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LNER Forum 2022: Positive takeaways from rail

Published 14 September 2022 by Elspeth Wray

Below, our Head of Enterprise Elspeth Wray talks about her experience at LNER’s Scotland Stakeholder Forum in Edinburgh last week.

I was delighted to speak at LNER’s Scotland Stakeholder Forum on the role played by rail in meeting Scotland’s 20% car km reduction target.

At the Forum, I was also very pleased to hear more about what LNER is doing to encourage people to choose rail over flying or driving. It was motivating to hear lots of positive news about the railways.

Highlights for me included:

  1. plans to greatly simplify the ticketing system and reduce the number of ticket types, making it much easier and less stressful for passengers to book travel
  2. a real push to give disabled customers the same flexibility and level of service as other passengers, for example allowing disabled customers to book their own wheelchair space online and reducing the advance notice required for booking passenger assistance to two hours, with plans to trial a turn-up-and-go service
  3. a campaign to encourage passengers to be kind to staff on-board the train, by reminding us all that staff are people with feelings just like everyone else
  4. a programme to renovate the toilets at LNER stations (although this isn’t a very fashionable topic, having a nice, clean toilet is so important!)

It’s great to see train companies working hard to encourage people back onto our railways. Achieving modal shift is essential if Scotland is going to meet its 20% traffic reduction target. A small number of longer trips still account for a disproportionally high percentage of car kms in Scotland, and these are trips where rail should be a great alternative. Cross-border rail also has a special role in bringing people into Scotland on a green mode of transport.

Let’s hope the Scottish Government will match its 20% traffic reduction commitment with financial investment in a fast, modern, inter-city rail network that will help the efforts of LNER, ScotRail and other train operators to win more and more passengers.