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2015-03-10 FIR-001


New London-Edinburgh rail plans revealed

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New London-Edinburgh rail plans revealed

10 March 2015
source FirstGroup
type Press release

FirstGroup proposes low fares operation to capture market share from air travel

FirstGroup, the leading transport operator in the UK and North America, is developing plans for a new service offering great value fares between London, North East England and Edinburgh.

As part of this process, the Group recently submitted a formal track access rights application to the Office of Rail Regulation who will consider the proposals alongside an industry consultation over the next few weeks.

If given approval, FirstGroup’s new open access operator will run several trains a day from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh, via intermediate stations at Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth.

Passengers would benefit from low fares, free Wi-Fi and onboard catering, all offered in one high-quality class of travel on brand new, state of the art rolling stock comparable to other trains being introduced on the route. If successful with the application it is planned that the new services will be introduced from 2018.

The service is designed specifically to encourage travellers to switch from air to rail as currently two thirds of journeys between the two capitals are made by plane.

FirstGroup will introduce fares that are highly competitive with budget air carriers and persuade many passengers to and from London to make the greener switch to rail. Stevenage station in the South East is close to Luton and Stansted airports, and Morpeth station is close to Newcastle airport, and serving these stations will help potential air travellers consider rail as an option.

FirstGroup already has extensive experience running an open access operation on the route. First Hull Trains regularly receives amongst the highest customer satisfaction scores in the country – scoring 96 per cent in the Spring 2014 National Passenger Survey. Since it started services in 2000 the open access operator has filled a vital gap in the market, making 90 journeys a week between London and Hull and transporting more than 800,000 people annually – a ten-fold increase since inception.

FirstGroup also operates services to Newcastle and Edinburgh through its other rail franchises.

Commenting, Tim O’Toole, FirstGroup’s Chief Executive said:

“These innovative plans will give customers travelling between London, the North East of England and Edinburgh an attractive alternative to flying. We hope to entice passengers away from budget airlines through our low fares and high-quality trains. Open access operators can really add value and create passenger loyalty by serving niche markets. Our current company First Hull Trains remains an exceptional example of how passengers can benefit from this type of operation. We have put our compelling case to the ORR and we are looking forward to hearing the outcome of our application.”

Contacts at FirstGroup:
Rachael Borthwick, Group Corporate Communications Director
Faisal Tabbah, Group Investor Relations Manager
Stuart Butchers, Group Head of Media
Tel: +44 20 7725 3354

Stuart Butchers
Group Head of Media
Office : 020 7291 0507 50 Eastbourne Terrace, London W2 6LG
Mobile : 07713 317979

FirstGroup plc, registered in Scotland number 157176
Registered office : 395 King Street, Aberdeen AB24 5RP

Railhub Archive ::: 2015-03-10 FIR-001


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