The most important shake-up in a long time on the East Coast most important line between London, Newcastle and Edinburgh is beneath method.
A brand new “open entry” prepare operator, branded Lumo, is to tackle the state-owned LNER on the UK’s flagship rail hyperlink: the 393-mile journey between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley.
The corporate is promising one-way fares beginning at under £15.
These are the important thing questions and solutions.
5 years in the past bids have been invited for personal firms to run trains between the England and Scottish capitals, in competitors with the state-owned incumbent, LNER. First Group, based mostly in Aberdeen, received the competition – and is investing £100m in brand-new trains to run the service.
From 25 October, Lumo will provide two providers a day every method between London and Edinburgh, calling at Stevenage (near Luton airport), Newcastle and the Northumberland city of Morpeth. As extra new trains are delivered, the frequency will improve to 5 day by day journeys every method.
How a lot will it price?
The service is aimed squarely at price-sensitive travellers. For the primary 5 weeks – from opening day on 25 October to 1 December – each journey that’s booked by the day earlier than journey will price £19.90 or much less. Long run, Lumo says that 60 per cent of all single fares will probably be obtainable for £30 or much less. The most costly “walk-up” ticket for an on-the-day buy is prone to be £69.
How does that evaluate with the competitors?
LNER, which presently has two trains an hour between the capitals, sells its least expensive tickets between London and Edinburgh at usually round £50 – although railcard holders can scale back that fare to £33.
Lumo additionally goals to draw passengers away from the airways: British Airways and easyJet presently have greater than 20 flights every technique to a complete of 5 London airports, with fares usually beginning at £47 and £27 respectively.
Are baby fares obtainable?
Sure: youngsters aged 5-15 pay half the grownup fare.
Do I get a reduction with my railcard?
Sure – apart from holders of Veterans Railcards. Lumo says: “We’re sorry however for now you’ll be able to’t use these with Lumo tickets though we’re trying into altering that sooner or later.”
The prepare operator provides: “Promotions and particular low cost codes that you could be generally get unique entry to may not enable railcard reductions, however in that case we’ll make it actually clear and also you’ll at all times get the bottom obtainable worth with or with out your railcard.”
However the preliminary tranche of £14.90 one-way tickets do yield the railcard low cost, with a fare of simply £9.80 a method.
Do I pay additional for bags or bikes?
No. The restrict for baggage is one massive suitcase and a smaller piece; bicycles are carried free however area should be booked forward.
Does ‘finances’ imply ‘discomfort’?
Not in response to Lumo. The brand-new trains are claimed to have excellent seating.
How lengthy will it take?
The total Lumo journey will take round four-and-a-half hours between London and Edinburgh. On LNER, quick trains take 4 hours and 20 minutes. Flights between the 2 capitals take round 90 minutes.
What’s the schedule like?
Whereas Lumo has far fewer trains than its large state-owned rival, LNER, the brand new operator plans a a lot earlier first northbound prepare.
On weekdays, the 5.45am from London King’s Cross will attain Newcastle at 8.39am and Edinburgh at 10.10am – 62 minutes forward of the primary LNER departure. The sooner arrival will assist Lumo’s purpose of attracting passengers from airways. British Airways and easyJet presently have three flights between them that arrive at or earlier than 10am.
Heading south, LNER retains its clear edge: the one four-hour journey of the day departs from Edinburgh at 5.40am, calls solely at Newcastle and arrives in London at 9.40am.
How will the rivals reply?
LNER has recognized for a number of years that competitors is coming, and it has already rewritten its schedules for subsequent yr to supply quicker journey instances between Edinburgh and London – right down to 4 hours flat, beating Lumo on pace.
The state-run firm additionally provides top notch, and supplies the total vary of railcard reductions on LNER.
The airways’ potential to reply is hampered by Air Passenger Obligation, which provides £13 to the price of each flight. As well as, rail, bus and tram hyperlinks between the airports and the cities they serve will improve the price of city-centre to city-centre journeys.
However on a journey from, say, Dundee to Brighton, an Edinburgh-Gatwick flight is prone to show quicker and extra economical than taking the prepare all the best way.
Will there be a lot influence on different operators?
In a roundabout way on ScotRail, although if it will increase the variety of rail passengers via Edinburgh that might be a profit.
CrossCountry runs trains from Edinburgh to Newcastle, and should really feel some warmth from the competitors, and it’s potential the Caledonian Sleeper might lose a little bit of enterprise – notably northbound from London if Lumo slots in an early service that will get to Edinburgh considerably sooner than the primary LNER prepare.
Oddly, the primary loser might be Avanti West Coast – half run by First Group – from Glasgow to London, particularly if travellers from locations corresponding to Stirling and Falkirk are attracted by cheaper fares from Edinburgh and change away from the West Coast most important line.
The place else does head-to-head rail competitors like this occur?
Within the UK, primarily additional south on the East Coast most important line: LNER already competes with Grand Central, linking West Yorkshire and northeast England with London, and with Hull Trains serving South and East Yorkshire.
In Spain, the important thing Madrid-Barcelona high-speed line has no-frills competitors. However one of the best instance is in Italy, the place the state railway – which by the way collectively owns Avanti West Coast – is in competitors in opposition to a non-public operator, NTV Italo. At the very least earlier than the coronavirus pandemic, they have been each flourishing.
What’s your forecast of the general influence?
It’s a courageous time to be pumping a lot cash into probably the most aggressive long-distance hyperlink within the UK when demand continues to be depleted by Covid.
Long run, all of the proof from increasing alternative and competitors in aviation is that revolutionary newcomers really improve the variety of folks travelling – and convey down fares for everybody.
What do the specialists suppose?
Nicky Gardner, co-author of Europe by Rail: the Definitive Information, mentioned: “The 2 present open-access operators out of King’s Cross, Grand Central and Hull Trains, have each spurred improvements in timetabling, fares and passenger service on the East Coast Line.
”So it’s good to see a brand new open-access operator making its debut on the route, and notably one that can deliver the very first open-access providers to Scotland.
“Throughout Europe, the observe document of recent entrants in driving innovation has been top notch. Take a look at NTV Italo in Italy, RegioJet and LEO Specific within the Czech Republic, Westbahn in Austria and the brand new Alpen-Sylt Specific in Germany.
“I look ahead to seeing developments within the profitable Anglo-Scottish market as Lumo operations ramp up over the approaching months.”
Mark Smith, the rail guru referred to as The Man in Seat 61, mentioned: “At four-and-a-half hours centre to centre with no prolonged airport procedures, it’ll take little longer than the relay race of prepare, airport, flight and tram, and it’s a nicer expertise.
“Throughout the Royal Border Bridge at Berwick, alongside the gorgeous Northumberland coast, over the Tyne at Newcastle and previous Durham cathedral on the route of the Flying Scotsman. With energy sockets and WiFi, a prepare journey will be extra productive than flying, too.”
Why the humorous title?
The title Lumo is alleged to mix “illumination and movement”. The corporate says: “We take our passengers’ wellbeing extraordinarily critically and wish everybody to reach refreshed and prepared.
“We purpose to reimagine what it means to journey by rail and Lumo brings that collectively in a single phrase.”
Rail author Nicky Gardner factors out: “From Lumo, it is only one brief alphabetical stumble to Lump,” However she provides that there are earlier examples.
“As to model names for prepare, bear in mind ‘ONE’? A model intentionally designed to by no means be detected by Google.” It was a precursor to Larger Anglia.