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    Oxfordshire’s Move to Decarbonized Public Transport Gets a Boost with 159 New Electric Buses!

    The first vehicles in a fleet of 159 new battery electric buses are set to arrive in Oxfordshire in September, after an £82.5 million deal was sealed.Last March, Oxfordshire County Council was awarded £32.8 million from the government’s Zero Emission Bus Regional Areas (ZEBRA) scheme.
    Along with £6m from the council itself and £43.7m from bus companies Stagecoach and the Go-Ahead Group, which includes the Oxford Bus Company, Thames Travel, and City Sightseeing Oxford, the scheme will deliver the electric buses and the infrastructure to charge them.
    Following the signing of contracts between the bus companies and the manufacturers, and the council’s approval of trial traffic filters in Oxford to help reduce bus journey times by at least 10 per cent in the city, confirmation of Oxfordshire’s ZEBRA scheme has now been finalised.
    Councillor Andrew Gant, Oxfordshire County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways Management, said: “This is a huge boost in the move towards creating a sustainable, decarbonised public transport system, and improving air quality.
    “We believe that, along with other schemes proposed in the county, this new fleet of electric buses will transform our public transport system and encourage more people to travel by bus.”ADVERTISEMENTRachel Geliamassi, Managing Director for Stagecoach West, said: “We’re excited to be announcing this major milestone for Oxfordshire, which will be a major step forward in improving air quality across the region. This builds further on the major investment being made by Stagecoach across the country to support the transition to a zero emission bus fleet.
    “We look forward to working with our local authority partners on their plans to further decarbonise the city, which will help us to speed up journey times and attract more people out of their cars and on to reliable, sustainable public transport services.”
    Luke Marion, Oxford Bus Company Managing Director, said: “This ground-breaking plan and significant investment will radically improve air quality in Oxford. We look forward to continuing to work with key partners to deliver this ambitious project, which will make bus travel an even better option for getting around our city.”
    Roads Minister Richard Holden said: “We want to see a better bus network around Britain and that means reliable, affordable, clean buses, and we will do everything possible to decarbonise our transport network and support skilled jobs in next generation bus manufacturing across the UK.
    “We’ve already invested hundreds of millions of pounds to kick-start the rollout of zero emission buses nationwide, and it’s great to see Oxfordshire County Council, Stagecoach and Go-Ahead Group making use of our funding to transform its fleet to electric. This move will boost UK manufacturing, drive down emissions and improve bus services for people across the region.”
    Councillor Louise Upton, Cabinet Member for Health and Transport, Oxford City Council, said: “Air pollution is a major cause of poor health in Oxford and cleaning up our bus emissions is an important step towards better air quality for everyone who lives, works, and visits Oxford.
    “Buses are a vital part of how many people travel around Oxford, especially the 30 per cent of Oxford residents who do not own a car. Let’s not underestimate the importance of the county’s proposed congestion-busting traffic measures in giving the bus companies the confidence to invest in these electric buses. Hopping on a brand new electric bus, with free WiFi and stop announcements for the partially sighted, will make bus travel a much more attractive option for everyone.
    “We are looking forward to seeing these new buses on Oxford’s roads as part of a zero emission bus network. It all helps to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels and fulfil our aim of cutting the city’s carbon footprint.”
    Transport is the largest contributor to nitrogen dioxide (NOx) emissions in Oxford, accounting for two thirds of the total emissions, with both diesel cars and buses contributing to roughly one third of the transport emissions each.
    The arrival of the 159 electric buses is expected to support a further drop in NOx levels that will help clean up Oxford and Oxfordshire’s air pollution, reduce noise pollution and help make Oxfordshire a net zero carbon county well before 2050.
    Oxfordshire was one of only 12 local authorities to successfully apply for ZEBRA funding and is one of the biggest schemes in the country.
    All the new buses are being manufactured in the UK and are expected to arrive by March 2024. It will be one of the largest orders outside London and will mean that most services across the Oxford Smartzone will be operated by battery electric buses.

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    Britain’s biggest bus operator Stagecoach to increase number of electric bus fleet by over 80%

    Stagecoach has confirmed today (28 November 2022) that it is planning to increase its electric bus fleet by over 80% in the next 12 months as it continues its journey towards being a net zero business.The country’s biggest bus and coach operator has published a new report outlining progress in 2021-2022 against the strategy it launched in 2021, Driving Net Zero: Better Places to Live and Work.
    The report details a programme of improvements delivered in 2021-2022 against its Planet, People, Prosperity and Governance targets. It includes a package of capital investment in new cleaner buses, measures to improve energy efficiency as well as improvements and investment for Stagecoach employees and local communities.
    Stagecoach is continuing with its plans to target a zero emission UK bus fleet by 2035, and has introduced new electric buses across many parts of the country, including one of Europe’s biggest investment in e-buses in Manchester. As part of these plans, Stagecoach will be increasing its electric bus fleet from 184 buses to 343 in the next year, representing an increase of 86%*. It will also be launching the first all-electric city bus networks in the UK in Inverness and Perth in 2023.
    Key highlights during 2021-2022 include:
    Protecting the PlanetADVERTISEMENTIntroduction of 75 new zero emission buses in regions across the UK, with 79 new e-buses in London during 2021-22. A further 159 new electric buses are planned to be introduced in 2023.Stagecoach will also start running 10 new hydrogen buses in Liverpool in spring 2023, the first of its kind for the region, operated through a partnership between Stagecoach, Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and Arriva.Delivered an overall 32% reduction in scope 1 & 2 CO2e emissions per passenger journeyHelped customers avoid nearly 20,000 tonnes of carbon emissions by providing them with more sustainable travel, rather than taking the carIntroduced 100% renewable electricity across the business, with new energy saving lighting in place in some locationsAchieved management ‘B’ rating in benchmark assessment from CDP, above the average for the road transport sectorRecycling mobile devices which has helped to fund the planting of over 3,000 treesOpening of a sustainable new £7m depot in Cwmbran in South Wales, which features a water recycling system, electric charging bays, intelligent heating, solar panels and a grass roof for rainwater harvesting.Investing in the health, safety and wellbeing of employees and customers
    The first bus operator to introduce low bridge alert technology across its fleet of 4,000 double decker busesNew employee networks in place as part of diversity and inclusion plans, giving employees the chance to help shape the agenda and bring about lasting changeInvestment in company’s first ever Head of Sustainability and Inclusion & Culture PartnerCaring for local communities
    Stagecoach ‘Giving for Good’ initiative launched to support charities and community causes, with new partnerships with four national charities and supporting hundreds of local charitiesNew UK customer contact centre opened, creating 60 new jobsEarlier this year, Stagecoach launched a sector-leading report which demonstrated the importance of government funding to match operator investment in new zero emission buses:

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    dnata opens advanced cool chain and bus maintenance facility

    dnata, a leading a global air and travel services provider, has announced significant expansion of its operations in Erbil, Iraq. The company opened a new, advanced cool chain facility and a bus maintenance facility for its state-of-the-art bussing fleets at Erbil International Airport (EBL), which together represent a total investment of US$ 3.5 million. dnata has also announced that it would invest an additional US$ 14 million and add a 16,000 m² cargo warehouse to its infrastructure in Iraq. The three new facilities will create up to 100 local jobs with dnata.
    dnata’s new cool chain facility is capable of processing 10,000 tons of perishables annually. It enables dnata’s cargo team to offer an uncompromised chilled and frozen storage and cool chain product to its airline customers at EBL, catering to product categories including fresh fruit, meat and pharmaceuticals. The facility was designed and built with flexibility and unique product handling requirements in mind, taking advantage of the latest cold storage technologies.
    The new bus maintenance facility was designed to maintain the fleet of eight passenger apron buses and over 10 transportation buses operated at EBL. It will ensure continuous improvements in the safe and productive maintenance of the airport’s bus fleet, supporting smooth transport operations across the airport for passengers, crew and staff.
    dnata’s new cargo warehouse, which is expected to open in 2023, will further significantly enhance the company’s cargo offering in Iraq.  It will be capable of processing 100,000 tonnes of cargo, with a special focus on pharma and other cool chain commodities, annually. The facility will be equipped with the latest technologies, including environmentally sustainable features such as water harvesting, low energy lighting and an all-electric forklift fleet.
    Furthermore, dnata has recently announced that it successfully implemented its advanced ‘OneCargo’ system, digitising processes and maximising efficiencies across its cargo operations in Iraq. OneCargo automates key business and operational functions, including safety and quality monitoring, reporting and ULD management, with an integrated, cloud-based platform. AI-driven tools and analytics provide enhanced visibility on sales and business performance, allowing customers to match real-time demand with available capacity for maximum profitability. In addition, OneCargo eliminates all redundancies and manual check sheets, substantially improving operational efficiency.ADVERTISEMENTdnata currently provides passenger, ground and cargo services to over 25 airlines in Erbil. In 2021, the company assisted over 1.2 million passengers and handled 8,200 flights and 20,000 tonnes of cargo in Iraq.
    Tom Alwyn-Jones, Managing Director of dnata Erbil, said: “Our latest investment in three new facilities will help us further expand and improve our operations in Erbil as demand for reliable and safe cargo services is on the rise across the region. I thank my colleagues for their hard work and our partners for their support and trust in our services. We continue to go the extra mile to consistently deliver superior quality and be the best in everything we do.”
    In recent years dnata has also made strategic investments in new cargo facilities in London and Manchester (UK), Karachi and Lahore (Pakistan), and additional cargo capacity and infrastructure in Brussels (Belgium), Sydney (Australia) and Toronto (Canada). In addition, the company has recently announced that it would invest over €200 million in its operations in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and operate one of the world’s largest and most advanced cargo facility, dnata Cargo City Amsterdam, at Schiphol Airport.
    As one of the world’s leading air services providers, dnata provides quality and reliable ground handling, cargo, catering and retail services at over 120 airports in 19 countries.
    dnata is nominated as World’s Leading Air Travel Service Provider 2021 by World Travel Awards.

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    UK government pledges £7.6 million for rail innovation

    The UK government has made £7.6 million available for cutting-edge technology that will help transform rail travel.
    Rail Minister Wendy Morton has officially announced this year’s First of Kind competition, which invites bids from companies specialising in innovative ways to modernise the railways.
    In partnership with Innovate UK, this year’s competition will award up to £7.6 million to projects creating cutting-edge ideas that are striving towards transforming rail travel for passengers and decarbonising the network.
    The competition officially opens to applicants on 20 April 2022 and closes on 8 June 2022, with bids welcome from organisations of all sizes for projects creating a greener, more cost-effective and passenger-focused railway. The year’s competition is focusing on technologies that improve the industry’s cost efficiency and network performance to support a more reliable railway for passengers and improving rail freight.
    Rail Minister Wendy Morton said:ADVERTISEMENT“I am incredibly excited to launch the sixth round of our First of a Kind competition. In partnership with Innovate UK, we have already invested £35.4 million into over 100 groundbreaking projects.”
    “We’ve seen cutting-edge technologies such as HydroFLEX developed, the first ever trial of a hydrogen-powered train on the UK mainline and software improving accessibility such as the Hearing Enhanced Audio Relay app.”
    “As part of our Plan for Rail, it’s key we continue breathing life into new ideas and supporting innovation and design to deliver greener rail journeys and transform rail travel for all passengers.”
    Last year saw 33 innovators receive grants of up to £400,000 each.
    The First of a Kind fund has helped trial and launch over 100 projects which are promoting greener railways, improving passengers’ rail experience and accessibility on the transport network, and helping the railway to be more cost-effective. Some of these projects include:
    HydroFLEX – the first mainline trial of a hydrogen train in the UK with Birmingham University’s HydroFLEX project, as pictured above
    Window seater – an innovative app, connecting rail travellers to the world outside their window with geolocated audio stories along the railway
    Hearing Enhanced Audio Relay (HEAR) – HEAR is an affordable software supporting hearing impaired passengers that automatically broadcasts audio announcements to passengers’ own devices

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    Business travel bounces back

    Four in five executives expect to travel for business this year in latest sign of post-pandemic bounce back.
    The vast majority of people (80%) believe they will travel for work this year and next, in the latest sign of a surge in demand for international travel following the lifting of coronavirus restrictions.
    A renewed public focus on sustainability means that most passengers would now prefer to travel by train than plane, new polling by Opinium Research, commissioned by HS1, shows.
    The data reveals how demand for environmentally-friendly travel is surging back following the end of all coronavirus restrictions in the UK.
    Two-thirds of respondents stated they would prefer to travel by train over plane, with 66% saying they are likely to travel to Europe by train over using a plane for business. The figure increased to 77% for leisure passengers.ADVERTISEMENTRespondents stated that Covid-19 had highlighted a need for businesses to take more sustainable travel options, demonstrating a major shift in attitudes towards green transport when going overseas. This was reflected by four in five of those surveyed (81%) saying they want their business to become greener by reducing their carbon footprint.
    Dyan Crowther, CEO, HS1, said: “We’re extremely pleased to see that people are looking to get back out there for business and leisure, and taking up all of the UK’s travel options in 2022.

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    Fred. Holidays Rail Journeys launches new Swiss trip

    Fred. Holidays Rail Journeys has launched a getaway for vintage rail enthusiasts, the Vintage Trains of Switzerland Luxury Package.
    The trip offers a unique and lavish way to experience the central European destination.
    This seven-day holiday combines five-star luxury accommodation and two nostalgic rail journeys on the Glacier Pullman Express and the Golden Pass with first class rail travel throughout.
    Fly from London to Geneva and take a direct train to the pretty lakeside town of Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva where guests spend one night in a five-star hotel.
    The following day board the beautiful Belle Époque carriages and travel along the Golden Pass to Zweisimmen and on to Spiez, then south to the Alpine resort of Zermatt where guests will enjoy a two-night stay. ADVERTISEMENTFollowing the two-night stay in Zermatt, board the Glacier Pullman Express for a truly magical experience.
    Four vintage Pullman carriages dating back to the 1920s and 1930s will carry you from Zermatt to Andermatt as you relax in large, comfortable armchairs in sumptuous surroundings and enjoy lunch with drinks in the Goumino dining cars.
    There are two departures on June 23rd and July 14th with prices from £3,699 per person.

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