Tag Archives: OSL

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.

No night tube in 2015

When it was announced earlier this year that a number of main underground train stations in London would introduce a new ‘night tube’ service, the response from the public was mainly positive. But with unions locked in talks with London Underground representatives, it seems the new 24-hour service won’t be properly introduced until 2016.

‘Night Tube’ Service

Originally due to start in September, the ‘night tube’ service has been significantly delayed amid talks over pay and working conditions. These talks, between representatives from train union ASLEF and London Underground bosses, have broken down, with no current agreement in sight.


Talking about the negotiations, district organiser for ASLEF, Finn Brennan, confirmed a recent breakdown on the 15th of October saying:

“Unfortunately talks ended without any agreement, it’s pretty clear night tubes won’t be running in this year.”

Despite failed negotiations, which have been on-going for the past 3 months, the union hopes to resume talks with London Underground to resolve issues regarding working conditions for drivers and Underground staff.

What next?

Brennan said he would discuss next steps with other union representatives so that an agreement could be met:

“We have put forward a number of proposals to resolve this dispute in a way that is fair and benefits both sides. London Underground have rejected them all. Most disappointingly of all, [London Underground] have decided to blackmail their own employees by refusing to make a pay offer unless staff agree to worsen their working conditions. That is not something we are prepared to accept.”

With such an innovative and well-publicised new service at stake, talks between both unions and London Underground couldn’t be more important. And despite the delays in opening the service, here’s to hoping the 24-hour night tube is introduced in early 2016.

You can find out more about the service delays over on the Guardian website.

Until next time….

Henry Bilinski.

About the Author

Henry Bilinski is the UK Chief Executive Officer for the Health and Transport Services (HATS) Group/Olympic South Ltd based in Wimbledon.

Henry is a highly experienced Chief Executive with over 30 years’ experience working in the transport and logistics industry. Having acted as a Dispatch Rider, Operations Controller, Managing Director, Owner and CEO for a number of different organisations throughout his career, Henry is an expert in his field.

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 www.HATSGroup.com 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 www.HATSGroup.com

Until next time…

Henry Bilinski.