A £6.4m fleet of 23 eco friendly Wrightbus bodied Volvo B7RLEs and ten ADL Enviro400s are to be rolled out in Coventry. They are being introduced as part of the wider £80m Partnership Plus deal signed in June by National Express and West Midlands ITA, Centro. The single deckers are being deployed on the 9/9A Green Lane/Finham service, on the route between the city (Pool Meadow) and University Hospital at Walsgrave and on the service 20 and 20A routes between the city and Bedworth and Bell Green. The double deckers are going into service on the 8/8A route between the city and University Hospital at Walsgrave. The Partnership Plus deal will see £65m of investment in the bus network by National Express and £16m by Centro. Coventry city centre will get new infrastructure, shelters and passenger information as part of the initiative.
MD of National Express Coventry, Peter Power, said, ‘These new vehicles are equipped with the latest technology including greener low emission engines and state of the art CCTV. They represent a big investment in Coventry’s bus network and we hope that our customers will be as proud of them as we are.’
Pic: (LtoR) Centro Chairman, Cllr John McNicholas and Peter Power.
In its pre-close trading update for the six months ended 30 June 2013, National Express Group reported trading was in line with expectations. Total revenue during the period has grown by 7% at constant currency. It believes it has made strong progress in its three core areas of focus: Organic growth and operational excellence: Cash generation and Business development. The company’s UK Bus division experienced a weak first quarter for passenger volume, which it claims reflected the poor weather and the impact of austerity measures. However, the second quarter has seen a turnaround in patronage. Commercial passenger volumes have grown and the reduction in the number of concession passengers all but eliminated. As a consequence, network mileage is broadly flat and like-for-like revenue has increased by 3%. Despite higher fuel and pension costs in 2013, with the reduction in BSOG already accounted for, the business’s outlook for the remainder of the year is positive. Operational performance was described as excellent with record levels of punctuality attributed to its investment in vehicle tracking systems. Fleet investment continues, with 90 new vehicles delivered so far this year.
In National Express’s UK Coach division, core revenue rose 3% in the first half of the year. Its focus on low fares is thought to be proving attractive to consumers and driving volume growth. This has been supplemented by the successful launch of its Luton Airport services and additional passengers booking through its Ryanair marketing agreement. Growth in Eurolines and a new Airlinks contract have offset weak rail replacement revenue, which followed the cessation of its East Anglia franchise.
Group Chief Executive, Dean Finch, said, ‘I am pleased with our revenue improvement across the business, reflecting the attractive value and quality service we offer our customers. I believe that the combination of organic growth and operational excellence, cash generation and new international contract opportunities will drive returns for National Express and our shareholders.’
National Express has unveiled the Caetano Levantes for its new A1 service. The vehicles form part of a 22 strong fleet that will run between London Luton Airport and Victoria Coach Station following a new agreement between the operator and the airport. Operational from 1 May, the new daily service will mean faster journey times, more frequent services and more seats available at peak times for passengers getting to and from the airport. Its enhanced timetable has been specially engineered around flight times. At peak, coaches are timetabled to run every ten minutes, with 150 services travelling to and from the airport each day. On board features on this service include toilets, free wi-fi, power sockets, business class legroom and CCTV.