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Great scenic railways of Scotland

With over 165million visitors in 2017, spending more than £11billion in total, tourism is a vital part of Scotland’s economy. This is particularly true in the Highlands and Islands, where millions come each year to see the stunning mountain landscapes.

One of the finest ways to access and experience Scotland’s natural beauty is the railway, which brought about the first tourist boom during Queen Victoria’s reign. Today, demand remains high, for shorter day trips and for longer journeys to more remote areas.

When train operator Abellio started running ScotRail services in 2015, they looked at how tourists from the UK and overseas got their information about the scenic railway. They built on the Great Scenic Railways of Scotland brand, expanding it to cover three new lines, six in total, which offered a wider choice of trips North and South, and for a variety of attractions and timescales.

From the sweeping views of the West Highland Railway, to the newly redeveloped Borders railway, the views from the train are unbeatable. As well as appealing to a wider audience of prospective visitors, ScotRail also worked on improvements to the railway and to the passenger experience. This includes a £40million refurbishment on the trains, improving passenger comfort and facilities, and making the train fleet more reliable.

Passengers enjoy a trolley service of locally‐sourced food, an on‐board media service with entertainment and information on local visitor attractions. This improved service is delivered in carriages with new seats, aligned with the train windows to maximise the view, and significant improvements to accessibility for people with reduced mobility, allowing everyone to experience Scotland’s natural beauty. With many ticket offers including reduced entry costs for visitor attractions, and convenient passes available to cover rail, bus and ferry trips, getting around Scotland couldn’t be easier.

Promoting the updated Scenic Railways brand, extending the scenic routes covered and improving the comfort and reliability of services has seen demand for these trips boom. In 2013, passengers took around a million scenic journeys each year, and after these improvements, this has grown to 3.5million journeys. This is not only a boost for the railways, but for the local towns and villages that see more money spent in hotels, restaurants and shops.

By understanding the products and information that tourists want when using the railway, ScotRail’s Great Scenic Journeys are a great example of train companies responding to passengers’ needs. Whether for overseas visitors taking a trip of a lifetime, or commuters taking the train every day, train companies are committed to raising customer satisfaction by improving the railway – and so remain the top‐rated major railway in Europe.

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