FirstGroup Trains to Compete With Jets on London-Scotland Route

(Bloomberg) — FirstGroup Plc will begin operating trains between London and Edinburgh next month with fares the company says will be low enough to challenge discount airlines on the route.

The service, branded “Lumo,” is set to start Oct. 25 and will offer five round trips a day by early next year, with 60% of tickets priced at 30 pounds ($41.50) or less for a one-way journey, according to a statement Tuesday.

Lumo is aiming to compete with discount flights that are often cheaper than the main East Coast train service provided by London North Eastern Railway, a government-controlled company that took over the route in 2018. The startup says its Hitachi Ltd. AT300 electric trains, the same model used by LNER, will emit less than one-sixth of the carbon produced by flying.

FirstGroup touted plans for Lumo in 2015 after its bid for the East Coast line lost out to Virgin Trains, which later hit financial difficulties, causing the state to step in. Lumo will operate under open-access rules that allow companies to offer limited rail services outside of Britain’s established franchise structure.

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