All aboard the Nautical Express
National Express has today (Wednesday, April 1) launched the world’s first hovercoach.
National Express coaches, an icon of the UK’s roads for more than forty years, will now be seen on waterways worldwide following the unveiling of ‘Nautical Express’, a vehicle capable of navigating all forms of watery terrain including puddles, rivers, canals, lakes and seas.
Opportunities for the new all-terrain vehicle are endless, for example, it provides an alternative mode of transport for London commuters who can use it hop on and hop off destinations the length of the Thames. And, in a move welcomed by Italy’s Transport Minister, holidaymakers will now be able to fully enjoy Venice without leaving the comfort of the coach company’s trademark leather seats or putting up with the unsheltered inconvenience of a gondola.
In common with National Express’ regular service network, Nautical Express coaches seat 49 passengers and are equipped with facilities including toilets and plug sockets – the difference being a special air cushion in place of wheels. Cleverly, the new model, which was designed by Coventry-based engineering company Havinyaon, is also capable of road travel courtesy of a set of retractable wheels, which are deployed within a split-second of the vehicle exiting water.
An estimated ten-thousand people are expected to gather to watch the inaugural service set sail from Westminster Embankment later this morning - with many already waving handkerchiefs and flags and taking ‘selfies’ to capture the historic moment. Both ‘hovercoach’ and ‘Nautical Express’ are currently trending on Twitter, with thousands of pictures already posted online.
Grandmother Pauline Yerleg who flew to London from Iceland, described it as a once-in-a-lifetime event.
She said: “It’s emotional. I was last here for the royal wedding and I couldn’t miss this historic day. I flew in by budget airline but after seeing the Nautical Express, I’ll definitely be getting the hovercoach back.”
Passengers on the inaugural service will be treated to a trip of a lifetime, beginning with a voyage to Buckingham Palace, where the passengers will enjoy a unique perspective of the famous lake. All protected royal birds, including 66 swans, 27 mallard ducks and a coot have been cleared from the water in preparation and will be released back into the water this evening.
Amazing highlights along the Nautical Express route, which passes through London, Cardiff, Bristol, Birmingham, Liverpool and Newcastle before finishing in Edinburgh include:
- Buckingham Palace
- Cardiff, as seen from the River Taff
- Bristol’s Clifton Suspension Bridge before joining the M5 to Birmingham
- Afternoon tea while navigating Birmingham’s famous canals
- The Royal Liver Building and River Mersey
- The Angel of the North from the A1 before joining the River Tyne
- Edinburgh Castle which will host celebratory ‘journeys end’ fireworks
National Express spokesperson Alan Smithee said: “Coach travel is an unbeatably convenient way to travel and Nautical Express is the perfect compliment to our unrivalled network of services.”
Nautical Express is the world’s first hovercoach and operates daily direct services across the UK, Europe and to Iceland.
Like National Express’ regular network, Nautical Express tickets will be affordably priced, with fares starting at just £5.
Click here to see the new Nautical Express hovercoach