Monday, 31 July 2023

Pelican Announce Order From Scottish Operator Ember For 14 Electric Coaches

Pelican Bus and Coach has received an order for 14 tri-axle Yutong Gte14 electric coaches from Scottish intercity operator Ember. The announcement of the order follows the news that  Pelican’s GTe14 demonstrator will be in the UK later this year.
Ember’s 14 GTe14 coaches are due to be delivered in January 2024. The coaches have 57 seats and include the Yutong Electric Safety System (YESS) and camera mirrors as standard. Wheelchair access is integrated into the centre passenger door entrance and luggage capacity is 8.25 cubic meters. Fitted with the larger 563kWh battery option, the projected range for this model on intercity motorway work is about 280 miles.

Ember operate Yutong TCe12 electric coaches between Dundee and Edinburgh and Dundee and Glasgow
See Report by Roger French here

Commenting on the order, Pelican MD, Richard Crump said: “We have worked closely with Keith and Pierce from Ember since first meeting them in 2019. Their vision and professionalism has in part driven the development of this new addition to the UK model range however the vehicle will have wider appeal across the whole of the UK, not only for intercity work but also high value private hire work.”

Pierce Glennie, Ember co-founder, said: “This order will grow the Ember fleet to 38 fully-electric Yutong coaches. Our existing Yutong TCe12 coaches have been highly-reliable, enabling us to build an extensive zero-emission route network in less than three years. 
The longer-range, higher-capacity GTe14, together with the new charging hubs we are building, will allow us to add longer distance routes and meet passenger demand.”


Sunday, 30 July 2023

Birmingham to Edinburgh and Return in One Day - Ken Jones

Ken Jones and Roger Burdett have travelled many miles by train since they started their monthly days out, so this time instead of using a Ranger / Rover with lots of different trains, they decided to go to Edinburgh Waverley with fewer trains, but still a lot of miles, starting at Birmingham New Street at 7.08 am and returning to New Street at 9.08 pm using the following journeys.

1] Avanti West Coast Pendolino Birmingham to Lancaster

2] TPE Nova 2 Lancaster to Edinburgh using the recently reopened Carstairs junction – in fact it opened only 2 days before their trip. TPE operate a trolley service on this route

3] Edinburgh to Birmingham 4 hours on an Avanti West Coast Pendolino.

They also bought anytime day returns to Tweedbank to travel on the new Borders Railway and anytime day returns to Inverkeithing to go over the Forth Railway Bridge, breaking the journeys each way at Haymarket, to sample different units.

They were able to do all this for less than £50 each, by using senior railcard, split ticketing, advanced bookings and research.
Photos below of the Edinburgh day out – all taken by Ken Jones.

390 141 is seen at the platform at Birmingham New Street ready for the first part of their journey Class 390

397 012 is seen arriving at Lancaster for the onward journey to Edinburgh Class 397

170 394 waits at Edinburgh for the trip on the Borders Railway to Tweedbank.
The 30 mile railway follows most of the alignment of the northern part of the Waverley Route, a former main line double-track line in southern Scotland and northern England that ran between Edinburgh and Carlisle and was closed in 1969

We have all seen priority seating on buses and trains, but in addition Scotrail have a special Moquette for these seats on their trains.

170 394 waits at Tweedbank for the journey back to Edinburgh

385 028 will take them to Haymarket Class 385

158 726 is seen arriving at Haymarket for the Journey to Inverkeithing

158 727 is seen arriving at Inverkeithing for their journey back to Haymarket

Sign to platform 0 at Haymarket

334 002 is seen arriving at Haymarket for the journey to Waverley station 
Class 334

Lumo 803 005 is seen at Waverley station

380-109 is seen at Waverley station – the only 380 unit we saw during our visit

The recently opened passenger corridor from the southern part of Waverley station to the

main concourse, ticket office and toilets

Plaque in memory of Sir Nigel Gresley at Waverley station placed there in 2001

Short formations of HST are operated by Scotrail on long distance trains within Scotland

and unusually we see two together at the buffer stops. Note also the use of advertising on the

barrier gates

The famous crossover at Waverley station

Many thanks to Ken Jones for this contribution. If you visit a transport event during 2023 please send your photographs to

Saturday, 29 July 2023

DB Cargo Ditch Electric Class 90's For Diesel Due to High Power Costs

DB Cargo UK  has has been forced to sideline an electric traction fleet on the grounds of cost. Rocketing electricity prices have forced the Doncaster headquartered operator to pull the plug on its class 90 locomotive fleet. The twenty-four locomotives were re-engineered from their original deployment on passenger express services.

Following on from last year’s temporary grounding by Freightliner of their similarly-sized Class 90 fleet of electric locomotives, DB Cargo UK has been forced to take even more drastic action, and has put its two-dozen class 90 locomotives on permanent discharge, offering them for sale or scrap. 
The company admits that the decision is down to operating costs, and that it does represent a blow to their own environmental imperatives.

The news of the demise of DB Cargo’s fleet of Class 90 electric locomotives was widely rumoured on social media feeds and railway forums. The freight operator broke cover on Monday with a statement, attributed to chief executive, Andrea Rossi. “In the current economic climate, it simply does not make sense to incur the additional cost of running and maintaining the Class 90s when we have an alternative fleet of Class 66 locomotives at our disposal”, he said in a written update addressed to all colleagues at the company.

That the largest freight operator in the UK, with a huge reputation for environmental awareness, has been commercially forced to ditch electric traction for diesel, is a damning indictment of the economic situation in the UK. 
There has been widespread discontent at the UK government’s economic management, particularly in the energy sector, which has been subject to rampant inflation and huge price rises, particularly in the electricity generation market. 
This has led to the environmentally counter-productive measure of switching off electric locomotives from freight operations, and firing up diesels as replacement traction.
Facing acute economic challenges

The substitute Class 66 diesels, which are also being trialled by DB Cargo to run on alternative bio-fuels, are still capable of more environmentally friendly operations than other modes of transport, such as road haulage. 
However, the zero-emissions of electric traction cannot be bettered, but the additional cost of running them has been estimated by some observers at over one thousand pounds (1200 euro) per round trip on an average intermodal service. 
Late in 2021, Freightliner encountered a similar dilemma, and was forced to take their own fleet out of active service. This move by DB Cargo is however a permanent move.

 DB Cargo UK has twenty-four examples of the Class 90, originally built in a batch of fifty for British Railways in the late 1980s. Twelve of the units have been in long-term storage, mainly at Crewe. There are over 150 examples of the workhorse Class 66 diesel in service with the company.

Friday, 28 July 2023

Stadler Awarded Contract For Battery Trains in Austria

The Austrian Federal Railways (ÖBB) has awarded Stadler a framework agreement for up to 120 battery trains. 

The FLIRT Akku vehicles are intended to replace the existing diesel fleet and enable sustainable operation on routes that are only partially electrified. The signing of the framework agreement and the first call for 16 FLIRT batteries should take place in autumn 2023. 
With this award and the successes in the USA, Germany and Italy, Stadler confirming its leading position in alternative and resource-saving drives with batteries and hydrogen.

“In order to meet the climate targets, rail transport must also become more sustainable. Stadler has invested in green drive solutions to replace diesel fleets and has established its position as a leading provider of sustainable rail transport in recent years - both in Europe and the USA. 
We are pleased to now also be driving the decarbonization of rail transport in Austria together with ÖBB," says Peter Spuhler, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Stadler.

Stadler has more than 80 years of experience in building battery-powered rail vehicles. Today's state-of-the-art battery-powered vehicles run both with and without overhead lines and charge while driving or braking. 

 The FLIRT battery is the battery-powered version of Stadler's FLIRT series. The operational range of the vehicle is around 100 kilometers. This means that almost all non-electrified routes in Austria can be used with the regional train in battery operation. With 224 kilometers driven in battery-only mode, the FLIRT Akku holds the world record for the longest journey by a regional train in battery-only mode without additional charging. 

In addition to the new trains for ÖBB, Stadler is also supplying 55 FLIRT battery packs for the Schleswig-Holstein local transport association, 44 trains for the Palatinate network and 14 trains for the H network of Deutsche Bahn. Those for Schleswig-Holstein are currently going through the approval tests and will start passenger service this year.

Sustainable with hydrogen

In addition to battery trains, Stadler is also driving the development of hydrogen-powered rail vehicles. These enable low-emission rail operations, especially on routes that do not have any overhead lines. 
For SBCTA in California, Stadler designed and built the first hydrogen-powered multiple unit for the USA. After a successful test phase this spring, the start of operation is planned for 2024. Stadler is also supplying the world's first hydrogen-powered narrow-gauge vehicles for the Italian regions of Calabria and Sardinia.

The new vehicles are FLIRT Akku – the battery-powered version of Stadler’s bestseller FLIRT, 2,550 of which have already been sold worldwide.  

UK Success

Stadler have had great success in the UK, supplying Greater Anglia with Class 755's for regional and local services

The Liverpool City Region has ordered 53 Class 777 Metro trains from Stadler, seven of which are Independent Powered Electrical Multiple Units (IPEMU)

Transport for Wales (TfW) has ordered 35 FLIRT and of these 24 have a trimodal drive and can be operated fully electrically under overhead line electrification (OLE), electrically by battery or in hybrid mode with a diesel drive. The diesel drive is only intended for exceptional use; regular operation should be entirely electric.

Stadler are also supplying a fleet of Tram Trains to TfW.
The light rail vehicles will be able to run on both rail and tram lines and will operate on overhead electric lines and battery power. At 40 metres long the CITYLINK tram-trains can carry more than 250 passengers and on rail run at 100km per hour.

Nexus who run the Tyne and Wear Metro are about to introduce the first Stadler Class 777's on their system.

Thursday, 27 July 2023

Funding For Derbyshire Bus Service To Extend to Chesterfield Railway Station

Chesterfield’s 170/A bus service between Chesterfield and Bakewell has been extended to call at Chesterfield Railway station. 
In a partnership with Cross Country, East Midlands Railway and Derbyshire County Council, it is the first time that a service will link rail passengers with Bakewell and the Derbyshire Peak District.

L-R: Donna Adams (EMR), Garry Carr (EMR), Elizabeth Woodward (Derbyshire County Council), Lee Rowley MP for North East Derbyshire, Cllr Hobson (Derbyshire County Council), Ben Simkin (CrossCountry).
Credit: iD8 Photography/ Mark Harvey

Derbyshire's £47M bus Improvement bus service improvement funding has contributed to the extension of the service and is supported by the efforts of Lee Rowley, MP for North Derbyshire.

Passengers with Cross Country and EMR valid rail tickets are being offered a 25% discount on bus fares which will hopefully encourage more leisure travellers to use the service to explore the Peak District.

Ben Simkin, regional director at CrossCountry, said: “Working together with DCC, EMR and other organisations, we’re pleased we’ve been able to bring the new, extended bus service to Chesterfield station – improving public transport connectivity on one of our key routes.

“The new bus link – which will run seven days a week, all year round – allows us to help both local people and visitors on their journeys to the Peak District National Park in a smooth and sustainable way, directly from the national rail network.”

Neil Grabham, customer services director at EMR, concluded: “We are pleased to work together with our local partners to help our customers better access the beauty of the Peak District in an environmentally friendly way.”

“The new bus links introduction has been perfectly timed for the start of the busy summer holiday period – providing a great option for families who want to explore the national park.”

Coun Charlotte Cupit, DCC’s cabinet member for highways assets and transport, said: “It's great to see improvements to our public transport network that allow passengers to easily visit new places and enjoy everything that Derbyshire has to offer.

“The Peak District is a major tourist destination so making it simpler for visitors and locals to reach it in time for summer is fantastic. Sustainable and connected transport options are a main priority for us, and it's a pleasure to be able to fund projects to this end.”

Lee Rowley, MP for North East Derbyshire, said: “The news that the 170/A bus service from Chesterfield to Bakewell is fantastic news for our region. We all want to see better connectivity across our county and this extension helps to link those local bus services with the national rail services in Chesterfield.

Hulleys Timetables here

Wednesday, 26 July 2023

Morebus Tests the Volvo BZL in Bournemouth and Poole

Go Ahead owned Morebus has been testing an electric Volvo BZL bus on one of its busiest routes.

The bus operator has been test driving the bus on the M1 and M2 route through Bournemouth and Poole.

Richard Wade, general manager at Morebus, said: "We were given the opportunity to test the bus, and we decided to put it through its paces on our busiest routes, the M1 and M2. We’re taking the opportunity to gain some operating experience, including feedback from drivers and passengers, so we can weigh up all options for the future."

The company said some hurdles have arisen; electric buses struggle to meet a high mile range between charges for longer routes.

Electric buses would also mean there would be a change in infrastructure, parking spaces for electric buses would need to be adapted as the chargers take up more space.

However, Morebus said it is “most certainly aiming towards a future electric/hydrogen bus fleet”.

Andrew Wickham, managing director at Morebus, said: “We are looking at new ways to help lower emissions across the region. Buses, especially electric buses, are the perfect solution for this, and they have the potential to significantly improve air quality in our towns.”

He added: “In view of this, we are pleased to have the opportunity to demonstrate this Volvo electric bus and are excited by the potential it offers us.”

The Volvo BZL is available in Double and single deck options

Mr Wickham said there are changes we can all make that could have a positive impact on our environment.

He said: “Buses make up a very small proportion of vehicles on the roads, a fully loaded double decker has the potential to replace up to 75 cars. If more people opted to leave their cars at home, even for just some of the time, and travelled by bus instead, this would have a significant effect on climate change.”

With the bus fare cap extended to end of October, it can still be a cheaper alternative to taking your car.

Tuesday, 25 July 2023

No Fuel for Palma Majorca Hydrogen Buses

The five Solaris Urbino 12 hydrogen buses acquired by Palma Majorca Council are off the road because there isn't sufficient hydrogen to power them.

The buses were first shown in March of this year by the previous administration. The new councillor for mobility, Antoni Deudero has said that the purchase was both a nonsense and a deception. 
They were bought without guarantees that they would have sufficient supplies of fuel. 

The cost of the five buses was 4.8 million euros, almost one million for each vehicle. By contrast, natural gas buses cost 280,000 euros and could have bought 15 gas buses that would now be in operation.

The problem with supply of hydrogen, according to Deudero, is twofold - the Lloseta plant cannot produce it and there are shipping regulations regarding the pressure of hydrogen tanks. At present, it's "impossible" to put the buses into service. In addition, he says, the fuel cells for each bus are contaminated with refrigerant. "They're useless. They can't be used."

Councillor Deudero adds that work is being done in order to be able to use the buses "in the medium term".

Monday, 24 July 2023

Newark AEC Rally

Ken Jones sent the following photos taken at the recent Newark AEC Rally.

Many thanks to Ken for his contribution, if you've got photos of transport events you have attended during 2023, feel free to send them to

Sunday, 23 July 2023

Riding the Metrobus Hydroliners in Crawley

Go-Ahead Group’s Metrobus is in the process introducing a fleet of 20 Wrightbus GB Kite Hydroliner single decker vehicles that have been part funded by the UK Government and (because it dates back some time ago when the order was submitted) the European Union JIVE scheme (Joint Initiative for Hydrogen Vehicles) with some further funding contributed by Gatwick Airport.

The hydrogen supplied by Air Products, is stored at Crawley bus garage in liquid form before being converted to the gas which is held in tanks on the roofs of the buses.

Roger French visited Crawley and rode on the first vehicles to be introduced, operating on the high profile Fastway branded route 10 between Crawley’s Bewbush residential area, the town centre, Manor Royal industrial area and Gatwick Airport’s South and North terminals.

Roger's report can be read here
See the recent Focus Transport report here

Saturday, 22 July 2023

Winchester MP Calls for Funding Following Success of Volvo Electric Bus On Park & Ride Trial

Trials of a new Volvo BZL Electric demonstrator single deck bus with MCV bodywork on the Winchester Park & Ride system have proven the suitability of a new generation of vehicle to service the cathedral city, situated on the edge of the picturesque South Downs National Park.

Volvo Buses teamed up with local operator Stagecoach South for the trial, deploying a Volvo BZL Electric to serve Winchester City Council’s five designated Park & Ride car parks, clocking-up more than 2,000km over two weeks.

(l-r) Steve Brine MP, Gordon Frost Operations Director (Stagecoach South), Councillor Jan Warwick and Domenico Bondi, Managing Director of Volvo Bus UK & Ireland, with the Volvo BZL Electric demonstrator in Winchester.

Domenico Bondi, Managing Director of Volvo Bus UK & Ireland, explains: “We collaborate with operators to enable them to test our electric buses in real-life situations, enabling them to evaluate the potential that exists to electrify routes in the most responsible and sustainable way.

“In Winchester, the trial couldn’t have been more positive. The vehicle’s 376kwh battery capacity provided ample range to complete each day’s 15-hour operation without a single top-up charge being required whilst in service – and the vehicle earned excellent driver and passenger feedback. 
However, to take the next step and create a better environment for everyone in Winchester, Stagecoach South will need to have access to appropriate government-backed funding.”

Winchester MP Steve Brine commented: “Our city is a treasure trove of English heritage, so we can’t ignore the potential to operate one of the cleanest and greenest Park & Ride systems in the country to protect it. 
We already have an efficient bus system which reduces the need for cars to enter the city centre; now we need to see it electrified – and I will be looking into how more Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) funding might be made available.”

Local Councillor Jan Warwick, formerly Hampshire County Council’s Executive Member for Climate Change, also experienced the electric bus service and reported being very pleased with the ride quality. She supports the continued commitment to improve air quality and the health of local residents.

Above & below, The BZL with bodywork by MCV was shown at Eurobus 2022 in Birmingham

The Volvo BZL Electric deployed for the trial was equipped in a four battery configuration (five is the maximum), and the batteries were recharged overnight at the local bus depot. Throughout the trial the vehicle’s regenerative braking system enabled a proportion of the energy that would otherwise have been lost when the bus was decelerating, to be successfully recovered as free and clean energy to help power the vehicle.

Gordon Frost, Operations Director of Stagecoach South, says: “Across Stagecoach Group we’re already operating hundreds of electric vehicles, and we know first-hand the benefits they bring, not just in zero tailpipe emissions, but in reduced noise and improved passenger experience.

“Winchester’s Park & Ride service was always an opportunity suitable for transitioning to electric, and the trial with Volvo Buses has helped to prove the case. As the local bus operator, we want to make this happen – but it will require additional funding from government.”

Stagecoach West Scotland are using Volvo BZL's. MCV have bodied the vehicles

Bondi concludes: “Together with Stagecoach South, we can offer a solution for Winchester as we have done in multiple locations across the UK. We want residents, local businesses and the thousands of tourists who visit historic Winchester each year to enjoy the environmental benefits that electric buses would bring.”

The ZEBRA scheme was previously operated by the Government to provide funding contributions towards the purchase of zero tailpipe emission buses and associated vehicle charging infrastructure between April 2021 and April 2023.

The Park & Ride scheme offers 2,137 car park spaces and was developed as a way of reducing traffic volumes and the impact of traffic in the city centre.

Friday, 21 July 2023

Four New Plaxton Leopard coaches Join Park’s of Hamilton

Alexander Dennis  announced that it has supplied four new Plaxton Leopard coaches to Scottish operator Park’s of Hamilton.

Two of the new 12.8m Plaxton Leopard coaches have 59 seats in a conventional 2+2 arrangement, while the other pair offers even higher capacity at the same vehicle length with a 3+2 layout for 72 seats. All are fully compliant with PSV Accessibility Regulations (PSVAR) and provide wheelchair access via a side-mounted lift.

They are built on the reliable and economical Volvo B8R chassis. Engine power is transmitted through fully automatic ZF EcoLife gearboxes.

They join Scotland’s largest coach operator and are primarily used on private and school hires. Park’s of Hamilton operates a fleet of more than 100 coaches in a variety of specifications meeting the requirements of the wide range of work undertaken. The fleet includes Plaxton Panorama, Elite, Panther and Cheetah XL coaches as well as further examples of the Plaxton Leopard.

Michael Andrews, Director at Park’s of Hamilton, said: “There is no coach like the Plaxton Leopard when it comes to combining seating capacity with great resale values. Built on robust Volvo chassis which underpin most of our fleet, these new coaches will quickly settle into our operations to deliver value for us.”

Simon Wood, Sales Manager New & Used Coach Sales at Alexander Dennis, said: “Thanks to Michael and the team at Park’s for this repeat order for our versatile Leopard. It is good to see the Plaxton brand continue to play an important role in this immaculate fleet and we look forward to supporting these coaches through time at Park’s.”

Thursday, 20 July 2023

LNER to Liverpool Street

In an effort to mitigate the future effect on passengers during disruption to services, London North Eastern Railway (LNER) ran a trial of one of its Azuma trains from Finsbury Park to London Liverpool Street during the early hours of Friday, 14th July.

The trial run took place to determine the long-term feasibility of diverting services during periods of planned disruption or when significant engineering works were taking place.

London North Eastern Railway normally operates services between London King's Cross and its stations on the East Coast route, but as part of its strategic contingency planning the company is investigating the potential feasibility of whether, in certain instances, Liverpool Street could be used as an alternative.

On this first verification run, the trial used a bi-mode Azuma set that departed from Finsbury Park in the early hours of this morning and arrived at London Liverpool Street station in self-power (diesel) mode. Onboard the train was a specialist team that conducted a number of checks and assessments in support of the verification exercise.

However, there will need to be a significant amount of detailed testing, validation, and review before any proposals to redirect London North Eastern Railway trains can be considered.

The trial was the first of a number of compatibility stages that will need to be carried out to support approval for London North Eastern Railway to operate its services across the proposed contingency route.

To maintain passenger services and minimise road travel during periods of planned engineering works, London North Eastern Railway regularly uses various diversionary routes, including via Lincoln, the Durham coastline, and Carlisle.

Wednesday, 19 July 2023

HS2 Launches Procurement Process for Automated People Mover at Interchange Station in Solihull

HS2 Ltd has started the search for a contractor to design and supply a transport system, as well as a 25 year transport operation and asset maintenance contract, for the project’s Automated People Mover (APM) in the West Midlands.

A key component of the HS2 project, the APM will move passengers and visitors between HS2’s Interchange Station, the NEC, Birmingham International rail station and Birmingham Airport. ​It will provide an efficient, accessible, reliable and environmentally friendly mode of transport, carrying up to 2,100 passengers per hour in each direction on a six-minute journey.

The APM will run on an elevated 2.2km long viaduct, and range in height from 6 metres to 14 metres, crossing the NEC, West Coast Main Line and M42 Motorway. ​It will be complete in time for the start of services at HS2 Interchange Station.​

HS2’s Procurement and Supply Chain Director, Andrew Cubitt, said:

“We’re pleased to be starting the procurement process for the APM Systems Contract, which is worth up to £270m*. The APM is a vital piece of infrastructure in the HS2 project, connecting high speed rail passengers to the classic rail network, and supporting the shift from car use to public, mass transit transport, which is so important in achieving the UK’s target of net zero carbon.”

Shortlisted companies will be invited to tender early next year, with the contract due to be awarded towards the end of 2024.

The search for the APM Infrastructure contract will start later this year, with invitations to tender in 2025 and contract award in 2026.

  HS2’s Interchange Station will be the catalyst for huge growth plans in Solihull, creating an economic transformation for the region. The station is at the centre of the plans for the £3.2bn Arden Cross mixed-use commercial and residential destination which will support up to 27,000 jobs and deliver up to 3,000 homes and 557,500 m2 of commercial space.

This forms part of the Solihull Metropolitan Borough Council wider UK Central Hub area which will support 70,000 jobs, 8,000 homes and 650,000m2 (7,000,000 sq ft) of commercial space, generating £6.2bn GVA per year and bringing 1.3m people in the region to within a 45-minute public transport commute of the station.

​There will be up to five trains per hour passing through Interchange Station in both directions, with an estimated total of 175,000 seats per day, making this one of the best-connected transport interchanges in the country and a new gateway to the UK.

More here