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Carbon beaters

Lumo tempts air travellers with low-cost electric trains

New era of travel promised by low carbon trains

A fully-electric low-cost rail service will connect Edinburgh and London from next month in one of the boldest attempts to cut emissions and persuade air travellers to take the train.

Lumo, owned by Aberdeen-based transport company FirstGroup, will provide low-carbon, affordable long-distance travel for for an estimated one million passengers a year and it is targeting the 74,500 passengers who currently fly between the two capitals each month.  

Single tickets will have a starting price of just £14.90 with about 60% of all single fares available for £30 or less.

Rail travel already generates six times fewer carbon emissions than travelling by plane, according to the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Lumo expects to be even more carbon efficient than the average rail service because its trains are 100% electric.

Services start on 25 October, with their frequency increasing over time to a maximum of ten per day by early next year.


Helen Wylde, managing director, said: “Travelling in the UK should not cost a fortune and it certainly shouldn’t be the planet that pays. Whatever your preferred mode of transport, we are likely to be more affordable and kinder to the planet.

“We believe everyone has the right to travel in style. We are empowering people to make green travel choices that are genuinely affordable without compromising on comfort.”

Lumo trains will run on the East Coast Main Line and call at Newcastle, Morpeth and Stevenage, helping to improve regional connectivity while offering alternatives to Newcastle and Luton airports. 

As airports are seldom city centre destinations and frequently require onward travel arrangements, Lumo aims to encourage flyers to move to rail.

Its trains are ergonomically designed for comfort and ease, helping passengers to work or play at their custom-designed seats, which all come with adjustable tray table, privacy wings and personal lighting.

Lumo aims to create over 13 million additional passenger journeys in the next decade as well as reducing carbon emissions by encouraging travellers to use greener, electric travel. It will contribute as much as £250m to the UK economy over ten years.

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Lumo has invested £15m on digital and IT infrastructure and £100m on the manufacture and maintenance of five brand new, state-of-the-art Hitachi AT300 intercity electric trains.

Ms Wylde added: “The reasons people choose different modes of travel are changing. People are now considering their impact on the environment very carefully. They also expect better service and catering. Lumo is a new rail travel experience that is kinder to the planet and better value for passengers, while never compromising on service.”

Lumo intends to publish its carbon emissions data on a regular basis to feed its carbon calculator, which allows passengers to calculate the carbon impact of their Lumo journey and compare it with other ways to travel.

In addition, more than 50% of the on-board catering menu is plant-based; staff uniforms are responsibly sourced and can be entirely recycled; and paper waste has been dramatically reduced by being a digital-first business.

Ms Wylde commented: “Travelling by rail is already the greenest form of long-distance travel in the UK. Lumo will take this further, being the ‘greenest in class’ with state-of-the-art electric trains and a service to match.

“We have a commitment to finding greener, smarter and more comfortable ways to get people from A to B – and we welcome anyone’s perspective on that.”

Lumo has invested £2 million in a Training Academy to develop a fresh-thinking generation of rail colleagues, focused on passenger wellbeing and on-board customer service, harnessing new technology and caring for vulnerable passengers. This month, 15 customer driver apprentices will graduate from the Academy.

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