Tomorrow sees the start of much improved National Express coach service between Birmingham and Bristol with 4 round trips, operating direct between the two English cities. Currently the following options exist, with additional direct, non-stop journeys added in BOLD:from BIRMINGHAM to BRISTOL
0700 - service 336, arr 0915 (cont to Penzance)
0900 - service 319, arr 1100 (terminates)
1100 - service 330, arr 1300 (cont to Penzance)
1200 - service 319, arr 1400 (terminates)
1245 - service 324, arr 1445 (cont to Paignton)
1245 - service 339, arr 1505 (cont to Westward Ho!)
1245 - service 531, arr 1505 (cont to Plymouth)
1400 - service 319, arr 1600 (terminates)
1500 - service 328, arr 1705 (cont to Plymouth)
1500 - service 530, arr 1705 (cont to Paignton)
1730 - service 319, arr 1930 (terminates)
1830 - service 318, arr 2055 (terminates) from BRISTOL to BIRMINGHAM
0730 - service 318, arr 1020 (cont to Liverpool)
0930 - service 319, arr 1130 (terminates)
1125 - service 328, arr 1320 (cont to Rochdale)
1125 - service 530, arr 1320 (cont to Newcastle upon Tyne)
1230 - service 319, arr 1430 (terminates)
1315 - service 339, arr 1535 (cont to Cleethorpes)
1315 - service 531, arr 1535 (cont to Newcastle upon Tyne)
1330 - service 524, arr 1530 (cont to Bradford)
1430 - service 319, arr 1630 (terminates)
1545 - service 330, arr 1745 (cont to Nottingham)
1800 - service 319, arr 2000 (terminates)
2000 - service 336, arr 2215 (cont to Edinburgh)
All services listed are direct coaches, some of which have stops en route at Worcester (Warndon Coachway) or Cheltenham. New service 319 operates direct between Bristol-Birmingham only and fills a very useful gap for a few reasons:
- Although eight other direct coaches already cover this corridor, all these services operate beyond the extremities of new service 319; as a result the number of seats available for passengers wishing to travel between Birmingham-Bristol is reduced. For example service 339 continues to Westward Ho! and starts at Cleethorpes and may have numerous through passengers on board at Birmingham.
- Short, non-stop services fair better for punctuality, too. For example, service 336 is listed as a direct option for travel between Birmingham-Bristol yet is the longest National Express coach service around at the moment (Edinburgh-Penzance) and is subject to all sorts of punctuation problems along its 500 mile length.
- The new timings on service 319 plug gaps in frequency throughout the day. It might seem pretty odd to see three coaches departing Birmingham for Bristol at 1245, though one travels direct, one via Cheltenham and one via Worcester. Both Birmingham and Bristol act as top interchange points for National Express and so some similar running occurs to allow for the maximum number of connection possibilities.
- CrossCountry rail fares continually being lambasted in the national press as being either far too expensive or too complex to fathom when seeking the cheapest price - or both. National Express's fare structure is far, far simpler with FunFares offering travel from £1.
For those interested in the logistics of the new service 319, two operators will run the service, South Glocestershire Bus Company will supply one vehicle and operate the 0930 & 1430 departures from Bristol (1200 & 1730 ex Birmingham) and Hills of Wolverhampton will also supply one vehicle and operate the 1230 & 1800 departures from Bristol (0900 & 1400 ex Birmingham).