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Sweeney Kincaid
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November 08 2017
By Tim Deakin

Tim is Editor of routeone and has worked in both the coach and bus and haulage industries.

Parkers wins race for first new Tourliner delivery

Parkers Executive Coaches became the first operator to take delivery of a new-shape Neoplan Tourliner last week. It’s the latest addition to a fleet that has already grown significantly in its very short history

Rikki Wilson and Simon Rudd take delivery of the new Neoplan Tourliner

Collecting a new coach is a big event for any operator, but when it’s the first of its kind, it’s even more significant. That was the case for Parkers Executive Coaches last week when it became the first UK buyer to take delivery of a new shape Neoplan Tourliner.

MAN Bus and Coach placed a demonstrator into the market some months ago, but North East-based Parkers is the first customer to receive one of its own. It entered service immediately as part of a fleet that for full-size requirements runs nothing other than Tourliners.

Five of the outgoing model have been supplied to Parkers since April 2017, one of which has been traded-in against the new coach.

The Neoplan product has performed well on work that almost exclusively consists of tour duties and corporate hires. Another Tourliner is already on order with the strong possibility of more.

Tourliner: Liked by clients

“We took delivery of our first Neoplan 18 months ago. Even then, we intended to only have two, but they were so popular with clients that we kept buying more,” says Transport and Operations Manager Rikki Wilson.

The new coach is a P20 tri-axle that has been downseated to 53. The other Tourliners in Parkers’ fleet are also tri-axles for luggage reasons, but the model appeals in other ways too.

“The dash and the entrance create a good impression when passengers board. The Tourliner has a good kerb presence and we wouldn’t look at other manufacturers,” adds Rikki. “Pricing is also a major consideration. We believe that you get more for your money with a Tourliner than any other coach.”

Class action

Parkers’ fleet is split into President, Superior and Touring class vehicles. The new Tourliner is in the latter category and it will spend most of its time working for leading holiday companies.

As a stock coach, it is largely to MAN’s standard specification, although the Trafford Park dealership removed a seat pair prior to collection. It also added an inverter to power a pair of dual 240v charging sockets; USB points come as standard.

Parkers Executive Coaches is in common ownership with Parkers Executive Chauffeurs, which was established over a decade and a half ago. That business’ ethos has transferred to the coach operation in many ways.

Coach is the first new-shape Tourliner to be supplied by MAN in the UK

“We have always bought vehicles new for the 16 years that the chauffeur operation has been in existence,” says Managing Director Simon Rudd.

“There is a risk to buying new, but there is an upside too. It gets the business a reputation for quality, and we were keen from the outset to take that through to coaches. As we were new to that environment, we wanted the same reputation there as we have for chauffeur services.”

The modern way

Alongside the Tourliner fleet, Parkers also operates two smaller coaches. Unusually, it does not have maintenance staff of its own. Instead, the Neoplans are looked after by the MAN dealership in Gateshead, a relationship that Rikki says works well.

“MAN’s organisation and its electronic holding of all paperwork relating to servicing and maintenance means that we are considering joining the DVSA Earned Recognition pilot,” he explains.

Like the Tourliners that arrived before it, the new coach has been financed by Mistral. The funder says that Parkers’ already established dealings with tour companies - which guarantees work for coaches - played a significant part in building the relationship.

“Mistral always works with us and it has put a lot of faith and trust in our business. It saw that we have a strong record in passenger transport,” says Rikki.

MAN, too, has played a part in making Parkers the first UK operator to take delivery of a new-shape Tourliner. The next example for the operator will be a factory-built coach with various items to its own specification, and MAN is already confident of the Tourliner’s performance in the 2018 market.

“So far we have sold around 10 of the new model, a mix of stock coaches and factory-built examples,” says General Manager Bus and Coach Wayne Ulph. He adds that the first of the 13.2m, two-axle P10 model will now arrive earlier than first thought; they are expected here by early February. “We also plan to take our new Tourliner demonstration fleet to three coaches in 2018, with one each for the south, the midlands and the north.”

The Parkers delivery represents the start of a new era, one that MAN is sure will be the beginning of a prosperous time for the Tourliner.

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