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A £13m upgrade of the Oxford Tube service is now going ahead after being postponed due to coronavirus.
Owners Stagecoach in Oxfordshire announced the investment earlier this year in new coaches which run between Oxford and London.
Then in June bosses said the investment in 34 new coaches would be put on hold due to falling passenger numbers as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Now the £13million investment by Stagecoach will start to deliver major improvements for Europe’s most frequent express coach service as the first new coaches launch into service before Christmas.
As Stagecoach celebrates its 40th anniversary this month, this major investment will see 34 new coaches started to be rolled out in the company’s largest ever coach order.
One of the new Plaxton Panorama coaches for the Oxford Tube which have
been built at the Plaxton factory in Scarborough
The investment marks a major upgrade for the Oxford Tube service, representing Stagecoach’s ongoing commitment to improving the customer experience even during the difficult circumstances of recent months.
In addition to providing a service for people commuting to London, Oxford Tube also encourages visitors to Oxford, helping to boost the local economy.
The 34 new coaches will offer passengers at seat charging and reading lights, free wifi, foot rests for added comfort and 3 point seat belts.
In addition, the coaches will have the leanest diesel Euro 6 engines which limit exhaust emissions. Stagecoach continues to lead the deployment of cleaner technologies, including electric, hybrid electric and hydrogen-fuelled buses. It has investment more than 7,000 in new greener vehicles in the past decade, more than any other operator in the UK.
With sustainability being key to Stagecoaches operations and values, five of the 34 coaches are being fitted with solar panel systems by the multi-award-winning UK company, TRAILAR. The 3mm solar panels will be fitted to provide clean solar energy to power all on-board electrical equipment, reducing the vehicles requirement to create electrical energy via the burning of diesel. The technology, which is the first for Stagecoach will aim to save over 1,500 litres of fuel and over 4 tonnes of CO2 per bus. Across the five vehicles fitted, their combined annual saving of over 7,500 litres of fuel and 20 tonnes of CO2, would require 331 trees being planted and grown for 10 years in order to obtain this level of carbon offsetting impact.
Chris Coleman, Managing Director at Stagecoach in Oxfordshire said: “This major investment into Europe’s most frequent express coach service will ensure that we can provide our customers with a more comfortable and modern service.
“The last eight months have been amongst the most difficult we have ever faced – COVID-19 has turned the world upside down and public transport continues to be impacted. But we are committed to continuing to invest in areas where we believe it’s important and we are delighted to be launching the first of our new coaches today.
“Public transport will continue to play a huge role in the country’s economic and sustainable recovery. We are confident that this continued investment will help us to encourage more people to ditch their cars and use our comfortable new coaches for their journeys between Oxford and London.”
The new premium coaches will have the latest in passenger comfort with on board features including wireless and USB charging, reading lights and extendable tables complete with mobile device and cup holders throughout. This, in addition to extra leg room and reclining seats, ensures that the service can continue to offer the best customer service.
New on board information screens will be fitted and used to keep customers up to date with changes to their journey and estimated times of arrival. Customers will also benefit from the enhanced complimentary WiFi service available throughout.
In addition, the new coaches have been designed to improve the service for those with additional accessibility needs with a more seamless boarding process for wheelchair users.
The 34 Plaxton Panorama coaches have been built by Alexander Dennis factory at Plaxton in Scarborough.
Mark Ballam, Coach Commercial Manager at Alexander Dennis said: “We are proud to have worked closely with our long-standing partner Stagecoach on the design and specification of these new coaches for the Oxford Tube, making sure they provide an outstanding experience for customers.
“This order is a boost to UK manufacturing as Plaxton continues over a century of British coachbuilding tradition at our factory in Scarborough.”
Aaron Thomas, Co-founder and Managing Director at TRAILAR said “We are excited to be working with Stagecoach and supporting them in their green agenda by further reducing their environmental impact and operating costs, through reduced fuel and maintenance spend. TRAILAR offersolar solutions across a wide range of commercial vehicles such as trucks, trailers, refuse trucks and of course buses and coaches. TRAILAR is committed to delivering sustainable transport for all and achieving zero emissions sooner with solar!”.
See our previous posting here
This article first appeared on www.focustransport.org
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