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Press releases from businesses across the National Express Group.

National Express celebrates 40 years of service to the British public
21 Sep 2012

National Express is celebrating its 40th birthday this autumn - marking four decades since Britain's first 'national' coach timetable was published in 1972. The guide made coach travel across Britain easily accessible to the public for the first time.

Watch a video about our 40th birthday here

To celebrate the landmark birthday National Express has released promotional footage and photos from the 70's showing classic seaside days out and on board snacks served by hostesses.

The UK's largest coach company launched four decades ago with around 300 vehicles carrying 13 million passengers annually. The most popular destinations were London, Bournemouth and Blackpool but half the services operated at weekends only and a further quarter were seasonal.

National Express has clocked up over two billion miles on Britain's roads since 1972 and the nation still loves a good coach trip - with five million more passenger journeys now taking place annually.

Andrew Cleaves, Managing Director of National Express coach, said: "We're proud to have carried millions of Britons on day trips, holidays and visit to friends and family during our forty year journey.

"The way Britain travels has changed dramatically in this time. In 1972 half of our services were seasonal as people took holidays at distinct times, such as factory fortnight. Today a third of the network runs to airports and over half our tickets are sold online."

To help celebrate forty years of coach travel National Express is appealing for the nations' memories and stories of coach travel since 1972.  Stories can be shared at www.nationalexpress.com/40 with the winner of the best tales receiving a year's free coach travel.

National Express by numbers:

1972:

  • Around 13 million passenger journeys
  • Working patterns meant that people travelled at distinct times, such as factory fortnight and summer holidays
  • 52% of the network operated on weekends only and 22% was seasonal
  • People took holidays in Britain and seaside destinations were very popular
  • The most popular routes were London, Blackpool and Bournemouth
  • Customers bought their tickets from bus stations
  • Around 300 coaches were in operation across Britain
  • The coaches had hostesses, but no toilets!

2012:

  • Coach travel is more popular today with over 18 million passenger journeys
  • People take more short breaks and spontaneous trips
  • A third of the network operates to airports, less than 5% is seasonal
  • Most popular destination in London, closely followed by Bristol, Birmingham and Bournemouth
  • We operate over 550 coaches across the UK
  • Over half our sales are taken via the website
  • We operate a successful events service, taking over 25,000 to music festivals in 2012 alone
  • All coaches have air conditioning, leather seats, toilets and real time arrival/departure information

Key dates:

1968: Transport Act brought about an integrated public passenger transport system across Britain
1969: National Bus Company formed and takes control of majority of operators in market
1972: First 'National' coach guide published listing all British express coach services in one place for the first time. Company starts painting all coaches white
1973: Brand name "National Express" used for the first time
1980: Deregulation of coach industry opened up market to competition and saw National Express launch a number of innovative marketing campaigns and new products
1984: National Express makes Birmingham it's official home
1992: National Express bans smoking on services
1994: Dedicated airport services form major part of network
1996: www.nationalexpress.com launched
2000: Last hostess service operates
2002: First wheelchair accessible coach launched
2011: National Express call centre bucks trend to go 24/7
2013: National Express on track to become Europe's largest fully wheelchair accessible coach operator