Friday, 30 June 2023

New Isle of Man Ferry Arrives In The UK

The Isle of Man Steam Packet Company’s new flagship has arrived in UK waters for the first time. MANXMAN arrived in Southampton for final outfitting, after a journey of around 10,000 nautical miles from South Korea.

So far on the journey to Douglas from her builders yard at Ulsan, MANXMAN has visited Hong Kong, Singapore, Colombo, Muscat, Jeddah, the Suez Canal, Marsaxlokk in Malta, and Southampton.

MANXMAN promises to be an upgrade on the vessel it replaces on the lifeline Isle of Man ferry routes, BEN-MY-CHREE. The new £78m Diesel-electric hybrid ferry, which was purpose designed and built for Isle of Man services, has significantly more passenger capacity than the older ship.

Once MANXMAN is in service, BEN-MY-CHREE will be relegated to being a backup ship for the Steam Packet. The Dutch-built vessel has been a real workhorse for the company, providing year-round service as the main ferry to the Isle of Man for the past 25 years. The primary conventional route is from the Isle of Man to Heysham. However, there are winter weekend calls at Liverpool when the fast craft MANANNAN isn’t sailing. MANXMAN will also continue the calls BEN-MY-CHREE currently makes to Belfast.

The Steam Packet is currently building a new ferry terminal at Liverpool. Although the interior of the facility is now well progressed, latest reports suggest it won’t open until Spring 2024. The new site replaces the iconic landing stage terminal. It will mean that the MANXMAN will be able to berth at Liverpool, whereas the limitations of the landing stage, meant that the BEN-MY-CHREE has previously used the 12 Quays Stena Line terminal at Birkenhead.
International expertise

MANXMAN was designed in partnership with UK-based naval architects Houlder and the shipyard, Hyundai Mipo Dockyard. Interior design is by London-headquartered SMC design who have also worked on cruise ships such as QUEEN MARY 2 and SPIRIT OF DISCOVERY and the 2022 refits of DFDS’ Dover ferries.

Finnish company Wärtsilä supplied four of its record breaking 31 series engines to power MANXMAN, as well as the electrical, propulsion machinery such as thrusters, and battery energy storage systems for the hybrid vessel. Wärtsilä also supplied the bridge console, navigation, and ballast water treatment systems.

Thursday, 29 June 2023

Caledonian Sleeper Moves Into Scottish Government Ownership

Caledonian Sleeper services are now being provided within Scottish Government ownership.

This new arrangement replaces the previous Caledonian Sleeper franchise, operated by Serco Caledonian Sleepers Limited.

A decision was made by the Scottish Government’s to run Caledonian Sleeper services, from the expiry of the current franchise, through an arm’s length company owned and controlled by the Scottish Government, in line with its Operator of Last Resort Duty.

Minister for Transport Fiona Hyslop said:

“Today sees the start of a new era for the Caledonian Sleeper as the services come into public ownership, in line with our Operator of Last Resort duty.

“The decision to mobilise Operator of Last resort arrangements, announced to Parliament earlier this year, followed an extensive review and consideration of the options available to provide Caledonian Sleeper services beyond June this year, when the current franchise expires. 
This review was conducted against the background of substantial uncertainty regarding future market conditions and the pace and impact of the UK Government’s rail reform process.

“It is fitting that we recognise the successes of the staff and management at the Caledonian Sleeper who have transformed this service, and who will remain as valued members of the team. I give my reassurances that there is a continued role for them to play in the future success of the service.

“In recent years, the Caledonian Sleeper has flourished, with increasing numbers of people using its unique journey opportunities. The service plays an important role in showcasing the best of Scotland and I look forward to building on that success in the years to come.”

Caledonian Sleeper services are now being provided by an arm’s length company, Scottish Rail Holdings (SRH) which is wholly owned and controlled by the Scottish Government.

In October 2022, having reviewed the operation of rail franchises in Scotland, the Scottish Government decided to terminate the Caledonian Sleeper Franchise Agreement with Serco. Earlier this year, the Scottish Government decided that Caledonian Sleeper services should instead be provided by the Scottish Government.

Caledonian Sleeper services will continue as before, the only difference is that the service will be governed, managed and operated by a public operator (Scottish Rail Holdings (SRH) instead of Serco.
Reservations available for up to 12 months in advance as before. Scottish Rail Holdings (SRH) will be focused on maintaining the current high standards of service through the transition. In due course, the Scottish Government Ministers and Scottish Rail Holdings (SRH), in partnership with Caledonian Sleeper Limited, will set out their aspirations for Caledonian Sleeper’s evolution.
87002 at the head of the Caledonian Sleeper stock at Glasgow November 2017

Caledonian Sleeper will operate as a separate business, as part of Scottish Rail Holdings (SRH).

Reservations can be made as normal with a booking window of up to 12 months in advance of travel.
Staff are protected by TUPE regulations and will transfer across to the new public operator effective 25th June. This includes the Senior Management Team of Caledonian Sleeper.
Onboard crews will continue to deliver the high standards of service for which they are known and there are no plans to change the service offering, including the menu, at this time.

More details on the website here

Wednesday, 28 June 2023

Cambridgeshire Busway True Legal Costs Remain a Secret

More than £25m has been spent so far on legal disputes related to the Cambridge Guided Busway, but the true cost to the taxpayer is to remain undisclosed.

The 16-mile (25km) Cambridgeshire guided busway which is believed to be the world's longest, opened in 2011.

But in the past decade, the county council has settled two High Court disputes with the construction company involved and is being prosecuted over three deaths.

Read the article here

Monday, 26 June 2023

Stagecoach Manchester Awarded Three Major Franchise Contracts

Stagecoach Manchester has been awarded all three major franchise contracts in the most recent round of franchising in Greater Manchester.

The contracts awarded by Greater Manchester Combined Authority will see the operator run bus services from Middleton, Queens Road, and Oldham depots from 24th March 2024 as part the Bee Network plan, to deliver an integrated transport system for the people of Greater Manchester.

The first five of 100 ADL electric double deck buses ordered by Transport for Greater Manchester for the Bee Network have recently been delivered.

Under the contracts, Stagecoach Manchester will operate 87 routes, served by a fleet of 349 buses. Employees currently working at the operators Middleton Depot will remain employed by Stagecoach Manchester whilst 947 employees will transfer from the current operators, 
First Manchester and Go North West. 
First and Go North West will be forced to hand over their Queens Road and Oldham Depots in the process. 

Lee Wasnidge, Managing Director of Stagecoach Manchester, said: “We are extremely proud to have been chosen for these contracts and are looking forward to providing exceptional bus services to customers across North Manchester.

“We have a fantastic team who have a proud history of serving the communities in Greater Manchester, and we are honoured to be entrusted with the responsibility of delivering reliable and high-quality services whilst maintaining crucial transport links for the people in our region.

“We are looking forward to working in partnership with the Mayor, Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Transport for Greater Manchester to implement planned improvements for customers on the Bee Network. Our shared goal is to deliver outstanding service, create a more sustainable future, develop stronger communities, and build a brighter future for our region.

“To the dedicated staff currently working at the depots that will be operated by Stagecoach, we extend a warm welcome. We want to assure you that we value your contribution and are committed to ensuring a smooth and positive transition. We will work closely with your current employers to support you throughout this process.”

Contracts for the final round of franchising are due to be awarded in Spring 2024, with the full Bee Network up and running from January 2025.

Links to Transport Articles 9 - New Fleet of 22 ADL Low Emission Buses Launched For Coastliner 700 route In Hampshire and West Sussex

Due to holidays, our normal daily postings will not take place, so apologies to those that visit the website on a daily basis. However, links to newsworthy subjects will be posted when possible

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Normal service will resume before the end of June.

Click here to read the article for today

Sunday, 25 June 2023

Links to Transport Articles 8 First Bus Announces Industry-First Consumer Electric Vehicle Charging Hub at Summercourt in Cornwall

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Normal service will resume before the end of June.

Click here to read the article


Saturday, 24 June 2023

Links to Transport Articles 6 Yutong GTe14 Electric Tri-axle Coach for UK in Q1 2024

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Link to YutongGTe14 Coach article here

Friday, 23 June 2023

Links to Transport Articles 5 Proposed Oxford to Cambridge Railway Line Compared with Britain’s Bendiest Road

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Normal service will resume before the end of June.

Recent Route announcement here

Link to article comparing the route here

Thursday, 22 June 2023

Links to Transport Articles 4 National Express Celebrated National Clean Air Day 15th June 2023

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Normal service will resume before the end of June.

National Express West Midlands expects to have nearly 180 zero emission buses in service by summer

Todays link  here

Wednesday, 21 June 2023

Links to Transport Articles 3 Newport Transport Takes Wales’ First Electric Coaches

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Todays link here

Tuesday, 20 June 2023

Links to Transport Articles 2 Northern’s Trains Set to Monitor Track and Surrounding Infrastructure

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Monday, 19 June 2023

Links to Transport Articles 1 - Go-Ahead London To Take Over Arriva Fastrack Bus Services

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Todays links below

Go-Ahead London to take over Arriva Fastrack bus services between Dartford, Gravesend, Bluewater, Darent Valley Hospital and Ebbsfleet

click here & here

Sunday, 18 June 2023

8MW Power Connection to Cowley Bus Depot Following New Partnership Between Oxford Bus Company and EDF Renewables UK

EDF Renewables UK and Oxford Bus Company, part of The Go-Ahead Group, have signed an agreement for the provision of an 8MW connection to Cowley bus depot, enabling the introduction of an electric fleet of buses for Oxford.

The deal is the latest stage of the ambitious urban decarbonisation project, Energy Superhub Oxford. The four-year project has seen innovations such as the creation of a first-of-a-kind battery storage system, a high-power private wire charging network and an electric vehicle (EV) charging hub at Redbridge Park & Ride.

With co-funding from Go Ahead, Oxfordshire County Council and the Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme, Oxford Bus Company has ordered 104 new electric buses to begin arriving on Oxford’s streets from late 2023. 

To enable the buses to charge overnight, depot charging infrastructure will be powered by the EDF Renewables UK substation at Oxford Bus Company’s Watlington Road depot. The substation was installed and connected in spring 2022 by EDF Renewables UK in anticipation of the agreement reached this month.

Luke Marion, Oxford Bus Company Managing Director, said: “Go-Ahead Group and Oxford Bus Company’s ambition to transition to a zero-emission fleet has been in planning for several years already. This agreement with EDF Renewables UK takes us one step closer to having more electric buses in Oxford, and is a key milestone in our exciting electric transformation journey.”

Marianne Costigan, Head of Private Wire at EDF Renewables UK, said: “Energy Superhub Oxford has given the city a breadth of opportunities to decarbonise and combat climate change, and we’ve already seen considerable success with the EV charging hub.

“Electrifying Oxford’s buses by taking advantage of the high voltage connection enabled by Energy Superhub Oxford will significantly improve air quality in and around the city and boost the already key role that buses play by replacing cars. Together, the changes brought about by Energy Superhub Oxford will have truly accelerated the region’s journey towards net zero.”

Energy Superhub Oxford aimed to help Oxford City Council’s response to the climate emergency by saving 10,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions in its first year, rising to 25,000 tonnes per year by 2032.

In 2020 Oxford Bus Company introduced the first electric bus to Oxford via its City Sightseeing Oxford fleet. It now has three retrofitted electric vehicles in its fleet, which were delivered in partnership with Oxford City Council.

Saturday, 17 June 2023

London Underground Train That Switches Lines Halfway Through The Journey

From May 21st London underground trains have been operating on a new timetable.

As a result of this timetable, there’s one very unusual service which has been introduced - train number 171. Every weekday, this train starts as a Hammersmith & City line train before ‘transforming’ into a District line train.

click here to read the interesting 'MyLondon' posting

Friday, 16 June 2023

Electric Autonomous Bus Launched on Public Roads Between Milton Park and Didcot Parkway Station

Following the very recent launch of the Scottish Autonomous bus services between Ferrytoll Park & Ride in Fife, to Edinburgh Park interchange, using diesel powered Enviro200 vehicles here, a service between Milton Park and Didcot Parkway Station using a 15 seater Mellor Orion E bus, has now been launched running on the 2.3 mile route.

A successful trial earlier this year – which marked a UK-first in the future of sustainable transport and mobility – has now been followed on 12 June 2023, by a second phase of the extended autonomous route.

The second trial will allow residents and 9,000 employees spanning Milton Park’s 270 companies to benefit from zero-emissions travel for free.

The electrically powered bus is operated by First Bus and running every 40 minutes – from 7am to 6.30pm, Monday to Saturday – the bus will follow a dedicated route between Milton Park and the station, stopping at key locations, including the Bee House, the Innovation Centre and the Milton Feast street food market area.

Using cutting-edge technology, the Mi-Link 15-seat minibus utilises Fusion Processing Ltd’s CAVstar® Automated Drive System. The vehicle is also equipped with a range of sensors including radar, LiDAR and AI to control steering, acceleration and braking without the need for human intervention.

Funded through the UK Department for Transport’s Centre for Connected and Autonomous Vehicles (CCAV) through Innovate UK, Mi-Link is the culmination of a five-year consortium partnership between First Bus, Fusion Processing Ltd, Oxfordshire County Council, University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) and Zipabout, with Milton Park as the host location.

The service, which is fully accessible for wheelchair and pram users, will be overseen by a qualified safety driver, who will be on board and able to take control of the vehicle, if required.

Passengers can receive real-time updates on the service’s operation times by scanning the QR code at bus stops at Didcot Parkway and Milton Park, or by visiting the online Zipabout journey planner.

Veronica Reynolds, Sustainability and Community Manager at Milton Park, said: “The Mi-Link project, which also includes a fleet of free electric hire bikes, is intended to reduce the amount of car trips that occur within Milton Park.

“This trial service is set to complement the 4,400 existing bus journeys that are taken weekly between the Park and Didcot Parkway railway station. This is in addition to the Park’s rising levels of bus passengers which have almost doubled since 2019, with single occupancy car usage falling by 12% since 2021.

“As an innovation community committed to increasing the accessibility of sustainable travel, we’re thrilled that Milton Park was selected as the host location for the Mi-Link project, and can’t wait to see the full results of these landmark trials later in the year.”

Philip Campbell, Commercial Director at MEPC Milton Park, said: “Milton Park is well known as an innovation and technology cluster, and through the Mi-Link project and drone delivery trials last year, we are proud to be a test bed for emerging technologies in transport.

“Those visiting the Park will be able to take an electric train from London to Didcot, utilise pioneering electric autonomous bus travel, before seeing game-changing breakthroughs happening day-in-day-out from the Park’s occupiers.”

During their journey, passengers may be asked to fill out a short survey as part of the research being carried out by UWE to better understand people’s experiences of the new travel options and how the new technologies can benefit the wider public.

Passengers with a Milton Park subsidised bus pass can also aid the UWE research by tapping on and off with their pass to record usage levels.

For more information CLICK HERE

Thursday, 15 June 2023

Sneak Preview of The New Yutong U11DD

Pelican UK have announced the name and and shown a sneak preview of the new zero-emission double decker - the U11DD.

Yutong produced the first zero emission vehicle in 1999, so the vehicle has a rich heritage, with over 138,000 Yutong zero-emission buses completing 36.3 billion kms. The U11DD is a fully integral vehicle, and optimised for low total cost of ownership. The RHD version builds on years of experience of double-decks in China and other countries.

They say "As an integral vehicle, there is no compromise in access of components, therefore ensuring efficient servicing and maintenance. The customer experience is optimised, and in common with the single-deck Yutong, the double-decker has full air conditioning as standard.

The vehicles have either 385 or 422kWh batteries fitted, and as standard, the Yutong Electric Safety System. The battery chemistry is the safest on the market - Lithium Iron Phosphate with no cobalt. They are produced by the world’s largest battery manufacturer, Contemporary Amperex Technology Limited (CATL).

We can confirm that due to customer interest, we will have 2 demonstrators in the UK available from September and November."

Ian Downie, Head of Yutong UK at Pelican said "Since I joined Pelican, we have been working on the development of this exciting product. The brief was to develop not only a zero-emission electric double-deck, but also a vehicle that would be attractive to operators, passengers and drivers.

It is a very proud moment to see the results, with an interior that welcomes passengers into bright, airy, air-conditioned comfort, with a superb structure without noise and rattles, a wide roomy drivers cab with ergonomically designed controls, smooth driving characteristics, and excellent access to all components.

We are delighted to be able demonstrate this provincial vehicle to our operators, and look forward to their feedback.

Wednesday, 14 June 2023

Dews Coaches and Stagecoach East Work in Partnership to Save Huntingdon Service

Dews Drivers are driving Stagecoach East vehicles in a partnership that has saved the service 904 between Huntingdon and Peterborough.

Dews operates the route on Stagecoach’s behalf, with Stagecoach buses being driven by Dews’ staff. Stagecoach says that the partnership will allow the 904 to continue to operate.

The route and timetable are unaltered, although some change has been made to the range of tickets sold. 

Dews drivers can sell standard Stagecoach single and Dayrider products but those for longer term duration, such as Megarider, now need to be bought online or via Stagecoach’s app.

Dews Coaches Managing Director Simon Dew says that the family-owned Somersham business – which celebrates its 70th anniversary in 2023 – is “passionate about keeping bus routes running within our community.”

Mr Dew adds: “When the opportunity arose to partner with Stagecoach East to keep the 904 running, we recognised that a new way would benefit all. We are confident that this relationship will be a model for future solutions throughout the region.”

Stagecoach east route Stagecoach East Business Development Director David Boden says that the operator is “proud to work in partnership with Dews Coaches,” noting the SME business’s history and commitment to innovation and customer service.

“The partnership will help to sustain the service in the long term, which remains one of Stagecoach East’s biggest priorities.

“At Stagecoach, we are constantly seeking new ways to keep passengers connected to the people and places that matter the most. Sourcing a solution to keep the 904 running is a part of our commitment to the communities that we serve; by working alongside Dews Coaches, we can continue to offer regular bus travel to more customers in rural areas.

“This partnership marks a key step forward from the Cambridgeshire Rural Bus Summit and it demonstrates an innovative way for bus operators to utilise transport resource within the region.”

Tuesday, 13 June 2023

Wrightbus Secures £50 million UKEF Financing to Secure Green Exports

UK Export Finance announces support for the world's first hydrogen-powered bus company

A guarantee from UK Export Finance (UKEF) has provided Northern Ireland-based bus manufacturer Wrightbus with £50 million in financing to support its ambitious exporting strategy. This Export Development Guarantee sees the UK’s export credit agency guarantee 80 percent of the loan from Barclays Bank.

This financing builds on previous government support announced last year, helping deliver on the Prime Minister’s priority of keeping the economy growing. 
The development gives Wrightbus critical working capital support as well as a more flexible way to deploy the funds to support its business needs.

This will enable Wrightbus to deliver orders to new markets, such as Germany and North America, as well as additional orders in existing markets like Singapore and Hong Kong.

The announcement comes a week after Minister for Investment Lord Johnson visited Wrightbus’ site in Ballymena, County Antrim as part of a wider visit to Northern Ireland. 
There, he met investors and leading businesses ahead of the Northern Ireland Investment Summit taking place later in the year.

Minister for Investment Lord Johnson said:

Wrightbus is a fantastic example of a British business seizing the vast exporting opportunities around the world and embracing clean growth. UK Export Finance support for Wrightbus will be a great boost to its exporting journey, helping the company to create more local growth and jobs.

This is the type of success we will build on at this autumn’s Northern Ireland Investment Summit, which will be a catalyst for securing more investment, creating more jobs and empowering more businesses to seize exporting opportunities.

The company generated 27% of its revenues from exports in 2022 and seeks to grow this by nearly a fifth by the end of 2023 thanks in part to the UK government’s support. 
To facilitate this growth, Wrightbus plans to double its workforce by 2026, creating 1,000 new green jobs with most of the roles based at the company’s Ballymena hub.

The company’s hydrogen-powered, zero-carbon buses are in strong demand globally with over 600 buses of all types expected to be delivered by the end of 2023, up from 450 last year. 
Wrightbus now has the largest hydrogen fleet in the UK, with 100 buses in operation.

Jean-Marc Gales, Wrightbus CEO, said:

UKEF and Barclays’ support has been fundamental to the development of Wrightbus. The flexible products suit the needs of our business, which is growing exponentially and requires financial headroom.

We are excited about our next phase and working within the Ballymena and wider Northern Ireland community to deliver innovative British technology to the global market.

James Binns, Global Head of Trade and Working Capital, Barclays said:

Barclays are proud to work alongside UKEF to enable British companies to get the competitive edge when it comes to exporting.

This new funding builds on our previous support to Wrightbus, providing crucial flexibility which will enable further growth in exports and domestically, continuing the vital pivot towards zero-emission sales.

Based in County Antrim, Northern Ireland, Wrightbus introduced the world’s first hydrogen-powered double-decker bus in 2020, and also produces and exports electric-powered single and double-decker buses. 

The business is aiming to manufacture 3,000 zero-emissions buses by 2024, comprising 10% of the UK’s total fleet. 
Wrightbus last month received a further £12 million in joint government and industry-backed funding.

Monday, 12 June 2023

Metroline Confirm Major Zero-Emission Vehicle Order With Volvo Buses For 48 Electric Vehicles For London Operations

Transport for London bus operator Metroline, part of global transport operator ComfortDelGro, has confirmed a major order for 48 Volvo BZL Electric zero emission single deck buses which will enter service in London during the second half of next year. The order is one of the largest so far for the Volvo BZL Electric.

The Volvo BZL Electric is Volvo Buses` fully electric chassis platform for both single and double deck buses. The vehicles destined for Metroline will feature MCV bodywork and will be built to TfL specification, in a mix of lengths (9.7m, 10.35m and 10.8m) and will depending on length be able to carry between 62 and 67 passengers. 

The vehicles will feature CCS depot charging and Volvo Connect Zone Management, and they will be built to Transport for London specification.

ComfortDelGro (UK) Group Engineering Director Ian Foster said, “Metroline is pleased to place this order with Volvo for the latest additions to our single deck ZE fleet. We have a long-standing relationship involving all areas of our transport operations around the world, and this reflects the trust we have in Volvo Buses delivering a reliable product with exceptional aftermarket support and service.”

Volvo BZL Chassis showing roof mounted batteries

Volvo Buses UK & Ireland Managing Director Domenico Bondi added, “We are thrilled to receive this latest order from Metroline. The Volvo BZL Electric is very well suited for Metroline’s operations in London, and will help deliver clean, silent and efficient public transport, and in addition builds on our strong business partnership with Metroline, and our partnership towards zero emission people transport”.

The new Volvo BZL Electric is based on proven and successful technologies. The Volvo BZL Electric is a Volvo Bus global chassis platform entering the UK and it is Metroline’s first order of electric buses from Volvo.
“I am delighted that we now take a major step in to the UK market with the Volvo BZL Electric and that we will provide services and long-term support to Metroline and their passengers in London,” says Dan Pettersson, SVP, Business Unit Chassis at Volvo Buses.

Volvo website here

Sunday, 11 June 2023

£2 bus Fare Cap Extended Again

The £2 bus fare cap across England has now been further extended until 31 October 2023

The government’s £2 fare scheme has been extended for a second time. However even once this cut price deal ends - passengers will still be able to get discounted bus tickets with fares capped at £2.50 from November for a whole year.

The £2 bus ticket cap applies to over 130 bus and coach operators outside of London and was introduced to help people during the cost of living crisis.

Operators including Arriva, Stagecoach and First Group are all taking part in the scheme, which the government is investing £500 million into - with £300 million to protect bus services into 2025 and £200 million to cover the fare cap extension.

The aim of the scheme has been to get more of us back on the buses, as currently bus passenger numbers are around 85-90% compared with pre-pandemic levels.

Transport Secretary Mark Harper said the government was extending the scheme as bus travel is, "the most popular form of public transport". And Prime Minister Rishi Sunak said: "By extending the £2 fare cap, we're making sure bus travel remains accessible and affordable for everyone, while helping to ease cost of living pressures."

The 65 mile Stagecoach 555 Keswick to Lancaster service offers excellent value, covering a large section of the Lake District for a fare of £2

The average single fare costs around £2.80 but in rural areas, it can cost as much as a hefty £5, meaning commuters could save around a third on a single journey. Not only will this help cut household spending, but the scheme aims to reduce emissions and congestion by taking an estimated two million cars off the road.

The scheme started on 1 January and was initially set to run to 31 March 2023, but has been extended twice - the first time until 30 June and now to 31 October.

List of Companies included in the scheme here

Saturday, 10 June 2023

First Group Results - Strong Financial Performance

SHARES in FirstGroup increased nearly 14 per cent after the Aberdeen-based transport giant beat profit expectations and cheered investors with an additional share buyback worth £115 million.

Commenting on the results for 52 weeks to 25th March, Chief Executive Officer Graham Sutherland said: “We have delivered a strong financial performance in 2022 - 2023. 

In First Rail, our teams have worked extremely hard on our service objectives, and the notable success of our open access operations is further recognition of the considerable expertise and ambition of our team. 

In First Bus, we are seeing the benefits of actions we have taken to transform the business, and we are establishing ourselves as leaders in decarbonisation as we accelerate the electrification of our bus fleet to deliver value not just for FirstGroup but for all our stakeholders.
 “Our leading positions in bus and rail, together with the strength of our balance sheet, will allow FirstGroup to create long-term shareholder value while delivering the vital services and innovation that are key to achieving society’s sustainability and economic goals.

Key developments  

First Bus: 
• 1.1m passenger journeys a day (FY 2022: 0.9m); 168m service miles operated in FY 2023 (FY 2022: 185m) 
• Passenger volumes increased 20% vs. FY 2022 levels, with commercial and concessionary volumes up 21% and 19% 
• Total passenger revenue increased to £660.0m (FY 2022: £570.0m), more than offsetting the reduction in government funding, which decreased by £42.8m to £86.5m 
• Improvement in operating margin in H2 2023 to 7.9% despite ongoing inflationary pressures due to: - increased passenger demand - improved driver availability and operational improvements FirstGroup plc | 52 weeks to 25 March 2023 2 - network and fare realignments to better match services to demand - regional management restructure completed to drive further operational efficiencies 
• Acquisition of Ensignbus in Essex, Airporter in Northern Ireland and the Metrobus service in Bristol 
• Disposal of First Scotland East and closure of Southampton-based operations • Accelerated investment in electrification of fleet and infrastructure: - gross investment of c.£43m on electric buses and depot infrastructure before funding - 83 electric buses delivered in FY 2023 and 58 ultra-fast chargers installed - installation of solar panels at 20 depots completed in FY 2023 - net investment of c.£105m committed in FY 2024 on First Bus decarbonisation, including the installation of 143 ultra-fast chargers, 

First Rail: 

• 263m passenger journeys in FY 2023 (FY 2022: 201m); TOCs: 261m and open access 2.2m 
• Open access operations performance ahead of expectations, underpinned by strong leisure volumes 
• Management-fee based contracts aggregate financial performance broadly in line with expectations; focus remains on operational delivery for passengers across all our services 

• Great Western Railway awarded National Rail Contract to June 2025 with an option for the DfT to extend it to June 2028 
• South Western Railway contract extended to May 2025 
• West Coast Partnership (incorporating Avanti West Coast) contract extended to October 2023; discussions with the Department for Transport (‘DfT’) on a National Rail Contract for WCP are ongoing 
• TPE contract not extended by DfT; operations were handed to the Operator of Last Resort on 28 May 2023 

Friday, 9 June 2023

Go-Ahead Expands into The Cotswolds By Buying Pulham & Sons

The Go-Ahead Group has bought Pulham & Sons (Coaches) Limited, a long established family run bus and coach operator in the Cotswolds.

Pulhams, which has a fleet of 90 buses and coaches and employs 126 people, is a well-known and respected local business serving communities in Gloucestershire, Oxfordshire and Warwickshire.

It will become part of Go-Ahead’s Oxford Bus Company division – which presently comprises Thames Travel, Carousel Buses and City Sightseeing Oxford as well as the eponymous Oxford Bus Company.

Based in Bourton-on-the-Water, Pulhams has won multiple awards for delivering high standards, and currently holds both DVSA Earned Recognition and Guild of British Coach Operators accreditation.

The company is one of the oldest established passenger transport companies in Britain, having been founded in 1880 to carry passengers into Cheltenham from nearby villages by horse and cart.

The acquisition will expand Go-Ahead’s Oxford business to the west and see improved connectivity between Pulhams’ bus services in Oxfordshire and the wider Go-Ahead network of services.

In addition, it will enable Go-Ahead to expand its coaching operations – which in the Oxford division already include the airline services to Heathrow and Gatwick, and National Express branded operations - by developing the coach hire side of the Pulhams business across the wider business operating area.

As part of Go-Ahead’s business strategy, The Next Billion Journeys, the group is committed to investing, and expanding, in regional buses in Britain.

The deal is Go-Ahead’s third acquisition in a year, following the purchase of Dartline in Devon and Southdown Buses in West Sussex.

Luke Marion, Managing Director of the Oxford Bus Company, said: “Pulhams’ buses and coaches are familiar and well loved in communities throughout the Cotswolds.

"The business links nicely with our existing services in Oxfordshire and surrounding counties, and helps us to diversify our business further into new market segments. We’ll be investing in developing the Pulhams business further, for the benefit of both customers and colleagues.”

Andrew Pulham, Managing Director of Pulhams Coaches said: “I am excited to work with Luke and the wider Go-Ahead team in developing new business opportunities and enhancing those that we already have in place.

"Go-Ahead’s commitment to invest in the Pulhams’ business as we look towards decarbonisation of our fleets is welcome and I look forward to learning from the Group’s experience in this area.

Kathryn and Andy Pulham

"Kathryn and I remain committed to Pulhams and look forward to this next chapter in our well-established, successful business.”

Christian Schreyer, Group Chief Executive, The Go-Ahead Group, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Pulhams into the group.

"At Go-Ahead, we see many opportunities to expand in Britain’s bus industry as the country moves towards a net zero future in which people leave their cars at home in favour of public transport.”

The Go-Ahead Group has nine UK bus divisions operating more than 6,000 buses, with routes stretching from the western tip of Cornwall as far north as Northumberland. Customer satisfaction on Go-Ahead’s regional buses is 87%, and Go-Ahead was named Britain’s most admired transport company in the annual “Britain’s Most Admired Companies” awards 2022.

Pulhams website here

Thursday, 8 June 2023

Edinburgh Trams Commence Running to Newhaven

From 12 noon on 7th June 2023, trams started gliding to Leith, Ocean Terminal and Newhaven.

The highly successful Edinburgh Trams network has been extended by 3 miles to create a spine across the City. Trams will run on the original line from Edinburgh Airport, Gyle Centre, Edinburgh Park and Murrayfield Stadium across the City centre to 8 brand new stops conveniently located along Leith Walk, The Shore, the Ocean Terminal and terminate at Newhaven.  

All the benefits of our award-winning tram network include:

  • Turn up and go service with trams from every 7 minutes
  • Running from 6am – Midnight 7 days a week
  • Trams across the City centre serving Picardy Place, St Andrew Square, Princes Street, West End and Haymarket
  • Easy ticketing options available at the tram stop and on the app
  • Safe and secure network with CCTV and customer help points at all stops
  • Reliable customer service with onboard staff and lots of ways to contact us

    Frequency Guide 

    The trams operate a ‘turn up and go’ service with trams from every 7 minutes, 7 days a week.

    No need to check timetables, the real-time displays at every stop tell passengers when the next trams are due.

    Newhaven timetable

Tickets and fares

All of the current tram tickets are valid for travel throughout the extended network to Newhaven.

Single and return fares are for tram journeys only. You can also buy a Day Ticket to use on both the tram and Lothian bus services.

Before you board and ticket price timetable

The Route

The extended tram network runs across the City from Edinburgh Airport all the way to Newhaven.

Convenient stops along the route include 4 rail stations and the bus station.

Route Map
Tram map with Newhaven stops