National Express Coaches: Wikis

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This article is about the company responsible for most long distance bus and coach services in Great Britain and the brand it uses; for information on its parent company, see National Express Group.
National Express Coach
logo
image
A National Express Caetano Levante coach in the new livery. It is run by Go North East.
Founded 1972
Headquarters Birmingham, England, UK
Service area England, Wales, Scotland
Service type Intercity coach service
Hubs Birmingham,
London,
Manchester,
Glasgow,
Gatwick Airport,
Heathrow Airport,
Southampton,
Leeds,
Liverpool
Operator National Express Group
Chief executive Randall E West
Web site National Express Coach
The previous National Express livery on a coach on route 561
A Scania K124 EB Irizar of National Express in the previous livery, pictured in Cambridge.
Previous National Express logo.
The pre-2003 National Express livery (essentially as inherited from the National Bus Company) on a Volvo B10M / Plaxton Premiere coach

National Express Coaches, more commonly known as National Express, is a brand and company, owned by the National Express Group, under which the majority of long distance bus and coach services in Great Britain are operated,[1]

Most services are subcontracted to local bus and coach companies throughout England, Scotland and Wales, as specified below. The company is based in Birmingham[citation needed].

Contents

History

Following the Transport Act 1968, the National Bus Company (NBC) was formed and many local bus companies were nationalised. Many of these bus companies also operated coach services and these were marketed as National Express from 1972 (the actual coach services continued to be operated by the individual companies).

Coach services were de-regulated under the Transport Act 1980 and buses by the Transport Act 1985. The National Bus Company was privatised and National Express Holdings Ltd was formed in 1998 following a management buy-out; National Express Group (NEG) was formed in 1991 prior to the company being floated on the London Stock Exchange in 1992.[2] It was given a remit to acquire new businesses in the passenger transport market, National Express was as a subsidiary company.

During 2001, National Express took the decision to end the historic on-board steward/ess service. Phil White, their then MD had stated he felt they made the company look old fashioned and passengers did not need them.[citation needed]

For most of its existence, National Express Coach Division had little, if any, competition in the long distance coach market. However, in 2003, Stagecoach Group introduced a "no-frills" service, Megabus, whose £1 fares sparked a price war with National Express in autumn 2004. The competition intensified in 2007 when Megabus transferred its London terminus from the Green Line Coach Station into the main Victoria Coach Station.

In 2007–2008, as part of the group wide restructuring and re-branding the groups rail operations were branded as 'National Express' and the coach fleet received a slightly different livery, retaining the red white and blue theme, but adoption a new lower-case logo; coaches stated appearing in the new livery from December 2007.

Routes and Brands

National Express offer many standard 'National Express routes across the country. In addition they run shuttle and airport services.

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Shuttle Services

Standard 'National Express' often travel from town centre to town centre which increases journey times for longer journeys considerably. A smaller number of Shuttle services operate at least once an hour over faster direct fast routes. Shuttle services operate on the following routes:

The 040 Bristol - London Shuttle continues to Burnham-on-Sea once a day in each direction, usually early morning to London and late evening from, while retaining its NXL shuttle branding. It operates with Irizar PB / Scania K124 coaches.

The 420 London - Birmingham service is operated directly by National Express from Birmingham coach station. However during 2007, along with other Birmingham based services operated by Travel West Midlands and Go West Midlands, these where franchised out to Veolia, due to the lack of space available at Birmingham's temporary coach station.

Airport services

National Express operate a number of Airport services to a number of different airports. Services include:-

  • 200 - Gatwick Airport - Heathrow Airport - Reading - Bristol
  • 201 - Gatwick Airport - Heathrow Airport - Bristol - Newport - Cardiff - Swansea
  • 202 - Heathrow Airport - Bristol - Newport - Cardiff - Swansea
  • 205 - Gatwick Airport - Heathrow Airport - Ringwood - Bournemouth - Poole
  • 210 - Gatwick Airport - Heathrow Airport - Banbury / Coventry - Birmingham - Wolverhampton
  • 230 - Gatwick Airport - Heathrow Airport - Milton Keynes - Leicester - Nottingham
  • 240 - Bradford - Leeds - Sheffield - Chesterfield - East Midlands Airport - Coventry - Warwick Parkway - Heathrow Airport - Gatwick Airport (Accessible Coach Service)
  • 707 - Gatwick Airport - Heathrow Airport - Hemel Hempstead - Luton Airport - Luton bus station - Milton Keynes - Northampton
  • 747 - Brighton - Gatwick Airport - Heathrow Airport
  • 777 - Stansted Airport - Luton Airport - Birmingham (early morning and evening services extend to/from Wolverhampton)

The Airport brand was created in 2003 when the National Express image brand was updated - it merged the former Airlink, Flightlink, Jetlink and Speedlink brands, which were confusing, especially to passengers travelling between Heathrow and Gatwick airports.

Most coaches on these services operate with the National Express Airport brand, the airport being in white inside a red box below the 'National Express' name on the side of the coach.

Vehicles on services 777 and 210 operate in standard National Express branding as these services are now operated by Veolia, and use the same pool of coaches of that operators services based in Birmingham (namely the 325, 420 and 545).

Accessible coach routes

National Express is introducing a new generation of coaches that feature a wheelchair lift incorporated into the passenger entrance onto the UK network . These vehicles feature a wider entrance and a completely flat floor throughout the coach to aid mobility for all. The NX Magic Floor Lift is incorporated into the passenger entrance and when deployed, the wheelchair is locked in place and the customer safely and securely uses the same standard three-point seat belt as other customers.

As of February 2010 the following services are advertised as operating with accessible vehicles:-[3]

  • 240 - Leeds - Sheffield - Coventry - Heathrow Airport - Gatwick Airport
  • 314 - Liverpool - Stoke - Birmingham - Coventry - Northampton - Bedford - Cambridge
  • 333 - Blackpool - Bolton - Mancs - Stoke - Bristol - Yeovil - W'mouth - Poole - B'mouth
  • 337 - Coventry - Leamington - Stratford - Cheltenham - Bristol - Exeter - Torquay - Paignton
  • 341 - Burnley - Blackburn - Bolton - Mancs - B'ham - Weston-S-M - Exeter - Torquay (not including night or seasonal services)
  • 390 - Hull (Docks) - Leeds - Manchester
  • 403 - Bath - Swindon - Chippenham - Heathrow - London (side-entry passenger lift)
  • 538 - The Midlands - Manchester Airport - Manchester - Preston - Carlisle - Scotland
  • 560 - Barnsley - Sheffield - London (not including night or seasonal services)
  • 562 - Hull - Doncaster - London
  • 591 - Edinburgh - Newcastle - London (not including night or seasonal services)
  • 737 - Oxford - High Wycombe - Luton Airport - Stansted Airport
  • 767 - Nottingham - Leicester - Luton Airport - Stansted Airport

Vehicles include reclining leather seats, air conditioning, and a large toilet. A programme of routes is currently being planned to roll out the accessible coach across the network, with the whole network being fully accessible by 2012.[3] Unfortunately, during this roll-out the operation on occasions will use vehicles without accessible features on services advertised as accessible.

Fares

A number of discount fare brands are available, including:

Coachcards

National Express offers a range of coachcards to customers which allows discounts on National Express tickets. At one point, this consisted of a Student, Young Persons, and Advantage 50 coachcards - which allowed the holder up to 30% of the price of coach tickets. This has since been rationalised with the company only offering an NX2 card (recently renamed the 16 to 25 coachcard in order to provide a clearer brand name), offering the same discount to previous Students and Young Persons cards. Since the introduction in 2004 of half price fares for the over 60's, the Advantage 50 card was scrapped, although cards are still valid until expiry. A Family coachcard is also offered, and is cheaper than the NX2 card, and allows the holder of the card to take one child free with them, in many cases the cost of the Family Coachcard is cheaper than the fare for a child.

Brit Xplorer

This is a card valid for a set period of time which allows non-UK residents (a passport of another country is needed to purchase this) travel as a standby passenger on all National Express services, the holder can opt to pay a small fee in order to reserve a seat on a specific service.

Funfares

Launched as a result of severe competition from easyBus and Megabus, funfares are cheap single fares, purchased only on the internet as an 'e-ticket', similar to low-fare airlines, thus reducing overheads. Further restrictions are put on these tickets - such as the inability to change the time on the ticket, or to travel on a different coach. Funfares were launched on Shuttle services but have since been rolled out across the network. A percentage of seats on off-peak services can be booked in this way. For a long while Funfares were priced from a highly competitive £1 a ticket, which undercut Megabus when taking into account booking charges. Subsequently though the price of Funfares increased to a less attractive minimum of £5 a single ticket with an additional booking charge[4] which means that they are often undercut by rival bus and on occasions train operators.

Multirides

For frequent travellers, packs of ten separate journeys can be bought for a saving of ten percent on regular fares on a limited number of services. Tickets are valid for up to six months and can be used in either direction of travel. These are only sold on a limited number of services.

Major destinations

Operations

Franchise operators

The majority of National Express services are contracted to local bus and coach companies. As part of the contract, operators who run services every day are required to use coaches in full National Express livery, although there are a few exceptions for operators who operate irregular services (for example extras laid on at weekends). There are also some occasions where an operator will use a privately hired vehicle due to lack of availability.

In addition to this, coaches from outside companies can be hired in at anytime to work "Duplicate Coaches" which can run alongside a route for all or some of it - an extremely common practice during busy periods.

Recently some of the operators who are not contracted to provide National Express liveried coaches have begun to break away from this, by using vehicles in plain white with a National Express logo on the side, and a few have also acquired coaches that are no longer in regular service on the network.

One such operator - Stagecoach - is both a National Express franchisee, and operates its own rival Megabus services.

A current illustrated list of Coaches & their operators is available at: A pictorial fleet list of current National Express Coach operations

Advertising

A television advertising campaign in the 1980s included a jingle with the slogan 'National Express Coaches go our way, we're going yours'.

Incidents

Since National Express started operating, there have been few road traffic accidents (RTIs) involving their coaches. Early incidents were in July 1974, August 1983, August 1985[citation needed].

2007

One happened on the evening of 3 January 2007, when a Neoplan Skyliner coach overturned and crashed on the M25 motorway slip road near Heathrow Airport, killing two passengers.[5] The other sixty-five passengers and two staff members were all taken to hospital. The coach driver Phillip Rooney, was arrested on suspicion of causing death by dangerous driving, and was released on Police Bail. National Express Group temporarily withdrew all twelve Skyliners from service on 5 January 2007, pending investigations - only reinstating them in late May 2007,[6] after no safety issues were found.[7] A third passenger died six-months later due to the injuies sustained in the crash.[8] After initially denying all charges,[9] the driver subsequently admitted to three counts of causing death by dangerous driving at a Crown Court hearing, the case was subsequently passed to the Old Bailey for sentencing.[10] The crash was deemed to have been caused by travelling at excess speed round the bend of the slip road from the M4 on to the M25 - the Court was told he drove like a man "possessed", whilst at the same time speaking to the coach passengers via the coach's public address system.[11] The driver was jailed for five years, and banned from driving for three years.[11]

Another collision occurred on 3 September 2007, when a coach hit the side of a kerb and overturned on the entrance to Newport Pagnell services. Luckily, no one was killed in the accident. It later emerged that the driver was almost twice over the drink-drive limit. The driver was dismissed by National Express, jailed for ten months, and banned from driving for four years. [12]

2009

More recently, a collision occurred on 4 September 2009 at Gatwick Airport, when a Ford Ka collided with and ended up underneath a National Express Coach. The single occupent of the car, 34-year-old Melanie Wisden from Ely in Cardiff was crushed and killed instantly. She had just dropped a friend off at Gatwick Airport's North Terminal. The coach driver was taken to hospital and treated for shock. One coach passenger suffered a minor wrist injury. The subsequent road closures caused tailbacks stretching back as far as the M25 and beyond. [13] [14] [15]

See also

References

  1. ^ About National Express
  2. ^ "A brief history of National Express". http://www.nationalexpress.com/coach/OurService/about.cfm. Retrieved 2010-02-05. 
  3. ^ a b "Disabled Facilities". National Express. http://www.nationalexpress.com/coach/OurService/disabled.cfm. Retrieved 2010-02-09. 
  4. ^ Funfares now from £5 http://www.nationalexpress.com/coach/offers/funfares.cfm?CFID=24562222&CFTOKEN=40951340
  5. ^ "Two dead after M-way coach crash". BBC. BBC News. 4 January 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6229719.stm. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  6. ^ "Appeal over second crash victim". BBC. BBC News. 5 January 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/6233333.stm. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  7. ^ "Coach death driver pleads guilty - No safety problems". BBC. BBC News. 15 October 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7671652.stm. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  8. ^ "Coach crash injuries caused death". BBC. BBC News. 20 July 2007. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/6909476.stm. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  9. ^ "Driver denies coach death charges". BBC. BBC News. 29 January 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7215679.stm. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  10. ^ "Driver admits coach death charges". BBC. BBC News. 18 October 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/glasgow_and_west/7671648.stm. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  11. ^ a b "M25 coach deaths driver is jailed". BBC. BBC News. 26 November 2008. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/london/7750475.stm. Retrieved 24 November 2009. 
  12. ^ "Drunk coach driver jailed". BBC News. http://www.birminghammail.net/news/top-stories/2008/06/24/drunk-coach-driver-jailed-97319-21142247/. 
  13. ^ "Crash Leads to Gatwick Congestion". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/sussex/8238872.stm. 
  14. ^ "Bus crash victim Melanie Wisden’s family describe their heartbreak". Wales Online. http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/cardiff-news/2009/09/07/bus-crash-victim-melanie-wisden-s-family-describe-their-heartbreak-91466-24622441/. 
  15. ^ "Gatwick crash woman's lift favour". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/8240341.stm. 

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