First Group is set to launch a low-cost, “greener” train service on the London-Edinburgh route. The new budget operator, branded Lumo, is designed to take on airlines and is offering free WiFi on board and much lower fares in a bid to woo passengers off planes and onto trains.
The service will launch on the 25th of October this year and will boast fares starting at £14.90, with 60% of tickets priced at £30 or less. In a swipe at the budget airline alternatives, First Group says its trains will produce “6 times less CO2 than a flight”.
WiFi on Trains Conference Programme www.Traincomms.com
Lumo’s owner has made no bones about the fact that it is targeting ticket-buyers on the current EasyJet and Ryanair flights to Edinburgh. It says it aims to carry over 1 million passengers a year on the East Coast line, a figure which is slightly more than currently fly between the English and Scottish capitals.
First Group says it has invested over £15 million on new digital and IT infrastructure for the Lumo trains. In addition it has spent around £100 million on five new Hitachi intercity electric trains. Lumo will, like LNER, have at-seat catering and WiFi.
Using all-electric Hitachi class 803 trains with a one-class interior, the new operator will ramp up to offering 5 trains per day each way by early next year. A typical capital-to-capital journey will take 4 hours and 30 minutes – station to station, with no lengthy check-in times. Lumo has also promised high-quality interiors different from current trains.
The new trains will be run as an “open access” service on the route, limiting Lumo to ten trains a day. However, this means that it will not have the contractual obligations of LNER to run a full timetable, nor to charge fares as dictated by the government.
The full programme for this year’s WiFi on Trains Conference (November 16th and 17th) is available now at www.Traincomms.com .