IT is one of the most iconic symbols of America.

The Greyhound bus is as American as the Statue of Liberty, the Golden Gate Bridge, apple pie and the Stars and Stripes.

Now the company that has been made famous by countless movies and TV shows is to launch a service linking Southampton and London.

This new breed of super coach will be running non-stop fast-track services from Southampton and Portsmouth to London that cost from £1 each way and take under two hours.

The service by First Group is being officially launched today, but buses won’t start running until September 14, with more routes planned in the new year.

The competitive journey time and low cost could spark a price war as rival coach firms and rail operators fight it out for commuters and passengers.

Greyhound UK also plans to attack its rivals on the customer service front and is decking its 41-seater Scania Irizar vehicles out with spacious leather seating, free wi-fi, power sockets, air-conditioning, cutting-edge driving technology and complimentary newspapers.

Bosses think they may be able to poach as much as 46 per cent of existing rail passengers and 73 per cent of coach users from leading names such as National Express and Megabus, which also offers fares from £1.

Greyhound’s parent company Laidlaw International was taken over by First Group in 2007, which will run the fleet of coaches alongside its citybased buses.

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Moir Lockhead, First Group’s chief executive, said: “Our services will be more attractive than rival bus and train options, but we also believe that Greyhound UK’s growth will come from persuading more people to leave their cars at home and opt for our coaches.

“I am pleased to be able to say that ‘the Greyhound has landed’ and I am confident that it will set new benchmarks for travel in Britain.”

The Southampton to London service will start at 5.10am with pick-ups from Town Quay, West Quay and Southampton University, and dropping off in Victoria. It will run nine services a day, stopping at 6.10pm.

The London to Southampton service will start at 8.45am, running nine services a day stopping at 9.30pm.

All Greyhound UK coaches will have women’s names borrowed from popular American songs.

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