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Business travel and meetings: blurring the lines

A newer wave of train services blurs the lines between business travel and meetings. And your days of avoiding work chat on the train due to business confidentiality policies have changed. 

Many business travellers have found themselves in an all too familiar situation. You’re on a train with a colleague(s) travelling to a meeting destination. You could use this time together to prep for the meeting, boost your sales pitch plan, or discuss how to overcome your latest client challenge. But you can’t talk openly about any of it! 

Quite rightly, your company has a confidentiality clause in its business travel policy. The idea is to stop employees from inadvertently giving away trade secrets such as client names or new product details, employee or client personal details, etc. 

Then there’s the time many of your colleagues were travelling to a big industry event with clients. You couldn’t talk about work – because of lack of privacy and disruption from other train passengers!

Innovative solutions? 

Remember when Chiltern Railways launched its ‘premium economy’ Business Zone in 2011? It was big news in UK business travel!

Some UK mainline railway franchise holders have been trying to innovate for years within franchise systems that haven’t historically enabled much change. 

Chiltern’s idea was to fill a gap in the market for all the benefits of first-class, without the non-essentials – for Birmingham to London business travellers. It was a fraction of the usually expected first-class ticket cost and provided large tables, wide seats, ample legroom, an ‘always-on’ WiFi connection and plug sockets at every seat. The business zone sadly isn’t available (from January 2022).

But what about the train services that blur the lines between business travel and meetings? Imagine starting your discussion in a private carriage en route to your meeting! You’d have more time available on arrival to talk business, or you could take your client to see some sights at your event destination.

Here, we cover four train companies which offer private hire.

Business travel and meetings: services available

Avanti West Coast

Routes: Avanti’s west coast service can take you to over 50 different stations. From the Bangor and Holyhead to Edinburgh and Glasgow, and down to London Euston, Birmingham New Street or Manchester Piccadilly.

Private hire services: Avanti has a solution from travelling to a big meeting to organising team away days.

Its private carriage hire gives travellers exclusive access to their carriage and dedicated host in either Standard, Standard Premium or First Class.

And for events, such as Meetings, Incentives, Celebrations and more, Avanti West Coast can provide anything from on-board events to luxury dining experiences, including champagne service. They can tailor the experience to your needs with carriage branding or on-board events.


GWR

Routes: From Penzance to London or Brighton to CarmarthenGWR’s rail network connects popular cities, historic towns and beautiful regions in southwest England and Wales.

Private hire services: GWR’s exclusive carriages on scheduled services allow you to hire a whole carriage in either First or Standard Class on its scheduled services. These can include a dedicated on-board customer host, complimentary refreshments, personalised event branding, and more.

GWR can also run charter trains between most of its stations at times to suit you. These can include departure and arrival times to suit your needs, a choice of food and drink, personalised on-board branding, headrest covers and departure screens.


LNER

Routes: From London King’s Cross to Inverness and Newcastle to Aberdeen, LNER can take you to the panoramic vistas of the Highlands down to the capital city experiences of London.

Private hire services: If you are travelling with a large group of colleagues or clients and want extra space for an on-board conference, or a smaller group for a private meeting, LNER can provide a private coach.

This Private Hire option allows you exclusive access to one of a train’s coaches, either in First Class or Standard.


Great Central Railway

Routes: Great Central Railway operates services linking Sunderland, Hartlepool, Bradford Interchange, Halifax (and other northern England locations) and London Kings Cross. NOTE: Its trains run every weekend of the year, on bank holidays and on ‘selected weekdays’ through summer. 

Private hire services: 

Great Central Railway, the UK’s only double track, mainline heritage railway, is the only place where full-size steam engines can be seen passing each other. 

Whether you are planning a large-scale business dinner, a meeting, or a celebratory event, a Great Central Railway Private Charter can provide a unique and memorable event for up to 186 people. 

You can hire trains for private parties and corporate events, carriages can be chartered, and you can hire the Pullman carriages with glamorous bar cars.


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