Peshwari Naan

Peshwari Naan shows that Salsabil is not on her own. National Express does not operate as well as the company wants the public to believe. In this blog Salsabil republishes material that she has found on the internet to demonstrate that she is not the only one who knows just how badly National Express operates it's coach services in the UK.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

 
Peshwari Naan is 5 years old today, I wonder if anybody recognised the significance of the date? Oh yes, it is 9/11 and Peshwari Naan was Salsabil's own little jihad against National Express. Well now it is time to move on and Salsabil will not be posting on this blog any more. She has achieved what she set out to do. Salsabil has republished material found on the internet to show that National Express does not operate as well as the company wants the public to believe. Since Salsabil started Peshwari Naan the internet has moved on. There are now not so many blogs to republish as lot of the public have migrated to Facebook and Twitter. With this shift towards social media has come the shortening of messages. People still complain about National Express coaches but these messages are rather short to fit into the framework and dynamics of Facebook and Twitter. Because of this there is less and less material for Salsabil to republish every month. Passengers are still unhappy with National Express coaches but they are not using blogs so much to complain about them. Harvesting their complaints on Facebook and Twitter is difficult to provide a quality reading experience. Since Peshwari Naan started, National Express has lost a lot of business to it's new rival Megabus. Passengers will and do vote with their feet and the business gained by Megabus is down to how badly National Express has been running it's operation. So, 5 years was a very good run for a blog of this nature. Salsabil has done her job and is putting her time to other interests. A big thank you goes to fellow bloggers who have provided content for this blog. The final post comes from the Sunday Mirror on today, Sunday 11th September 2011... Disabled National Express passenger left on M1 hard shoulder A COACH driver left a ­disabled passenger on a motorway hard shoulder when he forgot about her and drove off. Arthritis sufferer Selina Stacey, 45, and other ­passengers were allowed off to use a service station when they were stuck in a three-hour jam on the M1. She returned just in time to see the coach – and her luggage – disappearing. “My heart was going 19 to the dozen,” said Selina last night. “I thought a car was going to hit me, it was pitch black.” National Express has since apologised to her and ­suspended the driver. But distressed Selina, from Nottingham, who was picked up by an ambulance, said: “I will never travel on a coach again.” ...Allahu Akbar

Friday, September 02, 2011

 
Newsnet Scotland reports on 26th August 2011...


Company criticised after wrongly claiming concessionary travel scheme to be cut
General

FRIDAY, 26 AUGUST 2011 07:32 11 COMMENTS
The SNP have demanded a travel company issue a correction after it emerged its Managing Director sent emails to Scottish customers claiming the concessionary fares scheme would be cut.

The Nationalists lambasted National Express after the company wrongly emailed customers in Scotland claiming the scheme which allows pensioners and other group free bus travel was about to end – when in fact it is being protected by the SNP Government.

Andrew Cleaves, the Managing Director of National Express, send a blanket email to customers throughout the UK earlier this week urging them to contact their member of parliament after the Tory Lib Dem coalition announced an end the English scheme.

However the email did not make it clear that passengers in Scotland would be unaffected.

SNP MSP Dave Thomson today demanded National Express correct their email to customers in Scotland.

Mr Thompson the MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch said:

“I was really concerned to hear that a national coach company had alarmed Scottish customers by wrongly informing them that the reduced coach travel they benefit from was to end in October.

“We do things differently in Scotland and the SNP recognises how important concessionary fares are for our elderly population.

“The Tory-Lib Dem cuts mean bad news for the people from many parts of the UK but the SNP Government is working hard to protect the people of Scotland from these damaging cuts.”

The scheme in England which enabled half-price coach travel for pensioners ends on October 31, 2011 as part of Tory-Lib Dem spending cuts programme.

However, as transport is devolved, the SNP Scottish Government will continue to protect concessionary travel scheme in Scotland.

Mr Thompson added:

“I will be writing to National Express asking them to clarify for all passengers in Scotland that these cuts do not apply to them and that concessionary travel on coach travel in Scotland will continue.

“The company must correct their mistakes and make sure passengers in Scotland are re-assured that their travel scheme remains intact.”



The National Express email:

Important news on the concessionary fares scheme

As somebody who has used the Government's half price coach ticket scheme, we want to give you some important information.

The scheme currently provides up to half price travel for over 60 year olds and disabled people through Government funding.

The Government has announced that this funding will end on 31 October 2011 as part of its spending cuts programme.

While we are looking to introduce a replacement scheme, without the government funding it is not possible to make discounts as high and the cost of travel will increase for you.

We have written to the Government to ask that they reconsider this decision. We have also written to a number of MPs to raise our concerns. Many MPs have told us they agree and have written to ministers at the Department for Transport to ask them whether they have considered the potential impact on eligible passengers' ability to travel.

From your letters and emails, we know that many of you rely on the half price fares. Some have also expressed concern that without it, they may not be able to travel. If you share these concerns, perhaps you could write to, or email, your local MP to encourage them to raise your concern with the Department for Transport.

If you wish to write to your local MP we have included a letter template that you may want to use, simply add your details, print and send.


Comments


# Robert Louis 2011-08-26 18:20
Have National express apologised??

Do National express even care??

The sooner we are independent, the sooner we will be free of this kind of arrogant tosh.


# Ben Power 2011-08-27 00:31
Quoting Robert Louis:
Have National express apologised??

Do National express even care??

The sooner we are independent, the sooner we will be free of this kind of arrogant tosh.

Totally agree arrogant thoughtlessness and a complete lack of care of their Scots clientèle.


# Welsh Sion 2011-08-26 18:40
The message is still on their website, RL:

http://www.nationalexpress.com/coach/Offers/Over60s.cfm

I haven't heard my spineless compatriots complaining yet though - transport is a devolved matter to Cardiff, also.

One's Government is supposed to protect and defend its citizens, isn't it?


# Arbroath1320 2011-08-27 00:42
Allegedly Sion.


# Arbroath1320 2011-08-27 00:46
Just a thought outside my little favourite box here, but as transport is a devolved issue to Scotland is there not any way National Express can be dragged, screaming if necessary, to Holyrood to explain their ludicrous e-mail and subsequent actions.

Furthermore can the Scottish Government not impose some sort of hefty fine on this company?


# StanLaurelsCat 2011-08-27 05:40
I have a disability which allows me a concessionary travel card which allows me to travel the length and breadth of Scotland for FREE. No half measures from our parliament, no half fares necessary. I was in Edinburgh today and back to Glasgow with no cost involved. Same when I was in Drumnadrochit etc. It's completely different in England though, and as a company, National Express have made a huge mistake with this, as they have needlessly worried a lot of people.
Many may think concessionary fares isn't something about which they should be concerned, but believe me, it allows much more freedom than would be the case otherwise.
Well done to the Scottish Government for keeping this initiative going.


# Fungus 2011-08-27 07:20
It's the typical Brit Nat way of thinking, the universe revolves round Westminster and the fact that we have a separate system doesn't even tickle the consciousness.

If I had been Dave Thompson though I think I'd have referred to the company as international rather than national just to ram the point home.


# fynesider 2011-08-27 13:21
Anybody got Dave Thompson's email address?


# JRTomlin 2011-08-27 21:41
There is a complaint link on their contact page:

http://www.nationalexpress.com/contactus_ct.aspx?feedback=3&travelmode=nec

Or they have a phone number on their contact page.


# fynesider 2011-08-30 10:14
Thanks JR - just used it to send the following:

As a Scottish resident who has never used your coaches I am concerned at the confusing content of the message on your website. As you should be aware a 100% fare concession on your coaches applies in Scotland at the moment and I have seen no mention from my Government of any changes to this situation.

I look forward to your amendment.....


# Stiubhart 2011-08-28 09:31
I have written to National Express..

Dear Mr Cleaves,

As a Scottish resident who uses your coaches I am concerned at the confusing content of your email. As you should be aware a 100% fare concession on your coaches applies in Scotland at the moment.
What,if anything,is going to change?
This is a worrying time & I am confused.
Please clarify matters by return...


Trump International Scotland reports on 26th August 2011...

NATIONAL EXPRESS ALARMING SCOTTISH CUSTOMERS
Posted August 26th, 2011 by admin. Comment (0).
NATIONAL EXPRESS ALARMING SCOTTISH CUSTOMERS

COMPANY WRONGLY WARNS OF CUTS TO CONCESSIONARY SCHEME PROTECTED BY SNP GOVERNMENT

The SNP today lambasted National Express after they wrongly emailed customers (below) in Scotland claiming the concessionary fares scheme would be cut – when in fact it is being protected by the SNP Government.

Tory-Lib Dem cuts to the English scheme saw Andrew Cleaves, the Managing Director of National Express, send a blanket email to customers earlier this week stating that the concessionary fares scheme will be cut – but not making clear that passengers in Scotland would be unaffected.

SNP MSP Dave Thomson today demanded National Express correct their email to customers in Scotland.

Dave Thompson SNP MSP for Skye, Lochaber and Badenoch said:

“I was really concerned to hear that a national coach company had alarmed Scottish customers by wrongly informing them that the reduced coach travel they benefit from was to end in October.

“We do things differently in Scotland and the SNP recognises how important concessionary fares are for our elderly population.

“The Tory-Lib Dem cuts mean bad news for the people from many parts of the UK but the SNP Government is working hard to protect the people of Scotland from these damaging cuts.”

The scheme in England which enabled half-price coach travel for pensioners ends on October 31, 2011 as part of Tory-Lib Dem spending cuts programme.

However, as transport is devolved, the SNP Scottish Government will continue to protect concessionary travel scheme in Scotland.

Mr Thompson added:

“I will be writing to National Express asking them to clarify for all passengers in Scotland that these cuts do not apply to them and that concessionary travel on coach travel in Scotland will continue.

“The company must correct their mistakes and make sure passengers in Scotland are re-assured that their travel scheme remains intact.

Ken Dunn writes on 17th August 2011...

By the time we reached Heathrow it was well after midnight local time and we just managed to catch the last National Express coach to the West Country, or rather Bristol. With hardly any traffic on the M4 we sped along for thirty miles or so but then pulled over onto a slip road and made an unexpected stop. With a sheepish look on his face the driver switched off the engine, clicked on the PA system and told us that he was experiencing a ‘technical difficulty’. Not again!!! That turned out to be a ‘duff’ radiator. The damned thing was overheating and he would have to wait for a mechanic, from Basingstoke of all places, and if a repair could not be done, another coach would arrive to take us the rest of the journey. Oh, joy double whammy!

We didn’t have the will to resurrect any kind of Dunkirk spirit in the circumstances. We were too knackered for that. I did offer my AA Breakdown card but that didn’t go down too well. Two and a half hours later the mechanic had been and gone. No repair was possible. It would have to be towed back to the garage for that. But then another coach arrived and we were able to complete the journey. At the bus station in Bristol it was now almost 4 o’clock in the morning and we still had twenty miles to get back to our house. No local buses ran at that time and there wasn’t a taxi in sight.


Thursday, August 04, 2011

 
National Express travels through Ravenshead, Sun 24 July 2011 video posted by catman 2007 on 25 Jul 2011
The commentary describes the situation. briefly National Express refused to honour my ticket from Ravenshead, issuing a new one from Mansfield becausee of road works at Larch Farm cross roads. But the coach travelled the same route as normal, passing the stop where I was prevented from getting on.



Alcohol consumption on National express coach video posted by videopermit on 21 Mar 2011
no alcohol consumption policy on their coaches!! but people are consuming alcohol on their coaches. so if you do not enforce do not make rules!!


Sunday, July 03, 2011

 
Lucy Skedaddle blogs on 30th June 2011...

The bus journey was uncomfortable, but bearable as we got on first and bagged the disabled seats, so luckily had a bit more legroom. I was exceptionally grateful that the Megabus was sold out so the Turtle booked us onto the National Express. There were only a few people on it to start with, but soon filled up along the way, and was then made entertaining by the skanky people that got on at Dundee and Glasgow. Arguments over who sat where, etc. A girl asked a man to move so that she could get two seats together for her and her boyfriend. The man told her to 'Shut your face and go away.'
Much shouting ensued, and the bus fell silent so we could all listen. The angry teenage boyfriend then had to sit next to a woman up quite close to us, where he fumed and seethed and huffed like only a petulant boy reading 'Heat' magazine and eating Haribo, can.

Dave Tilley blogs on 25th June 2011...

I rather foolishly decided to try travelling down by coach, mainly because of the cost compared to all other methods of getting there. I had to drive to Rochdale to catch the 05:00 coach with a change in Manchester. At the moment the centre of Rochdale is a mess while work on the new Manchester Metro extension is put in and trying to find a parking space at 4:30am was not easy. There were an awful lot of people around at that time as one of the nightclubs was just emptying. Eventually I found a space in the Mecca Bingo Hall. They have enterprisingly used a nice line in income generation by doubling it up as a car park during the day. Not knowing whether my disabled badge would suffice, I bought a ticket and then struggled the 200 yards to the bus station.

When I got on the coach, I went to sit on the front seat for disabled people and was refused by the driver. He told me the front few seats were reserved and despite my protest that I was only travelling to Manchester, rather than for the full journey, I had to go and sit half way down the coach with the other six (yes SIX) people travelling. The driver also refused to help me with my bags and I almost fell when my crutch caught a stray seat-belt. Likewise, there was no help from the driver getting off. Luckily National Express have an SMS feedback scheme, so I made use of that as the coach sped into Manchester. Once we got into Manchester, a 90 minute wait and then down to Brum with a decent seat and a much more affable driver...

...A much nice coach driver on the way home also made the journey more bearable.

Sunday, June 05, 2011

 
Never found the plot , a blog written by a young mother, posts on the 30th May 2011...

[Snip] I then headed to Liverpool coach station to wait for my National Express coach, granted travelling down the M6 the day of a major football final may not have been the cleverest of mine, however I didn’t count on drunken 40 year old scouse women and a broken chemical loo to make it one of the worst trips of my life. Granted it may have only cost me £8.50 but I wish I’d paid the extra and gotten the train over 3 hours of wanting to be sick and listening to those woman who are clearly not getting any as that all they spoke about.

[Snip] I then had to say my own good byes and head back to get the over night coach home, sad but hubster was due in work the next day so I had to go. Racking up at the station I then found out that the coach was due to stop right outside my house however I was having to go all the way to Liverpool and then get home, annoyed was not the word.

The only plus of this coach was that it didn’t smell, however it was very loud and even at 3am in the morning half cut I couldn’t sleep, by the time we got to Chester the coach driver informed us the coach was broken and we needed to get off and take taxi’s to Liverpool, can you imagine how I felt!

Once squeezed in to the taxi with 3 big blokes, the driver chatted complete crap all the way to Liverpool then I shouted at him when he took the wrong turn to the coach station, telling me he knew where he was going, of which I replied so the coach we were following through the tunnel was going the wrong way then wasn’t it, arggggghhhhhh!

Christopher M. Bell writes on 28th May 2011...

The Coach Trip

The 1130 PM coach from London Victoria to South Shields began its journey inconspicuously enough. It filled all its seats and set out through the permanently lit streets of the capital. Passengers tired, uncomfortable with the narrow legroom and slanting seats but grateful to be on their way to their destinations – home, family, holiday.

I was one of those weary travelers, my body drained by the adrenaline fueled job interview I had attended during the day. I’d been on edge all evening waiting for a phone call from the employer that never came. Now for the first time in two days I could try and relax and sleep through the journey back north.

I woke a couple of hours later to the voice of the driver announcing our arrival in Woodall Services. He said we were just waiting on the replacement driver and if people wanted to leave the bus they had to be back by 3am. I took the chance to escape the rather pungent passenger I was sat beside and stretch my legs with a trip inside the service station to exercise my bowels.

I returned to the coach a little before 3am, the door of which had been left open with the effect that the passengers inside were beginning to slowly chill. There was no driver to be found. No replacement, and in fact no original driver. I returned to my seat and shivered quietly. Other passengers were not so patient and a young lady behind me began to take charge of the situation – if you can call liberally swearing about the coach company a suitable act of leadership. An hour passed and still no driver. Another coach pulled up and our Boudicca marched on the unsuspecting 18 stone driver and demanded to know where ours was. Meanwhile at the request of passengers I had called the coach companies emergency helpline.

“Our office is closed now. Please call again between 8am and 5pm”

It was 338 am. I could only laugh. My fellow passengers didn’t see what was so funny. Returning to my task of communicating our displeasure I sent off a few text messages to the Feedback number advertised on a window sticker. It asked me to rate my journey from 1 to 5. 1 being the lowest. I gave it a 2. I don’t know why. The automated system responded with an apology and asked if I would like a customer representative to call me. My fellow passengers perked up. We were getting somewhere at last. I texted back yes. The automated response:

“A representative will be in touch in the next 48hrs”

I had to laugh again. Maybe it was the exhaustion fuddling my brain. The other coaches driver eventually came on board and announced that our driver had arrived.

“However he was running late and has been forced to take a statutory break. He’ll be about thirty minutes, but he is here. Have a safe journey!”

I think we all preferred it when we didn’t know where the driver was. Various plots to lynch him on his arrival were proposed and knocked down. People were too tired and grumpy to go to the trouble. When he did show he smirked at the sarcastic round of applause from the passengers and explained;

“You’ll have to blame Take That.”

And we were off at last. We had been in Woodall almost two hours. Any longer and the company might have been given a £90 fine for over staying its welcome at the Wellcome Service station.

I settled back down and began to fall asleep again. A loud crack stirred me, and my seat seemed to tilt slightly. When we arrived in Doncaster Mr Pungent, to my relief, got off. Just as well considering my seat then fell to the floor. I picked it up and handed it to the bemused bus driver who counseled sagely:

“Perhaps you better sit on another seat.”

So I did, but the bus didn’t resume its journey. No, three women approached our driver from outside and protested that, shockingly, their coach hadn’t turned up for the last 3hrs. Shocking! A twenty minute delay was followed as our driver organized a taxi for the stranded trio.

And we were off again.

Only not very far as the driver made a wrong turn into a one way street and spent five minutes trying to reverse his cumbersome vehicle out and back to the motorway.

I’d love to say that is where the drama ends, but that would be presumptuous.

After all, we’re still traveling.

—————————————————–

The above was written whilst on the #436 National Express Coach from London Victoria to South Shields on the morning of Saturday 28th May 2011.



Northampton Chronicle & Echo reports on 27th May 2011...

Motorist killed in M1 Northamptonshire lorry smash is named

THE lorry driver killed in a pile-up on a section of the M1 motorway in Northamptonshire on Thursday afternoon has been named by police.

Alan Norman, aged 48, of Nuneaton, died when the vehicle he was driving collided with a coach, another HGV and a Transit box van just north of Watford Gap.

The lorries, which were both travelling northbound, collided just before the M45 turn-off causing a crash involving the National Express coach and the van.

One of the lorries was carrying a pre-fabricated building, which hit the vehicle travelling behind, however, it is understood the pre-fab building was not the cause of the crash.

The crash happened at about 2pm and caused tailbacks of up to 22 miles at the height of rush hour.

Motorists endured lengthy, with the M1 closed northbound between Junction 16 and 17 for several hours to allow emergency services to clear the scene and carry out preliminary investigations.

Drivers were not allowed to join the northbound carriageway at either Junction 15A (Northampton) or Junction 16 (Nether Heyford) and traffic was diverted along the A45, causing lengthy tailbacks on a number of rural roads.

A spokesman for Northamptonshire Police said: “The motorway was closed between junctions 16 and 17 and the air ambulance was able to land at the scene.

“The tailbacks stretched back to junction 14 at Milton Keynes and motorists were asked to find alternative routes due to the seriousness of the accident and resulting delays.”

The death is only the fifth on the county’s road network this calendar year.

In previous years the death toll on Northamptonshire’s roads has been significantly higher. Last year, a total of 26 people were killed over the 12 month period, the lowest figure ever recorded.

The county’s Casualty Reduction Partnership was disbanded as part of the Government’s cuts process, prompting fears it could result in the number of deaths increasing.

Northamptonshrie Police is appealing for witnesses, particularly anybody who was travelling on the National Express coach which was the Number 450 service from London Victoria to Nottingham, which left London at midday.

Anyone with information can call police on 03000 111 222 - alternatively, information can be given anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Coach Broker reports on 16th May 2011...

National Express introduce breathalysers on coaches to prevent drink driving

Coach travel provider National Express has introduced the Alcolock system to a number of their coaches which calls for the driver of the vehicle to pass a breathalyser test before the vehicle’s engine starts.
The move to roll out this system across the entire coach fleet will prevent any drink driving amongst coach drivers and will ensure the safety of National Express passengers.
Every driver getting behind the wheel of the National Express coach fitted with the new device will have to breathe into the system before they’re allowed to start the engine. If any traces of alcohol are detected on the coach driver’s breath, then the coach will be disabled and the engine will not start.
Any information collected by the breathalyser device will be transferred directly to the National Express head office so if any driver is found with traces of alcohol in their system, they will face disciplinary action immediately, and a worst case scenario will see the driver lose his or her job.
In 2008 a National Express coach was involved in an accident in which 36 passengers were injured. The driver of the coach later failed a breath test. The coach transport provider believes that the new alcolock device will go a long way in preventing a similar incident in the future.
So far, 480 out of the 600 strong National Express coach fleet have been fitted with the breathalyser system.

Nathan Goldberg posts on 15th May 2011...

Nathan Goldberg rails against dreadful customer care of National Express and a truly uncomfortable journey in which he has tremendous trouble sleeping properly

There I was going against my better judgement. Happens more times than it should.

What was it? Travelling to London from Glasgow by bus late at night. You get really good deals but it’s a painful affair with tremendous trouble sleeping.

To call it a pain in the arse is to put it mildly and it’s not only the sitting down, it’s the driving crew, they stand at the door as you try to enter and make life as difficult as possible.

There’s something about the Glasgow bus driving fraternity that makes the blood go cold. They are so miserable and their idea of customer care is to avoid running someone over.

Then the journey in that eerie pitch black bus, where very one tries to but doesn’t succeed in sleeping properly. Various tortured shapes are to be seen, twisted postures abound.

The whole thing is awful not only trouble sleeping but with open resentment by the staff. Not to be recommended.

The company National Express should look at its customer care and take action against all the staff who seem to take a delight in pissing off customers.

Taking a leaf out of a very sweet natured American girl with a beatific smile who works at the cafe in Glasgow’s bus station might be a start. It’s as easy to be nice as not.

Do you feel that surly manners are unacceptable or do you think the drivers and crew have every right not to feel happy about life, like 97% of the planet.

Southern Daily Echo reports on 11th May 2011...

Coach driver's head 'felt like it was going to explode'

A COACH driver described to jurors how he lost consciousness at the wheel as he drove along a Hampshire motorway.

Peter Huggett, is said to have veered off the M27, up onto the embankment before coming back down across all three lanes of the motorway as he drove a packed National Express coach between London and Poole, the court heard.

Jurors have been told the cause could have been him falling asleep at the wheel as the incident happened between junctions two and one on the westbound carriage.

Giving evidence at Southampton Crown Court, Huggett said: “I recall that I was going along quite normally, I’d become very hot from within, not like a sweating, like a burning, boiling hot.

“I have never had it before, it just felt like your head was going to explode, like it builds up inside.”

He continued: “The next thing that I can recall is really coming back on to the carriageway and getting the coach back under control again back onto the hard shoulder.”

He said the last thing he remembered was that he was going to open the window, but said he did not try to open it.

Huggett said he had decided, after checking on passengers and damage to the vehicle, to carry on to Ringwood because he did not believe passengers were safe if he stopped on the hard shoulder.

Huggett, with 25 years’ coach driving experience, said he had felt fine on the morning of the incident on August 28, 2009.

Asked by prosecutor Eleanor Fargin why he had not mentioned fainting in the incident form for his employers, Huggett said he had mentioned it during an employer interview.

The court also heard a transcript of an interview conducted by PC Claire Scammell after the bus, carrying 49 people, was met by police at Ringwood.

Huggett had told officers: “I was feeling a bit hot, so I was trying to open the side window. The next thing I knew, the coach was veering into lane two.

“I realised what I was doing and then steered into the hard shoulder to stop.”

Asked what caused him to lose control, he told the officer: “Whether I lost consciousness or dropped off I don’t know.”

Huggett, 55, of Green Road, Poole, denies one count of dangerous driving.

Proceeding.

Southern Daily Echo reports on 10th May 2011...

National Express driver Peter Huggett denies falling asleep at the wheel

TERRIFIED passengers screamed as their coach veered off a Hampshire motorway and up an embankment, a court heard.

The National Express service from London to Poole smashed through bushes before careering back across all three lanes of the M27 west of Southampton, it was said. Jurors were told the cause could have been driver Peter Huggett falling asleep at the wheel.

Passenger Baden Spooner told Southampton Crown Court that there had been around 60 people on board and the coach had been travelling at 50mph when the incident happened on August 28, 2009.

He said: “It started to creep onto the hard shoulder. I said to my wife at the time: ‘It looks like the coach is breaking down’. I realised it wasn’t straightening up on the hard shoulder, it was going to go beyond it.”

He said the coach went along the embankment for about 20 seconds and described how he had gripped hold of the headrest in front as the coach leaned at “quite an angle”.

“There was some screaming from the back and general kerfuffle,” he added.

After the coach had stopped, Mr Spooner went to check on the driver and found him holding the steering wheel.

“I asked the driver what happened and he said he felt hot and went to open the window and the bus veered to the left.”

The court heard that several passengers had asked to get off while the coach stopped on the hard shoulder, but Huggett had continued driving. The court was told howpassengers contacted the police, who met the vehicle when it pulled in at Ringwood, its next scheduled stop.

The coach sustained scratches and dents to its bodywork and a smashed wing mirror. None of the passengers was injured.

Huggett, 55, of Green Road, Poole, denies dangerous driving. His defence will claim the incident could have been caused by him fainting.

Dr William Gibb, consultant neurologist for Southampton University Hospital NHS Trust, told the court there was no evidence that Huggett was sleep-deprived and no evidence that he had exhibited features of drowsiness beforehand, such as lane wandering.

He said Huggett had not displayed a tendency to faint in the past or since. “I would say it’s almost inconceivable that the event was a faint, so it has to be down to another reason.”

Proceeding

Saturday, May 07, 2011

 
York Press reports on 22nd April 2011...

Tributes paid to A19 crash victim Martyn Tattersall

THE family of a man killed in a head-on crash in North Yorkshire say he will never be forgotten.

Martyn Tattersall, 50, from Clifton in York, died when his blue Seat Leon collided with a National Express coach on the A19 Easingwold bypass on Monday night.

In a statement yesterday, his family said: “Martyn was a loving husband of Lynne, father of Adam, Sarah and Alex, son and brother.

“We’ll cherish the memories and he’ll never be forgotten.”

The family said Mr Tattersall had lived by the motto: “When shall we live, if not now?”

Mr Tattersall, who ran a bed and breakfast in Clifton with his wife Lynne, died at the scene of the accident, which happened shortly after 5.30pm on Monday.

The coach was carrying 40 elderly passengers. No one on board was seriously injured, but there were several walking wounded who were treated for minor injuries at the scene or in York Hospital.

The road was closed for more than seven hours as police investigated and they are still appealing for witnesses.

Anyone with information is asked to phone PC Neil Cholmondeley on 0845 6060247.

An inquest was opened and adjourned in Northallerton yesterday.

North Yorkshire Police appeal to the public...

Police investigate fatal coach collision

Police investigating a fatal road traffic collision in Easingwold are appealing for witnesses to help with their enquiries.


The collision, involving a National Express coach and a blue Seat Leon, occurred at around 5.35pm yesterday (18 April 2011), on the A19 Easingwold bypass.

The driver of the Seat, a 50-year-old man from York, was fatally injured in the collision and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The coach driver, a 59-year-old woman from Chester-le-Street, suffered minor bruising to her wrist.

Three passengers travelling on the coach, which was travelling northbound to the Newcastle area, were also injured in the incident.

An 81-year-old woman from Loftus, Cleveland, was taken to York District Hospital for treatment to minor injuries, however she has now been discharged.

A 77-year-old man, from the West Midlands, sustained a cut to his left shin and a 47-year-old man, from Swansea, received a cut to the bridge of his nose. Neither casualty required hospital treatment and were treated at the scene by paramedics.

Officers closed the road as they conducted their investigations and to allow for the vehicles to be recovered. A replacement coach was provided to allow the coach passengers to continue their journey.

The road was reopened at 1am on Tuesday 19 April 2011.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the collision to contact them with information.

Traffic Constable Neil Cholmondeley, of Thirsk Road Policing Group, said: "I would like to hear from anyone who witnessed the collision itself, or anyone who saw either vehicle prior to the incident.

"The Seat Leon was travelling in a southbound direction, towards York, and the coach was travelling in the opposite direction.

"It is vital to our investigations into the collision that anyone who has any information comes forward."

Anyone who can help the police with their enquiries is urged to contact TC Neil Cholmondeley, of Thirsk Road Policing Group, on 0845 60 60 24 7, quoting reference number 12110062916.

Updated: 05/05/11

The Northern Echo reports on 19th April 2011...

A CAR driver has died after a collision with a coach in North Yorkshire.

The crash, involving a National Express coach and a blue Seat Leon, happened at around 5.35pm yesterday on the A19 Easingwold bypass.

The driver of the Seat, a 50-year-old man from York, was fatally injured in the collision and was prononced dead at the scene.

The coach driver, a 59-year-old woman from Chester-le-Street, suffered minor bruising to her wrist.

Three passengers travelling on the coach, which was travelling northbound to the Newcastle area, were also injured in the incident.

An 81-year-old woman from Loftus, Cleveland, was taken to York District Hospital for treatment to minor injuries, however she has now been discharged.

A 77-year-old man, from the West Midlands, sustained a cut to his left shin and a 47-year-old man, from Swansea, received a cut to the bridge of his nose. Neither casualty required hospital treatment and were treated at the scene by paramedics.

A replacement coach was provided to allow the coach passengers to continue their journey.

The road was reopened at 1am this morning.

Police are appealing for witnesses to the collision to contact TC Neil Cholmondeley, of Thirsk Road Policing Group, on 0845 60 60 24 7, quoting reference number 12110062916.

Harrogate News reports on 19th April 2011...

Man dies following coach collision on A19 Easingwold bypass
April 19 | Posted by Editor | News
updated 19 April 2011 at 10:50
The collision, involving a National Express coach and a blue Seat Leon, occurred at around 5.35pm yesterday (18 April 2011), on the A19 Easingwold bypass.
The driver of the Seat, a 50-year-old man from York, was fatally injured in the collision and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The coach driver, a 59-year-old woman from Chester-le-Street, suffered minor bruising to her wrist.
Three passengers travelling on the coach, which was travelling northbound to the Newcastle area, were also injured in the incident.
An 81-year-old woman from Loftus, Cleveland, was taken to York District Hospital for treatment to minor injuries, however she has now been discharged.
A 77-year-old man, from the West Midlands, sustained a cut to his left shin and a 47-year-old man, from Swansea, received a cut to the bridge of his nose. Neither casualty required hospital treatment and were treated at the scene by paramedics.
Officers closed the road as they conducted their investigations and to allow for the vehicles to be recovered. A replacement coach was provided to allow the coach passengers to continue their journey.
The road was reopened at 1am on Tuesday 19 April 2011.
———————————————-
Emergency services yesterday (18 April 2011) attended the scene of a serious road traffic collision on the A19 Easingwold byass.
The collision occurred at 5.35pm and involved a car and a coach. The male driver of the car received serious injuries and has subsequently died in Hospital.
The coach was carrying around 40 elderly people however none of the passengers received serious injuries. A number of passengers were walking wounded with minor injuries and were treated by paramedics. The driver of the coach was also not injured. The coach passengers are currently being transferred onto another coach to continue their journey.
The road was closed for approximately five hours to allow police investigations. The entire Easingwold bypass was closed at both roundabouts either end, with a diversion through Easingwold Village.
Police are appealing for witnesses of the collision to contact them. Please call Traffic Constable Neil Cholmondeley at Thirsk Road Policing Group on 0845 6060247.

Friday, April 01, 2011

 
BBC News reports on 18th March 2011...

National Express apologises over stranded elderly man

A bus company has sacked a driver and apologised for leaving an elderly Hampshire man stranded at a service station in December.

Eric Tomlin, 85, from Hedge End, got off a National Express coach to go to the toilet when it stopped in Exeter as the bus' own facilities were broken.

He said he felt "absolutely devastated" when the bus left without him.

Managing director Andrew Cleeves visited Mr Tomlin at home to apologise and offer him free travel for life.

Reported missing
Mr Tomlin had been travelling from Southampton to Plymouth to visit his wife in a retirement home in Devon when the bus made a stop at the Exeter service station.

Despite telling the driver he was going to the toilet as the on-board facilities were out of order, the coach left without him, but with his coat and mobile phone still onboard.

He said: "I told him I wouldn't be more than two or three minutes ... But I saw the back end of the coach leaving the station. I thought 'what am I going to do now?'"

He was saved by David Gaskin, who took Mr Tomlin to his own home in Saltash and helped him contact his daughter who had reported him missing.

The company initially offered him £20 compensation.

Mr Cleeves told him National Express "hadn't looked after you at all well".

He said the company had changed its procedures to ensure passengers were back on board after a stop and to investigate complaints quicker. The case is also being specifically used in staff training.

After the apology, Mr Tomlin said: "I wish it hadn't happened to me. I just wanted a plain, simple coach ride."

Omnibuses blog posts on 17th March 2011...

End of the £1 Fare?

National Express is reported as seeing a three per cent growth per annum thanks, it says, to value fares and a recession that’s resulted in organic growth. But UK rail is once again doing better still, in spite of that same recession with, according to Passenger Transport, year-on-year growth of nearly 12 per cent.

And that’s in an era of record rail fares increases, and at a time when NatEx has shrugged off its internet-only £1 bargains. Perhaps time is money, hence the rail growth. Perhaps rail users are fed up with motorway and urban-area congestion.

When and if we crawl out of recession, we can expect even greater rail growth. But where will this leave NatEx and other bargain based express coach providers who have benefited from recession? Initiatives such as reducing the average age of its fleet by about two years will no doubt stand NatEx in good stead. It & Greyhound already have class leading legroom but it remains difficult to shrug off the poorer image of coach travel, a perception that leaves express coaching at the bottom of the national transport debate.

NatEx’s £1 internet-only fares attracted few new customers, it says. People apparently had a very jaundiced view as to whether such fares were actually available in the first place. And those in the know snapped them up as soon as they were released but would’ve travelled in any case. If £1 fares are not generating traffic, might other express providers have to change their tactics?

Robert M Lidster writes on his World Travel Reviews blog on 3rd March 2011...

... Having made such huge savings on my previous trip with National Express and having no problems with the journey whatsoever I decided to look into the possibility of travelling to Portsmouth by National Express coach.

As luck would have it there were still “Fun Fares” to be had with fares starting from as little as £1.00. The way the system worked on the website meant that you could only book “Fun Fares” either from or to London, this meant I had to book my journey in two parts. First I booked my journey from Clacton-On-Sea to London Victoria, the coach would depart at 07:25 from outside the railway station in Clacton-On-Sea and it would arrive at London Victoria coach station at 10:20, the cost £5.00 !

The second leg of my journey meant me catching another coach from London Victoria at 11:30 ( giving me just over an hour between connections ), I would arrive at the ferry terminal in Portsmouth at 13:30 two hours before my boat sailed at 15:30. Cost for this coach trip £6.00 making a total fare of just £11 to travel from Clacton-On-Sea to Portsmouth, a distance of about 155 miles, total time of journey with connections 6 hours. If you are booking on the normal fares it is possible to book the entire journey as one and not have to do the two separate bookings that I did.

Well at these prices there was no contest and after convincing my wife into getting up at 06:00 on her day off from work in order to drive me to the railway station to catch my coach at 07:25 I was on my way.

The National Express coaches are modern, comfortable coaches with W.C. facilities on board, all seats are fitted with a seat belt which it is now a legal requirement for passengers to use, something that was pointed out to all the passengers by the driver on my previous National Express trip to London but on this trip our driver was not as chatty or as informative and gave no safety announcements at all.

The Service I was on was number 484 and we left Clacton on time at 07:25, the coach was about 25% full at this stage, we made stops at the University of Essex, Colchester, Witham and Romford and arrived at London Victoria on time at 10:20 although we sat outside the coach station for several minutes as the station was full and there was no space for us.

By the time we arrived at London the coach was full to capacity, in fact at Colchester the driver had to turn away a gentleman who had not booked but was hopeful of buying a ticket on the coach, he went away disappointed. The journey was uneventful other than on the A12 between Colchester and Witham when three cars in the middle and outside lanes became involved in a road rage incident, the lead car in the fast lane slammed on his brakes sending plumes of smoke billowing from his tyres, the car behind him also braked hard and swerved to miss the car in front and in doing so came into contact with the third car in the middle lane, there was then what can only be described as a frank exchange of words. Luckily we were in the inside lane and avoided getting involved and our driver continued on his way.

Facilities at Victoria coach park are very good with plenty of seating, shops and places to buy food and drink and toilet facilities. The information boards were clear as were the gate numbers and directions, it was all very similar to the set up at an airport.

Service 030 from London to Portsmouth left two minutes late at 11:32 but Nathan our driver did give us a safety talk and all the information we needed for the trip. It was now raining hard as we left London and would continue to rain for the entire journey, this slowed us down as did the many road works that we encountered. We arrived at Portsmouth about twenty minutes late but still with plenty of time for me to check in and have something to eat and drink.

Even when the “Fun Fares” are not available, National Express offers very good value travel, as long as time is not too great an issue and you are looking for a cheap, comfortable alternative to the train, then it is well worth looking into.

Friday, March 04, 2011

 
Mr Justice of the Sunday Sun reports on 20th February 2011...

Taking brakes off National Express refund

THE wheels on the bus may have ground to a halt but I moved into action to resolve a plea from pensioner Dorothy Moody.
She asked for my help when National Express refused to refund the cost of two tickets from Sunderland to Milton Keynes.
Dorothy said she was scared to start the journey, in the middle of last year’s snowstorms, in case the bus became stuck and was unable to reach its destination. She had paid £66 for two tickets for herself and her son to attend her sister’s funeral.
She said: “I booked the tickets but, the day before we were supposed to go, the M1 and M25 were gridlocked.
“I knew I was not able to make the funeral and cancelled the tickets.
“National Express said they were not going to refund the money but I was not the only one to cancel that day.
“What do they do with all that money when the weather conditions are bad?”
I spoke to National Express and asked if there was anything they could do.
A spokeswoman said: “If it was the customer’s decision not to travel and the coach departed it is unlikely that we will offer a refund.”
Nevertheless, I asked National Express to investigate and, before long, Dorothy, of Ryhope, Sunderland, received a call offering a full refund.
She said: “They said they couldn’t tell me if the bus had completed its journey but said they would give me a refund.
“I am most grateful for your help. It’s all down to you.”

Wednesday, February 02, 2011

 
bad boi bil posts this video on YouTube on 23rd January 2011...



jus crooky posts this video on YouTube on 5th January 2011...


Saturday, January 01, 2011

 
Perthshire Advertiser reports on 31st December 2010...

Fisherman hooks £600 fine

A PETERHEAD fisherman hid in a long-distance bus toilet, downed a bottle of booze then turned on the driver and a passenger when asked to come out.
Mark Davison was on board a National Express service between Aberdeen and London with 27 passengers in October when he assaulted the two people, racially abusing the passenger.
Davison (40), of Duncan Crescent in the Aberdeenshire town, previously admitted the three offences – two of assault and one of acting in a racially aggravated manner – but was asked to attend personally at Perth Sheriff Court on Wednesday.
He was fined a total of £600 for his offences.
Fiscal depute Charmaine Cole told the court that the bus was travelling down the A90 when a passenger informed the bus driver that another passenger – Davison – had locked himself in the WC.
He stopped the bus at an Inchyra layby and investigated alongside the passenger.
After two minutes of knocking on the toilet door Davison emerged with a carrier bag containing an empty bottle of vodka, the fiscal depute said.
“The driver told him he wasn’t allowed to drink on the bus. The accused then pushed him on the chest, causing him to stumble back,” Ms Cole added.
Davison turned on the passenger after he asked him to stop, pushing him too, shouting, “fucking shut up” and “fucking nigger”.
The driver returned to his seat and called the police.
Davison’s solicitor said the actions had been borne out of his drinking which had “dimmed” his behaviour.
He was on the bus travelling to England for a fishing job there, the solicitor explained, adding that he had a lengthy criminal record.
Sheriff Michael Fletcher described the offence as a “ nuisance type” which had interrupted the “peaceful journeys” of the other passengers.

Ledbury Reporter writes on 29th December 2010...

Pensioner seeks apology for stolen luggage

A LEDBURY pensioner is seeking an apology after her luggage was stolen while she travelled on a coach.

Pamela Hansen also wants National Express to pay up after the thief struck in Gloucestershire.

The 69-year-old arrived at Gloucester empty handed after a three-hour journey from London’s Victoria Coach Station.

Her muddied luggage was found at Cheltenham Spa bus station weeks later missing clothes and cosmetics worth £300.

Gloucestershire Police have examined CCTV but have advised the pensioner to claim compensation from the bus company.

But Mrs Hansen, from Church Street, says she was only offered £170 and still hasn’t received an apology.

“I’ve got a lot of items back but I can never use them – they look like they’ve been dragged through a swamp,” said Mrs Hansen.

“The last time I saw the luggage was at Victoria.

“I’ve been offered £170 but I’ve lost £300 and I haven’t even had a letter of apology from the coach company.”

Chris Jackson, media communications officer for Gloucestershire Police, said no arrests had been made following the theft.

He said the victim’s open suitcase was found on a bench missing a new dress, shoes and a vanity case containing cosmetics.

National Express was not available for comment at the time of going to press.

Varsity - The Independent Cambridge Student Newspaper since 1947 reports on 22nd December 2010...

December 19th

20:45 Arrive at Parker's Piece, well in time for the bus, which should arrive at 20:50.

21:03 No bus.

21:08 Still no bus, we call home to let them know we may be late.

21:25 National Express hotline closed. Still nothing on website.

21:40 We wind up at Cambridgeshire Police Station, trying and find a warm place to wait. They inform us that National Express have "completely abandoned their customers over the past three days" but that there have been delays on the M11. We decide to try waiting a little longer.

22:20 A National Express bus finally arrives, but it's not ours. The driver informs us all buses to airports have stopped (except Stansted). "What can we do?" I ask. "Not my problem" comes the curt reply. I attempt to get some more information but he accuses me of: "attempting to impose your reality onto mine". Too tired and cold to be angry, we decide to go somewhere warm to figure out what to do next.

Emma of irregular expressions writes on 21st December 2010 ...



[snip to the interesting bit]...We were a little confused about the announcement as the woman making it had been the one sat behind the Megabus desk. The departure screens were still showing the 1830 National Express service to Cheltenham as running on time. We decided to see if we could get tickets for that. By this time it was about quarter past six. When we got to the ticket desk and saw the length of the queue (a couple of hundred metres) our hearts sank yet again. there was no way we’d get to the front in time. There were automatic ticket machines which we investigated and found to be out of order. In desperation we decided to go and try and ask the driver if he would sell us tickets.

This is the point at which someone did one small thing that made a huge difference. We explained our situation and all he said was ‘just get on the bus’. He didn’t want any money for tickets, he just let us on. By the time we’d made our way to two seats I’m afraid to say I was in tears, not just out of relief that we were going home, but because I was overcome by someone being so nice. I know it cost him absolutely nothing – there were loads of spare seats on the bus – but we really thought he was going to be a complete jobsworth and refuse to sell us a ticket and make us queue up, or worse, that the bus wasn’t going to be running. I don’t even think it was because I was quite clearly pregnant, I think he would have let us on anyway. 5 minutes later we were on the way home.

All the way back we sat there feeling really lucky. If things had turned out differently – if we hadn’t gone back to the station so early, if we hadn’t spotted the early bus, if the bus driver hadn’t let us on – we’d probably be stuck in London trying to work out how to get home. We got back to Cheltenham at around 10pm and were amazed to find the roads nowhere near as bad as we had expected, although the last few miles coming over the Cotswolds were a bit tricky. We really want to make sure the driver gets some kind of thank you aside from the huge hugs we gave him when we got off the bus, but we don’t want him to get into trouble: if we e-mail National Express and say how great he was will they tell him off for letting two people onto his bus who hadn’t paid? I really hate the thought of that so I think I’ll just say something without too much detail.

Kyrill Poole writes on 16th December 2010...

Thanks to the antics of the questionably sane National Express coach drivers on the 12-hour ride down from Aberdeen – namely putting the air conditioning on ‘cold’ when it was sub zero outside – I now have some horrendous viral infection.

It could be bird flu or Ebola or AIDS for all I know! There is no possible chance it’s the Common Cold. That’s too easy.

Thanks, National Express. I hope you’re happy.
Me – not so much.

Birmingham Mail reports on 1st December 2010...

Coach travellers stranded after man leaps from vehicle

BIRMINGHAM-based travel operator National Express has been accused of leaving terrified passengers stranded after a coach was halted for more than three hours when a man tried to jump off.

The male passenger, allegedly under the influence of drugs, alarmed fellow travellers when he began shouting and threatening to kill himself on a journey from London’s Golders Green to Birmingham and Preston.

Police were called when he tried to force the door of the 52-seat single decker as it left Milton Keynes on Sunday afternoon.

Sarah Hodnett and daughters Madison, aged six, and six-month-old Abigail were among those forced to wait for more than three hours in freezing conditions until a replacement vehicle could be provided.

Husband Justin Hodnett, who was waiting for his family in Preston, said his wife and daughters were frantic.

“My wife said it was obvious the man had been taking some form of drugs. He should not have been allowed to board the vehicle. There was just a female driver without any co-driver, so it was very difficult for her to subdue him,” he said.

Mrs Hodnett and her children eventually arrived home at 11pm – almost four hours later than scheduled.

The coach dropped them in Manchester following a stop at Birmingham’s Digbeth coach station because the driver’s allocated working hours had expired and they had to complete the trip to Preston by taxi.

“My wife was promised hot refreshments by police at Milton Keynes but nothing was forthcoming. They were left stranded. Airlines and rail firms generally look after travellers when there is a problem, but National Express did not want to know,” he said.

“The coach firm had to cover the cost of a taxi from Manchester because all other forms of transport had ceased because it was so late. But there has been no offer of compensation.

“I will never let any of my family travel with National Express again.”

Joy Williams, of National Express, said: “We always do everything we can to support customers involved in a rare incidents of this type. We have refunded the cost of the customer’s expenses incurred during the delay, which resulted from the driver supporting the police with their enquiries.”

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

 
Wales Online reports on 26th November 2010...

Driver cut free after coach hits tree

A COACH driver was taken to hospital yesterday after hitting a tree alongside one of Cardiff’s busiest roads. The crash – which also involved a red Toyota Avensis – happened on Caerphilly Road, near the Gabalfa flyover, at 10.15am. It led to the road being shut for more than an hour and a half, with knock-on delays to the A470, or North Road. The impact of the crash saw the National Express coach driver trapped inside his cab. The front of the bus was cut away and the driver freed by emergency teams before he was taken to the University Hospital of Wales.

The single-decker coach was carrying 16 people. It was fully evacuated and two passengers were taken to hospital for treatment for minor injuries. Other passengers took refuge in the nearby Aneurin Bevan pub before catching a replacement coach. Last night, an investigation had been launched to establish what caused the accident.

And residents living nearby praised emergency services for the “major operation” they carried out. Shirley Nixon, who lives on Caerphilly Road and saw the crash’s aftermath, said: “He was trapped and it looked as though they brought him through the front because the fire service completely dismantled the whole of the front of the bus. We were absolutely amazed the tree wasn’t damaged, and was just standing there like before. We were so impressed with the services – everybody was doing their job and it was a major operation, but they got him out.”

Neighbour Neil Tudor said the driver looked to be “passed out” as he was taken to hospital and said chunks of bark were missing from the tree as high as four metres up.

Derek Johnson, who also lives on the road, said: “We were in the back room and there was a bang. Living on a junction, you often have bangs with people running into each other, but this was a bit louder than usual. I walked over there and it looked like the driver’s legs were trapped.”

The driver was said to be recovering last night from injuries not thought to be life-threatening. In a statement, police said: “South Wales Police officers are investigating a road traffic collision which occurred at approximately 10.15am yesterday morning at the Caerphilly Road junction of the Gabalfa interchange in Cardiff. During the incident, a National Express coach collided with a red Toyota motor car. Two people were injured in the collision and have been conveyed to hospital. Their injuries are not thought to be life threatening.”

A spokeswoman for National Express coach operator Veolia Transport said: “We are conducting a full investigation and until that is over, we will not be making a statement.”

Wales Online reports on 25th November 2010...

COACH CRASHES OUTSIDE A470 PUB

Two people have been taken to hospital after a National Express coach collided with a car outside a Cardiff pub. A National Express coach collided with a red Toyota outside the Aneurin Bevan pub in Gabalfa on the A470/Caerphilly Road at 10.15am this morning.



The coach driver is one of the two passangers taken to hospital. 16 passengers were onboard. Caerphilly Road has been closed following the incident but is due to re-open just after 2pm today. A spokeswoman for South Wales Police said: “South Wales Police officers are investigating a road traffic collision which occurred at approximately 10.15am this morning at the Caerphilly Road junction of the Gabalfa Interchange in Cardiff. “Two people have been taken to hospital but their injuries are not thought to be life-threatening.”

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

 
Muddy High Heels writes on 18th October 2010...

The Problem With Coach Travel.

‘First rule of coach travel; Hard kids to the back’

‘Welcome about your National Express service to London’, what they actually mean to say is ‘Welcome to the next four hours of sitting next to a fat person and behind a woman who cannot control her kids, Oh and you’ll be stopping off in places for unnecessary periods of time that you’ve never heard of before’. There is absolutely nothing ‘Express’ about coach travel, you just happen to be fooled by their low fares and promises of just a 3 hour trip, which in reality turns into 6!

Coach travel should be confined to the purposes of school trips, at least you know your not going to be subjected to awkward small talk about the whereabouts of the coach because you know everyone in your class. ‘Sorry do you know where we are?’ ‘Well we’re both sitting on exactly same coach, I’m for one not a SatNav and two does it look like I’m an avid coach traveller so no I don’t know where we are!?’. The coach driver for a school trip also makes the firm decision that no you can’t drink coke the whole way to National Art gallery or eat sweets until some travel sick child pukes them up. Wise move I’d say not suffering another humans tuna sandwich, apparently the same rules don’t apply on a scheduled coach! You just know when someone pulls out their tin foil wrapper that they wouldn’t have considered everyone elses nasal passages in the process of making this stink bomb, it’s always egg or tuna – go and eat that in private! I feel like I should be carrying round Oust or something, inconsiderate idiots.

The non-refundable, non-amenable tickets are ironically called ‘Funfares’, not once have I had such a blast on a coach that I thought, that is and was the most fun I’ve ever had in my life, let me go home and spend another £20 to watch the same person go to the toilet 15 times in one journey. The most disappointing thing is booking a return is probably the only way home, catching a coach home at 9pm at night spending a good 4 hours on it, when in reality you could easily do it in a car in 2 hours. I think I’d rather swallow the small fortune a train would cost so I don’t become a party to the travel circus aboard every National Express coach.

Coach travel as a paying customer compared to the good old school trips are the stuff of nightmares, there’s no banter like buying a packet of wotsits and being chased up and down a moving coach, or the constant chant of ‘Pat get your rat out’ from the back or even the time that we spent 2 hours on the way to a Netball game broken down only to turn back around. Instead we pay to suffer other people’s poor taste in music, appauling time keeping and lack of manners as their bum takes up not only their own seat but half of yours; let’s make this clear I am not a stick! I reckon I could run home quicker than I would do getting that moving bus of hell.

Cambridge News reports on 12th October 2010...

Student’s despair after special treat is ruined
Paul Holland
A student hairdresser was left out of pocket and upset after a special family trip to London was ruined when their coach broke down – and the bus firm initially refused to give a full refund. Donna Hunt, 19, scrimped and saved to treat her mum to a show in the capital but the National Express bus ran into mechanical trouble. An alternative service was arranged but it took two more hours to reach London – meaning they missed the show. Donna, a hairdressing student at Cambridge Regional College, said: “I wanted to treat mum to something to say thanks for all her help and we both wanted to see the Dance Nation show in London. “We were meant to be at Victoria by 5.40pm – giving us well over an hour to get to the show. Instead we got there at 7pm – too late to go and so we just waited at the bus station until 11.30pm to go back home on our return ticket. It was a terrible experience.” To add insult to injury, National Express said it would only be refunding half of their bus ticket prices. Donna said: “Students aren’t rich and I wanted so much to treat Mum.”

When the News contacted National Express the firm said it would launch an urgent inquiry. Within 24 hours they were able to give some good news to Donna and her mum. Not only will they now get all the coach fare cost back, but their tickets to the show have also been paid for by apologetic company bosses. A spokesman for National Express, said: “We have provided Ms Hunt with a full refund for the coach and concert tickets. We would like to apologise for the inconvenience caused. Service breakdowns are rare but we always have a 24-hour support centre available to help customers to reach their destination.”

Friday, October 01, 2010

 
Chris Hargreaves writes on 30th September 2010...(snip)...

An hour later the bus arrived at the bus depot. My wife had bought me a ticket 'online' for the journey back, and so after the obligatory delay, a sumptuous six hours on a coach, the constant smell of ****, no heating, and a back of death, I was back in Devon. What did I learn ?

I learnt that London with no money is an evil place to be. I learnt that staff at British Rail in London can be *******, I learnt that London bus drivers are top people, I learnt that National Express is cheap, but rubbish and a bit smelly.

Mike blogs on 29th September 2010...

As I write this I'm sitting on a National Express coach and there's one of those families on board. You know the ones, they speak loudly and seem like they were first cousins waaaay before they were ever husband and wife. The ones at school who had a reading age of eight... when they were sixteen. They all look remarkably the same, all three generations are going on holiday ...to my town sadly. The granny is busy taking photos out of the coach window on her mobile. The noises are both switched on her phone and on her family. She is busy taking photos of everything, a post box, a phone box, a boat of some description, a lampost with Battersea bridge in the background, Chelsea embankment, The Thames, a tree. Presumably apart from the river she has none of these things in her town? I haven't the heart to tell her that none of the shots will come out because she is using the flash. It wouldn't have been very interesting anyway I'm sure but several shots of just a white square may be of interest to Yoko Ono but not normal people.
Thankfully as an intellectual barrier between myself and the family that smell of cabbage is a couple of ladies who are talking about architecture and the design of some of the buildings we pass. I think it's a good job that dumbness isn't contagious otherwise the whole bus would be infected by the time we reach Hounslow and the two intelligent ladies would be discussing X Factor before we reached Hammersmith. Deciding that they couldn't be heard despite them sitting next to each other they first eat some nice smelling food and then kip. Damn my anti dumbass firewall is down. I put my ipod antidote on and watch as we pass Hammersmith, Chiswick and join the M4 where we pass the world famous Heston Services (fuck I sound like my father who would spend hours talking about the route he would drive between North Norfolk and Bournemouth... with every junction included). I watch as the higgeldy piggeldy rooftops turn into to trees as they flash past. The home counties are a blur and I try to type on my netbook as we bump over the cats eyes into a different lane. My legs are killing me, I have blisters the size of apples on my feet and sweaty socks.

bus worker writes on 21st September 2010...

Busworkers carved out by subcontractor

The RMT union yesterday slammed the treatment of a group of members working for First Devon and Cornwall buses on a sub-contract from National Express. They have effectively been sacked following the re-award of the contract to a different company – Parks of Hamilton – who are refusing to abide by their obligations under the TUPE regulations to re-engage the existing staff. The union is preparing a ballot for industrial action over the issue.
RMT website

RMT the transport union reports on 20th September 2010...

RMT slams outrageous treatment of sacked bus staff on First Devon and Cornwall and prepares to ballot for action

Publication Date: September 20 2010

TRANSPORT UNION RMT today slammed the “appalling and outrageous” treatment of a group of members working for First Devon and Cornwall buses on a sub-contract from National Express who have been effectively sacked following the re-award of the contract to a different company – Parks of Hamilton – who are refusing to abide by their obligations under the law to re-engage the existing staff.

RMT confirmed today that it is preparing a ballot for industrial action on First Devon and Cornwall if the company fail to intervene to ensure that the new company comply with their legal obligations and if First Group fail to protect the interests of their staff by re-engaging the workers caught in the middle of the tendering process.

RMT, National Express and First Devon and Cornwall were all clear during negotiations over the award of the contract to Parks of Hamilton that Transfer of Undertakings (TUPE) regulations would apply and that existing staff would be re-employed. It is Parks of Hamilton who have refused to comply with TUPE but RMT are clear that First Devon Cornwall also have an obligation to ensure that they do and to re-engage any staff who have lost out as a result of the tendering process.

RMT General Secretary Bob Crow said:

“The treatment of our members who have been caught in the middle of this tendering process is a disgrace. RMT was appalled to find out that staff who should have been either re-deployed by First Devon and Cornwall, or re-engaged with their service and employment rights protected by Parks of Hamilton, were effectively sacked on the 6th September. That is an outrageous way to treat loyal staff.

“As well as preparing an industrial action ballot RMT will be pursuing legal cases against both First Devon and Cornwall and Parks of Hamilton and we are also demanding that National Express intervene as the client to clear up the mess that this tendering process has created and ensure that our members’ rights are protected.

“It is important that the seriousness of this situation is recognised by all concerned and that the employers meet their obligations to the workforce.”

ENDS

Joe of Catholic Commentary writes on the 20th September 2010...

There were some difficulties (very diplomatic word) with the coach arrangements for getting the group I was with from East London to Birmingham. Two coaches were needed, not one, and we had to wait for the promised second coach, which in the end didn't appear. So despite getting up at 2 am, getting myself organised to look after the fellow pilgrims in the group I was travelling with, and waiting some three hours beyond the advised pick up time, I didn't get there.

Letters have been written!

I put in writing to my fellow pilgrims (a little prematurely, as it turned out!) the following reflection on what had happened to us:
I am writing to let you know how much I share your deep disappointment that we are not able this morning to be with the Holy Father in Cofton Park. I am very conscious of, and appreciated very much, being able to see in the early hours of this morning your commitment to being at that momentous occasion. I am very aware that, for two of you, this was to be your only “live” participation in the events of the Papal Visit; and that, for one of you, the choice to go to Cofton Park was the fruit of a long standing family devotion to John Henry Newman. I reiterate again how deeply I share your disappointment, which only deepens as I follow the Mass of Beatification on a live webcast.

At a time when following the teaching of Pope Benedict XVI is made the object of ridicule and fierce criticism, the opportunity that I had this morning to meet a group of ordinary people of differing ages willing to go to great lengths to be with the Holy Father has made a great impression on me. This was particularly brought home to me by the enthusiasm of the younger members of our group with their banners and flags; by the thought that a number of us had attended the vigil in Hyde Park or been on the Mall during Saturday evening; and by the member of the group who said to me after we had returned home, “I just wanted to see the Pope!”
As I called in to deliver my letter after evening Mass on Sunday, I met six of our group, including the two teenagers - who by a totally accidental chain of events had spotted the coach that was meant to have picked us up, flagged down the driver, and, by stint of even more phone calls to National Express, ended up being provided with taxis to take them up to Cofton Park. Even that was fraught, as they had to rendezvous with National Express staff at a service station on the way up to get hold of passes to gain access to the coach park. They made it just 10 minutes before Mass started. Getting back was also fraught. They enjoyed a lovely experience of inter-religious dialogue, as their taxi drivers were Muslims and talked about how they had just celebrated the Eid festival at the end of Ramadan - as they drove Catholics to a Papal Mass!

I spent about half an hour with them, enjoying a very enthusiastic exchange of experiences of Catholic life and, I hope, prompting a young lady to start hunting for a way to get herself to Madrid next year!

Milton Keynes Citizen reports on 9th September 2010...

The miserable mystery tour

By Anna Sexton




A teenager would be excused for having a touch of road rage after the coach she took took eight hours to travel 70 miles - an average of 8.75 mph.

Nisha Sivalingam booked a National Express coach to take her from Milton Keynes to the Reading Festival, paying £31 for an open ticket meaning she could pick any time for a Sunday return.

But after getting on board, the 17-year-old quickly realised the coach seemed to heading on a road to nowhere.

The A-level student, from Shenley Church End, said: “I went with six other friends and it was all our fist time to Reading. The simplest way to travelling there, we thought, was by coach.

“So we booked an open return ticket for 1.15pm Thursday, due at Reading at 3.15pm. It was an absolute disaster - the bus arrived in Milton Keynes two hours late, travelled for about an hour then had to ‘legally’ take a 40 minute break.

“We travelled for a further 40 minutes just to find out there had been a sat nav failure which meant we had travelling in completely the wrong direction and had to double back on ourselves.

She kept her dad, Vijay, informed of her progress. He told the Citizen: “She called at about 6pm saying she had only just passed St Albans.”

But when the coach finally arrived, the problems didn’t end. Nisha added: “It was roughly 9pm - it was ridiculous. It had rained that day so we ended up trekking through the muddiest swamp-like tracks in total darkness.

“I was really stressed because we still had to find a campsite, for all seven of us and it was impossible to see more than 10 metres in front and even if we could most campsites were already full.”

They finally settled for an isolated site more than an hour away from the nearest toilet and made the most of the event until the return trip on Sunday.

Nisha said: “With our open ticket National Express failed to disclose that people who booked for a specific time got priority over us. So we didn’t get a place on the coach to Milton Keynes, and in the end had to call a friend’s family for help.”

Joy Williams, a spokesman for National Express, confirmed Nisha’s account, adding: “We sincerely apologise for the severe delay to the service and we will refund the cost of the coach tickets.

“We hope this goes some way to apologise. The coaches to Reading Festival took nearly 5500 cars off the road but traffic is inevitable due to the sheer numbers of people travelling.”

According to Google Maps, the three main routes from Milton Keynes to Reading can involve the M1, M25, M4 and B4009 - or a combination of the roads, with a total distance ranging from 52.8 to 84.1 miles, which should take no more than two hours to complete.

Phil Burrow on Blackpool Aloud writes on 8th September 2010...



LAST YEAR Blackpool council took the decision to eradicate around 100 car parking spaces on Central Car Park in order to create 6 coach drop-off points, complete with small bus shelters and marked bays. At a cost of £150,000, it was hoped that this area would become the drop-off point for the many tourist coaches that come into the town. This, however, isn’t the case and the parking area is used more as a short cut through to Central Drive by cars and white van man.

This is all set to change in early October as National Express are gearing up to use this drop-off point as their Blackpool hub instead of the monstrous Talbot Road Bus Station – pending the placement of a porta-cabin office on the site by the council.

In years gone by, National Express used to drop off at the much neglected Lonsdale Road Coach Park and rented a porta-cabin there. This cabin was the point of call for a multitude of bus companies who now either have no Blackpool representation or are represented at Talbot Road. For reasons unknown, National Express decided to uproot and move to Talbot Road Bus Station and their previous base fell into further decline.

On the face of it, relocating the National Express drop-off point to Central Car Park isn’t a bad idea, but as with most things involving the council, it has not been thought through properly.

The first issue to be raised is that of taxi pickups. There is no taxi rank anywhere near this drop-off point, meaning visitors that need to get somewhere have to go walking off to Bank Hey Street. Blackpool taxi maestro Bill Lewtas is, thankfully, pushing for the council to place a rank there so hopefully they will listen and get it marked out before the coaches start using it.

Secondly there’s nowhere for family to wait to pick travellers up, meaning they will inevitably crawl around the car park until the bus turns up in order to avoid paying.

Thirdly the ongoing issue of New Bonny Street being narrowed to a single lane still causes tail backs on Central Drive and an influx of coaches isn’t going to help this at all.

Maybe it’s time for the council to axe all these periphery bus stations and construct a proper terminus on Central Car Park. It could easily be linked into the tram network if required, and who knows, maybe the council could investigate bringing rail back into town!




Edit: The porta-cabin is now on-site but lacks any National Express livery so far. Reportedly a rank for 4 taxis will be marked out too.

...which generated these comments...

Paul Galley
Posted September 8, 2010 at 11:09 PM
This is an excellent article Phil.

If this doesn’t push the council to build a fully integrated transport interchange then nothing will, at the very least taxi’s must be allowed to pick passengers up and dop them of in this area, so many people including myself in the past have arrived with big bags and needed a taxi to get me to my destination.

This decision now leaves us with Talbot Road Bus station being served by 7 stage coach buses a day, it hasn’t been fit for purpose for years and the case for it’s demolition gets stronger by the day.

Bill Lewtas
Posted September 8, 2010 at 11:56 PM
Thanks for this article Phil. Yes it is true that I have asked the Council to place a taxi rank at this location. What I have offered to do is meet someone and discuss the best site for a taxi rank. And yes it would be good to have this arranged for the date it all starts. My information is that buses will start dropping off there from 4th October. I am waiting.

The situation regarding New Bonny Street is an absolute joke. Tailbacks all the way down Central Drive because the New Bonny Street south bound lane has disappeared and been replaced by a coach pick up point. None of the coach companies are using this so all it gets used for is an illegal car park. And during the Illuminations we especially miss the inside lane on New Bonny Street.

The Council needs to understand that consultation with the taxi trade is vital before they make unilateral decisions where to site taxi ranks. Otherwise money is wasted and we get ranks nobody uses or is able to use.

Two good examples.

The Houndshill Shopping Centre taxi rank on Coronation Street is only ever used by taxi drivers wanting to eat lunch undisturbed.

Or the evening taxi rank on the wrong side of Queen Street outside Nunzios Restaurant. Never been used, never been available for use and is not being been enforced, mainly because it doesn’t even look like a taxi rank.

baldred
Posted September 9, 2010 at 12:01 AM
A porta-cabin is on site now, it’s quite big and appears to be from a housing development show home!

Adam Whittaker
Posted September 9, 2010 at 10:30 AM
Well that’s good news – hopefully it’s aesthetically pleasing and doesn’t looik like it’s come direct from an industrial dock!

baldred
Posted September 9, 2010 at 10:58 AM
Phil appears to have taken a photo and added it to the piece!

Adam Whittaker
Posted September 9, 2010 at 11:03 AM
Cheers Phil. It looks better than I thought, but I hope the ‘Marketing Suite’ livery gets replaced to avoid confusion.
(Don’t want international visitors getting the theasaurus out now do we?)

baldred
Posted September 9, 2010 at 11:04 AM
I imagine it’ll be replaced with National Express signage.

David Palmer
Posted September 9, 2010 at 9:38 AM
New Bonny St has never been the same since they altered it to allow a coach drop of enbayment,which is never used apart from private cars using it as a stop off point,I cannot for the life of me understand the need for this facility when they could drop off on the newly built coach terminus that they built on Central car park,it was better as two lanes as now if you get more than 4 cars waiting to turn right onto the promenade it blocks the whole road, so that cars that are wanting to turn left can not get down the street any more due to the upper part of the street been a single carriageway.

I wish these muppets who create these balls up could spend a month driving a bus or being a delivery driver or a taxi driver for a living,instead of playing with the computer programs that they use to come up with these ideas,they would see how frustrating it is becoming to navigate your way around Blackpool,I pity private motorists who are relying on Sat navs these days to get around Blackpool as the software writers will not be able to keep pace with the amount of road changes.

I know that the council claim they are skint when it comes to sorting out the pothole situation that is causing no end of damage to vehicles,(mind you Peter Cross once said in a meeting I had with him that he likes pot holes as it slows traffic down,I ask myself is he really fit for purpose as I do not think so)and I realise that they get grants to create bicycle lanes and traffic calming measures and safer junctions but this should not be the factor alone for managing the road infrastructure around Blackpool,we saw the other week were a young motorbike rider died because they created a ill thought out design of a crossing at St Chads were the kerb on the Northbound lane of the promenade is raised and juts out two thirds of the carriage way,it has punctured a few front tyres on cars as it is not something you expect to see across the carriage way and caught this young motorbike rider out who according to witnesses hit it which sent him flying into the air and into a oncoming taxi who was travelling South, there was no markings to advise motorists that the kerb did this, following this accident the council quickly put some temporary road signs up offering this advice and these have now been replaced with some up right post now,still not ideal,another ill thought out crossing,just like many of the others that they have created. I have to ask when are the motorist going to get a fairer deal from this council, after all we do actually pay a lot for the privilege of being able to use the roads, and lets face it, there is more people becoming dependant on there cars than ever,due to the poor quality of public transport in the resort. It is about time our councillors stud up and took control of the situation before it is to late for another innocent victim.

David Palmer
Posted September 9, 2010 at 9:38 AM
I have noticed that they are now digging up and creating some new road design on Chapel St,I have been told it is to allow them to put a cycle lane in,lets see if this becomes another balls up when it is finished,like Bloomfield Road,cannot understand why they do not consult with the various motorist groups before spending vast fortunes on these new road designs,at least that way they might get them right first time around, saving us tax payers money into the bargain.

Phil Burrow
Posted September 9, 2010 at 12:15 PM
Part of the problem with this location is the amount of drug addicts that are in the vicinity. Talbot Road Bus Station has the same problem, as does Lonsdale Road Coach Station.

These DANFO toilets are, every morning, all occupied by druggies that have to be kicked out by the cleaners.

What will the National Express travellers arriving on the 6am London bus think when they see this? Similarly, would the 10pm London bus travellers be happy waiting there when everything that is grim emerges on to the streets?

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

 
Suzy Scott writes on 1st September...(snip)...

N is for National Express. Well, my rant from a few months ago on the 787 (ran with one of NX’s own drivers, not a subby) went unanswered. However, on the evening of Wednesday 25th August, we were booked to do the National Express 592 northbound to Dundee (it was a few days before pay, and we’d spent a lot during our holiday, so for dad’s funeral, we decided to go up by NX, and take the train south on Saturday 28th August). That evening, we had a huge list of problems with the journey – a warning buzzer that the drivers were ignoring with their iPods (but we were unable to sleep through), driving for many miles in the rain with no offside windscreen wiper (and swerving from side to side), drivers blocking off the access to the emergency exit by kipping on two rows of seats across the gangway, and a coach change at 3am after the driver managed to break off the windscreen wiper that was defective. As if all that was not enough, the two outgoing drivers at Glasgow referred to us as “two big fat trannies”. Now, I’ve lost weight, but that was clearly lost on them. As if all that were not enough, we then found a slash in the luggage that was not there when we boarded the coach! Complaint going in later this week to NX, Parks of Hamilton (the sub-contractor), as well as a copy to the Clerk to the Traffic Commissioner, more for interest over the legalities rather than the lack of care. Will post if/when we hear any more.

Daily Express reports on 23rd August 2010...

TIMELY ANSWER TO COACH DISPUTE

By Maisha Frost



IT'S said time waits for no man and nor did a National Express coach for passenger Anthony Hunt, who was left behind after the bus he had booked left ahead of schedule.
The 68-year-old arrived at the stop in Dumfries, Scotland, to see his 11.40am return connection home to Manchester disappearing from view eight minutes early, at 11.32 .

When Anthony's game attempt to chase it failed, he was obliged to hop in a taxi to make it back for another appointment.

So on top of his £12 ticket he had to shell out a further £112 for the taxi fare, all of which left him feeling pretty miffed.

He complained to the company, saying he had two independent witnesses to what had happened.

However when National Express did respond it turned down his request for a refund of his taxi fare.

But it was the grounds given that left Anthony sceptical.

He told Crusader: "They now concede the driver did leave early, however he claims he returned to the stop five minutes later and has a tachograph reading to prove that.

"But anyone familiar with Dumfries's one-way system will know it's impossible for a vehicle to have returned in five minutes unless Doctor Who or a vampire were in the driving seat.

"And, as I understand it, tachographs do not record specific locations."

Anthony asked Crusader to look deeper. According to technician Ray Engley of the Road Haulage Association, Anthony is correct.

"Tachographs record time, distance and speed, " he confirmed.

But there were two sides to this journey, as National Express explained when it refunded Anthony's £112.

The driver did indeed return to pick up remaining passengers who were on the reservation list but by then Anthony had got his taxi.

The reason why the coach moved off early was because it was blocking the road and a bus needed to get past. The driver calculated that by the time he returned the rest of the travellers would have arrived.

A National Express spokeswoman added: "The coach was not scheduled to stop at the service station where Mr Hunt tried then to meet it.

"All customers are requested to be at their departure point at least 10 minutes before the scheduled time.

"We operate a 24-hour emergency support line for customers should they experience difficulties while travelling. This number is printed on tickets.

"But after reviewing the incident, as Mr Hunt did not know the coach had returned, we will refund his taxi fare as a goodwill gesture."

Anthony, whose focus had been mainly on the discrepancies, was staggered at the result. "I would have pursued it," he said, "but this is a great outcome that has saved me a lot of time. It's turned out we were both right and I certainly take on board National Express's points."

Peterlee Mail reports on 21st August 2010...

More passengers left in the lurch at new bus interchange

By dominic shaw
FUMING travellers were left in the lurch when a coach failed to arrive at the new Hartlepool transport interchange – the second time in the last week.

A group of passengers arrived at the new £4m interchange at around 8.45 on Thursday morning to wait for the National Express number 426 service to London, which was due to pick them up at around 9.30am. But they were left marooned after the coach didn't show, leaving them all to replan their trips at short notice. As reported in the Mail last week, passengers hoping to board a National Express coach to Leeds were left stranded when that service also failed to turn up.

Maurice Cornish, 63, was one of the people left standing. Due to the no-show he ended up driving the 300-mile trek journey to Brighton on Friday. Maurice, who lives with his wife, June, and two grandchildren, Connor, nine, and 12-year-old Chantell, said: "It was a terrible situation really. "I was supposed to be going to visit my ill sister in Brighton, but because the coach from Hartlepool didn't arrive I would have missed my connection in London. We stood waiting and rang National Express on a number of occasions and we were told the coach had been and picked two people up, but it hadn't. We had been waiting there for a long time. My two grandchildren were already upset about me going away, but now I am going to have to drive all the way to Brighton."

Carolyn Browne was another of the travellers who was left waiting at the interchange. Carolyn, who lives in Sydney in Australia, was in Hartlepool to visit family as part of a summer break in England and was forced to get a train back to London on the Thursday afternoon.
Carolyn, 60, said: "They kept telling us the coach had already been to the interchange, but it hadn't. I was then told I could wait until the Friday to get the next coach or make my way to Stockton, but I ended up having to pay £30 for a train. I don't think I will use National Express any time soon in England."

A spokesperson for National Express said: "We are very sorry that our customers had their travel disrupted. It seems that the driver of the service went to the old coach stop by mistake. We will make sure that all drivers are trained in the new route to prevent this happening again."

Hartlepool Mail reports on 16th August 2010...

Passengers hit out over bus no-show

By Dominic Shaw
TRAVELLERS were left fuming and their plans in tatters after their coach failed to turn up at Hartlepool's new transport interchange.
They then had a three-hour wait at the town's newly-opened terminal. Joan Hall, Graham McSweeney and Elly Hendry along with her daughter arrived at the new interchange at 9am on Friday morning ready to board the 326 National Express service to Leeds. But the group were left fuming as they were still standing waiting at noon, with no sign of the coach.

Mrs Hendry, an assistant manager who lives in the Rossmere area of Hartlepool, said she had phoned National Express throughout the morning and was repeatedly told someone would come out to speak to them. She said: "I rang up the first time and they said the coach had been, which it hadn't. The person I spoke to at National Express said they were going to send someone out to speak to us within 10 minutes but we were there all morning and nobody came. My daughter has a fear of travelling and was anxious all Thursday night. She was sick a few times while we were waiting, she wasn't well at all. I was supposed to be baby-sitting for my newly-born grandson in Liverpool."

Graham McSweeney was due to be meeting a friend in Leicester who was travelling from Nuneaton but had to re-arrange plans after the no-show. The 36-year old, who lives in Perth Street, in Hartlepool, and works at TMD Friction, said: "I had to ring my friend and tell her that I didn't really know what's going on. The whole thing has been a nightmare. This is my day off work and it's just been a waste."

Joan Hall, 70, was due to be meeting her brother in Leeds but he was instead forced to drive to Hartlepool and pick her up. Joan, who lives in Hart Station, said: "It was made clear on our tickets that we would be getting picked up from the new interchange. We had to change all of our plans."

A spokesman for National Express said: "On Wednesday our departure point returned to the Hartlepool Interchange following works on the site and this appears to have caused the incident. We would like to apologise for the inconvenience to the customers and we arranged alternative transport to their destination. We are fully investigating this issue and will be taking measures to prevent this happening again."


Wales Online reports on 6th August 2010...

Good Samaritan killed as she left airport



A Good Samaritan was killed minutes after taking her newly-wed best friend to the airport to go on honeymoon, an inquest heard yesterday.

Mum Melanie Wisden, 34, offered to drive the just-married couple 200 miles to Gatwick for their flight to Tenerife.

But as she left the airport her Ford Ka crashed into a National Express coach and Melanie was crushed to death.

The inquest heard she may have been confused by unclear road signs and the number of different lanes for cars.

Starbucks coffee shop worker Melanie, of Ely, Cardiff, had taken the day off work to drive bride Samantha Macatangay to the airport.

Melanie’s daughter Mia was one of the bridesmaids at the wedding just two days earlier.

Her sister Maxine Wisden, 33, said: “Melanie would do anything for anyone. That’s why she was there, helping a friend by taking her to the airport.

“She was bubbly and affectionate and always had a smile on her face so people remembered her.”

Melanie had only been driving for 10 months when the accident happened at Gatwick’s North Terminal roundabout last September.

West Sussex deputy coroner Christopher Wilkinson told the inquest he would be writing to the Highways Authority asking for a review of the road layout at the tragic spot.

He said: “I do have some concerns in relation to the road layout and position of signs.

“Given the volume of traffic that travels through here every day, there is the potential for drivers to become disorientated.”

A verdict of accidental death was recorded.

When the accident originally happened, her heartbroken family said they initially thought the call from police telling them about the tragedy was a prank call. None of her immediate family knew she had driven to Gatwick.

Maxine said the telephone call from police telling them about the tragedy had sent the family into shock.

“The first thing I thought was it’s not her,” she said. “I went into shock and I didn’t believe it. I thought it was a prank call.”

Mourners at Melanie’s funeral wore bright colours.

Heartbroken mum Valerie, dad Jeff, a driver at RAF St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan, and sisters Maxine, Melissa and Jessica, and brother Mark asked those attending to wear Melanie’s favourite colours, which were red, yellow, white and black, to reflect her bright personality.

And a Facebook group dedicated to her gained more than 700 members in just 24 hours.

Western Mail reports on 6th August 2010...

Mother killed in airport bus crash

A MOTHER was killed minutes after taking her newly-wed best friend to an airport for her honeymoon, an inquest heard yesterday.

Melanie Wisden, 34, had offered to drive the just-married couple 200 miles to Gatwick for their flight to Tenerife.

But as she left the airport her Ford Ka crashed into a National Express coach and Ms Wisden was crushed to death.

The inquest heard she may have been confused by unclear road signs and the number of different lanes for cars.

Ms Wisden, of Ely, Cardiff, had taken the day off work to drive Samantha Macatangay to the airport.

The victim’s daughter Mia, 11, was one of the bridesmaids at the wedding just two days earlier.

Her sister Maxine Wisden, 33, said: “Melanie would do anything for anyone. That’s why she was there, helping a friend.

“She was bubbly and affectionate and always had a smile on her face.”

West Sussex deputy coroner Christopher Wilkinson told the inquest he will be writing to the Highways Authority asking for a review of the road layout at the accident spot.

Bus and Coach by Plum Publishing reports on 5th August 2010...

A remarkable change is taking place at National Express, as Britain’s leading scheduled coach operator embraces telematics as a tool to improve operating efficiency and service quality. There’s much to see in the latest specification Caetano Levantes, 51 of which are on their way to Britain’s motorways. But the real interest lies not in the new black leather Fainsa seats, nor in the wood-effect floor or the improved toilet, wonderful as they no doubt are. The real interest isn’t even the adoption of the Volvo B9R chassis to reduce weight, which is still a hefty 13,570kg. The real interest is the Traffilog.

Now, I can be as underwhelmed as the next person by new high-tech gizmos with quaint names – but technophobes should stick with me, because what NatEx is doing is, quite simply, amazing. I am reminded of the words of writer Arthur C Clarke, penned almost 50 years ago: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” And NatEx has brought together a range of technologies which feature in the new Levantes and will be retrofitted to existing coaches over the coming months.

“Our coach product is a good value business,” says Alex Perry, NatEx operations director. “We needed a good value supplier, not gold-plated technology.”

So, first, a practical benefit of Traffilog. It saves fuel by raising driving standards. On trials covering 12 vehicles, fuel consumption improved by 8 per cent from 8.81 to 9.52mpg. NatEx is aiming for a 5 per cent improvement across the fleet. This aspect of Traffilog is called D-MAS, Driver Manoeuvre Awareness System, and like other driver monitoring systems records harsh acceleration and braking.

It also records G-forces on corners. Coloured lights on the dashboard tell the driver how well he or she is doing, and the data is also relayed to the NatEx control centre and to the contractor providing the coach. The trial saw the number of recorded events – not necessarily serious, but with the potential to affect passenger comfort – reduced from 713 to 418 in two months, with a 90 per cent reduction in harsh braking.

“We’re not challenging the driver with information,” Perry says, “we’re reminding them of something they’re aware of”.

The vehicle tracking system records the coach’s position every 30 seconds, and this has considerable potential in improving the information available to NatEx customers. If they are waiting at a coach station they can know precisely when their coach will arrive. Service controllers can make informed decisions about holding coaches back to await an incoming vehicle carrying passengers making a transfer.

Ultimately passengers will be able to check the timing of their coach using a smartphone application. Perry sees a world where a waiting passenger with a smartphone looks at an on-screen map which shows where he or she is, and where the approaching coach is.

Complaints about coaches being late or not turning up can be settled using the evidence rather than the conflicting testimony of aggrieved passengers and a possibly innocent driver. If the driver goes off route, the system will show it – and it can be configured to highlight prohibited areas in towns and cities where drivers use rat runs to try and avoid congestion, a subject which can bring complaints from local residents. A coach entering such an area will trigger an exception report.

The Traffilog system also monitors the saloon temperature. “Ten per cent of our complaints are about the temperature on vehicles,” says Perry. “The sensor will advise the driver if the temperature is outside the desired range.” It will also check engine idling time.

And on top of all that, working with uTrack, the data can be used to analyse timetables and, where appropriate, revise running times on journeys which are regularly subject to delay. This will produce more realistic timetables and help NatEx improve service punctuality.

The telematics platform adopted by NatEx could be used for electronic ticketing, and that in turn would allow the company to build up profiles of its customers and to offer them tailored travel incentives.

Other developments include the adoption of Alcolock across the fleet. It is currently fitted to around half of the 500 coaches operating on NatEx services. With Alcolock the driver has to blow in to a breathalyser before the ignition will start. Each driver has his or her own mouthpiece, and if the equipment records a positive reading for alcohol a message is transmitted to the NatEx control centre and to the operator’s depot and, of course, the coach won’t start. The Alcolock is activated at an alcohol reading of 19 micrograms per 100ml; significantly lower than the UK legal limit of 35 micrograms.

NatEx ruled out seat-back entertainment on its latest coaches, not only on the grounds of cost and complexity, but on the basis that most customers bring their own – iPod, DVD player, laptop or whatever. A 240v socket is provided for each pair of seats. And not everybody wants to be entertained. “60 to 70 per cent of our customers want to go to sleep,” says Perry.

With rapid advances in technology NatEx is open to future advances. “We need to develop things that we haven’t yet thought of,” Perry concludes.

Oooh Gurl blogs on 4th August 2010...

Being extremely poor and living a fair distance away from my parents, a large portion of my life is spent travelling between London and Leeds via coach. Over the past few years I have arbitrarily decided that National Express are better than Megabus, but I am secretly completely aware that they are essentially exactly the same, and any good or bad experiences are just as likely to happen with either company.

When embarking on one of these said journeys I've realised that a massive checklist pops up in my brain subconsciously - the overall success of the journey depending on the total number of ticks I get. The more I travel, the more factors get added to the list.

First thing's first - is someone sitting in the seat next to you? This is usually met with a giant tick, but on the very rare occasion that it isn't WELL DONE YOU! Things are looking up! This is really a very important factor in how successful your journey will be, because without a complete stranger sitting next to you, you are able to a) relax and b) STRETCH. OUT. You can even put your bag on the seat! Oh God, evidentally it's been a long time since this has happened to me.

Then, there are range of variables that can significantly alter the outcome of your journey. With these, however, no single situation is ever really the ultimate, deciding factor - they are accumulative. For example, someone repeatedly kicking the back of your chair or, in fact interacting with your chair in any way, mainly from behind, is one. I definitely think that the person in front leaning their seat back into your face also falls into this category. People listening to loud music near you. Admittedly one time this happened, and I was so pleased with myself for identifying both the artist AND the track, that I didn't care (RHCP - Scar Tissue) but for the most part it is all diabolical dance trance music - WHY? WHY WOULD YOU LISTEN TO THAT ON A FOUR AND A HALF HOUR COACH JOURNEY?

Okay more minor offences: smelly food, drivers who insist on listening to godawful radio stations, drivers who insist on having excrutiatingly loud, banal conversations with each other, traffic jams, children (this is an entirely separate category to the Ultimate Deciding Factor), children talking, children playing with anything, parents encouraging their children to do anything other than sleep, drivers who insist on being 'hilarious' over the tannoy, PEOPLE WHO REFUSE TO SWITCH THEIR PHONE ON SILENT.

Fuck it. Mobiles can have a whole paragraph. I have never understood this. As soon as you set foot on a coach, turn your phone on silent. Did I mention four and a half hours? The only thing anyone could possibly be doing is reading or sleeping - both of which are heavily interrupted by mobile fucking phones. I am that person. I am that person who is sat directly next to the extremely old person who has clearly never received a phonecall in their ENTIRE EXISTENCE, until that specific moment. I'd say it takes them about half an hour to realise that they are in fact the source of that all too familiar Nokia ringtone, and a further fifteen minutes or so to actually track down its location. No. No. No no no, there should be a rule against this. Why isn't there a rule? There's one for everything else. People who are having text conversations: aren't you EMBARASSED? Don't you HATE YOURSELF? Stop it.

Earlier I mentioned the Ultimate Deciding Factor. I'm referring to it like this because as soon as get on a coach, no, as soon as I book the coach journey this is what I'm thinking about. Crying Baby. As far as I'm concerned, everything could be going swimmingly - no one next to you - No one even in the same half of the entire COACH as you, but if Crying Baby is present, it's all over.

So, here's a rundown of yesterday's coach journey: Show the man the ticket on my mobile, turn round to let the other man put my bag in the bag compartment, turn back around to see original man HILARIOUSLY pocket my phone, har har har, I do a stupid laugh so as to seem less uptight than I really feel, he hands it back and I get on to survey the damage. Brilliant, as far as I can see everyone's sat by themselves next to the window seats - at this point can I just say WHY WOULD YOU SIT AT THE BACK? mentallists, so I ask a woman 'hi, is anyone sitting there?' 'oh, no.. i'm just ...- bullshit about how she's attempting to move her bag bullshit bullshit-' UGH, woman on the other side says I can sit next to her THANK YOU, I scowl at original woman who is now sitting sheepishly with a completely free seat next to her. The journey begins! So far, so good, but why why are we now in Wakefield? What is happening? I have never been here before WHAT no explanation - minus points. We pick up more passengers and oh, oh it was going so well.

An old man gets on, but you know the type - not just an old man, old man bordering tramp *don't sit next to me don't sit next to me don't sit next t-* I feel my entire seat lurch backwards OF COURSE. Of course, he sits behind me, suddenly disregarding his walking stick in favour of MY SEAT. He smells like old marmite. This has become the deciding factor of my journey. Old Marmite Man. He goes to the toilet about seven times in total, each time my seat is used as a lever, and each time I lose several strands of hair. He gets off at Milton Keynes. Bloody Milton Keynes - who thought up That route? We arrive twenty minutes later than expected. I am not impressed. 6/10?

South Woles Guardian reports on 4th August 2010...

'You've walked 520 miles? Another 10 won't hurt!'

AN EXHAUSTED pilgrim from Saron who averaged 27kms a day in an epic 520-mile march across Spain was looking forward to putting his feet up when he arrived back in Swansea.

But footsore Sid Whitworth was forced to hobble the last ten miles home from Llanelli after an over-officious bus driver refused to drop him off at Cross Hands.

"I was pretty miffed to say the least," a haggard-looking Sid, who trudged all night to get home to Saron, told the Guardian.

"I didn’t realise that all National Express tickets have to be pre-booked through the Internet.

"My ticket got me as far as Swansea and from there the bus travelled on to Cross Hands, just a couple of miles from my home.

"The driver me offered me an excess for £20 but I just didn’t have enough money.

"Yes, I am annoyed with National Express – I am annoyed by their inflexibility."

National Express were unavailable for comment.

The Westmorland Gazette reports on 3rd August 2010...

Family stages Kendal bus station protest



A NATIONAL Express coach destined for London was delayed for an hour in Kendal Bus Station when a family staged a sit-in protest.

Dina Barbier and her seven children, aged from two to 18, sat in the luggage compartment of the coach in the Blackhall Road depot after the driver refused to let them on the vehicle.

It is understood the driver would not let the family, from Kingston on Thames, on the coach due to their behaviour on the trip down to Kendal a few days before.

Police began negotiating with the family and during the incident a 17-year-old girl was arrested on suspicion of breaching the peace. Another girl, in her late teens, was arrested on suspicion of assaulting a police officer.

Both were released from police custody that day, with one reported for summons on an assault charge.

A National Express coach spokesperson said: "The police were called for assistance to help our driver after the decision was made some passengers weren't able to travel due to inappropriate behaviour.

“The National Express support centre as a result arranged for onward travel for the family by other means."

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