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xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx September 2009
Double Quick National Express Deckers
National Express Deckers

The regular appearance of double deckers on National Express services finished earlier this year when Trathens replaced their remaining 12 Neoplans with Plaxton bodied Volvos (left).   This brought to an end 25 years of double deck operation that had originally been motivated by the desire to eliminate expensive duplication on busy routes.   Their heyday was undoubtedly the mid 1980's when over 100 vehicles, predominantly MCW Metroliners (below) were deployed.     This article celebrates those heady days of big queues and big coaches.


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  The majority of National Express deckers were to be found on Rapide routes.   These services had a host/hostess who served drinks and snacks and mainly featured London as their destination.   These Metroliners had two doors on the nearside as opposed to one for normal express operation.


  Cross Country    
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  Some vehicles were employed on cross country routes such as the unusual Bristol to Reading service (left) and the trunk Liverpool - Manchester - Leeds/Newcastle service (middle and right).

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In addition to Metroliners, National Express also operated some Neoplans (left) and Plaxton bodied Mercedes (above).   Some Metroliners appeared in non-National Express livery such as this North Devon example on Expressway service from Bristol to Barnstaple (middle) and Shamrock and Rambler named their's (right) as was the tradition at the time in that fleet.
  Photo Facts (Anti-clockwise from Top Right)
  • Two Metroliners heading for London on the M4 motorway in August 1986
  • Trathens LSK825, a Neoplan, in Reading on its way from Torquay to London in August 2008.   Trathens were a great supporter of the Neoplan and never operated any Metroliners.
  • Trathens last Neoplans were replaced by a batch of Plaxton bodied Volvos.   LSK506, one of the batch of 12, is seen in Carlisle on the 538 service from Aberdeen to Carlisle in April 2009.   Trathens vehicles operate a complex series of inter-working National Express diagrams that includes London to Torquay, London to Plymouth/Penzance, London to Manchester and Manchester to Aberdeen.
  • Wessex 222 (B222VHW) in Birmingham in August 1991.   Wessex Metroliners often used to appear on cross-country National Express from the West Country to the North East.
  • Western National 1416 (C675GRL), a Rapide version of the Metroliner, in Victoria Coach Station, London in July 1986.
  • A few operators only took a handful of Metroliners.   One such was Midland Red North who only had one example- 1521 (C521WBF) - seen in Victoria Coach Station in July 1986.
  • Western National 1403 (A758VAF) in Bristol in August 1987 on the lengthy Penzance to Glasgow Rapide service.
  • Devon General 1401 (A941MDV), a smart Metroliner complete with wheel trims, leaving Exeter bus station in May 1984 on the Rapide service to London.
  • Another operator who only had a handful of Metroliners was North Devon.   Their 1414 (B337WJF) is seen in Barnstaple bus station in May 1985.
  • United had a large number of Metroliners for their North East to London Rapide services.   Their 153 (A115KBA) which started life with Ribble is seen in Newcastle Gallowgate coach station in July 1984 about to depart for London.
  • National Express operated some weird and wonderful routes during their heyday in the 1980's.   Here Wessex 223 (B223VHW) is seen in dismal Reading bus station on a dismal evening in August 1986 having arrived from Bristol.
  • One of the main cross country services operated by National Express is the route from Leeds/Newcastle to Manchester and Liverpool.   West Yorkshire 2010 (C759CWX) is seen in Manchester on a perishing cold day in December 1987 heading for Leeds.
  • On the same day but heading in the opposite direction to Liverpool is East Yorkshire 18 (C118FKH).
  • A rather unusual example of a Neoplan from an operator other than Trathens is this example from Western National - 1401 (A214BOD) - seen in Victoria Coach Station in June 1988.
  • A couple of National Bus Company Metroliners were painted in non-standard livery such as North Devon 1417 (C647FTT) which is looks resplendent in Expressway livery in Bristol in August 1986.
  • Not all Mercedes vehicles received Neoplan bodies.   Unusually a few were bodied by Plaxton (strange but true), such as Ribble 121 (A121MBA) seen in on a dank evening in Digbeth Coach Station, Birmingham in January 1986.
  • Shamrock and Rambler had a vast number of Metroliners for its South Coast to London services.   They were all named such as 112 (A112KFX) - Mauretania - seen in Southampton coach station in July 1987.

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