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March 2001
National Express Rapide Retrospective
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Trathens F999HGE in Wolverhampton in June 1993.
Rapide - No more crisps and teas
Forever remembered in the The Divine Comedy record "National Express", Rapide and its jolly hostesses have come to the end of the road.   Started in response to non-stop services to Cornwall by Trathens in 1982, Rapide provided levels of comfort and speed previously unknown to coach travellers in the UK.   Vehicles were equipped with fewer seats, toilets and galleys for the preparation of food.   Routes tended to start or terminate in London, although a clutch of cross country and cross border services also existed.   Latterly services were either downgraded to National Express standard or re-branded in the 7xx series which provided similar facilities.   Rapide names finally disappeared in 2000 with the introduction of, although a handful of services remain with limited refreshment facilities.
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Trathens ADV160Y performing Rapide work at Victoria Coach Station in September 1982.   Their original service had triggered the birth of Rapide. The first vehicles built to a Rapide specification were ten Dennis Falcons with Duple bodies.   Western National AOD646Y is seen at the NEC Motor Show in October 1982.
Apparently a normal Expressliner 2, South Wales 113 (N113VWN) is in fact a Dennis Javelin (rather than the more usual Volvo B10M).   It is seen here departing Haverfordwest for London in June 1997.  This journey takes over seven hours to complete. rapide-norwich.JPG (43519 bytes) rapide-stockport.JPG (52922 bytes)
rapide-logo.JPG (50335 bytes) National Express flirted with MCW Metroliners for an unhealthy length of time.  Ambassador Travel C916BPW is seen at Norwich on the (599) from London to Great Yarmouth in September 1986. Trathens' Neoplan H203 AOD  departs Stockport bus station for London on the (540) service in April 1996.   Trathens now operate exclusively Van Hool vehicles.
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Scottish Citylink vehicles worked cross-border Rapide services until the big fall-out with National Express in 1989.   Clydeside 196 (B196CGA) leaves Bristol on the bottom-numbing (547) from Penzance to Glasgow in August 1986. Crosville Bova CBD62 (B62DMB) at Chorlton St, Manchester on the (580) Liverpool to Newcastle service in October 1989.   Most Rapide routes centred on London, but there were a handful of cross country ones such as this. London Transport WLT702 and Central Coachways K3CEN on the (520) to Birmingham at Victoria Coach Station, London in May 1993.   The Londonliner service had operated in competition with National Express until it was absorbed into the network.
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