Stagecoach reveals interest in National Express
In a statement by Stagecoach to the Stock Exchange on 27th
July, revealed it is “considering its options” in relation to
National Express Group (NEG).
The options appear to be the purchase of parts of the business
that the Cosmen family doesn’t want - possibly the USA school
bus and UK bus operations - or if the Consortium’s bid fails,
all of NEG.
Stagecoach confirms it is in “exclusive discussions” with the
Consortium – which comprises CVC Capital Partners and the Cosmen
family - regarding the “possible acquisition by Stagecoach of
certain businesses and assets of NEG in the event that the
Consortium acquires NEG.”
It adds that “in addition to its discussions with the
Consortium, Stagecoach will continue to consider all other
options in relation to NEG.”
Last week the Consortium revealed that it had made a bid for
NEG, which is though to be worth up to £600m.
Analysts said Stagecoach is most likely interested National
Express's UK bus and coach services, and possibly the group's
school bus operations in the US.
It is thought that Stagecoach would have to do a share issue to
complete any deal. One analyst said: "It is very difficult to
fund anything with debt alone in the current market conditions
and also inadvisable. It puts the balance sheet under stress.
That is how National Express got into trouble, so you don't
really want to repeat that.
"There has been a lot of equity issuance in the past six months.
The market is no longer averse to companies issuing equity as it
might have been a year or two ago. It would be advisable for
[Stagecoach] to maintain a relatively strong balance sheet."
It is thought that the cost of National Express' UK bus and
coach services could run into "several hundreds of millions".
National Express reported operating profits of £67m from the
combined units last year.
Stagecoach said in a statement that it would "continue to
consider all other options in relation to National Express".
Plans for a coach & bus interchange at Handy Cross
THE athletics track at Wycombe Sports Centre is to move to a
secondary school to make way for a bus interchange.
Councillors have agreed to move the track four miles to Sir
William Ramsay School, Hazlemere to help finance a re-build of
the sports centre at Handy Cross.
The plan will need permission from Wycombe District Council,
which owns the sports centre on Marlow Hill.
The interchange will include national coach services and a park
a ride facility, re-located from nearby Cressex. WDC will spend
£50,000 to complete the project.
Councillor Katrina Wood, WDC cabinet member for younger and
older people, said: “I am delighted that this decision has been
“With proposals to install a new regional coachway at the Handy
Cross site it was imperative that a decision was made about the
relocation of the track in order to prevent this project being
A public consultation will take place later in the summer,
including an exhibition.
Bucks County Council vision for Handy Cross
Regional coachway and Park & Ride, High Wycombe
Since the concept of improved coach connections in the Thames
Valley was first identified by Central Government in 2002,
Buckinghamshire County Council and Wycombe District Council have
had an aspiration to develop a regional coachway and park and
ride facility at Handy Cross, High Wycombe.
A coachway is defined as a coach station built adjacent to a
motorway interchange to allow regional coach services to serve
the local area while allowing the integration of local feeder
services serving the adjoining urban and rural areas. This will
enable residents of the area to have access to existing regional
coach services and also to potential new services. It is our
aspiration that the coachway facility will enable local
residents to access a regional coach network, with services to
Oxford and London, to the Thames Valley and potentially north of
High Wycombe. Access to key facilities such as airports is also
expected to be improved.
Within High Wycombe an interim Park & Ride was established at
Cressex Island, Junction 4, M40 in September 2005. It is
anticipated that once the coachway is opened the interim Park &
Ride will relocate to the Coachway site to enable the
integration of the two facilities. The location of the Park &
Ride on the Handy Cross site also helps support the development
of the vision for a cross-town north-south Park & Ride bus link.
It is anticipated that the scheme could be constructed as early
as 2011/12, although this would be dependent on success with
various statutory processes for planning and funding.
It is anticipated that the coachway and park & ride facility
will offer the following facilities:
High quality interchange for regional and long-distance coaches
Re-location of existing local Park & Ride service to site to
allow for integration of facilities
Interchange facilities for local bus services, cycling and
A prioritised access /egress point for buses and coaches into
the site to allow for quick and easy pick ups/drop offs
High quality waiting facilities for passengers
Background to the Scheme
Various studies and strategies have been undertaken in the past
five years to review and analyse current accessibility problems
and to put forward possible opportunities and solutions to these
Studies have included:
The ORBIT Study (2002)
Thames Valley Multi Modal Study (2003)
Express Bus and Coach Study (2003)
Thames Valley Express Coaches - Analysis of Proposed Coach
The Regional Context
The South East Regional Assembly (SEERA) are currently
developing the South East Plan, which aims to set out the vision
for the future of the South East region to 2026, outlining the
response to challenges facing the region such as housing, the
economy, transport and protecting the environment.
The updated draft South East Plan (2006) identifies High Wycombe
as a regional hub, including regional spokes to the east
(London), west (Oxford) and the north (Aylesbury, Milton
Keynes). Following the Examination in Public on the draft South
East Plan held in 2007, the Panel Report recommended the
inclusion of a spoke from High Wycombe to the Thames Valley at
Hubs are be defined as settlements where the provision of (or
potential to provide) a range of multi-modal transport services
supports the concentration of land uses and economic activity in
a suitable manner. More particularly, regional hubs should be
the focus for development and investment in the transport system
that leads to an increase in the overall level of accessibility
by all modes between regional, sub-regional and local hubs along
transport spokes. The transport corridors between regional hubs
and sub-regional hubs and links to key destinations and growth
areas outside the sub-region were also seen as a main focus for
The RTS recognises that the coach network plays a distinctive
role in the South East with a current focus on Heathrow and
Gatwick Airports and commuter services to/from London. The
development of scheduled coach and express bus services along
spokes and inter-regional corridors are sought along with
associated interchange facilities and rail services to provide
better and intra-regional connections. The development of high
quality interchange facilities within regional hubs are seen as
a key priority. Likely locations include rail based parkway
stations or inter urban bus and coach interchange points close
to motorways. The RTS makes reference to broad locations arising
from findings of the multi-modal studies, including M4 junction
11 south of Reading and M40 junction at Handy Cross, High
Domestic Driving Hours Rules to be reviewed
The Government has launched a review of the UK Domestic Hours
rules, which apply to buses on regular routes up to 50km
Making the announcement to the House of Commons recently,
Transport Minister Paul Clark revealed that his consultation
document seeks views on the current rules and the government is
“now reviewing these rules.” As part of this process, it “needs
to better understand the views and experiences of those that are
affected by them in their working lives.”
He says that although the consultation document “proposes no
legislative changes at this stage,” the responses received will
“inform the initial consideration of potential policy options,”
which will then be the subject of further consultation.
Given previous statements by bus drivers’ unions, it seems
likely that they will press for shorter hours, reduced total
driving time and longer breaks.
TRANSFORM OXFORD: All change on the buses in Queen Street
(with thanks to The Oxford Mail.)
New bus stop locations in Oxford - eff 20th July 2009
The first phase of plans to pedestrianise Oxford city centre has
been met with a mixed reaction from shoppers.
County Hall’s decision to remove all bus stops from Queen Street
means thousands of passengers will have to get used to new stops
in the city centre.
However, the changes to Queen Street were broadly welcomed by
the majority of visitors to the city yesterday.
Mick Saville, 65, a regular bus user from Wolvercote, said: “I
think it’s great to get rid of the buses out of the city centre.
“It’s been like walking through a big bus garage on Queen Street
for too long.
“It’s nice walking down it without having to look over your
shoulder the whole time.
“People complain they’ve got to walk up another road, but they
should stop grumbling, it’s good to get exercise.”
Tom McTaggart, 72, of St Thomas’ Street, was out shopping with
his wife, Margaret, 69.
He said: “You can see the difference and now you can walk on the
pavement without getting stuck behind people queuing up for the
buses. It’s definitely a big improvement, there’s a lot less
buses going along and it’s less congested.
“I think it will improve trade at the shops in Queen Street now
as people can stop and stand around and have a proper look in
the shop windows.
“It feels like the space has been brought back into use for
The £985,000 first phase of Transform Oxford has seen 24 bus
stops relocated, meaning changes for passengers on 57 routes.
Despite stops being removed from Queen Street, buses are still
driving along the road on city services, but County Hall claims
the number of buses using it will be cut by a third. Council
officers were in the city yesterday to help passengers with the
However, some shoppers spoke out against the plans and again
voiced concerns that the elderly and people with mobility
problems will struggle to walk longer distances to bus stops.
Cat Hall, 47, from Barton said: “If the buses are still coming
up here, they should be stopping for old people. It’s wrong,
this is putting too many people out. It’s too much confusion for
too little benefit.”
Shirley Kelly, 74, from Bicester, said: “They don’t think about
“The buses are still flaming well driving up here. It’s
ridiculous. Some people will really struggle.”
Now that seven bus stops have been removed from Queen Street a
new paving scheme will be laid and finished by the autumn.
In future years the council intends to fully pedestrianise
George Street, Magdalen Street and Queen Street.
Pictureview by Gavin Francis & Richard Sharman
Again a picture of Queen St with only one bus in sight.
The Barton services now load in Castle Street and then run
non-stop through Queen St.
The Blackbird Leys services pick up in Castle St and then St
Aldates as seen above. Gavin Francis.
Rose Hill services pick up in Bonn Square - Gavin Francis.
Park & Ride service 400 now runs via Castle St and St Aldates on
its Thornhill bound services. Gavin Francis.
Buses on layover at City Centre now have additional facilities
in Norfolk Street. Gavin Francis.
Richard Sharman was in town early on Monday morning and
caught Queen St without a bus in sight,
his second picture shows the two Blackbird Leys services now
departing from St Aldates
and finally his third picture shows the City Councils
information point at Carfax to help intending bus users.
Park & Ride
services 700 & 800 - by Mike Bennett
The intention of my visit to Oxford on Tuesday 14th July was to
photograph the extended Park & Ride service 700 and to see the
new service 800, both operated by RH Transport Services. I
partially managed this and my efforts are attached, including
photographs of 4 of the double deckers on the 700 - but I ran
out of time to get down to the Nuffield Orthopaedic and
Churchill Hospitals which it now serves. However, I came down
to Oxford on Thursday 23rd and took a few more photos.
I started on the 14th by using the 500 P&R service from Magdalen
St, on OBC 902 to Water Eaton, and whilst there I took several
photos. RH 806, one of the newly acquired Tridents with Plaxton
President bodies originally PDL17 with Go-Ahead London, came in
from Kidlington and posed nicely for my camera, before
continuing to JRH. I took the opportunity to shoot it with the
OBC example on which I had just arrived. Later OBC 633 - Volvo
B10B / Plaxton Verde came into the bus station on driver
training duty, showing off its QBuster livery.
(RHTS 806) & (RHTS 806 + OBC 902 together) & (OBC 903) &
(OBC 633 QBuster) , all at Water Eaton P&R
It was then time to catch RH 801, a DAF / Optare Spectra, on
service 700 to the John Radcliffe Hospital, alighting at the
West Wing, to photograph some of the services which serve that
hospital. This included RH Solo 410 on the new service 800
linking the JRH with the Pear Tree P&R site, and RH 805 on the
700. Also OBC Citaro 859 on the X13, and Stagecoach MAN 22053
on the 14A.
(RH 410) & (RH 805) & (OBC 859) & (StOx 22053) , all at
the JRH West Wing
I walked up the hill to the JRH Main Entrance bus stops to find
RH 801 coming back from the Churchill Hospital, and new RH 808
on its way to the Churchill. I then jumped on a Stagecoach No
10 to Headington Shops in time to photograph RH 808 coming back
from the Churchill.
(RH 801) & (RH 808) , both at JRH Main Entrance & (RH 808)
at Headington Shops
It was now 16:35 and time to head back into the city centre.
202, one of the new OBC Brookes buses pulled up, so that was my
mount for this journey, alighting near Carfax, and waiting long
enough for me to get another photo.
(OBC-Brookes 202) at High Street - Carfax
On Thursday 23rd July I arrived in Oxford at 13:30 and quickly
found my way to the Pear Tree P&R site on OBC 110, by way of
service 300 from Magdalen Street. Here I soon saw RH Transport
Solo 411, and rode on it through Summertown to JRH West Wing.
(RH 411) & (OBC 110), both at Pear Tree P&R
Having taken a few photos I jumped on RH Transport's "new"
Trident / Plaxton President 808, and went right through to the
Churchill Hospital, managing a photo as it left the site. One
diagram for the route 700 was being operated by a single decker,
and Solo 410 turned up.
(RH 804) at JRH West Wing & (RH 808) & (RH 410), at Churchill
I rode on 410 round to the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre, where I
took several photos, including RH 401 on route 600 which links
the Thornhill P&R site to the Churchill Hospital, via the
Nuffield Orthopaedic. It is half hourly now so needs only one
I did not recognise the hospital at all, even though I had been
a patient there a while ago, well 1954 to be exact. It was now
time to take a route 700 bus back towards Summertown Shops, and
RH Trident 806 turned up, so I jumped on for the ride.
(RH 401), at Nuffield Orthopaedic
Summertown is very busy so soon I had more photos, this time RH
808 & 410, both heading south on a another trip back to the 3
(RH 808) & (RH 410), both at Summertown Shops.
One last journey before getting the 66 back to Watchfield, and
that was on OBC 903 to Magdalen Street East. A quick walk up
Cornmarket to see the changes to the bus stops in Queen Street
and I was just in time to see OBC Brookes 204 come out of said
street, followed a while later by an Arriva route 280 bus. The
first I can understand, but the 280? Incidentally, OBC 204
was showing service U1 Wheatley Campus on its indicator.
All 4 photos I took showed nothing. This can be another
difficult batch to photograph!
(OBC Brookes 204), in Queen Street.