Train operator East Coast’s complimentary food and drinks service and new timetable has helped to achieve the highest number of First Class journeys for five years.
East Coast’s figures also show that between the end of May 2011 and 4 February 2012, passenger journeys made in First Class rose by 21% compared with the same period in 2010-11 – representing an additional 253,000 passenger journeys in First Class.
Journey numbers in First Class on East Coast’s busiest route between Leeds and London have been rising even faster. Between the end of May and 4 February 2012, the number of First Class journeys made on this route was up by 31% compared with the same months in 2010-11.
The train operator’s flagship capital-to-capital route linking London and Edinburgh, saw an even larger 36% rise in First Class journeys, again between the end of May and 4 February 2012, compared with the same months in 2010-11.
Business travellers on the key battleground route with the airlines, ditched the ‘plane for the train thanks to East Coast’s key advantages – city centre to centre travel, complimentary Wi-Fi and the new complimentary food and drinks service, plus more services including a ‘Flying Scotsman’ prestige express linking the Scottish and English capitals in just four hours.
In contrast, East Coast First Class journeys grew by 3% in the entire year from April 2010 to March 2011, before the new First Class service was introduced.
East Coast Managing Director Karen Boswell said: “These new figures confirm that the increase in passenger journeys we saw within weeks of the launch of the new First Class customer service was only the beginning.
“Since then we’ve seen impressive passenger numbers in First Class – now at the highest for five years – showing that not only are many people voting with their feet and trying us out, but that they are coming back for more.
“A significant proportion of the First Class journey growth is coming from the sale of our best-value First Advance tickets, which demonstrates that our competitive fares and good customer service make a winning combination.
“Following this good start, we’ll continue to work hard to improve the consistency of our customer service – and welcome more people on-board in First Class.”
East Coast launched substantial improvements to its First Class customer service from Sunday 22 May 2011, including a new complimentary food and drinks service, featuring hot meals on weekday morning and evening trains, and a new Quiet Coach.
From the same date, East Coast also introduced its new timetable, adding 117 extra services every week and more than three million additional seats to the timetable. The timetable also reintroduced return services from London to Harrogate for the first time in 20 years, and a new daily service between Lincoln and London.