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RAIL TRAVEL


Virgin Trains is partly addressing the issue with a new proposal for long-distance rail journeys sold using an “airline model”. It put forward the idea in April in response to the Williams Review. It aims to stop passengers having to stand in overcrowded carriages. To address overcrowding, work is ongoing on regional and intercity rail services on TransPennine Express routes, run by FirstGroup. Susie Palmer, business account manager, says: “We are aware of crowding on busy services which should be addressed by new five- carriage trains which were introduced in late summer, providing an additional 100 seats per train, as well as additional services on popular routes.


NEWS ROUND-UP IT IS HOPED THE


WILLIAMS REVIEW WILL END THE NEED FOR TRAVELLERS TO EMPLOY ‘SPLIT TICKETING’


“By the end of 2020, in addition to the refurbished fleet already in service, we will have introduced 44 brand new trains providing an extra 13 million seats, double the number currently available.” Improved connectivity, she adds, will be offered by a new Liverpool-Glasgow route and extending the Liverpool-Newcastle route to Edinburgh.


DOING THE RIGHT THING


Another reason companies increasingly lean on employees to use rail is due to corporate social responsibility issues, but this could be hampered if improvements to serve the whole network are not made. Capita Travel and Events’ Collier says: “On severely overcrowded cross-country routes, especially in and out of Birmingham, there’s a strong possibility of not getting a seat. It’s a toss-up whether, for some of those travellers, it’s more convenient to take their car than the train.” The challenge is whether new rolling stock, a simplified fares structure, better onboard services and the promise of greater accountability can transform the UK’s railway system and deliver the dream of a fast, green, comfortable and cost-effective trip.


buyingbusinesstravel.com 2019 SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 121


LNER has unveiled new Azuma trains, offering greater comfort in both classes, thanks to ergonomic seat design, improved wifi and individual power sockets for first class passengers. Six direct departures a day – a six-fold increase on the current timetable – are promised by the end of the year from London to Harrogate, and also to Lincoln.


TRANSPENNINE EXPRESS has refurbished most of its fleet to offer free wifi, an onboard entertainment system, including news, films and box sets, plus plug sockets and USB points at every pair of seats.


SOUTH WESTERN offers wifi on all mainline trains, and is halfway through a


whole-fleet refurbishment which will bring at- seat charging to every passenger. It has also introduced a carnet system for less frequent travellers offering a five per cent discount on ten day tickets to be used within two months.


Some operators, including GOVIA THAMESLINK, have introduced Delay Repay 15 to compensate passengers for relatively short delays of 15 minutes to arrival times.


GATWICK AIRPORT rail station will undergo £150 million worth of improvements, commencing six months earlier than planned.


GWR’s new fleet of Intercity Express trains offers free wifi and charging points at all seats.


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