Category Archives: News

Smart transport ticketing in the North?

HATS Group and Olympic South Ltd CEO Henry Bilinski discusses new ‘Oyster Care for the north’.

The simple, but innovative Oyster card has come to define travel in London – it’s helped to transform the way we use and view underground transport. But can the highly successful, easy-to-use payment system be used outside of London? Well, we might be about to find out.

Efficiency and accessibility

In today’s transport industry, efficiency and accessibility is everything. Services and transport such as buses, trains and taxis haven’t changed too much over the years in terms of their primary function, but there’s always more we can do when it comes to performance and overall value.

Introducing a new system for quick travel payments in London was a big step for improved transport. The Oyster card, followed by Apple Pay and contactless card payments, has led the Capital’s underground system into a new era. But if our new efficient payment system is so affective – surely other cities in the UK should follow?

Autumn spending review

Well according to a number of sources, Chancellor George Osbourne is expected to announce £150m in new cash to start rolling out an ‘Oyster Card for the north’ at the autumn spending review.

This new smart ticketing system could see use in cities such as Manchester and Liverpool in the future, in which passengers could travel by bus, train or tram, in a number of different locations, all using the same digital ticket.

Next steps

Whilst digital, mobile phone tickets are already available on a number of different transport modes in the North, this new smart system will see more fluidity between different providers and transport systems. Great news for commuters.

TfN (Transport for the North) says smart ticketing will ’make it simple and easy to travel around and between city regions’.

It’ll be a long wait until the new ‘northern Oyster card’ is up and running, but this could be great news for transport users in the North.

More information when it comes in.

Until next time…

Henry Bilinski.

Student protest coincides with transport halts

Last week, a student protest in London turned violent when police clashed with rioters. Over 12 arrests were made whilst local transport came to a grinding halt.


Protesting against high fees and the government’s plans to scrap student grants, thousands of students and demonstrators marched outside the Home Office in central London.

Starting as a peaceful march, the protest soon turned sour when protesters met police lines in the capital.

Rioters hurled paint outside the Home Office whilst others threw smoke bombs and attempted to push their way into the Department for Business Innovation and Skills.

Officers on the scene were said to have arrested over 12 of the protesters for public order offences after the riot subsided.

Transport strikes

Adding to the unease in the capital, transport strikes also brought travel to a halt, meaning long delays and panic.

Transport union RMT continued with their 48-hour strike on the Docklands Light Railway (DLR), which ended on Thursday morning.

Speaking about the strikes, RMT general secretary Mick Cash said:

“RMT negotiators have made every effort over the past 72 hours to resolve this dispute through negotiation but due to the sheer intransigence of the management the DLR will now face its first ever all-out strike action in the 28 years history of the railway.”

Ongoing problems

All in all, with student protests, rail strikes and bonfire night problems, it hasn’t been a particularly good few weeks for London commuters and locals. The increasing number of ongoing disruptions to transport in the capital is extremely worrying, and with night tube negotiations still ongoing, we might not see any true respite until early 2016.

With the Christmas period quickly approaching, we can only hope that these issue die down soon.

You can find out more about the recent protests and strikes over on the BBC website.

For more information about me and my work, be sure to visit the HATS Group website.

Manchester Victoria station reopens

Hot on the heels of Birmingham New Street, Manchester’s Victoria station is the next major city transport hub to unveil its ‘new look’.

New Manchester Victoria station

Following a series of new renovations across the UK, Manchester Victoria has officially reopened this week after a £44m overhaul – which sees four new tram platforms and three new tracks.

At HATS Group and Olympic South Ltd, it’s great to see continued growth in the transport sector. The opening of the new Manchester Victoria will not only mean a more modern facilities, but it will also bring forth more services and passengers.

Unlike the new Birmingham New Street renovation – which was predominantly aesthetic – Manchester Victoria’s overhaul has introduced a number of new tracks and platforms. After five years of work, the Northern train station will see passenger numbers double in size, from 20,000 to 40,000 a day.

New one-of-a-kind roof

As well as new tracks, services and access points, the station also boasts an entirely new look, with a one-of-a-kind see-through roof.

The build of the new futuristic ‘bubble roof’ is one of the biggest of its kind ever undertaken and incorporates just under 400 panels made from EFTE – a polymer also used on Cornwall’s Eden Project.

“A symbol of opportunity”

Speaking about the new-look station, Transport Secretary, Patrick McLoughin gave his thanks to those involved, saying:

“I want to congratulate everyone involved in this remarkable project. It’s fantastic to see Manchester Victoria once again a station fit for the city. It’s now a symbol of opportunity, not neglect, and proof that this one nation government is building the Northern Powerhouse.”

With plans to allow 700 extra trains to run every day by 2019 and bringing an estimated £4bn to the region’s economy, along with up to 30,000 jobs, the new-look Manchester Victoria station is set to be a complete success. But with the Christmas rush just around the corner, only time will tell.

For more about Manchester Victoria, head over to the BBC website.

And for HATS and Olympic South, feel free to visit today.

Until next time…

Henry Bilinski.

Could this be the end of Uber in London?

Controversial, innovative and highly-popular, Uber – the technology-driven, worldwide taxi company – is changing the way the public think about private transportation. But could their business be threatened here in London due to a crackdown on private hire?


Since their launch back in 2011, Uber have changed the face of the private car hire industry. Through easy-to-use mobile phone apps, Uber have introduced a business model which many have not been able to keep up with.


In London over the past few years, and in other major cities around the world, Uber have met both praise and criticism. Whilst some customers have enjoyed reduced waiting times, lower fares and easier access, Uber has often been challenged by governing bodies and other taxi companies.

Due to Uber’s quick-fire approach to private hire, many have questioned the legality of Uber and its use of unlicensed taxicab drivers. This has led to a number of lawsuits and demonstrations around the world, including protests from London’s black cab drivers.

Transport for London consultation

Despite heathy opposition though, Uber has continued to grow around the world, launching in new cities and locations every month. It’s a service which has proved extremely popular in London over the past few years, and one that sees millions of users every year. But all that could be at risk, as transport authority Transport for London (TfL) are set to launch a public consultation to improve the regulations that govern the capital’s private hire trade.

Problems for Uber

This consultation could mean big things for Uber in London moving forward, who could see their services disputed by new regulations.

Henry Bilinski Uber logoSpeaking about the up-coming consultation, chief operating officer for surface transport at TfL, Garrett Emmerson said:

“In recent years the private hire industry has grown exponentially and technology has also developed rapidly

“The consultation sets out a number of ways that standards across the industry could be raised, ensuring Londoners can continue to benefit from the service provided by licensed private hire vehicles. No final decisions have been made and we’re keen to hear a range of views from the trade and from Londoners, too.”


Whilst originally ok with Uber’s services, TfL has grown increasingly worried about traffic growth on the roads of London, and have now decided to consult on new proposals for private hire companies. Some of which could have a huge effect on Uber’s key features.

Draft proposals include measures that would force transport operators to provide booking confirmation details to the passenger at least 5 minutes before a journey is set to start. Which would prove problematic for Uber, who on average pick up passengers just 3 minutes after they request a car.

No doubt extremely unpopular with Uber, head of UK operations, Jo Bertram responded to the plans saying:

“These bureaucratic new rules will not improve your ride, they’re designed to address the concerns of black cab drivers, who feel under pressure from increased competition. But the answer is to reduce the onerous regulations cabbies face today – not increase them for everyone else.”

What’s next?

Whether Uber’s services will be restricted in the future remains to be seen. But as London’s transport body prepares to consult on over 25 new draft proposals, only time will tell.

You can find out more on the Transport for London website.

For more about myself, the HATS Group and Olympic South Ltd, be sure to visit

Until next time…

Henry Bilinski.