East Coast Rail’s new timetable attracts more to train travel

East Coast Rail is celebrating a successful start to its new timetable and first class service. The rail operator has seen first class journeys increase by almost a third after the new timetable was launched in May 2011.

Compared to data from 2010, the four weeks leading up to 23 July 2011 saw 173,000 first class passenger journeys, a rise of 29%. It’s the biggest rise seen on the East Coast line in the last five years.

More than 3 million more passenger seats

East Coast Rail

East Coast Rail has grown passenger numbers with the introduction of new services

The new timetable added 117 extra rail services a week with more than 3 million more passenger seats to the timetable. Direct return services to and from Harrogate were reintroduced for the first time in 20 years, and a new daily service between London and Lincoln was also started.

Major logistical challenge

East Coast Managing Director Karen Boswell said: “Launching the new timetable and first class customer service presented a major logistical challenge. The timetable represents the biggest change to East Coast in 20 years, and has settled in well, successfully delivering more seats, more services, improved frequency and faster services – including a prestigious new ‘Flying Scotsman’ non-stop express service from Edinburgh to London in just four hours.”

“The data we now have confirms that many people are voting with their feet and trying out the new First Class customer service – while our market research tells us that the reaction to what we are now offering is generally very good. At a time when our trains are gaining ground in competition with the airlines, we will seek to build on the positive start made since 22 May.”

Free food & drink in first class

As well as the new timetable, East Coast Rail also upped its first class service, including free food and drinks, with hot meals on weekday morning and evening trains and a special ‘quiet coach’.

The new improvements certainly seem to be paying off. As well as the increase in first class customers, East Coast’s share of the London to Edinburgh rail market rose by 3% in June 2011 compared with June 2010.

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Travellers switching to rail

It seems that given the right timetables and service, more and more people are making the switch to rail, given rising petrol prices and the opportunity to avoid motorway hold-ups and lengthy check-in waits for domestic air travel. It’s a trend we’ve seen for a while now, as previously reported on Green Abode.

And anything that gets travellers out of their cars and onto the trains can only be a good thing.

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