Tuesday 31 October 2023

First Bus Invites City Residents To ‘Meet The Electric Buses

On Tuesday 24th October residents were invited to experience two of Norwich’s brand new Wright Electroliner double decker buses.

First Bus and Norfolk County Council invited residents to come and look around the zero-emissions vehicles and ask the experts any questions they had, take part in activities and win prizes.

This event came in advance of the vehicles going into service in Norwich over the coming weeks, and is part of a wider project to fully electrify First Bus’ Roundtree Way depot, replacing its diesel vehicles with 70 electric vehicles by March 2024.

The introduction of the new vehicles will mean that by 2024 over half of the Norwich network operated by First Bus will be electric. That is over 60% of all bus journeys through Castle Meadow in the city centre.

Piers Marlow, Managing Director of First Eastern Counties, said: “This is an exciting project that will not only have significant environmental benefits for Norwich, but will also improve the journey experience for our customers.

"Residents were invited to come along to the Forum and take a look at the new vehicles for themselves, and we look forward to rolling them out onto the network over the coming months.”

The new buses will give a significant boost to the city’s sustainability credentials and mean cleaner air for residents and visitors, as they produce zero tailpipe emissions. The buses will also offer users a quieter and smoother ride, and include free WiFi and USB chargers.

To fund the purchase of the vehicles, First Bus and Norfolk County Council secured an investment of £14.7m from the Department for Transport’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Area (ZEBRA) government funding. The grant is matched with around £23m of funding by First Bus.

Cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport Graham Plant said: “The arrival of these buses is an extraordinary boost to our ambitions to run a net-zero transport system in Norfolk and I am excited to see the first buses out in service very soon. The support that First Bus has shown for this project demonstrates the excellent working relationship we have with our bus operators here in Norfolk and how working together can help to achieve the very best for our County.”

Read more here & here

Monday 30 October 2023

Funding For £1 Sunday Fares for Oxfordshire in December, Countywide Day Tickets, and Improvements to Urban and Rural Routes

Sunday single fares in December in the run-up to Christmas are set to be capped at £1 after Oxfordshire was awarded extra government funding to improve bus services.

A countywide day bus ticket valid for all operators could also be created after Oxfordshire was promised an additional £1.9 million to improve bus services over the next two years.

It comes on top of £12.7m from the government in August 2022 following the council’s successful Bus Service Improvement Plan (BSIP) application.

The additional £1.9m of funding – known as BSIP+ – is for measures that will increase long-term patronage, help maintain service levels, ensure essential social and economic connectivity for local communities and promote innovation in the industry.

Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Transport Management, said: “This funding shows the importance that is placed on public transport in this county and our commitment to getting people back on to the buses. The package of proposals represents a step change in service provision across Oxfordshire, with all the districts benefitting from some level of improvement as a result.

“It will be used to fund innovative schemes such as cut-price fares in the run-up to Christmas – both this year and next year – as well as securing services that require financial support to ensure their survival, such as those affected by the closure of Oxford’s Botley Road.”

The council, in its role as local transport authority, established the Oxfordshire Bus Enhanced Partnership with the county’s private bus operators earlier this year.

The partnership brings together key stakeholders to deliver better services, ticketing and infrastructure. While bus operators retain their ability to make commercial decisions, they work closely with the council to promote improvements for passengers – bringing expertise, innovation, and the potential for external investment.

Luke Marion, Managing Director of the Oxford Bus Group, said: “This is excellent news for passengers, the bus industry and the local economy.

“We have experienced a positive impact on patronage thanks to recent government fare cap schemes and this additional support for ticketing initiatives will help to further encourage passengers to try travelling with us.

"We're also delighted to see the county council investing in improving services and are looking forward to bringing some strategically important new links to life for Oxfordshire residents over the coming weeks.”

Rachel Geliamassi, Managing Director of Stagecoach West, said: "This additional funding is good news and has enabled Stagecoach to continue to make improvements to our services between Banbury and Oxford. We're working closely with Oxfordshire County Council to look at opportunities to improve bus services across Oxfordshire."

One proposal is to create a day ticket that is valid on all operators’ services in Oxfordshire.

Both the county’s main bus providers, Go Ahead (Oxford Bus Group) and Stagecoach, offer day tickets for unlimited travel on their own services across Oxfordshire. There are also day tickets available within the SmartZone, which covers the area in and around Oxford city, that are valid on both operators’ services.

However, there is no countywide day ticket that can be used on all operators’ services. Money from BSIP+ is intended to be used to help create such a ticket and to support reductions in other day ticket prices to make them more attractive to passengers.

BSIP+ funding will also:offer financial support for the current Oxford bus network, including services affected by the Botley Road closure
provide a new bus service between Witney, Carterton, and Swindon
provide faster peak hour buses between Banbury and Oxford
help retain and improve Oxford orbital services serving the hospitals, including the 700, which additionally will run on weekends for the first time.

Cllr Gant said: “We are stepping in to support services and communities financially where other organisations have been unable or unwilling to.”

Routes that are intended to be enhanced or improved later this financial year include:X40 route between Oxford, Wallingford, and Reading
25 service between Sonning Common and Reading
new direct faster buses between Carterton and Oxford.

Roads Minister Richard Holden said: “People up and down the country deserve a modern, reliable and affordable public transport system. That is why we have provided Oxfordshire with over £13m to help boost bus services.

“Supporting the council with capping Sunday fares at £1 in December in the run-up to Christmas and potentially introducing a countywide bus ticket valid for all operators is fantastic for local residents, who will now be able to get to work, attend medical appointments and visit loved ones for less.”

Cllr Gant added: “This BSIP+ investment comes on top of the recent extension of the cheaper park and ride joint parking and ticketing offer until April 2024, and ahead of the arrival of the first of the 159 electric buses coming to Oxfordshire as part of an £85.5m deal. And with the £2 bus fare cap now extended until the end of 2024, it really is a great time to think about using the bus.”

Sunday 29 October 2023

London Bus Contract Awards

152 New Electric buses required for the latest Transport for London (TfL) operator contracts.
116 will be double-deckers and 36 will be single-deckers for the seven year contracts.

Read the Route One report here

Saturday 28 October 2023

New Electric Bus Link Service Removes Emissions in Glasgow

ScotRail, in partnership with First Bus, has introduced new zero emissions vehicles to operate its Glasgow station bus link service.

The new electric buses, branded in ScotRail’s iconic blue livery with Saltire logo, began operating on Sunday, 1 October, and connect Glasgow’s three major transport hubs – Glasgow Central, Glasgow Queen Street, and Buchanan Bus station.

Replacing the existing vehicles with new electric buses will remove 50 thousand kilometres of diesel operation from Glasgow city centre.

Each year, tens of thousands of journeys are made on the bus link service, which plays a crucial role in making rail travel more accessible for customers making cross-Glasgow journeys.

ScotRail has already made impressive strides towards decarbonisation, achieving a 12 per cent reduction in emissions (CO2e) since 2019/20.

The introduction of electric vehicles on the Glasgow station bus link will further support these efforts and help towards achieving both Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council net-zero targets.

David Lister, ScotRail Safety, Engineering & Sustainability Director, said:

“ScotRail is proud to lead the charge in providing greener and more sustainable transport options.

“Our partnership with First Bus to introduce new electric vehicles on our station bus link service represents a bold step toward cleaner air and a more sustainable transport network.

“As Scotland’s Railway continues to work on its wider decarbonisation plans, this initiative will make a significant impact on our journey towards net zero.”

Graeme Macfarlan, First Bus Scotland Commercial Director, said:

“We are delighted to announce this new partnership with ScotRail on the station bus link service.

"Not only will customers be able to take advantage of an environmentally friendly way to travel between stations, but they will also benefit from greater levels of comfort and lower noise levels.

“First Bus is a leader in sustainable travel in Scotland with over 200 electric buses operating across Greater Glasgow.

"We are incredibly proud to continue increasing sustainable travel options, and I’m sure it will encourage even more people to leave their cars behind in favour of environmentally conscious travel that will help to reduce congestion and improve air quality.”

Friday 27 October 2023

Phillips International Travel Continues 43-Year Tradition With New Plaxton Panther

Alexander Dennis has announced that it has delivered a new Plaxton Panther coach to family business Phillips International Travel.

This new coach has been named 'Coronation Sovereign' in honour of King Charles III. It continues the Worcestershire operator’s 43-year tradition of only buying Plaxton coaches.

The Scarborough-built Panther has a reliable Volvo B8R chassis with fuel-efficient Euro VI engine. Its 49 reclinable seats have extra legroom and individual ventilation, reading lights, arm rests, foot rests, and fold down tables. 
As a new feature for the company, every seat now features USB charging sockets. The interior has been designed to the operator’s specifications to ensure maximum comfort for its customers.

Alexander Dennis Sales Manager New & Used Coach Sales, Simon Wood, handed over the new coach and said: “We’re proud to continue to support small coach firms like Phillips International Travel. 
This new Plaxton Panther will upgrade the excellent programme of tours, day excursions and European coach holidays provided by this true family business for its discerning customers.”

Phillips International Travel Director Julian Phillips added: “We would like to thank our loyal customers. Without the frequent custom of so many people, our family business would not be in a position to renew our vehicles. 
The past three years of COVID lockdowns and rocketing fuel prices have been tough to navigate, so we are extremely proud to have steadied the proverbial ship and finally be able to invest in renewing our small fleet once again.”

The Phillips fleet is based entirely on Plaxton vehicles

Thursday 26 October 2023

Battery Powered 08 Shunter Launched at Barrow Hill

The UK’s first re-engineered battery powered shunting locomotive – the 08e has been launched by Derbyshire based Positive Traction.

Free from carbon, NOx and particulate emissions the 08e can fulfil day-to-day operating needs as well as meet the demanding ESG requirement of shareholders, customers, employees and neighbouring communities.

Invited guests from the Railfreight sector & facility operators, UK government & local authorities as well as rolling stock owners, joined Positive Traction for the launch at the world famous Barrow Hill Roundhouse in Derbyshire.

Alistair Gregory, Director of Positive Traction said: “Class 08 shunting locomotives have been the workhorses of ports, distribution centres and depots across Britain’s railway for over 60 years. 
As the UK moves towards Net Zero, diesel engines are increasingly unacceptable. To address this challenge, Positive Traction has developed the 08e, a cost-effective battery powered alternative for environmentally friendly facility operations.

“I’d like to thank all our partners for supporting our cleaner, greener UK transport vision, including Lithion Battery Inc; Barrow Hill Limited; Stagecoach Yorkshire and their own partners Volvo, who kindly supplied the very latest electric Volvo BXL bus to bring our guests from Chesterfield station to Barrow Hill in a sustainable way.”

After the launch the 08e will remain on test at Barrow Hill before moving to a customer site for operational evaluation.

Image credit: Positive Traction

Wednesday 25 October 2023

Wrightbus Secures Order From German Operator West Verkehr for 12 Zero-Emission Hydrogen Buses

Ballymena bus manufacturer Wrightbus has secured an order for 12 single deck zero-emission hydrogen buses..

The recent order by the German-based bus operator West Verkehr will see the company deliver a dozen Kite Hydroliners following a Europe-wide tender process.

The buses will be rolled out across Geilenkirchen, a town near the border with Netherlands.

The order is a significant one for the company as it continues to break into the global sustainable transport market. In the summer the Co Antrim firm announced that it was engaged in five major global tenders and had plans for a new hydrogen hub.

Last month it was revealed that the firm had signed a deal to provide up to 150 hydrogen buses for the site of the Sizewell C nuclear power station in Suffolk.

This will be the second German deal for the company, which last year signed a deal with German Bus operator Regionalverkehr Köln GmbH (RVK) to supply up to 60 Kite Hydroliner single deck buses.

The new buses will be manufactured at Wrightbus’s headquarters in Ballymena. The manufacturer which currently employs over 1,200 people is planning to double its workforce by 2026.

Hydrogen fuel cell buses from Wrightbus, are in service with The Go-Ahead Group

More here

Tuesday 24 October 2023

£7.5m order for 15 Mercedes-Benz E-Citaro Electric Buses for Keighley and Bradford

Transdev have announced the placing of an order worth £7.5 million for 15 new electric buses to convert one of their most popular routes, The Shuttle linking Keighley and Bradford in West Yorkshire, to zero-emission operation.

The orders are supported by £3.1 million of funding from the Government’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) funding, following a successful bid by trandev's partner, West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

The order calls for 15 new Mercedes-Benz E-Citaro all electric single deck buses, and follows a separate order for 20 similar vehicles for use in the Leeds, Wetherby and Harrogate areas.

The new buses will be fully compliant with Bradford’s Clean Air Zone, after it became the first in Yorkshire to introduce the scheme in September 2022, covering all vehicles except private cars and motorcycles.

One year on, Bradford Council confirmed the city has recorded its lowest level of air pollution since records began, and Trandev's switch to electric power on one of the region’s most popular bus routes is expected to further improve air quality on some of the region’s busiest urban roads.

The new vehicle order follows successful trials of several types of all-electric buses on the high-frequency Shuttle route, which operates up to every 15 minutes, as well as on our busy North Yorkshire route 1 linking Harrogate and Knaresborough.

As part of its vehicle trials, customers were invited to rate key design features on each bus tested, with feedback incorporated into the specifications of the new buses now on order.

Managing Director Henri Rohard said: “We’re delighted to announce this significant order for 15 new electric buses which will deliver the best experience for our customers as well as helping to clear the air in Bradford, Saltaire, Bingley and Keighley.

“The project has been made possible thanks to the significant support from the Government’s ZEBRA fund, in addition to our introduction of 39 new electric buses in Harrogate and on routes serving Pateley Bridge, Wetherby and Leeds.

“Transdev is also directly investing £4.4 million in these new buses for our Shuttle route between Bradford and Keighley, representing almost 60 per cent of their total cost. The new buses are expected to be in service by the end of next year.

“Higher power output delivered by today’s new generation batteries means each bus can go further between charge-ups, while helping us to provide our customers with the reliable and punctual service they rightly expect from us.”

Today’s news is also being welcomed by West Yorkshire Combined Authority, which submitted a successful bid to Government for £24 million to support West Yorkshire’s three major bus operators, including Transdev, with the introduction of zero emission electric buses.

Chair of the West Yorkshire Combined Authority Transport Committee, Cllr Susan Hinchcliffe, said: “Bus travel is vital for people across West Yorkshire, but so is the need to safeguard our environment for future generations.

“Schemes like this will ultimately form part of a modern, greener public transport network, fit for the 21st century, and help encourage more people onto the bus.

“It will also help us tackle the climate emergency and achieve our target of becoming a carbon net-zero region by 2038.”

We will now work with Mercedes-Benz engineers to ensure its in-house engineering team at its Keighley depot, where our new buses will be based, have the training and upskilling needed to deliver the best performance from its new all-electric buses.

Order for 
Leeds, Wetherby and Harrogate, details  here
Mercedes-Benz E-Citaro here

Monday 23 October 2023

BYD Displayed Their Latest Vehicles and Technology at Busworld 2023

BYD introduced two new eBus innovations at Busworld 2023. The BYD 12-metre B12 eBus brings a new generation of integrated chassis technology to public transport operators in Europe.

In addition, and making its world premiere at the BYD stand, is the 13-metre customisable pure-electric intercity double-decker coach; the BYD-UNVI DD13, an exciting collaboration between the pioneering BYD brand and renowned European coach bodybuild specialist, UNVI.

These new buses join two established BYD models on show at Busworld 2023: the BYD eBus B19 (18.75 metres) and the 15-metre BYD eBus B15.

BYD Press Conference at Busworld 2023

With BYD’s latest generation of 12-metre electric buses, BYD presents its revolutionary all-new pure-electric bus chassis which integrates the ultra-safe Lithium Iron Phosphate Blade Battery within the chassis structure. 
This groundbreaking Blade Battery Chassis technology also utilises a new 6-in-1 controller with Silicon Carbide technology, together with two innovative wheel hub hairpin motors. Combined, these bring a multitude of benefits to BYD’s 12-metre eBus including enhanced energy efficiency, performance and durability. 
The Blade Battery, with a maximum capacity of 500kWh, delivers an exceptional range of 600 km in one charge reducing the need for regular charging, making the BYD eBus B12 an excellent choice for busy bus routes.

The all-new BYD’s 12-metre eBus with Blade Battery Chassis

Always committed to developing strong partnerships, BYD has collaborated with UNVI to produce a new 13-metre double-decker coach for European public transport operators. 
The alliance brings together BYD’s expertise in world-leading battery and chassis technology and UNVI’s exceptional experience in body design and build technology. 
The pure-electric BYD-UNVI DD13 intercity double-decker, equipped with ADAS for added safety, makes its world premiere at Busworld 2023.

The pure-electric BYD-UNVI DD13 intercity double-decker

Javier Contijoch, eBus Sales VP of BYD Europe, says: “We are delighted to present two of our latest eBus innovations at such a prestigious event for bus and coach operators in Europe. It provides the perfect platform for us to showcase BYD’s groundbreaking technologies in electric bus development. 
We are especially proud to launch the BYD B12 and the truly revolutionary Blade Battery Chassis, making eMobility safer and more energy efficient than ever before. Similarly, we are excited about our collaboration with UNVI as the BYD-UNVI DD13 double-decker makes a world-first appearance, bringing new opportunities for customised eBus solutions. 
BYD has, for over a decade, been at the pinnacle of electric bus innovation and we are committed to inspiring zero-emission eMobility on a global scale. These new pure-electric buses show our relentless dedication to technological advancements in this field.”

BYD, the world’s leading NEVs manufacturer, is the first provider of 100% emissions-free transport solutions in Europe, and is also the only NEV producer to master the core technologies of the entire industrial chain, developing its own powertrain systems, power batteries, drive-motors, and motor controller system.

Notably, BYD was the first company in the world to introduce a fleet of commercial electric buses as early as in 2011 and has since evolved to become a global leader in this field. With more than 28 years of experience in battery research and development, 
There are more than 4,200 BYD eBuses either in operation or on order in Europe, covering over 250 million kilometres, which is equivalent to reducing 265,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

BYD sold more than 1.86 million NEVs around the world in 2022, becoming the best-selling NEV brand globally. BYD has built up an extensive global footprint in the new energy sector that covers more than 70 countries and regions and over 400 cities, delivering more than 5.4 million new energy vehicles globally as of September 2023.

Since 2015 BYD have successfully partnered with ADL  on a range of battery powered, single and double deck vehicles. In May 2022 the 1,000th bus was delivered and since then orders and deliveries have continued.

In 2022 the 1,000th BYD / ADL bus was delivered and since then orders and deliveries have continued

BYD are now in the process of launching their range of electrically driven cars into the UK which are said to competitively priced and offer impressive technical features.

Sunday 22 October 2023

Norfolk and Lincolnshire County Councils Join Forces with Stagecoach to Rejuvenate 505 InterConnect Service

Norfolk County Council and Lincolnshire County Council have joined forces with Stagecoach to rejuvenate the bus service which joins the two counties. Bus travel is currently seeing a resurgence across the UK as people return to public transport looking for solutions to combat high fuel prices and environmental concerns.

The 505 service which runs seven days a week between King’s Lynn and Spalding has had a total refresh. The newly painted and refurbished buses feature re-trimmed seating, low floor wheelchair access, LED destination displays and USB charging points for a more comfortable journey across the border.

In addition, the roadside signage along the route has been updated to provide clear stops and timetable information.

Graham Plant, cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport at Norfolk County Council said, “This is a vital service and connection to King’s Lynn one of our key urban areas. With buses running up to every half an hour Monday to Saturday and hourly on a Sunday it’s a great option for both commuters and those wanting to enjoy a car-free day out with great destinations at either end of the route.”

Cllr Richard Davies, executive member for transport at Lincolnshire County Council said, “I am delighted that we can work together to support the 505 service and continue its 30-minute-frequency timetable. This will be very enabling for people to travel between our two counties. Hopefully it will be well used with lots of passengers taking advantage of what's on offer across Lincolnshire and Norfolk.”

Stagecoach East Midlands MD Matt Cranwell said, “We are delighted to be working with Norfolk and Lincolnshire County Councils to make bus travel even better for the people of The Fens. The current reduced price weekly and 28-day tickets make the 505 a great choice for commuters and there are further discounts for young people too making it a green and cheap option to travel between Norfolk and Lincolnshire.”

Saturday 21 October 2023

Milton Keynes Free Hopper Service

Milton Keynes City Council and local bus operators have launched a free ‘hopper service’, connecting MK Central Station to Unity Place, Centre:mk and the Theatre District among other venues in the city centre.

The bus companies taking part include Arriva, Uno, Stagecoach, Red Rose Travel and Z&S Transport.

The ‘hopper’ can be accessed on all bus stops from Station Square to Theatre District. Passengers simply need to ask for a ‘hopper’ fare when they board a bus belonging to any of the participating firms.

The free ‘hopper’ is available now until 31 March 2024 . It’s being funded using government money provided from the Bus Improvement Plan. This is a partnership between government, bus operators and the city council to understand passenger requirements and deliver a better service. 

The government funding is not designed to save routes at risk, but instead deliver concessionary schemes decided by the Department for Transport (DfT).

Last month MK City Council launched a separate campaign to grow passenger numbers on seven bus routes.

Friday 20 October 2023

DB Agrees to Sell Arriva

 Deutsche Bahn AG (DB) and I Squared Capital have signed an agreement for the sale of the whole of Arriva Group, including all of its operating businesses across 10 European markets, to I Squared, a leading global infrastructure investment manager. 

The transaction is expected to complete in 2024, subject to the customary closing conditions, including the approval of the DB Supervisory Board and the Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport of the Federal Republic of Germany.

As part of DB’s Strong Rail Group strategy, the company announced that it intended to sell Arriva to enable additional growth in rail transport in Germany and allow it to focus its resources on its core business.

Deutsche Bahn acquired the British company in 2010. Over the past few years, DB has worked successfully with Arriva to stabilise its business after the Covid impact and to focus the company’s sustainable growth strategy on relevant markets. The sale of non-core markets, including Arriva Sweden and Portugal in 2022 and Arriva Serbia, Denmark and Poland (Bus) was completed this year.

Dr Levin Holle, Member of the Management Board for Finance and Logistics and CFO of Deutsche Bahn AF: "We are happy that I Squared is willing to support Arriva in its future growth. Arriva has good prospects for sustainable growth as market liberalisation in Europe progresses. 
The strategic goal of Deutsche Bahn is to make record level investments in environmentally friendly rail in our core business, combined with the massive increase of investment of the German Federal Government into our German rail infrastructure. 
The purchase agreement signed today is therefore in the spirit of Strong Rail. At the same time, the sale to I Squared will give Arriva new options to support its growth potential, for example for the future electrification of European fleets. For us, the agreed sale is an important step to focus even more on additional growth in rail transport in Germany."

I Squared has extensive experience in providing essential infrastructure, including transport, logistics, energy, utilities, and digital infrastructure around the world. The firm is committed to creating sustainable, long-term growth across its portfolio, supporting management teams in improving operational performance, and investing to support the energy transition with lower-carbon infrastructure.

I Squared is a leading investor in transport and logistics and in decarbonisation technologies, with a track record of investing significant capital in companies to support their transition to sustainable modern public utilities. Examples of
I Squared’s prior investments include TIP Group, the freight services specialist, where it has invested significantly in fleet transformation, Aggreko, the global energy solutions company based in Glasgow, as well as renewables and energy transition companies Conrad Energy and Energia.

“Transport accounts for around one-fifth of global CO₂ emissions. Three-quarters of this is from road transport, and a greener public transport sector is critical to the shift to lower-carbon infrastructure,” said Gautam Bhandari, Global CIO and Managing Partner of I Squared.

“Arriva’s strategy for net-zero operations and the decarbonisation of its fleet aligns with our strategy to develop and scale assets with technologies that accelerate the energy transition, as well as providing cleaner air in cities and towns by investing in green public transport. We are excited to work with Arriva and we will invest to support its future growth as a major European bus and rail operator.”

Mike Cooper, CEO of Arriva Group, said: “We want to see a future where people choose to leave their car at home, a future with less traffic congestion and cleaner air. This transaction marks an exciting next stage for us, and will deliver significant benefits for our colleagues, our passengers and the many Passenger Transport Authorities we partner with across Europe, enabling us to play our role in delivering a better future. 
I Squared has an established track record of supporting companies which provide essential services, and of investing in the energy transition. We are delighted that they have committed to provide Arriva with long-term capital for investment in innovation across our services, our assets, and our people. We’re confident that Arriva and I Squared together can play a vital role in delivering innovative and sustainable public transport offerings across Europe.”

About I Squared Capital

I Squared Capital is an independent global infrastructure manager with over $37 billion in assets under management focused on investing in North America, Europe, Asia, and Latin America. Headquartered in Miami, the firm has more than 230 professionals across its offices in Hong Kong, London, New Delhi, Singapore, Taipei, and Sydney. 
I Squared has invested in a diverse portfolio of 72 companies in 59 countries with over 27,000 employees across the utilities, energy, digital infrastructure, transport, environmental infrastructure, and social infrastructure sectors. I Squared is one of the largest investors in transport and logistics in Europe and its portfolio companies provide essential services to millions of people every day. www.isquaredcapital.com

Thursday 19 October 2023

Go South Coast Upgrades Morebus and Southern Vectis Fleets with 35 New Alexander Dennis Enviro400 Low-emission Buses

Alexander Dennis has announced that it is delivering a fleet of 35 new Enviro400 double deckers to Go South Coast.

The Go-Ahead Group company, which operates a fleet of over 850 vehicles on over 140 local and long-distance routes across Dorset, Wiltshire, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight, has allocated the new low-emission buses to its morebus and Southern Vectis operating units.

28 buses at morebus have recently upgraded the frequent m1 and m2 routes in Bournemouth and Poole to double deck operation, offering additional seats to passengers on the conurbation’s busiest bus service.

Another seven new Enviro400 will shortly join Southern Vectis on the Isle of Wight.

Each of the 35 buses seats up to 75 passengers and provides a comfortable journey experience for passengers with Alexander Dennis SmartSeats, mobile device charging and free wi-fi. Drivers benefit from cameras instead of traditional external mirrors, improving visibility in low light.

Go South Coast Managing Director, Andrew Wickham, said: “Our aim is to help reduce congestion across the region – and we believe making sustainable transport even more attractive is key to that. 
Just one fully-loaded double decker has the potential to take up to 75 cars off our roads, so we believe we have made the right decision, adding these impressive new buses to our fleet.”

Matthew Lawrence, Fleet Sales Director at Alexander Dennis, said: “Go South Coast’s investment in 35 new Alexander Dennis Enviro400 double deckers is great news for passengers in Dorset and the Isle of Wight. 
Air quality will benefit, too, with the buses fitted with our SmartPack efficiency technology and certified as low-emission buses. We’re looking forward to continuing the partnership with Go South Coast not just through our AD24 aftermarket but also with another 44 Enviro400 already on order for next year.”

Wednesday 18 October 2023

Van Hool Tzen4 Launched at Busworld Brussels

The Tzen4 bus was revealed at Busworld’s Van Hool stand
56 of these vehicles are on order for operation in Paris. Manufacturers Van Hool, Alstom and Kiepe Electric have worked together to develop a unique electric bus for Ile-De-France Mobilités.

The Tzen4 is a battery-operated, 24 meter long double articulated bus, able to carry approximately 140 passengers.

The vehicles will operate on the T Zen 4 and T Zen 5 high service bus lines (running on dedicated bus lanes) in the south of Paris, as well as a possibility of a third line They make use of 'very fast vehicle recharging' using Alstom’s conductive ground-based static charging system (SRS) interfaced with an on-board energy system from Kiepe Electric.

Alstom is providing the conductive ground-based static charging system (SRS) already in use on 15 kilometres of tramway tracks in Nice, where it allows automatic and fast in-station recharging.

Full information here

Tuesday 17 October 2023

Wensleydale Railway Refurbished Railcar Returns to Service

A British Railways Class 121 diesel multiple unit has returned to service at the Wensleydale Railway after a recent extensive refurbishment.

As part of its refurbishment, the unit underwent extensive maintenance and an overhaul that included the installation of two new engines, and restoration of the interior and seating upholster.

Railway enthusiasts affectionately nicknamed Class 121 diesel multiple units as “bubble cars”, with 16 being built by Pressed Steel at Linwood in Scotland, and are similar to the Class 122 units built by Gloucester Railway Carriage and Wagon Co.

Wensleydale's Class 121 No.55032 joined the railway's heritage diesel fleet in 2015, and in 2021 it received the Railcar of the Year Award from the Railcar Association in 2021.

The Class 121 will operate services between Leeming Bar and Scruton and on selected trips between Leeming Bar and Leyburn.

Leeming Bar Station

Trains are currently running three days per week until the railway's 2023 running season ends on Wednesday, 1 November, but there will be a special service in connection with the Bedale Community Bonfire & Fireworks event on Saturday 4 November. From Friday, 10 November the ever-popular THE POLAR EXPRESS™ Train Rides will provide visitors with a festive experience until Christmas Eve.

The Wensleydale Railway is a -led heritage railway that provides a service for both the local community and tourists, families, and transport enthusiasts who are looking for a great value day out in the  Dales.

Leyburn Station

At 22 miles long the railway is one of the UK's longest heritage lines, and currently operates heritage diesel train services between Scruton in the Vale of Mowbray and Leyburn on the outskirts of the spectacular Yorkshire Dales National Park, and is currently working to restore passenger services beyond Leyburn to Redmire.

At its award-winning, restored historic stations, free guided tours are on offer with costumed living history interpreters where visitors can learn more about 1900s railway life.

Nick Keegan, Fundraising and Marketing Manager at the Wensleydale Railway said: “Our bubble car is a much-loved train with our customers. Like our class 143 Pacer, it has comfortable seating and large windows from which to enjoy our railway's spectacular scenic views. It's also economical to operate. We're delighted to have it back in service!”

All photos © Wensleydale Railway


Monday 16 October 2023

National Express Transport Solutions (NETS) To Close Coaching Depots at Sydenham in London and Its Base in Gillingham

National Express Transport Solutions (NETS) is to close the Clarkes of London depot at Sydenham in London and its base in Gillingham that came with purchase of The Kings Ferry, although no changes to those two respective brands are proposed “at present,” and work is expected to be moved to spare capacity elsewhere, parent Mobico Group has confirmed.

The news comes after Mobico said in a trading update for Q3 issued early on 12 October that underlying profitability of NETS is “currently below the levels required to meet our return threshold.” It noted that two of five key NETS depots were to close but did not name them. The remaining NETS business will undergo a continued review of its return potential, Mobico adds.

In a brief statement, a spokesperson for National Express says: “We continually review the profitability of our portfolio to ensure that we are set up to offer the very best products at the best prices in the market to our customers.

“To ensure that we can operate efficiently, we have made the difficult decision to close our depots in Sydenham and Gillingham. We will be entering a consultation period with colleagues and we will do all we can to support them through this process.

“We will continue to operate corporate and private hire work from our strong and efficient network of depots across the UK.”

During July, National Express also announced an end to its short lived Touromo brand, which was introduced in January to capture day trips and holidays operated by NETS companies. 

The company says that a path to improved profitability has been hampered by higher costs, although a productivity and cost reduction programme is on track to deliver up to £30 million of annualised savings. 

Mobico is also preparing to dispose of its large school bus business in North America. Commencement of the sale process is expected “in early 2024.”

In the UK, National Express saw a 13% year-on-year revenue growth in Q3 on 2022’s figure. NXWM is currently seeing commercial bus patronage at 97% of 2019 levels.

Sunday 15 October 2023

40 Years Since East Coast Main Line Was Diverted

 The UK’s first purpose built 125mph line opened to local trains in May 1983 and InterCity 125 trains in the first week of October that year. The new line by-passed Selby and gave shorter journey times between York and London.

A Deltic powered express heads south towards Selby Station in the 1970's
Photo by Alan Young

The new line was funded by The National Coal Board to allow them to mine coal from the planned Selby coal field.

Read more about why the new line was built here and see the map below showing the old and new lines.

The Selby Swing Bridge, more information here

Saturday 14 October 2023

Wrightbus Streetdeck Hydroliners Ordered for Sizewell

Wrightbus has signed a deal with Sizewell C that could see up to 150 hydrogen buses operating on the site - making it one of the largest such fleets in the world.

Sizewell C is to order four Hydroliners from the Northern Ireland-based manufacturer to test whether they could be used during the construction of the new nuclear power station.

The Streetdeck Hydroliners will be part of a pilot scheme to see whether they would be suitable for transporting thousands of workers to and from the construction site near Leiston, Suffolk.

Wright Hydroliner and battery powered Electroliner

Sizewell C will be testing the operational performance of the double deck buses, which are cleaner than diesel- or petrol-powered vehicles as hydrogen fuel doesn’t produce carbon emissions.

If the pilot is successful, Sizewell C will order up to 150 buses, making it one of the largest hydrogen bus fleets in the world.

The four buses in the pilot scheme are expected to be delivered in early 2024 and will be among the first hydrogen buses to be based in Suffolk.

Julia Pyke, Joint Managing Director of Sizewell C said: “Once it starts generating, Sizewell C will be one of the biggest generators of low carbon electricity in the country. Our plans for hydrogen buses show we are determined that the construction of the power station will also be as clean as possible.

“A hydrogen fleet will lower our carbon emissions and reduce the impact of workforce transport on local communities. At the same time, I am excited that we will potentially kickstart a market for this important low-carbon fuel in the East of England.”

Jean-Marc Gales, CEO of Wrightbus, said: “We are delighted to be working with Sizewell C on this pilot and the fact that it could lead to a fleet of up to 150 hydrogen buses is testament to the potential hydrogen has for both passenger transport and construction sites in general.

“We continue to invest in hydrogen technology as a driver to developing cleaner, more efficient transport solutions.”

As well as using hydrogen for transport, Sizewell C is helping to pave the way for hydrogen-powered equipment to be used on large construction sites. The project is part of a consortium led by Wrightbus’s sister company Ryze which has just been awarded more than £3m of Government funding to test a mobile hydrogen refuelling system. If successful, this innovative technology could eventually reduce the need to use fossil fuels in machinery and equipment.

Friday 13 October 2023

Hitachi Rail to Sell Part of Mainline Signalling Business Allowing Merger to Proceed

Hitachi Rail’s offer to sell part of its mainline signalling business addresses the CMA’s competition concerns regarding the merger between two leading signalling suppliers.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has made its final decision in relation to Hitachi’s €1.7 billion proposed purchase of Thales Ground Transportation (GTS) business following an in-depth investigation.

Signalling systems are a core part of railway infrastructure, helping to maintain passenger safety by controlling the movement of trains and maximising capacity on railway networks. Hitachi Rail Ltd (Hitachi) and Thales SA’s Ground Transportation business (Thales GTS) are both global suppliers of signalling systems for mainline and urban railway networks.

The CMA’s independent Inquiry Group concluded that the merger would give rise to competition concerns regarding the supply of digital mainline signalling systems which are being used increasingly on the country’s main railway networks. The Group found that Thales and Hitachi are both well placed to supply these systems and that, should the merger go ahead, few credible competitors would remain.

In response to the CMA’s findings, Hitachi has offered to sell its existing mainline signalling business in the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. The Group will need to approve the purchaser and Hitachi’s key customers in these countries will also need to agree to the transfer of the relevant signalling contracts. The Group considers this to be an effective and proportionate remedy, which will preserve competition and ensure customers, such as Network Rail, will not be negatively affected by the merger.

Based on new evidence that came to light after its initial provisional findings, the Group no longer has competition concerns regarding the supply of Communications Based Train Control (CBTC) signalling systems which are used on urban rail networks, such as the London Underground. The Group concluded that, while Thales is an important supplier to the London Underground - the only urban rail network in Great Britain with plans to carry out new CBTC projects in the foreseeable future - Hitachi would be unlikely to meet TfL’s requirements for these projects.

Renewing the signalling systems on the London Underground is particularly challenging compared to most other metro systems, given the size, complexity and age of the network. It requires suppliers with significant expertise in delivering CBTC projects on similar, very large, complex networks. The Group concluded that Hitachi is unlikely to have attained the required level of experience by the time of the next major TfL signalling tenders.

Stuart McIntosh, chair of the independent Inquiry Group, said: 

Effective signalling is vital for safe and reliable rail travel, which is why it has been important for us to review this merger thoroughly before reaching a final decision.

We have concluded that the merger will not reduce competition to provide CBTC signalling systems, and in particular those required on the underground network in London.

The picture is not the same for digital mainline signalling. To address our concerns here, Hitachi is selling part of its existing mainline signalling business to an independent purchaser. This will protect competition, which is key to keeping costs down, maintaining high quality of service and promoting innovation.

All information relating to this merger investigation can be found on the Hitachi / Thales case page.