National Express keeps Britain flying over Christmas
National Express is adding more than 20,000 extra seats to its airport coach services this Christmas with more coaches than ever before - and it is reporting soaring advanced booking numbers in the wake of the festive annual rail shutdown.
In news that will likely be a relief to festive travellers, the UK's largest coach company is making the move to add the extra seats - which include for the first time a high frequency inter-airport coach service - as trains to Heathrow and Gatwick shut down over the festive period - and services to Stansted.
Airport services will help keep Britain moving this Christmas, running from locations all over the UK such as Edinburgh, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Norwich, Portsmouth, Bournemouth, Exeter, Cardiff, Bristol and Birmingham.
Advanced National Express bookings to Gatwick Airport have increased by more than 60 per cent year-on-year while the Gatwick Express stops running between Christmas Eve and Monday, 4 January.
Meanwhile year-on-year advance bookings on coach services to Heathrow are also up by a third year-on-year when the Heathrow Express shuts down from Christmas Day until Monday, 28 December.
The 20,000 extra seats include - for the first time - special high frequency shuttle services running between Heathrow and Gatwick Airport on Christmas Day to ensure passengers can still make connections despite the rail disruption.
One will call at London Victoria Coach Station with a total of 27 services running each way - for maximum convenience for those wishing to connect to either airport.
The other will be a direct shuttle service between the two airports with 12 services each way and no stops. With a journey time of just one hour 20 minutes this offers a faster connection to those who need it.
Also on Christmas Day, the national coach operator will be running a total of 67 services to Heathrow, 39 services to Gatwick and for the first time ever - six services to Stansted Airport.
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 the major airports this Christmas. We’ve seen that people still want to jet off to the ski slopes or warmer climes at Christmas and we have responded to that demand by doubling our services to the airports – ensuring people can still catch their plane while there is no train service.”
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.