For a successful green recovery, the First Minister has made it clear there must be a modal shift away from car and air travel to greener modes of transport such as rail. To support Scotland’s decarbonisation plans, at LNER we are making our services more inclusive, affordable and enjoyable, and by doing so we hope to encourage more to come onboard.
We have already made our fleet greener. Our new 65 Azuma trains, the last of which were introduced during the pandemic, emit just 4.3kg of carbon per passenger between Edinburgh and London – 97 per cent less than a flight. Thanks to more people choosing LNER in 2019, 366,000 aviation journeys were prevented between Edinburgh and London, demonstrating what a difference travelling by rail makes for the environment.
Environmental benefits can increase even further. The electrification of the East Coast Main Line between Edinburgh and Aberdeen will mean that our services can run from Aberdeen to London fully in electric mode – reducing our emissions even more – helping Scotland reach net-zero and the Scottish Government’s ambition to decarbonise Scotland’s railway by 2035.
To encourage more people onto our new Azuma trains and make the switch for the long term, we continue to improve our customer experience. Thanks to our investment and innovation, it is now possible to book tickets more than three months in advance; to have a guaranteed seat for the duration of the journey with ‘Seat Sure’; and order food and drink at your seat in Standard Class – making the journey more enjoyable and relaxing.
We are also trialling technology that will particularly benefit our business customers. We have partnered with O2 to improve phone and Wi-Fi coverage between Edinburgh and Newcastle, helping the journey to be as productive as possible. Our new Azuma trains already offer the best Wi-Fi yet on the route so this latest development will offer a boost for those relying on voice and data usage when travelling at high speeds.
Travelling on our services also makes a significant economic contribution to Scotland. For every £1 spent running and investing in LNER services, at least £2 is generated in economic (GVA) impact. In Scotland that means an economic impact of £251m, of which £201m benefits surrounding areas. Once our planned service improvements are delivered, our economic impact will increase, so that for every £1 spent running and investing in our services, around £3 in value to the United Kingdom will be generated.
At LNER we are doing all we can to make it easier for people to make the change and help Scotland achieve its decarbonisation plans, but electrification should not be underestimated as a key component to reach net-zero and decarbonise Scotland’s rail. The Scottish Government has said they expect this to be delivered to Aberdeen subject to budgetary decisions by the UK Government. We hope that both Governments will come together and see these plans realised, delivering fully electric and green rail journeys to and from the Granite City.