Think Rail FirstLNER

executive summary

We worked in partnership with train operator LNER to encourage people to “Think Rail First” and chose train for UK trips.


LNER had commissioned research which reinforced the evidence that taking the train is faster, cheaper and more reliable than plane or car for Edinburgh-London journeys, but that the majority of people underestimated these benefits. Our challenge was to highlight the benefits of rail, change public perceptions and encourage more people to switch to the train.


We organised events with MSPs, local authorities, business and transport leaders to share the research findings and get fresh insights into the most effective ways to change people’s views and promote rail. Suggestions from stakeholders included:

  • increasing the prestige of rail so it has the same status as flying
  • simplifying tickets and rolling out a national smart card
  • building on people’s emotional attachment to rail e.g. fond childhood memories and fun trips
  • changing people’s perceptions of price
  • promoting the door-to-door convenience of rail journeys
  • marketing rail to people living in smaller towns and rural areas outside our big cities


Think Rail First succeeded in raising the profile of rail among MSPs and stakeholders. It gave LNER a platform to share their message with an influential audience, together with feedback for their promotions and marketing.

Our MSP event in the Scottish Parliament was attended by:

  • Fiona Hyslop MSP, SNP (event Chair)
  • Sarah Boyack MSP, Labour
  • Finlay Carson MSP, Conservative
  • Sharon Dowey MSP, Conservative
  • Jackie Dunbar MSP, SNP
  • Rachael Hamilton MSP, Conservative
  • Liam Kerr MSP, Conservative
  • Gordon Macdonald MSP, SNP
  • John Mason MSP, SNP
  • Graham Simpson MSP, Conservative

Our stakeholder event was attended by:

  • City of Edinburgh Council
  • Dundee City Council
  • Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce
  • International Union of Railways
  • Liam Kerr MSP
  • Network Rail
  • Transport for Edinburgh
  • Transport Scotland
  • University of Stirling


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