FirstGroup has launched Lumo, its new 100% electric and “affordable” fast rail service between Edinburgh and London King’s Cross.
FirstGroup has pledged that fares will be substantially cheaper than LNER, which operates most trains on the route, with singles starting at £14.90.
It said 60% of seats on Lumo will cost £30 or less, with a maximum fare of £69 one way.
The service will take around four and a half hours and will stop at Morpeth, Newcastle and Stevenage.
The service will give a debut to new, state-of-the-art Hitachi AT300 intercity electric trains.
“Early ticket sales data suggest reaction to Lumo’s greener and affordable offering has been positive,” said FirstGroup.
“With the first passenger services beginning on Monday [25 October], Lumo says sales are above expectations, despite selling tickets for just 44 days.
“Weekend train services have been particularly popular as people begin to rediscover using the rail network for staycations and to visit friends and family.”
Sumo MD Helen Wylde said: “The support we have received for Lumo has been fantastic.
“We have always said we intend to reimagine rail travel and we are glad people are giving us a chance.
“Tickets are selling well beyond expectations, and we have had great feedback about our commitment to offering a different kind of rail company.
“However, rest assured we are not complacent and understand we must earn travellers’ trust in the Lumo promise.”
First Rail Managing Director Steve Montgomery said: “Lumo underlines our commitment at FirstGroup to innovation and customer service to reimagining rail travel.
“We have invested over £100 million to ensure Lumo stands apart and encourages people to choose rail travel over air for journeys between the two capitals.
“This is an important moment for the industry as we encourage more people back onto the rail network.”
Jim Brewin, Head of UK & Ireland at Hitachi Rail said: “This fleet is another milestone for our North East (of England) factory, with the highest number of parts being sourced from Hitachi Rail’s UK supply chain.
“Despite the initial challenges of the pandemic, Hitachi Rail has delivered these 100% electric trains on time, which is testament to the determination and resilience of everyone involved.
“Ahead of COP26, the Lumo fleet demonstrates how UK manufacturing and rail can offer a zero-emission alternative to flying and deliver green growth.”
Sarah Reid, Commercial Director for Network Rail’s Eastern region, said: “We’re delighted to welcome Lumo to the route.
“The East Coast Main Line has a rich history, and the introduction of these new, fully electric services marks the next chapter.
“We’ve worked incredibly closely with Lumo and the wider rail industry on making these plans a reality and it’s fantastic that today, we realise a new future for sustainable rail travel.
“We wish Lumo all the best and we look forward to continuing to work closely with them as we welcome their first train on the network, helping to improve choice for passengers and encouraging more people to travel by rail.”
FirstGroup’s £100 million order with Hitachi Rail for the manufacture and maintenance of Lumo’s AT300 intercity electric trains was financed by Beacon Rail.
Beacon Rail CEO Adam Cunliffe said: “Railways offer a safe, sustainable and cost-effective means of transport now and in the future.
“Lumo is reinventing rail travel with a fresh and affordable offer.
“Beacon is delighted to support Lumo and congratulates Helen and her team as they attract more customers to rail from road and air.”