Rail is back in fashion as GNER boosts London-Leeds service

8 Mar 2007 by business traveller

Adding an extra six trains a day will enable GNER to serve the busy London to Leeds route every half-hour from May 21. It means the number of trains running both ways between Kings Cross station and Leeds rises from 53 to 65 a day.

Fortunately GNER, unlike its rival Virgin Trains, has found capacity on the East Coast route to run the extra services.

It is acquiring two high-speed diesel trains from Porterbrook Leasing at a cost of £20 million. The trains originally saw service in the Eighties but GNER says they will be extensively refurbished.

"It means we can now offer service on a turn up and go basis," says a GNER spokesperson, "the new services will allow us to plug gaps in the schedules where currently passengers might have had to wait an hour between trains."

But the trains aren't solely concerned with carrying passengers between London and Leeds. Services will call at selected stations en route to tap those travellers who might normally drive up the nearby A1 trunk road. "We're looking at creating new journey opportunities," says the spokesperson, "so the trains [like the existing services] will make several stops to offer an enhanced service covering Stevenage, Peterborough, Grantham, Newark and Doncaster."

GNER's move to run extra London-Leeds trains comes at a time of strong demand for rail travel from firms anxious to prove their green credentials.

Adrian Watts, sales and distribution director of online rail booker told Business Traveller, "One of the biggest drivers to our growth right now is the fact that so many of our corporate customers want to promote social responsibility by switching to rail. [Because of the lower CO2 emissions compared to flying]. We have seen some large blue chip customers [these include a major bank, media organisation and telecommunications firm] deciding not to fly domestically."

"If you had asked me a year ago I would have said such a development would have been unlikely. But the Stern report [on the environment] marked a huge sea change in attitude and rail is back in fashion."

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Report by Alex McWhirter

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