Brought into existence during the 1960s as a public-owned entity (though it has since been privatised), National Express has remained one of the UK’s most popular methods of cross-country travel for almost 50 years.
Despite facing increased competition from train companies and internal flight providers, the low costs and broad base of locations serviced by National Express have ensured its survival.
With head offices located above Birmingham coach station, most National Express routes serve the UK internally – although the company has recently expanded their links to mainland Europe, aiming to provide an ultra-budget service for consumers who cannot afford air travel.
One of the most recognised companies in British travel, National Express largely operates simply as a booking agent – with most of their services subcontracted to local providers, who are obliged to use branded coaches. The few routes that National Express do run themselves mainly run between London airports and coach stations and are indistinguishable from the rest of the fleet.
For much of its lifetime, National Express was the only large provider of coach travel in Britain – though this monopoly has been challenged since Stagecoach launched their Megabus brand around the turn of the millennium. This competition has generally been good for customers, forcing both companies to cut costs and prices in order to draw in consumers.