbon emissions. Go-Ahead Group and Oxford Bus Company have always been at the forefront of introducing sustainable low-carbon technology in the UK. More than three-quarters of our fleet meets the Euro VI emissions standard and three of our Oxford city sightseeing vehicles are already electric.

“A scheme of this scale of course comes with challenges and the significant bus operator investment required to support the transition to electric will require public policies to reduce congestion, speed up bus journey times by 10 per cent, and encourage active travel such as cycling and walking.”

Rachel Geliamassi, Managing Director at Stagecoach West, said: “We’re pleased to have been able to support Oxfordshire County Council with the bid for an electric bus fleet. If the bid is successful, it will be a monumental step forward towards decarbonising public transport in Oxford and, once aligned with the delivery of Connecting Oxford, will truly transform bus travel in the city.

“This investment forms an important part of Stagecoach’s strategy to deliver a zero emission bus fleet across the UK in support of the country’s net zero ambitions. This, combined with encouraging motorists to switch from cars to more sustainable transport options, such as buses, offers the best possible solution for reducing carbon emissions and improving local air quality.”

The bid demonstrates Oxfordshire’s ambitions to be a global leader in transport decarbonisation through the radical transformation of Oxford’s transport system, reconfiguring it for a zero-carbon future. Decarbonisation of Oxford’s bus network by 2030 is a vital part of these plans.

The government decision is expected next month and, if successful, the new electric buses should start to be delivered to Oxford’s roads between the summer of 2023 and the spring of 2024.

Friday 25 February 2022

Delayed Go-Ahead Results Finally Announced Followed by Listing of Shares Again

Go-Ahead Group has reported a "strong" financial performance in its bus and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) operations in its much-delayed full-year results published yesterday, offset by challenges in its international rail division and its former Southeastern rail franchise.

It recorded an adjusted operating profit of £115.5m for the 12 months ended 3 July 2021, up from a restated £76.4m for 2020, as its statutory loss before tax narrowed to £6.9m from a restated £39.5m.

Go-Ahead were stripped of the Southeastern Rail franchise

The London-listed passenger transport operator was stripped of the Southeastern rail operation in October after an investigation into £25m of unaccounted-for taxpayer funding.

The company revealed they expect to pay the government £51.3m over its failures in running the service, which was taken away last year, and has put aside £30m for a possible fine. Around £49.2m has already been paid.

It retains the GTR operation, which operates Gatwick Express, Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink services in London and the south east. Bus services are operated in England, Ireland and Singapore.

Go-Ahead said it maintained a "strong" balance sheet reflecting "prudent" financial management throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with an adjusted net debt-to-EBITDA ratio of 1.56x at year-end on 3 July.

In the results now published it recorded a number of exceptional items for international rail, with onerous contract and asset impairment provisions of £76.9m recognised in Norway, and its previous provision in Germany increased to £36.6m and restated in the prior year.

A new group chief executive officer, Christian Schreyer, joined in November, with additional senior management appointments made.

"It's been a very challenging year for Go-Ahead and our shareholders, for which I apologise, on behalf of the board," said Schreyer.

"I'm pleased to be publishing these results today and I am looking firmly to the future with optimism.

"The group's operating performance is strong and we are seeing a reassuring recovery in passenger volumes across bus and rail following the impacts of Covid-19 with our trading expectations for 2022 unchanged."

Christian Schreyer said that in relation to the former Southeastern franchise, the company was "optimistic" that the outstanding matters would soon be settled with the Department for Transport.

"In international rail, I am confident that we have the right team in place to address the challenging contractual situations we face in those markets.

"Go-Ahead's 27,000 people have demonstrated incredible resilience and commitment through this period, and I have great confidence in my teams around the world to support the next exciting phase for the group.

"We see significant opportunities ahead as public transport benefits from trends towards lower carbon travel, urbanisation, digitalisation and demographic change."

In June 2018, Go-Ahead acquired East Yorkshire Motor Services

Following the publishing of the delayed results yesterday, it was later announced by Financial Conduct Authority that the suspension of trading in Go-Ahead shares had been lifted.

Thursday 24 February 2022

Quantron Launch All Electric Cizaris 12 EV

QUANTRON, the German Augsburg-based company have launched an all-electric version (CIZARIS 12 EV), to be followed in 2023 by a fuel cell drive (CIZARIS 12 H) 
The two vehicles use a largely identical powertrain. Both two- and three-door models with a total of nine interior layouts are available and will be offered in right hand drive. 

The press release says "QUANTRON has 140 years of roots in the Haller Commercial Vehicle family business. The CIZARIS represents the entry of electric vehicle pioneer QUANTRON into the sustainable and tender-driven city bus market, which is becoming increasingly significant due to the European "Clean Vehicles Directive". 

In doing so, the designers are drawing on a vehicle platform that has proven itself hundreds of times over in Asia's largest electric bus markets in recent years. At the QUANTRON plant in Augsburg-Gersthofen, the vehicles will be constructed to customer-specific adaptations, suited to the highly regulated municipal transport sector.

As the first QUANTRON model, the electric powered bus bears the evolutionarily enhanced QUANTRON lettering and the new logo. Both are clearly more modern and convey a high recognition value on the front (with logo), the rear and behind the A-pillar. 
The modern driver's workplace is also emblazoned with a milled, high-quality QUANTRON logo. It stands for the combination of the three brand values "Reliable - Energetic - Brave". These values are also embodied in the striking three-part, intermittent "running light indicators" in the front, which are similarly installed in other QUANTRON models.

Modern vehicle design with a friendly character

The front of the vehicle is visually appealing thanks to its low situated windshield, with large radii on the outside, leaving space below for the new logo. 
The front and rear roof edges are clearly rounded and adorned with an additional "front shield", which takes away the vehicle's bulkiness and, in conjunction with the refined side graphics, gives it a distinctly three-dimensional impression. 

The low-floor character of the bus is made clear by the black contrasting center section, while the roof edge trim at the front and rear puts the emphasis on the battery technology, which is hidden there on the roof outside any crash areas. 
This allows 24 to 35 seats – in total, there is room for 81 to 95 passengers depending on the battery package – significantly more than many competitors. 
The rear end with its large taillights, some of which are made of frosted glass or have a light-striped design, is also visually very striking and European.

Light-flooded interior for up to 95 passengers

Access through two or three 1,200 mm wide doors makes it clear to the passenger that they are entering a truly spacious interior.  Wide passages between the axles or to the optional third door at the rear contribute to the airy and pleasant impression of space, as does the enormous headroom of 2,449 mm. 
The front area up to door two is fully low-floor and very easy to clean thanks to the use of keel seats (with cantilever suspensions in the case of the individual seats). For the first time in this segment, the robust seat covers are manufactured using textile digital printing and feature the QUANTRON logo in the specially created parametric design pattern. 
The colour scheme can be very easily adapted to suit needs such as those of people with limited mobility, making these seats instantly recognizable. A total of four seat configurations are available for the two-door model, and as many as five for the three-door model. 

In the rear, the seats are mounted on pedestals, offering passengers a comfortable, elevated seating position on longer journeys. For short-distance hop on - hop off passengers, the seats mounted transversely on the compact engine box directly opposite door are ideal.

Optionally, a large luggage rack can also be mounted here, for example for airport buses. A highly efficient Valeo heat pump/air conditioning unit with a cooling capacity of 33 kW provides the right climate on board.

Thanks to the advanced principle of "Positive Temperature Coefficient Heating (PTC)", the total heating capacity can be increased to a total of 50 kW if required. The process enables an effective heating output adapted to battery operation with lower energy consumption. 

Antiviral filters as well as a closed driver's cab are among the possible equipment options adapted to the respective countries. 
A special highlight in the interior is the elaborately perforated aluminum ceiling with indirect side lighting and additional LED lights mounted transversely to it, the color of which can be changed on request. 

This quickly creates the dignified atmosphere of a touring car, especially in the evening and at night. Modernity also reigns when it comes to USB charging: either the standard sidewall-mounted USB-A plugs or the optional USB-C plugs under the comfortable seats are available. 

Ergonomic driver workstation and safety systems

The driver's workplace of the CIZARIS is mounted on a raised platform from which the driver meets his customers at "eye level," each driver finds the optimal position on high-quality and versatile adjustable seats from Isringhausen or Grammer. 

The easy-to-grip steering wheel with the new brand logo, but without buttons that can distract in city traffic, can also be adjusted in two directions. 

A VDV-compliant version currently in planning will even be fully adjustable. The basic principle of the cockpit could be summed up as "less is more": the very functionally designed panel with large monitor for rear view camera has very few buttons. 

On the right of the steering wheel is the recuperation lever, which can be used to select the power of the brake energy recuperation in three stages. The high-resolution camera mirror monitors are mounted directly in front of the A-pillars, where they cut down little field of vision.

The CIZARIS is one of the few city buses to also offer a separate nose observation camera with a large monitor above the cockpit. That's why the electric bus is also equipped with the latest electronic safety systems such as ABS/ASR, EBS 5.0, ECAS from European production, and the turn-off assistant from Mobileye can also be retrofitted on request.

Stabilizers on the front and rear axles ensure high safety and comfort on board. And optimum fire protection is ensured in the rear compartment, in the battery modules and other high-voltage components by means of fire detectors (temperature/gas sensors) and separate powder extinguisher cartridges - even though the LFP batteries are considered by all experts to be largely "incombustible".

Robust battery and traction technology

QUANTRON relies on the combination of robust and reliable lithium iron phosphate batteries and highly efficient synchronous central motor from Dana/TM4, which has been used in many thousands of buses for years. 
From QUANTRON's point of view, this combination, which has so far been somewhat rare in Europe, represents the optimal team for converting the energy on board into propulsion as safely and efficiently as possible. 
With between 242 and 424 kilowatt hours of selectable battery capacity, the roof-mounted battery packs only (a maximum of six in the front and six in the rear depending on customer preference) are fast-charged by CATL with 65 to 150 kW direct current (DC) in two to five hours. 
The matching CCS combo charging plug is installed on the right, left or in the rear at the customer's request - a key point in terms of customer convenience. 

In the medium-heavy eSORT 2 cycle, this energy is sufficient for circulations of 220 to 370 kilometers with a charging stroke (DoD) of 10 percent. 

This range is fully sufficient for most transport operators, saving them greater expense on charging infrastructure. For higher demands, the CIZARIS 12H will have even greater range for intercity travel starting in 2023. The CIZARIS is not only efficient but also easy to maintain - a foolproof and highly reliable electric bus.

The vehicle-mounted and water-cooled central motor from Dana/TM4 based on the permanent synchronous principle (PSM) is appealing due to its low speeds and particularly high efficiency compared with asynchronous motors. 

It has an output of 145/245 kilowatts (nominal/maximum) and a maximum engine torque of 1,055/3,329 newton meters, which is developed without any gear changes. With the introduction of the fuel cell version, an even more powerful powertrain will be used. 

Another advantage of the central engine, in addition to its largely silent operation, is that since it does not contribute to the unsprung masses of the chassis like an electric portal axle, it is not exposed to constant vibrations and thus has a longer service life than such systems.

Service and warranty from a German full-line provider

An electric bus is only as good as the service you buy with it. QUANTRON does everything in its power to help the customer configure the vehicle and analyze its routes and electrical equipment as early as the purchasing process with its experts. 
This is because the battery size in particular must be precisely adapted to the requirements so that people really are moved instead of unnecessary battery mass. 

The basis for a long bus life is a complex cataphoretic dip painting of the frame (KTL) and other effective corrosion protection measures. A central lubrication system on the front axle ensures optimum maintenance. 

The warranty terms are basically two years for the entire vehicle, and eight years or 3,000 charge cycles (or 80 percent charge capacity - whichever comes first) for the all-important batteries - extensions or service contracts can also be offered on request. 

Re-use options for batteries at their end of life can also be offered by QUANTRON. 
In total, QUANTRON has a network of 700 service partners in Europe, many of whom can also service electric buses. In a multi-stage service concept, it is checked in each case whether the customer's workshop can be upgraded to work largely self-sufficiently with the support of QUANTRON technicians. 

The connectivity of the buses is ensured by the FMS 4.0 interface, and the use of QUANTRON's partner telematics CAPTE or VinCity is also currently being examined in order to be able to remotely retrieve the essential data of the bus, proof of which is also required for public funding, at any time.

For the initial market launch of the QUANTRON CIZARIS, the sales focus will initially be on the markets of Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Scandinavia, and Southern Europe. 
Due to the special requirements of the German market, such as the VDV specifications relating to the driver's workplace and other systems, the market launch in Germany, Austria and Switzerland will take place in the second half of 2022.
A right hand drive version is also planned.

Technical data QUANTRON CIZARIS 12 EV

Length 12.180  width 2.550  height 3.450 mm

Engine - water-cooled DANA TM 4 SUMO MD HV3000 6P synchronous central engine behind the drive axle; power (nominal/maximum) 145/245 kW; torque (nominal/maximum) 1,055/3,329 newton meters

Batteries Temperature-controlled lithium iron phosphate (LFP) batteries mounted on the roof (max. 6 modules each front and rear); 242 to 424 kilowatt hours selectable capacity; charging time with 65 to 150 kW (DC) two to five hours; range eSORT2 around 220 to 370 kilometers, customer-specific position of CCS combo type 2 connector r., li., rear

Chassis/Safety Vo. Dana comfort rigid axle with stabilizer max. load 7.5t; rear Dana hypoid axle with stabilizers; max. load 11.5t (techn. 13t); tires 275/70 R22.5 (with aluminum rims); ABS/ASR, EBS 5.0, ECAS, mirror replacement system with nose observation camera; rear view camera; turn assist (MirrorEye) and attention assist on request; fire detection/extinguishing system in all relevant components

Seating/Total capacity Two-door: 31 to 36 / 89-93*

Three-door: 25 to 34 / 91-95*

* with smallest battery pack

Wednesday 23 February 2022

Keighley and Worth Valley Trial of Bio-Coal Using 2-6-0 No. 78022

 The first-ever trial of bio-coal in a full size, standard gauge locomotive has been described as a ‘milestone’ for steam.

The trials, featuring British Railways Standard ‘2MT’ 2-6-0 No. 78022, took place at the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway on Monday, February 14th 2022. They pitted a trial batch of Homefire Ecoal, developed by CPL Industries Ltd for use in steam locomotives, against the steeply graded, five-mile-long line in West Yorkshire.

The trials were the first on standard gauge locomotives with this new generation of fuels and the third in the series. The previous two trials were run in June and November 2021 at the Bure Valley and gave sufficient confidence to then progress onto the standard gauge. The trials are a collaboration between the Heritage Railway Association, member railways, CPL Industries Ltd and the Advanced Steam Traction Trust. The aim is to find an alternative to traditional steam coal, which is proving increasingly hard to source.

To closely replicate normal working conditions, a full operating day timetable was followed. The trial also used a rake of five carriages, the same that No. 78022 would be expected to haul using traditional coal.

The Homefire Ecoal blend has been carefully changed following the last steam railway trials, which took place in December 2021 at the 15in gauge Bure Valley Railway. The main aim of the KWVR trials was to prove the concept in a standard gauge locomotive and further refine the composition of the fuel.

Homefire Ecoal is produced at Coal Products Ltd UK plant and this was a unique formula featuring up to 20% biomass and manufactured using CPL’s hot cured process to provide greater strength and durability. The larger, specially-shaped hexagonal ovoid is designed to sit on both narrow gauge and standard gauge locomotive firebars just like traditional coal and is classified as smokeless emitting up to 80% less particulate matter (smoke) than traditional coal.

Heritage Railway Association Chief Executive, Steve Oates, said: “Even though this is just an initial trial, it is a significant milestone in the history of steam locomotives in the UK.

“Heritage steam is a small and very responsible user of high-quality, low emissions coal, but it’s clear that huge challenges are ahead for the fuel we depend upon. That’s why trials like this to find alternatives are so important.”

The urgency behind trials of alternative fuels has only increased in recent weeks after it became clear that the last source of UK-mined steam coal would no longer be supplying the heritage sector. There are now significant concerns that heritage rail could experience a coal shortage within months.

The requirements of heritage steam coal are very different to most other users. Factors like burn rate and the amount of ash produced are critical to success, but it is also important that fuel does not produce excessive smoke or damage to fireboxes and firebars.

Julian Martin, Sales Director from CPL Industries Ltd, said: “This is the first trial of our latest Homefire Ecoal product, designed for standard and narrow gauge locomotives. Previous trials at Bure Valley Railways and other railways have given us a great insight into what the driver needs to optimise the performance of the boiler, and it’s encouraging that a large number of steam engine users are already using Homefire Ecoal instead of traditional coal or other steam coals.

Above & below, E Coal trials were previously carried out on the 15" gauge
Bure Valley Railway.  Photos - Heritage Railway Association

“The availability of coal for steam engines is already proving challenging and prices continue to increase. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like this will ease in the near future as price and availability remain incredibly volatile. However, we are confident that we can produce a range of smokeless ovoids that meet the needs of all the steam engine users, which will be consistent in quality and performance and at the same time will be affordable and environmentally better to burn.”

With a 200psi boiler and a grate area of more than 17sq ft, 1954-built No. 78022 is by far the biggest steam locomotive yet to be trialled with bio-coal. The KWVR’s gradients of up to 1-in-58 also mean that locomotives need to perform well to keep to time.

Noel Hartley from the Keighley and Worth Valley Railway acted as a fireman on the day of the trials, he said: “It’s been really interesting to try it out, it’s very different to what we’d normally use. It’s a completely different technique, you’ve got to make sure you get it really hot to start with.

“I think in time, it could be with tweaks made really useful for heritage railway use.”

John Hind from the Advanced Steam Traction Trust said: “The trials are part of a development process. Every trial we do more and more is learnt and fed back to CPL Industries Ltd so that the heritage sector can be ready for a carbon-neutral world.”

It is planned to publish the results at the Heritage Railway Association’s Spring Conference in March.

CPL Industries, Producers of Homefire Ecoal, website here

Report on the earlier trials of Homefire Ecoal, carried out on the Bure Valley Railway here

Tuesday 22 February 2022

Stagecoach Electrics Have Travelled a Total of 106,321 Miles and Saved 74 tonnes of C02

Since the launch in February 2020 of the BYD ADL Enviro400EV electric buses which were launched in Cambridge two years ago by Stagecoach East, the two zero-emission vehicles have collectively travelled a total of 106,321 miles and saved 74 tonnes of C02.

The buses are zero emission and can travel 160 miles on a single charge.

Alexander Dennis has supplied the electric double deckers to Stagecoach for a project between the operator and the Greater Cambridge Partnership, supporting an improvement in air quality in the city centre of Cambridge and giving the opportunity to inform potential future investment in a zero emission bus fleet.

The fully-electric vehicles re-charge every time the bus slows down and have a triple battery design which provides power for approximately 160 miles.

They each consume around 2kWhr of electricity per mile, which is comparable to leaving your oven on for an hour.

Full charging, which takes eight hours, takes place overnight to provide an efficient service during daytime operational hours.

Stagecoach East has said the vehicles are a far more environmentally friendly mode of transport.

Managing director Darren Roe, said: “The climate crisis is an imminent threat so we are taking proactive measures to innovate and invest in the best methods to improve the impact of transportation on the environment.

“The electric buses in Cambridge have proved to be hugely successful over the past two years and we are now looking at the best options for the next steps. Over a third of our fleet now use greener engines and we are committed to buying only ULEB (Ultra low emission buses) which have 30% less wheel-to-wheel CO2 than the standard Euro 6 bus.

“Bus travel reduces congestion and is more eco-friendly than car travel, but we’re committed to taking this further and prioritising the planet.”

Cllr Elisa Meschini, Chair of the Greater Cambridgeshire Partnerships’ Executive Board, said: “I am delighted to see how well the electric buses have been received by residents, and how they’ve helped to slash emissions and cut pollution on our city’s roads.

“The GCP is currently developing bold plans to truly transform the bus network that would make buses an even more attractive and green travel choice to keep people moving while cutting congestion and improving air quality at a time when actions to reduce our collective effect on the climate are at the forefront of people’s minds.”

Monday 21 February 2022

Heritage Livery for Latest GB Railfreight Class 69 Locomotive

GB Railfreight have unveiled their latest Class 69 locomotive outshopped in retro BR Rail Research livery.

Class 69004 celebrates their operation at RIDC Melton, a dedicated test facility for new technology in the rail industry.

The unveiling of the fourth Class 69 took place at Eastleigh Works Previously, 69001 was unveiled in GBRf livery with Mayflower nameplates and ‘whiskers’ on the front, 69002 being unveiled in BR Large Logo and 69003 in GBRf livery with ‘whiskers’ on the front.

The Class 69 locos are converted from Class 56 locomotives by Progress Rail, with the existing Ruston-Paxman RK3 engine replaced by an EMD 710 12 cylinder powerplant. Updated electronic controls based on those used in the Class 66 are also installed.

So far, four locomotives have been rebuilt, with six more planned, and an option for a further six. GBRF stated that a complete rebuild and re-engine of each locomotive would be cheaper than buying brand new locomotives and shipping them in from abroad.

Sunday 20 February 2022

Edinburgh Tram Extension Work Permanently Closes York Place Tram Stop

Work to connect Edinburgh’s existing tram network to the Newhaven line has seen the permanent closure of the York Place tram stop and a temporary suspension of services to other city centre stops.
The York Place stop will be replaced by the new Picardy Place stop when the extension opens.

Trams to Newhaven will add 4.69 kilometres/2.91 miles of track in both directions, connecting Leith and Newhaven to the current end of the Edinburgh tram line at York Place with eight new stops (see route map below).

This will offer passengers access to high capacity light rail which will sit alongside the existing bus service as well as improved cycling and walking infrastructure along the route.

Construction commenced in November 2019 with a forecast of timetabled services operating from Spring 2023. Pedestrian access is being maintained at all times during construction.

Now trams are only running as far as the West End tram stop, with alternative arrangements put in place to enable customers to complete their journey. In April, services will resume as far as a temporary terminus in St Andrew Square.

During this period there will be no services to Princes Street and St Andrew Square although customers with any tram tickets, Ridacards and valid Concessionary cards can use Lothian bus services 3, 4, 12, 25, 26, 31, 33, 44 to link with the tram at West End.

Customers interchanging with National Rail services can also use their tram ticket between Haymarket and Edinburgh Waverley stations thanks to a partnership with Scotrail.

The tram stop at the Shore

The route down Leith Walk

Above & below,the tram tracks at Ocean Drive


Saturday 19 February 2022

Ken Jones Takes A Day Out in February

 Roger Burdett and Ken Jones decided to take an out and back railway trip which was short enough to be done in daylight bearing in mind it is still February, but it was still an interesting trip nevertheless.

The 360 Desiro is an electric multiple-unit class that was built by
Siemens Transportation Systems between 2002 and 2005.
360102 awaits departure at Corby.

Ken & Roger chose to travel Corby to London Bridge utilising cheap day return tickets booked in advance and utilising the EMR Connect electric service from Corby to Luton Airport using class 360 units and then Thameslink to London Bridge, using class 700 units, and stopping at some stations for photographs. 

New [red] and old [blue] liveries for the EMR Connect 360 units.

When new, the 360's were primarily used on Great Eastern Main Line services from 
London Liverpool Street to Clacton-on-SeaColchester Town and Ipswich
Since moving to EMR the 360's have been modified for 110 mph (180 km/h) operation

They drove to Corby, and to get the best value tickets they caught a train from Corby after 9.30 and left London Bridge before 3pm. 
Neither had done this route before, and it is worth pointing out you always need to do some research before booking tickets, because if you use the trainline to book tickets for this route they recommend EMR Connect to London St Pancras, with onward journey by London Underground to London Bridge station. 
The EMR class 360 units were previously by Greater Anglia working out of Liverpool Street station.

Thameslink 700135 approaching Luton Airport Parkway with
the semi fast service to London and beyond

An article about EMR Connect from Corby can be seen here

 An article about rebuilding London Bridge station can be found here

 More information about the Grade II listed signal box at St Albans (below) can be found here

More information about the DART rapid transit system being built at
Luton Airport Parkway can be found here

Southern trains use the terminal platforms at London Bridge station, whereas South Eastern and Thameslink trains use the extended through platforms.

Northbound 700153 seen at City Thameslink Station

For those not interested just in railways the Shard and London Bridge bus terminus are just outside the railway station.

The shard dominates the skyline at London Bridge station

The most picturesque station on this route is London Blackfriars which sits over the Thames.

 700159 snakes its way into Blackfriars station

There are stabling points at Kettering, Bedford, and Cricklewood. Again, research before you go is as important as researching the prices. You can view the stopping stations on companies’ websites as a starter and decide whether to use fast or stopping services, we used a mixture of both.

Other things to look out for include the abandoned Kings Cross Thameslink platforms, and some steep gradients on the approaches to Thameslink stations in London.

Northbound service approaching City Thameslink station showing the gradient. South of here the units run on 3rd rail current, so drivers have a sign reminding them to lower pantographs

There’s a café at Corby station and very friendly EMR staff. Communication on Thameslink trains is very good including the driver telling us that inbound train would not be stopping at Farringdon due to fire alarm going off. 

There are no connecting doors between carriages on the Thameslink trains allowing 
unimpeded access between coaches

All the trains we saw were running as long trains to help get people travelling again. The 360 units run in pairs but no connection between the units, and the Thameslink 700 units are either 8 or 12 cars.

Thameslink 700155 carries “Pride” livery at each end

View from Blackfriars station

South Eastern 375805 seen at London Bridge station

South Eastern and Thameslink units at London Bridge station

Unit 375910 is seen entering London Bridge station

Class 707 units seen on the other through lines at London Bridge Station

South Eastern and Southern trains are seen entering and leaving London Bridge station

Southern units – class 377 – use the terminal platforms at London Bridge station

The architects have made the concourse much lighter, and opened up the former London Bridge station. The second picture is part of the access route to toilets and underground

Next to the Thameslink platforms and connected by a bridge, where London 
Underground Metropolitan S stock can be seen

222102 is seen heading through St Albans City station with a northbound
train from St. 

Thameslink units at St. Albans city station

EMR 360 units seen at Luton airport Parkway heading for Corby

The new building and track for the new DART system at Luton Airport Parkway which will connect the main line station with the airport

222018 hurries through Luton Airport Parkway. The new escalators being built will take passengers from the platforms to the new DART shuttle concourse

360 units heading for London St. Pancras at Luton Airport Parkway – full fleet
on the side and unit number on the ends

Interior shot of EMR Connect 360 unit as we head back to Corby

Many thanks for Ken Jones for compiling this posting. If you've got reports  on transport trips or rallies please send them to