Shropshire Star

National Express puts the brakes on all of its coaches

National Express has announced it is suspending its entire national network of coach services from midnight on Sunday.

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The firm said tighter Covid restrictions and falling passenger numbers had prompted the decision. It added that it hoped to restart services in March.

All customers whose travel has been cancelled will be contacted and offered a free amendment or full refund, the company said.

All journeys before Monday 11 January will be completed to ensure any passengers making essential journeys are not stranded.

Chris Hardy, managing director of National Express UK Coach, said: “We have been providing an important service for essential travel needs. However, with tighter restrictions and passenger numbers falling, it is no longer appropriate to do this."

He added that as the vaccination programme was rolled out and government guidance changed, the company would regularly review when services could restart.

"We plan to be back on the road as soon as the time is right and have put a provisional restart date of Monday March 1 in place,” he said.

National Express first suspended coach services during the coronavirus crisis in April, then restarted in July.

Services have been operating at half capacity, with strict cleaning and Covid protocols.

As the tier structure came into operation, demand for services reduced. As with the previous suspension, employees will be furloughed.

Firms that transport passengers, including coach, rail and aviation businesses, have been under intense pressure during the coronavirus crisis.

Train services are expected to be reduced in lockdown, with some in the industry anticipating reductions of between 50 to 60 per cent compared with the normal service.

Some in the industry anticipate a similar “Sunday-plus” service will run for the next few months, not least because the supply of trains will outstrip demand.

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