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Roger Williams RAIL CATERING


First Class catering services First Class is a key growth area and many rail companies understood that providing a quality complimentary catering service helps attract customers to upgrade and away from other modes of transport, raising loyalty and premium rate ticket sales. When, for example, East Coast Main Line introduced their 'Welcome to' initiative, changing from a dedicated retail restaurant coach to serving all First Class customers with complimentary food at seat, their First Class ticket sales rose overall by over 25%.


Other TOCs such as Virgin Trains, Eurostar, RENFE (AVE) and Thalys have been successfully offering this kind of catering to First Class for many years, building their brands on the basis of this all inclusive service which is much appreciated by the clientele. Most recently, the new Allegro high-speed trains service between Finnish capital Helsinki and St Petersburg has introduced new Pendolinos and the same First Class complimentary approach with First Class ticket sales steadily rising ahead of expectation.


With seasonal menus, superb wines and product provenance from the line of route, the quality of First Class fare has also changed significantly for the better in recent years, pampering a demographic which has an ever higher level than normal of culinary expectation. Where some TOCs do not yet have the benefit of the right onboard designs to facilitate the all-inclusive


IRCG European research results Type of


Railway Regional Avg. under


1.5hrs Intercity


Avg. 2hrs + 18


Number surveyed


9


3 (Yes) 6 (No)


18 (Yes) 0 (No)


Café Bar


type of service, or do not perceive that they can afford to deliver it, a more traditional restaurant can very often be found.


For example, on FGW,


'Pullman' style catering has been re-introduced with high quality provincial menus by West Country celebrity chef Mitch Tonks served in a dedicated coach.


Similar tactics have been used to good effect in Germany by DB and taken to a new level in the Czech Republic, where caterer JLV has convinced the railway company to have larger than life vinyl pictures of their celebrity chefs wrapped onto the outside of the train!


Number


providing hot food


3 (Yes) 6 (No)


18 (Yes) 0 (No)


Specific bar seating /


standing area 2 (Allocated area)


7 (None)


13 (Specific facility)


5 (Counter only)


Trolley service operated


8 (Yes) 1 (No)


8 (Yes) 10 (No)


❝ The value of onboard rail catering is proven and the future for this service should be bright





Catering drives added value So the value of onboard catering provision in a modern railway is proven and the future for this important service should be bright. In First Class the complimentary product approach is popular and well received. Evidence shows it impacts positively on ticket sales and loyalty.


80% of customers passing through stations board trains unfed and are potentially hungry for an on-board service so there is great potential to increase sales penetration and uplift ATVs.


New online pre-travel purchases are soon to be available on many routes and new technology is being cascaded, engaging customers and rewarding loyalty.


Clearly the message to rail companies is – good catering supports growth in customer


This page: First Great Western on track and Logistics gets creative


loyalty by driving added value – get your catering service and facilities wrong at your peril! Feedback to:


rwilliams@railgourmetuk.com WWW.ONBOARDHOSPITALITY.COM 39


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