GNER stubs out smoking
SMOKING is set to be stubbed out on all GNER trains within three months.
In a move which has been warmly welcomed by anti-smoking campaigners and passenger groups, the train operator has announced it is withdrawing all smoking provision on its East Coast Mainline trains from August 29.
GNER chiefs took the decision in direct response to feedback from its customers .
An average of 17 million passengers travel along the east coast route every year, making journeys to several key destinations, including Edinburgh, from Inverness to London Kings Cross.
When surveyed, more than 90 per cent of passengers were found to be non-smokers, with customer complaints about smoking up by a staggering 172 per cent over the past two years.
The majority of customers told researchers they wanted to see smoking on trains abolished entirely, while some even said smoking carriages on trains were a deterrent to travel.
Jonathan Metcalfe, GNER chief operating officer, said: "We have regularly reviewed smoking provision on our trains over several years. During that time, there has been a noticeable shift in passenger preferences, which has coincided with a hardening of attitudes about smoking in enclosed public places across society at large.
"Up until now, we have tried hard to accommodate the diminishing number of people who wish to smoke whilst travelling with us, but it is now very clear that the majority of our passengers are in favour of a total ban on smoking on our trains. We have responded accordingly."
Today, anti-smoking campaigners expressed their delight at the news.
Maureen Moore, chief executive of ASH Scotland said: "We're delighted. It will benefit GNER staff as well as their passengers, providing protection from the carcinogens in second-hand smoke.
"I am particularly pleased to see that this is a result of pressure from passengers. People are no longer willing to accept the damage to their health and discomfort posed by second-hand smoke. It's great that people feel able to make their feelings known."
Meanwhile, Robert Sampson, director of the Scottish Rail Passengers' Committee, said the GNER smoking ban brought the company in line with other public transport companies.
"From our research, the majority of rail passengers do want to see smoking banned on trains.
"The move also brings GNER in line with legislation that's going through the Scottish Parliament to ban smoking in public places.
"Virgin Trains banned smoking quite recently - about two or three years ago - and there have been no complaints in the wake of that. So I would expect there to be no major problems for GNER. With Virgin Trains, the conductor will sometimes announce a five-minute stop at a station - then you do see quite a stack of people getting off the train to have a quick cigarette."
Mr Sampson added that GNER's decision was part of an ongoing policy by transport companies to fall in line with public opposition to smoking in public places.
"If you think that aeroplanes banned smoking quite some time ago, and then you had Virgin do the same, this seems to be a continuation of that."
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Sunday 19 May 2013
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