NAT Group take Elitei


Two Volvo B11R based Plaxton Elitei coaches have been added to the fleet of South Wales based NAT Group. Both powered by Volvo D11C Euro5 450bhp engines matched to an I-Shift 12-speed automated manual gearbox, the vehicles each have 75 Fainsa Gala seats, one of which is demountable to make way for a wheelchair position. They also both have a Thermo King air conditioning system, a toilet, a fridge and a Bosch entertainment package.
Commenting on the new vehicles, NAT Group MD, Kevyn Jones, said, ‘They are certainly making an impression, turning more heads than any coach we’ve operated before! Our first impressions of them are very good and the drivers love them. With the Elitei, we can offer our customers a higher passenger capacity with the luggage accommodation to match.’

Plaxton Coach sales of Anston supplied the pair.



Ex-Met policeman improving Chalkwell’s drivers


Sittingbourne based Chalkwell Coaches has appointed former Metropolitan Police traffic officer, Alasdair Thain, as a driving assessor. Since his appointment, the company claims there has been an improvement in driving standards. It has noticed fewer incidents, reduced maintenance costs due to greater driver awareness and a better level of candidate applying for positions. His role is to take drivers out and give them an hour long assessment on different types of roads. Following his retirement after 31 years in the police force, Alisdair worked for Kent County Council, assessing its drivers and training them to HGV and PCV standard. While he was at the council, he met Andy Bates, now Chalkwell’s Operations Manager. The two of them put together a plan to solve accident problems involving public service vehicles and minibuses. After working for the council, Alisdair decided to retire for a second time, but was persuaded by Chalkwell to work for them on a part time basis.

Alasdair said, ‘Although a candidate may already hold a PCV licence it doesn’t necessarily mean they will meet Chalkwell’s standards. Feedback I am getting from prospective employees and drivers is this is something they haven’t come across before. As a former Kent County Council HGV and PCV instructor I am looking at Chalkwell’s drivers as an examiner rather than a supervisor in the industry. Everyone will have their driving assessed once a year. If there is anything I am not happy about I will offer advice and assess drivers in three months or six months to ensure they are improving. Coupled with that, if anyone has an accident which is blameworthy and are culpable they will come out for a bus accident assessment. That involves going back to the scene of the accident, talking through what happened and forming an opinion on how the problem may have occurred, working on the problem for half an hour before, provided they take everything on board, seeing them again in six months. Hopefully, I shall then see that whatever the problem was has been corrected. I shall also carry out end of probation driver test assessments.’

VOSA fee change consultation

VOSA has launched a consultation on proposals to change fees for PSV testing, operator licensing and associated services, as well as tachograph calibrator approvals, amongst others. The proposed changes for statutory services aim to create fairer fees by removing the remaining cross subsidy of VOSA test facility costs from users of Authorised Testing Facilities (ATFs) and charging the cost of extra VOSA resource to service ATFs to ATF users. The planned alterations are also targetted at meeting additional running costs of interconnection throughout the EU of national registers of operators and their transport managers and more active monitoring of those committing most serious infringements as required by EU regulations. They are also aimed at ensuring the financial sustainability of VOSA. The consultation also includes a proposal on fees for Reduced Pollution Certificate inspections carried out by the Driver and Vehicle Agency in Northern Ireland and an increase to charges for voluntary services provided by the Agency. The largest changes result in re-distributing costs between those using VOSA test facilities and ATFs.

 VOSA Chief Executive, Alastair Peoples, said, ‘After four years with no general fee increases, VOSA will continue to absorb most costs and keep general rises to a minimal 1%. This is good news for our customers as the increase is far below inflation. I am also pleased to be able to propose a fairer allocation of costs between customers having their vehicles tested at ATFs and VOSA test stations. I am keen to hear the views from customers on our proposals.’

 Visit to see the full consultation. It is open till 11 June 2013.

Parrys to continue

ImageParrys International is to continue trading into 2014, despite plans announced earlier this year for it to close once its owner, Dave Parry, retires at the end of 2013. After Dave announced his decision, the operator was ‘inundated’ with emails, letters and visits from customers demanding the firm should keep trading. The change of plans means its 35 full time staff will not be made redundant. Over 25,000 passengers are carried by the company, which has a turnover of around £5.5m, each year. Its latest luxury coach, a Neoplan Starliner, was voted ‘Coach of the Year’ at this year’s UK Coach Rally.

 However, Mr Parry has not ruled out eventually selling his business as a going concern. Dave Parry said, ‘Due to the overwhelming response and reaction to our planned closure, we have decided that it would be in the best interest of our valued clients, staff and trade suppliers to change our decision and continue our business into 2014 and beyond. We intend immediately to plan for the future and to prepare our holiday programme for 2014.

New NatEx Caetano Levantes

ImageNational Express has unveiled the Caetano Levantes for its new A1 service. The vehicles form part of a 22 strong fleet that will run between London Luton Airport and Victoria Coach Station following a new agreement between the operator and the airport. Operational from 1 May, the new daily service will mean faster journey times, more frequent services and more seats available at peak times for passengers getting to and from the airport. Its enhanced timetable has been specially engineered around flight times. At peak, coaches are timetabled to run every ten minutes, with 150 services travelling to and from the airport each day. On board features on this service include toilets, free wi-fi, power sockets, business class legroom and CCTV.

New Volvo President

ImageHakan Agnevall is to take on the role of President of Volvo Bus Corporation in June. Hakan has worked in industry for many years and has extensive Swedish and international experience from several different companies including ABB. He currently holds the position as Vice President, Bombardier Transportation Propulsion and Controls. He will replace the acting President of Volvo Buses, Hakan Karlsson, who is also Head of Volvo Group Business Areas.


Motts’ new vehicle and livery


Motts Travel has revealed its new ‘Premium’ brand Crusader Holidays livery, which now adorns two new Setra S 416 GT-HD 48 seat luxury touring coaches from EvoBus. One of these vehicles will be entered into this year’s UK Coach Rally.

MD of Motts Travel (Aylesbury) Ltd, Roger Mott, said, ‘We have received a hugely encouraging response from our passengers when the vehicles were introduced on the Easter weekend tour programme, with many making specific reference to the new livery, interior design specification and superior ride quality.’