05 October 2007

Recent Transport Developments

  • East Lancs to move? Darwen Group-owned East Lancs Coachbuilders plan to move away from the Blackburn area in a bit to improve the ailing firm's profitiablilty. 97 of the firm's 360 staff have been told they could face redundancy.

  • New bullet train for UK. Train manufacturer Hitachi Europe has shown off the first six-car Class 395 'bullet train' for Southeastern high speed domestic rail services at a ceremony to mark the opening of the company’s new train depot in Ashford. Hitachi's Ashford Train Maintenance Centre will create more than 100 jobs and includes a five track maintenance shed, incorporating a double road bogie and equipment drop pit and a heavy inspection road. It also has carriage washing plants, a bio-hazard pit for the safe removal of waste, a 25kV test track and a tandem wheel lathe. Additionally, the depot includes stabling facilities for rolling stock operating on Southeastern mainline services.The depot will house the first Class 395 unit, which has been manufactured in Kasado, Japan. A further three trains are currently being assembled and will be delivered over the coming months to undergo testing on the High Speed 1 line between Ashford and St Pancras and on the existing Kent rail network. The remaining 25 trains will be delivered in 2009.

  • Roadliner's new company. Poole-based coach company Roadliner Passenger Transport launched a new company on 1 October called Victory Tours, to complement its existing operation.

  • Rossendale's new commuter service. A member of the Greater Manchester Bus Operator's Association (GMOA), Rossendale Transport, has commenced a new bus service between Weir-Manchester, in a bid to encourage car-users in the Weir, Bacup, Whitworth, Rochdale and Middleton area to leave their vehicles at home. If forms part of the GMOA ethos to provide "truly integrated and improved public transport network". The service has been branded 'City Smart'.

  • No decision yet on BSOG. Despite the increase in fuel, imposed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer last Monday, the DfT has yet to decide whether the level of Bus Service Operator Grant (BSOG), also known as Fuel Subsidy Rates, a tax break in a repayment form paid for 'live' (in service) mileage operated by local bus operators, will increase at the same amount as the cost of fuel. Peter Shipp, the Chief Executive of local LEYTR bus operator East Yorkshire Motor Services, hit out at the delay in a decision, saying that his costs could rise by £150,000 if a decision isn't made.

  • Comments welcomed by OFT for GoVia venture. The OFT have invited comments about the Go-Ahead joint venture, GoVia winning the West Midlands Rail Franchise.

  • Coach departure charge at Stansted. Stansted Airport will impose a £8 departure charge on all coaches picking passengers up within the grounds of the BAA-owned airport. Drop-offs are free. Currently no charge is made. See further down for improved rail links to the airport.

  • Maynes to sell-off bus operation. Maynes of Manchester have split their business into two: Maynes Coaches of Warrington and its bus unit has been prepared for possible sale. The Company was formed in 1920 and currently operates 40 buses on commercial and tendered bus services from its Ashton New Road depot in Manchester.

  • LEZ for Oxford? Another city has shown an interest in a Low Emission Zone, this time Oxford. The proposals have won strong support from the two major bus operators in the area, COMS (Go-Ahead) and Stagecoach, as well as being backed strongly by the local paper.

  • New Enviro300s for Barnsley. Stagecoach Yorkshire are to introduce 34 of the first, fully integral ADL Enviro300 buses to its Barnsley network from December. These are the first vehicles in an order by Stagecoach to see the ADL Enviro300 on the MAN 18.240 chassis.

  • Bus Rapid Transit approved for Bath. Bath is to get a bus rapid transit route as part of a £51m upgrade of public transport in the city which has been provisionally approved by the government this week. The Department for Transport will contribute more than £48.85m towards the £50.86m cost of the Bath Public Transport Package, which has been designed to improve nine major bus routes into the city and provide better park and ride facilities. The bus rapid transit corridor will connect an expanded park and ride site at Newbridge to the west of the city with a new 800 space park and ride site at Lambridge to the east. The route will include a 1.4km segregated section using a disused railway line between Brassmill Lane and Windsor Bridge Road. Elsewhere it will use bus lanes with priority measures at traffic signals.

  • New Stourbridge bus station planned. Centro (West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority) has submitted plans for a new £2.5 million bus station in Stourbridge to Dudley Council. If approved the new facility would have 11 stands, a bus layover bay, indoor waiting areas, electronic information screens, cctv and help points.

  • Improved off-peak rail services to.from Stansted. An extra 13 Stansted Express services a week will run from 9 December 2007 as improved night time working measures implemented by Network Rail allow more time to run passenger trains. The new extended timetable will help meet increased demand from business and leisure travellers, in particular at peak times (Fri-Mon), and will provide greater choice for people on late arriving or early departing planes to travel via rail using Stansted Express – the fastest way to and from the airport and central London. A further nine additional earlier and later trains will also run on the West Anglia route, providing extra trains to stations including Bishops Stortford, Cambridge, Harlow Town and Sawbridgeworth as part of the initiative.

  • Rapson Licence cut. Rapson's subsidiaries Orkney Coaches & Highland Country Buses has seen a cut in its number of permitted O Licences from 61 to 55 following a Public Inquiry before the Scottish Traffic Commissioner, Joan Aitken. It followed a series of mechanical failures and poor reporting procedures between drivers and mechanics.