Swansa Bus Museum moves house

Swansea Bus Museum moved to their new premises in Viking Way in the nick of time before the lease was up on their old home. I visited the new premises at the weekend and was very impressed by the progress made already to get everything bus-shape. The Museum has big plans for the future – keep an eye on their announcements. www.swtpg.org.uk

The Museum’s new life starts with their first running day of the year on 25 February. Go along for a super outing to support the Museum and Swansea’s heritage. See you there!

Petition: Make it illegal for Historic Vehicles to be processed through scrappage schemes

Make it illegal for manufacturers to process vehicles which have Historic Vehicle on their V5 documents though any scrappage scheme. A simple way to avoid losing rare road heritage is to make all vehicles with Historic Vehicle on their V5 document, legally exempt from scrappage.


Journal of Transport History on Twitter

You might be interested to know that the Journal of Transport History is now active on Twitter – follow it @JTransportHist

We’re using the feed to keep everyone up to date with what’s going on in transport history at the moment, as well as what the JTH is doing, articles and features that are coming out, and to hear back from you all – do please use this to get in touch with us!

Dr Mike Esbester

‘Self-driving’ lorries to be tested on UK roads


Small convoys of partially self-driving lorries will be tried out on major British roads by the end of next year, the government has announced.

A contract has been awarded to the Transport Research Laboratory (TRL) to carry out the tests of vehicle “platoons”.

Up to three lorries will travel in formation, with acceleration and braking controlled by the lead vehicle.

But the head of the AA said platoons raised safety concerns.

In the platoons, the lead vehicle will be controlled by a human driver and will communicate with the rest of the convoy wirelessly.

The following vehicles will be instructed to accelerate and brake by the lead vehicle, allowing the lorries to drive closer together than they could with human drivers.

Lorries driving close together could reduce air resistance for the following vehicles, as the front lorry pushes air out of the way.

This could lead to fuel efficiency savings for haulage companies, which Transport Minister Paul Maynard hopes will be passed on to consumers.

The following vehicles could also react more quickly to the lead lorry braking than human drivers can.

However, human drivers will still steer all the lorries in the convoy.

The TRL will begin trials of the technology on test tracks, but these trials are expected to move to major roads by the end of 2018.

The government has been promising such a project since at least 2014.

Last year, for example, it announced its intention to carry out platooning trials but was later frustrated after some European lorrymakers declined to participate.

A Department of Transport spokesman told the BBC that the experiments are now expected to go ahead as the contract had been awarded.

The TRL has announced its partners for the project:

  • DAF Trucks, a Dutch lorry manufacturer
  • Ricardo, a British smart tech transport firm
  • DHL, a German logistics company

Platooning has been tested in a number of countries around the world, including the US, Germany and Japan.

However, British roads present a unique challenge, said Edmund King, president of the AA.

“We all want to promote fuel efficiency and reduce congestion but we are not yet convinced that lorry platooning on UK motorways is the way to go about it,” he said, pointing out, for example, that small convoys of lorries can block road signs from the view of other road users.

“We have some of the busiest motorways in Europe with many more exits and entries.

“Platooning may work on the miles of deserted freeways in Arizona or Nevada but this is not America,” he added.

His comments were echoed by the RAC Foundation.

Its director, Steve Gooding, said: “Streams of close-running HGVs could provide financial savings on long-distance journeys, but on our heavily congested motorways – with stop-start traffic and vehicles jostling for position – the benefits are less certain.”

Campaign group the Road Haulage Association said “safety has to come first”.

Transport Minister Paul Maynard said platooning could lead to cheaper fuel bills, lower emissions and less congestion.

“But first we must make sure the technology is safe and works well on our roads, and that’s why we are investing in these trials,” he said.


Swansea Bus Museum is on the move

Moving one heritage bus can sometimes prove difficult, but relocating a museum full of them is about to present a mammoth challenge for one group of South Wales-based road transport enthusiasts.

Swansea Bus Museum is planning to relocate its collection and displays as part of a major development plan and that means a huge logistical task for its small band of regular volunteers.

Before the end of the year the museum will leave the former industrial building in Swansea’s SA1 Business Park that has been its home for many years and relocate to a modern property in Swansea Enterprise Park.

The move comes as the lease on its current home ends and the museum seeks to expand its road transport restoration and preservation activities into the future as well as improving facilities for the storage of its unique collection of vehicles and also those for visitors and educational purposes.

Chairman Alan West, one of those who have helped nurture the museum from its early beginnings, welcomed the move along with the wide-ranging future opportunities it offers.

“We have an important collection of vehicles at Swansea Bus Museum and the move will allow us to extend this as well as creating a more welcoming environment for visitors who are very important to our survival.

“There is no doubt the transfer of our collection will present an array of problems particularly with vehicles awaiting restoration and heavy or bulky parts in our stores. The logistics are a nightmare and we are hoping that our predicament will attract some favourable support from at least one of our local haulage companies.

“Interest in the museum is on the increase both with volunteers and visitors. Shortly we will be welcoming a party of transport enthusiasts from Ireland keen to view our collection and others are set to follow. Members want the museum to grow and provide an additional point of interest for visitors to the city.

“The move is a mammoth task, but one we are confident we can achieve within the timescale,” he said.

The museum houses an array of passenger transport vehicles. Among them are a number of rarities like the oldest surviving AEC Regent V and the world’s only AEC Regent V single deck vehicle, built to tackle low bridges in Llanelli’s New Dock area.

The museum is planning to complete the move in the run up to Christmas, but in the meantime is organising a farewell running day at its current site at SA1 Business Park, Langdon Road, East, Swansea, SA1 8PB, on Sunday October 29 from 10am to 4pm.


Bus Museum newsletter – July 2017

Further information from David Roberts, SBM Secretary Tel: 01792 732832.

Driverless lorry makes late-night beer run

The Times, October 27 2016,

The lorry drove itself for 120 miles down Interstate 25, though a driver took over once it left the motorway
The lorry drove itself for 120 miles down Interstate 25, though a driver took over once it left the motorway   AFP/Getty Images

It was after midnight and the executive director of the Colorado Department of Transportation was at the back of a convoy escorting an articulated lorry loaded with beer down the motorway.

“It looked like a truck going down the road. It had to respond to [traffic], vehicles passing it, merging in front of it, curves in the road,” Shailen Bhatt said. “The only thing that looked off was when you passed the vehicle and you looked in to see the driver and there was no driver.”


The future of cargo hauling may have arrived on Thursday morning when a driverless 53ft lorry travelled more than 120 miles along Interstate 25, including through the city of Denver. It was delivering 2,000 cases of Budweiser from the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Fort Collins to Colorado Springs.

“This milestone marks the first time in history that a self-driving vehicle has shipped commercial cargo, making it a landmark achievement for self-driving technology, the state of Colorado and the transportation industry,” the brewer said in a joint statement with Otto, the San Francisco-based company owned by Uber that developed the technology for the experiment.

The test run was carried out between 1am and 3am. The lorry travelled in the centre lane as part of a convoy that included four police vehicles, two tow trucks and four Otto vehicles.

The lorry was on a familiar route. It had already done the same run hundreds of times before with someone in the driving seat to survey the route.

On this occasion a driver was in the sleeper berth of the lorry to monitor the system. He was not required to take over at any point, Otto said, although he drove the truck onto the motorway and away from it.

Uber, which paid almost $700 million for Otto shortly after the company was set up in February, tested self-driving cars in Pittsburgh last month, but the technology is expected to take longer to come into widespread use than driverless lorries.

The hope is that the technology will allow long–haul drivers to sleep on main roads so that they are fresh for the more complex parts of the journey, making roads safer. About 400,000 lorries crash every year in the US, killing about 4,000 people, and human error is to blame for almost every case.

“We think that self-driving technologies can improve safety, reduce emissions and improve operational efficiencies of our shipments,” James Sembrot, head of logistics for Anheuser-Busch, said.