77 seats, floor-level toilet and wheelchair access is part of the whole package on K 360 tri-axle chassisThe first conversion of the low-height i6 on K 360 chassis seats 77Scania has revealed a cost-effective, high capacity retrofit solution on a 14.1m tri-axle K 360 with low-height Irizar i6 bodywork that dates from 2011. The coach now seats 77, is accessible with space for one wheelchair user, and retains a floor-mounted toilet.“We have six of these coaches and have already converted the first, with at least one more to follow,” says Used Coach Sales Executive James Morgan.“They are bespoke vehicles that were originally configured for scheduled work and as tri-axles with the lower-height i6 body there is potential to alter the specification for a second life.”As part of the conversion, the original seats in all except the rear three rows are replaced with units from Prime Passenger Seating in a 3+2 configuration.At the rear, the existing seats are retained to allow access to the emergency door and toilet, but they are recovered to match the new seats’ moquette.A PLS step-mounted lift and Magic Floor were fitted from new to permit wheelchair access, as was all-round Hanover destination display equipment.“The coaches have the same look as a new i6 and have Euro 5, nine-litre DC09 engines driving through two-pedal Opticruise gearboxes. No Ad-Blue is required,” adds Mr Morgan. “Besides outright sale we can also supply them on an operating lease, subject to terms.”Each coach has covered between 400,000-600,000km and they are repainted white as part of the alteration work. Pull and tilt testing has been completed on the first conversion.
The UK’s first virtual reality-powered attraction has launched in Leeds.The Hyper Reality Experience is the first in a series of such attractions to be launched in British cities: 10 are planned to be opened by 2019.It’s an experience that sees up to eight players playing 15-minute games using virtual-reality headsets to complete a mission inside a room.The escape game company behind it, Tick Tock Unlock, already operates six escape game sites in four UK cities.Visit ticktockunlock.com
A new exhibition has opened at Kenilworth Castle and Elizabethan Garden in Warwickshire, celebrating John Davenport Siddeley, 1st Baron Kenilworth and the founder of Armstrong Siddeley Motors, who bought the castle in 1937.The new exhibition, Speed and Power: John Siddeley, Pioneer of the Motor Age, tells the story of Siddeley’s lifelong association with the glamorous worlds of motoring and aviation. For more information or to pre-book group visits and guided tours, visit www.english-heritage.org.uk/kenilworth, call 01926 857482 or email [email protected]
Fat Friends – The Musical will run an extensive UK tour from November, starring The X Factor winner Sam BaileySinger Sam Bailey, who rose to fame winning the tenth series of The X Factor, will join Jodie Prenger in a brand new stage adaption of Fat Friends – The Musical.The show will open at Leeds Grand Theatre on 7 November ahead of a UK tour throughout 2018.Fat Friends – The Musical opens at Leeds Grand Theatre on 7 NovemberBased on the award-winning TV drama of the same name, this new British musical features original music by Nicholas Lloyd Webber.“Join the infamous group of Leeds’ most loveable characters as they are put through their Zumba paces at the Headingly branch of Super Slimmers by the lovelorn Lauren while Kelly fantasises about fitting in to the wedding dress of her dreams.“Packed full of warmth, life and weight loss this new stage show reunites our favourite foodie friends in an eagerly anticipated musical brimming with hope, humour and heart.”Sam Bailey will share the role of Betty with award-winning comedian and actress Elaine C Smith who will play the role in Edinburgh, Glasgow and Aberdeen. They both join Jodie Prenger as Kelly Stevenson, winner of BBC’s talent search I’d Do Anything.Fat Friends hit television screens in October 2000 and starred Lisa Riley, James Corden and Ruth Jones.atgtickets.com/shows/fat-friends-the-musicalhttp://atgtickets.com/shows/fat-friends-the-musical
Up to 80 seats will be possible in a 3+2 layout, or 63 in 2+2; ski box is available for luggage storage13.6m i4 integral will represent extension of established two-axle rangeDealership Irizar UK can now offer a tri-axle, 13.6m variant of the i4 integral coach that will accommodate up to 80 seats in a 3+2 configuration.It represents a development of the existing right-hand drive two-axle i4 integral (pictured). The maximum capacity is available with an emergency exit, but Irizar can alternatively install a full-width nearside centre door with scope for an optional wheelchair lift.Ski box optionalSeats in coaches with the 3+2 arrangement are from Prime, but where a 2+2 layout is specified a capacity of up to 63 is possible with a minimum pitch of 710mm.To the latter specification, choices of a flat floor or seats mounted on a raised pedestal area to maximise luggage capacity are available. In a notable development, Irizar UK will offer a ski box to go with three-axle i4 integrals to further their carrying capacity.“A tri-axle i4 integral was something that we have wanted to offer for some time. When a customer told us that it wished to place an order, that was the trigger,” says Director Steve O’Neill.Like the rest of Irizar’s integral range, the i4 comes with the latest-generation DAF-based driveline. In tri-axle coaches the MX-11 engine will be rated at 367bhp and 1,900Nm of torque, and coupled to either the ZF EcoLife automatic or Traxon automated manual gearbox.Additionally, the Spanish manufacturer’s full-colour virtual dashboard – where displays including the speedometer and rev counter are created on a high-resolution LCD screen – is now standard across the integral range.Rear-view mirrors comingIn a further advance, Irizar is working on a rear-view camera system for its range of coaches that will replace mirrors and feed to screens in the cab. Although testing is underway, there is no date yet for when the cameras will be productionised. They are being developed pursuant to the European Commission’s strategy to reduce fuel consumption and CO2 emissions from commercial vehicles using the VECTO tool.
A number of things have struck me in recent issues of routeone.President’s Diary [routeone/27 February] focused on the driver crisis and how Brexit may amplify the shortage.Having read what I thought was balanced article, it did leave me with a feeling that another article has been produced that fails to deal with the root causes of driver shortage.Driving is not attractive as a full-time occupation. Who wants to be at the beck and call of a manager scheduling work for all hours of the day and or night at a low rate of pay and not taking, or not able to take, into account work-life balance for drivers?We see driver enforcement increasing and, for the most minuscule error, drivers face fines that are in excess of a day’s pay.Facilities are reducing at destinations, parking restrictions are increasing and so on…Secondly, I find it incredible that some operators are openly supporting Brexit.There are a number of well-known coach operators involved in cabotage, which will have two options post-Brexit: Either open a European operation with all the costs involved, or watch their business disappear overnight as cabotage is not permitted under Interbus.I fear many do not understand the utopia of yesteryear is long gone and coaching has change immeasurably.Gary Clark,Classic Bus Hire,Wokingham
Whitehall discussed sending civil servants to the regions and recruiting different types of people to the service. But should we be watching the cabinet reshuffle instead?There’s much talk about a major shakeup of Whitehall, with some colourful language from Dominic Cummings, the all-powerful Chief of Staff in No 10, about the type of people he would like to see recruited into the civil service.There’s talk, too, about decamping large numbers of civil servants to the regions, and even of creating regional government departments.There is nothing new in any of this. Every incoming government talks about decamping large swathes of the civil service to the regions, and they never do.It actually all started way back in 1963 when Harold Macmillan was Prime Minster and a review recommended relocating 57,000 posts – and only 22,500 were managed.Relocate civil servants?Subsequent Prime Ministers and Chancellors have all made similar bold claims – including Ted Heath, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Gordon Brown, and more recently George Osborne who promised the number of civil servants in London would “reduce significantly”. Theresa May pledged to relocate thousands of jobs out of London by 2030.But since 2010 every region and nation in the UK has seen a fall in the number of civil servants – down 30% in the East of England, 26% in the South West and 24% in the East Midlands. That’s a fall in numbers in every region – except London, which has seen an increase of 3%.So, I take these bold claims of a regional relocation plan with a large pinch of salt. There’s no doubt that the outcome of the general election has changed the political dynamic very considerably, and Boris Johnson will be desperate to do anything he can to persuade those northern and West Midlands voters who voted Conservative for the first time in December to do so again when the next election comes along.Support economic growthRelocation of civil service jobs can be one way of bolstering employment in the regions and, with it, economic growth. But we’ve been here before and little of any real significance ever happens.And I’m not holding my breath on Dominic Cummings’ plans for recruiting “weirdos and misfits” into the civil service, not least because he won’t be in full control of the recruitment process.There is a formality about recruitment which even Dominic Cummings will find difficult to circumvent! And anyway, these kinds of reforms take time to deliver and bear fruit even if they do actually materialise.In the short term what will be far more interesting is the scale of the expected Cabinet and ministerial reshuffle, which is widely anticipated for early February once we’ve left the EU on 31 January.I always saw Boris Johnson’s first Cabinet as a Brexit “war Cabinet” focused entirely on Brexit, and that if he was re-elected in a general election and able to deliver Brexit, a major reshuffle would take place after 31 January to assemble a different Cabinet to deliver a major domestic agenda. Boris showed himself to be ruthless in his first reshuffle. He may well be again in his second.
Fund by other means? It’s not yet too late for the Combined Authority to re-think. But I suspect it won’t, not least because so much political capital has already been expended in talking up the case for franchising, and developing the proposals has cost the Authority a fair few millions of pounds.Of course, Boris Johnson himself has expressed support for them, and there has even been a suggestion that the DfT may provide some degree of financial support which, as my earlier remarks suggest, I would personally find difficult to agree with.This is a local policy, not a national one.If franchising, at least as a single standalone measure, is not going to be financially viable then surely it’s not the solution to reversing the decline in bus patronage – a decline, incidentally, that the data published by the DfT last week showed has been happening every year since 1955.It’s quite clear to me that we need different interventions than franchising if bus patronage is to increase, and those interventions must surely be aimed at making car use less attractive.The government is committed to throwing millions of pounds at buses to encourage bus use, which sounds great at one level.But unless this financial support is backed up by other measures to make car use less attractive, I suspect we still won’t see the decline in bus patronage reversed. People love their cars too much. Greater Manchester’s bus franchising plans needs ongoing subsidy. Will the taxpayers have to fork out? Since these plans are entirely of the Combined Authority’s making, I don’t see why national taxpayers should put their hands in their pockets. It is for the good people of Greater Manchester to do so should they so wish. Last week the Department for Transport (DfT) published its quarterly bus statistics. Once again it showed a decline in passenger journeys, including in all metropolitan areas except the West Midlands. That reminded me of the Greater Manchester Combined Authority’s plans for franchising.As I recall from its consultation paper, the Authority acknowledged that franchising in itself won’t halt this on-going decline in patronage.So, I made a few enquiries of those in the know and asked if the Authority’s franchising plans would actually require subsidy on an on-going basis, and it seems that they will.The plans will apparently never wash their face financially. Which means either the local or national taxpayer is going to have to fund them. Unable to change But if the residents and businesses in Greater Manchester were told explicitly that the franchising plans would require on-going subsidy via Council Tax or business rates, I wonder if they would be supportive of them.I suspect not, because, as I commented on at the time the consultation started, an opinion poll showed that the people of Greater Manchester were not prepared to see an increase in local taxes to subsidise the buses.So it seems that Greater Manchester’s plans for bus franchising are going to come at a price, with a need for year-on-year subsidy.
The coronavirus has had a massive impact on travel demand, and transport operators are feeling the pinchIt’s difficult to know where to start. The coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic quite possibly represents the worst crisis since the second world war. It’s clearly an extremely serious situation, although it’s important to maintain calm and sober minds. The media frenzy can scare people, precisely the opposite of what is required from a responsible press. I’m loathe to say it, but the good news is that the vast majority of people who contract the virus do recover, although I know that’s of absolutely no comfort to those who are elderly or with pre-existing health conditions – or to their friends and families. Impact on economy The economic impact will be huge. Despite the support package announced by the government I worry especially for those small– and medium–sized businesses which rely on a steady flow of business and customers each and every day. I worry too for our transport operators who are witnessing a significant decline in demand, and I can well imagine that many coach operators, a sector dominated by small companies with just a few coaches, will have seen demand evaporate. Our transport operators are going to need a huge cash injection to survive. When Rishi Sunak was unexpectedly appointed Chancellor in the recent Cabinet reshuffle, he couldn’t possibly have expected to be at the centre of such an economic crisis as this within weeks of taking on the job. Lockdown As I write, the word is that London will be locked down. It will become a ghost town. Indeed, it started to look that way last week anyway – I was in Canary Wharf the other day which is normally a seething mass of humanity. It was deserted. Bars and restaurants were near empty. Quite what the world will look like when we are through this, goodness knows. With many people now working from home it wouldn’t surprise me if company owners and bosses come to a conclusion that if their operations can function with a large part of their work force working remotely, then the amount of expensive office space can be significantly reduced, with a material proportion of the workforce working from home on a rota basis. Still, in a period of bad news and anxiety there is always a cloud with a silver lining. When China went into lockdown, the pollution levels in its major towns and cities reduced significantly. That won’t last once business returns to normal and its factories fire up again, but amongst all the doom and gloom at least that’s something to smile about. This is a huge test of leadership for our government and the opposition parties – so it was a touch disappointing to see Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonell make some fairly cheap political points about the government’s response to the crisis last week. This is not a time for party politics, and I hope the opposition parties respond accordingly. Thankfully there are now signs that party politics is indeed being suspended for the time being. Keep well.
Yorkshire’s Coastliner 840 has been named the winner of the virtual ‘World Cup of English Bus Routes’ in a recent online contestThe route, which runs between Leeds, York, Malton and Whitby, beat off competition from dozens of bus services across the country, including the Isle of Wight’s Needles Breezer open top bus route to be named England’s finest.Over 2,000 people voted, while high-profile support for the service came from Welcome to Yorkshire, the Yorkshire Post, Minster FM and Yorkshire Coast Radio.A way to attract business after COVID-19It is hoped the victory will attract more passengers as lockdown restrictions ease and visitors return to the White Rose County.Coastliner CEO Alex Hornby says: “Coastliner has again been named the nation’s favourite, and no wonder – there’s a lot of love for the service and for our amazing team who make it the success it undoubtedly is.“We know from the many positive comments we receive from our customers all year round that our Coastliner 840 bus is the ideal way to see two great Yorkshire cities, the North York Moors and the beautiful coast, without the stress and hassle of driving or parking.“Over the last couple of years our Coastliner service has been transformed, with amazing new buses packed with customer friendly features, including free 4G wi-fi, USB and wireless charging points, audio-visual next stop announcements and comfortable coach seating.“This wonderful win is ideally timed, as we begin our journey beyond lockdown and gradually welcome customers back along the route. As travel restrictions are eased, we look forward to seeing visitors old and new take a seat with us and enjoy the grandstand Yorkshire views which make Coastliner a worthy World Cup winner.”It is not the first time the bus route has won recognition for its beauty – in 2018, it was named ‘Britain’s most scenic bus route’ after an online poll of over 15,000 voters.