Business booms on rail, sea and air

Business booms on rail, sea and air

From Ryanair, to Virgin Trains and Thomson Cruises, communication for passengers and goods continues to grow on rail, sea and air in the North East.

Ryanair has brought in its biggest ever Newcastle seasonal air schedule with two new routes to Lanzarote and Tenerife, a new service to Malaga, and more flights to Alicante and Dublin (double daily from June).

Further growth to deliver 330,000 customers yearly will see Ryanair double its Newcastle traffic and support 250 jobs at Newcastle Airport.

Newcastle Airport’s chief executive David Laws (who is stepping down after 37 years’ service, 10 of them in the top role) doubly welcomed the moves, promising a boom in winter sunshine holiday travel, and further growth for the Dublin link, already one of the airport’s most popular routes.

Thomson Cruises meanwhile is re-introducing cruises from the UK, with sails out of Port of Tyne from summer 2017. Ten new itineraries of four to 14 nights have been announced. These will visit key ports in the Norwegian Fjords, Scandinavia and the Baltics, including Copenhagen, Stockholm, St Petersburg and Reykjavik on board Thomson Celebration. 

On rail, Virgin Trains, having marked its first anniversary running the East Coast Main Line franchise, is adding 42 more services a week between Edinburgh and London from May – giving more than 22,000 extra seats a day. The company says new routes from Sunderland and Stirling have been well received.

It is to invest more than £40m on fleet improvements, £18m of it in the first year, That tops the amount its predecessor, Directly Operated Railways (trading as East Coast) spent in its last three years. But Virgin Trains will also have to match its pedecessor’s outstanding punctuality during its tenure of the franchise, which will see £140m invested over the duration.

Sir Richard Branson has unveiled personally the first of the new Virgin trains that will cut journey times on the East Coast Main Line by up to 22 minutes. The 65 new inter-city trains will be built by Hitachi at Newton Aycliffe.

The journey between London and Edinburgh will take four hours from 2018, since the rains will accelerate from 0-125mph in about a minute faster than the current fleet. While the trains will initially reach speeds of up to 125mph, a cross-industry working group, including Network Rail, is investigating the potential for 140mph services on the East Coast route.