Why Richard Ball and National Express Coach Engineering Team’s our hero…
As well as being an excellent engineer and a real asset to the business, Richard is always happy to help and will put himself out to do so.
He has led the development and delivery of National Express’s famous white coaches to their bespoke design and always has the safety and comfort of his customers and drivers at the forefront of his mind.
During the last year, Richard and his team have been even more critical to the business than usual as the safety changes they implemented on our vehicles allowed the business to continue operating for as long as possible while travel was permitted.
At the start of the pandemic, National Express quickly realised that in order to keep operating safely, significant changes would be required to the coaches. Richard and the engineering team worked tirelessly to understand the potential COVID-safety risks of coach travel and devise measures to address them all within a matter of weeks.
As there was no precedent for preventing virus transmission on public transport, Richard and the team had to painstakingly identify all customer touchpoints on the vehicle that could be a risk. This included seat-back nets and tables, all of which had to be removed from our entire fleet of over 500 vehicles.
The team also worked hard to install sanitiser and headrests to enforce social distancing on board.
More challenging was finding a solution to protect our drivers who don’t have a cab. The team worked with our manufacturing supplier to design a bespoke screen around the driver. This was particularly problematic due to the shortage and cost of Perspex as a result of the pandemic, but Richard ensured that a solution was delivered quickly and as cost-effectively as possible, while ensuring the utmost safety standards.
Richard also sourced and oversaw the installation of an additional air conditioning filter using three types of technology, including UVC radiation to reduce bacteria and corona type viruses, and a PM2.5 filter to block 99% of airborne particulates, improve air quality on the systems of all our coaches.
He worked to ensure the coaches were cleaned regularly with aerosol-based disinfection with a high-performance antiviral solution (‘fogging’) including key touch points such as handrails, armrests, seat belts and toilets. This also meant that we were able to keep the toilets in use for passengers.
Richard and the engineering team worked expediently and expertly to ensure their coaches could continue to be used to provide essential travel for the public (where permitted) and with industry-leading safety standards.
The rapidly-changing circumstances and limited guidance from government meant the business had to respond swiftly to the situation and government/public health advice as it emerged, yet the team approached everything that was asked of them willingly and as positively as possible.
Richard worked long hours and supported his team to deliver during a time that was extremely uncertain, unrelenting and highly demanding both within the business and outside. He and his fantastic team have supported the business, it’s staff, drivers and customers unstintingly and generously over the last year in particular, and always with a smile.
Despite the key role that Richard plays within the business and his skill and expertise, he is always modest and unassuming – a real unsung hero!
Would you like to see more of our heroes?
We’re highlighting some of the fantastic work that our road hauliers have been doing recently, across multiple disciplines, skills and qualifications, in order to keep our country going during these challenging times.
Meet more of the RHA heroes who have been making a difference…