Bus Éireann boosts Expressway

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60 new high-spec coaches for delivery over the next 12 months will transform inter-city network

Irish state-owned operator Bus Éireann has unveiled the first part of its investment in 60 new coaches for its high-profile Expressway inter-city network.

Over €9.2m has been invested in the 20 new Irizar i6-bodied Scania K410EB 6×2*4, supplied through Roscommon-based Westward Scania.

The vibrant new red and silver livery – into which all the Expressway fleet are currently being re-painted – is also part of the rebranding strategy in the brand’s 50th year. The Expressway network itself has undergone a redesign in response to overall customer demand, with shorter journey times and making greater use of Ireland’s motorway network.

The highly-specified 13.9m tri-axles include laminate-style flooring, reclining Isringhausen Ega leather seats, boasting extra cushioning and stitched panels to optimise comfort. Also onboard is complimentary 4G WiFi supplied by Irish Fleet Connect, three-pin and USB power sockets, a multi-camera CCTV system, a WC and ISOFIX child seat attachment points. The vehicles seat 59 passengers or 55 with one wheelchair. Tyres on the new coaches are supplied by Bridgestone Ireland.

Another 40 coaches will be ordered for the Expressway network throughout 2015, and into 2016.

Bus Éireann CEO Martin Nolan enthused: “We will deliver another 20 later this year, while a further 20 are currently in the tender process.”

Asked why the Scania Irizar combination has been chosen, a Bus Éireann spokesman told CBW: “Following an extensive tender process, the Scania Irizar product was chosen as the optimum package that provided value for money, quality and met the operational and commercial requirements of an Expressway coach product.”

Expressway’s 150-strong fleet is comprised of a mix of 12m two-axle coaches with 51-53 seats, 14m tri-axles with 59-63 seats and 14m 82-seater double-deckers. The new coaches have displaced older Scania Irizars, which will be cascaded from Expressway routes to other regional services provided by Bus Éireann. The arrival of the new coaches means the average age of the fleet is now 6.8 years.

Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe said: “The decision to rebrand the Expressway fleet and to make provision for 4G WiFi and three PIN and USB sockets will make Expressway even more appealing. The slogan ‘Like the car, only better’ is designed to tempt people away from their own vehicles and onto public transport, which is something that I have been actively encouraging in my role as Minister for Transport.
“As more and more jobs are created, we are seeing an increase in the number of cars on the road and a build-up of congestion in some areas, as a result. We must continue to deliver attractive public transport options if we are to persuade people out of the car and onto other transport modes, which I believe Expressway does. This will ensure that our traffic flows more freely and that economic growth is supported, as our economy develops further.”

Bus Éireann Chairman Aidan Murphy said that that the company’s business and engineering design teams had worked hard to deliver the best possible product for the travelling public: “This is the future of coach travel. Bus Éireann has taken a lead in helping to design and implement the latest fleet technology and comfort features. As a Board, we are very proud of the team effort delivered across the company – and with all stakeholders, including the in-house engineers, manufacturers, technical experts and marketeers.”