a report on the latest coaches brought to you by The Oxford-Chiltern-Bus-Page

Monday, August 2nd 2004 dawned somewhat overcast but the sun soon burnt through and all was set for the launch of the long awaited entry into service of a brand new fleet of Neoplan Skyliner double deck coaches representing an investment by The Stagecoach Group of £8 million.

Early stories of these new coaches had been around for many months and trials were made in January of this year with a loaned 13.7 metre example on a wet and cold evening when photography was far from easy.

Neoplan Skyliner DD53BUZ rounds Carfax corner at 1915hrs on 15th January 2004

These trials were watched with interest and one wondered what would happen next.

In April it was rumoured amongst the enthusiasts that a fleet of these very large coaches had been ordered but still Stagecoach remained tight lipped about their plans. Later that month your Editor heard that the Neoplan factory at Stuttgart in Germany was busy with a large order for Stagecoach and quite by chance in May, I happened to be in Stuttgart on business and passed by the factory.


Indeed there were several coaches in build for Stagecoach and one was even parked outside the factory and a photo was taken. I felt it inappropriate to include this on my weekly News Page and it was not until mid June that I recieved some photos from Stagecoach which could be published on my page. These pictures were of further trials at Gloucester Green with the first eamples of the new coaches to reach the UK.

Various stories then emanated from the industry in Oxford about the suitability of the coaches in Gloucester Green but by late July all problems had been resolved and it would be possible to start services on Monday August 2nd.

Some adjustments had to made to services and stands in Gloucester Green and Bicester routes were transferred to pick up from their stop outside the Randolph Hotel from Monday 2nd. This released stands 2,3 and 4 for use by the new Skyliners although in fact there only two stands out of three to give more room for loading and reversing. Set down in Oxford at the final stop is now in New Road and the coaches then proceed to Oxpens for their layover before returning to Gloucester Green for the start of their London bound service.

Stagecoach made the following Press Release regarding the new operation which is included below for the record.


All systems go for new £8m luxury coach fleet

28 July 2004

  • Oxford Tube makes UK’s biggest investment in a single route
  • State-of-the-art vehicles major boost for disabled passengers
  • Online booking with launch of new secure e-commerce website

A new £8million fleet of luxury state-of-the-art double-decker coaches is set to run from Oxford to London from Monday (2 August 2004), it was announced today.

Oxford Tube, which runs a 24-hour service every day of the year, is making what is believed to be the UK’s biggest investment in new vehicles on a single route with the introduction of 25 new coaches.

The introduction of the new vehicles on Europe’s most frequent express service is a major boost for wheelchair users, making them the only fleet of disability accessible coaches in the city.

A new secure e-commerce website, http://www.oxfordtube.com, is also being launched from Monday, allowing customers to book single, return and period tickets online as well as access timetable and service information.

The fully low-floor air-conditioned vehicles feature reclining seats, more legroom, seatbelts, power points for laptops and mobile phones, and toilets. They are also equipped with CCTV technology for additional passenger security.

Oxford Tube also confirmed today that the new vehicles have been given the go-ahead to use the main Gloucester Green Bus Station from Monday when the first of the coaches will start running.

Martin Sutton, Managing Director of Stagecoach in Oxfordshire, said: “We believe this investment is the biggest one-off improvement in a single bus route anywhere in the UK. We are setting the standard for other bus operators and it shows Oxford is leading the way in high-quality public transport.

“Stagecoach has invested millions of pounds in accessible buses with wheelchair facilities on all our main services in Oxford. Now our luxury Oxford Tube service is set to get state-of-the-art coaches that are among the safest and most disability-friendly in the country.

“To match the investment in new coaches, we are also launching a new hi-tech website, which will give customers the added convenience of being able to book tickets from the comfort of their home or office.

“We are delighted our passengers will be able to catch the new vehicles from exactly the same familiar location in Gloucester Green Bus Station and we’re looking forward to launching our new improved coaches on Monday.”

The new 13.7metre Oxford Tube vehicles, manufactured by Neoplan in Germany, are replacing vehicles that are only five years old.

Each of the new coaches has 81 seats, instead of the existing 68, which means more than 6,000 passengers a day can travel on the service to London.

Oxford Tube runs services round the clock and up to every 10 minutes at peak times.


  • Oxford Tube was launched in 1987 with a 30-minute frequency and since 1993 has run 24-hours-a-day. It runs every day of the year, including Christmas Day.
  • The service runs up to every 10 minutes between Oxford and London – stopping at Lewknor, Hillingdon, Shepherds Bush, Notting Hill, Marble Arch and Victoria.
  • Annual passenger volumes have grown from 230,000 in 1987 to more than 1.6million today.
  • On average a passenger boards the Oxford Tube every 20 seconds.
  • The Oxford Tube fleet of coaches travels the equivalent of nearly three times around the globe every week!


Chris Maxfield sent this picture of 50105 backing off at Gloucester Green on 2/8/04

Interior shots showing the size and facilities on these new Skyliner 81 seat coaches
including the wheel chair location.

Ben Morroll was also busy on Monday with this picture of the rears of two Skyliners.

In better weather 50116 rounds Carfax heading for London. Photo by Ben Morrell.

Chris Maxfield caught this shot of an early Tube departure on Monday 2nd August.

50104 heads into Oxford caught by Chris Maxfield's camera.

The new Tubes caught in London by Chirs Maxfield

Several messages reached me about the new coaches including a fleet list from Rob Williams which makes for interesting reading. Rob writes "Full details for the Neoplans are as follows: 

50101 KP04GJE WAGPA8ZZ743000089 122916
50102 KP04GJF WAGPA8ZZ743000090 122917
50103 KP04GJG WAGPA8ZZ743000091 122918
50104 KP04GJJ WAGPA8ZZ743000097 122919
50105 KP04GJK WAGPA8ZZ743000098 122920
50106 KP04GJU WAGPA8ZZ743000100 122921
50107 KP04GJV WAGPA8ZZ743000101 122922
50108 KP04GJX WAGPA8ZZ743000106 122923
50109 KP04GJY WAGPA8ZZ743000107 122924
50110 KP04GJZ WAGPA8ZZ743000108 122925
50111 KP04GKA WAGPA8ZZ743000109 122926
50112 KP04GKC WAGPA8ZZ743000120 122927
50113 KP04GKD WAGPA8ZZ743000121 122928
50114 KP04GKE WAGPA8ZZ743000123 122929
50115 KP04GKF WAGPA8ZZ743000124 122930
50116 KP04GKG WAGPA8ZZ743000126 122931
50117 KP04GKJ WAGPA8ZZ743000127 122932
50118 KP04GKK WAGPA8ZZ743000133 122933
50119 KP04GKL WAGPA8ZZ743000134 122934
50120 KP04GKN WAGPA8ZZ743000137 122935
50121 T40UBE WAGPA8ZZ743000138 122936
50122 T44UBE WAGPA8ZZ743000139 122937
50123 T50UBE WAGPA8ZZ743000140 122938
50124 T55UBE WAGPA8ZZ743000141 122939
50125 T60UBE WAGPA8ZZ743000142 122940

A number were delivered to Oxford with bright orange numbers in the bottom left of the front windscreen. These have been removed, but were the build numbers and match the last two digits of the fleet number. 

I've not confirmed any of the chassis/body numbers visually. 

The first 18 are currently in Oxford, 17 of which appear to have seen service at some point today. The rest will arrive in the next week or two."

Thanks to Rob for that and it is interesting to see which coaches will carry the T**UBE registrations.

Ben Morroll reported seeing the following new coaches in service on August 2nd.

50101    KP 04 GJE
50104    KP 04 GJJ
50105    KP 04 GJK
50106    KP 04 GJU
50108    KP 04 GJX
50109    KP 04 GJY
50111    KP 04 GKA
50113    KP 04 GKD
50114    KP 04 GKE
50116    KP 04 GKG
50117    KP 04 GKJ
50118    KP 04 GKK

Another regular correspondent wrote the following regarding a journey from Lewknor Turn to London saying "As you know the new Tubes started this morning and as today was a rest day for me there was only one thing to do. Get down to Lewkner Turn about 8.30 and have a sample ride into London.

50103 turned up. I intended photgraphing the 1st one and then get on the second one but I found after photgraphing it I still had time to get on board. After showing my pass I was told all passengers were being offered breakfast today which was fruit juice and Danish pastry. Things were looking up. There were only 4 of us downstairs and all apppreciated the food and drink. I have been involved in this type of promotion before and the only thanks you get is to have a floor covered in empty cartons and half-eaten food. I am pleased to say everybody used the bin bags supplied and there was no mess.

There are a lot more seats downstairs than on the M A N Tubes with 2 pairs of facing seats with tables in between. The front nearside pair of seats also has a table in front of them. On the old Tubes each seat had a fold down tray but the new ones don't have these. They do however have a 3-pin 240v power point for each pair of seats. Each seat also has push down foot rests.

Along with the usual digital clock and WC availability lights there is also a STOPPING sign which is probably not necessary. There is also a STOPPING sign upstairs.

Between the last row of nearside seats and the rear door is the Wheelchair area as wheelchair access is via the rear door. There are also 2 pop-up seats in the wheelchair area which don't look very inviting for a 2 hour trip from Oxford.
On joining the motorway from the slip road, the coach was able to go into Lane 2 immediately showing the power that was available still taking into account it was only lightly loaded.

Some of the passengers still chose to leave by the front door although in Central London most left by the rear door, particularly those from upstairs.

I was surprised to find that the driver has no view of upstairs (no periscope or camera) which will mean he will find it difficult to tell if it is full when loading and if passengers are still upstairs waiting to come down at stops. I was told by the driver that new software was in production to give a view.

Overall though an excellent vehicle which I think Stagecoach can be proud of and hopefully will draw many customers.

I have attached 3 photos, 2 at Lewknor for local interest and 1 in Buckingham Palace Road to show the new an old together.


Still out today I saw 50044, 50042, 50048 and 50035.

Coming through Notting Hill Ollympian 16614 went the other way on Megabus duties."

Thanks for that. So much reported and indeed many photos. I could not use all those received as I do have a limit to my server space.

For further developments please refer to my weekly News Page