National Express provides intercity bus, train and tram services throughout the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Spain, Portugal, Malta, Germany and Morocco. It also provides long distance bus services all across European countries. The company has its head quarter in Birmingham above the Birmingham Coach Station. It comes under the banner of National Express Group, although most of the bus services are sub contracted to the local bus companies.
National Express Coaches connects various destinations across the UK. It also operates many shuttles and airport picks and drops services, maintaining the same branding to reduce confusion within the passengers. The airport services were introduced in 2003, when National Express was merged with former Airline, Jetlink, Speedlink and Flightlink. Various airports connected by the National Express Coaches are:
National Express Coaches pass through many town centres and that in turn increases the travel time for long journey routes. The fast travel routes are catered by shuttle services, which operate atleast once an hour.
There are various methods to book the National Express Tickets. Traditionally you can get the tickets over the ticket counter at the coach stations. It can also be bought from the various third party agents at various coach stations all across the UK. The National Express booking can also be done by telephonic services, through the online booking services visiting their website, booking through an e-voucher and also thought the National Express mobile application. The National Express bus tickets are normally sold at the “Standard Fares” or the “Advanced Fares” depending on the type of booking. An online ticketing service also provides an added advantage of booking the tickets as “Open Return” beside one way and return journey options. In open return tickets passengers have to select only their outward journey dates and select open return option. Once the passenger decides the return dates they can easily redeem the open return ticket by going to the national express website.
When travelling within the UK, for an open return ticket, return journey should be booked within 3 months of the outward journey date. Incase of travelling in Europe, for an open return ticket, return journey should be booked within six months of the outward journey date. Open Return tickets are valid for travelling on any day of the year. The fares are as low a £5(plus £1 booking fee) during promotions. The fares tends to be more expensive when traveling at the peak times and favourite destinations. Hence it is advised to book the tickets well in advance, atleast three days in advance, to more likely avail the cheapest fare on that route. It also offers 25% discount for NUS on its coaches.
There are multiple fare types, which are offered:
National Express Coach tickets are available at various discounted prices, for passengers enrolled with different Coachcards. The various types of Coachcards available are:
With Coachcard a passenger can save 1/3rd of their journey fare and travel at a mush cheaper price.
Passengers are also given an option of flexi-fare add-on. With this option travellers can amend and cancel their bookings 24 hours before the journey date.
National Express also provides travel insurance to the passenger mainly useful for passengers who are traveling with their luggage. Insurance can be bought while buying the tickets during checkout. The insurance cost is £1.50 per person per journey and the following are covered by the insurance:
National Express provides airport services, which run throughout the day and night, with a frequency of one service every 15 minutes. It connects major cities and town in the UK with the major airports and frequently used by travellers. The modern luxurious coaches provide generous space for big luggage, power socket and Wi-Fi connections for the travellers. It also provides flexibility on travel if the flights are delayed. Passengers are allowed to take 20 kg suitcases and one item of hand luggage per person, although it is advisable to check with the flight services with the baggage allowance.
The airport transfer to London airport starts as cheap as £5 one-way if booked in advance, and if travelling in a group, travellers can avail any attractive discounts offer. It saves a lot of time for the travellers and also the parking expenses for many frequent flyers. The service provides drop at the airport door hence the travellers don’t have to walk much with their luggage and other items.
National Express and it franchises used to operate double deck coaches until January 2007, after which it was withdrawn due to a major accident. Now it uses Caetano Levante as their primary coaches, and main vehicle of choice. Other vehicles, which are used on the network, are:
All services of National Express use vehicles with wheelchair lift. They also have the NX Magic Floor Lift, which mainly locks the wheelchair in place. All this vehicles have wide entrance and completely flat floor, so as to reduce any mobility problem. Newer vehicles also have recliner leather seats, plug points, air conditioning, and large toilets. They also have Wi-Fi connections, for a comfortable experience while travelling. All coaches are fitted with secure seat belts as standard. Most of the coaches also provide children booster seating option.
Majority of the coach services are contracted with the local coach companies on a long-term agreement, known as the Partner operator. According to the contact terms and conditions the partner operators have to use the coaches with National Express livery. National Express operates some of the services directly instead of franchising them to the local operator, mainly the services between Gatwick, Luton and Heathrow airport and Victoria coach station, London Liverpool street and Woking.
Few of the partner operators are listed below:
Disable passengers are allowed to carry their wheelchair and their scooters as long as they can be stored in the luggage hold. Manual wheelchair of less than 20kg weight can also be allowed and stored in the luggage hold. A full guide of list of luggage allowance is available on their website. Extra luggage can also be taken with extra payment, details of which is provided in the website.
Using the mobile application and also through the website of nationalexpress.com travellers can track their coaches in a real time basis. Travellers have the provision of searching by stop name and routes, or by departure and arrival locations or by their ticket details. It provides added security and flexibility to the passengers and gives them a real time update of the coaches.
Checking the time of arrival and departure can be easily done through their website. To make things easier and user friendly passenger’s, the website has an option of National Express Timetable finder where the traveller can also browse, download and print the timetables of the coaches, which is highly convenient. If unfortunately, the route is not listed in the timetable finder then the traveller can go to the homepage and key in the destinations and check the timetable for the selected routes.
National Express offers and promotions are available through the website. If travellers want to take advantage of the promotions and the special offers they can book their tickets through the Journey planner on their homepage. There will be an option for special offers on the next stage before finalising the tickets and buying it. Promotional codes are normally asked during the booking process and the discounts are added accordingly. Passengers have the option of choosing from the various promotional offers online from the website.