24 October 2007

Recent Transport Developments

  • Massive investment by Stagecoach. Stagecoach is introducing 108 new Euro4 spec Alexander Dennis Trident 2s with Enviro400 bodies into Manchester and a further 20 into Cambridge for the Park & Ride services there. This will enable two-to-three year old Tridents to cascade to other fleets within the UK and enabling concentration of vehicles with Euro4 spec in certain localities. For example in Cambridge, the S-reg Tridents ousted by the Enviros have gone to Devon to upgrade service 57 there.

  • Imperial Wharf station costs increase. The cost of building a new station at Imperial Wharf on the West London Line has risen by a further 22% since a funding package was agreed in summer this year. Construction of the station has once again been postponed as the project's price tag reaches £7.93m and promoters, Hammersmith and Fulham Council, consider how to plug a £1.4m funding gap. This is the latest in a series of cost escalations and delays for the two-platform station, which was priced by Railtrack at £1.75m in 1999. Since then figures have been revised to £3m in 2003, £5.1m in September 2006 and £6.5m in summer this year. H&F Council says this is partly in response to construction price inflation and rising contractor rates but the main "bone of contention" is the soaring project management cost now being budgeted for by Network Rail, which will oversee construction of the station by contractor Fitzpatrick.

  • O Licence cuts for Stagecoach. The Yorkshire group of bus operator Stagecoach has had its O Licences cut by the Deputy Traffic Commissioner for the Eastern Area following problems with maintenance.

  • Derby Dial-A-Ride ends. Derby Community Transport has ceased operating its Dial-A-Ride service in late September due to driver shortages and financial losses.

  • New Shepherd's Bush station opening delayed. Network Rail has confirmed that no opening date has been agreed for the new £12m station at Shepherd's Bush. Construction of the station on the West London Line has been completed but it has now emerged that the western platform is 18 inches too narrow and there are doubts as to whether it is wide enough to accommodate the number of passengers expected to use the interchange. The station forms a crucial link to the new White City shopping complex, which is due to open next year and will then be the largest urban shopping centre in the UK. Car parking for the centre has been restricted to 40% of the expected number of shoppers with developer Westfield committing to fund a series of public transport improvements, including the new Shepherd's Bush station on the West London Line, to make it easy for shoppers to access the site without travelling by car.

  • The new-look Solo launched. Optare has launched a new Solo model that borrows a number of styling features from the Versa, its larger sister vehicle. The new Solo SR is initially presented as a premium option at the top end of the range, although it is likely to replace the existing Solo in the future. It will be available at 8.9m and 9.6m lengths with a choice of SCR or EGR engines Mercedes-Benz OM904 at 115kw, MAN D0834 at 132kw or Cummins ISBe at 150kw.

  • Thameslink upgrade starts. Work will get underway this week to lengthen platforms at Luton Airport Parkway, the first station to be upgraded as part of the £3.55bn Thameslink upgrade programme. Platforms at Luton Airport Parkway will be extended by 50% to accommodate 12-car trains. The station is the first of around 50 on the Thameslink route north of London that will need platform extensions. Major engineering work to build a new double-track viaduct carrying the railway over Borough Market in London is scheduled to begin next year for completion in time for the 2012 Olympics. The project - which will remove a rail bottleneck by providing a new viaduct across Borough Market to supplement the existing track – is intended to tackle overcrowding and support economic growth in London and the south east by increasing rail capacity. The Thameslink programme will be delivered in two phases, with extra capacity by 2011 and the full scheme up and running by 2015. When completed it will allow 12-car trains to operate up to 24 times an hour through central London with expanded routes to additional stations outside the capital. The government has also agreed to buy new rolling stock for the route, which takes the total project cost up to £5.5bn.