Flixbus start running services on some UK routes again

darloscott

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Flixbus have applied for a UK PSV operators licence, perhaps suggesting they're going to start services within the UK. Certainly will be interesting times if so.
The operating centre given is based at Whippet Coaches in Cambridge, however the office address is a block in Bristol. It looks as though Flixbus UK Ltd was started in April but has only recently put the licence application in. The company is entirely owned by Flixmobility in Germany.
 
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GusB

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I read this in Coach & Bus Week yesterday: https://cbwmagazine.com/is-flixbus-looking-to-start-uk-operations/

European and American intercity express operator Flixbus has applied for an Operator’s Licence in the UK.

The application is for the East of England Traffic Area for one vehicle to be based at Unit 1-2 , Buckingway Business Park, Rowles Way, Swavesey, Cambridgeshire. This is the same operating centre address as Whippet Coaches Limited.

The Director is listed as Max Zeumer, the Vice President of International Business at Flixbus. The licence status is ‘currently under consideration’.

During the 1990s National Express also operated in a similar way, where only one vehicle was operated by National Express itself, with the rest of the vehicles being operated by contractors.

Flixbus already operates some European services into London, from Paris and Amsterdam, with a further 42 connections available, some of those services coming from the June 2016 deal where Flixbus acquired the megabus.com retailing business in Germany, Italy, France, Spain and Benelux as well as cross-border services to London. Megabus.com continued to operate as a Flixbus contractor for a short period of time.
Interesting, as aren't most of their European operations contracted out in the manner of Nat Ex?
I'm not sure if it's still the case, but I believe there was a requirement to hold an operators licence, even if it was only for a single vehicle. I recall Scottish Citylink owning one vehicle to satisfy this requirement, but operationally it was part of the then Western Scottish fleet. The rest of the fleet was contracted in, initially from other SBG subsidiaries. I'm not sure of the technicalities, but the CBW article refers to National Express doing a similar thing, and if I recall correctly, the first batch of Expressliners were owned by National Express rather than any contractors. (Happy to be corrected if this isn't the case!)
 

radamfi

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Is there enough business for a third major coach operator on British domestic routes?
 

Journeyman

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I wonder if Flixbus might look to expand into the UK rail market? They've recently done so in Germany.
 

radamfi

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Most probably not. I could see them killing NatEx off (or Souter flogging Megabus to them).

Their tactics generally have been to enter a market competitively and then take over the competition. They now have a near monopoly in several countries as a result.
 

Anthony ross

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I wonder if nat ex are watching what is happening especially if Flixbus are going to operate through whippet as whippet operate national express contracts
 

notadriver

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I wonder if nat ex are watching what is happening especially if Flixbus are going to operate through whippet as whippet operate national express contracts

Do coaches have a significant share of intercity travel compared to trains ? I’m guessing in Germany it’s more viable than in the UK as I’ve never considered coach travel as a serious competitor to rail for most people.
 

Bletchleyite

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Do coaches have a significant share of intercity travel compared to trains ? I’m guessing in Germany it’s more viable than in the UK as I’ve never considered coach travel as a serious competitor to rail for most people.

I doubt the advent of Flix has done much to rail passenger numbers (other than perhaps those doing it at the very budget end like using the Quer-Durchs-Land-Ticket to do very long journeys on regional trains for next to nowt). Same as here - it only really overlaps with rail in terms of the cheapest Advances and the likes of LNR Only long distance tickets. But it does take cars off the road.

Flixtrain probably sits in a similar market niche to Megatrain, even if operationally it's different.
 

radamfi

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Do coaches have a significant share of intercity travel compared to trains ? I’m guessing in Germany it’s more viable than in the UK as I’ve never considered coach travel as a serious competitor to rail for most people.

In England, trains are much faster than coaches due to road congestion and many rail lines running at 100 mph+, so coaches only compete on price and require a high load factor to be viable. Similarly in Germany but even more so as regular train fares are more affordable, especially when taking BahnCards into account. In Scotland and Ireland, trains are not as fast and roads are not as congested so coaches are more viable. In Scotland and Ireland, coaches don't run with a full load, as tickets are usually available without booking in advance, yet are still profitable. In some areas, such as the Balkans and the Baltic States, coaches are often quicker and more comfortable than the train so coaches are the most popular form of inter-city public transport with coach fares often being more expensive than train fares.
 

darloscott

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FlixBus announced yesterday that they are to start building a U.K. domestic network. Also more connections into Europe.
Could be an interesting 3 way battle on Express coach routes.
 

Aictos

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FlixBus announced yesterday that they are to start building a U.K. domestic network. Also more connections into Europe.
Could be an interesting 3 way battle on Express coach routes.

Interesting, wonder if they have any plans to operate a overnight sleeper service to Scotland and into Europe?

I see Birmingham, Scotland, Heathrow Airport as the main UK markets to compete with National Express although I await to get corrected if need be.
 

Bletchleyite

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Interesting, wonder if they have any plans to operate a overnight sleeper service to Scotland and into Europe?

I see Birmingham, Scotland, Heathrow Airport as the main UK markets to compete with National Express although I await to get corrected if need be.

The most viable routes competing with NatEx are not too hard to pick out - all you have to do is look what Megabus are operating.

An interesting question is whether Stagey would just flog up. NatEx might need to retrench, but they've got a lot of the more obscure stuff that the competition are unlikely ever to be interested in, that years of experience seem to have allowed them to make a profit on. (I'm thinking the classic once a day old peoples' direct routes from obscure town to obscure seaside and the likes).
 

carlberry

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The most viable routes competing with NatEx are not too hard to pick out - all you have to do is look what Megabus are operating.

An interesting question is whether Stagey would just flog up. NatEx might need to retrench, but they've got a lot of the more obscure stuff that the competition are unlikely ever to be interested in, that years of experience seem to have allowed them to make a profit on. (I'm thinking the classic once a day old peoples' direct routes from obscure town to obscure seaside and the likes).
I believe the legal requirement to be old to travel on a once a day coach service was removed by the Equality Act 2010, plus Natex trying to push everybody to use online booking.
 

winston270twm

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The most viable routes competing with NatEx are not too hard to pick out - all you have to do is look what Megabus are operating.

An interesting question is whether Stagey would just flog up. NatEx might need to retrench, but they've got a lot of the more obscure stuff that the competition are unlikely ever to be interested in, that years of experience seem to have allowed them to make a profit on. (I'm thinking the classic once a day old peoples' direct routes from obscure town to obscure seaside and the likes).

That's not necessarily the case.

Megabus is aimed more at Students.
 

eastwestdivide

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FlixBus announced yesterday that they are to start building a U.K. domestic network. Also more connections into Europe.
Could be an interesting 3 way battle on Express coach routes.

Found the press release, but only in German, at
https://www.flixbus.de/unternehmen/presse/pressemitteilungen/flixbus-feiert-siebten-geburtstag
from which
Bereits seit 2016 fahren FlixBusse von Frankreich, Deutschland und den Benelux-Ländern nach Großbritannien. Dieses Jahr will FlixBus die Frequenz dieser internationalen Verbindungen erhöhen und erste britische Inlandsverbindungen aufnehmen
Roughly: "FlixBuses have run from France, Germany and Benelux to GB from 2016. This year FlixBus wants to increase the frequency of these international connections and start its first internal British connections"
 

route101

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That's not necessarily the case.

Megabus is aimed more at Students.

Certainly from Scotland , all the NAt Ex routes have pretty much been aligned to use motorways and go to Manchester , Brum and LoNDON . Except one or two
 

Bletchleyite

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That's not necessarily the case.

Megabus is aimed more at Students.

Megabus is marketed primarily at a younger market, but it doesn't follow that it's only that market that uses it.

Ignoring targetted discounts like Railcards (which are of course also available to older people) and the likes of uniformed youth organisations the only business I ever came across that refused service to people over a certain age was Vodafone's VOXI, and I think the legality of that is potentially questionable. (Edit: and from a quick look at their website it looks like they dropped that).
 

winston270twm

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Megabus is marketed primarily at a younger market, but it doesn't follow that it's only that market that uses it.

Ignoring targetted discounts like Railcards (which are of course also available to older people) and the likes of uniformed youth organisations the only business I ever came across that refused service to people over a certain age was Vodafone's VOXI, and I think the legality of that is potentially questionable. (Edit: and from a quick look at their website it looks like they dropped that).

Yes, but neither does Megabus competition identify NX's most lucrative routes.
 

markymark2000

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The most viable routes competing with NatEx are not too hard to pick out - all you have to do is look what Megabus are operating.

An interesting question is whether Stagey would just flog up. NatEx might need to retrench, but they've got a lot of the more obscure stuff that the competition are unlikely ever to be interested in, that years of experience seem to have allowed them to make a profit on. (I'm thinking the classic once a day old peoples' direct routes from obscure town to obscure seaside and the likes).
Like Butlins runs and festivals.

Finding viable NatEx routes, you need to look at their routes and discard anything which runs less than twice per day.
Airports are the most viable but also have the most competition.

I wonder if Flixbus can find a niche in commuter travel. While NatEx schedule coaches to suit commuters, you do have to book the tickets constantly with no period passes valid which I think puts a lot of people off. I don't think there is many other opportunities for them without stepping on NatEx toes.


Megabus ,I find that their route strategy is mainly to fill a coach with lower cost tickets (compared to NatEx higher fares but rarely full coaches). Running to obscure stops to keep costs low (generally not serving bus stations like NatEx do. Look at Birmingham Brunel Street, what is there for anyone, almost no interchange facilities either. Even in Oxford they stop on the main road and not in Gloucester Green) and trying to play very safe with routes (look at how few services run compared to NatEx. Cities like Liverpool only have 3 return coaches per day).
 

winston270twm

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Like Butlins runs and festivals.

Finding viable NatEx routes, you need to look at their routes and discard anything which runs less than twice per day.
Airports are the most viable but also have the most competition.

I wonder if Flixbus can find a niche in commuter travel. While NatEx schedule coaches to suit commuters, you do have to book the tickets constantly with no period passes valid which I think puts a lot of people off. I don't think there is many other opportunities for them without stepping on NatEx toes.

Megabus ,I find that their route strategy is mainly to fill a coach with lower cost tickets (compared to NatEx higher fares but rarely full coaches). Running to obscure stops to keep costs low (generally not serving bus stations like NatEx do. Look at Birmingham Brunel Street, what is there for anyone, almost no interchange facilities either. Even in Oxford they stop on the main road and not in Gloucester Green) and trying to play very safe with routes (look at how few services run compared to NatEx. Cities like Liverpool only have 3 return coaches per day).

NX operate dedicated commuter coaches via Kings Ferry & Clarkes from the South East serving Canary Wharf & London
 

markymark2000

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NX operate dedicated commuter coaches via Kings Ferry & Clarkes from the South East serving Canary Wharf & London
I know they run some there but im thinking commuters on existing services. Leeds to Manchester and Manchester to Liverpool. Both have more than 1 coach per hour and have a considerable amount of commuters so some sort of unlimited weekly pass/10 trip ticket on these existing routes could get NatEx a lot of money.

I am not saying brand new routes from residential areas into a city.
 

duncombec

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I know they run some there but im thinking commuters on existing services. Leeds to Manchester and Manchester to Liverpool. Both have more than 1 coach per hour and have a considerable amount of commuters so some sort of unlimited weekly pass/10 trip ticket on these existing routes could get NatEx a lot of money.
I am not saying brand new routes from residential areas into a city.

That isn't really a commuter service that will attract customers: if you have to go into town, you may as well get the train.

If you look at those services into London, NatEx (via Kings Ferry and Clarkes) operate something like 45 coaches over a dozen routes across a three hour period: some may only have one or two journeys in each direction, others 5 or 6. The key thing in London is the ability to penetrate housing estates close enough to the motorway but far enough away from a rail connection (or with only poor non-driving links to the rail head), and then equally serve places in London with less-useful connections from the areas you pick up from (Canary Wharf, Fenchurch Street, then through the City).

To effectively do Leeds - Manchester, you'd need a good 15-20 vehicles serving various points in suburban Leeds (to avoid a 45 minute pick-up journey), then picking a suitable route through Manchester to serve a variety of useful traffic objectives. Then you ideally need something for those vehicles to do during the day (school contracts, hotel shuttles, other private hire) before the homeward journey. You also need enough drivers to give you a pool in case of serious traffic problems affecting the following morning's scheduling.
 

NorthOxonian

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That isn't really a commuter service that will attract customers: if you have to go into town, you may as well get the train.

If you look at those services into London, NatEx (via Kings Ferry and Clarkes) operate something like 45 coaches over a dozen routes across a three hour period: some may only have one or two journeys in each direction, others 5 or 6. The key thing in London is the ability to penetrate housing estates close enough to the motorway but far enough away from a rail connection (or with only poor non-driving links to the rail head), and then equally serve places in London with less-useful connections from the areas you pick up from (Canary Wharf, Fenchurch Street, then through the City).

To effectively do Leeds - Manchester, you'd need a good 15-20 vehicles serving various points in suburban Leeds (to avoid a 45 minute pick-up journey), then picking a suitable route through Manchester to serve a variety of useful traffic objectives. Then you ideally need something for those vehicles to do during the day (school contracts, hotel shuttles, other private hire) before the homeward journey. You also need enough drivers to give you a pool in case of serious traffic problems affecting the following morning's scheduling.

I'd add that with Leeds to Manchester, the fact Transdev (who aren't exactly slackers) couldn't make CityZap pay for that route probably means any sort of regular service in that vein would do pretty poorly.
 

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