National Express (NX) will improve its network in 2021 with a focus on journey times, punctuality and connectivity. The operator announced that work ahead of a limited restart of its scheduled services on 29 March.
NX says that it has used the “unique opportunity” given by an 11-week temporary closedown brought about by increased movement restrictions to revise its UK-wide timetable. Schedules will ramp up quickly from the initial restart, which will involve 20 routes serving 120 locations. That is the equivalent of around 15% of the standard network, the operator adds.
As examples of improvements, the average journey duration between Birmingham and Manchester has been reduced by 20 minutes and the number of coaches between Leeds and Bristol will grow from four per day to 12, with a reduction in trip times on that axis of between 30 and 60 minutes. NX adds that schedules will consider a predicted strong ‘staycation’ market in 2021 by serving all major UK holiday destinations.
Restart of the National Express scheduled network will get underway at 0001hrs on 29 March, when a coach will depart from Manchester bound for London. Around 200 drivers will be used on that day, the operator says.
In addition to planned timetable improvements, NX has removed the booking fee for any purchases made via an NX online account and added more options for customers to claim refunds or amend journeys. Its suite of COVID-secure measures will remain in force. That includes a reduction in vehicle capacity, temperature screening of passengers before boarding and an enhanced cleaning regime.
National Express UK Coach Managing Director Chris Hardy comments: “This is just the beginning of a better National Express. We have always focused on doing the right thing for customers, and by continuing to do so, we will grow back quicker and stronger.”