The X5 coach service between Bedford and Oxford is to undergo a second major change in the space of 11 months, with the current Plaxton Elite coaches being replaced by newer Alexander Dennis (ADL) Enviro400MMC double-deckers. Originally introduced in the late 1990s, the X5 service provided a through service from Cambridge to Oxford and has been popular with tourists in the decades that followed but changed on 30 August 2020 when the direct route was revised.
In conjunction with the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority, the old X5 route was be split into two parts, with the X5 continuing to operate between Bedford to Oxford and the 905 running via a new route of Bedford to Cambridge via Roxton, Eaton Socon, St Neots, Cambourne, Cambridge Regional College and Cambridge Science Park.
Stagecoach advised its customers that “over the next few weeks, we will be introducing a fleet of newly painted, amber coloured double-deck vehicles to the X5 route. Introducing double deck vehicles will help to improve the reliability of the service and minimise disruption. You’ll still be able to travel in comfort, as the double deck vehicles will have free WiFi, USB charging points, leather seats and luggage racks.”
This is not the first time that Stagecoach has considered using double-deckers on this route, in 2008 Alexander RL-bodied Volvo Olympian 16209, R34 TAC, was down-seated and fitted with luggage racks for a trial. However, it was deemed unsuitable in operation between Cambridge and Oxford, so batch of new Plaxton Panthers were ordered instead. The current split service arrangement means passengers now have to break their journey at Bedford if travelling onwards.
Ten ADL Enviro400MMCs (10872-81) from Peterborough have transferred to Bedford depot along with former Cambridge Park & Ride 10803 for the service.