Franchise(s)Open-access operator
Not subject to franchising
25 October 2021 – 2031
Main region(s)
Other region(s)East of England
Fleet size5 Class 803s
Stations called at5
Parent companyFirstGroup
Reporting markLD
Other Edit this at Wikidata

Lumo is a British open-access operator owned by FirstGroup that operates passenger trains on the East Coast Main Line between London King's Cross and Edinburgh Waverley. It is headquartered in Newcastle upon Tyne.

Lumo originated in 2015 with the submission of a bid by FirstGroup to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) to establish a new open-access operator to use additional rail paths on East Coast Main Line. It faced competition from Alliance Rail Holdings, whose bid was rejected due to high estimated revenue abstraction from the existing franchised operator. In May 2016, the ORR granted a ten-year track access agreement to the FirstGroup subsidiary East Coast Trains Limited, which would later be rebranded as Lumo. During March 2019, a £100 million order for five Class 803 electric multiple unit high speed trains was placed to operate Lumo's services.

Lumo's inaugural service was conducted on 25 October 2021. Initial operations involved the running of two trains per day in each direction on most week days; this was expanded to five trains per day by early 2022. Onboard catering is available, consisting of an at-seat trolley service, while an identical all-standard class 2-by-2 seating arrangement is present in every carriage. Lumo refers to itself as being a “digital-first” operator, practising paperless ticketing and seeking to make booking tickets as easy as possible.


During 2015, in response to an announcement by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) that it would be allowing open-access operators to bid for additional rail paths on the East Coast Main Line in addition to those of the existing franchised operator Virgin Trains East Coast (VTEC), the British transport conglomerate FirstGroup submitted a proposal to operate services between London and Edinburgh. Under this plan, FirstGroup proposed to directly compete with existing road, rail and air services by offering all-standard class seating with an average ticket price of approximately £25.[1] A competing application from Alliance Rail Holdings was also submitted, but was rejected by the ORR after the revenue abstraction from VTEC had been estimated at £115 million; in comparison, FirstGroup's proposal was predicted to result in £7.9 million of abstracted revenue.[2][3]

During May 2016, the ORR granted a ten-year track access agreement to the FirstGroup subsidiary East Coast Trains Limited, under which it would be allowed to operate up to five services in each direction from May 2021.[4][5][6] It would be the third such open access operator on the East Coast Main Line, the prior two being Hull Trains and Grand Central. It was acknowledged at the time of the application's granting that services were not expected to commence until 2021 as to allow the new operator to acquire new-build rolling stock.[2]

In September 2021, the company's launch was confirmed alongside the adoption of the Lumo brand, which was described by the company as a combination of luminosity (Lu) and motion (mo).[7][2] Two months later, Lumo moved to its permanent headquarters in Newcastle upon Tyne.[8] During June 2022, it was announced that Martijn Gilbert had been appointed as the new managing director for both Lumo and Hull Trains, succeeding Phil Cameron and David Gibson respectively.[9]


Edinburgh Waverley (St Andrew Square Edinburgh Trams)
Newcastle Tyne and Wear Metro
London King's Cross London Underground

On 26 May 2021, the first trial runs of the company's Class 803 high speed multiple units on the national rail network were conducted.[10]

On 25 October 2021, the inaugural service commenced; initially, Lumo operated two trains per day in each direction on most week days, although Saturdays saw only one train being run for a time. From the onset of operations, the service rate was set to be progressively increased up to running five trains each way by early 2022.[11][12] At launch, Lumo promised that 60% of fares would be offered for no more than £30, with a cap of £69 on one-way tickets.[13][14][12] According to the company, ticket sales around the launch date had exceeded expectations, and it had experienced particularly high demand for its weekend services.[15][14]

As of 2023, Lumo's timetable sees trains depart each terminus at off-peak times. The vast majority of journeys run the full route from Edinburgh to London, calling at Morpeth and Newcastle. A number of services additionally call at Stevenage, for pick-up only on northbound services, and drop-off only for southbound trains. The fastest service reaches London from Edinburgh in four hours and three minutes, although the majority take around four hours and 30 minutes.[16]

Route tpd Calling at
London King's Cross to Edinburgh Waverley 5
  • Stevenage is served by two trains northbound and three trains southbound Monday to Saturday, and by three trains northbound and four trains southbound on Sundays.


A Lumo Class 803, April 2022

Lumo offers a single-class service, with free Wi-Fi connectivity for all passengers. There is no dynamic pricing structure, the company instead favouring fixed fares with no observation of peak time ticketing. Lumo promotes itself as being a “digital-first” operator, having invested in paperless ticketing and a simplified website to make browsing and booking tickets as easy as possible.[12] It also participates in the National Rail system and accepts interoperable tickets.[17]

Onboard catering is available, consisting of an at-seat trolley service, while additional food and drink items from brands such as Marks & Spencer are available for pre-order by passengers for delivery mid-service.[18][14] Efforts have been made to cater to as diverse a range of dietary requirements as possible; around 50 per cent of all food serviced is plant-based, while the use of meat and dairy products has been intentionally minimised.[12][17]

An identical 2-by-2 seating arrangement is fitted throughout all five carriages; a pair of table seating per carriage is also available.[12][17] These ergonomically designed wingback seats are furnished with various amenities, including individual lighting and electric sockets, fold-down tables, and shaping to provide a greater sense of privacy. Priority seats are also present, along with two spaces for wheelchair users, on each train.[12][14] Various forms of media content, including films and television shows, can be streamed by passengers using the company's mobile app.[19]

Rolling stock

The interior of a Lumo Class 803

Services are operated by a fleet of 125 mph (200 km/h) Class 803 electric multiple unit trains, ordered in March 2019 at a cost of £100 million, financed by the rail leasing company Beacon Rail.[15] While based on the same Hitachi AT300 design as the Class 801 Azuma trains operated on the East Coast Main Line by franchised operator London North Eastern Railway (LNER), they are not fitted with an auxiliary diesel engine, but instead feature batteries intended solely to power onboard facilities in case of overhead line equipment failure.[20] Other changes include an all-standard class seating configuration, as well as the lack of a galley area, although catering services are provided through the use of a trolley service. The Class 803 also features air conditioning, power sockets and Wi-Fi provision.[21]

 Family   Class  Image  Type   Top speed   Number   Carriages   Route   Built 
mph km/h
Hitachi AT300 803 EMU 125 200 5 5 Edinburgh WaverleyLondon King's Cross 2020–2021

Accidents and incidents

On 17 April 2022, a Lumo-operated Class 803 passed through a set of points at Peterborough railway station at 75 mph (121 km/h) where there was a speed restriction of 25 mph (40 km/h). Some passengers were thrown from their seats and sustained minor injuries. The Rail Accident Investigation Branch opened an investigation into the incident.[22]


  1. ^ "Budget East Coast Train Service Is Approved". Sky News. 12 May 2016. Retrieved 3 December 2019.
  2. ^ a b c Bickerdyke, Paul; Marsh, Phil (1 November 2021). "Lumo is go!". The Railway Magazine.
  3. ^ "Great North Eastern Railway". Alliance Rail Holdings. Archived from the original on 12 December 2013. Retrieved 3 July 2022.
  4. ^ "Applications for the East Coast Main Line" (PDF). Office of Rail & Road. 12 May 2016.
  5. ^ "First Group to run Edinburgh to London budget rail service". BBC News. 12 May 2016.
  6. ^ "VTEC and FirstGroup granted East Coast Main Line paths". Railway Gazette International. 12 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Our Philosophy". Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  8. ^ Whitfield, Graeme (5 November 2021). "Opening of new rail HQ in Newcastle creates more than 100 jobs".
  9. ^ "New Managing Director appointed for Lumo & Hull Trains". 7 June 2022.
  10. ^ Holden, Michael (28 May 2021). "WATCH: New East Coast Trains Class 803s go on test in Darlington". RailAdvent. Archived from the original on 28 May 2021. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  11. ^ Smith, Oliver (23 October 2021). "What are Lumo trains and how can I buy tickets?". The Times. London.
  12. ^ a b c d e f Lam, Sophie (25 October 2021). "Low-cost electric rail operator Lumo launches between London and Edinburgh". The Independent.
  13. ^ "Reimagining Rail". Archived from the original on 25 October 2021. Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  14. ^ a b c d Calder, Simon (24 November 2021). "Hot topic: will Lumo change the face of rail travel in Britain? Everything you need to know about the new London-Edinburgh service". National Geographic UK. London: Disney Publishing Worldwide.
  15. ^ a b Longhorn, Danny (21 October 2021). "Lumo services already selling out as inaugural service leaves London". Rail Business Daily. Wakefield.
  16. ^ "Our Timetable". Retrieved 18 February 2023.
  17. ^ a b c "Lumo set for October start - full story". 6 September 2021.
  18. ^ "LumoEats". Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  19. ^ "LumoGo WiFi". Retrieved 28 October 2021.
  20. ^ Clinnick, Richard (22 March 2019). "First orders AT300s for ECML open access operation". Rail.
  21. ^ "Trains ordered for 2021 launch of 'high-quality, low fare' London – Edinburgh service". Railway Gazette International. Retrieved 27 December 2019.
  22. ^ "Overspeeding incident at Peterborough station". Rail Accident Investigation Branch. 11 May 2022. Retrieved 12 May 2022.