TRANSPORT tycoon Sir Brian Souter will today launch budget coach services running between the UK and Belgium, France and the Netherlands.
His three Megabus routes will begin in Birmingham, Coventry, Leicester and Milton Keynes before running to London and then to the Continent.
Stagecoach, the Perth-based transport group run by Souter, is pumping £2.5 million into the new routes by buying ten coaches with toilets and wireless internet connections.
Souter said: “Megabus has already transformed inter-city travel in the UK and North America. Our new network in Europe will bring our brand to a huge new market.”
He expects the services will appeal to families, students and tourists travelling on a budget.
The services will cover the cities of Amsterdam, Boulogne, Brussels and Paris.
Bookings open today with the first coaches leaving the UK on 16 April.
Megabus already carries about three million passengers a year between 60 towns in the UK and serves more than 70 cities in Canada and the United States.
The brand was launched in Scotland in 2003 and expanded into North America in 2006, where it has so far carried more than 16 million passengers.
News of the European expansion comes just a week after Stagecoach revealed that growth at the group’s UK bus division, which includes Megabus, has accelerated in recent weeks.
Like-for-like revenues at the division stepped up to 3 per cent in the 40 weeks to 5 February from the 2.3 per cent rise reported in December.