Friday, 31 March 2023

West Midlands Railway: Celebration of South-East Birmingham's Heritage Unveiled at Tyseley Station

A railway station in Birmingham has been brought to life thanks to funding from West Midlands Railway (WMR) and Network Rail (NR).

The platforms at Tyseley station, in the south east of the city, now boast a mixture of art boards showcasing the heritage and history of the local area and destinations reachable by rail.

The boards, created by independent businesses Creative Touch Design and Art Attack and installed by the WMR and NR property teams, display fascinating graphics and details of nearby locations where passengers can travel.

The initiative was made possible thanks to a Railway Heritage Association grant from NR and WMR’s “Your Community, Your Fund” scheme. WMR’s funding is provided by the Department for Transport and allocated to projects across the network.

Friends of the Shakespeare Line (FoSL) – a Community Station Partnership with more than 70 volunteers – helped develop the look of Tyseley station as part of the its aim to maintain 20 stations between Birmingham and Stratford-Upon-Avon.

Vicky Cropper-Clarke, community strategy manager at WMR, said:

“The artistic boards at Tyseley have transformed the station and will inform passengers travelling through of the wonderful places which they can visit nearby.

“The revamp is a great example of how WMR’s Your Community Your Fund scheme can have a huge influence on our passengers’ journeys.”

Fraser Pithie, one of six trustees of FoSL and who Chairs the voluntary-led partnership, said:

"We were pleased to work with Network Rail and West Midlands Railway to deliver what is a step change in appearance for Tyseley station. The work has seen local volunteers provide the input and we have designed that into the boards that now adorn this wonderful original GWR station.”

Federica Labanca, principal route engineer for Network Rail’s Central route, said:

“It’s been fantastic to work with West Midlands Railway to support such a valuable community station partnership and brighten up journeys for passengers using Tyseley station.

“Having played such a significant role of the history of the railway, it’s right that we do all we can to encourage people to continue to enjoy the area around Tyseley and the history and heritage it has to offer.”

Thursday, 30 March 2023

SUPERLOOP - Proposals for a Network of Limited-Stop Express Buses Connecting Outer London

Following the Mayor of London’s announcement about changes to London's bus network,TfL are now developing proposals for a further expansion of routes in the outer London areas, which if approved, will be called Superloop.

It is proposed to introduce the Superloop, which would be made up of express limited-stop bus routes, that circle the entire capital, connecting key outer London town centres, stations and transport hubs.

The Superloop would be designed to provide quicker journey times with routes stopping less frequently, while serving key places such as town centres, hospitals, schools and transport interchanges.

The proposed new routes could add over 4 million kilometres on to London’s bus network. These proposals would be enabled by the extra £6m the Mayor has provided for improvements to outer London bus services.

How it could work

The Superloop is proposed to be introduced in stages. It would consist of a network of express limited-stop routes, including brand new and existing bus routes.

A new limited stop route is proposed to run between North Finchley and Harrow, with further routes to be developed between Walthamstow and North Finchley and between Royal Docks and Walthamstow. 
There could also be links between Bromley and Bexleyheath and Croydon and Bromley. All routes are subject to further development and consultation.

These new routes would link with existing limited stop routes that already connect key interchanges in outer London. These existing routes include:route X26 - West Croydon to Heathrow Airport
route X140 - Heathrow Airport to Harrow
route 607 - Uxbridge to White City
route X68 - Russell Square to West Croydon

The first new limited stop route between Harrow and North Finchley will be subject to consultation in the coming months.

You can view a map of what the proposal could look like. You can also watch a video animation(External link) about the proposal.

If you have any questions about the proposed Superloop, there is a Questions tool below.

You can also receive Superloop updates and register for future consultations by clicking the 'Subscribe' button below.

More about the proposals

The Superloop brand would be designed to work with the iconic London Buses brand by using a new Roundel and bus livery to ensure clear identification of the new service, but still recognisable as part of the London Buses network. The new branding would also feature on maps, timetables and other pieces of customer information.

Next steps for the proposed Superloop

The first new part of the proposed Superloop would be a new route which would link Harrow with North Finchley. The relevant boroughs will be involved on this initial proposal and will carry out a public consultation to understand customer and stakeholder feedback on the proposed route. This feedback will then be used to help shape decision making on how a new route could be introduced.

Then, consultations on future sections of the orbital bus network will take place. Potential future sections would, subject to consultation, provide limited stop links between:North Finchley and Walthamstow
Walthamstow and the Royal Docks
route X239 connecting Canary Wharf and Grove Park, (which was consulted on as part of the Silvertown Tunnel bus network)
Bromley and Bexleyheath
Croydon and Bromley

Transport professional Roger French has examined these proposals and has published his comments on his Bus and Train User website here

Wednesday, 29 March 2023

DB Cargo UK and DB Cargo AG Conducts HVO Emissions Testing at Toton TMD

In a bid to support the environment and lead the way in green and sustainable freight transportation across Great Britain, DB Cargo UK welcomed colleagues from DB Cargo AG, its German rail freight operator parent company, to support DB Cargo's alternative fuels project.

To demonstrate the benefits of using Hydrotreated Vegetable Oil (HVO) fuel, DB Cargo UK worked with Group Technical Support (GTS) and Toton TMD to facilitate load bank testing of a Class 60 locomotive. The testing also aimed to compare the effect of HVO fuel on locomotive exhaust gas emissions and performance to that of standard red diesel.

After the first test was completed on conventional diesel fuel, the tanks were completely drained, and the locomotive was refuelled with HVO for the second test. The emission measurement was then repeated, analogous to the measurement with diesel, to gain a direct comparison of exhaust gas emissions and performance between the two fuels. 
The back-to-back tests were done to assess the impact of HVO fuel on locomotive emissions and its potential as an alternative fuel.

Emissions Result Dashboard

The main advantage when it comes to HVO is that it can be produced by processing renewable waste lipids such as vegetable oil, tallow, and used cooking oil. 
Burning 1,000 litres of HVO will produce 195kg of CO2, whereas 1,000 litres of diesel will produce around 2,700 kg of CO2.

Locomotives usually have a service life of 40 years; , so the company say "that it is vital that we can radically reduce the use of fossil fuels that power traditional diesel engines".

Jörg Schneider, Head of Climate Protection and Energy, and the lead for sustainability at DB Cargo AG said:

“If this round of testing shows that HVO fuel cuts emissions in a Class 60 locomotive, a loco with a 34-year-old engine, in a similar way to more modern locomotives, this would prove that HVO is a viable and effective alternative to standard red diesel. 
Adopting HVO fuel in all diesel locomotives would then have a significant impact on the rail industry's carbon footprint and overall air quality in the UK.”

Jörg Schneider, Silvo Kleine, Harry Walton, Paul Wilton, Kathryn Oldale, Stefan Heibl

Kathryn Oldale, Head of Strategy, Policy and Communications at DB Cargo UK, and the UK lead for sustainability said:

“HVO is the only credible solution to decarbonise rail freight today and requires significantly less investment than mass electrification in the short term. In the long term however, we must see a programme for electrification of key routes across our network. 
Today, we are poised to decarbonise our operations by 90% just by swapping to renewable fuel but this will require marginal investment to promote a step change culture across our industry, this is where we are calling on our decision makers to see the direct benefits of HVO.”

DB Cargo has already reduced its CO2 emissions by almost 70% over the past 30 years and has set itself an ambitious target for climate neutrality by 2040. As part of the alternative fuels project, they are also planning to use synthetic (i.e., artificially produced) fuels, as well as so-called air-to-fuel (A2F). 
The load bank testing of the Class 60 locomotive at DB Cargo UK is another important step in this journey towards a more sustainable future for rail freight.


Tuesday, 28 March 2023

Stadler and Trenitalia Sign a Framework Agreement for The Supply of Up to 50 Bi-Mode Locomotives

Stadler and Trenitalia have signed an agreement for the supply of up to 50 EUROLIGHT Dual locomotives with a first call-off order for 13 units.

Stadler and Trenitalia have signed a framework agreement for the supply of up to 50 EUROLIGHT Dual locomotives. The agreement also includes the full-service maintenance of the locomotives for a period of 10 years, extendable to a further 5 + 5 years.

Trenitalia awarded Stadler the tender, launched in 2022, for a four-year framework agreement for the supply and maintenance of bi-mode (3kV DC + diesel) locomotives. The new locomotives will be deployed all over the Italian railway network for train rescue and passenger push-pull operations. They reach a maximum speed of 160km/h and are based on EUROLIGHT four-axle locomotive platform.

As the newest member of the Stadler’s EUROLIGHT family, the new locomotives share with the rest of the platform the compact design and lightweight monocoque structure, as well as the latest bogie technology. They are characterised by high performance, low weight, and reduced axle-load that will not exceed 20 tonnes/axle, making them suitable for running on both main lines and secondary lines.

They incorporate the ETCS B3R2/ SCMT / SCC safety systems and combine diesel and electric traction, allowing Trenitalia to use them throughout the entire Italian network – RFI. The locomotives will be able to rescue up to two coupled ETR1000 trains on a 21‰ stretch, which represents the most unfavourable condition in Italy for this kind of operation.

Innovative design features include regenerative braking with energy recovery, an efficient AC traction system with one inverter per axle providing a high level of redundancy and increased reliability, the HEP system to supply energy to the train, as well as the possibility to install either an UIC or an automatic coupler. Trenitalia’s new EUROLIGHT Dual locomotives also offer excellent comfort, safety and visibility for train drivers.

“We are very proud of this contract with Trenitalia,” Iñigo Parra, CEO of Stadler Valencia, said. “The EUROLIGHT family of universal locomotives have a multitude of applications and can run on all types of lines. The innovative and cost-effective solution will provide environmentally friendly rail transport services and meet the demands of Trenitalia reliably, efficiently and productively.”

Stadler website here

Monday, 27 March 2023

TfL Announces Plans to Rename All Six London Overground Lines

TfL has earmarked £4 million for the work to rename the six London Overground routes.

£4 Million has been set aside in Transport for London’s (TfL) 2023/24 budget for the project

The allocation for renaming is intended to make it easier to navigate the routes, which have a complicated set of interchanges.

Plans to give each line its own name were included in Sadiq Khan’s election manifesto in 2021, as part of his stated aim to better-reflect the diverse history of the capital.
The six current London Overground lines are:

Gospel Oak to Barking Riverside

Highbury and Islington to New Cross/West Croydon/Crystal Palace/Clapham Junction

Euston to Watford Junction

Liverpool Street to Chingford/Enfield Town/Cheshunt

Romford to Upminster

Stratford to Richmond/Clapham Junction

The budget does not make clear when work on renaming the London Overground lines will begin, or how it will be carried out.  

The London Overground took over the lines previously run by Silverlink Metro in 2007, after the franchise was disbanded, with the aim of providing better connections outside of central London.

It has gradually been extended to incorporate all of the six lines currently operated, and today connects a total of 112 stations.

TfL announced that it will be delivering a range of schemes across the capital, including the rollout of the ULEZ to outer London, introducing the first of 54 new DLR trains, and unveiling the full peak timetable for the Elizabeth Line, due in May 2023.

Currently, the TfL style guide for referring to the various bits of the London Overground states

North London Line
is now ‘Overground Richmond/Clapham Junction – Stratford’
West London Line is now ‘Overground Willesden Junction – Clapham Junction’
DC line/Watford Euston  is now ‘Overground Watford Junction – Euston’
Gospel Oak to Barking is now ‘Overground Gospel Oak – Barking’
East London Line is now ‘Overground Dalston/Highbury & Islington – West Croydon/Crystal Palace/New Cross’

The former Greater Anglia lines added in 2015 have not been added to this list.

Sunday, 26 March 2023

CalMac Charters Pentland MV Alfred to Assist in Ferry Shortage

MV Alfred is to join the CalMac fleet on the west coast network, which has been hit by shipbuilding delays and ferry breakdowns with their ancient fleet.

The Scottish government has given £9m for Pentland Ferries to loan the firm the MV Alfred for nine months.

Pentland Ferries has announced that the MV Pentalina will return to serve the Pentland Firth route for a nine-month period commencing 18 April 2023, while the MV Alfred is on charter to CalMac Ferries. 
Pentland Ferries will operate and deliver services with the MV Alfred on behalf of CalMac Ferries on the Clyde and Hebrides Network, subject to successful berthing trials.

Two overdue CalMac ferries being built at the Ferguson shipyard in Port Glasgow have been delayed further, which prompted backlash from islanders.

The Glen Sannox, which will serve the island, will now not be completed at Ferguson Marine shipyard until the autumn, rather than May of this year.

Glen Sannox, returning to Ferguson shipyard after work in dry dock earlier this month

A second ferry, known as Hull 802, had been due for hand over in March 2024 but will be delayed to later that year.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney said "persistent design gaps and build errors" meant progress had been "slower than planned" for the Glen Sannox.

He also announced an additional £6m would be allocated to help complete the two ferries.

That was on top of the £15m of extra funding for the Ferguson Marine shipyard already provided by the Scottish government this financial year.

The ferries are already five years behind schedule, with the cost of the project three times more than the original £97m budget.

Ms Campbell also expressed her anger that £87,000 in bonuses had been paid to six senior managers at the nationalised shipyard between 2019 and 2022, despite a failure to hand over the vessels.

CalMac's existing ferry fleet is ageing and the need for regular maintenance and repairs has caused disruption for travel to and from the mainland.

 Some four ferries remain sidelined to passengers due to technical problems.

It has emerged that 25-year-old MV Clansman which was delayed from entering service after the ferry operator identified newly steelwork corrosion during its overhaul, now remains out of service because of a starboard engine issue.
"We have a near 40-year-old boat, half the size of our usual vessel operating on the route, placing extreme limits on what comes and goes to Arran," Ms Campbell added.

In December 2022 The MV Lord of the Isles linking Mallaig and Lochboisdale on South Uist was originally undergoing repairs on its steelwork.

MV Lord of the Isles has been in service service with CalMac since 1989

However, CalMac had to announce that some sailings would be limited due to problems with the radar issues, restricting its operation in hours of darkness.

"There is a lot of anxiety, a lot of lost business, visitors are uncertain [about coming]."

MV Hebrides entered service in 2001 has also been affected by technical problems

The islanders are "very sceptical" whether the latest timetable outlined by Mr Swinney for delivering the Glen Sannox would be met.

"We're facing a real crisis on the island. Uncertainty, fear, anxiety."

In his statement to MSPs, Mr Swinney said he had expressed the government's "great disappointment" to the shipyard's chief executive, David Tydeman, about the latest delay.

He said the "challenges and legacy issues" faced by Fergusons could not be underestimated but that "substantial progress" had been made since Mr Tydeman's appointment last February.

Mr Tydeman had insisted that the Glen Sannox was "coming to life" following a successful spell in dry dock, with its main engines, propellers, generators and radar working, Mr Swinney said.

It was due to have a "sustained testing and sea trials period to help ensure a smooth entry into service later this year," he added, with the yard aiming to deliver both vessels sooner than the dates outlined.

The Ferguson shipyard in Inverclyde has been in public hands since 2019.

Saturday, 25 March 2023

Hamburger Hochbahn Orders 5 Solaris Urbino 12 Hydrogen Buses.

The potential of hydrogen as an alternative fuel has led to an ever growing number of orders from operators for buses equipped with hydrogen drive. 

Having observed the positive experiences of operators already deploying hydrogen power, Europe’s towns and cities are increasingly opting to modernise their fleets with hydrogen-powered vehicles. 
Municipal operator Hamburger Hochbahn has know placed orders for five Solaris hydrogen powered vehicles. These zero-emission vehicles will roll out onto the streets of Hamburg as early as the second quarter of 2024.

As part of the framework agreement, German municipal carrier Hamburger Hochbahn has ordered the Solaris hydrogen buses (12-metre version) which will be powered by energy derived from a 70 kW hydrogen fuel cell. 
Solaris’s experience in developing hydrogen technology dates back to 2014, where back then, in Hamburg, the Urbino electric 18 hydrogen bus, with a range extender, was launched – carrying passengers on the innovative 109 route.

“The city of the future is a people- and environment-friendly space. We believe that modern public transport plays a key role in the sustainable development of towns and cities. We are proud to be able to exert a real impact in this regard by delivering our zero-emission buses”, says Javier Irriarte, CEO of Solaris Bus & Coach.

In addition to being environmentally friendly (the sole by-product of the chemical reaction taking place in the hydrogen fuel cell is water), these completely zero-emission buses also boast an extremely low noise level. 
Each bus ordered will carry up to 70 passengers, including 26 people seated. The carrier has opted for an enclosed driver’s cab and a conventional 2-2-2 door layout.

Fuel cell technology remains an important strategic option for Hochbahn. With the five vehicles now on order, we will be able to use serial production-ready hydrogen buses in everyday operations for the first time. We are very pleased that we can cooperate with our partner Solaris in this project“, says Henrik Falk, CEO Hamburger Hochbahn AG.

Together with electric buses and trolleybuses, the Urbino 12 hydrogen bus constitutes an important part of the Solaris zero-emission range.

In September 2022, Solaris unveiled the articulated version of its hydrogen bus, the Urbino 18 hydrogen vehicle.

Friday, 24 March 2023

Luton Airport Shuttle Bus Will Cease When Luton Dart Fully Opens on 27th March

The new “cable car” rail shuttle that will take passengers direct to Luton Airport from the nearby railway station will fully open next Monday, March 27th.
The shuttle bus, which took around 20 minutes depending on traffic, will also be axed on Monday.

The cost of a single ticket will be £4.90, whereas the bus fare was £2.40 or £3.80 return.
Children under five travel free on the Dart while those under 16 get half-price tickets.

The new Luton Dart shuttle will transport passengers in just over three minutes compared to the 20 minute bus journey.

The new service will bring the airport within about 30 minutes of central London.

The £290m driverless link, which uses a cable system to pull the shuttle “trains” up the hill to the airport, was built by Luton Rising, the council organisation that owns the airport.

Luton Airport Parkway station is served by Thameslink and East Midlands Railway (EMR) trains.

When the Dart fully opens on 27th March the shuttle bus service will cease

Passengers holding a concessionary bus pass, such as pensioners, people with a disability or acting as companion travellers, will be entitled to register to use the Luton DART for free, along with Luton Airport staff. Click here to register.

Luton residents are also entitled to register for half-priced travel. People seeking concessions have to register at least 72 hours before travel.

Cllr Simmons said the Dart was first envisaged in 2014 as a way of tempting travellers to travel by rail rather than car to the airport, which is the home of EasyJet.

His Majesty King Charles III was one of the first people to travel on the Luton DART (Direct Air-Rail Transit) passenger transport system, as part of an official visit to Bedfordshire

Graham Olver, Chief Executive Officer of Luton Rising, added: “The Luton DART provides new speed, reliability and convenience for rail passengers.

“In improving the connectivity between the national rail network and our airport system, it’s also a game-changer for our airport’s competitive position in the London and UK aviation systems – and that secures and enhances prospects for everyone who relies on our airport for their own prosperity.”

Alberto Martin, chief executive of Luton Airport, said: “Luton Rising’s investment in the Dart will fundamentally enhance the passenger experience - offering a faster, more convenient airport transfer for rail passengers and supporting our commitment to deliver enhanced connectivity to the airport.

“It will also be instrumental in the airport’s plans for future sustainable growth, encouraging passengers away from their cars and onto public transport.”

Roger French visited the Luton Dart when it first began a limited service prior to the full opening on 27th March. His report can be seen here

Thursday, 23 March 2023

Alexander Dennis Completes Delivery of 74 Low-Emission Buses to Arriva UK Bus

Alexander Dennis has announced that it has completed the delivery of 74 Enviro400 and Enviro200 low-emission buses to Arriva UK Bus, part of Deutsche Bahn group.

47 Enviro400 double deckers and 27 Enviro200 single deckers were delivered in batches between summer 2022 and early 2023. All are fitted with Alexander Dennis’s award-winning SmartPack efficiency technology to reduce carbon and noxious emissions, benefitting local air quality.

Each of the 10.5m long and 4.2m tall double deckers seats up to 73 passengers. The single deckers have been built to two lengths, 8.9m with up to 30 seats and 10.8m with 41 seats. All have easily accessible wheelchair spaces as well as a separate area to accommodate pushchairs.

The Enviro400 have been allocated to Arriva North East at Ashington and Arriva Midlands at Thurmaston near Leicester, while the Enviro200 are split between these two operating units and Arriva Southern Counties at Gillingham in Kent, benefitting passengers on their networks.

Alexander Dennis Commercial Manager, Mark Ballam, comments: “We appreciate Arriva’s investment in British-built buses from Alexander Dennis. With these brand new low-emission buses, 
Arriva continues to upgrade its fleet and reduce its environmental impact, making bus travel an even greener choice for passengers. With their proven design and operational flexibility, Arriva’s new Enviro400 double deckers and Enviro200 single deckers are sure to be reliable performers for many years to come.”

Andy Whitehouse, Engineering and Safety Director at Arriva UK Bus, comments: “To improve our customers experience, we have and will continue to improve our fleet with more modern, reliable, and lower emission vehicles. 
We enjoy a good working partnership with Alexander Dennis who have successfully delivered 74 low emission buses, all of which are now out in service.”

Wednesday, 22 March 2023

'Bus Depot of The Future’ Launches in Leicester As One of The UK’s First Fully Electric Depots Outside of London

First Bus has announced that its Leicester depot will become one of the UK’s first electrified bus depots outside of London, alongside its York and Norwich depots.

The announcement came after First Bus and its local authority partner successfully secured Department for Transport (DfT) approval to boost their existing Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) funding.

Hailed a ‘depot of the future,’ Leicester will set the precedent for a further 5 depots to become electrified by March 2024 through boosted ZEBRA funding.

First Bus will invest £6.6m to bring this project to fruition, alongside additional DfT funding of £2.9m secured in partnership with Leicester City Council. 54% of the funding will be provided by First Bus, with the remaining 46% coming from the UK Government’s ZEBRA scheme. An additional 18 electric buses will arrive in Leicester later this year, with 86 hitting the road by March 2024.

Roads and Local Transport Minister, Richard Holden, visited the Leicester depot today (21 March) to welcome the order for a new fleet of ZEBRA-funded and British-built buses, courtesy of manufacturing partners Wrightbus.

Minister Holden said: “Buses are the most popular form of public transport, and these new UK-made zero emission buses will help make them more attractive still by providing cleaner, smoother and more reliable services across Leicester.

At the conclusion of the ZEBRA projects, First Bus will have over 600 zero-emission buses in its fleet. This latest boost means First Bus currently has 328 fully electric buses on order with Ballymena-based Wrightbus, which will help secure green jobs in the short-term.

Ian Gillott, Managing Director (Parts and Services) at Wrightbus said: "Our partnership with First Bus is hugely significant in the drive to zero-emission public transport. It has been a real team effort between the local authority, Wrightbus and First Bus to deliver this exciting project. We can’t wait to see these buses in operation in Leicester, which will help passengers enjoy comfortable and cleaner transport. We are consistently at the forefront of zero and low-emission travel and would be delighted to progress future orders, dependent on future co-funding opportunities.”

Supporting the heart of the communities it serves, First Bus will convert these depots and install the new infrastructure to house these state-of-the-art vehicles, in partnership with the local Distribution Network Operator and local authorities. New chargers will be provided by Heliox and can fully charge a bus in just 3.5 hours.

All ZEBRA projects are run in close partnership with the local authorities in these regions, bringing transformational results to the local bus fleet and enhancing journeys for communities and the environment.

Tuesday, 21 March 2023

Avanti West Coast Partnership Extended Until October 2023

FirstGroup plc has announced that it has agreed with the Department for Transport (‘DfT’) to extend the current arrangements for the West Coast Partnership (‘WCP’) rail contract.

The current arrangements for WCP were due to expire on 31 March 2023 and are now extended to 15 October 2023 under broadly the same terms and conditions. 

The WCP rail contract comprises the operation of Avanti West Coast (‘Avanti’) and acting as shadow operator to the HS2 programme. 
Discussions are ongoing with DfT regarding the longer-term National Rail Contract for WCP.

The Group also announces that Andy Mellors has been appointed Managing Director of Avanti with immediate effect. Andy previously held senior roles at Great Western Railway, South Western Railway and most recently as Managing Director of the Group’s non-franchised rail businesses. 
Andy takes over from Steve Montgomery, First Rail Managing Director who has been acting Managing Director of Avanti since September 2022.

Commenting, Graham Sutherland, FirstGroup Chief Executive Officer said:
"We are working closely with government and our partners across the industry to deliver a successful railway for our customers and communities. 

Performance at Avanti is steadily improving and since the introduction of the new timetable in mid-December, the number of services has increased by more than 40% compared to last summer, with more seats and better frequencies. 

The new agreement allows our team to continue their focus on delivering their robust plans to continue enhancing services for our customers, including further progress on our train upgrade and refurbishment programme.”

Avanti West Coast, operator of intercity rail services on the West Coast Main Line, is a joint venture between FirstGroup and Trenitalia. 

Refurbed Pendolinos are returning to the rails, with a £117m investment that’s delivering best in class comfort. 

Interior of a refurbished Pendolino

Rebuilt using sustainable materials wherever possible, including tables made from recycled plastic bottles, the upgraded Pendolino fleet offers 25,000 brand new seats, free  Wi-Fi, and much more.

New Hitachi trains are set to replace Voyagers

New Hitachi trains are set to replace Voyager trains from 2023, leading to a 61% cut in carbon emissions. Quieter and roomier, with more reliable Wi-Fi, wireless charging for electrical devices and a real-time customer information system, the new 23-strong fleet is the result of a £350m investment in sustainable travel.  

Monday, 20 March 2023

Ken Jones Day Out On C2C Routes Plus More

Ken Jones and Roger Burdett have travelled on their first railway day out for 2023, having waited for better weather and a gap in strikes before planning their trip. 

As always, Ken provides some ideas and Roger puts together a plan using advanced
tickets, split ticketing and other reductions.

The main idea this time was to travel on all the C2C network in Essex, but as this is quite a small franchise, they looked at a number of addons before and after they had covered the C2C.
More about C2C here 
including when it was Prism Rail operated by National Express.

They travelled to / from London St. Pancras from Luton Airport Parkway using advanced tickets and only needed a C2C Day Rover and an Underground / Overground zone 1-6 ticket to do the whole trip for £40 each.

From St. Pancras they went to Farringdon for the Elizabeth line Westbound, before catching an Eastbound train to Romford.

This enabled them to travel on the line under Paddington station which was not open when they were there last year.

At Romford they caught the unique self-contained London Overground line to Upminster known as the Emerson Park Branch, and then from Upminster they covered all the C2C lines finishing at the dedicated London Terminus of Fenchurch Street.

Afterwards they traversed the following - Tower Hill to Whitechapel – tube – District Line

London Overground Whitechapel to Canada Water return - under River Thames each way on former tube line

Whitechapel to Moorgate – tube – H&C line

Moorgate to Finsbury Park – GNR class 717 unit – the last time Ken was at Finsbury Park Deltics were roaring past

Finsbury Park to St Pancras – Thameslink class 700 unit

They could have travelled more before catching their train back to the Midlands, but it was dark and wet and most of the country had had or were having snow.

Worth getting out on the central London stations of the Elizabeth line o see the large areas, good signage etc – This is Liverpool Street

In Central London the Elizabeth Line trains are automatic driven and arrive accurately at external doors at each station

Stored class 379 units seen near Ilford

Greater Anglia class 720 unit seen heading for Liverpool Street passing Romford

Elizabeth Line class 345 approaching Romford heading for Paddington

London Overground unit arriving at Romford for the shuttle to Upminster

Side view of the class 710 unit at Romford

Emerson Park Station between Romford and Upminster – the least used station on London Overground. Note the small cabin for the manned

The 710 unit at Upminster before it returns to Romford

Class 357 C2C unit approaching Upminster

View of Shoeburyness depot including 2 x 720/6 units which will be running C2C services in the near future

C2C 357 unit at Shoeburyness station. Note many have union jack vinyls part way down the train

Many 357 units are named although the nameplates are rather bland and easily missed

Westcliff on Sea station has full LTS canopy on the London bound platform and a smaller one on the down platform

C2C terminus at London Fenchurch Street

GNR class 717 at the buffers at Moorgate. It would go to Gordon Hill but we only went as far as Finsbury Park

Our EMR 360 train back to the Midlands. Some of these units are now branded “Luton Airport Express” and first class compartments downgraded to standard class.

All Photos by Ken Jones

Sunday, 19 March 2023

Mellor Delivers its First All-Electric Eight-Metre Buses to Scotland

Mellor, the Rochdale-based manufacturer of size-appropriate buses, has delivered the first two Sigma 8's to local bus operator, Shuttle Buses.

The vehicles represent a significant milestone for Mellor; not only being the first Sigmas in Scotland, but also the first customer examples of the electric midi-bus, designed from the ground up with zero emissions in mind.

Presented in Shuttle Buses’ distinctive yellow and white livery, the two Sigma 8's are capable of carrying 27 seated passengers with 27 standees and have been configured to Mellor’s ‘rural’ specification with a single passenger door.

Shuttle Buses are no strangers to operating size appropriate buses, with eight Mellor Stratas already operating within the 60-strong fleet. 

Eight Mellor Stratas already operating within the 60-strong fleet. 

A departure from internal combustion to zero emissions led Shuttle Buses to a partner they could trust. Now in daily service, the buses are delivering zero emissions public transport to bus passengers across North Ayrshire. 
The two vehicles were part-funded by Transport Scotland under their ScotZEB scheme, with financing from Virgin Money Asset Finance Direct.

Ross Granger, Managing Director of Shuttle Buses, said “Our two Sigma 8's have settled down well and we’re achieving 145 miles a day with battery power to spare, even in a Scottish winter. Drivers and passengers alike appreciate the ‘big bus’ feel of the Sigma, and we look forward to continuing to partner with Mellor as we move towards an all-electric fleet”.

Before placing an order, the long-standing Mellor customer tested a Sigma 10 demonstrator (see below) to understand first-hand the benefits afforded by the size- and cost-appropriate bus range.

“Shuttle Buses were undoubtedly impressed with the quality, engineering and refinement of the Sigma,” said Morgan Clissett, Bus Division Managing Director at Mellor. “The company’s previous experience in working with us has, for them, allowed for a smoother transition to EVs than with another manufacturer. 
Our whole philosophy is about making the purchasing and after sales process easier for our customers. We see it as a partnership, rather than a single transaction.”

The second model in Mellor’s six-strong Sigma range, the Sigma 8 is just 2.35 metres wide, making it perfect for service routes with low patronage, operating in environments such as housing estates and on narrow lanes where vehicle size is a limiting factor, and on demand-responsive transport programmes. Operators looking for a slightly larger bus can opt for the Sigma 9, which is able to seat up to 31 passengers.

All Sigma models have been engineered to achieve the lowest possible total cost of ownership (TCO). Each lightweight, size-appropriate design is combined with a powertrain optimised to balance size, weight and range. The result is a model line-up that is efficient, offers exceptional value for money and can be configured to maximise capacity. 
As a ground-up electric bus, Sigma has also been engineered for a service life of 15 years and has undergone accelerated testing to ensure durability throughout its time in service. This gives operators greater flexibility in achieving a higher return on investment.

A Sigma 10 demonstrator vehicle was exhibited at Eurobus 2022 in November 2022..

Also see 
Mellor breaks new ground with German Sigma 7 contract click here