We were privileged to attend an event in mid-October to showcase two buses that First Midlands has repainted into 'heritage' Midland Red liveries. The Worcester-based buses have been painted to mark 100 years of bus services in Worcester and also 100 years of the 144 route, which over the years had linked Birmingham with Worcester and Great Malvern.
A Trident 33404 (VX54MUA) has received the red and cream lined Midland Red livery carried by pre-war FEDD and REDD buses, whilst Enviro 300 67664 (VX05LWH) carries the last style of Midland Red carried before Midland Red became part of the National Bus Company and the traditional red livery gave way to Nation Bus Poppy Red colours.
To mark the 'launch' of the re-liveried vehicles they went on a tour around Worcester, joined by a surprise addition from the BaMMOT collection at Wythall.
The two First buses along with a wider selection of historic Midland Red vehicles were then displayed at Worcester Racecourse.
These vehicles continue a trend this year where several First companies have painted buses in historic liveries, which should be commended.
First Group has lost another rail franchise. Hot on the heels of the loss of the Thameslink and Great Northern franchise, which passed to Govia last month, it is now understood that Dutch State Railway Abelio will take over operation of Scotland's railways for a ten year term from April next year. This is a further blow for First who in 2012 won the West Coast Main Line franchise only for it to be taken away before it had even started.
The Scotland-England overnight 'Sleeper' service will not be part of the new franchise and has already been awarded to Serco
We receive may Press Releases but I must admit welcomed the one from Blackpool Transport Services received earlier this week regarding the appointment of a new Managing Director. The new post holder is none other than Jane Cole who I had the privilege to work with at Virgin Trains on media. Customer, and key stakeholder relationships as well as on an intensive staff engagement programme. The work with Jane took place across the North West and North Wales and included some extremely early starts as we undertook ‘meet the manager’ sessions and staff forums including some 03:00 alarms calls in Holyhead!
The announcement from Blackpool Transport Services is below:
Exciting journey for new Managing Director of Blackpool Transport Services
An experienced transport manager with strong links to Blackpool has been appointed as the new Managing Director of Blackpool Transport Services.
Jane Cole, who has more than 35 years’ experience working in the rail industry, most recently as a Senior Manager in Customer Service, Operations, Commercial and Marketing at Virgin Trains, will start work on November 3.
Originally from Manchester, Jane’s career began in 1979 when she took her first job as a technical officer in signalling and telecommunications.
Progression in her career brought her to Blackpool – a popular holiday destination for her family – in 1989 when she took a job working at Blackpool North Station.
A management promotion took her to Preston to work for Intercity in 1990 before moving to Virgin Trains in 1996.
A former member of the board of the North West Lancashire Chamber of Commerce as well as Visit Lancashire, Jane is also an active member of the Blackpool Business Leadership Forum.
Jane said: “I am delighted and excited to now be the Managing Director for Blackpool Transport Services.
“With the new tramway, plans to extend it further to create an improved, fully integrated transport network linking to Blackpool North Station and, of course, running bus routes across the whole of the Fylde coast, the challenge is huge.
“These are really exciting times and Blackpool Transport is now ready to be part of the integrated transport revolution which is being strategically planned for the resort.
“I want people to take away a brilliant experience when they travel on our trams and buses.
“I intend to forge close relationships with customers, employees, stakeholders, and train and coach operators who bring people into the resort.
“We are a big part of the customer travel experience and I want people to leave with an amazing impression.”
September proved to be a busy time for us, with work on the second edition of the Norfolk Green Fleet Handbook being completed and sent for printing. We visited King’s Lynn to photograph the loaned Volvo Olympians on their first day in service and also managed a better photograph of the Volvo B10M coach used for driver training. Less than 24 hours later the book has been proofed and was ready for press. This edition of the book was produced for the Omnibus Society’s Presidential Weekend with a Foreword included in the book by President and former Norfolk Green owner Ben Colson.
Hot on the heels of the Norfolk Green book was our first edition of the Stagecoach Oxfordshire Fleet Handbook and we would like to thank local enthusiast - and author of the Oxford & Chilterns Bus Page - Malcolm Crowe for his assistance in its production.
We are still working on the Stagecoach Cumbria & North Lancashire and also the Stagecoach North East Fleet Handbooks. We are holding these back to allow us to include new and cascaded vehicles into these fleets.
For next year we plan a new edition of the Stagecoach East Midlands Fleet Handbook and new books covering the Stagecoach South Wales, South West, South East and South Fleets and would welcome submission of images for these books - if you can help then please make initial contact using form on the ‘Contact Us’ page.
We are also working on an illustrated guide to the Stagecoach ‘Heritage & Preserved’ fleet. Again if you can supply any images of these vehicles we would like to hear from you. We pay £5 for each photo used and you will also get a free copy of the book in which your photo(s) appear.
Now for a moan and an apology. We have suffered from poor courier and postal service in the last month. Publication of our Stagecoach Oxfordshire Fleet Handbook was delayed by seven days after Parcelforce mis-delivered the box of books from our printer N&P Print. The printer investigated and with little hope on a swift resolution they reprinted the books and has them delivered in under 48 hours - a great example of customer service. Almost two weeks on the mis-delivered package has still not re-appeared.
Then we had a delivery of boxes, used to pack our books to Trade Customers. These were ordered on a next day delivery and were delivered at a totally unacceptable time of 22:10. When I complained to the courier he said there was no problem as it was still ‘next day’!
There have also been some intermittent problems with mail to our Royal Mail PO Box, which should get delivered with our other mail. It seems that some mail has not been delivered and may have been returned to sender. If you do get mail back please let us know, we will refund postage, send a postage paid envelope for you to re-send the mail to us. If this happens it would be useful for the original envelope with any Royal Mail comments on it to be sent to us so we can follow up in detail with Royal Mail.
Finally, we hope you find our monthly Allocation Supplement documents useful. In preparation for future titles we have started to produce these for other fleets.
Steven Knight is a Transport Specialist who has over 40 years experience in the bus and rail industries as well as in specialist transport journalism. He is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.