The Anonymous Widower

The London And Edinburgh Travel Market

This paragraph comes from of this article on Railway Gazette.

Lumo is aiming to carry more than 1 million passengers per year. It is particularly targeting people who currently fly between Edinburgh and London; in June it says there were 74 764 air journeys on the route, compared to 82 002 by rail.

Lumo’s million passengers per year, will equate to around 83,300 passengers per month.

What these figures don’t show is the number of rail journeys made to intermediate stations like Newcastle, York, Doncaster and Peterborough.

These are a few thoughts.

Rail Capacity Between London And Edinburgh

Consider.

  • LNER is currently the only rail carrier offering a daytime service between London and Edinburgh.
  • LNER run approximately 26 trains per day (tpd) in both directions between London and Edinburgh.
  • A nine-car Class 801 train can carry 510 Standard Class passengers and 101 First Class passengers.

That means that LNER had a capacity of just over 950,000 seats in June.

It might seem poor to have only sold 82,002 seats in June between London and Edinburgh, which is just 8.6 % of the available seats.

On the other hand, LNER’s two trains per hour (tph) are a lot more than London and Edinburgh trains, as they connect towns and cities all the way up the East Coast Main Line between London and Aberdeen.

Lumo’s capacity of a million seats per year, works out at 83,300 seats per month, which is another 8.7 % of capacity.

  • Lumo will sell seats on price initially and I suspect they’ll end up running about 85-95 % full.
  • It has been stated that they need to run 80% full to break even.
  • I also think, that they would like to have a few seats for late bookers.

But even so, they will surely affect LNER’s bookings.

What Will LNER Do?

Several of the things, that Lumo are doing can be easily copied by LNER.

  • Early booking.
  • Improve onboard service.
  • Better seating.

They could even reduce prices.

I think it is very likely we could end up with a price and service war between LNER and Lumo.

Would The Airlines Be The Losers?

This could be an outcome of competition between LNER and Lumo.

We are now talking about times of around four hours and twenty-five minutes between London and Edinburgh, but there are improvements underway on the East Coast Main Line.

  • The remodelling of the approach to Kings Cross station has not been reflected in the timetables.
  • The Werrington Dive Under has not been completed yet.
  • Digital signalling is being installed South of Doncaster.
  • The power supply is being upgraded North of Newcastle.

When these and other improvements are complete, I can see journey times reduced below four hours.

But would that only be for starters?great b

If a 1970s-technology Intercity 225 train, admittedly running as a shortened train formation, could achieve a time of just under three-and-a-half hours for the 393.2 miles between Kings Cross and Edinburgh stations in September 1991, what could a modern Hitachi train do, if all of the improvements had been completed and perhaps half of the route could be run at 140 mph under the watchful eyes of full digital signalling and an experienced driver.

Consider.

  • London and York is nearly two hundred miles of fairly straight railway, that is ideal for high speed.
  • Current trains run the 393.2 miles in four hours 25 minutes, which is an average speed of 89 mph.
  • A train running at 89 mph would take two hours and fifteen minutes to cover 200 miles.
  • A train running at 125 mph would take one hour and thirty-six minutes to cover 200 miles.
  • A train running at 140 mph would take one hour and twenty-six minutes to cover 200 miles.

When Network Rail, Great British Railways or the Prime Minister renames the East Coast Main Line as High Speed East Coast, I think we can be sure that trains between London and Edinburgh will be able to achieve three-and-a-half hours between the two capitals.

High Speed Two is only promising three hours and forty-eight minutes.

What About LNER’s New Trains?

LNER Seeks 10 More Bi-Modes, was written to explore the possibilities suggested by a short article in the December 2020 Edition of Modern Railways.

There has been no sign of any order being placed, but Hitachi have moved on.

  • They are building the prototype of the Hitachi Intercity Tri-Mode Battery for testing on the Great Western Railway.
  • They have completed some of the Class 803 trains for East Coast Trains, which has now been renamed Lumo. These trains have a battery for hotel power in case of catenary failure, but no diesel engines.
  • They are building the Class 807 trains for Avanti West Coast, which appear to be designed for high speed and have no batteries or diesel engines.
  • The latest versions of the trains will have a reshaped nose. Is it more aerodynamic at high speeds?

It does seem that there is an emphasis on speed, better acceleration and efficiency.

  • Could the lessons learned be used to improve the performance of the existing trains?
  • Could a small high performance sub-fleet be created to run LNER’s Scottish services?

There are certainly possibilities, that would cut journey times between London and Edinburgh.

Conclusion

I can see the airlines flying between London and Edinburgh suffering a lot of collateral damage, as the two train companies slug it out.

 

September 10, 2021 - Posted by | Transport | , , , , , , , , , , ,

4 Comments »

  1. There are calls to cut internal flights such as London to Manchester, Newcastle, Glasgow etc. So, this new service looks to be the 1st step. Getting HS2 up and running the full length must also be a priority.

    Comment by Maurice Reed | September 10, 2021 | Reply

    • The East Coast Main Line has got Edinburgh, Leeds and Newcastle flights licked and as it forms the Northern part of the Eastern leg of High Speed Two from York, I believe it should be developed early to give the North East and Edinburgh jam tomorrow instead of in ten years time.

      But High Speed Two must be progressed quickly up the West Coast, as that route doesn’t have the potential of the East.

      Comment by AnonW | September 10, 2021 | Reply

  2. Flights to / from domestic airports are only really any use if you are catching a connecting flights. Using the train leaves you vulnerable to delays if the train is late (as happened to me when I tried to use the TGV to do so in France – BA tried to bump me at CDG).

    Conversely flying even from Edinburgh to any London airport than LCY adds considerable transit time to the journey, and cost (£5 hike in Edinburgh, Thiefrow Express), whereas the train will terminate at KGX convenient for the West End and City, buses and six tube lines.

    Lumo will take some passengers from LNER, cars and coaches, but how many will depend on seat pitch and whether there is a Ryan Air type customer experience. For the main part LNER tickets are priced beyond the point of diminishing returns – if they lowered fares volume would increase enough to compensate for more than the lost revenue.

    Comment by R. Mark Clayton | September 11, 2021 | Reply

  3. The seat pitch looks better than Ryanair and as I was in LNER’s airline style seating, it would do me. Lumo’s pitch is bigger than LNER.

    I also wonder how many people fly, as parking is easier at an airport than Kings Cross oe Edinburgh.

    Comment by AnonW | September 11, 2021 | Reply


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