Stagecoach announces sale of its Manchester Metrolink tram operation to RATP and trials the UK’s first budget sleeper coach service.

Stagecoach has ended its four-year spell as operator of Manchester’s light rail system. The group this week completed the sale of Stagecoach Metrolink Limited to French group RATP for an undisclosed sum.

A spokesman for Stagecoach explained that the group had been offered “a fair price” for SML, which operates Metrolink under a 10-year contract with Transport for Greater Manchester, and had decided to dispose of the business. The contract expires in 2017.

On the same day as Stagecoach announced its Metrolink exit, the group also revealed that it is to trial the UK’s first budget sleeper coach service. The Megabus-branded pilot service will link London and Glasgow daily from next month.

The service will be operated with three specially-refurbished articulated Volvo coaches, and will offer up to 24 passengers their own berth (pictured above) as well as a standard seat.

Stagecoach chief executive Sir Brian Souter commented: “We believe the best way to find out if it’s a service our customers want is by offering them the chance to try it out for real.”