On 25 September, Abellio officially opened its latest London depot, located on Armstrong Way in Southall, following the commencement of operations on Saturday, 13 July. The depot features six engineering workshops and the ability to house up to 135 buses, and Abellio expects it to create 200 new jobs.
Alan Pilbeam, Deputy Managing Director and Chief Operating Officer of Abellio, was present at the opening, and said: “This is a further demonstration of Abellio’s commitment to UK public transport. Over the last few years, we’ve invested over £3bn in trains, buses, stations and depots. We do that to make it easier for our customers to enjoy safe, reliable and easy to use public transport. We do want to leave a legacy wherever we go.”
“This is our first purpose built new depot in London. It’s a major investment in an area with an intensive bus network. I’m also very pleased that we’re bringing jobs to the area along with the crucial bus services.
“It hasn’t been easy – we started trying to establish the depot in 2013 and it has been a rollercoaster, but finally we have got there and have a great bus depot we’re very pleased with.
“We’re also grateful to have a parent company in Dutch Railways who backed us, as we backed ourselves. Questions were always going to be asked about whether we would fill the depot, but we are already operating 107 buses out of Southall. The capacity is 135, and when we transfer the 278 from Hayes, we will be at 132. That’s pretty impressive. The team delivered and I’m proud of them.
“The depot is built to the latest environmental standards. We have eight electric car charging points and we’ve future-proofed it – thinking about the move to zero emission. There is the ability to run cables through when required. It’s a great maintenance depot, and our bus apprenticeship scheme is also makes use of the location.
“There is a driver retention issue in London, and we need to build the perception of bus drivers. They are not viewed with the status they should be. It is difficult, and we’ve taken a different approach, bringing in 8-12 apprentices every two weeks. We think that’s the right way to do things to improve safety and collision figures and get that retention. Nine have already started this week.”