National Express coach services to be suspended on Sunday

National Express will suspend coach services from midnight on Sunday after government measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus hit demand from travellers.

Like other transport operators, the company has already reduced services and experienced a fall in passenger numbers as people heed government advice to make essential journeys only.

Chris Hardy, the managing director of National Express UK Coach, said: “We kept a limited coach network running to be able to help those individuals with essential travel needs, but it is no longer viable to continue to do this.”

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The company said journeys booked to take place before midnight on Sunday 5 April would go ahead, with the exception of some scheduled to set off on Sunday evening. It did not give a date for services to restart.

Customers have been offered a full refund, or the option of rescheduling their trip for another date within 12 months.

The company said it was speaking to staff who were affected by the move. It has not announced if it plans to use the government’s furlough scheme, which covers 80% of employees’ wages if they are temporarily laid off, to protect staff pay.

Hardy said: “Our drivers, customer service teams, customer contact centre and the wider National Express team have been working incredibly hard to keep our services running safely and we thank them for their efforts.”

He added: “We know this is a worrying time. We take the welfare of our customers and employees extremely seriously and will continue to take guidance from the government to ensure we do everything we sensibly can to keep them safe.”

The Oxford Tube, which runs coach services between Oxford and London, will also stop running at midnight on Sunday. The business, which is operated by the public transport firm Stagecoach, said that despite running a revised timetable the number of people travelling had dropped “significantly”.

Public transport companies across the UK have been reducing or cancelling services as the lockdown on movement has taken effect. Since last week, train companies around have been operating heavily reduced services, cancelling journeys on some lines completely. Last week, the government temporarily scrapped the rail franchise system by offering train operators the chance to transfer “all revenue and cost risk” to the government and be paid a small management fee to continue running services.

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