the new Van Hool coaches representing an investment of £9 million from The Stagecoach Group.
These coaches are
state of the art vehicles and fully comply to the current Euro 5 regulations
giving a very "green" coach on this busy service.
introduction of the fleet of M A N / Jonckheere double deck coaches in 1999, it
has become the normal practice that every five years a new fleet is placed in
Neoplans were introduced in the summer of 2004, they represented a significant
step forward for the service, bringing more seat (82 seats) and wheelchair
accessibility for every coach. During their lifetime serving the Oxford tube,
they have been modified to offer Wi-Fi to all customers and being delivered with
power points for every pair of seats, gave all the modern enhancements that
passengers could ask for. Indeed over the past five years they have become a
very familiar sight on the road between Oxford and London and one can hardly
fail to see them as they offer an up to every 10 minutes service along that
been rife for many months now regarding their anticipated replacements which
would be expected to enter service between June and September of this year. Many
questions were asked but lips were sealed and little if any information was
available to those asking from those who were thought to be in the know.
Monday 8th June
saw the following press release issued by the company and the first coach
arrived on Sunday 7th June in the late evening, this was direct from the factory
in Belgium. By late last week the first whisperings about the new coaches was
getting around, at least with the Oxford company. They were be to a completely
new model built by Van Hool, the TD927 Astromega, so far only built for service
in the USA where Megabus operate a large fleet on interstate services. There are
a number of differences in the coaches built to US specification.
STAGECOACH INVESTS £9M IN NEW GREEN FLEET FOR EUROPE’S MOST
FREQUENT EXPRESS COACH SERVICE
26 double-decker coaches ordered for Oxford Tube link to London
Cleaner Enhanced Environmental Vehicles deliver low emissions
Fully accessible coaches feature Wi-Fi, GPS tracking and CCTV
State-of-the-art coaches being manufactured by Van Hool in
announced today that it is investing more than £9m in an entire
new fleet of vehicles for its Oxford Tube network, the most
frequent express coach service in Europe.
The fleet of
26 new Van Hool Astromega double deck coaches – each costing
more than £350,000 – is being built in Belgium.
Tube runs a 24-hour service every day of the year with coaches
running between Oxford and London up to every 10 minutes at peak
greener coaches are fitted with DAF EEV (Enhanced Environmental
Vehicles) engines that have even lower emissions than those
required by the Euro 5 standard coming into force later this
Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system uses a constant feed of urea
solution to destroy the harmful Nox, delivering a more efficient
operation of the engine, reduced diesel consumption and lower
running costs. Combined with a passive soot filter, it means the
vehicles will be even cleaner than those fitted with compressed
natural gas engines.
will be able to email and access the internet on the move
through the wi-fi systems on the coaches.
vehicles, which have two staircases, are also equipped with
toilets, air conditioning, reclining seats, generous legroom,
seatbelts, power points for laptops and mobile phones, GPS
tracking, and CCTV for personal security.
the fully wheelchair accessible fleet start at the beginning of
July and will be complete by early October.
Managing Director of Stagecoach, said:
“These new state-of-the-art coaches will be among the cleanest
and greenest on the road in Europe.
Tube fleet covers 3.4 million miles every year and we want our
customers to continue to experience high quality, greener
This is the
third complete fleet replacement for the Oxford Tube we have
undertaken in 10 years and it is evidence of our commitment to
investing in Europe’s premier express coach service.”
Tube fleet travels the equivalent of nearly three times around
the globe every week and has the capacity to carry more than
6,000 passengers a day.
Tube services run up to every 10 minutes between Oxford and
London – stopping at Lewknor, Hillingdon, Shepherds Bush,
Notting Hill, Marble Arch and Victoria.
www.oxfordtube.com, allows customers to book single, return
and period tickets online as well as access timetable and
also supplies complementary newspapers on its early morning
The first fifteen of the new
fleet of Van Hool TD927 Astromegas are being given fleet number
and registration seen in the table below. Not that the T**UBE
cherished registrations are retained and will be applied to the
first five of the new coaches. the next four on the build line
in a total order for 30 coaches will be for Megabus and the
remaining eleven coaches for the tube are expected
to be ready for entry into service on 1st September on 59
Note that as with the latest M A N single
decks, Oxford registration have been sought for these coaches.
The new fleet for the
Oxford tube -
The first one arrives for trials
on June 8th 2009
This coach was on Belgian trade
plates and was to become 50202, T44UBE.
At Stokenchurch following a photo
opportunity on the M40.
Early days as
50202 running on Belgian trade plates leaves Stokenchurch.
The first coach seen on 8th June at Thornhill Park &
Ride. M. Crowe.
How does it fit - coming out of Sammy's at
VCS, 8th June 2009
Above pictures by M Crowe.
A classic shot I believe, the new coach at Victoria Coach
Station, London on the afternoon of 8th June. M Crowe.
Above pictures by M Crowe.
A glimpse of the interior - 63
seats on the upper deck and 24 on the lower making 87 in all.
When carrying a wheelchair the
coach has four fewer seats on the lower deck.
Pictures by Malcolm Crowe.
When the coaches arrive in the
U.K. from Belgium they go to the Van Hool facility at Wellingborough.
Here we see a number of new coaches prior to delivery to Oxford. Pictures by
Training on the new coaches took
place for three weeks in July.
The first impressions by those
crews training in the first week were that they are very nice coaches to
drive, the gearbox is much improved on the Neoplans, especially in London's
traffic. Inspite the slightly increase length - 0.4m, they handle very well
indeed. Reversing off Gloucester Green is much easier since they have a
reverse steering rear axle which brings the back round more easily. Indeed
manouvering these coaches is somewhat easier than the Neoplans and they
provide a nice smooth ride in service.
50203 shows off
under Botley Road bridge on the first morning of crew training - only 4
metres high, it goes under with ease. Gavin Francis.
Another shot of 50203, this time reversing off Gloucester Green's bay 3.
50203 pauses at
High Wycombe during training on Monday 13th August. M Crowe.
Gavin pictured when completing his training on the new coaches.
50212 on training in London and Oxford - Gavin Francis.
Saturday 1st August saw 261 lucky people take a free ride to London on the
and some children hosted for a day out in London.
To celebrate the introduction of our brand new and
rather stylish double-deck coaches, Oxford tube gave
away 261 day return tickets to London. They were
available on a first come first served basis, and
the lucky ticket holders were able to ask for up
to 4 seats.
Coaches left at 9am on 1st
August from the coach park next to Oxford Ice Rink,
travelling non-stop to London.
Passengers were able to get off at Hillingdon,
Shepherd's Bush, Notting Hill, Marble Arch and
Victoria and return on any coach throughout the day.
Our pictures below (courtesy Stagecoach in
Oxfordshire) show the coaches before departure from
Coaches used were 50207, 50208 and 50212 on the free
with 50205 for the children's trip.
SPECIAL PREVIEW OF NEW STATE-OF-THE-ART COACHES
ON FREE DAY OUT TO LONDON
“thank you” to benefit children in the local
Merlin’s Magic Wand charity and
County Council support
First of £9m wheelchair
accessible fleet enters service next week
Luxury vehicles offer free wi-fi
and better environmental performance
of disadvantaged young people and children, some
with disabilities were among the first
to ride on a new £9m fleet of luxury coaches for
Stagecoach’s Oxford Tube on Saturday (1st
The Oxford Tube, the most frequent
express coach service in Europe, has teamed up
with Oxfordshire County Council and Merlin
Entertainments, the company behind some of
London’s biggest attractions to give 64 children
a special day out in the Capital.
One of the new 87-seat fully
accessible coaches took the group to see
the Science Museum, before getting free entry to
the iconic London Eye and the Sea Life London
Aquarium courtesy of Merlin’s Magic Wand
A further 260 lucky competition
winners joined them for a free ride into
Oxfordshire County Council’s
VTalentyear programme, which offers volunteering
opportunities for 16 to 25-year-olds in the
county, has worked with parents and youth and
social work teams to co-ordinate the youngsters
for the trip.
Martin Sutton, Managing Director of
Stagecoach Oxfordshire, said: “We are delighted
to be able to offer this ‘thank-you’ to the
local community, which has supported Oxford
Tube’s vital link to London over many years.
These deserving local youngsters
will be the first to experience luxury travel on
our state-of-the-art coaches. These vehicles
really are the future of travel, with a range of
advanced technological features and
environmental performance that put coach travel
streets ahead of the car.”
Oxford Tube runs a 24-hour service
every day of the year with coaches running
between Oxford and London up to every 10 minutes
at peak times. Each of the new coaches costs
more than £350,000 and passengers can email and
access the internet on the move through the
built-in wi-fi systems.
The vehicles, which have two
staircases, are also equipped with toilets, air
conditioning, reclining seats, generous legroom,
seatbelts, powerpoints for laptops and mobile
phones, GPS tracking, and CCTV for personal
security. As well as providing super comfort,
the coaches have low emissions engines that make
them among the greenest in Europe.
Hilary Birkinshaw, Manager Merlin's
Magic Wand Charity, said: "This group of
youngsters are exactly the sort of children that
Merlin's Magic Wand loves to support. We are
thrilled to be able to help with their day out
in London and provide them with entry to these
Shelley Maxfield, Oxfordshire County
Council's VTalentYear Coordinator, said:
"Lots of young Oxfordshire people do not get
the chance to visit London and its exciting
attractions even though it is on their
doorstep. The county council is delighted to
team up with the Oxford Tube and Merlin's
Magic Wand to enable young people to have an
action packed and fun filled day in our
capital city, something which they would not
otherwise been able to do."
First day in service - Monday 3rd August
The 0540 to London departs with coach 50208 operating driven by Roger Nelson -
London Controller for the morning. 3rd August 2009.
What's on the rear - 50202, 50203, 50204, 50205, 50209, 50212 and 50215 all by
Gavin Francis except 50209 which is by Malcolm Hyland.
50205 arrives at Thornhill from London driven by Gavin
Francis. Picture by Peter Edgar.
50208 is seen at Thornhill by Peter Edgar on 3rd August.
50212 is seen in london on the first morning preparing to
return to Oxford - 3rd August 2009 Gavin Francis.
50215 is seen in London on its first day in service - 4th
August - having operated the 06:00 Express. Gavin Francis.
The old and the new on 3rd August - Gavin Francis.
Day 3 in service sees these new coaches on diversion, avoiding Bayswater and
using a route through Hyde Park.
50211 followed by 50214 enter Hyde Park from Bayswater Road on 5th August - Gavin Francis.
50209 approaches Marble Arch ahing run through the north ride in Hyde Park on
5th August. - Gavin Francis.
50214 rounds Marble Arch to head westbound down Bayswater on 5th August - Gavin Francis.
50206 on Bayswater on 6th August - Gavin Francis.
Update 7th August 2009.
The present fleet (50202-50215) is now settling down to work on the M40 corridor
and we await the arrival of 50201,50216-50226 which will be completed by early
first of the main Neoplan fleet, following 50103 which left some weeks ago, left
Oxford on Sunday evening, 2nd August, for their journey to Plaxtons at Sheffield. The coaches
involved were 50104, 50107, 50111, 50112, 50113, 50117, 50120 and 50124. The
last was the one which won coach of year at Duxford 2004. 50119 left
Oxford on 7th August for Sheffield having worked that mornings Wantage service,
surely a quick departure from regular service.
You can keep up to
date with developments in fleet news published on a regular basis.