Stagecoach has launched new coach-rail services to help storm-hit communities in the south-west of England, which started running on Monday, March 3.
The integrated service links London with the West Country using a combination of South West Trains rail services and Megabus coaches. It will provide significant extra public transport capacity to keep communities in Devon and Cornwall connected while one of the main railway lines is closed following the collapse of the sea wall and damage to the track at Dawlish.
The new services are using a rail hub at Honiton providing onward coach connections to a number of destinations in the south-west.
From Honiton there are three routes: Cullompton- Tiverton-Barnstaple; Newton Abbot-Torquay-Paignton-Totnes- Plymouth; and Launceston- Bodmin-St Austell-Truro- Penzance.
The coach-rail services will operate Mondays to Fridays. On Saturdays and Sundays, there will be one departure in each direction on the Plymouth and Barnstaple routes only.
A fleet of five double-decker coaches will be used for the operation, offering 4,000 seats a week. Stagecoach said prices will start from £1 (plus 50p booking fee) and expects most passengers will pay less than £28, with the network offering journeys of up to 300 miles. Seats can be booked online at www.megabus.com.
Stagecoach also confirmed it has increased capacity on its Megabus services to Cornwall by 50% from around 400 seats a day to nearly 600.
The new services follow a package of measures Stagecoach introduced on its local bus network in the south-west to deliver discounted fares on key routes in Devon.
Martin Griffiths, Stagecoach Group CEO, said: “This is an incredibly difficult time for people in communities in many parts of the south and south-west of England. Daily life is a real struggle for families in the areas worst hit by the severe weather.
“We appreciate that transport is absolutely vital. Despite the tough conditions, our Megabus coach network is continuing to run a full service and more than 90% of our South West Trains rail network is open.
“Joining these networks up means we can provide the affordable transport options people need in these tough times. The priority is for everyone across the public transport sector to really pull together to keep Britain moving and make sure communities across the country remain open for business.”