The world renowned Edinburgh Fringe was cancelled for the second time running this year due to everyone’s favourite party pooper COVID, but the next time it occurs, you’ll be able to travel there in a new way: London is getting a brand new rail service to the Scottish capital.

Lumo, a new open-access train operator, has launched the new service which travels from London King’s Cross up to Edinburgh Waverley, stopping en route in Newcastle. The journey is 400 miles, and takes some four hours, and the trains go at an average of 125mph. The new service is designed to be an alternative to cheap flights to and from the two cities, with an aim of reducing the need for carbon emission heavy plane journeys.

As such, the trains themselves will be more environmentally friendly, since they’re fully electric (as opposed to diesel). Perhaps the main draw of the service is its relatively cheap tickets: at an advertised £25 a seat, the train will hopefully attract passengers who’d normally opt for a plane. However, there’s been reports that there’s a lot of tickets are being priced at £69 or more even in advance bookings, and worse, this is more expensive than tickets on Easyjet and even British Airways.

Perhaps the main draw of the service is its relatively cheap tickets...

There was also an unfortunate bungling on its first journey, when the train left several minutes late, and also left three passengers behind on the platform due to a booking service error. Putting aside these financial and booking growing pains, the service does still look good: passengers will get access to free WiFi, an ‘entertainment package’, comfy leg room, plug sockets, and extendable tables with lights that can be switched on and off.

The company is looking to expand their timetable in the coming months...

These more high end features aim to emulate the airline cabins they’re replacing. There’s even mid-flight style driver announcements, giving you updates on the weather conditions of your destination. As it stands, none of the Lumo trains will arrive in London until after 1pm, but the company is looking to expand their timetable in the coming months. Catering includes both M&S branded food which can be pre ordered, and a food trolley (you can pretend you’re on a high-tech Hogwarts Express). There’s also plenty of vegan options available, leaning into the environmentally friendly angle.

Lumo also wants to pursue a very digital way of doing things, with a booking website that’s very simplified and easy to access, and paperless digital tickets offered, again helping to reduce waste. Even the staff uniforms, designed by Hunter Apparel Solutions, are made with sustainability and ethics in mind. On the drive for eco friendly sustainability, Lumo managing director Helen Wylde commented: “We are empowering people to make green travel choices that are genuinely affordable without compromising on comfort.”

Even the staff uniforms... are made with sustainability and ethics in mind...

The train launch has also gotten help from a few well known faces: the Scottish singer-songwriter Tom Walker was on the first voyage performing to passengers and crew, and Katie Price’s son Harvey Price has been appointed Lumo’s diversity and inclusion brand ambassador, and joined Walker on the journey. The service has taken measures to make the service more accessible, with priority seats and wheelchair spaces.

Lumo’s service launched last week, and as mentioned, will be looking to expand its services next year in order to entice more people to travel the rails. Tickets have been selling out fast though, and demand for pre bookings has been high, so if you want to try out this new journey for yourself, you’ll have to get in line.


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