IN THEIR continuing efforts to increase ridership as subsidy levels decline, Britain’s inter-city train operators are paying particular attention to the lucrative first class market by offering improved facilities for business travellers. Virgin Trains, holder of the West Coast franchise, opened new first class lounges at Manchester Piccadilly and Stoke-on-Trent on September 6.

Equipped at a total cost of £188000, the lounges offer telephone, fax and modem facilities, as well as complimentary refreshments and newspapers. Elsewhere on the West Coast route, Coventry is to receive a first class lounge, and facilities for all passengers are being upgraded at Wolverhampton, Oxenholme, Macclesfield and Preston.

Great North Eastern Railway, which operates inter-city services on the East Coast main line between London and Edinburgh, is spending £5m to improve station facilities during its seven year franchise. On August 23 GNER opened a £300 000 first class lounge at Doncaster, including luggage storage and a toilet with provision for baby-changing, in addition to communications facilities and complimentary refreshments.