- New Rotherham station design. Architectural practice Aedas has been selected to design a £2.5m railway station at Rotherham in South Yorkshire. The brief - for South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive, Rotherham Metropolitan Borough Council and Yorkshire Forward - will see the existing station upgraded to match similarly improved stations in Barnsley, Doncaster and Sheffield. Rotherham station is included in regeneration body Yorkshire Forward’s Urban Renaissance programme and will gain a passenger lounge, retail space and a travel and information centre.
- Veolia buys Astons. French-owned transport operator Veolia has purchased Astons of Kempsey (Holdings) Ltd, which includes the following subsidiary companies: Astons of Kempsey Coaches and Ultima Tours. The deal involves 70 staff and 33 vehicles. Previous owner Tony Halford will remain with the firm to assist with the general running of the business and the handover. Astons provide coaches for Worcester City and Kidderminster Harriers football clubs as well as providing contracted bus services for Worcestershire County Council using a new Scania OmniLink on service 363 (Worcester-Malvern) plus routes between Pershore-Worcester and the Malvern town service. Ultima Tours is made-up of primarily Scania with Irizar, Berkhof and Van Hool bodies.
- Stanley Gath into administration. A reason why Stanley Gath (Coaches) have not been noted in recent weeks operating their seasonal contract with National Express to Butlins, Skegness (Service 660 Bradford-Butlins) is that they have been placed into administration. The 18 O-Licence authorisation, owned by Angela Gath-Bragg (daughter of the founder - Stanley Gath), had been operated singlehandedly for the past three years, following the death of Mrs Gath-Bragg's husband John. Stanley Gath started the firm in 1956 with a taxi and a secondhand bus; Angela joined the business when she was 17. The firm's General Manager, Ray Gara, who'd joined in 1973 as a driver was given much praise in Mrs Gath-Bragg's speach to the workforce when she broke the news of the firm's demise.
- DLR upgrade completed ahead of schedule. A £1.85m upgrade of West India Quay station on the Docklands Light Railway has been completed on budget and three months ahead of station. Funded through Transport for London's £10bn five-year investment programme, the station has had its old canopy replaced with a new glass one, which is stronger, bigger, and easier to clean. Ninety per cent of the glass, metal and general waste removed from the original canopy was recycled while the central part of the canopy was constructed from recycled rubber and plastic. A replacement canopy was required as a series of new developments in and around the station mean that it is now more susceptible to adverse weather conditions, such as high winds.
- Holmswood Coaches buys John Flanagan Travel. Warrington-area wheelchair coach specialist John Flanagan Travel has been purchased by Holmswood Coaches. The purchase of Flanagans sees Holmswoods seventh acquisition since 1989 and the wife of John Flanagan, Jeanette, staying on with the business within Holmswood. The Flanagan Travel name will be retained. Holmswood Coaches now operates 125 vehicles, of which 28 were purchased new during 2007. Holmswood plan on increasing the amount of wheelchair accessible work Flanagans catered for, citing a growing niche in the market.
- Megabus Neoplan catches fire. A Neoplan Skyliner operating a London-Aberdeen journey caught fire at 0700hrs on Friday 2 November in its engine bay in Dumfries and Galloway. All 68 passengers on board were evacuated safely - the driver being praised for his actions. The coach is badly damaged.
- Rooves being ripped. A Stagecoach in Peterborough Alexander-bodied Volvo Olympian, new to East London, was in collision with scaffolding erected around an old school house in the village of Warmington, Northans, while operating Service X14 (Oundle-Peterborough) at around 0915hrs on Tuesday 6 November. The front third of the roof was sliced open. There were no injuries. In another instance an ADL Enviro400 owned by Metroline was decapitated on a bridge on Prince of Wales Road, Kentish Town, London early on Sunday 4 November. The bus had been operating on Service 24 (Pimlico-Hamstead Heath) and was travelling not in service. The driver was treated for shock.
- Transport group Stagecoach has begun trials of a luxury bus concept in the company's home town of Perth in Scotland. Using integral ADL Enviro300 vehicles the premium Goldline service is intended to tempt motorists out of their cars with the promise of superior comfort, service guarantees and environmentally friendly travel. A £1m fleet of eight 12-metre Alexander Dennis Enviro 300 buses will operate the Goldline Service 7 route in Perth and Stagecoach plans to roll out the brand across the UK if trials prove successful.Passengers travelling on Goldline will sit on hand-stitched, Italian-designed leather high-backed coach seats complemented by specially-designed flooring, track lighting and a softer fabric interior. All vehicles have Euro IV engines, will be fitted with CCTV and will be driven by smartly attired drivers. The brand will offer guaranteed service standards including the promise of free tickets if buses are delayed by more than 20 minutes because of factors within Stagecoach’s control. Commencing operation soon in Leamington Spa is the second Goldline trial using Optare Solos.
- Smokers fined. In the first case of its kind in Wales, three people caught smoking in a bus shelter in the city;s Quadrant bus station were all fined £50. Enforcement officers were concentrating on the bus station following continued reports about the ban constantly being flouted there. In a separate incident, a driver of a lorry received a fixed penalty fine of £75 for a littering offence, a £75 fine for smoking in his cab, investigative costs of £30 (as he denied the charge), legal costs of £65 and a £15 victim surcharge. Leonard King of Kimmel Bay, Rhyl, was prosecuted by Conwy Council after he was spotted flicking a cigarette butt out of his truck's window on Colwyn Bay Promenade in June this year.
- Full refunds on West Midlands bus route. Passengers are entitled to full refunds for their journeys on Service 377 (Walsall-Sutton Coldfield) when punctuality, committed to in a groundbreaking Passenger Charter between Travel West Midlands and Centro (WMPTA), is not met. The voluntary agreement between the two bodies will see 8 refurbished low-floor single deckers placed on the route with an improved daytime frequency up from 20 minutes to 12.
- Mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, has announced a price freeze for single fares, whether paid for by Oyster card or cash, on London's bus, Tube, tram, and Docklands Light Railway networks.Revealing the fares package for 2008, the Mayor said once retail price inflation at around 4% is taken into account, single bus fares on Oyster will be around 14% lower, and single Tube fares around 4% lower, than in January 2007.However, the cost of One Day Travelcards and Travelcard season tickets will rise in line with the retail price index. The Mayor says this is because any price cuts for Travelcards would need to be approved by National Rail train operating companies.
- NEG deal for US airport complete. National Express Group has completed the sale of the operating lease at Stewart International Airport, New York State, for £85.7 million. The lease was purchased by NEG in 1999 for £21.3 million.
- Bus boost to new St Pancras International station. Transport for London has announced that bus Service 59 (Streatham Hill-Euston Station) will be extended to St. Pancras and King's Cross from Saturday 10 November. The extension will link the old and new Eurostar high-speed rail termini of Waterloo and St Pancras. Eurostar services are due to switch to St Pancras International on 14 November.
- Maynes in Orkney. Scottish coach firm Maynes of Buckie has established a new base at St Margaret's Hope, Orkney, following a successful summer season serving the incoming cruise-liner trade with around 10 vehicles per sailing.
- Digbeth Coach Station closes. National Express Group has submitted a planning application for a £15m revamp of Digbeth Coach Station in Birmingham. The company wants to replace the current post-war interchange with a landmark building featuring a 'shimmering metallic' structure wrapped up in copper cladding. If planning permission is granted work on site will begin before Christmas with the revamped coach station operational by the end of 2009. The existing facility is due to close on 12 November with a celebratory party being held five days later and featuring vintage coach displays. A £1.4m temporary coach station situated across Digbeth High Street will operate until the new building is completed. National Express Group decided to construct a new interchange on the existing site after plans to move the coach station to Great Charles Street, in Birmingham city centre, collapsed in 2005. The company spent several years discussing the move with the council, but finally decided the plan was financially unworkable. The new terminal building will provide modern passenger information displays, improved waiting areas, an information centre and cafe. A meet and greet drop-off zone will be created on Mill Lane along with a taxi waiting area. The new interchange, which has been designed by SBS Architects, will have 16 coach bays - two more than the current building.
- Longstaff of Mirfield to close. Now in its third generation, family owned private hire and tour arm of Longstaff & Sons is to cease trading, selling its three Van Hool-bodied Volvo coaches - one of which was recently exhibited at the 2006 Euro Bus Expo. There will be 4 redundancies. Their office in Daisy Hill will close although all existing bookings will be honoured. The firm's bus business, consisting of two Wrightbus-bodied Volvos will continue, providing regular services on Service 205 (Mirfield-Dewsbury).
- Concessionary pass clampdown. LEYTR Chairman, and Managing Director of Lincolnshire RoadCar for almost a quarter of a century, Paul Hill, commented in his latest 'Chairtorial' that a scenario, which he dreaded ever coming into being, was about to be unleashed on English bus operators everywhere. He was referring to the free 'local national' concessionary travel scheme to be implemented fully in April 2008. Specifically Paul cited the prospect of those entitled to concessionary fares travelling to Skegness for their holidays and making use of the bus services in the town, without the proper recompence from the local authority (in this case East Lindsey District Council) being available and the knock-on problems this can cause for the survival of some of the more less profitable bus routes. Therefore findings by Conwy Council, released this week, in which state 365 people who own static homes in the area but most importantly do not have a permanent residency there, have been given all-Wales free concessionary passes is very disappointing. A small investigation by one local authority discovered one person per day in a year being given free travel when they weren't entitled to it - makes one shudder at the national figure!
- High Speed 2 agreed to 'in principle'.The government has revealed that it supports, in principle, plans to build High Speed 2 - a new inter-city rail link connecting London with Birmingham and Manchester. The possibility of a new line is raised in the Department for Transport's Towards a Sustainable Transport System: Supporting economic growth in a low carbon world, the government's official response to last year's Eddington transport study and the Stern review of climate change. Towards a Sustainable Transport System identifies London-Birmingham-Manchester as a "problem corridor" and a potential route for the UK's first domestic inter-city high-speed railway. However, a rail project of this nature is seen as just one of a "broad range of options" to tackle congestion. "This might include widening of motorways, active traffic management, road pricing or the construction of new rail capacity either through a conventional or a high-speed line," the document says.
- Reading Buses orders ethanol buses. Council-owned Reading Buses has placed a groundbreaking order for 14 ethanol-powered Scania OmniCity double deckers. They are to be the first ever production ethanol-fuelled double deckers in the UK. A production vehicle has been trialled in Reading recently. The vehicles will be delivered in March 2008 and will be fitted with the Scania CN 270 UD4x2 chassis with their recently launched 270hp DC9 E02 ethanol engine, meeting EEV standards (better emissions than Euro5). The vehicles will have 76 leather seats, air chilling, cctv and colour LED blinds. They will operate on 'Premier Route 17' making it a 24/7 service.
- Merseytram resurrected? Plans to return trams to Merseyside could be resurrected within months following comments from local transport chiefs and government ministers that a new funding package is within grasp. The Merseytram project was abandoned in 2005 after then-transport secretary Alistair Darling withdrew £180m of promised government funding, following concerns about rising costs and disagreements between local authorities about how to progress the scheme. However, following last month's announcement of a 2.25% real-term increase in funding for local transport schemes by Darling in his role of Chancellor of the Exchequer, promoters of trams for Liverpool have indicated that if passenger transport executive Merseytravel, Liverpool City Council and other interested parties produce realistic new costings for a line from Kirkby to the city centre then money will be forthcoming.
- London adds more hybrids to its streets. Five WrightBus Electricity hybrid single deckers have been ordered by Travel London to operate on TfL contracted Service 129 (North Grenwich station-Grenwich Cutty Sark). They will be the first vehicles to be operated by any NEG company in the UK.
- Coach driver jailed for drug-smuggling. A sentence of 11 years was passed on Derek Taylor who was working for 1st Class Travel, Bootle, for importing £4.8 million worth of cocaine into the country. He was driving a coach returning from a shopping trip from Zebrugge to Hull Docks when the vehicle was searched by HM Revenue and Customs on 29 August 2007. 6kg of cocaine, three-quarters of it 100% pure, was found, hidden in a secret compartment under the crew-driver's seat. HMRC made five house searches in Liverpool and Widnes and seized another coach. The International O-Licence of 1st Class Travel has been suspended until its owner, Andrea Taylor, is fit enough to attend a Public Inquiry.
- Flat-pack station ready for erection. Contractors are preparing to assemble the first of an off-the-shelf station design which is to be rolled out across the rail network in a bid to cut construction costs and speed up new station developments. Civil engineering firm Dean Dyball is close to completing preliminary works for the new Eastfields station near Mitcham in the London borough of Merton. The station kit - which includes platform and canopy modules - will then be assembled on site to allow the station to open early in the New Year. Network Rail has already approved the design, a trial version of which has been erected on an industrial estate in Ringwood near Southampton. The modular system can be put together in 36 days and is expected to be used for a new station at Cranbook in Devon and to upgrade existing stations at Greenhithe in Kent and Effingham Junction is Surrey.
- TfL to takeover Metronet responsibilities. Metronet maintenance and infrastructure operations are set to transfer to the public sector with Transport for London to take over the responsibilities of the failed infraco early next year. London Underground managing director, Tim O'Toole, and the PPP Administrator of Metronet for Ernst Young, Alan Bloom, confirmed on Tuesday 6 November that TfL is the only organisation to submit a formal bid for Metronet. They also confirmed that, as a result of the TfL bid, the PPP Administrator will not take any active steps to market the Metronet companies. Under TfL's plans, the people and the assets of the two Metronet companies, BCV and SSL, will be transferred into two TfL nominee companies, which will be managed on a stand alone basis while the long-term structure is agreed with the Mayor and government.
- Three Transport Bills outlined. Prime Minister Gordon Brown has set out plans for three transport bills in his first Queen's Speech as prime minister. Revealing details of his "long term" plans for the UK, the Prime Minister detailed 29 bills which will be included in the forthcoming Parliamentary session. The Channel Tunnel Rail Link Bill will set out provisions which clarify the legal and regulatory position of the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, ahead of a restructuring of London & Continental Railways, the consortium which built the high speed line. LCR's current interests are likely to be split up with possible sales of key development sites in central London and the Thames Gateway. The railway itself is likely to be sold, possibly to Network Rail which currently oversees maintenance for the High Speed 1 route. The Crossrail Bill has been carried over from the previous parliamentary session, having been introduced in February 2005. The bill, which would provide the necessary powers to create a new east-west railway tunnel under London, is expected to be approved by MPs before the end of 2008 to allow construction to begin. Thirdly, MPs will get the chance to vote for or against the Local Transport Bill, which is intended to shake up transport policy and devolve more power to a local level. It includes controversial measures to allow local authorities to more strictly regulate bus services - proposals which have been opposed by bus operators. Plans to allow local road pricing schemes and create new passenger transport authorities in large urban areas are also included.
- Bakers buys Niddries. Bakers Coaches of Biddulph has taken over Niddries Coaches' operations. A recent fire at the Niddrie depot brought the sale forwards. Niddries' two drivers and two coaches have moved across to Bakers. Niddries' Lewin Street garage and office were not included in the deal.
07 November 2007
Recent Transport Developments
Posted by LEYTR