Return of the White Lady
Stagecoach Cumbria & North Lancashire has unveiled its latest livery project with the launch of one of the open top Tridents (17012) in a version of the former Ribble White Lady livery.
Repainted at Carlisle depot the vehicle livery was designed by Ray Stenning’s Best Impressions agency. The company says that the bus will be based at Kendal depot for the Lakes 599 service. Once the new Wrightbus open top Volvo B5TLs are delivered 17012 will be retained as a reserve vehicle and will also be available for hire.
Given its special events role 17012 is now being regarded as part of the Stagecoach UK Bus ‘Heritage’ fleet.
The first of the Wrightbus open top vehicles are expected here during July.
A peek into the National Express archives
A new peek into the National Express archives has revealed a hidden wealth of classic images and marketing material from almost five decades of history.
To celebrate 45 years of service and 3.5 BILLION miles of coach travel, National Express is lifting the lid on its archives with the release of rare and unseen archive material from as far back as 1966.
National Express, which turns 45 this year, has already clocked up 25 MILLION road miles around the UK since the start of 2017 – a distance equating more than a thousand times around the world.
The famous intercity coach operator traces its origins to 1972 when scheduled coach services run by the National Bus Company were united under one brand known as ‘National’.
Managing Director Chris Hardy said: “National Express is turning 45 and like any good birthday we thought it would be fun to ‘open the family album’ and lift the lid on our archive – including some previously unseen material – in a bid to make people smile.
“People have grown up with National Express and we’ve made memories by connecting people all over the country with their friends and families. We’re proud to be a fixture of the UK’s roads and play our part in the journey of people’s lives.
“It’s happy birthday to National Express and thank you to the millions of people who’ve come along for the ride”.
Today National Express has over 900 stops across the UK and operates 19 million journeys a year.
Fuelled by the explosion of low-cost flights, around a third of all journeys are now to airports. Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester and Leeds are now the most popular cities to visit by National Express outside of London.
National Express coach driver Mike Davies covers the company’s longest direct service route from Edinburgh to Plymouth, and is believed to be Britain’s most-travelled driver with over 40 years and three million miles to his name.
Mike added: "National Express is a British institution and it’s impossible to travel any distance on the UK’s motorways without spotting one.
“Everyone has a memory of a National Express and there aren’t many companies you can say that about. I've seen it all over the years and coaches have really changed – scratchy velvet seats went out years ago – it's all leather now and technology has been a real game changer.
"It’s amazing to think the company is 45 and exciting to think about what the coming years will bring."
Eleven things you DIDN’T KNOW about National Express:
App success at EYMS
After only two months East Yorkshire Motor Services’ new mobile phone app has achieved the coveted 5 star rating on the App Store (and 4.7 stars on Google Play).
Launched on 3 April, by the end of May there had been 6,230 users with over 78,000 sessions and almost 480,000 screen views by local people using the app, and ticket sales have been increasing each week.
Most interestingly, feedback from customers has indicated that the app/mobile tickets are encouraging them to travel more.
As well as offering a range of East Yorkshire and Scarborough and District bus tickets, the app features real time bus information, complete timetables for all EYMS bus services and a comprehensive journey planner.
EYMS Marketing Manager, Claire Robinson, said “This is a very encouraging start and ticket sales have been increasing each week. We have had many requests from passengers for additional tickets to be added to the app and we will soon be adding even more tickets to help customers travel more easily.
“The fact that several people have told us that it is encouraging them to use the buses more is very good news and of course we hope that will continue”.
Virgin Trains brands loco as it pledges to tackle the stigma of mental health
Virgin Trains has added ‘Time to Change’ branding to one of its Class 91 locomotives as part of a pledge in tackling the stigma around mental health. 91132 now carries the special branding.
As a signatory, Virgin Trains will invest over £700,00 a year to improve the physical and mental wellbeing of its people. As part of this investment, the train operator will commit to educate over 3,000 employees in recognising and taking on mental health issues in both colleagues and customers. Time to Change is an initiative from charities Mind and Rethink Mental Illness which look to encourage people to talk about mental health and improve public attitudes towards mental health problems through training and awareness-raising.
In addition, Virgin Trains has appointed two Mental Health Champions who are members of the firm’s board, to ensure that the issue is talked about at the highest levels of the organisation. Clare Burles, People Director and Suzanne Donnelly, Commercial Director will advocate for mental health issues in board meetings and develop policy to ensure continued buy-in among senior leaders to support the agenda within their own teams. With its Mental Health First aid courses, the firm will also be training all managers to equip them to better support employees with mental health issues in the workplace. It will also look to roll out this training to all employees in the future.
Sue Baker, Director of Time to Change, said: “We know it can be hard to talk about mental health, which is why we’re supporting employers to open up; to talk and to listen. Too many people with mental health problems are made to feel isolated, ashamed and worthless, but with the right support, those of us with mental health problems can recover and have equal opportunities in all areas of life. Everyone’s attitude makes a difference and it’s fantastic to see organisations like Virgin Trains on the east coast taking the lead.
“Many leading employers have found that making a strategic commitment to the mental wellbeing of their workforce not only benefits their staff but also their bottom-line, improving productivity and staff retention. With one in six British workers experiencing mental illness it's time for businesses to make a change and start creating more mentally healthy workplaces."
Time to Change aims to end mental health discrimination and encourage people to start conversations around mental health. Over 500 businesses have signed the pledge to demonstrate their commitment to implementing a mental health plan and create an environment where employees feel able to discuss mental health.
Time to Change is funded by the Department of Health, Comic Relief and the Big Lottery Fund. Set up to create a positive shift in public attitudes towards mental health problems, Time to Change supports communities, schools and workplaces to open up to mental health problems; to talk and to listen.
The Flying Scouseman joins the Flying Scotsman
So Virgin Trains East Coast has its ‘Flying Scotsman’ train but not to be outdone VT’s West Coast also now has a flying train. This time it’s the ‘Flying Scouseman’. Pendolino 390148, formerly named ‘Virgin Harrier’ has been re-named in a joint initiative between the train operator and the Liverpool Echo.
The name was chosen through a competition with the Liverpool Echo to mark Virgin Trains 20th birthday operating services on the West Coast. Around to 700 suggestions were received, and from the shortlist of ten the ‘Flying Scouseman’ was chosen and captured 21% of the vote.
Virgin Trains says: “It was all a bit of fun and hopefully a name that will put a smile on people’s faces as 390148 speeds up and down the WCML”.
The winner of the competition was Michael Dally from Runcorn.
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.