Simon CalderThu, 25 March 2021, 6:55 pm
At one minute past midnight on 29 March, the first National Express coach for 12 weeks will depart from Manchester, destination Birmingham and London.
With only half the normal number of places on sale – because only window seats are being used – the service is selling fast, with just two tickets left.
On the day the stay at home rule is lifted in England, the coach operator is resuming inter-city services at just 15 per cent of its normal network.
Chris Hardy, managing director of National Express UK Coach, said: “It’s a great feeling to be getting hundreds of drivers back behind the wheel. We’re excited to play our part in the UK public’s safe return to travel.
“This is just the beginning of a better National Express.”
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Initially, buses will run on 20 routes serving 120 locations. National Express says that when its full UK-wide schedule is in effect, passengers will benefit from “quicker journey times, increased punctuality and improved connectivity”.
Journey times between Birmingham and Manchester will be reduced by 20 minutes.
While some stops and services are cut, in time the number of Bristol-Leeds departures increases from four to 12 daily, with journeys up to an hour faster.
Holders of National Express coachcards have been given free extensions of up to a year, in contrast to the refusal of the Department for Transport to extend railcards for train passengers who have been unable to benefit during the coronavirus pandemic.
Also on Monday, Megabus will restart services in England. At present it is operating a single London-Birmingham-Manchester-Glasgow coach each day for essential travel only.
“We’ll be offering a reduced network for travel from 29 March,” the company said.