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No free lunch with GNER

15 Jun 2006 by Ciprian Hirlea

GNER is cutting back its famous restaurant car service. The train firm, which operates services between London Kings Cross, Yorkshire, the Northeast and Scotland, prides itself as the UK’s only rail service which still provides passengers with a full on-board breakfast, lunch and dinner service.

But from the start of the summer timetable this week, the number of GNER trains offering meal service has been trimmed by 10 percent from 102 to 92 a day.

GNER says the move reflects reduced customer demand for full meals at certain times of the day with some lunchtime trains tending to see the restaurant service cutbacks.

It’s also believed GNER is being forced to make economies in the light of its whopping £1.3 billion franchise payment to the government (for the right to operate trains over a 10 year period) and the fact that its parent company, Bermuda-based Sea Containers, is in financial difficulties.

When interviewed recently by Rail, an industry magazine, GNER’s CEO Christopher Garnett said, “The [restaurant service] reductions mostly affect lunchtime [trains] because there aren’t enough people eating at lunchtime. People don’t eat lunch any more, it seems.”

But there is some good news for WiFi users with the news that GNER has confirmed it will extend the service across its entire fleet by August of this year. The train company has found that 64 per cent of mobile workers are now using the internet and email to keep in touch on the move, with 60 per cent continuing to use the phone.

WiFi is free for GNER first class ticket holders. Prices in standard class range from £2.95 for 30 minutes’ use to £9.95 for 24 hours. But in a bid to encourage standard class custom, passengers are being offered 24 hours use of WiFi free of charge. To access the free trial, users on board GNER have to launch their web browser which will automatically detect the GNER landing page. From there, click on the ‘gotrywifi’ promotion link and type in ‘gotrywifi’ to get online.

For more information go to gner.co.uk

Report by Alex McWhirter

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