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Virgin reports record modal shift from planes to trains

THE number of passengers using trains rather than planes between London and Glasgow has reached a new record, according to Virgin Trains.

The operator said rail had a 29 per cent share of the traffic during the 12 months to July this year, and that annual passenger numbers on the route have now reached 700,000, compared with 244,000 ten years ago.

The London-Glasgow air route is the second busiest domestic route in Britain, and Virgin is attributing the rise of rail to the improvements it has made over the last 20 years, including tilting trains and faster journeys following Network Rail’s upgrades of the West Coast Main Line.

New analysis by sustainable transport charity Transform Scotland has shown that rail’s increased market share and a reduction in flights has helped to reduce carbon emissions.

The charity’s director Colin Howden said: ‘The current level of air travel is incompatible with the Climate Emergency so its heartening to hear that rail is growing its market share over air for travel between between Central Scotland and London. Comparable distances across Europe use rail rather than air as the dominant mode of transport, so it is overdue for Scotland to take action to cut the excessive volume of flights from Edinburgh and Glasgow to London. Rail produces a fifth of the climate emissions that comes from air travel. Its definitely the greenest option for Anglo-Scottish travel.’

Virgin Trains managing director Phil Whittingham added: ‘The number of people choosing train over plane is testament to the investment and improvement Virgin Trains has made in Anglo-Scottish services over the last two decades. This growth is critical in supporting Scotland’s economy and helping achieve government targets to decarbonise transport and achieve net zero emissions.’

The intercity West Coast franchise will be transferred from Virgin and its partner Stagecoach to FirstGroup and Trenitalia on 8 December.

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