Luxury travel pledged in bid for east coast trains
TRANSATLANTIC airline-quality comfort will be promised to passengers as part of ambitious plans for a new train service between Edinburgh and London.
Individual compartments would be provided in first class, similar to those in some long-haul aircraft.
Travellers in all classes would have food served at their seats as they relaxed in new-style reclining chairs, which do not impinge on those behind.
Alliance Rail revealed details of the luxury service as it upped its battle to win approval to run trains on the east coast main line from 2018. It faces rival proposals from current operator Virgin Trains, which wants to run more services, and ex-ScotRail operator FirstGroup, which is bidding to launch a new service.
Independent regulator the Office of Rail will decide which plans to approve, but UK ministers have expressed fears that competition to Virgin would cut payments received from the operator by some £60 million a year.
Alliance, which is part of a rail group owned by the German government, would use the name of former east coast operator Great North Eastern Railway, GNER, for its service.
Managing director Ian Yeowart has pledged some £50m on track improvements to run tilting Pendolino trains, which already operate between Glasgow and London.
This would cut around 15 minutes off the fastest four-hour Edinburgh-London journeys to attract those who currently fly. Yeowart said the firm would be based in Edinburgh, with 145 of its 250 jobs there.
He said: “We plan some of the best features of transatlantic airlines.
“These include private areas where passengers can cocoon themselves. Rail could be glamorous again.”
A Virgin spokesman said: “We don’t believe the open access proposals would be compatible with our timetable proposals.”