For the nationwide travel operator this is part of an ongoing £16 million intiative to replace existing coaches and improve passenger services. With a fleet of over 500 vehicles, National Express has now fully committed to replacing over half its overall fleet within the last four years.
Specified to meet the requirements of the new European Bus Directive, which has strict guidelines on emissions, this latest batch of 12.6 metre vehicles incorporate a rear mounted 9-litre engine and Volvo I-Shift gear technology.
Featuring 48 full leather GALA reclining seats, standardised with a bespoke National Express design and with wider headrests for greater personal space, the new coaches are designed with passenger comfort in mind.
The new vehicles offer significant improvements particularly for wheel chair users and are fully DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) compliant – ahead of the 2012 VCA enforced rule change. They include a wider entrance, a PLS2 lift and an easy to operate NMI wheelchair restraint with improved space within the vehicle.
Other features include a redesigned floor level onboard toilet, making access easier and more efficient during cleaning, a vehicle reversing camera and onboard CCTV cameras for driver and passenger security.
National Express are the first scheduled coach operator to introduce Alcolock technology to their vehicles. The Alcolock system is a handheld unit connected to the dashboard display, which requires the coach driver to pass a breathalyser test before the vehicle can be started. If the system detects alcohol on the driver’s breath not only will the vehicle fail to start, but a message will also be automatically forwarded to National Express headquarters in Birmingham informing them of the situation.
The Volvo coaches also have onboard tracking, which beams live information, via satellite, to coach stations across the UK. This informs the company of the exact location of the vehicle, as well as the onboard temperature and even the driving style. Information is relayed to the driver via the integrated dashboard, allowing for driving adjustments to be made to aid fuel efficiency.
National Express is rightly proud of the advanced technology on their new vehicles, “This technology is our new ‘eye in the sky’ helping us to track our fleet across the UK,” explained Alex Parry, Operations Director. “We are committed to making coach travel much more modern and accessible to people everywhere in the country”.
Whilst National Express Managing Director, Andrew Cleaves emphasised the importance of their customers in making the decision to purchase the new Volvos, “We want to offer them an ever improving journey,” he explained. “The National Express coach continues to evolve in terms of passenger comfort, onboard technology and aesthetic appeal”.
Volvo Bus Coach Sales Director, Nick Page was delighted that Volvo could meet the requirements set out by National Express. “They are extremely focused in terms of the standards that they expect and the technology and innovative products they want on their vehicles,” he explained. “I’m pleased that we could provide the ideal vehicles to enable National Express to upgrade their fleet”.
02 November 2010
Caption for image: National Express Volvo B9R coach with Caetano Levante bodywork.