- First Pendolino to reach a million miles. A million miles has been achieved by the first of Virgin Trains's 52 tilting Pendolinos. 390022 named Penny, reached the 1,000,000 mile mark just south of Bletchley in Buckinghamshire on 8 January while working the 1715 service from London Euston-Glasgow. Passenger numbers on Virgin's West Coast routes have increased by 40% since the introduction of Pendolino trains in 2003, with almost 21 million passenger journeys being made with Virgin Trains every year. By travelling one million miles, 'Penny' the Pendolino has travelled the equivalent of two return trips to the moon; or over 1,230 return trips between London-Glasgow. Pendolino sets will each clock up a million miles in around half the time trains took a decade ago due to their intensive use.
- UK's largest transport operator bans mobile phones. First has banned all its 135,000 employees from using mobile phones when driving on company business. This includes hands-free kits and covers all its employees from all divisions and countries.
- Baggage restrictions relaxed at some airports. From 7 January baggage restrictions for passengers travelling from many of the UK's airports were relaxed after airport operators satisfied the government that they had introduced systems capable of screening additional carry-on items. However key departure points, including Bristol, Luton, Leeds/Bradford, Liverpool John Lennon and Gatwick - the UK's second busiest airport - remain subject to the one-bag rule, while many airlines will continue to specify a one-bag limit even where airports allow additional items.
- Bus driver fined for driving without due care and attention. Abertillery Magistrates Court has fined a Stagecoach bus driver £150 plus £15 victim surcharge and given him 5 points on his driving licence following the collision between his bus and a cement mixer on the Brynmawr-Blaenavon mountain road. He was sentenced for driving without due care and attention. The driver, Noel England, 24, had been employed by Stagecoach for 2 years.
- GMPTA website upgrade. The Greater Manchester PTA website is to be overhauled in order to become more effective in allowing two-way communication between passengers; it plans to introduce e-petitions, online consultations and discussion groups about local transport issues. The website can be found at www.gmpta.gov.uk.
- Bus driver fined for hurling abuse at a youth. A First York bus driver has been fined £200 with £320 costs and a £15 victim surcharge by York Magistrates Court. The driver - a former vicar - Roger Holmes, 61, hurled abuse at a 15-year old youth after his bus hit a stationary cyclist. Magistrates also added 3 points to Mr Holmes's driving licence.
- Increase in Cornish carriages? Trains on the Cornish branch line to St Ives could be lengthened to five-car formations as part of a package of measures being considered by Cornwall County Council. The local authority has appointed JMP Consulting to develop a business case for a new park and ride facility, designed to address a shortage of car parking spaces, and measures to relieve overcrowding on trains to the resort during the summer months.
- Stagecoach's CE re-invests in New Zealand. Brian Souter, Chief Executive of Stagecoach Group, has returned to the New Zealand coach and bus market, albeit in a personal capacity. His own private company, Souter Holdings Limited, has purchased a 74% steak and controlling interest in Mana Coach Holdings of Wellington from Bancorp NZ for an undisclosed sum. The remaining 26% of Mana Holdings was owned by Stagecoach until it passed this and its entire New Zealand bus and ferry operations to Infratil in November 2005 in a deal worth £96 million (NZ$250 million).
- Freeze on single fares in Capital. London passengers are enjoying a freeze on the city's single fares on London Buses, the Underground, Croydon Tramlink and Docklands Light Railway. Cash singles will remain at £2.00 or 90p with an Oyster card. Cash fares dropped from 5.3% to 2.3% in 2007.
- Preston PI adjourned. The Public Inquiry into what action, if any, can be taken against Stagecoach following its recent expansion in Preston has been adjourned until the end of February. They are accused for failing to operate local services in accordance with registered particulars, repute and professional competence. Specifically, North Western Traffic Commissioner, Beverley Bell was looking to see if there was any proof of the alleged intentional interference with PrestonBus's operations.
- Nottingham takes UK's first bioethanol OmniLinks. Nottingham City Transport has taken delivery of the UK's first production bioethanol-fuelled buses - three 12m Scania OmniLinks, all three being part-funded by the East Midlands Development Agency. They are expected to enter service at the end of the month. A similar vehicle (Scania OmniCity double decker) has proven successful with Reading Buses, who have placed orders for a further 14.
- Leather ftr. One of Firsts 'ftr Streetcars' running in Leeds is to be fitted with leather upholstery for a trial period to see if this can speed-up time taken to clean deep stains from the vehicle's upholstery.
- Improved Oyster for 11-18yr olds. Young people travelling on buses and trams in London are to be issued with a new travel card designed to reduce abuse of the current concessionary fares scheme. London Mayor Ken Livingstone this week launched the Zip card, a free Oyster photocard that will have to be used by 11-18 year olds who qualify for free bus and tram travel in the capital. The new scheme means that from 1 June young people will have to touch in on buses and trams and show their photocards on request. It has been created in an attempt clarify the free travel privilege and make it easier to catch the few individuals who seek to abuse the system. Zip will bring together the different young persons free travel schemes under one recognised branded card.
- Travelscope cease trading. On 21 December Gloucester-based coach operator Travelscope went into administration. Up to 32 different companies have expressed an interest in taking over the operation of the firm. Many coach operators who Travelscope contracted work to have yet to receive payment. The company was founded in 1992 and employed 270 staff; 182 of these were made redundant on 28 December 2007.
- Three awarded in Honours list. Two transport managers and a bus driver have been honoured in the New Years Honours list. Stagecoach in Sunderland bus driver, Reverend David Hands, 62, has been awarded an MBE for "services to public transport". An MBE has also been awarded to Francis Clegg, Translink's Acting General Manager for "services to public transport in Northern Ireland". Roy Wicks, the South Yorkshire PTE Director General who retires in March, received an OBE.
- KW Beard cease trading. On 20 December KW Beard of Cinderford went into administration. The family-owned firm had an O Licence for 14 vehicles and employed 20 staff. Kenneth Beard founded the company in 1960 and later died in 2006. In addition to operating 10 coaches, the business also ran non-PSV minibuses and taxis.
- Delays at Rugby. Train passengers returning to work after the Christmas holiday faced severe disruption from 2 January as a result of further delays to the Rugby area of the West Coast Main Line. Engineers have been working throughout the Christmas holiday period on the £415m remodelling of Rugby station; the line speed through the station will increase from 75 to 125mph when completed, allowing train journey times between London and the north west to be reduced from early 2009. However, the work has taken longer than expected and after a last minute cancellation of New Year’s Eve services which prompted Virgin Trains to announce that it had referred the matter to the Office of Rail Regulation. Network Rail said it had brought in extra manpower and resources from across the region to get the project completed. However, despite more than 300 people being on site at any one time, working in shifts that continue around the clock, the project wasn't completed until 4 January.
- Manchester may not get its congestion charge. Perhaps the first big blow of one of the items mentioned in our 'Keeping a NATIONAL eye on in 2008' is the possibility of a congestion charge in Manchester. A fourth local borough, Wigan, is now against the plan, leaving only 6 in favour. PTA member Councillor Franzen told the committee he feared that half of the revenue generated would be "siphoned off into private companies".
- Success in Merseyside. Since March 2007 the joint operation between Arriva and Merseytravel PTE to combat ticket fraud and fare evasion has lead to 250 bus passengers being prosecuted.
- Eurostar profits up. Eurostar has reported record patronage and revenues from ticket sales in 2007. Passenger numbers broke the eight million mark for the first time with 8.26 million travellers carried – an increase of 5.1% on the previous year. The company says the launch of Eurostar services on High Speed 1 on 14 November 2007 boosted the number of travellers - keen to experience 186mph train services in Britain and the restored St Pancras International station - and between 14 November and 31 December Eurostar recorded an 11% increase in passengers against the same period in 2006.
- First South Yorkshire fined £5,000. First South Yorkshire was called before Eastern Deputy Traffic Commissioner, Mark Hinchcliffe, following its failure to operate its regular local bus services in the Rotherham area according to its published timetables and to correctly display destinations. During February and March 2007 VOSA monitored 654 journeys, of which 53 ran early, 64 late and 17 didn't operate at all. "Frequent" services had gaps of up to 16 minutes at times. One of First's defences was that of the 654 journeys monitored, this accounted only for 17% of the firm's total operation and had a deficit of 43 drivers at that time. First's MD said that according to South Yorkshire PTE's own figures, First's punctuality was higher than other operators Arriva and Stagecoach. Although a fine of £333,000 could be imposed, the DTC felt First had "reasonable" excuses for the late running and non-operation but could not be excused for the 53 journeys that ran early and so fined the company £5,000.
- Cardiff Bus to move depots & HQ. Cardiff Bus has submitted a planning application to move from its 7-acre depot at Sloper Road to a new 10-acre site at Trident Park, Cardiff Bay; it's HQ would also be housed here. PMG Estates is expected to purchase its Sloper Road site for housing.
- OFT clears rail franchise winners. The OFT has cleared the wins by Arriva and National Express of their rail franchises (CrossCountry and East Coast respectively). It claims the wins are "not of sufficient importance" to justify referral to the Competition Commission.
- Oyster now available on more overground trains. Train operators Chiltern, c2c and Hackney stations served by National Express’s One franchise started to support Oyster ticketing from 2 January. Last month Oyster pay as you go was extended to TfL's new London Overground services, London Midland services between Watford Junction and Euston and Southern services between Watford Junction and Clapham Junction and all stations in between.
11 January 2008
Recent Transport Developments
Posted by LEYTR