Starbucks to Open on Swiss Railway Trains

Travellers on Switzerland’s railways will soon be able to purchase refreshments from the new Starbucks stores that are to open on intercity Swiss trains.

Swiss Federal Railways, or SBB, the national railway company of Switzerland, is partnering with Starbucks Corporation, a US-based coffee company, to provide travelling Starbucks stores onboard intercity express trains by the first half of 2013. The partnership will first offer Starbucks stores aboard two SBB Intercity trains between St Gallen and Geneva, in Switzerland.

The Starbucks stores on wheels will be adding to the restaurant services the Swiss rail company already provides to its passengers, with the intention of increasing the facilities and convenience of rail travel. The partnership’s pilot project includes the remodelling of the current onboard bistro and restaurant services of two ‘IC 2000’ double-decker trains into Starbucks stores. Starbucks and the rail company have jointly developed the new design for the stores.

The onboard Starbucks stores will be operated by a SBB subsidiary, Elvetino.

Jeannine Pilloud, the SBB director of passenger transportation, said, ‘Starbucks is a perfect complement for our own range of services. We would like to attract young guests and business travellers in particular.’

Rich Nelsen, the senior vice president for Starbucks EMEA, said, ‘Once again Switzerland is leading the way and planning a key role in innovating the Starbucks brand. It is here over ten years ago where we opened our first store in continental Europe, we purchase all of our coffee worldwide through our Lausanne trading centre and our coffee machines come from Switzerland.’

National Rail Enquiries Announces Expansion Offer

Customers using National Rail Enquiries in the UK will now be able to win gifts, an incentive introduced by the organisation as part of its expansion drive.

National Rail Enquiries is a part of UK-based Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), and is an information resource for all passenger rail services on the National Rail network in England, Wales and Scotland.

The company is offering customers the chance to win gifts when using the online service to access personalised train journey information, after registering for the service at the company website by May 6, 2012. As part of its expansion plans, the company is offering an iPad, 10 Kindles and 75 iTunes vouchers worth GBP15 as prizes for its new customers.

Jason Webb, the head of online at National Rail Enquiries, said, ‘Registering with National Rail Enquiries provides a convenient and easy way for people to quickly find up-to-date information about their favourite train journeys, and we are delighted to be offering some excellent prizes to encourage our customers to take advantage of this free service.’

He added, ‘Creating a personal live departure board is really easy. Customers can save up to five of their favourite stations and then instantly view live departures and arrivals for each train service, including details of any disruptions.

Innovation is high on the agenda at National Rail Enquiries. The team are constantly looking for new ways to make travelling by train easier and to save people time and money. We developed the personal profiles to make it even simpler for customers to find the up-to-date information they need to catch the right train.’

Train companies to be fined for overcrowding

Train companies could soon are be fined for overcrowding under plans to force them to provide extra carriages.

The recommendation by Sir Roy McNulty in his report on the rail industry released earlier this month, will be included in a White Paper will be released in the second half of 2011.

With the government looking to offer out longer franchise periods, it is believed that imposing fines to operators that exceed the limits, will encourage them to add more carriages to trains and make travel more comfortable for passengers.

Overcrowding is still a major issue, both on commuter and long distance services. On some services conditions have got so bad that it would be illegal for chickens, goats, calves and sheep under European Union animal welfare legislation, according to figures released by the Department of Transport in 2008.

It has also been revealed that the most severely effected trains are carrying up to 50% more passengers than they were originally intended to.

The 6:12am from Didcot to London was highlighted by the Department of Transport for being the worst service. Figures showed that it carried 643 passengers when it scheduled to carry only 395. Passengers have also been found to be standing for many hours, especially on some of the most popular routes like London to Edinburgh.

With packed trains maximising revenue for the operators and additional carriages adding to their running costs, ministers believe the current system offers no incentive for the companies find a solution to the problem.

However it is also believed that having penalties that force operators to add to their running costs, will lead to them bidding less for franchises in the future, something that is said to alarm the treasury.

An electronic beam that counts people as they board is one method looking to be introduced to moitor the situation. Another is a system that will actually weight the carriages, estimating the amount of people on board.

A spokesman for the Association of Train Operating Companies said: “Overcrowding is a big concern for train companies – as private sector operators their business relies on keeping their customers happy.’’

The proposals were welcomed by Ashwin Kumar, rail director of the consumer body Passenger Focus.
“Getting a seat is a top priority for passengers and all the projections say overcrowding is only going to get worse,” he said.