ON THE COACH ROADS OF BRITAIN
Having proved the concept with refurbished Jonckheere-bodied Volvo B10MA articulated coaches equipped with sleeping berths, Stagecoach introduced new Van Hool Astromega double-deckers on overnight services between Scotland and London in 2013.
Rather than be idle during the day, the eventual fleet of 13 also performed daytime work at either end of the routes, with their beds converted to face-to-face seats. Return journeys from London took them to Cardiff and Plymouth, a working day of about 22hr, racking up around 1,250km in the process.
Putting this to the test, I take myself to Plymouth, where loading does not start until barely 5min before the 16.35 departure time. The stand has been occupied by a relief National Express coach (operated by Roselyn of Par). There are around 30 passengers to be checked on board, some with luggage to be put in the hold by the second crew member.