Stagecoach launch their new double deck luxury day/sleeper coach.

 

Thursday, April 18th 2013 saw the launch of a new concept in low cost travel.

 

Using, by now, the well tried Van Hool Astromega as the basis for this new vehicle, Stagecoach introduces a totally new concept of a coach which can operate as a sleeper at night and a luxury coach by day, bringing a whole new way of travel in this 10th anniversary year of the megabus.com product.

 

A very high quality wide leather seat is available to travelers by day and a most comfortable bed by night. To add to the travel experience free Wi-Fi and power sockets are provided and additionally an onboard concierge will provide complimentary refreshments.

 

Ten of these fine coaches will be delivered by July 18th when a full service will be possible on the following routes. The first service will be on May 1st between Glasgow and London.

 


The new coach poses in front of the o2 Arena at north Greenwich on launch day.

 

The planned routes for megabusGold.com will be:

 

Night sleeper services:

 

Aberdeen - Perth - Dundee - Cumbernauld – London

InvernessAviemore - Glasgow - London

FalkirkDunfermline – Ferry Toll – Edinburgh -  London

 

Day luxury Gold service:

 

From July 18th

 

LondonBristol - Cardiff

LondonPlymouth

 

There are eight duties and ten coaches for the total service.

 

Two drivers will operate each coach with the second-man able to act as the concierge/steward.

 

On the night services tea, coffee, juices and water will be served on boarding.

In the morning nearing the end of the journey, a further serving will be made.

 

On the day services, following the model of the citylink gold service, tea or coffee and a

Chocolate Panini or croissant will be served on departure and between noon and 6 pm sandwiches will be available. After 6pm Scones and Biscuits, along with tea, coffee etc will be served.

 

It is possible that not all beds will be made up on the long night services, at the start of the journey, as some customers may wish to sit up for the early part of the journey. Their beds could be made up later during the evening. Operating experience will prove if this concept will work in practice.

 

Price for the long overnight services are expected be range between 15 and 60 depending upon load factors.

 

The colour scheme of the new coaches is overall maroon with gold writing and trim. The interior and areas can be seen from the pictures is in restful colours enhanced by maroon leather seats.

 

A significant investment is being made in this new fleet of coaches introducing a major improvement to an already highly successful brand.

 

Sir Brian Souter who attended the launch commented “This takes us to a new level of service and realises an ambition that germinated in my mind thirty years ago when I purchased an old Bristol Lodekka which had been with Top Deck Travel. It offered beds on trips out of the U.K. The beds were small but gave a good way to travel for a modest cost.”

 

He further commented “with the 24 beds on the current bendi-sleeper coaches we can make a break even but with 42 beds we can operate a profitable service, 40 being the break even”

 

“The coaches were a hybrid of ideas meeting the challenge of how get the best out a coach, day and night and improve comfort to the passenger.”

 

Those older coaches have done well for Stagecoach in their operating days from the autumn of 2011 and they will still remain to offer additional capacity when required. In fact the service has been popular with passengers recording a 98% success rate on recommendation to a friend.

The incoming CEO, Martin Griffiths said that he felt that megabus.com was the most exciting innovation in travel in the 21st century and the new Astromega takes the concept to an even higher level.

 


Sir Brian and Martin Griffiths are justly very happy with their new coach.

 

A wheelchair facility is provided on the new coaches and this is located ahead of the washroom facilities unlike the older Astromegas who have this facility ahead of the rear door on the nearside. The seats for two passengers are taken out and stored in the luggage compartment, when the space for the wheelchair is required.

Seating capacities are as follows:

 

17 or 15 with one wheelchair or 10 berths on the lower deck.

38 seats or 32 berths on the upper deck.

 

In day use this gives a capacity of 55/53 or night use 42.

 

The coach is to very latest design of the TX model and at 15 metres (49 ft 2 in) is the longest variant of the Van Hool design. The model is the Astromega TX29.

Fleet number will be 50301 and registration SF13FMC. The remaining coaches will take fleet numbers 50302 to 53010.

 

The pictures convey an idea of what the coach is like but the full impact can only be judged from actually seeing for yourself.

 


Now this is long!

 


The rear nearside of this fine coach.

 

       
Some pictures of the interior showing the day mode of the coach.

 

 
How the beds are made up for night travel.

 


The location of the wheel chair place with the day seats fitted.

 


London Manager, Mark Atkinson with two of his team pose in front of the new coach. 

 

Ones mind is taken back to previous similar concepts. 

To the best of my knowledge this is the first time since the summer of 1929 that anyone has tried a full sleeper coach service in the U.K. The first was operated by Land Liners Ltd of Edgware who used two of the Guy FCXs bodied by Strachans shown below between London and Manchester. These coaches were 30ft long and carried 21 passengers in 2 or 4 berth compartments with 10 berths downstairs and eleven upstairs plus a kitchen on the lower deck which prepared breakfast. Prices were 15/6 (77.5p) single and 30/- (1.50) return.

The downfall of that service was the low fares and limited use of the coaches and the company faded away very quickly.


With thanks to Vintage Bus Album edited by Ken Blacker. 

All the reasons the 1929 attempt was not a success have been addressed by Stagecoach and their new and innovative vehicle with its sisters will bring a whole new way of travel to our industry.