The rail industry is launching its biggest national marketing campaign in a generation to encourage people to get back to taking the train to see the people and places they love.
From Monday 16 August, an advertising campaign will appear across TV, video on-demand, radio, online, social, billboards and posters (including in train stations, bus shelters and shopping centres). Under the strapline ‘Let’s get back on track’, the emotive creatives will encourage people to travel by train for days out and weekends away by featuring moments of joy made possible by rail such as grandparents meeting their new grandchild for the first time and a couple being reunited after months apart during lockdown.
The advert comes as the industry seeks to build back its passenger numbers following the biggest drop since records began, with revenue currently at 56% of pre-pandemic levels. While there has been strong growth in leisure travel since the lifting of government restrictions – up 10% since Freedom Day on 19 July to make up 65% of all National Rail journeys – concerns around a car-led recovery remain. Two thirds (67%) of people taking staycations this summer say they will do so by car, compared to just 16% that will take the train, according to a recent survey by VisitBritain. Of those getting back to taking the train, young people are the keenest. Total railcard sales are up 6.5% compared to 2019, driven by sales of 26-30 and 16-25 railcards – beating industry expectations.
Encouraging people to travel by train for days out and weekends away will play a vital role in helping shops, restaurants and hotels to bounce back after the pandemic. According to research by WPI Economics for the Rail Delivery Group, train passengers travelling for leisure spend on average £107 per trip on things like shops, restaurants and hotels, generating £46bn for businesses. The biggest spending is on food and drink at £15bn per year (an average £33 per trip), followed by £12bn (£31 per trip) on shopping, £10bn (£21 per trip) on accommodation and £5bn (£12 per trip) on entertainment and culture.
To drive rail recovery and to help kickstart businesses getting their customers back, train companies are offering 12 people the chance to win free travel for a year as part of a ‘golden ticket giveaway’, with bespoke tickets designed by artist Claire Rollet. People can nominate someone who they think deserves a year of free travel by visiting nationalrail.co.uk/goldenticket.
Jacqueline Starr, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group said: “As life starts to get back on track this summer, we’re looking forward to connecting more customers with the people and places they love, whether that’s a seaside trip with family, a night out with friends or a solo shopping spree. Taking a train is more than a journey, it’s a step towards a fair recovery today – boosting businesses that have struggled throughout the pandemic – as well as a clean economy tomorrow.”
Andrew Goodacre, CEO of British Independent Retailers Association, said: “Independent retailers have been particularly hard-hit by the pandemic and right now they are working hard to rebuild their businesses and consumer confidence. Making the high street safe, sustainable, and accessible is our top priority. With a return to rail, independent shops far and wide will be more accessible – and trips more sustainable – than ever.”
Mike James, Food Tour Guide at Savouring Bath, said: “The pandemic has really taken its toll on small businesses, not just in Bath but throughout the country. A return to rail will have an immensely positive impact on the fortunes of our business and many others in the area. I’m excited for the next chapter and to help many more people discover this fabulous city using their tastebuds.”
Tracy Harrison, General Manager at The Principal York Hotel, said: “Being only steps from York train station puts us at a unique advantage, allowing for a seamless journey for our guests who travel to us via rail. We can see first-hand the considerable benefits that rail brings to our city, and we very much look forward to welcoming a return to normal service, and the perks it generates for our local economy and communities.”