New budget intercity rail service challenges airlines

New low fare trains between London and Edinburgh are being introduced to challenge budget domestic flights.

Single fares for the Lumo service will start at £19.90 in a launch offer.

Advance fares between London and Newcastle start at £14.90

The company hopes to carry more than one million passengers a year, slightly more than fly between the English and Scottish capitals.

The single class service is due to start on October 25 and run five trains a day by early next year between London King’s Cross to the Scottish capital via Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth.

The first service of the day is due to arrive in Edinburgh by 10am – one hour earlier then current services.

More than 1.5 million addition seats will be offered on new electric trains with seats able to be reserved online “a few minutes before departure”.

First Group said: “The new service will provide real choice for passengers looking to travel between London, north-east England and Scotland.

“Low fares will persuade passengers to make the switch to rail from coach or air travel, and business travellers will benefit from the first service of the day from London arriving in Edinburgh by 10am, one hour earlier than is possible now.”

Lumo aims to also compete with the main intercity train service provided by London North Eastern Railway, a government-controlled company that took over the route in 2018.

The start-up claims its Hitachi AT300 electric trains, the same model used by LNER, will emit less than one-sixth of the carbon produced by flying.

The journey will take four-and-a-half hours, only about ten minutes more than LNER’s fastest service on the east coast mainline.

Lumo managing director Helen Wylde said: “Travelling in the UK should not cost a fortune and it certainly shouldn’t be the planet that pays.

“Whatever your preferred mode of transport, we are likely to be more affordable and kinder to the planet.

“We believe everyone has the right to travel in style. We are empowering people to make green travel choices that are genuinely affordable without compromising on comfort.”

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