End of an era for the X90

24 October 2019

A little piece of transport history and handy competition comes to a close on Saturday 4 January as the Go Ahead X90 services between London and Oxford come to an end.

Improvements in the coaches and value for money fares were not enough to stem competition from the railways (Chiltern’s Marylebone to Oxford service has sparked a price war with First Great Western) and the Oxford Tube rival service.

A pity. Competition is generally the best protector of consumer rights. Also, while moving more passengers by diesel trains is probably more efficient than diesel coaches this will place more stress on the already overloaded Underground at Paddington and Marylebone. The terminus at Victoria was a useful interchange for many and drop off points in London and Oxford were handy – the motorway pick up also acted as an unofficial park and ride in the absence of any planning or thinking about how coach fits in.

It does seem odd for private sector enterprises to be driven out of business by state subsidised competition. Policy makers need to do some deeper thinking about how coach can help move passengers – coaches are going to be more important, for example, in getting people to and from Heathrow.

Our recent work on coaches showed that users love them – just need to get more people trying them.

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