FirstGroup has been teasing its new Open Access rail operator between London and Scotland for some time now. Well – a brand has been unveiled – enter Lumo.
Lumo will commence operations between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh on the 25th October 2021, operating between the principal stations of Stevenage, Newcastle, and Morpeth, with an end-to-end journey taking 4 and half hours.
It will operate five trains a day up and down the East Coast Main Line, as it targets domestic air travellers and rail travellers on a budget.
The trains will be configured in a single class, with five carriages per train, with a 2 -2 seating layout.
The trains themselves are based on the Hitachi AT-300 family of trains, which in turn are the ones used by Great Western Railway, LNER, TransPennine Express and First Hull Trains.
As well as this, trains will feature LumoGo – their entertainment portal, Wi-Fi and a food pre-ordering and trolley service. Trains will have accessible toilets in two of the five cars.
Note that table seating is at a premium on these trains, with most of the seating “airline-style”. For families or groups, booking ahead will be key to securing those seats.
Let’s get to the name
Lumo. What is that meant to mean? According to FirstGroup:
Make of that what you will.
Booking open – as well as lead-in pricing.
Booking for Lumo and its launch services is available at https://www.lumo.co.uk/
Single fares will start at £14.90, with the train operator promising 60% of its fares to be less than £30 one-way.
A mixture of fixed train tickets and anytime tickets will be sold by the operator.
Lumo will be going up against a fair number of competitors – Aviation being its main target. It will also compete with fellow East Coast operator LNER as well as Avanti West Coast and Caledonian Sleeper.
It will also face budget competition on the roads with National Express and Megabus, which operate slower coach services between the cities.
The East Coast Challenger
The East Coast Mainline is a busy railway, with both “franchised” and “open-access” railway operators running up and down it, all competing for paths and passengers. Lumo will present a challenge to the incumbent long-distance operator LNER with a price structure that will be a challenge for it to match.
For Lumo, there will be the question of filling those seats. Having five cars per train on a long-distance service could come to hurt them in the longer term if the service takes off – indeed some might question the precious paths being used up by “only” a five-car unit (until you realise LNER plays the same game on some routes, some days).
It’s going to be interesting how this shakes out over the next couple of years – and if open access rail has a place in the new Great British Railways world.
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