STAGECOACH has said it will be replacing its entire fleet of Oxford Tube coaches this year.
It is part of what the company says is the biggest order ever placed by any bus operator in Britain – costing more than £100m.
The company will be replacing all of its 26 Oxford Tube coaches, which take passengers from the city centre into London. Stagecoach said the new Astromega double-decker coaches would be “state-of-the-art” and would meet new stringent Euro 6 emission standards.
But the firm could not reveal the main differences that passengers would see on the new coaches.
A Stagecoach spokesman said: “We look forward to launching these new vehicles and attracting even more customers on to our greener, smarter coach services.”
It is part of an order for 570 vehicles, which it has placed for the financial year 2014/15 – the largest set of orders the company has ever made.
All of the new vehicles will be fitted with CCTV while more than 350 will also have wi-fi installed.
Stagecoach said the vast majority of the new vehicles would be produced in the UK.
Launched in 1987, the Oxford to London service started out with just seven second-hand coaches, each one with about 44 seats, and the service ran up to every 30 minutes, ending at midnight.
The service celebrated 25 years in 2012 and now there are 26 double-decker coaches with 87 seats, making 80 trips a day up and down the M40. The 24-hour service runs every 10 minutes at peak times and includes free wi-fi connections.
Hugh Jaeger, above, of the Oxford branch of Bus Users UK, said: “The Oxford Tube has been a phenomenal success ever since it was launched.
“The coaches being replaced are only five years old and they have a 15-year lifespan. It is a clear commitment to keeping the service modern and fresh long before one would absolutely have to replace them.”
Stagecoach Group chief executive Martin Griffiths said: “This record investment is a major boost for UK jobs in manufacturing and many other smaller businesses in the supply chain.
“It is also a huge vote of confidence in the future of bus and coach travel in Britain.”