Koningshooikt (Lier) - Van Hool, independent manufacturer of buses, coaches and industrial vehicles, has delivered the 10th unique sleeper coach to the Stagecoach Group in the United Kingdom. The TDX27 Astromega double-decker coach is fitted with 55 seats upholstered entirely in leather that can be converted into 42 beds. The fully equipped sleeper coaches will be used to operate luxury coach services during the day and at night will operate on overnight routes between 11 locations in Scotland (including Aberdeen, Dundee, Glasgow, Edinburgh, …) and London.
The state-of-the-art double-decker coaches have high quality leather seats, each with its own table and plug socket. There is also free Wi-Fi and a toilet on board every vehicle. Customers will be served free drinks during their journey as well as being provided with a sleeper kit containing an eye mask, toothbrush and toothpaste. In addition, at present as a pilot project, the passengers will also be given the choice of a blanket or a “onesie” (all-in-one sleep suit) for sleeping under or in during their journey.
Filip Van Hool, CEO of Van Hool NV and a member of its Board of Directors, said the following when handing the 10th sleeper coach over to Stagecoach: “About a year and a half ago Sir Brian Souter, Group Chairman of Stagecoach, approached me with an idea for developing a unique sleeper coach. It had to be a luxurious, comfortable and safe coach with all modern technology facilities for transporting passengers between Scotland and London in a way that was previously reserved only for pop and rock stars travelling from concert to concert on their tour bus. So we set to work. Our employees once again demonstrated their creativity and came up with the appropriate response to this challenge. The first vehicle was delivered in mid April of this year and we are now handing over the tenth one.”
The vehicle is 14.96 m in length, 4 m high and 2.55 m wide. The sleeper coach is equipped with a Paccar Daf MX 340 engine (340 kW – 462 HP), an automatic ZF AS-Tronic 12 gearbox and has Alcoa Durabright Aluminium wheels.
The coach has been divided up into a number of compartments with either 2 or 4 seats. There are a total of 55 seats for passengers + 1 driver + 1 guide. The passengers’ seats can be converted into lie-flat beds. The seats were developed in Van Hool’s workshops especially for this project, the intention being to provide the coach with a double configuration: during the day the vehicle is used as a luxury daytime coach service and at night it is transformed into a sleeper coach.
Travelling times are comparable to those of sleeper trains, so that customers are able to make the journey from both Edinburgh and Glasgow to London in less than eight hours. The first service is due to launch on 8 July with the remaining routes to begin operation later in July.
Elizabeth Esnouf, Managing Director of Stagecoach’s UK Coach division said: “These vehicles are the first of their kind in the world and we know there are a lot of passengers who are already looking forward to using them. The feedback from the passenger trials we have carried out has been very positive with the majority of people saying they would use the service again and recommend it to friends. We look forward to encouraging even more people to try our greener, smarter coach services.”
Van Hool is a Belgian independent bus, coach and industrial vehicle manufacturer. The company, established in 1947, is based in Koningshooikt (Belgium). The vast majority of the vehicles produced are destined for Europe and America. Van Hool employs more than 4,000 people worldwide, most of whom work at the manufacturing plants in Koningshooikt and Bree. www.vanhool.be
Stagecoach Group is a leading international group that specializes in the provision of public transport, with extensive activities in the United Kingdom and North America. The group, employs approximately 35,000 people and operates bus, coach, train and tram services. With approximately 8,000 buses and coaches, Stagecoach is one of the largest bus and coach companies in the United Kingdom and around 2.5 million passengers travel by coach every day on a network that stretches from Southwest England to the Scottish highlands and islands. http://www.stagecoach.com/