National Express makes new 5 year commitment ‘for our forces’

Leading transport provider National Express has officially renewed its commitment to supporting the Armed Forces, their families and veterans. 

Group Chief Executive Dean Finch joined with the Rt Hon Tobias Ellwood MP, Minister for Defence People and Veterans and serving and ex-members of the Armed Forces; to publicly mark the signing of a new Armed Forces Covenant at Horse Guards Parade.

The Covenant acts as a formal promise by a company to officially demonstrate their support for the Armed Forces. The Coach division of National Express was the first company in the UK to sign up five years ago and has extended this promise with new pledges that will now cover both the UK coach and bus businesses.

The package of new pledges will:

  • Offer guaranteed interviews to service leavers for all National Express roles across Coach and Bus (originally only available to those with a PCV licence)
  • Include spouses and families of service leavers in its guaranteed interview scheme
  • Provide ten days extra leave for staff in the Reserve Forces
  • Extend it existing discount of 60% on coach travel for serving personnel to include group bookings
  • Offer a discount for bus travel on its West Midlands network
  • Offer free bus travel to families visiting soldiers at the Military Hospital at the QE in Birmingham and to volunteers on Remembrance Sunday.

The company already employs over forty former forces personnel and reservists in a variety of roles including: drivers, health and safety officers, bus engineers, and customer service advisors. These personnel come from roles from all over the armed forces including: Royal Marines, Royal Signals, Royal Engineers, RAF, Navy, Gurkhas, ranking from private all the way up to major.

In the five years since the first Covenant was signed, more than 100,000 serving and former forces personnel have taken advantage of discounted coach travel through the Defence Discount Scheme, giving them a total saving of more than a million pounds.

The UK’s leading coach provider has also provided £60,000 worth of free travel to thousands of people using The British Legion’s Short Break Centres and raised tens of thousands of pounds for Armed Forces related charities, including over £30,000 via online donations from its customers when buying tickets for the Royal British Legion.

Dean Finch, National Express Group Chief Executive: “We’re very proud to have been the first company to sign the Armed Forces Covenant and I am delighted we are signing an even greater commitment today. Armed Forces personnel and their families do a great service to this country and it is right that companies like ours do what we can to support them.

“We employ many ex-services members and current reservists and also want to recognise their significant contribution to our company and the country. Our extended commitments demonstrate both the success of our first covenant and our commitment to growing this important partnership with the Ministry of Defence. I would like to thank all involved in this great initiative.”

Bernie Cassidy, Head of Engineering at National Express served 24 years in the Royal Electrical Mechanical Engineers, starting as a private in 1988 and working his way up to be an officer. He left the Armed Forces in 2011 and went to an interview as a project manager at a bus company for the interview experience but ended up getting the job.

"I think the Armed Forces Covenant is a really valuable tool, purely because it gives people in the military an opportunity to show what they are capable of. Having the opportunity to have a good employer come face to face with you takes a bit of the fear away from what's going on and gives direction."

Tim Parker is the engineering manager at the National Express West Bromwich bus garage. He joined National Express is 2015 for a role that allowed him to use his engineering skills:

"I did a full 22 year military career with the Royal Mechanical Electrical Engineers. I think offering individuals guaranteed interviews is highly important. Some civilian companies don't really understand what they can take from an individual who has served in the military. I'm eternally grateful to National Express for offering me the opportunity. The job is great, and I look forward to coming into work every day."

Roles will be advertised through the Ministry of Defence’s official provider or Armed Forces resettlement – The Career Transition Partnership – and National Express. Discounts are available via the Defence Discount Scheme.

Published 16th March 2018