Virgin Trains East Coast has struck a new deal with Enterprise Car Club, which will see vehicles located at key stations along the mainline train route.
While car rental companies have been present at larger UK stations for many years, Virgin Trains East Coast is integrating a car club service to smaller city stations in order to provide more options for travellers.
Wakefield, Durham, Peterborough and Doncaster have been the first four stations to go live with the new car club service. Enterprise Car Club is planning to extend this to other stations along the line in the near future. An Enterprise Car Club vehicle is also located at the Enterprise car rental branch at the train station in Newcastle.
The Department for Transport has welcomed this innovation as it actively supports initiatives and partnerships by transport companies to support customers in more “joined-up” travel.
Tim Hedley Jones, major projects director for Virgin Trains East Coast, said: “We are delighted to be launching this partnership with Enterprise Car Club.
“It’s important to us that customers have a great door to door experience with Virgin Trains East Coast, which is why we have invested £50 million in on-board refurbishments and improvements. Making our stations even more convenient for onward travel is the next natural step.”
Dan Gursel, Enterprise Car Club managing director, said: “Integrating with key transport hubs is the next evolution of car clubs. They are quickly becoming the go-to option for people who want fast, easy access to a vehicle, wherever they are and at any time. This makes car clubs an excellent option for the increasing number of people who want to ‘train/drive’ as a logical solution for sustainable business and leisure travel.
“Integrating car club, especially at smaller city stations, offers the train customer an easy solution and is a truly innovative approach to broaden travel options for everyone. Virgin Trains East Coast is very much leading the way in this area, and we are very pleased to have been chosen as its partner for this new service.”
The response from customers has been highly positive. Claire Moran, who is an executive account manager for a large pharmaceutical company and has used the service for work, said: “I pick up Enterprise Car Club vehicles when I visit hospitals that are using our neurological medicines in Newcastle, Durham and Leeds. I travel from home by train and then pick up the car at the station.
“I prefer to take the train because it means that I can relax and work. When I get to my destination I’ve already booked the car club vehicle to ensure it is there when I need it, and I then just jump in and head off.
“It’s all very easy and it gives me much more flexibility and independence than if I was in a taxi, and I always get parking at the hospital. It’s perfect when you just need wheels for a few hours. The cars are always in good condition and I would recommend it to anyone.
“As a mum, working on the train is really important because it means that all of the follow up work gets done before I get back. It would be much harder if I had to drive everywhere. Taking the train I’m much less tired and it’s especially good in the winter months if I have an early start and it’s dark.”
The new car club vehicles are all sited in the station car parks and can be booked online and accessed using a smartphone or membership card. Vehicles are available for use 24/7/365.
Anyone with a credit card and licence valid for the UK can apply for membership via the Enterprise Car Club website or iOS and Android apps. Once the application has been approved, which typically takes just a couple of hours, the member may access vehicles instantly via their mobile device.
Vehicles cost from £4.95 per hour to rent, including petrol and insurance, and from £39.95 per day for members needing a vehicle for more than eight hours.