Trainline reveals top 7 UK business rail hubs outside of London

- Leadership - Oct 18, 2016

Business travel by small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) has increased by as much as 230 percent on rail routes to key UK cities outside of London, reveals data by Trainline for Business.

The data, covering the last four years and showing growth in SME rail business travel, points to the emergence of new business hubs across the UK including in Brighton (230 percent growth), Swindon (183 percent growth), Peterborough (166 percent growth) and Northampton (130 percent growth).

This new business landscape offers a range of benefits for SMEs, with the data revealing that these businesses are capitalising on increased mobility and interconnectivity between locations; SME rail business travel across the UK has increased by 65 percent since 2012.

According to Dr Alasdair Rae, Senior Lecturer in Urban Studies and Planning at the University of Sheffield, who verified the Trainline for Business data, the growth in travel to and from these destinations suggests a growing appetite for SMEs to be based outside of London:

“Trainline’s data on rail business travel provides a compelling and timely insight into the geography of SMEs across the country. It’s clear that something significant is happening in terms of the growing number of SMEs choosing to do business outside London.

“With cheaper rents, quick access to the capital and highly skilled local labour markets, many SMEs appear to be taking advantage of towns and cities such as Brighton, Swindon, Oxford and Peterborough. Yes, the capital remains the brightest star in the UK economy, but there is a constellation of smaller towns and cities upon which our economy also depends.”

The UK’s most active cities for SME business travel outside of London:

Brighton - 230 percent rail business travel growth

Often referred to as ‘Silicon Beach’ for its ability to attract creative and digital talent, Brighton has emerged as a business hub boasting more ‘creative SMEs’ and start-ups per capita than anywhere else in the UK.

Swindon - 183 percent rail business travel growth

The city has strengthened its position as a business hub following the opening of Intel’s Internet of Things innovation centre in 2014. Other major businesses in the city include RWE npower, Arval, Zurich Financial Services and Nationwide Building Society.

Oxford - 182 percent rail business travel growth

A world-renowned seat of education, Oxford is home to the Said Entrepreneurship Centre, the Oxford Foundry entrepreneurial hub and the Oxford Seed Fund. Goldman Sachs runs its 10,000 Small Businesses UK programme in partnership with Said, supporting small businesses and social enterprises with high growth potential.

Peterborough - 166 percent rail business travel growth

The city has benefitted from a major regeneration programme and has developed into a commercial hub, underpinned by opportunities for small businesses including the 240-acre Gateway business park and the Eco Innovation Centre.

Northampton - 130 percent rail business travel growth

With one of the highest start-up rates in the UK, the city has become a hive of commercial activity following development of the Northamptonshire Growth Hub in 2014. The innovation hub took more than 2000 requests for support in its first two years.

Leamington Spa - 121 percent rail business travel growth

Leamington has earned a reputation as ‘Silicon Spa’, boasting one of the biggest clusters of video gaming companies in the UK. The town is also home to global organisations such as National Grid, Millward Brown and Wolseley.

Bristol -  110 percent rail business travel growth

Recognised as one of the country’s top innovation hubs and home to fast growing companies such as Just Eat, Somo, Huawei and Kainos and SETSquared, Bristol was named the best university incubator in the world last year.

Sophie Krishnan, General Manager Business and Ancillary at Trainline, believes flexible and smarter travel innovation is crucial in enabling the UK’s 5.4 million SMEs to do business more effectively and speed up growth: “Rail is increasingly becoming the transport mode of choice for business travel, with employers and employees alike recognising the convenience, flexibility and extra productivity time that travelling by train offers. Key for SMEs is to save time, save money and travel confidently and we work closely with them to ensure that rail travel with us ticks every box.”

Trainline for Business has launched a new platform specifically aimed at SME business travel management. 

Read the October 2016 issue of Business Review Europe magazine. 

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