Monday, 30 November 2009

Train station built in just six days

A temporary railway station at Workington in Cumbria has opened after the town was cut in two by severe flooding. 

The station was built in just six days after floods washed away bridges and damaged others.

The new shuttle train service between Workington and Maryport is to run every weekday from Monday 30 November to provide further help to residents in West Cumbria following the recent severe floods.

It will call at Maryport, Flimby, the new temporary station on the north side of Worrkington, called Workington North, and Workington.

The shuttle train will have three carriages and will be operated by Cumbrian rail company DRS on behalf of Northern Rail.

click here to see the BBC video report

moving people the newsletter - november issue

Comment, articles, case studies and experiences relevant to your industry.

Factual, inspirational, funny and hopefully thought provoking, the content is designed to highlight relevant and topical issues facing those involved with selling public transport. 

Monday, 23 November 2009

Could you love a gas company?

Not transport related but worth a Monday morning marketing rant...

Just read that Chris Jansen, commercial director at British Gas, is 'on a quest to reignite consumer affection for the brand' and 'believes UK consumers are ready to fall in love with British Gas.' If he really believes anyone in the UK has 'an affection' for a utilities supplier he is sadly mistaken.

I for one choose it on the best deal, and who I think is ripping me off the least - and I suspect I'm not the only one. Maybe he should have joined a dating agency.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Southern go a bit 'loco'

Southern have launched a new campaign fronted by a larger-than-life fat Mexican wrestler that looks a bit like Jack Black in Nacho Libre.

The campaign features ads, short YouTube videos (one above), a Facebook page and a download-able MP3 of his 'train song'.

It's completely bonkers and almost pointless, but you can't help but raise a smile. It also goes along with our thoughts about being different (read more here). I've got to say, I love it.

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Buy a bus ticket from the comfort of your mobile phone

Arriva becomes the first UK bus operator to introduce mobile phone ticketing for all its regional services.

Customers across Arriva’s regional bus businesses in England, Scotland and Wales, will be able to buy daily, weekly and four-weekly tickets via their mobile phones following the national launch of Arriva’s m-ticketing service on Tuesday, 17 November.

Arriva’s introduction of m-ticketing is believed to be the largest deployment of its kind in the world, covering approximately 1,000 routes served by Arriva’s regional fleet of 4,500 buses. It will enable passengers to use their mobile phones to purchase tickets and then display them to the driver.

Mike Cooper, managing director of Arriva UK Bus, said: “The mobile phone has become an increasingly essential part of modern life and m-tickets will give additional flexibility and convenience to our customers.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

First offer a weeks FREE bus travel

First Group is offering Free bus travel to 'qualifying' residents of the UK, living in Aberdeen, Chester, Leeds, Plymouth and York.

I would presume the qualifying people are those who normally drive to work and who travel every day.

A good idea that goes along with our belief that it is easier to change someone's behaviour than it is to change their attitude (read more about changing behaviours here).

Click here to visit the site

The train company that tells you to take the coach

So National Express East Coast has been officially relieved of its duties running the East Coast Main Line, to be replaced by the Government operated East Coast.

And less than three hours before that occurred, an email appeared in the inbox of anyone who had ever booked a ticket with National Express trains:

Bitterwallet - National Express try to railroad Government takeover

The account was handed over to the new owners at midnight, so there was a window of opportunity to channel consumers away from the trains and promote their coach service while the mailing list still resided with them. One last jolly at the expense of the now Government-ran competition.

Plusbus takes off in October

Plusbus have just announced record ticket sales of 42,267 for the four week period to 17 October, up from 33,442 in the previous four weeks.

It is the first time sales have exceeded 40,000 in a four week period.

Congratulations to Jonathan and his team.

Monday, 16 November 2009

East Coast research

Research from 6,000 passengers on what they expected from the now government run East Coast main line concluded they want -

1. More trains to arrive on time.
2. Better value for money .
3. More seats so that passengers don't have to stand on shorter journeys and are more comfortable when the trains are crowded.

I wonder how much it cost to find out the blindingly obvious?

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Virgin Trains launches new website

Virgin Trains is overhauling its website to convey the brand's new positioning of train travel as superior to other modes of transport.

But ironically it is actually positioning itself as identical to any other mode of transport. As nice as the 'new' website is, to the customer it will look exactly like almost every other corporate website. A shame really. I thought that Virgin would really push the boat out and do something a bit radical, like TPE's relatively new site.

Supporting Virgin Trains' re-launch this summer with a campaign by MCBD and Elvis, the revamped site launches on 11 November. It aims to position Virgin Trains as facilitator of ‘personal journeys' and its new Virgin High Frequency service.

The overhauled website, by Elvis, includes new features such as an interactive route map linked to station information, a tool that generates custom timetables and a news blog section. It also encompasses over 100 new images which champion the brand experience.

Website functionality has also been enhanced to work in conjunction with National Rail Enquiries, The Trainline and Eurostar.

Trains are too expensive, use buses instead

A Network Rail executive today told staff to travel by coach to a conference because trains are too expensive.

The official said the cost of 200 employees making a 90-mile trip from Reading to Coventry on the train would be an "untenable" £27,000, compared to £2,400 by coach.

He said that a second-class open return for the journey could cost up to £146-a-head by train, whereas a return journey on a bus would cost £12 per person.

Should Network Rail practice what they preach and back up the industry that provides them with a living? You tell us.

The full story found in today's Telegraph, can be read here.

Friday, 6 November 2009

Is this Virgin viral, viral enough?

We received a tweet from Virgin Trains today directing us to this YouTube video saying "YouTube fun! Win a Nokia N86 AND 1st Class tickets with Virgin Trains".

As we know the point of something viral is that it is meant to be funny, shocking or interesting so the idea is forwarded on to other people, and the whole promotion escalates.

Not sure this video does any of the above to be honest, which is surprising when you consider Virgin's marketing pedigree.

We know it's a viral and not a big production TV campaign but there is definitely room for improvement - it looks amateur. You can get away with the 'amateur look' in virals if the idea is great and it is really funny - sometimes it's actually funnier when it not over produced. It adds to the appeal. Unfortunately the acting, idea and camera work are all lacking.

I don't know who did it, whether it was in-house job or an agency but it really isn't in-keeping with the usual high quality marketing campaigns from Virgin that we all love.

Come on Richard - have a word!

Thursday, 5 November 2009

Arriva offers Michelin meal for train passengers

Just seen a video report on the BBC website stating that...

"For one night only, train firm Arriva, hired Michelin-starred chef James Sommerin to provide a meal to 47 first class ticket holders. The experiment aimed to improve public perceptions of railway food."

This is somewhat unfortunate for Arriva. Unfortunate? Bear with me.

I say unfortunate because the report fails to highlight the most important point of this exercise - that they will be working with James Sommerin, at his acclaimed Michelin-starred restaurant the Crown at Whitebrook, to to create a new-look menu for the restaurant car on their North to South Wales service.

But the report makes it look like they simply hired James 'For one night only'. Like most people I immediately thought 'just because some posh chef is on there for one night, doesn't mean the food will be great when I travel!'

This special excursion was actually to première the new-look menu. And not meant to be an 'experiment aimed to improve public perceptions of railway food.'

To make matters worse, Arriva don't seem to mention this new menu or the report anywhere on their website. Have Arriva's PR people missed a trick there?

Shame, it's a good idea. The food looked great!

click here to see the report

Adshel advertising starts with Christ

This Christmas Christian churches will begin their first ever organised advertising campaign. And it’s coming specifically to a bus shelter near you.

“Christmas starts with Christ” aims to retell the Nativity in a modern context. In particular, agency is concentrating on bus shelters because these, they believe, are the modern day equivalent of a stable.

Not a bad analogy I suppose. Bus shelters offer shelter to homeless people, for long and short periods, during the day and evening. The agency feels that people whose lives are in need of some hope (that the Easter & Christmas messages bring) will be passing through bus shelters.

The campaign aims to sponsor 2,000 shelter adverts in the last two weeks of December 2009. For a modest sum, local churches can “buy” an advert in local shelters and they are being invited to give a carol concert on 22 December 2009 at or by their respective shelters.

Nice strapline and a great illustration, maybe a little dark. I love the Tesco carrier bag at the foot of the bus stop, lovely touch.

Will it get more people into a church this Christmas? It just seems too cold and archaic to me, like the churches themselves.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Manchester Airport takes off

One of our latest projects for First TransPennine Express (TPE) has been to develop a creative approach that would increase traffic travelling to and from the Airport train station.

It became clear that the sites we did a couple of years ago were looking tired and needed updating with TPE's new corporate guidelines. Our proposal suggested concentrating the budget on securing lightboxes in all three terminals and our creative team produced concepts highlighting the agreed selling points of speed, frequency and ease of use.

We'll let you know the results soon. But if they are anything like the last time we did this project (a 26% uplift in sales within the first four weeks) the client will be delighted once more.

click on the images to enlarge