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Business travellers demand better connectivity and flexibility on UK rail network

Flexible booking, more free Wi-Fi access and rail operator apps top of wishlist, according to new research

Pictured: GTMC CEO Paul Wait

Business travellers on the UK rail network want flexible booking, more free Wi-Fi access and rail operator apps, according to new research published by the GTMC.

The Business Rail Travel research report, conducted by Audiencenet, highlights that while there is still a strong appetite for rail travel from corporates, investment is needed to ensure it continues to work as a relevant mode of transport for the modern business traveller.

Online connectivity is top of the agenda for business rail travellers, but so too is connectivity between cities and there is overwhelming support for the development of HS2. Nearly half of those surveyed (47 per cent) stated that HS2 should be the government’s top priority rail infrastructure project, compared to just 14 per cent who expressed support for HS3. In turn 84 per cent thought London to Manchester would be the route most frequently used with Edinburgh chosen as the most popular city to extend to.

When it comes to views on the on-board facilities it seems there is still work to do to improve the experience for business travellers. Whilst just less than half (48 per cent) feel that the on-board facilities are adequate, many were keen to offer suggestions on how it could be bettered. More table seating and free Wi-Fi lead the pack in terms of how these improvements can be made, closely followed by the introduction of more charging points. Suggestions also included the introduction of delay repay systems, electrification of the network and the introduction of a loyalty scheme for business class passengers.

While two thirds (66 per cent) of those surveyed confirmed that they were very interested in flexible ticketing, half (50 per cent) also stated that they would also welcome a carnet ticket option. While only a fifth (20 per cent) of those surveyed sometimes book UK rail travel via a TMC website, 54 per cent use a rail operator. Of that 20 per cent nearly three quarters (71 per cent) stated that they would want access to the rail operator’s app.

Paul Wait, CEO of the GTMC, said: “The concerns and demands from business travellers are clear. To support and enable the business travel community to work effectively both Government and the network of UK rail operators needs to pay due diligence to connectivity. This means investment in Wi-Fi and the intercity links in which HS2 has a crucial role to play, particularly in improving access for those major cities outside of the south east. Reassuringly for the rail operators there is demand for rail travel from business travellers but they cannot and must not rest on their laurels. Investment for the entire length of the railway journey experience is essential in safeguarding its future and supporting the future of business travel within the UK.” 

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