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ISSUE 188 6 JULY 2018


Stagecoach identifies ‘huge opportunity’

Group’s research shows ‘cause for optimism’ in prospects for buses, despite nearly a decade of patronage declines. But policy interventions are needed Stagecoach has called on central and local government to work with its companies to capitalise on a “huge opportunity” to combat road congestion and improve air quality by growing bus use. In the presentation of its full-year results, published last week, Stagecoach revealed research in several major cities which it said showed potential “cause for optimism” in the industry’s prospects, despite nearly a decade of patronage declines. Analysis of 15 economic, demographic and lifestyle factors influencing changes in bus use showed the overwhelming reasons for patronage falls were congestion and rising car ownership. In

Greater Manchester, where annual bus patronage fell from 205.9 million trips in 2011/12 to 201.4 million in 2016/17, these two factors accounted for a loss of 15 million annual journeys by the end of the period, more than offsetting actions which had a positive influence on ridership such as bus fares and bus quality. Stagecoach argued that the relative success in stemming

“We would welcome more proactive policy interventions”

patronage declines, despite the impact of congestion and higher car ownership, demonstrated that it could have a major role in supporting the government’s agenda to improve air quality and congestion if pro-public transport policies are introduced. Chief executive Martin Griffiths said: “Mass transit, including buses, can help mitigate the risk of population growth in urban areas contributing to worsening road congestion and air quality challenges... We would welcome more proactive policy interventions to encourage mass transit use and reduce car use to address these increasing problems.” CONTINUED ON PAGE 03


Electrification is now cheaper, says campaign


Significant savings could be made


Go-Ahead’s rideshare trial in Oxford


PickMeUp will serve city’s ‘Eastern Arc’


A vision for the future of ‘Rail Cities’


Jonathan Bray calls for ‘bigger thinking’


‘Buses need an investment strategy’


Claire Haigh wants action to end decline


Kevin O’Connor quits Arriva CATCH THE BUS WEEK Buses minister Nusrat Ghani and Transport Select Committee chair Lilian Greenwood joined Greener Journeys in Westminister on July 2 to launch this year’s annual Catch the Bus Week. Claire Haigh: page 21

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Group’s UK Bus boss is moving on

04/07/2018 16:27


PASSENGER TRANSPORT Adelaide Wharf, 21 Whiston Road London E2 8EX 020 7749 6909

Make great public transport, not war Civil war broke out in the passenger transport sector last week - bus versus rail - and, unsurprisingly, the theatre of conflict was Twitter. It began when, citing the example of the Cambridge busway, a railway engineer asked what Robert Jack purpose guided busways serve. It might have Managing Editor passed unnoticed, but Nigel Harris, the editor of RAIL magazine, chimed in: “Utterly pointless, expensive and barmy. End of.” Many bus people were upset, but when Nigel added “there’s been repeated studies showing motorists can be persuaded out of their cars for a tram, but never a bus”, war was declared. Matt Kitchin, operations director at Stagecoach Manchester, cited his personal experience with the Eclipse service in South Hampshire, which saw a busway created on a former railway line linking Fareham and Gosport. A fifth of its users previously made the journey by car. But, sadly, the conflict raged on, despite reminders that the true enemy is the private car and the congestion and pollution it creates. The last word should go to Bob Holland, a retired multi-modal transport professional, who headed Arriva’s UK Rail business before later taking charge of the group’s UK Bus business. He wrote: “The ONLY way to reduce urban congestion is to provide attractive high frequency bus services. The ONLY way to provide attractive high frequency bus services is to provide uncongested road space for buses. Political ‘balls’ are needed for that. Not a rail v bus issue.” HAVE YOUR SAY Contact us with your news, views and opinion at: PASSENGER TRANSPORT forename.surname@ Telephone: 020 7749 6909 Managing Editor & Publisher Robert Jack Deputy Editor Andrew Garnett Associate Editor James Dark Contributing Writer Rhodri Clark Directors Chris Cheek, George Muir, John Nelson OFFICE CONTACT DETAILS Passenger Transport Publishing Ltd Adelaide Wharf, 21 Whiston Road London E2 8EX, UNITED KINGDOM Telephone (all enquiries):

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address. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or in part without the publisher’s written permission.

Printed by Cambrian Printers Ltd, Llanbadarn Road, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion SY23 3TN © Passenger Transport Publishing Passenger Transport is only available Ltd 2018 by subscription. Subscription rates ISSN 2046-3278 per year; UK £140 (despatch by first class post); Europe/Eire £220; SUBSCRIPTIONS HOTLINE 020 7749 6909 Worldwide (airmail) £280 The editor welcomes written contributions and photographs, which should be sent to the above









While many projects are not over time and over budget, George Muir says that some key ones are. He argues that the inquiry by Stephen Glaister (pictured) should look beyond the timetable fiasco at GTR and Northern and ask why



Arriva 12, 15, 34 Arriva CrossCountry 16 Arriva Derby 12 Bombardier Transportation 7 CAF 5, 10 Campaign for Better Transport 7 Carousel 6 CEBR 9 CPT 7, 8 First Manchester 6 First South Yorkshire 7 Go-Ahead Group 14 GTR 5, 18, 22, 34 Grand Central 16 Greener Journeys 21 KeolisAmey 8 Lothian Buses 10 McGill’s 13 Metrolink 7 National Express Group 6 Network Rail 4, 5, 15 Northern Rail 4, 5, 18, 22 Nottingham City Transport 13 OneBus 6 Oxford Bus Company 13, 14 Solaris 10 South Yorkshire PTE 7 Stagecoach 1, 3, 11, 15 Stagecoach London 11 Stagecoach Yorkshire 7 Transport for Greater Manchester 7 Transport for London 9, 11, 15 Transport for the North 4 TransPennine Express 16 Uber 11 Virgin Trains 3 West Midlands Combined Authority 7 Xplore Dundee 11

Car-free holidays are lovely, says Stephen Morris, with “no swerving out of the way of teenagers in Vauxhall Corsas thinking they’re invincible”. However, writing about his own experiences, public transport is not the stress-free option that it could be

Traffic congestion is affecting bus punctuality, but Nick Richardson argues that we can use our road space more effectively in order to create streets for all. He writes: “Open spaces, green or paved, are important and benefit from traffic removal”

Our Whitehall insider imagines what’s going on inside the minds of the mandarins at Great Minster House, home of the Department for Transport. This time, the secretary of state’s statement to the House of Commons on the timetable fiasco is scrutinised


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04/07/2018 17:07



Stagecoach profits fall at all UK divisions Group struggles with contract losses and changes in patronage FINANCIALS

Stagecoach has reported falling operating profits across all its major UK divisions in the year to April 28, 2018, due to changes in patronage trends and contract losses. In the regional bus business, patronage fell 2.8% from 672 million journeys to 653 million, resulting in operating profit declining from £117.0m to £112.9m on flat revenue of £1.01bn. However, chief executive Martin Griffiths said actions during the year, including reorganising networks and targeted fare rises, had helped to strengthen the business. Presenting the group’s full-year results last week, Griffiths said that, taking account of a 2.7% reduction in mileage from service revisions and local authority cuts to tendered bus services, revenue had grown 2.7%. In addition, Stagecoach said profits during

the year had taken a £2m hit from severe snow in February. “The pricing and network changes we made across our bus and coach operations, together with our further investment in new vehicles and technology, have broadly delivered the results we expected,” Griffiths commented. “While there are challenges to growing bus and coach patronage, we remain positive on the opportunities for growth and further cost efficiencies.” In the London tendered market, lost contracts saw revenue fall 4.4% to £251.8m while operating profit declined 27.7% to £13.3m. The company highlighted higher staff costs from the Apprenticeship Levy, pay awards and increased starting rates for drivers among the reasons for the fall in margin from 7.0% to 5.3%. Recent contracts are expected to increase operating profit this year, but staff costs will mean the profit margin remains below Stagecoach’s 7.0% aspiration. At the group’s rail businesses, operating profit from Stagecoach’s

DfT changes will keep group on board Stagecoach will continue to bid for UK rail franchises Reforms to the Department for Transport franchising policy were a key reason for Stagecoach’s decision to continue in the UK rail industry following the loss of £250m at the Virgin Trains East Coast business. In particular, new

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risk sharing measures which will effectively reduce the premium payments operators make to government if revenue growth falls below an agreed level influenced Stagecoach’s decision. In its full-year results statement the company said the change

49% share of the Virgin Trains West Coast franchise fell slightly from £31.5m to £30m on like-forlike revenue up 3.1% to £574m. The profit margin under the latest direct award contract continued to be among the highest in the rail industry at 5.2%. On Stagecoach’s fully-owned rail franchises, operating profit fell from £28.5m to £24.9m, due to the loss of the South West Trains contract. Overall, including Stagecoach’s North American business, the group reported an operating profit of £179.9m compared to £185.1m the previous year. Previously-announced provisions for additional losses and liabilities at Virgin Trains East Coast, before its transfer to the Department for Transport in June, were classed as exceptional items with £49m charged to the group’s profit and loss account and a further £32.5m relating to pensions. Taking account of provisions for VTEC losses in both years, operating profit rose from £47.3m in 2016-17 to £132.1m. The dividend was cut 18%.

was “an important factor in our decision to continue bidding for UK rail franchises”. It added that other policy changes including a reduction in companies’ maximum financial liabilities, the relatively limited competition for each contract and a review of lessons from its bid for East Coast had also played a part in its assessment that franchising represents an acceptable risk.


Continued from page 1 At the same time, Stagecoach said it would be bringing together new and existing initiatives from across its UK bus businesses “to respond to changing demand for travel driven by evolving work and social patterns, as well as capitalising on opportunities for growth through technology, more effective marketing and product development”. While Stagecoach’s research showed factors such as online shopping, more flexible working and emerging competition from new taxi businesses are having a relatively small impact on patronage at present, the company’s emerging business strategy is designed to protect its core position and exploit changing trends. Actions being developed include: A revised Stagecoach brand strategy to build on its position as a mass transit provider in major cities; Simpler pricing and ticketing; Enhanced app functionality and delivery of real time journey information; Evaluation of opportunities for more demand responsive services; Plans for the UK’s first pilot of autonomous vehicle technology on a standard bus, to be announced within the next two weeks; Creating a more agile and entrepreneurial culture at local operating companies, supported by a complementary recruitment strategy; Closer integration of bus and rail; Improved engagement with customers and understanding of existing users and non-users. 6 July 2018 | 03

04/07/2018 16:28


TfN compensation demand for passengers John Cridland says compensation needs to go further with special payments to passengers using daily tickets during the period of disruption PERFORMANCE

Transport for the North has called for additional steps to compensate rail passengers in the north of England in the wake of cancellations and delays following the May 20 timetable change. At the end of June, TfN agreed an initial Department for Transport recommendation that Northern season ticket holders in the worst affected areas should receive a refund equivalent to the cost of four weeks travel, in addition to existing compensation scheme payments. Season ticket holders in other areas will receive one week’s refund, including passengers on TransPennine Express routes. Transport minister Jo Johnson told Parliament that Network Rail would fund the package “in full from within their existing operational budgets” and that the infrastructure operator had “accepted that their late completion of upgrades has led to the significant disruption”. The train operators will administer the refunds. Compensation arrangements will also include a tourism marketing campaign for areas most severely affected by disruption such as Blackpool and the Lake District. However, TfN chairman John Cridland said compensation needed to go further with special payments to passengers using daily tickets during the period of disruption. “The Transport for the North board has been pressing the 04 | 6 July 2018 PT_Issue188_p04-05.indd 4

John Cridland: ‘There is still more work to be done’

rail industry to adequately compensate those who have suffered the most. I’m delighted that we are now able to start doing this but there is still more work to be done,” he commented. The DfT has confirmed that “further measures are expected to be agreed shortly”. Performance at Northern has improved since the introduction of temporary timetables on June 4, which included withdrawing 165 of the additional 200 services introduced in May. However, the need to complete driver training on new routes and the reorganisation of crews and rolling stock means punctuality remains well below the 88.2% of trains which arrived

Farron calls for Cumbrian franchise Former Lib Dem leader questions ‘colossal’ Northern Cumbrian MP Tim Farron has called for the government to remove three Cumbrian branch lines from Northern and let them as a separate micro-franchise to a company focused on running the services in the local interest. His request to transport secretary Chris Grayling came after Northern replaced all trains on the Lakes Line with a higher frequency bus service on June 4 as part of its temporary timetable arrangements.

The former Lib Dem leader said the situation reinforced his view that Northern sees the Cumbrian lines as a low priority and questioned whether such a “colossal franchise across the whole of the north of England” was suited to managing local lines. “For example, we need to look at Cumbria and decide whether the Furness Line, the Coastal Line and the Lakes Line could instead be a separate franchise,” he said. He added that rapid local action to restore a partial service on the

within five minutes of schedule in the year to April 2018. Transport minister Jo Johnson said that in the first two weeks of the temporary timetable Northern had run 80% of trains within five minutes of schedule with 4% of trains cancelled or over 30 minutes late. Performance has continued at a comparable average level since, but with significant daily fluctuations. From May 20 until the introduction of the temporary timetable, 66% of trains arrived within five minutes of schedule with 12% cancelled or over 30 minutes late. Johnson reiterated that Northern was continuing to perform significantly below requirements but added: “What is important is that we build on that improvement and ensure that over the coming weeks Northern makes further progress towards restoring journeys and reducing disruption as rapidly as possible.” Northern has committed to restore a full timetable by the end of July.

Lakes Line ahead of Northern’s plans to do so highlighted the potential benefits of such an approach. From June 18 until July 1, heritage charter operator West Coast Railway ran six return trains per day between Oxenholme and Windermere, funded by the Department for Transport, after interventions from Farron and local tourist businesses. “Grayling responded: “I rule nothing out as regards the future structure of franchises.” Northern re-started trains on the Lakes line on July 2 with 12 return shuttles and buses continuing to fill timetable gaps and provide additional services.

04/07/2018 16:15

A vision for the future of ‘Rail Cities’. Page 18

More changes planned as GTR recovery falters Performance has remained similar to initial meltdown PERFORMANCE

Govia Thameslink Railway is planning to introduce a revised interim timetable on July 15 in a further bid to start stabilising punctuality after initial changes to the May 20 timetable failed to provide any notable signs of improvement. The first batch of changes on June 4 saw GTR remove 160 services from its timetable, with plans to cancel a further 70 day by day should the need arise (PT186). However, punctuality and cancellations have remained similar to the level experienced during the initial meltdown of the May 20 timetable which included 400 extra services, new cross-London routes and retiming every train.


Thameslink: new plans

Latest figures released by Network Rail show that on Thameslink routes, which were the particular focus of the timetable change, only 64.5% of trains arrived within five minutes of schedule in the four weeks to June 23 with 23.1% of services cancelled or over 30 minutes late. On the related Great Northern routes, 69.9% of trains arrived

within five minutes of schedule with 15% of services cancelled or over 30 minutes late. GTR said that the revisions to the timetable on July 15 would provide progressive improvement as it worked to resolve issues caused by Network Rail’s late agreement of the May 20 timetable. The company confirmed that the timetable

details and its late delivery meant significant unanticipated changes were required to re-work crew schedules and locations and the schedules for new route training. “We are re-planning how we use trains and train crew on Thameslink and Great Northern to deliver a new fixed, interim timetable in July that will prioritise peak trains and reduce service gaps, progressively delivering improvement,” a spokesman commented. While gaps in service remain, GTR will provide replacement taxis and buses and continue arrangements for tickets to be accepted on other operators’ services where available. The company has also announced that first class carriages will be available to all passengers from June 29 until the new interim timetable. First class ticket holders will receive pro-rata refunds. An enhanced compensation scheme for passengers affected by the disruption since the May 20 timetable change will be agreed by the Department for Transport and GTR.

The CAF-built train has been transported to Merseyside for finishing work

First of 98 new trains arrived in Bristol in June ROLLING STOCK

The first of Northern’s 98 new trains has arrived in the UK. The CAF-built diesel train arrived into Royal Portbury Dock, Bristol, by ship from Spain on June 25, and was transported by lorry to Merseyside for finishing work over the next few weeks before it enters testing on the UK rail network. It is due to be followed in a few weeks’ time by the first of Northern’s new electric trains.

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04/07/2018 16:15


Manchester operators form bus partnership Greater Manchester operators launch new partnership campaign PARTNERSHIP

Commercial bus operators in Greater Manchester have come together to launch OneBus, a new initiative that aims to reaffirm their commitment to improving bus travel. The move comes as Andy Burnham, Greater Manchester’s metro mayor continues to press on with plans that could see the region’s buses franchised. The new partnership brings together Greater Manchester’s 18 commercial bus operators and aims to highlight “the fantastic and vital work that thousands of bus service workers deliver for Greater Manchester’s economy”. To mark the launch of the campaign, bus operators will this weekend offer free travel to all holders of the GetMeThere 16-18 card for young people which

normally offers discounted bus travel. The initiative is being led by the Greater Manchester Bus Operators Association (GMBOA). Gary Nolan, chief executive of GMBOA, said OneBus aims to unify all Greater Manchester bus services under one brand identity with a common goal of providing efficient, accessible and reliable bus services.

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Carousel Buses has launched its new ‘Chiltern Hundreds’ network with six revised routes and upgraded, branded buses. The new network creates frequent links, including a 15-minute headway service between High Wycombe and Beaconsfield, and new links to Wexham Park Hospital from Gerrards’ Cross, Beaconsfield and High Wycombe.


OneBus brings together 18 commercial operators in the region

Passengers on Vantage service leave the car at home

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Chiltern Hundreds aims to create better Bucks links

€1bn contract to operate in Rabat, Salé and Temara

Busway service user satisfaction hits 92% First Manchester has disclosed high levels of passenger satisfaction on its Vantagebranded network of services that use the Leigh-Salford guided busway corridor. The operator quizzed over 3,000 Vantage passengers and discovered that 92% of them are satisfied with the service. Over half of the respondents

Nolan also indicated that a partnership approach would be the way forward. “OneBus represents the interests of all commercial bus operators in Greater Manchester and, moving forward, we want to work with the mayor and local authorities to make fares simpler, improve the passenger experience, and assess the viability of the road network,” he told Passenger Transport.


claimed that they walk to the bus stop and only 20% drive, with this figure now decreased yearon-year. Two-thirds then walk to their destination after getting off Vantage, with over 70% of those confirming it takes less than 10 minutes to reach their destination after leaving the bus. “The Vantage service continues to go from strength to strength

and is now a key part of thousands of people’s daily lives,” said Roger Jones, chair of the bus network and Transport for Greater Manchester services sub-committee. “Customer feedback is the true barometer of its success and these survey results are great to see.” Vantage uses the 4.5-mile bus-only guideway between Leigh, Tyldesley and Ellenbrook. It forms part of TfGM’s £122m investment package to improve bus services through better bus priority measures.

National Express Group has announced that its Spanish and Moroccan division, ALSA, has been awarded a major bus contract in the cities of Rabat, Salé and Temara, Morocco. Rabat is Morocco’s second most populous city and this contract will be ALSA’s largest in Morocco. The contract will see 500 buses carry 109 million passengers a year across 61 routes. It is initially for 15 years, with an option of a further seven-year extension, with services commencing within a year. ALSA will operate the contract as the majority shareholder of a joint venture with CityBus, a local transport company. The contract is expected to secure €1bn of revenue over the life of the contract. “We have been steadily growing our presence in Morocco as part of our strategy to expand in rapidly growing urban areas, helping to diversify our earnings,” said Dean Finch, National Express Group chief executive. “It is particularly pleasing that our track record for service excellence in Morocco played a significant part in this successful bid.

04/07/2018 16:32

Buses need long term investment strategy. Page 21

Bus funding cut by a further £20m in 2017 Campaign for Better Transport calls for bus investment strategy BUS CUTS

A new report published by the Campaign for Better Transport (CBT) has highlighted that local authority bus budgets in England and Wales were cut by £20.5m last year - the eighth year in a row budgets have been cut. In total since 2010/11, supported bus budgets in England and Wales have been cut by £182m - a 45% reduction. CBT has also found that 64% of English local authorities reduced or spent nothing on supported bus services last year. In England, subsidy for supported services was cut by a further 9% (£20m). The latest cuts in funding have meant 301 routes were altered or completely withdrawn last year, with a total of 3,347 altered, reduced or withdrawn in the last eight years.

“Our latest report confirms that the slow death of the supported bus continues, with local authority bus budgets suffering yet another cut this year,” said Steve Chambers, CBT’s public transport campaigner. “The resulting cuts to services mean many people no longer have access to public transport, with rural areas hit especially hard. “The loss of a bus service has huge implications - it can prevent people accessing jobs and education; have an adverse effect on the local economy with people prevented from getting to shops and businesses; affect people’s physical health and mental wellbeing; and has an inevitable effect on congestion and air pollution as

“Many people no longer have access to public transport” Steve Chambers, CBT

CPT hits back at LGA for ‘distorted’ report Bus industry body rejects claims over future of the bus The Confederation of Passenger Transport has branded a Local Government Association report that claimed nearly half of all bus routes in England are under threat due to local government funding cuts as “distorted” and “misleading”. LGA claim councils in England face an overall funding gap that is expected to exceed £5bn by

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2020. Faced with ongoing and significant funding pressures, the LGA said councils will struggle to maintain current subsidies for bus routes across the country. However, Simon Posner, the CPT’s chief executive, said the LGA has painted “a gloomy, distorted and misleading picture of local bus services in England”.

more cars jam up our roads.” Chambers added that the Bus Services Act had the potential to improve local buses, but argued that this was not enough on its own. “The government must wake up to the crisis hitting local buses before it’s too late,” he added. CBT has called on the government to introduce a National Investment Strategy for Buses and Coaches, backed up with proper long-term funding, like those that already exist for roads, railways, cycling, walking and other modes. It also wants the government to come up with new and smarter funding for buses, and to join up the different public sector transport contracts in a ‘total transport’ approach. The report also recommends that local authorities should use the powers in the new Bus Services Act, and urges the government to encourage and support them to do so.

He said 86.6% of bus routes in England outside London were operated on a commercial basis and there were plenty of examples from across England where bus operators have stepped in to continue to run services. “It is not just cuts to local authority budgets which are having a detrimental effect on local bus services,” he added. “The number one issue impacting on bus use across the country remains that of congestion.”

IN BRIEF MORE TRAMS FOR METROLINK Transport for Greater Manchester has signed a £72m contract that will see 27 new trams added to Metrolink’s fleet. The contract with manufacturer Bombardier Transportation UK and Kiepe Electric will increase capacity on the network by 15%. The first tram is expected to arrive in February 2020, with other units following on a monthly basis through to June 2021. SHEFFIELD TRAM EXPANSION? South Yorkshire PTE is tendering for financial advisers to help prepare the outline business case for a mass transit project in the Sheffield City Region. It is likely to include plans to expand the conurbation’s tram network and follows the award of £1.5m from the DfT’s Large Local Majors Fund in November 2016 to help prepare the outline business case. BUSES FOR SHEFFIELD First South Yorkshire and Stagecoach Yorkshire are to begin rolling out joint ‘Buses for Sheffield’ branding for their services that form part of the city’s bus partnership. The move will follow the introduction of 44 new buses, that will replace around 15% of the city’s fleet, by the two operators. WEST MIDLANDS METRO The West Midlands Combined Authority, via Transport for West Midlands, brought operation of the Midland Metro tram system into public ownership last month and renamed the system West Midlands Metro. The move has seen fares on some single and return journeys reduced by an average of 10%, and a new Metro day ticket introduced.

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Welsh Metro plans raise fears for future of buses Bus operators have expressed fears for the future of buses in Wales after KeolisAmey was awarded the £5bn Wales and Borders rail contract INVESTMENT

Concerns are surfacing about the potential impact of the South Wales Metro rail modernisation on bus services. However, there is also some optimism that the Metro brand could improve the attractiveness of all public transport, including buses. Last month the Welsh Government and its Transport for Wales company awarded KeolisAmey the £5bn Operator and Development Partner contract for Wales and Borders (PT185). This will include overseeing a £700m modernisation of the Core Valley Lines, north of Cardiff. From 2022, electrically powered light rail vehicles will double service frequency from Merthyr Tydfil, Aberdare and Treherbert (Rhondda) to Cardiff. A year later, tri-mode trains will double frequency from Rhymney to Cardiff, also to four trains per hour. Major journey time reductions are predicted and many stations will receive new or additional car parking. The new trains will replace Pacer and Sprinter trains operated by Arriva Trains Wales under a “no growth” contract awarded in 2003. Transport secretary Ken Skates did not refer to buses in his detailed 3,600-word written statement on KeolisAmey’s appointment and the modernisation. Bev Fowles, chair of the CPT Wales’ bus commission, told Passenger Transport: “Initially after 08 | 6 July 2018 PT_Issue188_p08-09.indd 8

Stagecoach invested £4m in new vehicles for this service last year. From 2022 it will face increased competition from Metro

the announcement, there was a feeling that buses have now been formally put in their place by the Welsh Government, and that place is second. Really it ought to be the other way round. “We’re in danger now of muddling this up. Buses are being pushed back and back. The attitude is, ‘When we’re short of what we need, the bus will fill in.’ That’s a hell of a gamble.” His comments coincided with criticism from a think tank of the Welsh Government’s refusal to provide any low-emission bus grants. The Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) report on decarbonising transport says that even the predicted expansion of

“The bus is the poor relation of public transport in Wales”

rail services will “still leave rail’s passenger capacity far behind that of buses”. The report, written by Welsh Labour veteran Chris Roberts, also says: “Rail infrastructure is expensive and difficult to install. If the Metro is to reach many of the communities of South Wales, then integration with the bus is the only practical option. The key to the Metro’s success, and overcoming the perception that it is too Cardiff-centric, will be its ability to seamlessly integrate other modes, particularly buses, into the system.” It also suggests the Metro investment could transform attitudes to public transport. “Rail is already seen as an acceptable alternative to the car across the social classes, so transferring that acceptance by good branding through to light rail, then trams, to guided or trolley buses, could help change people’s attitudes towards using the bus.”

Fowles said it was unlikely that bus operators would object to having Metro branding on their vehicles. He said TrawsCymru long-distances buses had a high customer satisfaction rating, with vehicles carrying the same branding despite being operated by First Cymru, New Adventure Travel, Stagecoach South Wales and Lloyd’s Coaches. The IWA interviewed Bridgend council leader Huw David. He uses local buses when his working hours permit and believes “the fact that policymakers and officials don’t use the bus but the car and the train is a key reason why the bus is the poor relation of public transport in Wales”. The IWA report also says he is “concerned that the South Wales Metro will be too rail focussed and cites the impossibility of reestablishing rail links to many of his county’s valleys communities, whereas a comprehensive bus network could bring major economic and social benefits”. Fowles said: “If you’re going to have four trains per hour or more from the Valleys, bus trunk routes that have been established for donkey’s years are going to decrease. But we shouldn’t be talking about bus versus train, we should be talking about bus and train versus car. Bus v train isn’t the answer, but I fear there’s a danger that it might happen.” One bus company manager said the government had reduced its grant which replaced BSOG in Wales and was now threatening further cuts (PT186). “Cuts to funding result in service reductions, fare increases etc, which result in passenger resistance and declining passengers. Increasing rail journeys and rail station parking [will] abstract from buses in the Valleys, further reducing passengers on buses.”

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Over cost, over time, over and over again. Page 22

Electrification is now cheaper, says campaign A new campaign group argues significant cost savings could be made ELECTRIFICATION

Electrification of Network Rail lines can be achieved for less than half the cost assumed when several schemes were cancelled last year, according to a new campaign launched by people in the rail industry. The Campaign to Electrify Britain’s Railways (CEBR), founded in May, claims that electrifying the line from Cardiff to Swansea would cost about £150m. According to the National Audit Office, the Department for Transport expected to save £500m by cancelling the Swansea electrification. Prime Minister Theresa May asked for an updated assessment before she agreed to cancel the project, which was calculated to have a “poor” Benefit:Cost Ratio of 0.3:1. Former Network Rail manager Noel Dolphin, who now works for electrical company

Furrer+Frey, helped to establish the CEBR. He said the CEBR had taken soundings from several international companies, including Alstom and Siemens. Some were willing to take the financial risk on electrifying Network Rail lines, but this option had been overlooked when the schemes were cancelled. Electrification was cheaper across most of Europe, at “well under £1m per track kilometre”. Dolphin continued: “The industry in the UK should aspire to less than £1m per track km. This is almost what is being achieved in Scotland, so it is possible.” At the Scottish rate, Cardiff to Swansea would cost about £165m to £170m, he said, but there would be a further saving

“The industry in the UK should aspire to less than £1m per track km”

because some of the preparatory work - including a £60m system to feed electricity to the railway had already been completed. The DfT’s estimated cost was more than three times what it should now cost, he said. Dolphin suggested that the cost of electrifying the Windermere branch could have been overestimated by an even greater factor. He had spoken to half a dozen companies whose prices for electrifying European branch lines were no more than 500,000 Euros per track km. This rate would mean the 16km Windermere line would cost less than £9m to electrify. The DfT worked on the basis that the cost would be £36m, generating a BCR of 0.6:1. The DfT plans to deploy new bi-mode trains on the Midland Main Line (MML), following the decision to cancel electrification north of Kettering. Dolphin said bi-modes were a “quick fix for the DfT”, and were the “worst of both worlds” because they carried the weight of diesel equipment,

diesel fuel and electric motors, with consequential issues for maintenance and reliability. “The project team for MML are looking at the feasibility for extending north of Kettering now, so it is not ruled out.” Dolphin said Network Rail had developed a cheaper method of electrifying under bridges, initially deployed at a bridge near Cardiff Central. Rolled out to other lines, this would avoid the bridge reconstructions that had added significantly to the costs of recent electrification projects. He also pointed to the committed Valley Lines electrification, where bridge decks over the railway would not have to be raised because the power cables would be isolated. He said a senior programme manager had told the CEBR this week that the cost-saving initiatives were not known when the DfT’s estimates were drawn up. “They [DfT] are still using estimates based on what was there four or five years ago.” He said the key to driving down costs was to electrify at a steady pace, rather than rushing to get wires up because new rolling stock had been ordered. “Part of that is looking at what capacity the industry has to deliver.”





A new rail milling train and two multi-purpose engineering trains with bespoke machinery are undergoing final testing in Austria before delivery to Transport for London for use on the Elizabeth line. All three are fitted with the Elizabeth line’s new central section signalling system, enabling them to move around the railway’s core.

The Transport Select Committee has recommended that electrification schemes cancelled over the past year should be placed in a pipeline for further development and design work with focus on cutting cost. MPs also believe action is needed to “rebuild confidence” in Network Rail and the Department for Transport during Control Period 6.

Three engineering trains ready for delivery to TfL

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Select Committee calls for plans to be restored

Linsinger MG31 rail milling train has been tested between Salzburg and Linz in Austria

6 July 2018 | 09

04/07/2018 16:17


Lothian profits down but dividend increases Council-owned bus firm pays out £6.8m to its shareholders FINANCIALS

Profitability at council-owned bus operator Lothian has declined in its latest set of financial results. However, the dividend to its local authority shareholders increased. In the year to December 31, 2017, the muncipal reported revenues of £152.8m, up from £146.9m a year earlier. However, profit before tax declined 28.5% from £13.9m to £10.0m. Lothian paid an interim dividend of £6.8m, up from £6.6m a year earlier. Over the last 10 years this brings the total dividend paid to its shareholders, led by the City of Edinburgh Council, to £40.8m. Operating profit margin decreased slightly by 2.3% to

LOTHIAN BACKS EAST COAST TOUR New open top tour for East Lothian sights

reach 9.0%, but patronage has increased 1.2 million year-on-year to 121.1 million passengers against the national downward trend. Operational safety and reliability levels remain consistent and the company continued its 100% MOT first time pass rate. Lothian also spent £26.2m on assets, including the introduction of 86 new vehicles, 10% of the total fleet. Driver staff turnover has increased by 2.5% year-on-year to 6.4% and the company reports it is actively trying to reduce this level. Complaints per 100,000 passenger journeys have increased slightly by 1.3 to 7.7. Lothian managing director Richard Hall said it was now critical for the operator to “future proof” its business by investing in new opportunities and markets as well as improving the profile of

our fleet and assets. “Significant investment in new buses to enhance the customer experience and meet emissions targets is a key critical path. Such investment, growth and expansion creates new jobs whilst increasing levels of transport provision and improving the overall customer experience. “Buses are the solution, both now and in the future to combat rising congestion and environmental issues.” Meanwhile, Edinburgh Trams has reported an operating profit of £1.6m over the same period. This exceeds the City of Edinburgh Council’s original business model for the tram network of £0.3m for 2017. Revenue returns of £13.0m were 26% above 2016. Patronage increased to 6.6 million in 2017, 18% above 2016.

The East Coast Tour will operate daily until the end of August


Plans revealed for Scottish bus alliance PARTNERSHIP

A new voluntary quality bus partnership scheme in the North East of Scotland will be overseen by a wide-ranging bus alliance. The North East of Scotland bus alliance, covering Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire councils, aims to arrest the decline in bus patronage by 2022. Fare-paying passenger numbers fell 7% from 2015/16 to 2016/17 and are around 35% down since 2009/10. The alliance will provide a framework for making statutory partnership agreements on individual corridors, with work initially prioritising the Aberdeen to Inverurie and Westhill corridors; and the A956 Wellington Road to Stonehaven corridor. Its board will be chaired by CPT Scotland director George Mair, who is also an adviser to Nestrans, the North East Scotland regional transport partnership.

CAF BUYS POLISH MANUFACTURER Agreement could see Solaris bought by firm



Lothian subsidiary East Coast Buses has launched a new hop on, hop off sightseeing service around the East Lothian area linking popular visitor attractions. The East Coast Tour has two daily departures from Waverley Bridge in Edinburgh and departing hourly from North Berwick until the end of August and then throughout every weekend in September. East Coast Buses has refurbished two open top tour buses for the introduction of the new venture which aims to boost tourism in the area.

Spanish rolling stock supplier CAF has signed an agreement to negotiate the purchase of Polish bus and tram manufacturer Solaris. The enterprise value of Solaris is estimated to be slightly above €300m, with the final amount still to be confirmed. The acquisition is to be funded mainly by additional CAF debt, and subject to approval. The companies expect the transaction to close in September. CAF says the purchase will allow it to provide a “more complete offer” to its customers.

10 | 6 July 2018 PT_Issue188_p10-11.indd 10

04/07/2018 16:47

“Inevitably such a young business... hasn’t been helped by the gung-ho approach [of managers]”

Uber culture change leads to licence win Ride-hailing app granted 15-month licence in London APPS

Ride-hailing app Uber has been granted a 15-month licence to operate in London on the proviso it follows Transport for London private hire licence rules. Uber had its licence revoked by TfL last September after it was accused of being “not a fit and proper” operator because of public safety concerns and its attitude to regulators. The tech firm appealed the decision and the two-day hearing was watched closely for signs that TfL’s attitude to the company had softened following the appointment of new chief executive, Dara Khosrowshahi. During the hearing Uber argued

STAGECOACH TENDER LOSSES Tower Transit and Go-Ahead gains in latest TfL results


it had “grown up” following the ousting of founder Travis Kalanick as chief executive at the end of last summer. Thomas de la Mare, a lawyer representing Uber, admitted that the company “did some things in hindsight that are pretty stupid to be frank”. Uber has agreed to a slew of new conditions with TfL in addition to a series of changes made since the start of the year, including proactive reporting of violent incidents to the police. The company has agreed to be audited after six months and said it will not employ senior managers who were aware of the Greyball software used to avoid regulatory scrutiny. Tom Elvidge, promoted to be the ride-hailing app’s general manager for the UK and Ireland in the wake of its licence ban, argued that Uber had made a

“fundamental change” to its management style and overhauled its UK leadership. Elvidge’s predecessor, Jo Bertram, who was singled out for criticism by TfL, left the company last October. The shift in Uber’s approach was acknowledged by judge Emma Arbuthnot. “Inevitably such a young business has suffered a number of growing pains that hasn’t been helped by the gung-ho approach [of managers],” she said. “I have given particular weight to the conditions agreed between the parties. Taking into account the new governance arrangements I find that while Uber was not a fit and proper person when the decision was taken and the months after, it is now a fit and proper person.”

London has also lost Route 396 (Ilford Broadway-King George Hospital) to Go-Ahead London with a PVR of four buses. Elsewhere in

the results, Go-Ahead London has also retained Route 486 (North Greenwich-Bexleyheath) with a PVR of 14 buses.


Stagecoach London has lost 24 buses’ worth of work to Tower Transit and Go-Ahead London, according to the latest Transport for London tender results. Australian-owned bus operator Tower Transit has been the main beneficiary, winning Routes 262 (Stratford-East Beckton) and 473 (Stratford-North Woolwich). In addition, the company also takes on Route 228 (Maida Hill-Central Middlesex Hospital) from Metroline. The total peak vehicle requirement (PVR) for these routes is 29 buses. Meanwhile, Stagecoach East

PT_Issue188_p10-11.indd 11

LONDON BUSES TENDER RESULTS Source: Transport for London ROUTE 43 122 134 228 262 372 396 472 473 486 601 602

CURRENT OPERATOR Metroline Stagecoach Selkent Metroline Metroline Stagecoach East London Stagecoach East London Stagecoach East London Stagecoach Selkent Stagecoach East London Go-Ahead London Stagecoach Selkent Stagecoach Selkent

NEW OPERATOR Metroline Stagecoach Selkent Metroline Tower Transit Tower Transit Stagecoach East London Go-Ahead London Stagecoach Selkent Tower Transit Go-Ahead London Stagecoach Selkent Stagecoach Selkent

PVR 32 17 27 9 11 7 4 16 9 14 7 2

15 YEARS OF OYSTER Transport for London has celebrated 15 years since the Oyster card first made its debut. Development of a smartcard ticketing system, that would go on to become the Oyster card, began in 1991 with the first trials of the technology on the Route 212 bus in Walthamstow. The card was first issued to the public on June 30, 2003, and since then over 100 million cards have been issued. DRT TRIAL PROGRESSES Transport for London has invited expressions of interest in its trial of demand responsive public transport operations in outer London suburban areas that are hard to access by conventional buses. The trials could operate on a set route or in a defined area, and are expected to run between January and December next year. Potential scheme operators had until this week to apply to TfL.

But it wasn’t all bad news for Stagecoach in this tender round. The operator has retained Routes 122 (Plumstead-Crystal Palace) and 372 (Hornchurch-Lakeside), plus school bus routes 601 and 602. These routes have a combined PVR of 49 buses. Meanwhile, Metroline, despite the loss of Route 228 to Tower Transit, has retained Routes 43 (Friern Barnet-London Bridge) and 134 (North Finchley-Tottenham Court Road). These routes have a combined PVR of 59 buses, the 32 due for Route 43 being electric double deckers (PT187). Routes 228, 472, 601 and 602 commence in January 2019; Routes 43, 122, 134 and 486 start in February 2019; and Routes 262, 372, 396 and 473 in late March 2019. 6 July 2018 | 11

04/07/2018 16:47


Bus operators mark National Clean Air Day Liverpool City Region mayor highlights achievements, Xplore Dundee announces bus order and Arriva Derby demonstates HEV technology Bus operators across the country showed supported for the second annual National Clean Air Day on June 21, an event designed to encourage people to take action to improve air quality throughout the UK’s cities and towns. The day saw partners from across the Liverpool City Region gathered in the city’s Williamson Square to persuade people to play their part to help tackle air pollution. Steve Rotheram, LCR’s metro mayor, was at the event to talk about how the Bus Alliance between Merseytravel and local operators Arriva and Stagecoach is working to reduce emissions and improve air quality. “The Combined Authority fully recognises the positive role buses can play in improving air quality, which is why buses with poor emissions in the Liverpool City Region are being phased out and replaced with low or zero emission buses,” he said. Ahead of Clean Air Day 2018, Rotheram joined leaders from across the UK at a summit in London to discuss the national issue of air pollution, where he highlighted some of the work of LCR’s Bus Alliance. He explained how bus operators had introduced electric, gas and hybrid powered buses in the city region. Meanwhile, 134 of the region’s older buses have been re-engineered to reduce their emissions and the same process is planned for another 149 buses. The Better by Bus street team was also in Williamson Square on 12 | 6 July 2018 PT_Issue188_p12-13.indd 12

Clean Air Day, helping people to make their own pledges to reduce the amount of pollution they create and encouraging clearner and more sustainable journeys. Lisa Pearson, campaign conductor for Better By Bus, said: “The campaign has been incredibly successful. Our street team has been visiting various locations across the City Region, complete

with megaphones, placards and giveaways all with the aim to get the message out there that getting the bus has benefits for both you and the environment.” National Express-owned bus operator Xplore Dundee used Clean Air Day to announce 14 brand new low emission double decker buses for the city. Managing director Christine McGlasson

“The Combined Authority fully recognises the positive role buses can play in improving air quality” Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor, LCR

Christine McGlasson (centre) and Shona Robison (right)

Raj Chander (centre)

told the city’s councillors and local environmental groups that a £4m fleet of smart hybrid buses will arrive in the city this autumn. The investment was welcomed by Scotland’s cabinet secretary for health and Dundee East MSP Shona Robison. She said: “This is a great boost to Dundee’s environmental credentials and will help to make our city greener. I applaud Xplore Dundee for their efforts and am looking forward to my first journey!” Built by Falkirk-based Alexander Dennis, the new double deckers, dubbed ‘Emerald’, will operate principally on Service 22, which through Seagate, one of Dundee’s air quality hotspots. “We’re getting ready for Dundee’s Low Emission Zones, which are scheduled to be introduced in the next couple of years,” McGlasson commented. Xplore Dundee meanwhile launched its Solution to Pollution’ air quality agenda, which outlines the benefits of the bus over the average car and highlights the issue of congestion, which is a crucial contributor to the city’s pollution statistics. Arriva Midlands marked Clean Air Day by demonstrating the very latest Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) at Derby Bus Station in order to highlight the huge steps the bus industry is taking in tackling air pollution. Designed by Wrightbus, the HEV combines Micro Hybrid technology, a conventional internal combustion engine and electric propulsion. Raj Chander, general manager for Arriva Derby, explained: “We were keen to share what we believe could be the most attainable next step for the sustainable evolution of bus travel in Derby with our partners at the city council... We are sure [these buses] will make a huge difference to air quality across the UK once they start to be introduced into service.”

04/07/2018 17:09

IN ASSOCIATION WITH: @TheGoAheadGroup TheGoAheadGroupPLC The Go-Ahead Group


New study examines Oxford bus emissions Oxford Bus Company study aims to inform zero emission plans AIR QUALITY

Oxford Bus Company (OBC) is collaborating with the University of Oxford and Oxford City Council to conduct a detailed emissions study of Euro 5 hybrid buses running on the operator’s X3 and 13 routes and on a Euro 6 vehicle on the OBC’s City 5 route to Blackbird Leys. The bus operator partnered with the University and the City Council to better understand pollution in the city, amid a consultation by Oxford City and Oxfordshire County Councils on

PT_Issue188_p12-13.indd 13

plans for a Zero Emission Zone in the city centre. If introduced it would see all polluting vehicles phased out from 2020. As vehicle technology develops it is proposed the Zero Emission Zone will extend to cover all non-electric vehicles across the city centre by 2035. Its full implementation would take air pollution levels in the city centre down to near-background levels. A team of experts from the University’s Engineering Science department are measuring Nitrogen Oxide (NOx) emissions on the vehicles taking part in the trial. Using highly accurate GPS equipment, the emissions measurements can identify

exactly where NOx is emitted to within 30 centimetres. The study will help establish exactly where NOx is being produced and whether any changes, for example to road layouts, can be made to reduce it. “We have collaborated with the University of Oxford to really establish where the pollution hotpots are in key areas of the city and what measures can be utilised to reduce them in conjunction with and in addition to the Zero Emission Zone,” said Phil Southall, OBC’s managing director. “We believe this forensic analysis will be of great benefit to key stakeholders in shaping the future of the city.”

IN BRIEF MCGILL’S TRIAL ELECTRIC BUS Scottish independent bus operator McGill’s this week launched a trial of a fully electric bus built by Yutong, China’s largest bus manufacturer, to gain feedback on customer perception. The demonstration on Route 38 between Paisley and Glasgow city centre will also investigate drivability and operating costs. NCT RETROFITS BUS FLEET Nottingham City Transport has introduced the first of 185 buses in its fleet that will be retrofitted with technology that will see the fleet’s tailpipe emissions reduce by 90%. This latest development comes after Nottingham City Council and Nottinghamshire County Council secured over £3m of funding to upgrade city buses.

22 January 2011 | 13

04/07/2018 17:09


Go-Ahead’s rideshare trial Group launches ground-breaking on-demand service in Oxford that links city’s ‘Eastern Arc’ APPS

Go-Ahead subsidiary Oxford Bus Company (OBC) has launched what it claims is the UK’s most ambitious app-based on-demand ridesharing minibus network with the introduction of its new PickMeUp service in Oxford’s ‘Eastern Arc’. Launched last week, the service enables residents, workers and students in a 12.2 square mile area around Oxford to request a bus pick-up within minutes at a virtual bus stop using a new mobile phone app. The app will enable passengers to request a pick up and the PickMeUp minibus will go to the nearest safe pick up point. Journeys will be matched with others wishing to make similar journeys to enable ride sharing. The operating area includes the city centre, railway station, Thornhill and Redbridge Park & Ride sites, the Science Park, Oxford Business Park, the John Radcliffe, Churchill and NOC hospitals, University Science Area and Brookes University. PickMeUp connects Oxford’s ‘Eastern Arc’

The front-end and back-end technology for the service was developed in partnership with Via, a New York-based market leader in ride-sharing technology. The company already has a prescence in the UK market with its ViaVan joint venture in London with Mercedes-Benz Vans. Meanwhile, Via has also supplied similar technology to Arriva for its ArrivaClick service. PickMeUp will operate for at least the next three years as part of a pilot project that has been backed by Go-Ahead. The group sees the service as a testbed for demand responsive technologies that could be introduced at other group subsidiaries. The backing from Go-Ahead has led to some significant investment, not only in the initial fleet of six high specification Mercedes-Benz Sprinter minibuses, but also in a sizeable marketing budget. Initially PickMeUp will operate between 6am and 11pm, Monday to Friday, and between 9am and 8pm at weekends, with an

Oxford Bus Company have invested £850,000 in six high specification 17-seat Mercedes-Benz Sprinter minibuses

expected average response time of around 10 minutes. There is an introductory flat fare of £2.50, with a surcharge of £2.50 if the journey could be made via an existing OBC bus route. Phil Southall, OBC’s managing director, told Passenger Transport he had high hopes for the new service and outlined the unique sponsorship-style approach that OBC is taking in order to make PickMeUp a viable concept. “This isn’t like a normal bus route where you put it on and you know what your fixed costs are, this is completely dynamic and it’s something completely different,” he said. “You need a slightly different mindset because if your waiting times get too high, you have to be prepared to throw more resource into it.” Southall revealed that OBC has worked closely with major employers in the Oxford area in order to tailor the service to their needs. He cites the example of travel review website TripAdvisor.

It has a large facility at Oxford Science Park with a shift that finishes at 10.30pm. Following discussions with TripAdvisor, PickMeUp’s planned operating hours were extended from 10pm until 11pm in order to appeal to TripAdvisor staff. He added that OBC was also trying to woo major employers by offering a range of PickMeUp sponsorship packages. These include a variety of discounted travel packages for sponsors’ employees, corporate logos to appear on the PickMeUp fleet and even sponsors’ premises being used as a “terminus” between trips in order to minimise waiting times for their staff. These packages are priced at around £50,000. “How many times have you been to a place at which the receptionist books you a taxi?” asked Southall. “Our vision is that the app is so easy to use that the receptionist puts the journey in and tells you your ride will be here in five minutes.”

“This is completely dynamic and it’s something completely different” Phil Southall, Oxford Bus Company 14 | 6 July 2018 PT_Issue188_p14-15.indd 14

04/07/2018 16:06

IN ASSOCIATION WITH: Transdev PLC Transdev plc

ArrivaClick heads north

On-demand service to see Liverpool launch following successful pilot in Sittingbourne APPS

Arriva will expand its ArrivaClick on-demand ridesharing minibus service later this summer with a new service in Liverpool. It follows a successful year-long pilot in Sittingbourne, Kent. Arriva is working with Merseytravel to roll out the new service. It will initially operate with a fleet of six vehicles, although the two partners hope to have up to 25 ArrivaClick minibuses in operation by summer 2019. The German-owned group will use the same ridesharing technologies developed by Via for the Sittingbourne pilot. It will seamlessly match passengers travelling in the same direction, dynamically routing vehicles in real-time to find the optimal route. “ArrivaClick will complement existing public transport in the region, giving customers more options to use shared transport, and we have big ambitions to

make this flexible, responsive service available for thousands more journeys,” said Kevin O’Connor, managing director of Arriva UK Bus. The group is remaining tight-lipped about the operating area for the new service, although Steve Rotheram, the metro mayor for the Liverpool City Region, said he was committed to making the region more connected and accessible. “At the same time, we must be mindful of the impact pollution and congestion has on the city,” he added. “That means thinking more creatively and providing innovative services that deliver tangible benefits for both passengers and the environment.” Although Arriva has not revealed the volume of passengers carried in Sittingbourne, nor financial data, it says the Kentish pilot was a success with 61% of users using the service a few times a week or more.

Arriva says the Liverpool service could have up to 25 vehicles by summer 2019

PT_Issue188_p14-15.indd 15

IN BRIEF JOURNEY PLANNER WITH FARES Travellers using Transport for London’s online journey planner can now see how much a planned journey on public transport in London will cost, following recent upgrades to help make planning journeys easier for customers. Passengers can also view additional information to see how the fare is calculated, allowing them to make more informed choices about their journey. More than 2.5 million people a month use the journey planner to plan their journeys on Tube, bus and rail services in the capital. SMOOTHING TRAFFIC FLOW Transport for London has awarded Siemens Mobility a 10year contract to deliver a world leading upgrade to London’s road network management system. TfL says the new Real Time Optimiser (RTO) system will revolutionise the current traffic light control system that has been in use for over 30 years. It will help TfL make much better use of the road space by optimising the traffic light timings. London already has an extensive network of SCOOT-controlled traffic lights, which use sensors to detect traffic and adjust the signal timings to manage queues and give buses priority if they are running late. DRIVERLESS ROLE FOR DANIELS Leon Daniels, Transport for London’s former managing director of surface transport, has joined FiveAI as an advisor. The UK-based company is creating an autonomous vehicle platform and is a participant in the StreetWise self-driving project. Five AI says it is aiming to create a mobility service that will revolutionise the way people travel in busy congested European cities.

STAGECOACH INNOVATIONS Stagecoach has announced it is to join the Intelligent Mobility (IM) Accelerator, a scheme designed to boost innovation in the transport sector. IM Accelerator is a partnership between Transport Systems Catapult and Wayra UK. The programme is designed to attract disruptive start-ups with high-growth potential into the UK transport industry, helping them grow into world-leading companies. As a sponsoring partner, Stagecoach will support start-ups with associated opportunities for business development and investment, and allocate relevant experts to provide appropriate support. The group will also take part in the start-up selection process for the programme. The IM Accelerator programme focuses on intelligent mobility, including areas such as connected and autonomous vehicles, connected infrastructure, new business models, transport data and artificial intelligence. DESIGN A FOOTBRIDGE Network Rail and RIBA Competitions have launched a competition seeking new design ideas for footbridges. Entrants are asked to design fully accessible footbridges that can be used across Britain’s rail network. The competition is open to all practising or student architects, structural engineers, civil engineers or teams of any of these professions. “Network Rail is committed to promoting design excellence, that’s why we’re challenging the architectural and engineering community to come up with new and innovative ideas for footbridge structures,” said Anthony Dewar, Network Rail’s head of buildings and architecture.

6 July 2018 | 15

04/07/2018 16:06


A railway adventure - during a ‘meltdown’ Some people get an adrenalin rush through dangerous extreme sports, I got mine travelling to Scarborough by train last month amid ‘chaos’ In the early 1990s, a mate and I had this odd obsession with wanting Alex Warner to visit the Mystery traveller roughest parts of the UK, drinking in pubs or hanging round the precise streets where the previous day there’d been a Daily Mail article describing lawlessness, debauchery and the general collapse of civilisation. But when I visited, it was rare to see the undercurrent of anarchy, a bit like how I’ve felt travelling around the nation by rail. During my sojourn across England last week, I wasn’t caught up in any collapse, but I saw signs and heard tales that offered enough insights into what is described by many as “meltdown”. I was off to the cricket in Scarborough and felt smug at having bought a £29 ticket with Grand Central to get me as far as York on the peak time 08:06 from Kings Cross. I was still celebrating until the smile was wiped off my face on arrival at Kings Cross and I overheard over the tannoy - no apology or explanation that my train was being cancelled. Around me, fellow customers were in panic mode, unable to afford the Anytime fare equivalent on East Coast and doubtful their ticket could be transferred. An announcement would have eased our fears but all we saw was a discreet scrolling message on the bottom of the departure screen 16 | 6 July 2018 PT_Issue188_p16-17.indd 16

that our tickets would be accepted on other services. I was having a downer on Grand Central, their fares are generally great and they are such an eager to please, innovative customerfocused management team, but a week earlier I’d treated myself to an attractive First Class fare and, for £12 extra, all I got was a couple of biscuits and not a lot else. I could have gone to Sainsbury’s beforehand and purchased loads of tucker for 12 smackers. It’s not as if there was much legroom or comfort on-board, and the train was surrounded by the sorts of people you don’t expect in First - beer-bellied, sweaty, bald England football fan types with St George tattoos on their legs, and so rotund, they took up my seat as well as their own. Anyway, back to my journey to

“Around me, fellow customers were in panic mode”

Scarborough. This was the second day of LNER operation and we were greeted with a shopping bag containing nothing but a miniscule timetable (as pointless an exercise in PR you couldn’t make up). Meanwhile, the help desk was staffed by a lady who had the biggest scowl and spoke to customers whilst turning her head in the other direction. Common sense prevailed and we were on the now very crowded 08:00 to Edinburgh, changing at York for Scarborough, where our next train was 10 minutes late with no announcement and only four carriages, which was woefully inadequate for the crowds going to the cricket. Whilst in Scarborough for a few days, I witnessed the reality of how cut off this totally beautiful, popular tourist destination really is. We’re in the 21st Century and the train service is only a barely believable hourly frequency with few, if any connections with services to/from London. Like so many seaside destinations, My view at the cricket

particularly out of season, most of its local economy is in decline and it depends on other larger locations not too far away, such as York, for employment and services, thus making the need for decent transport a greater priority. Thank goodness that they are lucky to have such a customer-focused bus operator in Transdev Blazefield providing its Coastliner service. As the time at the cricket passed, the mumblings in the cheap seats about the train service grew. One of our mates - an A-list top dog in the rail industry, was due to meet us around half six for a night out on the lash and cricket the next day, but he was two hours late, kicked off his TransPennine train at Malton and then had to wait for a 28-minute late service which was then cancelled two minutes shy of the station, being turned round so as to mitigate delay on its next journey. He was then put into a replacement taxi and arrived at Scarborough to see 30 people wandering around looking for transport to York. The explanation for the problems was similar to that for our earlier delay - “infrastructure problem in Manchester” - which didn’t mean anything to those just wanting to travel from York to Scarborough. It begged the question why there can’t be some local operator, maybe Northern, shuttling between these two places rather than relying on a service coming from miles away and with such propensity to be delayed. During the next day at the match, word was spreading fast that the late afternoon train was cancelled. Our mate who’d suffered the previous evening, was due to be going home on the next one but it was cancelled, whilst two others in our gang, a couple of rail sector icons, bumped into him on a later train which was

04/07/2018 15:58

“When mediocrity occurs, there is no reservoir of loyalty and patience” then delayed at Leeds as there was a driver changeover and no replacement. After 25 minutes the train was cancelled and customers were detrained onto an increasingly busy Platform 16, with no staff to be seen. Eventually, everyone was thrown back onto the train they had been kicked off - this time with the air conditioning not working on what was the hottest day of the year. Meanwhile, back in Scarborough the Yorkshire fans in the crowd had now ceased complaining about their feeble batting and being beaten by the soft Southerners from Surrey and were now fretting about how they’d get home, whilst the front page of the local rag bemoaned the impact of the dire rail service on the future of this wonderful town. Apparently there was only one train in three hours leaving Scarborough and tales of woe from loved ones were being relayed by text, phone and social media. This was just the kind of excuse I needed to stay at the cricket for another evening taking in the cloudless views from the cliff top onto the deep blue sea below, rather than venturing back to the travails of work. That night though I saw a darker side of Scarborough drunken women with their teeth having fallen out, pasty-skinned, vacant-eyed, glue-sniffers and the arid smell of cannabis causing me to retch as I licked my Mr Whippy 99 whilst walking the back streets in search of the model railway shop. Conversations overheard from those propping up the bar in the seedy pubs included “I went to London once” and “I went to York many a year ago” suggested a population lacking in social mobility. How much has the rail network turning its back on Scarborough contributed to this place now being in the doldrums?

PT_Issue188_p16-17.indd 17

Scarborough station

The next day it was my turn to head out of Scarborough, thankfully no problems apart from another train rammed to capacity and a PA system that announced that the train was terminating at Scarborough just as we were about to depart. When the rail industry is thriving, folk laugh this off, but this time, with the undercurrent of discontents, customers shook their heads angrily. The rest of my journey was largely trouble-free. I travelled from York to Derby on Arriva Cross Country, a crowded experience made bearable by the joy of once again bumping into Kevin Kramer who I have written about previously (PT096). He is the friendliest, wittiest conductor in the UK. I cannot do justice to his jokes, but they are uncontrived, not rah-rah, “look at me”, like those bubbly conductors that use their role as an outlet for their frustrated ambitions to be professional comedians. Dry Yorkshire wit, self-awareness of each customer’s needs, a man of the people, rather than the company and an utterly incredible ability to tell every single customer without hesitation the time of the arrival at their station - and the departure of every connection! It’s worth paying the

fare just to see this bloke in action. I departed at Derby, having listened to his final great announcement. The next day I was off to Chesterfield from Derby and then to Sheffield, but tired of trains I boarded the excellent Stagecoach bus service - with its great value fare, spotless vehicle, leather seats and chirpy driver. Some bus companies must be abstracting a wedge of revenue from rail right now on these small inter-urban flows. I was then over to Stockport on TransPennineand the service was decent, with a friendly on-board conductor, but a lack of legroom and overcrowded. Then it was home to Surrey on Virgin - an unmemorable journey except for the excessive announcements from the member of staff who thought she was being helpful by proudly updating us on how many delay minutes had been accumulated at every step of the way. A final word too about the cost - I’d shelled out over £250 for my journey up North, which many might think is not inordinate, but I actually think is a big wedge. It would have been much worse had I paid the full whack to go on my East Coast train to York, rather than been there by default because my pre-booked Grand

Central train had been cancelled. I’d also not realised - ignorantly so - that there do not appear to be off-peak singles for travel around some parts of the north - so £19.30 from Sheffield to Stockport rather horrified me £45.70 York to Derby seemed a fortune too. Some of the gang I watch cricket with are a price-sensitive bunch on very low incomes, several retired or either unemployed or unemployable, and they were car sharing or travelling by coach. Many would normally buy advance rail tickets but were put off because of the recent fiasco which meant that the tickets weren’t on the booking system until very recently. Even if I’d wanted to travel up and back direct from Surrey, I’d still have paid around a couple of hundred quid for the privilege five times as much as what many of my mates. In truth, I was too embarrassed to tell them my fare as I felt it looks extravagant and as though I was showing off. What has rail travel come to? This was a trip that price-wise represented a luxury, even though, apart from the customer service excellence from my favourite conductor between York and Derby, it felt anything but luxurious. Maybe Kevin Kramer should be heading up the UK rail industry right now. VERDICT My experience was mediocre and I came home underwhelmed. This was my first trip where I’d witnessed a genuine undercurrent of a railway grappling with serious issues, and when mediocrity occurs there is no reservoir of loyalty and patience to prevent customers imploding. No wonder folk are still ranting about their journeys well over a week on.

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A vision for the future of ‘Rail Cities’ The crisis on Northern and Thameslink shows how important rail is for cities - and opens up a space for some bigger thinking The recent meltdowns on Northern and Thameslink not only left many passengers beside themselves with frustration about not being able to get to work on time - or at all - it also led to a firestorm of criticism and condemnation from politicians and media alike. With the immediate shock of that first Monday morning of the meltdown passed, there’s now a bigger debate about whether the way that rail services are provided for in cities needs some far reaching reform. Before coming to that the first thing to say (and as we set out in our recent Rail Cities UK - our vision for their future report) is that the fundamentals for urban rail remain very strong. Here’s why. All cities want to become denser, more dynamic places which attract the best people to the growth sectors of the economy (including the ‘Flat White Economy’ of media, communications and information). In order to achieve this cities are reducing space for motorised traffic in favour of space for people as they strive to become places where people positively want to spend time in. Because that means more visitors, more investment and more smart people wanting to work there. It’s very difficult to see how you can get people into denser city centres with less space for road vehicles without expanding rail networks and their capacity. There are also synergies here with improving air quality and reducing carbon emissions if more of the road traffic that was spiking the air with carcinogens can be moved on to rail services powered by a 18 | 6 July 2018 PT_Issue188_p18-19.indd 18

rapidly decarbonising national grid. Rail can also help reduce the impact of freight and logistics vehicles on urban roads. This can be done by long hauling more bulk freight either into urban freight terminals directly (including passenger stations which are otherwise unused at night) or to rail connected distribution hubs on the urban periphery, where freight can then be loaded onto road vehicles better designed for the urban environment in terms of safety, propulsion and size. What’s more, if housing need is to be met (and housing is the one domestic policy area with some traction given Brexit’s domination of the wider political landscape) then again it’s

“Successful cities have always grown with their rail networks”

The Tyne & Wear Metro

rail that will be key. This is because so much brownfield land (either former rail land or former rail connected industrial sites) is next to railway lines. In addition, rail can extend commuting ranges and offers the opportunity for more housing to be built above, or as part of new or overhauled rail stations and interchanges. In short, rail expansion is vital if we are to avoid the sprawl and road congestion that might otherwise result from a big increase in house building. In some ways there’s nothing new here. Successful cities have always grown with their rail networks. London is a prime UK example - from Metro-land at the start of the 20th century to Docklands nearer the end rail network and city expansion have been in lock step. And, to be fair, there is significant investment going into urban rail at present including new train fleets for Northern (the Pacers are doomed) and Merseyrail and the Tyne & Wear Metro. However, much (but not all) of this investment is incremental or involves replacing rolling stock on its last legs it stops short of a wider vision for the rail cities that we need. What would such a vision look like in practice? First of all there comes a point where the biggest cities need more cross city routes because edge of centre termini can’t cope with the numbers. Hence the push for Crossrail 2 in London but also the need for more cross city capacity in cities like Birmingham (on the Snow Hill route) and Manchester (on the Oxford Road to Manchester Piccadilly corridor as well as a potential new underground route). Tram-train technology can also help allowing the lucky commuter that benefits to get on board at their local station and get off right outside their city centre office on main street in the city centre, rather than piling out at a Victorian railway terminal on the edge of that city centre. Tram-trains aren’t the only tech fix available. Battery packs can extend the range of existing electric trains deeper into the ‘look ma, no wires’ hinterlands, as well as allow trams to glide through city centres without the expensive clutter of overhead wires. More mundane, but equally useful, work to increase capacity through signalling, station, track and junction work offers the opportunity to move to turn-up-and-go networks with greater capacity and more reliability. Networks that start to emulate the best of

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“There is a tendency to prioritise investment in inter-city over intra-city”

German cities benefit from interlocking networks

what comparable German rail cities already enjoy; interlocking networks of long distance, regional express, regional, S-Bahn, U-Bahn, trams and buses - under common ticketing. But in talking about Germany and common ticketing I am now getting back to where I started around the debate on whether some fundamental change is needed on how urban rail networks are provided. Obviously there is a bigger national discussion going on about whether the current structure is just too layered with too many costly interfaces and too fractured a chain of command. And in addition whether the railway should be publicly or privately owned and operated. It’s been heartening to see the growing recognition that, regardless of how these debates are resolved, more devolution for urban and regional services should be part of any solution. Not only because fully devolved services have been out-performing comparators operationally and for passenger satisfaction - but also because local control, rather than remote control from Whitehall, will mean that the dots can be joined between rail and housing, between rail and the wider re-fashioning of city

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centres and between rail and local communities (for example, through repurposing stations as wider hubs for local community use, enterprises and housing). It will also allow (as in German rail cities) for rail and the rest of local urban public transport networks to be part of one system rather than just on nodding terms as is all too often the case at present. That’s the vision, but how can it be achieved? As well as a new settlement on rail devolution (both in terms of specification and oversight of services and on stations) we need to put some stability back into infrastructure investment. This means getting back to a long term approach to rail expansion alongside a long term approach to skilling up the sector so that we can deliver that expansion more effectively. The appraisal methodology that is used to justify and rank transport investment decisions is also not designed to capture the wider transformational benefits of major schemes - plus there is a tendency to prioritise investment in inter-city over intra-city. Finally, if the goal is reducing rather than increasing urban traffic congestion then it makes sense to ensure that planning of

transport, local economic development, housing and land use is coordinated. Of the English cities, London is furthest advanced in this regard though the creation of Combined Authorities (and in some places Mayoral Combined Authorities) is leading to improved coordination elsewhere. However, planning and prioritisation on the national rail network only fitfully reflects this approach. The crisis on Northern and Thameslink has been a miserable experience for rail users, affected cities and the rail industry. If any good has come out of it, it is that it shows how important rail is to cities and opens up a space for some bigger thinking about what kind of rail cities we need for the future - and how best we can make them happen.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR Jonathan Bray is the director of the Urban Transport Group. Throughout his career in policy and lobbying roles he has been at the frontline in bringing about more effective, sustainable and equitable transport policies.

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“It is more important than ever that we harness the potential of the bus”



Buses need long term investment strategy As we celebrate Catch the Bus Week, a new report warns that buses are in crisis. With more cuts on the horizon, action is needed

We face a housing crisis. The UK needs to build 300,000 new homes a year for the foreseeable future to address this. Research by KPMG demonstrates that planning and investment in local bus networks will be key to unlocking the value of housing investment. New developments in urban centres can stimulate 50% more economic growth than similar developments located at the fringe, but these benefits will be diluted if traffic congestion can’t be controlled. Unless we provide more public transport options alongside new housing, we risk bringing local roads to a standstill. Investment in bus networks must be a priority for the Housing Infrastructure Fund. We urge the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government to change the way it measures ‘value for money’ from different infrastructure schemes. Funds are currently allocated on the basis of Land Value Uplift without any consideration of vital wider economic, social and environmental impacts. Congestion is a major capacity challenge and constraint on growth. Traffic congestion in the UK’s largest cities is 14% worse than it was five years ago. Department for Transport figures due to be published this week are likely to show this trend is worsening. Buses are a major part of the solution: a double decker bus can take 75 cars off the road. But buses are also affected more detrimentally by congestion than any other mode. Congestion has been causing bus speeds to slow down by on average 10% per

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decade; patronage has declined by 10-14%. Transforming Cities Fund presents a timely opportunity to invest in bus. Every £1 invested in local bus infrastructure can deliver more than £8 in wider economic benefits. This is why Greener Journeys has commissioned Arup to undertake a study of where different bus investments can have a transformational impact on a city region’s economic performance. Part 1 of their study was published this week. Finally, it is imperative that we reduce emissions. Congestion must be tackled not only to address our capacity challenges, but also to reduce pollution. In nose to tail traffic tailpipe emissions increase fourfold. Buses are key to tackling our air quality crisis. Real world testing of modern diesel

Catch the Bus Week events are taking place across the country

buses demonstrates a 95% reduction in NOx emissions compared with previous models. A modern diesel bus has fewer emissions overall than a modern diesel car despite having 15 to 20 times the carrying capacity Buses are also central to delivering on our carbon reduction targets. More than 40% of new buses sold last year were low carbon emission vehicles. The bus sector has the highest penetration of low carbon emission vehicles of all modes of transport. Not only have we have seen a revolution in clean bus technology - with more than 5,000 low carbon emission buses in operation - but modal switch will be essential. If everyone switched just one car journey a month to bus, there would be a billion fewer car journeys on our roads and a saving of two million tonnes of CO2. Despite the vital role of the bus in addressing our major infrastructure, capacity and emissions challenges, bus patronage is declining. Bus networks are suffering from a perfect storm of rising congestion and the effects of disruptive changes, including online shopping, more delivery vehicles, increase in private hire vehicles, and relative low costs of motoring compared to public transport. Moreover, as the LGA reported last week massive cuts to local authority budgets have seen a sharp reduction in supported services. A new report from the Campaign for Better Transport details the extent of the damage. We need a long-term investment strategy for bus. We have long-term investment strategies for road, rail, walking and cycling, but nothing for bus. More people commute to work by bus than all other forms of public transport combined, and those bus commuters generate £64bn in goods and services. Buses provide vital access to essential services and are a lifeline for the elderly and many people on low incomes. A 10% improvement in bus service connectivity is associated with a 3.6% reduction in social deprivation. The decline in bus patronage comes at a time when it is more important than ever that we harness the potential of the bus to reduce congestion and emissions and address the UK’s major infrastructure challenges. A long-term bus investment strategy would be an excellent first step. CLAIRE HAIGH is Chief Executive of Greener Journeys - 17 November 2017 | 21

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Over cost, over time, over and over again Many projects are not, but some key ones are. Stephen Glaister’s inquiry should look beyond the timetable fiasco and ask why I want to fly a kite. Stephen Glaister’s inquiry into the timetable fiasco is an opportunity to write a truly insightful report into why some of the most important projects on the railway keep going wrong. The answer, as I will argue in this article, is complexity and novelty. The central problems it ought to investigate are these: First, why did the Readiness Committee fail to have a fallback position in place which could have been triggered before the go-live date? Second, every year we learn of another key project going awry; what exactly are the underlying reasons, what do they have in common? Unfortunately, according to its published terms of reference, the inquiry is not asking these questions. Instead, it is setting off in the usual, predictable and largely sterile direction: what worked, what did not work, and how to stop it happening again? You can see how it will go. The inquiry will plod through the things that went wrong, make worthy recommendations, criticise some people - often the wrong ones - wag its finger at the Department for Transport and very gently at the secretary of state, talk about project management best practice and urge everyone to do better next time. If I knew enough railway jargon, I could have a stab at writing it now. But you can bet that projects will keep going awry. 22 | 6 July 2018 PT_Issue188_p22-25.indd 22

The timetable meltdown is just one of a long list: electrification, new traffic management systems, Mark Carne’s original Digital Railway, some (not all) aspects of the Thameslink programme. Need I go on? It is not that every project goes wrong. But a lot do, and it keeps on happening. Some people say, “we are just not very good”. They say the problem is the people. I think that is a cop-out. We run the safest railway in Europe - we are not that stupid - but we have a most unhappy experience with projects. Discuss! Perhaps we should think about projects in a different way. Let me step back a bit. The 1980s saw a huge improvement in safety on the railway. The accident rate halved. Stephen Glaister’s inquiry is an opportunity to write a truly insightful report

Previously, it was almost as if accidents were accepted as part of life. But attitudes changed, processes and procedures came in and were enforced, the safety message was broadcast across the industry and the accident rate fell. But accidents kept happening and passengers were still killed. The decade ended with the tragedy of the accident at Clapham. Work in the signal relay room left a wire hanging which made, the next morning, a signal green which should have been red. One train ran into the back of another and a third passing train, ran into the wreckage; 35 people were killed. That was 30 years ago. Since than safety has been transformed. We have gone 10 years without a passenger killed in a railway accident. (There are fatalities on the railway, but not from train accidents). Two things changed. First, after Clapham, the railway brought in American chemical company DuPont to give advice. They brought a simple but crucial insight. Their advice was that top-down enforcement of standards only goes so far. To go further you must instead get the people who do the work, the electrician in the case of Clapham, to develop the standards - which are after all keeping them safe - and take collective responsibility for them. Safety must become a group responsibility and people must be encouraged to warn of dangers. It was a simple insight, but with profound consequences. The second thing, to give him credit, was the arrival of Len Porter as head of the Railway Safety and Standards Board. He had come from the offshore oil industry and introduced in the railway the system of recording every possible accident precursor and the development of a safety model which was able to predict the safety consequence of small things, and the ability, therefore, to give warnings that things were going wrong - before an accident happened. Putting DuPont and Len Porter together, along with some other things, gave us the best safety record in Europe. There is, in fact, an extensive literature on this matter. When it comes to the safe running trains, we have “Preventable Failures in Predictable Operations”. What we are doing is analogous to what is done in a Toyota car plant: constant learning from small failures with any team member able to pull the Andon Cord. Here, we are doing the right thing.

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“To reiterate the problem: if projects are prone to be go awry, what should we do?”

The Bowe Review into the scrapping of projects in CP5 recognises the problem. Despite this report there was no ‘decision-point’ in the Thameslink timetable project

But we do not have a good record for delivering projects. In the matter of certain large projects, we face, “Unavoidable Failures in Complex Systems”. There is extensive literature on this too, but no one in the railway seems very interested in it. I thank my better educated friend for the references. A key work was by Charles Perrow, writing following the Three Mile Island nuclear accident. He wrote about “normal accidents”. Look it up on Wikipedia. Modern high-risk systems, those which are complex, tightly coupled, with many moving parts outside any one person’s control, are prone to failure however well they are managed. Repeat, however well they are managed. Is this a good description of the Thameslink

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and Northern timetable change? Highly interconnected, lots of moving parts outside any one person’s control. Such a project is prone to failure, however well it is managed. Note - Perrow does not say such systems are bound to fail, just that they are prone to failure. Other work was done by Professor Amy Edmondson, of the Harvard Business School. She studied the explosion on the Columbia space shuttle which killed seven astronauts. The urge to make the project work silenced those - some engineers in this case - who were warning of problems. Is this not what Charles Horton told the Transport Select Committee when asked why they did not spot that the timetable would not work? “There was a momentum”, he said, “we saw problems, and wanted to solve them.”

Jo Kaye, managing director - system operator at Network Rail, explaining why she did not spot that it would not work said: “We were keen to deliver.” Is this not exactly what allowed the space shuttle accident to happen? Professor Edmondson writes that organisations need new and better ways to go beyond lessons that are superficial, such as “procedures were not followed”. Stephen Glaister, please note! Other research following the Bay Of Pigs fiasco showed how groupthink prevented sceptics from arguing that the plan should be aborted. This must have been a factor in the working of the Thameslink Readiness Committee which concluded that the mitigation measures proposed would work. I bet some people were sceptical but did 6 July 2018 | 23

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West Coast Route Modernisation: a notorious example of project hype

PAST PROJECTS The worst example in living memory of project hype was the notorious West Coast Route Modernisation around the year 2000. It was, bizarrely, and egged on by some idiotic consultants and government wishful thinking, trying to install ERTMS Level 3. The day it was scrapped was called Black Diamond Day. Even then, the track upgrade was wildly late and over budget. Ground conditions and a lot of other things were far worse than anyone had imagined. We had, at the time, simply no recent experience of this kind of work. The in-cab radio system, GSM-R, was supposed to take three years to install, starting about the year 2000, but took eight and cost two or three times the original budget. We had no experience of how to manage a cross industry project of this kind involving Railtrack and the train operators using the new Network Code as the legal basis for making the changes. Nor did we have experience of using the new safety validation systems. I know of what I speak as I, more or less, managed the train operator side of this. It seemed that everyone was being difficult, and we were roundly criticised, but we were feeling our way. It had been so much easier in the old days, as the Railtrack project manager ruefully commented before he was transferred. But we learnt lessons and later, when we came to install TPWS (Train Protection & Warning System), we had experience, and a court order to hurry us on, and the project went well. One reason Crossrail is going well is that TfL are quite good at managing and supervising projects. They have a collective memory of doing so which DfT seems not to possess. In DfT there is some kind of project supervisory board; but periodic meetings looking at red, amber, green traffic lights is not the same thing.

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not speak up. Professor Flyvbjerg of Oxford’s Said Business School writes about how everyone involved in megaprojects gets so caught up in things that they sign up to unrealistic timings/scopes/costs in order to follow a vision. The vision takes over. But the iron law still holds: “over budget, over time, over and over again”. A good recent example on the railway concerns the new traffic management systems. There are three traffic management projects underway. Procurement began nearly 10 years ago but the two largest, in Wales and at Three Bridges, are late and over budget and have still not delivered what was promised. It has been explained to me that though there was an elaborate process for evaluating and choosing the suppliers, the people in charge, Network Rail and the suppliers, were so wound up in the traffic management vision that they failed to realise that that they did not understand the issues. While they well knew how to build control offices, a high functionality traffic management system operating on the British rail network was something completely different, something they had zero experience in. They announced a great vision for a national roll-out to begin in 2014, which of course never happened: exactly the problem Flyvbjerg warns off. Our very own Bowe Review into the scrapping of projects in Control Period 5 (2014-19) recognises, in somewhat dry, bureaucratic terms, the problem. To reiterate the problem: if some projects are prone to go awry, what should we do? This is the kite I’m flying. FIRST, WE MUST RECOGNISE THE PROBLEM. Projects should be categorised into (A) Manageable, (B) Large but Manageable, and (C) “Complex And New” and therefore prone to overrun. This is the most important step. I would call Crossrail a large but manageable project. Pretty well everything required was within the control of the project team and it is the kind of work which had been done before. People do know how to build railway tunnels under cities. They have done it before. It was not new. But a lot of our projects, even though they are much smaller, are not like this. They involve complex, highly interconnected systems

with moving parts outside any one person’s control. In these, if one thing goes adrift, the consequences reverberate across the system in ways that are hard to foresee. If two or three go adrift, a cascade of problems is triggered which easily sinks the project. If, in addition, the project is seeking to deliver something new, something we have not done before, something of which we have no experience in the specific circumstances that prevail, then they are particularly likely to overrun. Experience, or lack of it, is terribly important. There is a mountain of evidence from other industries, under the heading “the learning curve”, on the importance of experience. The first new generation of trains the TOCs ordered arrived around the year 2000 and were all hopelessly late and unreliable. It took years to fix them. But we gained experience and rolling stock is now fairly reliable. The new Thameslink Class 700 trains, after some teething problems are pretty good. A lot of the projects which have overrun involved doing new things. The recognition of a project as having these characteristics - complex and new - is important for two reasons. In the first place, you would manage it differently. In the second place, it is a warning to government. Quite a few of the problem projects can be laid at the door of government and politicians. Going way back, it was government which was pushing the Advanced Passenger Train; the British Rail Board was sceptical, and was right to be. Last year, it was government which delayed approval to the phasing of the Thameslink timetable. A clear warning that this was a complex, prone to fail project, might have speeded up approval. As it was, transport secretary Chris Grayling was influenced by promises he had made, refused to face facts and fatally delayed approval. Incidentally, the shrewdest secretary of state, in my experience, was Alistair Darling. He did not believe the Crossrail numbers he was presented with and required them to increase the contingency by a huge amount, from memory, £4bn. It is thanks to Alistair Darling that the project is more or less on budget. Once we categorised a project as complex and prone to overrun what do we do? We do not give up, but we must accept that we cannot prevent things going wrong. They will go wrong, it is not our fault. The challenge

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“Quite a few of the problem projects can be laid at the door of government and politicians” is to handle the uncertainties in a sensible way. The most careful use of PRINCE, one of the most elaborate manuals will not help. Things will go wrong. We should expect things to go wrong. It is not our fault. We are not incompetent. The only incompetence is to act as if things will not go wrong. The point seems rather obvious. Once we have categorised the project as complex and prone to overrun, what do we do? Obviously, we try to de-risk it. For some projects this will be difficult, but the attempt should be made. If possible, break it into deliverable chunks. A good example is the third traffic management system being provided by Resonate for the Great Western main line. It began after the other two and is already in operation and delivering what it promised. The reason: it was less ambitious and built on an existing knowledge base. In contrast, the other two are over-hyped, solve everything-inone-go examples of the Flyvbjerg problem. This does not mean the ambition was wrong, but if the problems of complexity and novelty had been recognised, the whole programme might have been planned in a different way and be delivering more at less cost. Interestingly, a great deal of the Thameslink Programme has gone well - the infrastructure, the signalling and the rolling stock - even though they are complex and new. The reason is that the problem was properly recognised. A lot of time was built into the programme for testing and trialling. It has paid off. If only the same had been allowed for the train operator side of the business. Looking further back,

the 2017 London Bridge problems would have been greatly eased had the department insured that the most basic de-risking took place: making sure that the previous train operator handed over a surplus of drivers and guards. Instead, there was a shortage! To de-risk the projects we should have regard to the skill base. Consider this: Most operational mistakes at nuclear power stations, so I read, occur when operating the latest designs, which incidentally have the most safety features. The operators have less experience in the complexities of these extraordinary systems, and therefore make more mistakes. Have a look at the graph below (courtesy of Rail Engineer) of spend on electrification in Britain and Germany. In the former, spiky. In the latter, steady. Which do you think delivers electrification at the lowest cost with the least disruption? Stop-start electrification fails to develop the skill base and is risky and expensive. In complex and new projects, there should be a requirement for “continue, do not continue” decision points at various stages. If a project is aborted, it should have been planned so that something useful can come of it. Dame Colette Bowe, in her review, has this as recommendations IV and V. It should be clear who is to take the “continue, do not continue” decision. For the largest projects, it has to be the secretary of state. It must be someone with skin in the game for the cost and benefits. Someone who can say, “in this case, I’d rather a delay or rather swallow the sunk costs than see shambles later.” Or who can say, “I know there’s a risk, I can handle the

fallout if it goes wrong, let’s go for it.” This requires a greater sense of engagement between the department and the industry than there is at present, and a much stronger, more knowledgeable, more assertive presence amongst the officials. They must be able to face up to a minister and say: “This will not work.” Dr Mike Mitchell, when he was at the department would have said this. Can the senior officials now there do the same? The project delivery team can give advice, but cannot be expected to take “continue, do not continue” decisions. If you understand human nature and groupthink, you will know this to be the case. You might think that, in the case of complex projects, all this is already part of best practice, but I rather doubt it. How could the DfT and the Readiness Committee have set off to implement the new Thameslink timetable without a fallback position? They had clearly forgotten their own Bowe Report. How, just five years ago, could the go-ahead for the entire Great Western Modernisation have been given with so many things up in the air and looking flaky? At the most simple level, they had no experience, in the particular circumstances concerned, of using the factory train. It promised 18 piles per shift and delivered five. It is these issues which I think the Glaister inquiry should be considering. It should look over the projects of the last 10 years, the ones that have run smoothly and the ones that have not and draw some lessons. It should work out whether it should have been obvious in advance that certain projects were complex and prone to fail, whether they could have been de-risked and whether a system of “continue, do not continue” decisions would have helped. Above all, the problem of complex and new projects must be acknowledged. My message echoes that in the Bowe Report as it also highlights the risks in complex/ new projects. l go further, arguing that such projects be identified in advance to make sure they get special treatment.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR George Muir was director general of the Association of Train Operating Companies from 1999 to 2008

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On holiday by public transport

Car-free holidays are lovely - but, sadly, public transport is not the stress-free option that it could be It’s That Time of the Year again, when millions of us are packing our bags and clearing off for a couple of weeks of bliss. Stephen Morris For me anything involving an airport, unless it’s a little field with a windsock in Orkney or a beach with a windsock in Barra, is my idea of hell, and before we build a third runway at Heathrow I would urge airport operators to consider how to process the one in four of us who suffer from some form of mental illness. I can seldom get through an airport without a complete meltdown (and no, Edinburgh, putting me in a wheelchair did absolutely nothing to help; where did you find that in your care of customers with hidden disabilities manual?). Luckily for me, I’m only at the very mild end of the spectrum. Slightly less disagreeable is using the car, though as it’s rare to get to the traffic lights near Alex Warner’s house (200 yards from mine) without at least one emergency brake application it gets used less and less. She Who Must Be Obeyed has had her fill of car travel for the entire year when a classic ‘last mile’ journey to two weeks’ volunteering for the RPSB at South Stack in Anglesey (to which there has been no bus for some years) meant a 250-mile slog in the car each way. So, far better to use public transport to holiday in the UK, which has such a fabulous range of scenery and if, like me, you’re into wildlife, enough of interest to rival a safari. But it’s easier said than done. Last summer we had the bright idea of going to Orkney, and we worked out a brilliant journey. Sleeper to Inverness, Stagecoach X99 from Inverness at about 09.40 which gets us to Scrabster in nice time for the afternoon ferry to Stromness, where we had booked to go to the theatre in the evening. (Yes, there is one: of sorts, anyway!) All booked up, and a few days before we go I check the X99 timetable. Shock, horror, there is now no 09.40 bus; the first one out of Inverness is 14.15. There is no rail alternative; the train to the north coast 26 | 6 July 2018 PT_Issue188_p26-27.indd 26

leaves Inverness at 07.00 and the sleeper doesn’t arrive until 08.30. The only choice is to rebook the ferry, lose our theatre booking and kick our heels in Inverness. I have to confess, for all its merits, Inverness isn’t near the top of my favourite British cities. Inverness in the wet is worse still, and you can guess what the weather was like. I also hadn’t intended when booking the holiday to break my leg before we went, so hobbling painfully around the bits of Inverness I could manage on crutches was not an ideal start to our week of remote island bliss. At least the station has excellent left-luggage facilities. Don’t get me started on travelling with a broken leg. I have to say every bus journey I made on crutches was excellent, one London bus driver even refusing to charge my Oyster, and our local South West Trains as they still were couldn’t be faulted either. One guard seeing me struggle aboard at Woking made his

“I can seldom get through an airport without a complete meltdown”

way straight through the train to check I was alright and to find out where I wanted to get off. But the journey from Perth, where the Royal Infirmary had bolted my leg back together after a slip in the Scottish snow, was fun, with a maniac at Edinburgh Waverley taking me in my wheelchair at breakneck speed through the crowds and grumbling that we had luggage, was fun (in contrast to the guys at Perth who were delightful and could not have been more helpful) as was five and a half hours on an HST to Kings Cross (with a scheduled detour via Ely) with absolutely no means of getting to the loo. Back to our Orkney trip, Stagecoach informed me that there was no subsidy for the X99 and there weren’t enough passengers to make it worthwhile, though the afternoon journey on an enormous three-axle coach seemed pretty well loaded. Oddly the train to Thurso, as close as the train gets to Scrabster, takes far longer than the bus and wends its way through the middle of nowhere, unlike the bus which goes through places where there are people. When we had used the train previously the two of us on old gits’ railcards had paid a massive £24 and as we had the train to ourselves, I presume that didn’t go far in

Northumberland has a good bus service thanks to Arriva’s network

The extremely remote Papa Westray Airport

A little field with a windsock - my kind of airport

Thurso - a bargain to travel to at just £24 for two

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“Northern Rail was making Southern look like Swiss Railways, but it didn’t affect London” covering the cost of the diesel, let along the crew, signal persons, infrastructure etc, the rest coming no doubt from the public purse for a service that is less useful and much slower than the bus: and unlike the bus makes no attempt whatever to connect with the ferries to Orkney. My other observation is that the ferry and the London sleeper are both run by Serco; maybe a bit of joined-up thinking so that people can leave London in an evening and get to Stromness the following afternoon might be quite nice? The Caledonian Sleeper, by the way, was excellent, apart from the shortage of seating: given the length of time you’re on the train it would have been nice not to have to spend it all cooped up in our sleeping compartment. But we’re now fans of sleepers. Undeterred, this year’s trip to Northumberland is being undertaken by public transport, albeit with a bit of cheating: a car has been hired to enable us to stay a bit more remotely than our previous trip, where we based ourselves in Berwick and got around in fine style by bus to all sorts of places. I had hoped to visit Bempton Cliffs to see the nesting seabirds on the way up, and my first thought was that Herself refusing to countenance the car had scuppered that. But no, a couple of nights booked in Bridlington enabled me to travel on a line I’d not used before (I’m sad, I get excited about these things) and meant we could easily get to Bempton on the Thursday with not too long a walk from the bus stop in the village Sadly we didn’t get to sample Stagecoach’s X99 service

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centre. Then a bus to York would get us back on to the East Coast Main Line. Simples. Once again a few days beforehand I thought we’d just check the bus times, but Traveline wouldn’t give us any. A mooch round East Yorkshire’s website told me what buses they had for sale and that EYMS slippers and calendars were respectively ideal or perfect gifts. Scrolling through Service Information I discover Bridlington buses have changed a few weeks ago, and whoopedoo, some quieter services have been combined to make new more frequent town services. That includes, it turns out, the bus to Bempton, which is now part of service 5. Downloading their bus map I find the 5 goes half hourly to Bempton Lane, which is encouraging. After a complicated process of comparing the bus map with Google maps and using their directions thingy which insists I want to go to Bempton Cliffs from my house in Shepperton, I eventually divine that the stop in Bempton Lane is nearly three miles’ walk from my destination. There is however a demand-responsive bus run by East Yorkshire Council, which runs three days a week - none of those days, of course, is a Thursday. Those same changes also mean our bus to York gets us there half an hour later than planned (apparently it will get there more reliably, though), which will eliminate any time to potter round York but mercifully still makes our connection to Berwick: I’d been lured by a cheap first class offer onto a later train than intended. We’ll get to Bempton Cliffs, but it involves throwing ourselves on the infrequent and irregular Northern Rail service. Of course those of us Down South have now heard that Northern Rail is having a few problems trying to run the new timetable. While everyone in the country knew that Southern had been making a compete Horlicks of running a train service for what now seems like eternity, it’s only recently we’ve discovered that Northern Rail is in a mess. But arriving at Manchester Piccadilly a few weeks before the new timetable I was shocked by the sea of ‘Cancelled’ and ‘Delayed’ notices on the departure board. Pottering through Victoria on Metrolink a few minutes later the disembodied computerised voice echoing around the station was ‘extremely sorry to announce…’ various cancellations to Northern Rail services, some of them on routes that weren’t

very frequent. The Manchester Evening News had pages and pages of woe about Northern Rail, with pictures of Andy Burnham tearing out chunks of hair and with steam belching from his ears (OK, slight poetic licence!): but outside that wilderness called The North nobody knew much about it. Northern Rail was making Southern look like Swiss Railways, but it didn’t affect London, so that’s OK. All of which is to say I don’t have huge faith in an irregular and infrequent Northern Rail service that will in any case involve a longer walk than the bus would have done, but it’s Hobson’s Choice. Car free holidays are lovely. Both of us can enjoy the countryside, we don’t worry about the way to places or where we will have to park. No swerving out of the way of teenagers in Vauxhall Corsas thinking they’re invincible. Ever since British Rail encouraged us to ‘Let the Train take the Strain’ we have been doing just that. But something is sadly wrong when such trips get scuppered by the short-termism and lack of understanding of the importance of bus services - and indeed of public transport in general that doesn’t happen to serve London. As a postscript, now we’re back, the train to Bempton worked fine and the walk from the station to Bempton Cliffs wasn’t as daunting as we’d been led to believe. It was slightly ironic though that whilst the on-board screens were busy warning us of forthcoming strikes over staffing issues, we counted no fewer than five crew members on our little two-car diesel, about one for every four passengers. EYMS came up trumps on Bridlington to York, spoiled only by the fact it was a single-decker (and as such got to York with a full standing load) and as promised in the new timetable arrived spot on time after two and a half hours. EYMS’s app was also useful for getting around Bridlington as first-time visitors: and their buses were very clean and tidy. Northumberland now has a pretty good bus service, thanks to Arriva’s network of trunk services which are well marketed and well used, though the little local company PCL Travel let us down badly when we tried to use it to go to church in a neighbouring village and it hadn’t shown up 20 minutes after departure time. Arriva’s service had recently been reinstated on Sundays, which is fairly remarkable, but its first bus was too late for us. 6 July 2018 | 27

04/07/2018 15:36



Making streets more efficient for all users Traffic congestion is affecting bus punctuality but can we use our road space more effectively in order to create streets for all

Urban areas all have a limited amount of road space available. In this constrained space we attempt to include everyone, but in many places we have reached the point at which conflicting demands are more evident than efficient movement. For example, in Glasgow, bus services have become severely compromised by traffic congestion (see Professor David Begg’s thoughts in last edition of Passenger Transport) with a situation that transport operators alone can do little to influence.

Demand for road space The evidence of conflicting demands for road space is all around us. We try to accommodate the demand of people walking and cycling, buses, coaches, taxis, delivery vehicles, heavier commercial vehicles but above all, cars. Individual vehicles fill up most of the space and usually in the least efficient way, each conveying just one person but taking up lots of space. Every individual has an opinion on what should be done, (the bane of every transport planner’s life is that everyone thinks they are an expert) but often it is of marginal benefit, squeezing out a bit more from streets that were never intended to do what is now being expected of them. To make matters worse, not all road users are equal, giving rise to the term ‘vulnerable users’ which serves to perpetuate the contrast between vehicles and people. This means that we try to mix buses - large, slow and stopping frequently - with cyclists who want to keep going and don’t want to mix with traffic. Simple 28 | 6 July 2018 PT_Issue188_p28-29.indd 28

observation shows that people walking in urban centres greatly outnumber those sitting in cars. In transport planning, a hierarchy can be useful to determine who should be allocated space, typically starting with those who walk, cycle, use passenger transport, followed by freight and deliveries and last of all car users. This is fine if there is sufficient space for everyone.

The grid approach There are ways of improving movement for everyone by rethinking how streets are used. One approach is applicable to any urban street layout which involves grid pattern roads such as central Glasgow. Similar layouts have been planned in a wide variety of places across the world including of course the US but also the Middle East, Africa and some parts of the

UK. The largest is Milton Keynes where the roads spread far and wide in a grid format, the claim that there is never any congestion because there is always an alternative route is true in part. This arrangement lends itself to a reallocation of road space on a large scale, not just reapportioning limited space badly. In London, the creation of cycle superhighways has constrained the road space available for everything else including buses which now go slower than ever. That’s not to say that cyclists are not deserving of more space and the number of users is spectacular, but an unintended consequence has been further degradation of bus performance. In contrast, removing vehicles that don’t need to be there at Bank in the City of London has improved bus journey times substantially. The grid layout offers something more comprehensive. Allocating alternate streets for buses/selected access/cycles on one grid and all other traffic on the adjacent grid means that everyone has equal access to everything but that many of the conflicting movements are avoided. It means that buses actually have meaningful priority because they are not jostling for space with every other vehicle. It also means that speeds can be improved or at least be more consistent, which can reduce the emissions associated with stopstart traffic. This is proper priority, providing extensive space where it is most needed; it designates whole streets, not just traffic lanes. Where there are not parallel routes, creating a bus-only part of the street is achievable. It gives much greater prominence to buses and sets them apart, literally, from other vehicle movements. Such an arrangement

Fitzroy Square, an area of green surrounded by roads, benefitted from the removal of all traffic so what was once roads is now pedestrian space

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“Open spaces, green or paved, are important and benefit from traffic removal” would be straightforward for everyone to understand but maintains access for essential vehicles possibly at restricted times. Shops need to be serviced, often from the front and other businesses need post and parcel deliveries, building works and a multitude of other things but not necessarily via the front door. Specialist activities such as hospitals or major hotels can re-orientate with a ‘front door’ for essential users and those who arrive by sustainable means and a ‘back door’ for deliveries and servicing.


Re-defining streets Many main streets have a parallel route which could be designated for all traffic while converting the main street into something more attractive. It comes back to defining what streets are for and squeezing as much as possible out of the limited space available. There has been a move to more street activity with shops and cafes extending business to the street (within their curtilages) with markets and events occupying space that was formerly devoted to vehicles. For streets that have been fully pedestrianised, some having been introduced decades ago, no-one would suggest converting them back to trafficked streets. Open spaces, green or paved, are important and benefit from traffic removal in terms of access for all, fresher air and less noise. Trafalgar Square in London lost one side of its gyratory some years ago which was a vast improvement, setting the National Gallery in an imposing position. Also, in London, Fitzroy Square, an area of green surrounded by roads, benefitted from the removal of all traffic, so what was once roads is now pedestrian space. It has happened elsewhere, such as in Bristol and Manchester’s Oxford Road and we are now more enlightened about what attracts people to city centres - it certainly isn’t traffic. This is exactly the principle of one-way systems, addressing the problems of inadequate space by reorganising it to enable more efficient vehicle movement. Although some one-way systems have been superseded as traffic has grown and fashions have changed, the principles behind them hold true, albeit with different objectives which consider people movement rather than just vehicle movement. This presents an opportunity to promote sustainable urban movement rather than trying to enable faster vehicle movements.

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KEY: All traffic Buses, cycles and essential traffic only

Applying the principles The diagram above shows a hypothetical scenario in which full reallocation could work: all the blocks have equal access by priority and non-priority streets, acknowledging that some premises will be orientated to one or other at the moment rather than both. The result is two networks superimposed on each other, one that provides for vehicle movements and both providing access by sustainable means. Providing the blocks are not too big and that the layout is consistent, then everyone can have easy access from bus stops to where they need to be. The size of the blocks is an important consideration - too big and access becomes more difficult because more people are displaced. However, it does humanise urban centres because there are spaces that people can relate to without the fear of being in conflict with vehicles. It allows people to discover their surroundings, for example looking up at buildings without fear of being run over. There are some beneficial side-effects: reducing the plethora of street signs that have invaded streets, many of which are unintelligible or simply ignored. Redefining streets also provides improvements for people with restricted mobility because potential conflicts are diluted and trouble-free access is achieved. With the changes occurring in the retail sector, access to new types of activity in urban

Commercial and residential buildings Green/public spaces Transport hub (eg. rail station) Redevelopment sites

centres is as important as ever. Cities evolve over time and have always been planned with some sort of access in mind. A fresh look at planning principles suggests that taking urban activity and transport into account in an integrated way creates opportunities for renewal and investment. This contrasts strongly with the previous efforts of Glasgow and many other cities that have attempted to reconcile conflicting demands with little success because they have not gone back to basic principles. There is now an opportunity to place buses and trams in situations where they will flourish and where all forms of access are effective without competing for the same space.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR The Transport Planning Society provides professional development, a meeting place for all those working in the transport sector and leads the response to emerging policy issues. See for further information. Nick Richardson is Technical Principal at transport consultancy Mott MacDonald, a Director of the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (UK) and Chair of PTRC Education and Research Services Ltd. In addition, he has held a PCV licence for 30 years.

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04/07/2018 14:48


WANT TO KNOW MORE? Visit Portland’s fuel forum page:




This World Cup is lubricated by oil

The eyes of the world are glued to a football tournament in Russia so it’s timely to consider the influence that oil has on this country

It is little surprise that previous Oil Market Reports have frequently delved into the world of Russian oil (PT078). After all, Russia is a James Spencer top three producer globally Portland (along with Saudi and USA) and has also played a major part in starving global oil markets, by joining OPEC in 2016 with the implementation of production cuts. This time around, it was England’s opening World Cup game against Tunisia in Volgograd (née Stalingrad) that once again highlighted Russia’s intimate historical relationship with oil and how it continues to shape its future. Prior to the Second World War, Volgograd had become the main transshipment point for the Caucasian oil fields and was also Russia’s oil refining capital. These key facts are largely overlooked when the subject of Stalingrad is discussed - such was the magnitude and significance of that particular World War II battle. But it is worth remembering that the battle only took place because Hitler’s armies needed Volgograd’s oil, literally to fuel their continued existence in Russia. Equally the battle raged so ferociously and for so long because the Russians themselves also required Volgograd’s oil capacity for their own war effort. 75 years on and Volgograd today continues to be the main route of oil from the Caucasus (Russian, Armenian, Georgian and Azerbaijani), but it now supplies a Russian oil sector that has changed significantly.

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In the post-war Soviet era, the oil industry was strictly controlled by the Communist Politburo. It was also used as a political and foreign policy tool, whereby favour was granted according to oil royalties, and foreign states were either punished or rewarded by receiving (or not) Russian oil. Between 1950 and 1980, annual Soviet oil exports increased from 60 million tonnes (1.1 million barrels per day) to 185 million tonnes (3.5 million bpd) and this cemented global Soviet influence and provided backbone to robust Cold War behaviour. Furthermore, nothing in the USSR’s industrial machine came close to oil in terms of importance or capability, as the USSR rapidly became an undisputed oil super power, producing 11.5 million bpd by the mid 1980s. Then came Perestroika and the 1990s transition to a free market. Multiple oil companies sprang up (Lukoil, Rosneft, Gazpromneft, Yukos), almost all of them being the result of dubious commercial auctions, where existing employees of the Soviet Oil Ministry (Minnefteprom), associated oil companies or the State Institute of Oil & Gas (Gubkin), bid at massively under-valued levels for chunks of the Soviet oil industry. These employees of course went on to become the

“Make no mistake that Russia remains first and foremost, a Petro-State”

oil oligarchs that we read about today and who still dominate Russian and global oil markets. Although market conditions for the new oligarchs were initially difficult (crude in the mid-90s sank to $7 per barrel and Russian production dropped to six million bpd), such were the low prices paid by the oligarchs for Russia’s oil assets, that it was simply a case of sitting tight until things improved. And improve they did, as production steadily increased along with prices. It costs between $20 and $40 per barrel to produce crude in Russia, which at current prices leaves producers with (roughly) $30 of margin. Multiply that by 10 million bpd, we come to a profit figure of $300m per day, shared between about 50 people! Now rewind 10 years, when production hit 12.5m bpd and prices were topping $148 (with costs running at a similar, if not reduced level)…Well you can do the maths. Needless to say, such riches explain why Russian Oil Magnates routinely buy Georgian Terraces in Belgravia for £20m a pop. It also explains why, since 2005, President Putin has slowly muscled in on the action and it is now estimated that 50% of Russian oil production comes under the direct (and sometimes indirect) control of the Kremlin. Those oligarchs that played ball, have been rewarded with further exploration licences (largely in the huge, untapped Eastern Siberian basin), whilst those that didn’t, were either jailed (Khordorkovsky) or exiled (Berezovsky). Oil and gas today accounts for about 30% of Russia’s GDP, 80% of its exports and almost all of its “hard currency” income. So make no mistake that Russia remains first and foremost, a Petro-State. This over-reliance on one industry has often been at the expense of commercial development in other areas of the economy and has also led Russia to fail in future proofing its energy sector (it’s fair to say that Russia wouldn’t cope particularly well in a zero-carbon world!). Finally, it has created significant international and domestic tension, because unimaginable wealth has been placed in the hands of a tiny clique of people. But that wealth also allows you to get FIFA onside, host World Cup tournaments and build spanking new state-of-the-art stadiums. On July 15th, we will see a golden trophy held high in recognition of the ultimate footballing achievement. Football Gold you might say, but lubricated by Black Gold... 6 July 2018 | 31

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04/07/2018 14:54

“We were keeping the department appraised of the challenges we were facing”GTR


Did Grayling know more than he let on?

Our Whitehall insider imagines what’s going on inside the minds of the mandarins at Great Minster House, home of the DfT

I’m beginning to wonder if we had rather more involvement in “the great timetable fiasco” than our secretary of state’s statement to the House of Commons on June 4 implied. The statement itself said nothing of the department’s involvement in, for example, the Programme Boards, nor of the ongoing dialogue with the TOCs in the weeks before the May 20 timetable introduction. Yet if you read the transcript of the evidence given to the Transport Select Committee by GTR, Northern and Network Rail on June 18, it’s clear that we were involved, and aware that there were emerging problems. I’m not saying we were aware there was going to be a catastrophic failure. Indeed, the TOCs themselves were not aware of the scale of the likely failure until literally 2-3 days before May 20. And as problems were emerging, so we were being reassured that mitigation measures were in place, and the TOCs were satisfied that these ongoing mitigation measures would solve the problems. But that’s not my point. Our secretary of state’s statement gave no hint of the department’s awareness that there were issues. Yet the department is represented on the Programme Board that rejected Northern’s request to delay the timetable change. Northern told the committee that the department is “a core member” of this board and was fully aware of the implications that a delayed electrification programme was having on Northern’s ability to introduce

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the timetable change. So we knew there were issues. GTR also told the committee that “in the final few weeks we encountered multiple issues” and that “we were keeping the department appraised of the challenges we were facing”. I could quote much more. Yet there was no hint of any of this in the secretary of state’s statement to the house. He told the house that “the rail industry has collectively failed” - giving a distinct impression that by “rail industry” he meant the TOCs and Network Rail. But the Network Rail witnesses made it clear that the decision taken to proceed with the timetable changes, despite the emerging problems in the weeks before May 20, was “very much an industry decision-making process” - and described the industry members as including the


department. So it seems to me that from what the witnesses told the select committee this department was far more aware of the issues than the secretary of state’s statement implied. Now to HS2. A recent answer to a parliamentary question from Cheryl Gillan, the Conservative MP for Chesham and Amersham who has made it her life’s mission to stop HS2, asked when the next review of HS2 Phase One by the Infrastructure Projects Authority is planned. The answer said that it would be in September this year. Our answer went on to say that neither the terms of reference for the review nor the outcome of the review will be made public, “as this would prejudice the safe space for policy formulation”. As a taxpayer, I feel slightly offended that I’m not allowed to see the outcome of these reviews of Phase One costs, even if only in general terms, not least because of professional views circulating that the final project costs are going to be vastly in excess of what HS2 and this department claim. But that aside, can anybody explain to me what is meant by a “safe space for policy formulation”? It’s a very odd turn of phrase. If what is really meant is that the results of the reviews can’t be made public for reasons of commercial confidentiality, then I understand that. But why not just say so? “Safe space for policy formulation” feels to me to cover a multitude of possibilities and seems like a catch-all phase behind which we can hide. Perhaps we’re just scared to death that the claims from Michael Byng and Lord Berkeley that the costs of Phase One will turn out double what HS2 claim may just prove to be correct. Finally, I’ve previously expressed concern at the award of a CBE to Mark Carne (PT187). In case anybody thinks I was harsh, let me just quote from the draft determination for Control Period 6 issued recently by the Office of Rail and Road: “Network Rail has performed poorly in recent years in terms of delivering efficiently against its plans and ORR’s determination. In important areas, it is now substantially less efficient than at the end of CP4.” And “analysis of the strategic business plans concluded that asset condition will deteriorate by approximately 2% over CP6 compared with the predicted condition at the end of CP5”. Given these observations by the regulator, and that Mark Carne will have been in charge for all but about seven months of CP5, I’ll leave you to judge whether the CBE was deserved. 6 July 2018 | 33

04/07/2018 14:54


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O’Connor quits Arriva Arriva UK Bus MD Kevin O’Connor is to leave the group in September for a new job elsewhere Arriva has announced that Kevin O’Connor, managing director of the group’s UK bus division, is to leave in September for a new, undisclosed role outside the transport industry. The group says that finance and commercial director Iain Jago will take on the position of acting managing director of the division while Arriva looks for a long-term successor. The group says that this process has already commenced. O’Connor joined Arriva in 2015 from outsourcing firm G4S. He said he had greatly enjoyed his time at the group where his focus has been on developing and delivering a customer-focused strategy. “The UK bus sector has been facing very tough market conditions for the last few years, and I’m very proud of the progress that has been made against such challenging headways,” he told Passenger Transport. “We’ve placed customers

Kevin O’Connor

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at the heart of our strategy, seeking to learn from the best of the bus sector but also from other industries, such as retail. This includes investing in new technology and industry-leading marketing and customer insights, as well as developing new services such as our demand responsive service, ArrivaClick. “We’ve seen that where there’s a strong customer proposition, close partnership working with local authorities and dependable journey times, customers will continue to choose mass transit.” O’Connor added that by pursuing such a relentless focus on the customer, the UK bus leadership team had delivered a stronger business and put in place the foundations for success. However, he called for the entire bus industry to work towards continuing innovation and adapt to new trends. “The customers’ needs of tomorrow will only evolve, so continual innovation and development of talent is a must,” O’Connor said. “I am also convinced that there must be much more urgent and systematic steps to tackle congestion. I’m encouraged that there’s now a much greater awareness of the challenges posed by congestion.” Arriva chief executive Manfred Rudhart praised O’Connor’s time with the group. “Under his leadership the UK Bus team has driven a customer-focused strategy which has given us a much stronger market position,” he said.

APPOINTMENTS GTR Go-Ahead has announced the appointment of Patrick Verwer as chief executive of Govia Thameslink Railway. Verwer (pictured) was managing director of London Midland between January 2012 and December 2017. Before that he worked in the transport industry in the UK and Europe, specialising in rail and airport services. He first came to the UK in 2003 as managing director of Merseyrail. Born and educated in the Netherlands, Verwer started his career in the Rotterdam Police Force rising to senior officer level. Verwer is currently chief operating officer at GTR and he succeeds Charles Horton, who announced his resignation last month (PT187). OPTARE Yorkshire-based bus manufacturer Optare has announced the appointment of Richard Butler as chief executive. Butler (pictured) joins Optare as Graham Belgum, moves to a new position as director of international business development and will be working closely with the management team at Ashok Leyland, Optare’s parent company. Butler has 30 years’ international business experienced gained at global manufacturer JCB. He has held a number of managing director roles within various divisions at the Staffordshire-based equipment company, most recently as managing director of JCB Access.

SCOTRAIL Syeda Ghufran has been appointed as ScotRail’s first female engineering director. The appointment was announced ahead of International Women in Engineering Day, which took place on June 23. Ghufran (pictured) joined ScotRail in 2010 as an engineering management trainee, gaining hands-on train maintenance experience, and was more recently head of engineering depots. Since 2013, she has delivered many engineering projects, including train reliability modifications, fleet refurbishments, the roll-out of Wi-Fi, and the installation of Driver Advisory Systems (DAS) – a GPS system which accurately tracks a train’s location and advises the driver what speed to go, so that the train arrives on time. Ghufran succeeds Angus Thom, who moved to the new role of ScotRail chief operating officer earlier this year. TRANSPORT FOR WALES Transport for Wales has announced the appointment of three new non-executive directors. They are: Sarah Howells, head of customer service at Welsh furniture manufacturer, Orangebox; Nikki Kemmery, head of health and safety at Cymru Welsh Water; and Alison Noon-Jones, HR director at Leidos Europe. READING BUSES Reading Buses has announced two internal promotions within its operations team. Martin Gibbs has been appointed network supervisor and Denise Pyzzie joins the night supervisor team.

04/07/2018 14:59

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Bus bunching theory explained Daily Mail probes the issue of buses arriving in threes Two mathematicians attempted to inform Daily Mail readers last week about that difficult conundrum why do buses arrive in twos? “Bus bunching occurs because bus routes are inherently unstable,” said Vikash V Gayah and S. Ilgin Guler from Pennsylvania State University. “When the buses are on schedule, everything seems to work fine. Once a bus gets behind schedule, it’s nearly impossible for it to get back on track.”

Check your Pulse?


The Oyster card celebrated its 15th birthday last week. While Transport for London and bus operator staff tested the cards out beforehand, June 30, 2003,

A bunch of buses

Surprisingly, it seems a large number of comments on the infamous MailOnline website showed a grasp of why buses bunch. Except one who wittily noted: “What a bunch of useless info!”

saw the launch of the pay as you go scheme on TfL services. Since then over 100 million of the cards have been issued. However, the anniversary allowed TfL to indulge in some trivia. Did you know, for example, that 40 people per minute can pass through a station ticket gate when travelling with an Oyster card, compared to 25 people travelling with paper tickets. Meanwhile, Oyster was one of three shortlisted names for the ticketing scheme - the others being Gem and Pulse!




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Coming soon?

As temperatures rose in Britain this week, so did tempers if a Manchester Evening News report is anything to go by. Drivers at First Manchester were left hot and bothered after shorts were banned as they are not part of the operator’s official uniform. One male driver even went as far as to request a uniform skirt, which is part of First’s official staff wardrobe “but was told there were none available”. Thankfully sanity prevailed and shorts are now allowed on a temporary basis “in light of the continued warmer weather”.

Pink Bullet

PRETTY IN PINK In Japan, cartoon character Hello Kitty is big. In fact it’s now a £12bn a year business and West Japan Railway has got in on the act with a new Hello Kitty themed Bullet Train that operates between Osaka and Fukuoka. It’s extremely pink, both inside and out!

READY FOR A COMEBACK? In May we reported how the government had obviously been planning public ownership of the East Coast rail franchise for some time with the LNER trademark being registered in October last year (PT185). However, a quick check of the other trademarks held by the Department for Transport has thrown up some rather revealing results... It seems the DfT registered ‘London Midland & Scottish’ and ‘LMS’ in November last year, with ‘Great Eastern Railway’ following in March. What, we wonder, could they be planning? SEEN SOMETHING QUIRKY? Why not drop us a line at

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04/07/2018 15:49

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