Flixbus will launch domestic intercity coach services in the UK on Thursday 2 July. The network will initially be resourced with six vehicles from smaller operators, but that number will be added to “quickly” as demand rises, the company says. It aims to be market leader in the UK by 2025.

Birmingham, Bristol, Guildford and Portsmouth are among the first domestic destinations to be served via four routes from London. In a further indication of the speed of its planned growth, Flixbus says it anticipates carrying “several million” passengers in the UK in its first 12 months.

Bristol-based Turners Coachways and London operator Your Partner In Journey are each involved in providing vehicles for the launch network. When it announced that it would be launching a UK domestic network in February 2020, Flixbus said it had already seen “great interest” from operators in working with it.

Around 200 journeys will be made per week in the initial stages. Fares will start at £2.99. From the same date, Flixbus will also restart its international scheduled coach services from London to cities including Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris.

Flixbus UK Andreas Schorling is confident that the German company’s business here will build quickly as movement restrictions are relaxed. “This is just the beginning. We have great plans for Britain. We aim to grow to market leader by 2025,” he says.

Every coach will be disinfected before each journey. Passengers will be required to wear face coverings, as will drivers when away from the cab. Seats in the front row of will be kept vacant and only half of the remaining capacity will be sold.

Bala Balasuresh, Director of operator Your Partner In Journey, says: “This is a massive boost for our business, which has been hit hard in the past few months. We are proud to be working with FlixBus and to be able to offer people a great way to travel.”

Adds Kevyn Jones of Turner’s Coachways: “The travel industry has been badly hit by coronavirus COVID-19, so this is a very welcome launch for people who will want to see distant family or friends or conduct business in a safe way as the lockdown ends.”

With the addition of a UK domestic network, Flixbus will serve 2,500 destinations across 32 countries. It owns no coaches. Instead, they are hired from partners. 62m passengers globally used Flixbus services in 2019.

In September 2019, Flixbus outlined its plans for the future use of hydrogen fuel cell-electric coaches. It is working with Freudenberg Sealing Technologies to deliver a vehicle with a range of 500km. A coach OEM for the project is to be announced in due course.