National Express adds 77k extra seats at Christmas amid soaring demand
National Express is today (Monday, 21 December) announcing tens of thousands of extra seats over the festive period in response to increasing demand during widespread rail disruption combined with the annual Christmas rail shutdown.
The UK’s largest coach operator, which is also running on Christmas Day, moved to add extra capacity – totalling some 77,000 seats - over Christmas after seeing year on year advance bookings double on some routes affected by planned rail engineering works that will shutdown parts of the rail network.
Coach bookings from locations on the South Coast train line, linking Brighton and Gatwick to London, have increased by more than 100 per cent year on year during engineering works that are set disrupt train services from Sunday, 27 December, to Friday, 1 January.
Meanwhile, coach bookings on services to Gatwick and Heathrow have soared 60 and 40 per cent respectively while the Gatwick and Heathrow Express trains are completely shutdown for planned engineering works over Christmas (Gatwick from 24 December – 3 January, Heathrow from 25 December – 29 December).
The coach company will be delivering journeys roughly comparable to the population of Reading over the Christmas week (Monday, 21 December – Sunday, 27 December) with Wednesday, 23 December the most popular day for coach travel, followed closely by Sunday, 27 December.
As well as adding extra capacity over Christmas, National Express is doubling the number of coaches running on Christmas Day when no trains are operating – and for the first time it will be running a high frequency inter-airport coach service between Heathrow and Gatwick, as well as services to Stansted Airport.
In fact the UK’s largest coach operator is delivering its biggest Christmas Day yet by connecting more towns, cities and airports than ever before, with services running from key locations including: Edinburgh, London, Liverpool, Manchester, Norwich, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Exeter, Cardiff, Bristol and Birmingham.
On 25 December, National Express will be:
- Doubling the number of coaches
- Serving 19 new towns and cities
- Running 67 airport services to Heathrow, 39 to Gatwick and 6 to Stansted
- Operating two special shuttle services between Heathrow and Gatwick
Throughout the rest of Christmas, National Express will be running a normal timetable of high frequency services to the airports, while on Boxing Day and New Year's Day the coach operator will be operating a near-normal timetable.
The news will likely be particularly welcomed by festive travellers who would be impacted by widespread disruption scheduled on large parts of the rail network this Christmas (see notes to editors for full details) - and of course people who simply love a great deal.
Scheduled works on Great Western, South Coast, Abellio Greater Anglia, Heathrow and Gatwick Express lines will lead to considerably extended journey times, multiple changes and reduced frequency services for many rail travellers. Those choosing National Express coach however can go direct, often quicker than the train and unlike train travellers, relax in the knowledge of a guaranteed seat.
National Express UK Coach Managing Director Tom Stables said: “We are pleased to be announcing a huge range of services to this Christmas including to the major airports. We’ve seen that people still want to visit friends and family, or jet off to the ski slopes at Christmas and we have responded to that demand by doubling our services and adding tens of thousands of extra seats – ensuring people can still travel where there is no train service.”
It’s a wrap - in brief:
- More than doubling the number of Christmas Day departures = thousands of extra seats on offer
- 19 extra locations served on Christmas Day including Derby, Chesterfield, Wolverhampton, Dudley, Edinburgh, Norwich, Thetford, Cambridge, Newmarket, Maidstone, Gillingham, Canterbury, Gillingham, Portsmouth, Folkestone, Maidstone, Fareham, Basingstoke and Stansted
- National Express ready to add extra seats as needed to cater to demand
Daily direct coach services where some rail travellers face multiple changes, disruption and delay
- Coach bookings from locations on the Southern Trains line, linking Brighton and Gatwick to London, have increased by more than 100 per cent year on year during engineering works that are set disrupt train services from Sunday, 27 December to Friday, 1 January
- Coach bookings from locations on the First Great Western Line - linking Cardiff and London - have increased by 39 per cent year on year during engineering works that are set to disrupt train services (Thursday, 24 December - Sunday, 3 January)
Saves of Christmas:
- Hundreds of thousands of low December fares available from £7
- For the best deals check out National Express’ dedicated low-fare finder online at www.nationalexpress.com
- Free travel for kids – A Family Coachcard allows a child to travel for free with a paying adult
- Young Persons, Senior and Disabled Coachcards priced at just £10, all offer a third off standard fares
For more information or to book visit www.nationalexpress.com.
Notes to editors:
Rail disruption summary
Gatwick Express is affected from 26 December to 3 January, with some passengers facing almost an hour and a half added to journey times and up to three changes. Routes between Gatwick, London, Heathrow and Brighton will be impacted.
Heathrow Express trains will not be running from the evening of 24 December to 28 December.
Great Western Railway affected from 24 December to 3 January, with some passengers facing a reduced service, longer journey times of up to an hour ten minutes and up to three changes. Areas affected include Cardiff, Bath, Exeter, Swansea and Reading to London and Heathrow.
South Coast Railway affected from 27 December to 1 January, with some passengers facing up to an extra 50 minutes on top of their journey and up to three changes. Areas affected include routes from Bournemouth, Poole and Southampton to London, Heathrow and Gatwick.
Services operated by Abellio Greater Anglia are affected from 27 December to 3 January. Services between London Liverpool Street and Ingatestone will be affected, impacting on departures from Ipswich, Colchester and Norwich to London, Heathrow and Gatwick. Passengers will face up to three changes and delays of up to an hour.