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Access for all as Virgin Trains and Stagecoach upgrades Milton Keynes-Luton Airport coaches

Press Release   •   Nov 17, 2006 23:00 GMT

Virgin Trains and Stagecoach have relaunched the Milton Keynes to London Luton Airport Virgin Trains ExpressCoach service with a fleet of six coaches which are fully accessible. The coaches are finished in a distinctive Virgin Trains colour scheme and operate hourly, linking Milton Keynes railway station with Luton town centre, Luton railway station and London Luton Airport. Journey time between Milton Keynes and the Airport is around one hour.

Costing over £500,000, the six vehicles have an integral wheelchair lift facility located within the normal entrance area, which is operated by the driver. The Volvo B7R chassis has a Plaxton Profile body with seating for 49 passengers. Other facilities include air conditioning, seatbelts as well as interior and exterior CCTV equipment for passenger safety. The coaches are also environmentally friendly, meeting Euro 3 emissions standards.

Connecting with Virgin’s long-distance Pendolino services from the West Midlands, North West and Cumbria/Scotland at Milton Keynes Central railway station, the ExpressCoach service provides a car, and hassle, free alternative for holidaymakers and business executives heading to Luton Airport. The coaches also connect with the Silverlink County outer suburban rail network from stations in Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire and Hertfordshire.

Virgin West Coast Managing Director Charles Belcher said: “The Milton Keynes-London Luton Airport link is a key part of our integrated transport strategy and encourages people to leave the car at home. With the train and rail-air link they can arrive at the Airport relaxed and without the hassle of finding somewhere to park the car to travel on holiday and business.”

The coaches are operated by Stagecoach from its depot at Bedford and are driven by a dedicated team of drivers, all of whom wear Virgin Trains uniforms and have been trained in customer service excellence by Virgin Trains.

James Freeman, Managing Director, Stagecoach East said: “These coaches are a real boost for the service. Besides being fully accessible they provide the ultimate in comfort and security for the thousands of customers who use the service every year. In the last month the service has clocked up over 600,000 passengers since its launch in 1999 and we now intend to introduce additional journeys during peak weekday periods from mid-January next year.”

Currently, over 146,000 journeys are made on the Luton Airport Coach Link each year, with through tickets available from most staffed rail stations. Over three-quarters of all journeys are made for leisure purposes.

The rail-air link is also available to non-rail users between Milton Keynes, Luton centre and London Luton Airport and tickets can be bought from the driver on the coach.

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