First Group media push for TransPennine route

The TransPennine Express (TPE) is poised for a spell under the media spotlight as new operator First Group embarks on a push to raise awareness about its franchise to consumers, local authorities and passenger groups.

The media relations campaign will aim to convey First Group’s plans to improve the quality of the route’s service.

The franchise, which used to be operated by Arriva and First North Western trains, started last month and currently serves 13 million passengers across the North East, North West, Yorkshire and Humberside.

Brahm PR has been appointed to handle the account for First Group. The agency intends to inform regional news reporters and transport and feature journalists about TPE’s new fleet of 100mph trains, enhanced catering services and refurbished stations in an attempt to challenge passengers’ perception of the rail industry.

‘There is a lot of interest in rail as an issue but the industry’s negative image means it is difficult to get a positive message across in the regional media,’ said Brahm PR managing director Phil Reed. ‘We hope news that TPE is investing £260m to improve the service will change that. There are a lot of financial and environmental benefits for consumers who choose to use TPE instead of driving and we want to make more people aware of that.’

As well as journalists, Brahm will target rail user groups, local authorities and regional development agencies to be aware of TPE’s commitment to improve the service when they speak to the media.

First Group runs three passenger rail franchises within the UK, constituting over 15 per cent of the market, and serves 280,000 customers daily. It is also the largest bus operator in the UK, carrying 2.7 million people across 40 towns every day.

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