National Express will run extra services to Liverpool next week to meet demand as the city hosts the Eurovision Song Contest.
The coach operator has added 33 coaches from locations including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Manchester Airport and Leeds.
The world’s largest music event, which runs from Tuesday 9 May to Saturday 13 May, is expected to draw 100,000 visitors to the city.
The take-up of scheduled and hired coach services has been increased by a Rail, Maritime and Transport union strike which will affect 14 rail companies on the day of the final as well increase pressure on the network the day before.
Andy Leonard, National Express Senior Coach Station Manager for the North, says: “We’ve seen a huge demand for our services since news of the planned rail strikes was announced, with advance tickets selling out quickly. We’re pleased to be able to add extra coaches on our network so that fans can safely travel to Liverpool and be part of a truly electric moment in musical history.”
The rail strikes announced last week, which included one by ASLEF on the day of the FA Cup Final, had an immediate impact.
Coach operator Megabus told the BBC at the time: “We have seen sales jump by around a third yesterday, as people rushed to secure seats for what looks to be a very busy May for travel. We have added around 20% more services since March as coach travel is becoming increasingly popular, including additional seats to and from Liverpool for Eurovision events.”
Transport Minister Mark Harper, responding to the timing of the rail strikes around Eurovision and the FA Cup Final, told the BBC: “Our fantastic bus and coach sector will step up and do their very best to step in.”
Rail strikes are understood to be one reason for a recent boom in scheduled coach travel. National Express this week announced an 83% increase in passengers on its Manchester-London service compared to before the pandemic.
Mr Leonard adds: “We know many of our passengers have had a difficult time on the West Coast Mainline recently and have chosen to travel on our coaches, some for the first time.
“It’s great to see that customers are switching to us and enjoying hassle-free, great value travel. As a result we’re putting on more coaches than ever before to serve the growing demand.”