Train operator association seeks agency for off-peak promotion

The Association of Train Operating Companies is looking for an advertising agency to carry out a high profile campaign to encourage off-peak travel.

It is understood to have submitted a brief with a view to appointing an agency ahead of new rules on off-peak ticketing rules that will come into effect in September.

ATOC is the official voice of the passenger rail industry, representing train companies including Virgin Trains, National Express and FirstGroup, a number of whom are planning their own “branded” activity to encourage customers to use the new off-peak services.

Virgin Trains will run marketing aimed at the leisure market when the West Coast Main Line rail up-grade is completed later this year (MW last week). It particularly wants to focus on the “off peak” weekend traveller, to take advantage of faster train times.

It is thought ATOC’s push will publicise the simplification of rail fares across the National Rail network, which is being introduced in two stages. From last month all fares purchased before the date of travel have become known as “Advance”.

In September, there will also be changes to “walk-up” fares – those bought on the day of travel. It will mean that walk-up fares are split into two categories: Anytime and Off-peak. Off-peak tickets can be also bought at any time, but carry restrictions on the time and date of travel.

The changes were unveiled in April this year by ATOC commercial director David Mapp, who called it the “biggest shake-up in fares and ticketing system for many years”.

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