As lockdown restrictions are easing significantly, London North Eastern Railway (LNER) has upgraded travel planning systems, making rail journeys with them easier than ever, and providing more choice for customers.
LNER has simplified its process of planning, booking and travelling with them by improving the reservation process, which allows customers to book a seat up to five minutes before travel, making journeys more comfortable for all onboard.
With millions of tickets available to buy as far in advance as September 2021, LNER’s new award-winning easy-to-use app is making life even more straightforward and accessible for customers looking to book.
This is right on time for customers as LNER are seeing an increase in searches and bookings for the summer period.
COVID-19 created a brand new set of requirements for the railway industry especially with the need to keep customers socially distanced. In response to the specific needs of the pandemic, LNER worked quickly to bring in a successful trial of reservation only services and since its introduction, all passengers travelling have been guaranteed a seat, including those catching a service with short notice along with customers with ‘walk-up’ tickets.
From Monday the 19th of July 2021, the UK government no longer requires the public to be socially distanced and LNER are responding to this approach with a new scheme called ‘Seat Sure’. From the 19th of July LNER will still ask customers to reserve a seat but increase the flexibility for those who may wish to travel without making a reservation.
Customers will still be able to achieve a comfortable journey on LNER services and with the confidence that trains will not be overcrowded thanks to Seat Sure.
Seat Sure will mean that the majority of seats will need a reservation but the scheme will also support those who prefer the ‘walk-up’ ticket approach where LNER will provide a number of unreserved seats in Coach C for standard and for first class in Coach M or Coach E for five coach services.
Internet research company YouGov carried out research for LNER finding that one-third of British adults would prefer to undertake a long-distance journey by train over travelling by car if they could be assured of a seat.
LNER has reviewed the extensive research gathered during the pandemic and has used its findings to provide insights into how to best respond to the feedback. The research also showed that having a guaranteed seat would make 34% of people who took long-distance flights at least once per year more likely to choose train travel.
Other positive changes introduced earlier this year are LNER’s Passenger Assist which can now be made up to 6 hours before travelling rather than 24 hours in previous years. This service is also in addition to the ‘turn-up and go’ assistance option offered by LNER.
Customers who are travelling with bicycles can now book bike spaces whilst buying tickets through the LNER website, this service is also available at Travel Centres or by contacting LNER’s Customer Contact Centre. LNER are also partnering with Network Rail in an effort to increase bicycle parking at stations.
Another convenient facility that LNER is making it much easier for customers to order food and drink from their seat.‘Let’s Eat at Your Seat’ is an industry first allowing customers in Standard Class to order food and drink direct from their seat simply by scanning a QR code from their smartphone. This innovative system works well alongside the regular onboard cafe which will still run as usual.
LNER is also offering a loyalty scheme giving LNER Perks to customers with the chance to earn credit when buying train tickets via the LNER website or mobile app. The perks can be used to save money on future bookings with LNER.
Customers can also rely on the level of enhanced cleaning as LNER continue to deliver record levels of specialised cleaning on board its trains and within its stations.
To get the best from an LNER journey, customers are recommended to reserve a seat using LNER’s online reservation tool which allows customers to see which seats are booked, look for personal seating preferences and moving their seats using the online seating map. Reservations can be made free when booking or up to five minutes before departure by visiting www.LNER.co.uk/Reserve or via the LNER App, at a Travel Centre or contacting the Customer Contact Centre and speaking to a member of the team.
On the 19th of July 2021, the legal requirement to wear a face-covering in England was lifted, however, it will still be mandatory in Scotland. The UK Government are expecting and highly recommends wearing face coverings (unless exempt) in areas of close contact which includes public transport. LNER are asking passengers to wear face coverings on their services, in their stations and Travel Centres and are taking this opportunity to remind customers that face coverings are still a legal requirement in Scotland unless exempt.
David Horne, LNER Managing Director, said: “We’ve been working hard throughout the pandemic to design new ways of making journeys by train – which is the most sustainable method of long-distance travel – as accessible, enjoyable and appealing as possible.
“We’ve made booking tickets and travelling with LNER even smarter and introduced new products that make the whole experience of rail travel even more enjoyable. The tools we have invested in and continue to refine are industry-leading and offer customers greater flexibility and more choice when it comes to travelling with us.
“Research shows that having an assured seat has benefits beyond social distancing and the COVID-19 pandemic. We know that in 2019, more than 60 per cent of LNER journeys were made using tickets which had a reservation attached. In recent months, that has increased to 84 per cent.
“Seat Sure allows us to avoid overcrowding, which we know is important for our customers, whilst helping us manage planned disruption by making data more readily available for people travelling or planning to travel with us.”
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