The re­turn of three classes of rail travel in Scot­land

● Three classes on sale as new fran­chise of­fers ‘flex­i­bil­ity’

The Scotsman - - FRONT PAGE - By NEIL LANCE­FIELD

Three classes of travel are to be of­fered on Bri­tain’s do­mes­tic rail­way for the first time in decades.

Avanti West Coast, which re­placed Vir­gin Trains on the West Coast Main Line on Sun­day, is de­vel­op­ing a pre­mium econ­omy-style of­fer­ing.

Trains run­ning on Bri­tain’s main­line rail­way cur­rently only have stan­dard class or first class.

Avanti manag­ing direc­tor Phil Whit­ting­ham, who pre­vi­ously held the same role at Vir­gin Trains, said: “We know there is go­ing to be three classes.

“It is go­ing to be a first class, a pre­mium econ­omy-type style and econ­omy.”

The ex­tra class is likely to be in­tro­duced once the Pen­dolino car­riages the firm in­her­ited from Vir­gin Trains are re­fur­bished. The first re­vamped train is ex­pected to re­turn to ser­vice by au­tumn 2020. The price has yet to be an­nounced.

Three classes of travel are to be of­fered on Bri­tain’s do­mes­tic rail­way for the first time in decades.

Avanti West Coast, which re­placed Vir­gin Trains on the West Coast Main Line on Sun­day, is de­vel­op­ing a pre­mium econ­omy-style of­fer­ing.

Trains run­ning on Bri­tain’s main­line rail­way cur­rently only have stan­dard class or first class.

But pas­sen­gers who want an up­grade with­out buy­ing the most ex­pen­sive tick­ets will be able to ob­tain an en­hanced ser­vice once Avanti West Coast fi­nalises its plans.

The ex­tra class is likely to be in­tro­duced once the Pen­dolino car­riages the firm in­her­ited from Vir­gin Trains are re­fur­bished. The first re­vamped train is ex­pected to re­turn to ser­vice by early au­tumn 2020.

It is not known how much the mid­dle tier of fares would cost.

Avanti manag­ing direc­tor Phil Whit­ting­ham, who pre­vi­ously held the same role at Vir­gin Trains, said: “We know there is go­ing to be three classes.

“It is go­ing to be a first class, a pre­mium econ­omy-type style and econ­omy.”

He said pas­sen­gers in pre­mium econ­omy could be en­ti­tled to “the big­ger seat, bet­ter wi-fi and snacks rather than a meal”.

Matthew Gre­gory, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Firstgroup, which joint-owns the fran­chise with Ital­ian firm Tren­i­talia, said the change in pol­icy is “about balancing and be­ing flex­i­ble within the train”. He went on: “Ob­vi­ously first class can be quite ex­pen­sive, so there are dif­fer­ent price points be­tween stan­dard class and first class and it is about see­ing if we can of­fer a more flex­i­ble of­fer­ing that suits more price points.”

Third-class rail travel was abol­ished in Bri­tain in 1956 and re­named sec­ond class be­fore later be­ing branded stan­dard class.

Firstgroup re­port­edly con­sid­ered in­tro­duc­ing three classes on west coast ser­vices in its ill-fated 2012 bid for the fran­chise.

A year later, the Depart­ment for Trans­port was forced to deny it was plan­ning to re­quire a “third-class ser­vice” to be in­tro­duced on the East Coast Main Line, af­ter a three­tier sys­tem was in­cluded in a leaked fran­chise prospec­tus ahead of a re­turn to pri­vate own­er­ship.

Rail ex­pert Mark Smith, founder of Seat61.com, said: “When it comes to in­ter­city travel, there does seem to be scope for hav­ing some ex­tra classes, but it de­pends what they’re do­ing and how they’re do­ing it.”

Cross-chan­nel rail op­er­a­tor Eurostar of­fers three classes of travel.

The mid­dle class, named Stan­dard Pre­mier, en­ti­tles ticket hold­ers to a larger seat where they are served a light meal and drinks.

Tren­i­talia has four classes on its high-speed Frec­cia­rossa trains.

PIC­TURE: LU­CIANA GUERRA/PA

0 Avanti West Coast is to of­fer a ‘pre­mium econ­omy’ fare

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