Welcome to the new Van Hool coaches representing an investment of £9 million from The Stagecoach Group.

These coaches are state of the art vehicles and fully comply to the current Euro 5 regulations giving a very "green" coach on this busy service.

Since the introduction of the fleet of M A N / Jonckheere double deck coaches in 1999, it has become the normal practice that every five years a new fleet is placed in service.

When the Neoplans were introduced in the summer of 2004, they represented a significant step forward for the service, bringing more seat (82 seats) and wheelchair accessibility for every coach. During their lifetime serving the Oxford tube, they have been modified to offer Wi-Fi to all customers and being delivered with power points for every pair of seats, gave all the modern enhancements that passengers could ask for. Indeed over the past five years they have become a very familiar sight on the road between Oxford and London and one can hardly fail to see them as they offer an up to every 10 minutes service along that corridor.

Rumours have been rife for many months now regarding their anticipated replacements which would be expected to enter service between June and September of this year. Many questions were asked but lips were sealed and little if any information was available to those asking from those who were thought to be in the know.

Monday 8th June saw the following press release issued by the company and the first coach arrived on Sunday 7th June in the late evening, this was direct from the factory in Belgium. By late last week the first whisperings about the new coaches was getting around, at least with the Oxford company. They were be to a completely new model built by Van Hool, the TD927 Astromega, so far only built for service in the USA where Megabus operate a large fleet on interstate services. There are a number of differences in the coaches built to US specification.



·         26 double-decker coaches ordered for Oxford Tube link to London

·         Cleaner Enhanced Environmental Vehicles deliver low emissions

·         Fully accessible coaches feature Wi-Fi, GPS tracking and CCTV

·         State-of-the-art coaches being manufactured by Van Hool in Belgium 

Stagecoach announced today that it is investing more than £9m in an entire new fleet of vehicles for its Oxford Tube network, the most frequent express coach service in Europe. 

The fleet of 26 new Van Hool Astromega double deck coaches – each costing more than £350,000 – is being built in Belgium.

Oxford Tube runs a 24-hour service every day of the year with coaches running between Oxford and London up to every 10 minutes at peak times. 

The new greener coaches are fitted with DAF EEV (Enhanced Environmental Vehicles) engines that have even lower emissions than those required by the Euro 5 standard coming into force later this year. 

A Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) system uses a constant feed of urea solution to destroy the harmful Nox, delivering a more efficient operation of the engine, reduced diesel consumption and lower running costs. Combined with a passive soot filter, it means the vehicles will be even cleaner than those fitted with compressed natural gas engines. 

Passengers will be able to email and access the internet on the move through the wi-fi systems on the coaches. 

The 87-seat vehicles, which have two staircases, are also equipped with toilets, air conditioning, reclining seats, generous legroom, seatbelts, power points for laptops and mobile phones, GPS tracking, and CCTV for personal security.

Deliveries of the fully wheelchair accessible fleet start at the beginning of July and will be complete by early October.  

Martin Sutton, Managing Director of Stagecoach, said: “These new state-of-the-art coaches will be among the cleanest and greenest on the road in Europe. The Oxford Tube fleet covers 3.4 million miles every year and we want our customers to continue to experience high quality, greener smarter travel. 

This is the third complete fleet replacement for the Oxford Tube we have undertaken in 10 years and it is evidence of our commitment to investing in Europe’s premier express coach service.” 

The Oxford Tube fleet travels the equivalent of nearly three times around the globe every week and has the capacity to carry more than 6,000 passengers a day. 

Oxford Tube services run up to every 10 minutes between Oxford and London – stopping at Lewknor, Hillingdon, Shepherds Bush, Notting Hill, Marble Arch and Victoria. 

A secure e-commerce website,, allows customers to book single, return and period tickets online as well as access timetable and service information.

Oxford Tube also supplies complementary newspapers on its early morning commuter services.

The first fifteen of the new fleet of Van Hool TD927 Astromegas are being given fleet number and registration seen in the table below. Not that the T**UBE cherished registrations are retained and will be applied to the first five of the new coaches. the next four on the build line in a total order for 30 coaches will be for Megabus and the remaining eleven coaches for the tube are expected to be ready for entry into service on 1st September on 59 plates.

50201 T40UBE
50202 T44UBE
50203 T50UBE
50204 T55UBE
50205 T60UBE
50206 OU09FMY
50207 OU09FMZ
50208 OU09FNA
50209 OU09FNC
50210 OU09FND
50211 OU09FNE
50212 OU09FNF
50213 OU09FNG
50214 OU09FNH
50215 OU09FNJ

Note that as with the latest M A N single decks, Oxford registration have been sought for these coaches.

The new fleet for the Oxford tube - Pictureview.

The first one arrives for trials on June 8th 2009

This coach was on Belgian trade plates and was to become 50202, T44UBE.

At Stokenchurch following a photo opportunity on the M40.

Early days as 50202 running on Belgian trade plates leaves Stokenchurch.

The first coach seen on 8th June at Thornhill Park & Ride. M. Crowe.

How does it fit - coming out of Sammy's at VCS, 8th June 2009

Above pictures by M Crowe.

A classic shot I believe, the new coach at Victoria Coach Station, London on the afternoon of 8th June. M Crowe.

Above pictures by M Crowe.

A glimpse of the interior - 63 seats on the upper deck and 24 on the lower making 87 in all.

When carrying a wheelchair the coach has four fewer seats on the lower deck.
Pictures by Malcolm Crowe.

When the coaches arrive in the U.K. from Belgium they go to the Van Hool facility at Wellingborough.

Here we see a number of new coaches prior to delivery to Oxford. Pictures by M. Crowe.

Training on the new coaches took place for three weeks in July.

The first impressions by those crews training in the first week were that they are very nice coaches to drive, the gearbox is much improved on the Neoplans, especially in London's traffic. Inspite the slightly increase length - 0.4m, they handle very well indeed. Reversing off Gloucester Green is much easier since they have a reverse steering rear axle which brings the back round more easily. Indeed manouvering these coaches is somewhat easier than the Neoplans and they provide a nice smooth ride in service.

50203 shows off under Botley Road bridge on the first morning of crew training - only 4 metres high, it goes under with ease. Gavin Francis.

Another shot of 50203, this time reversing off Gloucester Green's bay 3. Gavin Francis.

50203 pauses at High Wycombe during training on Monday 13th August. M Crowe.

Gavin pictured when completing his training on the new coaches.

50212 on training in London and Oxford - Gavin Francis.

Saturday 1st August saw 261 lucky people take a free ride to London on the new coaches
and some children hosted for a day out in London.

To celebrate the introduction of our brand new and rather stylish double-deck coaches, Oxford tube gave away 261 day return tickets to London. They were available on a first come first served basis, and the lucky ticket holders were able to ask for up to 4 seats. 

Coaches left at 9am on 1st August from the coach park next to Oxford Ice Rink, travelling non-stop to London.

Passengers were able to get off at Hillingdon, Shepherd's Bush, Notting Hill, Marble Arch and Victoria and return on any coach throughout the day.

Our pictures below (courtesy Stagecoach in Oxfordshire) show the coaches before departure from Oxford.


Coaches used were 50207, 50208 and 50212 on the free service
with 50205 for the children's trip.

Oxford Tube “thank you” to benefit children in the local community
Merlin’s Magic Wand charity and County Council support
First of £9m wheelchair accessible fleet enters service next week
Luxury vehicles offer free wi-fi and better environmental performance

A group of disadvantaged young people and children, some with disabilities were among the first to ride on a new £9m fleet of luxury coaches for Stagecoach’s Oxford Tube on Saturday (1st August)

The Oxford Tube, the most frequent express coach service in Europe, has teamed up with Oxfordshire County Council and Merlin Entertainments, the company behind some of London’s biggest attractions to give 64 children a special day out in the Capital.

One of the new 87-seat fully accessible coaches took the group to see the Science Museum, before getting free entry to the iconic London Eye and the Sea Life London Aquarium courtesy of Merlin’s Magic Wand children’s charity.

A further 260 lucky competition winners joined them for a free ride into London.

Oxfordshire County Council’s VTalentyear programme, which offers volunteering opportunities for 16 to 25-year-olds in the county, has worked with parents and youth and social work teams to co-ordinate the youngsters for the trip.

Martin Sutton, Managing Director of Stagecoach Oxfordshire, said: “We are delighted to be able to offer this ‘thank-you’ to the local community, which has supported Oxford Tube’s vital link to London over many years.

These deserving local youngsters will be the first to experience luxury travel on our state-of-the-art coaches. These vehicles really are the future of travel, with a range of advanced technological features and environmental performance that put coach travel streets ahead of the car.”

Oxford Tube runs a 24-hour service every day of the year with coaches running between Oxford and London up to every 10 minutes at peak times. Each of the new coaches costs more than £350,000 and passengers can email and access the internet on the move through the built-in wi-fi systems.

The vehicles, which have two staircases, are also equipped with toilets, air conditioning, reclining seats, generous legroom, seatbelts, powerpoints for laptops and mobile phones, GPS tracking, and CCTV for personal security. As well as providing super comfort, the coaches have low emissions engines that make them among the greenest in Europe.

Hilary Birkinshaw, Manager Merlin's Magic Wand Charity, said: "This group of youngsters are exactly the sort of children that Merlin's Magic Wand loves to support. We are thrilled to be able to help with their day out in London and provide them with entry to these fabulous attractions"

Shelley Maxfield, Oxfordshire County Council's VTalentYear Coordinator, said: "Lots of young Oxfordshire people do not get the chance to visit London and its exciting attractions even though it is on their doorstep. The county council is delighted to team up with the Oxford Tube and Merlin's Magic Wand to enable young people to have an action packed and fun filled day in our capital city, something which they would not otherwise been able to do."

First day in service - Monday 3rd August

The 0540 to London departs with coach 50208 operating driven by Roger Nelson - London Controller for the morning. 3rd August 2009.

What's on the rear - 50202, 50203, 50204, 50205, 50209, 50212 and 50215 all by Gavin Francis except 50209 which is by Malcolm Hyland.

50205 arrives at Thornhill from London driven by Gavin Francis. Picture by Peter Edgar.

50208 is seen at Thornhill by Peter Edgar on 3rd August.

50212 is seen in london on the first morning preparing to return to Oxford - 3rd August 2009 Gavin Francis.

50215 is seen in London on its first day in service - 4th August - having operated the 06:00 Express.  Gavin Francis.

The old and the new on 3rd August - Gavin Francis.

Day 3 in service sees these new coaches on diversion, avoiding Bayswater and using a route through Hyde Park.

50211 followed by 50214 enter Hyde Park from Bayswater Road on 5th August - Gavin Francis.

50209 approaches Marble Arch ahing run through the north ride in Hyde Park on 5th August. - Gavin Francis.

50214 rounds Marble Arch to head westbound down Bayswater on 5th August - Gavin Francis.

50206 on Bayswater on 6th August - Gavin Francis.

Update 7th August 2009.

The present fleet (50202-50215) is now settling down to work on the M40 corridor and we await the arrival of 50201,50216-50226 which will be completed by early October.

The first of the main Neoplan fleet, following 50103 which left some weeks ago, left Oxford on Sunday evening, 2nd August, for their journey to Plaxtons at Sheffield. The coaches involved were 50104, 50107, 50111, 50112, 50113, 50117, 50120 and 50124. The last was the one which won coach of year at Duxford 2004.  50119 left Oxford on 7th August for Sheffield having worked that mornings Wantage service, surely a quick departure from regular service.

You can keep up to date with developments in fleet news published on a regular basis.