Details of a new low-cost train service linking London to Edinburgh have been announced, with over half of tickets costing less than £30 each way.
Called Lumo, the FirstGroup operated service expects to be able to carry over 1 million passengers per year and Lumo says that it aims to entice some of the 74,500 people who fly between Edinburgh and London every month to switch to rail travel instead.
Fares between the Capital cities will start from £14.90 each way, and a pledge that 60% of all single fares will be available at a cost of £30 or less. During the launch period, all single fares will be promoted from 25th Oct – 1st Dec 2021, and every single seat booked up to 1 day before travel will cost £19.90 or less.
A quick search this morning means that a return from London to Edinburgh on Mon/Tue 25th/26th October would cost around £100 on LNER and £40 on Lumo. Most Railcards are also accepted, so you can save another third off the fares if you have one of those – excepting Veteran’s Railcard at the moment, and not during the launch deal.
The idea for Lumo was originally announced in March 2019 when First Group ordered a fleet of Hitachi AT300 trains. As an “open access” operator on the railway, the new Lumo branded service will be allowed to operate five trains a day in each direction.
Targetting the air traffic market, Lumo notes that in addition to rail travel having far lower CO2 emissions than aircraft, airports are seldom city centre destinations and frequently require onward travel arrangements to get into the eventual destination. Tickets will be email/app only, and there will be free wi-fi in the trains and seating will be standard-class for everyone with no first-class offering.
There won’t be a buffet car on the service, so they will have the usual trolly service for at-seat drinks and snacks. For more substantial food, they have a deal with a number of high-street chains to offer food on the train, although you need to pre-order that at least six-hours before you travel.
Although the seating is the same for everyone, they will be offering two classes of tickets — LumoFixed for specific train services and Anytime which can be used on any service on the date they are booked for.
Seat reservations will be offered, although this morning when testing the booking, seat reservations did not seem to be available. In addition, the majority of seats in one carriage on each trip will not be reserved so they can be available for people who turn up on the day – or presumably, if you need to make a swift change of seat when you spot a better one in the unreserved carriage.
The first services will run on Monday 25th October between London King’s Cross and Edinburgh Waverley, with their frequency increasing over time to a maximum of ten services per day by early next year. Lumo trains will run on the East Coast Main Line and additionally call at Newcastle, Morpeth and two trains per day additionally at Stevenage.
The deal to order the trains was signed in March 2019, and the service had been due to launch in May 2021, but was delayed due to the pandemic impact on rail travel.
Tickets are on sale today from here.
Considering that the trains only call at five potential stations, the booking page is rather odd in giving you options for every station in the UK, and that the default date is today when the service won’t run until 25th October. That’s because it’s a generic rail travel booking page – so you will see a list of all rail services, including the Lumo service in the list of ticket prices. You can filter to show only Lumo if needed, but it’s pretty obvious which services are theirs from the prices.