National Express have announced the biggest shake up to Britain’s cross country coach network in 25 years – creating 230 new journeys, faster travel times and stronger transport links to key tourism regions such as Blackpool, West Wales and the South West.
On 27 February Britain’s largest scheduled coach operator will relaunch its cross country network - which links around 500 destinations across England, Scotland and Wales -following a major ten month planning project to modernise coach travel.
Britain’s cross country coach network had three million passenger journeys during 2011 - up 7% on 2010 - and covers a region from coast to coast and the Highlands through to Devon.
230 new route combinations have been made available by coach including Cardiff to Carmarthen, Blackpool to Wolverhampton and Gloucester to Nottingham. To help boost tourism across Britain additional journeys have been made available to major cities like Birmingham, Bristol and Leeds while seaside resorts like Blackpool and Weston-super-Mare will now receive a year round service. A new direct link is also available from Manchester to the south coast.
Cross Pennine services see significant improvements with faster journey times from the North East to Manchester, Manchester Airport and Liverpool cut by one hour 40 minutes. For the first time services between Manchester and Sunderland will be faster than local rail. Train passengers on the same route face up to three changes and journey times of between 12 and 26 minutes longer.
Andrew Cleaves, Managing Director of National Express Coach said: “This is one of the biggest changes Britain’s coach network has seen in 25 years. It will deliver hundreds of new journey combinations and more connections between major towns and cities. Our cross country network covers 13 million miles every year and we want to ensure every route offers the best combination of destinations, price and journey time for customers.”
The review follows on from National Express’ investment in 150 new coaches during 2011 - replacing around a third of its fleet with state of the art, wheelchair accessible vehicles. Around 100 additional coaches will enter the fleet during 2012 with the company on track to be fully wheelchair accessible by early 2013 – seven years ahead of the government target.
Andrew added: “Coach continues to be an extremely popular mode of transport as passengers prioritise value for money and reliability. We’re investing in new vehicles to help reinvigorate the image of coach travel and modernising our network to ensure we’re providing more journeys where their most required.”
Key improvements include:
Ten additional services per day from Birmingham
17 additional services per day from Leeds
Two additional services per day to Weston-super-Mare from Birmingham and Bristol. The current daily service is seasonal
Two additional services per day to Blackpool from Birmingham throughout the year
Improved services between Manchester and Sunderland which are faster than local rail services
Better connections to Manchester Airport from Newcastle, Sunderland, Middlesbrough, and Birmingham
Faster journeys between Liverpool and Manchester to Middlesbrough, Sunderland and Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Two new non stop journeys per day between Leeds and Birmingham
Extra daily journeys between Birmingham and Bristol
New daily service between Manchester, Southampton and Portsmouth
New daily service between West Wales and Cardiff to boost tourism
Extra daily service between Leeds, Edinburgh and Glasgow