Wednesday 30 November 2022

Cairngorm Railway Repair Costs Soar to £52m

The cost to the taxpayer of the UK's highest railway which had to close four years ago has soared to nearly £52m - with the costs of crucial repairs spiralling, it can be revealed.

Taxpayers are having to foot the bill for the extra costs in fixing the structural issues with the Scottish Government agency-owned Cairngorms mountain railway to the tune of £9m.

The 1.3 mile funicular will not now reopen for the start of this winter season and is due to relaunch early next year - having seen costs spiral from an original price of £14.8m.

Calls have previously been made for a public inquiry into the management of the Cairngorm funicular, which it was hoped would re-open in late 2022.

It has meant the ski centre above Aviemore in the Scottish Highlands will remain without its main lift for a fourth successive ski season.

The Cairngorms are a major Scottish tourism attraction and centre for recreation with downhill hillwalking and rock climbing a major draw for the 1.92m who visit the national park every year from around the world.

But the crucial funicular, which was opened in 2001 and connects a base station with a restaurant and a ski area 1,097m (3,599ft) up Cairn Gorm mountain near Aviemore, has been closed since September, 2018 due to structural issues.

It has now been confirmed that the cost of the urgent repairs have risen by 56% from £16.16m to £25m.

The faults were discovered after the actual costs of building the funicular spiralled from £14.8m to £26.75m.

According to the Cairngorm National Park Authority strengthening works to the railway viaduct involves reinforcing props and concrete bases beside 63 out of 94 piers.

Past concerns have been raised from within the funicular's owner, the Scottish Government's Highlands and Islands Enterprise agency about how it will be paid for.

HIE said it has "reallocated uncommitted funds" from a wider Cairngorm masterplan capital investment package to meet the additional costs. The Scottish Government also allocated £7m additional funding in June 2022.

HIE says it will continue to pursue legal action against the funicular’s original designer and construction contractor in the Court of Session, in a bid to recoup public funding.

The Herald revealed the early stages of the £14.5m claim last year against the now owners of Morrison Construction, Galliford Try Infrastructure Limited and Inverness-based AF Cruden Associates Limited, the civil and structural engineers for the scheme which had been taken over by Glasgow-based Arch Henderson.

The decisions over the contracts for the funicular were hit with allegations of cronyism and financial mismanagement that led to an investigation after chief executive of HIE, Iain Robertson, announced in 2000 that he would be leaving to become director for corporate development for Morrison plc, an Edinburgh-based construction company founded and once chaired by one of Scotland's wealthiest men Sir Fraser Morrison.

In five years HIE had awarded a number of Morrison contracts including that for the building of the controversial railway up Cairngorm which they eventually received more than £10m for.

Morrisons were awarded the funicular contract in 1999, a year after Sir Fraser left HIE.

Audit Scotland said there was no conflict of interest in either case.

Scottish Conservatives' Highlands and Islands MP Edward Mountain MSP said he was not surprised by the rise in costs.

"One questions who has been managing this asset for the country.

“Would we have been better installing a different form of lift to get the capacity we need at a lower cost? Also, how much will the previous operator contribute to the final repair bill?

“If the funicular is ready for winter 2023 then this would be a huge boost for a local tourism industry.

“While I am pleased, following my calls earlier this year, that the Scottish Government committed a further £7m to the repairs, I am however concerned that HIE have had to reallocate funding from the Cairngorm masterplan investment package.

“Many will be left wondering what knock-on impact that will now have on the masterplan and I will be seeking further clarity on this matter.”

The Herald previously emerged that having already pumped more than £10m in works to fix it, ministers and officials were considering scrapping the project altogether.

A dossier of internal Scottish Government documents seen by the Herald showed that business minister Ivan McKee ended up sanctioning continuing with the project as the "least worst option" while warning additional finance could not be guaranteed.

The enterprise agency said that the project costs rise is due to the impacts of Covid, Brexit and blizzards in spring hampering repairs.

Trains are running on the mountain railway for the first time in four years - though under test conditions for now.

Testing on the funicular is expected to continue into December and safety certificates will be needed from the UK Department for Transport before it can be opened to visitors.

Hector MacAulay, managing director of Balfour Beatty’s UK Construction business in Scotland said: “As the project nears completion, we are excited to see the benefits the Cairngorm funicular railway will provide, enabling local residents and tourists alike to access the unique mountain environment all year round.”

Contractors will continue to work on the mountain removing final materials and demobilising until the end of the year.

Environmental restoration works, including replanting and re-seeding, will proceed during 2023 and beyond.

Tuesday 29 November 2022

First Look at Glasgow's New 'Next Generation' Subway Trains

A first look of Glasgow’s new “next generation” Subway trains has been unveiled.

 Seven of the 17 new locomotives are currently undergoing various stages of a strict and intensive testing regime before they can be introduced to be used by passengers.

The trains are being put through their paces at a dedicated testing track built by the Stadler Hitachi Joint Venture (JV) contracted to deliver them alongside a new signalling and communication system for the Glasgow Subway.

The first three trains are already running on tracks under the city with testing on the system taking place through the night, and have recently completed their first full speed, full circle test, operator SPT revealed on Thursday.

SPT director of Subway Antony Smith said: “We are very pleased with the way testing has been going. But delivering the scale of this project while remaining operational is a massive challenge.

“We are at a vitally important stage now with both train testing and signalling. We’ve recently had the first of a number of Sunday shutdowns to enable new signalling and communications equipment to begin to be installed in the tunnels for the new trains.

“The JV is confident that it remains on course to see the new trains introduced into the Subway system next year. They really are worth the wait and we look forward to seeing them in service.”

The Scottish Government’s transport minister Jenny Gilruth visited SPT’s subway depot in Govan to view the new trains which are currently being tested.

It was the first opportunity for the minister to see the trains up close as they continue to undergo testing both off-site and within the subway system each night after passenger service ends.

Gilruth said: “It’s fantastic to see the new subway trains undergoing testing. The subway means so much to so many people who live, work in and visit Glasgow. Having seen the progress being made, I’m confident people will be delighted with the next generation of trains.

“The Scottish Government has committed to invest up to £246m to support subway modernisation. People are already benefitting from investment in smart ticketing systems, improved station environments and we are continuing to work on significant improvements behind the scenes, including on signalling and communications which will all be controlled from the new operational control centre.

“The introduction of the new trains into the subway system will be a significant step in the modernisation programme and I look forward to visiting again when they come into service next year.”

Sunday 27 November 2022

Vivarail Files For Administration

Vivarail, manufacturer of battery and hybrid trains, has filed a Notice of Intention to appoint administrators.

Established in 2013 by industry veteran, Adrian Shooter CBE, Vivarail has dedicated the last nine years to investigating, trialling, developing, and testing battery technology for rail, which includes the development of its own patented Fast Charge system, able to re-charge a battery-powered train in just ten minutes.

The first and only company in the UK to design and build zero emission battery and hybrid battery trains, since inception, it has benefitted from the financial support of a sole investment partner. However, having agreed to operate without reliance on further funding in early 2022, Vivarail’s Board of Directors approved a sale process and have been working hard to attract new investors

Steve McBride, Managing Director said: “The Board and I have worked incredibly hard to secure new investment in recent months, and although we have been encouraged by the level of interest, time is now against us to allow potential investors to step in. Combined with slow market conditions and delays in reaching certain key commercial arrangements we have had no choice but to file a Notice of Intention to appoint Administrators with the Courts.”

The company’s Management, Board of Directors, and advisors are working hard to find a solution, consulting with customers and other stakeholders to try and drive the business forwards. However, if they are unable to deliver a rescue package, the company will enter Administration.

 Although the company has received a positive level of interest in recent months given its exciting pipeline of growth opportunities, the Board faced no choice but to file a Notice of Intention to appoint Administrators with the Courts on 23rd November 2022.

Vivarail D-Train is a family of multiple units remanufactured by Vivarail. They are converted from London Underground D78 Stock, originally manufactured between 1978 and 1981 by Metro-Cammell.

Saturday 26 November 2022

National Express Coventry On The Road to Becoming UK’s First All-Electric Bus City

A £150 million project to create the UK’s first all-electric bus city by 2025 has taken a major step forward with 50 new greener buses on the streets of Coventry.

Transport for West Midlands (TfWM) has been working with Coventry City Council on the scheme and has secured £50 million Department for Transport funding to develop charging infrastructure and to top up the investment being made by bus operators in upgrading their fleets with electric vehicles.

This will include upgrades such as charge points at bus depots across Coventry and Warwickshire.

The 50 new National Express Coventry BYD ADL Enviro400EV 
double-decker buses are the first of up to 300 new vehicles due to arrive over the next three years under the pollution busting ‘Coventry’s Electric’ programme. National Express has also invested over £60m, meaning over a third of its Coventry fleet is now electric, with another 80 committed for early 2023.

Coventry will see improved air quality and reduced greenhouse gases, and passengers will benefit from a fleet of brand new, comfortable and fully accessible buses.

Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “Local people are now starting to see these wonderful buses on the streets of Coventry - offering them a quieter, smoother and more comfortable journey.

“As we seek to tackle the climate emergency and maintain our  WM2041 net zero commitment, these British made buses are saving energy, cutting fuel costs for operators and improving our air quality.

“I cannot wait to see even more electric buses arriving in the next few years as Coventry becomes a truly all-electric bus city.”

Tom Stables, CEO National Express UK, added: “Our vision is to become the UK’s most sustainable bus and coach company and it’s been great to see this month’s COP27 putting a real focus on how businesses can play their part in addressing climate change.

“More people using public transport has significant benefits for society including safer roads, increased access to opportunities, reduced congestion, improved air quality and more space in our cities.

“We’re proud and excited to be leading the way in making Coventry all-electric and are actively recruiting new drivers to join us in the green revolution. Full training is provided and we have recently launched new pay rates of up to £29,500, or more with overtime.”

The city already had 10 all-electric buses operated by National Express so this brings the total number of buses in the city to 60.

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Coventry City Council’s cabinet member for jobs, regeneration and climate change, said: “We put the bid together and convinced the government that Coventry is the right place to become an all-electric bus city.

“Hitting a milestone of 50 new all-electric vehicles is fantastic and the city is really gearing up to creating the right infrastructure for the increase in zero emission vehicles.

“A quarter of the council’s fleet are now all electric, and we have 607 charging points in the city – more than any other city outside of London.

“This is all part of our joint efforts to help lead on the green industrial revolution and cut our carbon footprint. There are a number of partners involved and it highlights the excellent joint working relations between the different organisations involved.

“We are very proud to say that Coventry will be the country’s first all-electric bus city.”

The electric bus fleet is just one part of TfWM’s plans with new rail, bus, tram and cycle routes being developed and new technology introduced to support the West Midlands in achieving its target to become a net-zero carbon region within the next two decades.

Not only will Coventry become the UK’s first all-electric bus city, but TfWM, which is part of the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA), has committed to a fully zero-emission region by 2030 in its Bus Service Improvement Plan.

Roads Minister Richard Holden said: “I’m thrilled to see Coventry take another step to becoming the UK’s first all-electric bus city thanks to our £50 million investment to replace the entire city’s bus fleet with new electric buses and install new charging infrastructure.

“The introduction of additional new electric buses by National Express is another crucial milestone towards realising a zero emission bus fleet and level up green transport up and down the country.”

The new British buses, built in Falkirk by Alexander Dennis, are part of a total order by National Express Coventry of 130 ADL E400EVs on a BYD chassis.

Zenobē, EV fleet and battery storage specialist, is providing Electric Transport-as-a-Service (ETaaS) to National Express Coventry with its end-to-end solution. This includes on-board replacement batteries, the charging and grid infrastructure system at the depot, with dedicated rapid chargers, and a software platform which helps monitor and optimise energy use, as well as parts and operational support.

The buses produce zero carbon emissions at the tailpipe and are powered by renewable 'green’ energy thanks to solar panels, and a second-life battery installed at the depot by Zenobē. They take four hours to charge and can run for up to 280 km depending on the time of year.

As part of the West Midlands Bus Alliance, National Express Coventry, Stagecoach and other bus operators work closely with TfWM, Coventry City Council and Warwickshire County Council to provide reliable, affordable and green bus services to residents and visitors across the city.

Steven Meersman, co-founder and director at Zenobe, said: “We’re delighted to announce that 50 of the 130 new e-buses and charging infrastructure have been delivered and integrated on-time and at pace, and are now out on the roads of Coventry.

“It’s a pleasure to work with innovative partners at Transport for West Midlands and National Express UK to deliver the first Electric Transport as a Service (ETaaS) contract in the electric bus sector, offering a ready to go electric bus fleet backed up by operational guarantees, so they can focus on their fantastic customer service and day to day operations.”

Friday 25 November 2022

Review: London’s Elizabeth Line vs Heathrow Express

Focus Transport Editor is in The Cairngorms with poor internet connection, so here's a link to a posting about comparisons on the journey to Heathrow Airport. 

Normal service will be resumed as soon as possible!

Click here


Thursday 24 November 2022

Enviro200's Are First Alexander Dennis Buses for Marchants Coaches

Alexander Dennis, a subsidiary of NFI Group Inc., one of the world’s leading independent global bus manufacturers, today announced that it has delivered four highly-appointed Enviro200 to Marchants Coaches of Cheltenham, marking the manufacturer’s first sale of new buses to this operator.

The four British-built single deck buses have been finished to a high standard for the family business, which was established in 1948 and operates its own coach holiday programme in addition to local bus services. Alexander Dennis SmartSeats trimmed in two-tone e-leather combine with wood-effect flooring and tinted windows to create a high-quality ambiance for discerning passengers.

Director Roger Marchant comments: “The versatility of the Enviro200 and the manufacturer’s flexibility in building the vehicle to our specifications have attracted us to Alexander Dennis after years of buying from other manufacturers. With a spacious interior and great accessibility, these new buses will boost our local bus services and ensure we offer our customers the best journey experience.”

Alexander Dennis Regional Sales Manager Lee Salt says: “We’re delighted to add another respected bus and coach operator to our customers. Roger and his team will be able to count on our best-in-class aftermarket support throughout the vehicles’ lifetime, ensuring that their four new Enviro200 will continue to deliver for the Marchants Coaches fleet.”

Wednesday 23 November 2022

Second Avanti Class 805 to move to Old Dalby Today

Further to our recent posting (here) about Avanti 805 001 on the move at the Hitachi factory in Co Durham, this train has been moved to the Rail Innovation & Development Centre at Old Dalby and is now undergoing testing.

We are now informed that the second bi-mode Hitachi train 805 003, is scheduled to depart Newton Aycliffe today and make its way down to Old Dalby.

They are the first of 13 'bi-mode' units, based on the Japanese A-Train and can switch seamlessly between electric and diesel power. Each train will be made up of five carriages.

The new trains will replace the Voyager's which have operated on the West Coast mainline for the past 20 years.

They will operate on services from Shrewsbury to London, via Telford Central, Wellington, Sandwell & Dudley and Birmingham, using diesel power between Shrewsbury and Wolverhampton, before switching to electricity for the rest of the journey.

 Currently, all direct services from Shrewsbury to London use diesel powered Voyager units.
Here’s a detailed path of the planed journey -

Click on the link to follow the complete journey

Tuesday 22 November 2022

DB Siemens Mobility Partnership

Deutsche Bahn AG (DB) has comenced a development partnership for long-distance rail transport with Siemens Mobility following a tender. In the first half of 2023, the two companies will work together on developing their vision of a new-generation high-speed train. 

Once the concept has been completed, a further tender is expected to follow in the second half of 2023 for the development, construction and certification of the new fleet.

“We are especially pleased that Siemens Mobility is one of two competing suppliers to be commissioned to develop a new concept for high-speed trains. This will give us the opportunity to continue our long-standing partnership with Deutsche Bahn. 
Even the form of cooperation is forward-looking: Rather than delivering a specific catalog of requirements, the most important features of the new generation of ICE trains will be developed in close cooperation with the customer,” said Albrecht Neumann, CEO Rolling Stock at Siemens Mobility.

Through the holistic approach of this partnership, the specific needs of the operator as well as passengers will be aligned with state-of-the-art technologies. This will help foster new ideas that make rail travel even more attractive, comfortable and convenient. 
The new generation of trains will make a decisive contribution toward meeting Deutsche Bahn’s declared goal: doubling the number of passengers using long-distance rail transport by 2030.

To achieve this, DB is relying on single-deck trains that are a maximum of 400 meters long, have a seating capacity of around 950 passengers, and a top speed of at least 300 km/h. In addition to providing enhanced passenger comfort, the new trains are also expected to set new standards in energy efficiency and technical availability. 

Siemens Mobility is an industry leader in the field of single-deck high-speed trains. More than 1,000 Siemens trains based on the high-speed Velaro platform are already in service around the world.

Monday 21 November 2022

Flixbus Passes One Million UK Domestic Passenger Trips & Publishes Record Breaking Global Results

Flix, the global provider of sustainable and affordable travel options, operating in 39 countries, reports a record-breaking summer season result for Q2 and Q3 2022.

Flix entered the domestic UK market in 2020, with its official launch in April 2021 following the pandemic. This summer, FlixBus served the UK’s 1 millionth customer, and achieved a 94% increase in passengers carried compared to 2021.

As a result of strong returning demand for travel after the pandemic and the rising importance of shared and climate-friendly transport, Flix has grown the number of carried passengers by 130% across the globe for the period April – September 2022, compared to the same period last year.

Andreas Schorling, UK Managing Director of FlixBus said: “The positive response from the UK market this summer indicates a huge consumer appetite for our sustainable, affordable coach services. We have more than exceeded our targets for growth as we establish ourselves as a key player the UK’s travel industry, ultimately on a mission to become the market leader.”

The recovery of the Flix business is driven by its global expansion and passenger numbers are even above pre-pandemic levels in 2019 for the Flix group.

Over 34 million travellers reached more than 3,000 destinations in Europe, North America, Turkey, and Brazil, and this has delivered a profitable summer season result on a group level.

André Schwämmlein added “I am very proud that Flix is back stronger than ever after the pandemic, demonstrating that our constant efforts towards sustainable recovery have paid off. We keep fostering our strategy to drive the future of mobility in a profitable and sustainable way.

“Investing into our expansion to Brazil, the US, Canada, Portugal, and the Baltics during the pandemic, proved to be another bold and successful step towards our vision of offering affordable and sustainable mobility for everyone around the globe.”

Flix Europe

All major Flix markets in Europe have recovered well from the pandemic and have grown significantly versus 2021.

The largest markets for Flix are Germany, Italy, France and Poland, and based on Flix’ strong commitment for the region, FlixBus Ukraine has provided additional connections and consequently noted the highest relative passenger growth in this period.

The company recently launched the first commercial line running entirely on rapeseed (colza) Oleo100 biodiesel in France. More details here 

Flix North America

Flix SE launched Flix North America Inc. in July 2022 in order to steer the two operating entities FlixBus Inc. and GLI (Greyhound Lines Incorporated) towards providing the best customer experience across the US, Canada and Mexico. During the high season 2022, FlixBus and Greyhound connected approximately 1,400 destinations, building the backbone of land-based, environmental-friendly travel options in North America.

Flix North America reports a 30% growth in carried passengers for the high season 2022 vs same period last year.

“Facing increasing inflation and fuel prices, Flix is aware of the rising importance of affordable and sustainable mobility. We will continue investing our efforts into growing the Flix network and developing new sustainable alternative drives towards a greener future,” added André Schwämmlein.

Sunday 20 November 2022

West Midlands Transport

The West Midlands bus pass allows residents free travel on buses, trams and trains in what was the old centro region. Ken Jones used his pass to travel in and around Birmingham so he could take the following pictures of the current transport scene.

One of the Hydrogen buses is seen in Birmingham ready to depart to Walsall

Tram 46 - the latest to enter service is seen at Wolverhampton St George's

Broken down bus blocking tram lines - good job the trams are not yet running on this extension to Wolverhampton Railway Station

170516 formerly with EMR is seen at Wolverhampton on service from Shrewsbury to Birmingham,. These units are gradually being replaced by class 196 units

350260 seen arriving at Wolverhampton with local service from Walsall via Birmingham New Street

A pair of Cross Country Voyagers are seen arriving at Wolverhampton with a service to Manchester Piccadilly

Unit 150258 is seen heading from Birmingham International with standing passengers

170 516 is seen approaching Wolverhampton with the service to Shrewsbury

170 535 is the second unit for this service to Shrewsbury

350370 is seen arriving at Wolverhampton with a service from Birmingham New Street to Crewe

Above & below, 196110 is seen departing Wolverhampton with a service to Birmingham from Shrewsbury

196105 is seen on the service to Shrewsbury - these units should also be on the Hereford service next year

Carriage 65235 from 350 unit is seen at Birmingham new Street with overall advertising for BTP

If you thought Birmingham New Street only had platforms A and B you would be wrong as it also has a bay platform at 4C where 350375 is waiting to depart for Crewe

350264 is on local service at platform 6B where signage now includes directions to platform 6A

All pictures by Ken Jones

Many thanks to Ken Jones for these photos, if you've attended a transport event during 2022 please send photos to 

Saturday 19 November 2022

Transport for Wales Prepares for Tram-trains on Cardiff Bay Metro branch line

Work is taking place to convert the lines from Cardiff to Treherbert, Aberdare and Merthyr Tydfil to run Tram trains.

36 Class 398 Tram trains are on order, one of which was shown at the recent Innotrans Exhibition in Berlin. The first unit to take to the rails in the Uk is currently being tested in Leicestershire.

The tram-trains will mostly operate using electricity from 25kV overhead wires but can also be powered by their on-board batteries, avoiding the high cost of rebuilding bridges for 25kV electrical clearance.
The tram-trains will automatically switch to battery as they approach each bridge, where the overhead wire will not be energised. Also overhead wiring will not be needed at complex track layouts, notably at Cardiff Queen Street station, or at stations where electrical clearances would be a challenge.

More information here


Friday 18 November 2022

Five Alexander Dennis Enviro200 Low Emission Buses for New Customer London Borough of Redbridge

Alexander Dennis, a subsidiary of NFI Group Inc.,has announced that it has delivered five new Enviro200 single deck buses to the London Borough of Redbridge’s Passenger Transport Service.

The new buses are all 10.8m long and are fitted with the award-winning Alexander Dennis SmartPack efficient diesel technology which saves fuel and reduces emissions by combining engine stop-start and electrically driven cooling fans with the smart management of alternator and air compressor to only charge during vehicle deceleration when they place no additional load on the engine. 
The Enviro200 with SmartPack is certified as a Low Emission Bus by the UK’s Zemo Partnership.

The vehicles are also equipped with USB chargers, CCTV, and a bespoke interior with belted Alexander Dennis SmartSeats.

This is the London Borough of Redbridge’s first vehicle order from Alexander Dennis. The borough’s Passenger Transport Service was formed in 1988 and now delivers 25,000 passenger journeys each week from its Ilford base.

London Borough of Redbridge Passenger Transport Service Procurement Lead Colin Clarke says: “These new buses are an excellent addition to our fleet and we’re pleased to be able to introduce them to our many customers.”

Alexander Dennis Regional Sales Manager Mark Taylor adds: “We’re delighted to be working with the team at London Borough of Redbridge and it’s great to hand over these high-quality, reliable buses that we know will deliver exactly what they are looking for.”

Redbridge Passenger Transport Service was formed in 1988, bringing together the then separate Education and Social Services Passenger operations and at the same time centralising the vehicle fleet.

The Service operates daily 266 routes, undertakes in excess of 25,000 passenger movements per week, throughout the year, with more during the summer months when they undertake a significant number of journeys for private customers. With its fleet of full size coaches and double deck vehicles successful tendering has resulted in a number non-Redbridge contracts. It also runs a Mobility Service (similar to ‘Dial a Ride’) from 7am to 11.30pm, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, for qualifying Redbridge residents.

In 2010, accreditation was gained for ISO 9001 (Quality), our drivers are uniformed and the vehicles have both tracking and CCTV systems to make your journeys safer.

WE have a fleet of 55 seat Luxury Coaches, 44 Seat Wheelchair accessible Coaches and 74 seat Double Deck Buses (with lap belts) for private hire.

Thursday 17 November 2022

Go-Ahead Expands in South-West England Through Acquisition of Dartline

The Go-Ahead Group has agreed to buy Dartline, a bus and coach operator based in Exeter, which will build on the group’s position as a leading local transport operator in Devon and Cornwall.

A well-established business with 30 years’ experience in the region, Dartline operates a fleet of 84 buses, coaches and special education needs taxis, and employs 118 people.

Dartline provides essential services for commuters, schools, day trippers local communities across East Devon. Its bus routes are a mixture of commercial routes and services operated under contract for Devon County Council.

Dartline’s coach division provides tours and private hire services. The company operates the team coach for Exeter Chiefs rugby union team.

Go-Ahead has grown rapidly in the West Country. From its origins as Plymouth Citybus, the group expanded into East Cornwall in 2014, and again in 2020 through an eight-year contract to deliver rural bus routes from Lands End to the Tamar for the county council, creating Go Cornwall Bus. The combined operation was given a new corporate identity as Go South West.

Following the acquisition of Dartline, Go South West, an Investors in People Platinum accredited company, will comprise of four customer facing brands operating 380 buses and coaches, employing a workforce of 900 people.

Richard Stevens, Managing Director of Go South West, said:

“We’ve been admirers of Dartline for a long time – it’s a family focused, well run bus company with a strong reputation and a competitive fleet. This acquisition will take us into wider Devon, and will mean that Go South West bus services stretch from the western tip of Cornwall to the Devon, Dorset and Somerset border.

“Operating as a standalone business, we will maintain Dartline’s strong focus on delivering for local communities, and we will invest in growing and adding services in mid and east Devon.”

Dave Hounslow, Managing Director of Dartline, said:

"I reached the grand age of 70 this year and decided its time to hand the reins to a progressive company like Go Ahead, the brand will continue as Dartline and all the staff will be maintained. Having started Dartline on 4th January 1987 with 8 Vehicles and building it to its size today I feel proud that it will continue under the new Management."

Christian Schreyer, Group Chief Executive, The Go-Ahead Group, said:

“We look forward to welcoming our new colleagues at Dartline into the group. This acquisition underlines Go-Ahead’s commitment to expand in the regional bus market in the UK, as set out in our group strategy, The Next Billion Journeys.”

Wednesday 16 November 2022

Former London Bendybuses Make Their Final In Service Journeys

The last of London’s former bendybuses has made its final passenger journey in its recent home in Brighton. At 7.58pm on Monday, October 31, the final bendy-operated route 25 bus arrived at Old Steine bus terminus in Brighton.

22 of the vehicles earned their keep on Brighton routes 25 and 25X, shuttling 144 passengers at a time between the city and its universities. They became the pride of the fleet for operator Brighton & Hove, which gave some of them striking liveries.

The same bendybus, on the left in London in 2009, on the right in Brighton before its withdrawal 

The vehicles that ended up in Brighton were first assigned to London route 453 (Marylebone-Deptford Bridge) and were the last batch to be ordered for London, arriving in 2007, just ahead of Boris Johnson's mayoral victory in 2008, which led to their disposal from London.

Read an excellent 'My London' report on the withdrawal of the bendybuses here.

Tuesday 15 November 2022

More Cardiff Electric Buses As Opportunity for £8m Grant Announced

Cardiff Council has announced that it plans to put more electric buses in operation, thanks to funding from a £8m clean vehicle grant offered by the Welsh government.

During a meeting of Cardiff Council’s Cabinet members, a scheme was approved to allow bus operators to bid for Welsh Government funds to help increase the number of electric buses operating in Cardiff.

Both the Welsh government and Cardiff Council hope to ensure that all buses in Cardiff produce zero emissions by 2035.

Dan De’Ath, councillor and cabinet member for strategic planning and transport, said: “The council set out its Bus Strategy in November last year.

“We want to increase the number of people travelling by bus in Cardiff and our strategy aims to do this by:introducing cheaper fares; partnering with Transport for Wales to develop an integrated ticketing system which works with the Metro and OVO bikes; getting more low emission buses on the network; building the infrastructure to make bus travel easier and quicker; and improving the customer experience.

“The council has engaged with all of Cardiff’s bus operators to let them know about this exciting funding opportunity.

“Now that the cabinet has agreed, we will use this feedback from the bus operators to set the criteria for the application process and get these new electric vehicles onto the network as quickly as possible.”

In January this year, the council partnered with the Department for Transport’s (DfT) Ultra Low Emissions Bus Scheme to bring 36 new electric buses to the city fleet, with DfT making £5.7m in funding available through the scheme.

The new fleet of 36 Yutong E12 12m electric buses was unveiled at a launch event in Cardiff in January 2022 See here

The new e-buses could save a reported 650,000 tonnes of carbon emissions during their lifetime, which is estimated to be between 12 to 15 years.