Discounted fares on the day of travel

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Discounted fares on the day of travel

Nearly eight out of ten train journeys in the UK are taken on discounted tickets, with the best deals available to passengers who book in advance. Since 2010, the number of journeys taken on advance tickets has risen from 42million to 156million each year. With discounts up to 80% off the full fare, it’s no surprise these tickets are so popular with passengers. However, life doesn’t always go to plan, from spontaneous trips to family emergencies, sometimes we all need to be flexible. That’s why, responding to their passengers, CrossCountry trains introduced advance tickets that can be bought on the same day as travel. True to their name, CrossCountry runs long‐distance services the length of the country. With Birmingham at its heart, the network provides fast train services connecting major cities across Britain, including Newcastle, Leeds, Sheffield, Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol, Southampton, Cardiff and Edinburgh. The ability to book a long distance journey at short notice and at a great price was high up the list of passengers’ demands. Trialled in 2013, and made permanent in 2015, passengers can buy an advance ticket up to ten minutes before they travel, online, on a mobile or via the call centre. Seat reservations can even be made on trains that are already en route, and even add or amend tickets and reservations up to ten minutes before travel, in case plans change. Passengers can get their ticket and seat details by text, and are ready to go. This innovation, developed by CrossCountry in response to their customers, is being developed and adapted by other train operators. The structure of rail fares and the regulations that govern them have not changed since Parliament passed the Railways Act in 1994, when the technology that most of us have in our pockets was not even imagined. That’s why the industry is proposing a complete reform of the fares system, allowing them to respond to what passengers have said they want, and giving them more control over when they travel and how much they pay. The CrossCountry example shows how a focus on customers and an innovative approach to technology, easy to use and understand, can be the precursor to a very different system emerging across the country. Working through the Rail Delivery Group, changes are underway to allow more Advance tickets, where they are still available, to be sold to customers right up to the point of departure.

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Trebling trains to Manchester from London

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Trebling trains to Manchester from London

From a city losing tens of thousands of residents following the decline of the manufacturing industry in the 1970s, the turnaround in Manchester's fortunes over the last 25 years has been remarkable. With a particular focus on redeveloping the city centre to attract many more people to live and work there, the Greater Manchester area now has 1.4million workers, contributing £62.8billion to the national economy. The transformation of intercity train services has made an important contribution to that turnaround. Significant increases in services to other major UK cities, investment in modern trains and reduction in journey times has helped support major investment from elsewhere in the UK and around the world. When Virgin Trains took over the intercity service to Manchester in 1997, there were only 17 trains to London every day, by 2008 this was almost three times higher, with 46 trains per day. To put that in perspective, a Virgin Pendolino train carries the same number of people as 500 typical cars, so not only did these changes bring many more people into Manchester, it also made significant strides in reducing congestion and emissions. Domestic flights have also fallen significantly as intercity rail journeys have improved. In 2007, rail carried 70% of all rail and air journeys from Manchester, but today that is 92% That step‐change in rail capacity saw passenger numbers double at Manchester Piccadilly over the same period, to nearly 28m per year today. Those faster, more frequent and more comfortable services have transformed the way investors, suppliers and potential customers can get to Manchester. The broader growth in the city has seen major companies moving to Manchester, including Google, Amazon and Microsoft, as well as global financial companies. The BBC and ITV moved large parts of its operations to MediaCity in Salford, and Manchester has become an international hub in high tech sciences, from biotech to futuristic materials. The visitor economy, worth over £7.5billion in Greater Manchester, has benefited from many more people arriving in Manchester by train for its many cultural, retail and sporting attractions. Virgin Trains’ investment in new trains to deliver hundreds more services each year saw its total passenger numbers more than double across the country from 1997 to today. The rail sector as a whole will deliver 6,400 extra services per week ‐ 1,283 per day ‐ by 2021. For Manchester, and for towns and cities across Britain, that means more businesses reaching more customers, helping the creation of new jobs and thriving local economies.

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Working with the Scouts to keep people safe

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Working with the Scouts to keep people safe

With over 20,000 miles of railway track across the country, keeping passengers, staff and the public safe is a priority for the whole industry. The risk of serious or even fatal injuries is very high for anyone trespassing onto the railway, with trains running at high speed, and both tracks and overhead wires carrying very high voltages. Likewise, the knock‐on impact of even a minor trespassing event can cause delays and cancellations of services affecting many thousands of passengers. British Transport Police report that trespass incidents increase particularly during school holidays, so it’s vital that young people learn about the real risk of playing near tracks, bridges and tunnels. That’s why CrossCountry teamed up with the Scouts Association to launch the Cub Scout Personal Safety Badge. Aimed at Cubs and Scouts from 7‐10 years old, this partnership is dedicated to educating younger people on the importance of safe and responsible behaviour on or near the railway. Launched in 2017 in response to a ten‐year high level of trespassing incidents on the railways the previous year, the programme was intended to reduce levels of youth crime and safety incidents and increase wider awareness of the consequences of trespassing. As the UK Scouts Association is the largest inclusive youth movement in the country, with a membership of over 450,000 young boys and girls, it puts this vital issue before a wider audience. To obtain their Personal Safety Badge, Scouts must complete an activity pack that aims to educate young people on how to behave responsibly and safely near the railway. This is teamed with a further activity pack that covers safety in other areas such as highways and waterways. If all this is completed correctly, the Personal Safety Badge is awarded. Groups are encouraged to visit their local station as part of the badge, by either contacting the local train operator or their local Community Rail Partnership. This award‐winning partnership is just one way in which train operators are working with communities to promote safety. Working together, rail companies are absolutely committed to tackling crime and antisocial behaviour on our trains and at stations. Changing the way we work will help to improve safety, ensuring our staff can focus on customers, helping with journey planning, assisting people on and off trains and preventing anti‐social behaviour.

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Creating opportunities for disadvantaged young people

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Creating opportunities for disadvantaged young people

It’s tough for any young women and men to get their first step on the employment ladder. Being able to show successful work experience can make all of the difference. Yet for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds, these work experience opportunities can be almost impossible to find, increasing their chances of becoming unemployed in the longer term. That’s why Govia Thameslink Railway and South Western Railway have been working with The Prince’s Trust. Govia Thameslink Railway’s Get into Railways programme provides a four‐week work experience course for 18‐25‐year‐olds who are struggling to get into employment. They run busy commuter services on Southern and Thameslink, from the South Coast, across London and on to Bedford and Cambridge, so can give participants a breadth of experience across their network. The first two weeks are spent learning more about the railway, including vital safety and security protocols, and invaluable first aid skills. Participants also learn about the presentation and customer services skills that are crucial to working with passengers. The second two weeks of the programme are on the rail network itself, working with staff to gain practical work experience on ticket barriers and elsewhere in customer service. Organised in three intakes each year, the programme has provided work experience to over 100 young people. As well as practical knowledge, the course is aimed at building skills, confidence and motivation that can benefit any career. Many of the participants have gone on to be offered permanent roles at GTR, with 29 work experience graduates offered jobs since 2017 alone. Baski Gwen, 19, from Kenley, Croydon, who has been offered a position with Southern Rail, said: “The programme has given me a lot more confidence and improved my skills ‐ some of which I didn’t even know I had before! There wasn’t a single day on my placement that I didn’t want to go in and do the job at hand. Every day I’ve been so motivated to do my best and it’s been a great experience that I’ve loved from start to finish.” Nationwide, train companies are creating 20,000 new apprenticeships in the railway and its supply chain by 2020, 10,000 of whom will be new recruits from more diverse backgrounds. Govia Thameslink Railway, by working with The Prince’s Trust, is leading the way in showing young people from disadvantaged backgrounds that they can have a rewarding career in the railways.

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New, low cost London-Edinburgh services

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New, low cost London-Edinburgh services

A new train service between London and Edinburgh is in development by First Group, having secured the rights from the government regulator. This provides passengers travelling between the capitals with an attractive new alternative to domestic flights, the motorway or existing rail services. From April 2021, a fleet of five new high‐speed Hitachi trains, able to carry up to 400 passengers each, will get the new service underway, at a highly competitive average fare of £25. The £100million investment in new trains will offer the comfort and facilities that long‐distance travellers expect, with modern air‐conditioned carriages, Wi‐Fi and power sockets. There will be five trains a day each way from London King’s Cross to Edinburgh, via Stevenage, Newcastle and Morpeth, with journey times of approximately four hours. The first service of the day from London is planned to arrive in Edinburgh by 10:00 am, specifically targeted to attract business passengers who would usually fly, but without the hassle of getting to and from the airport and queues to get through security. This service won’t run as part of a franchise agreement, where the government grants one train company the right to run services on part of the network for a fixed number of years. This is an open access agreement, where a train company that spots a gap in the market can bid for available slots on an existing route, and compete with other services. Giving passengers that choice is a great incentive for operators to improve facilities, extend services and keep fares competitively priced. This new First Group service builds on the success of First Hull Trains, an open access operation that has transformed the service between London and Hull since 2000. This award‐winning operator regularly tops the official league tables for passenger satisfaction. First Hull Trains makes 90 journeys a week on the East Coast Mainline between London and Hull and transports more than 750,000 people annually – a ten‐fold increase since inception. The First Hull Trains services will also be benefitting from brand new Hitachi trains, with £60million being invested in replacing all of the current fleet beginning this December. With free Wi‐Fi and award‐winning catering and service on‐board, First Hull Trains is continuing to invest in providing an industry‐leading passenger experience at a highly competitive price.

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