National Express significantly increases capacity during Bank Holiday rail disruption
National Express has revealed it is adding tens of thousands of extra seats to its coach network to support passengers during significant rail disruption forecast in the last week of August, including over the Bank Holiday weekend.
In news that will likely prove a relief to those planning a getaway, the UK’s largest coach operator is pledging to add 67,000 extra seats to support rail passengers affected by planned strikes and engineering works taking place on Sunday 23 August, and over the Bank Holiday weekend (Friday 28 August – Monday 31 August).
The news will likely be welcomed by festival-goers attending Reading Festival who will be impacted by a planned rail strike on 29-31 August, affecting services to the South West on the First Great Western line.
Disruption to services is forecast on five different railway lines across the country during the affected period, including:
- First Great Western line - two planned rail strikes: a 24 hour strike on Sunday 23 August, and a 72-hour strike on Saturday 29 August - Monday 31 August, reducing services from the South West by 40 per cent according to FGW
- West Coast Main Line - planned engineering works will disrupt services from key locations including Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow, on Saturday, August 29 – Monday, August 31, causing multiple changes, replacement buses and journey times increasing by nearly two hours in some cases
- East Midlands Trains – planned engineering work will disrupt services from locations including: Leicester, Nottingham and Derby on Saturday, August 29 - Sunday, August 30, with replacement buses on certain routes and journey times increasing by up to an hour
- Southern Railways – planned works will be disrupting services from the South Coast and Surrey into London on Saturday, August 29 – Monday, August 31 meaning replacement buses, multiple changes and longer journey times
- Chiltern Line – planned engineering works mean the train line will be closed between Banbury and Oxford on Sunday, August 30, with passengers having to use a replacement bus instead – significantly increasing journey times from the Midlands and Oxfordshire to London
Demand for coach services has significantly increased on affected routes and bookings have increased by nearly 50 per cent year-on-year in affected areas during the disruption.
In fact coach bookings from Bristol to London have doubled during the disruption, causing National Express to pledge more than 16,000 extra seats to services in the South West alone to support passengers wishing to travel.
The ten routes which have seen the biggest year-on-year increase in passenger bookings during the rail disruption are:
- Bristol-Heathrow Airport
- Heathrow Airport-Plymouth
- Cardiff-Heathrow Airport
- Birmingham-Luton Airport
National Express has also seen bookings on its airport services increase year-on-year during the disruption, as airport passengers will also be significantly affected if travelling by train.
Bookings on coach services from Bristol to Heathrow Airport have increased by over 23 per cent while bookings from Birmingham to Gatwick Airport are up by more than 35 per cent, during the disruption between Friday 28 August – Monday 31 August.
As a result of the disruption, coach journeys from Bournemouth to Heathrow Airport will be 44 minutes quicker that the train travelling, while coach journeys from Poole to Heathrow will be 38 minutes quicker than the train.
News of the extra capacity will no doubt also be a relief to fans travelling to Reading Festival on 28-30 August, as fans can travel by coach direct to the festival gates with National Express.