Virgin Trains East Coast has reported strong growth on its London-Edinburgh service following a £140 million investment programme on the route.

The rail operator said the increase in passenger numbers is the result of a deliberate strategy to win market share on the UK’s domestic air route. It has plans to win 50 per cent of air/rail market by 2023.

Between January and September – the last month which comparable figures for airline journeys are available – the number of Virgin Trains passengers travelling between Edinburgh and London grew by 8.2 per cent to 831,000.

Virgin East Coast said air traffic on the route remained broadly flat over the same period, reversing the trend seen in 2015, when growth between the two cities was driven by air.

David Horne, Virgin Trains MD on the east coast route, said: “We’ve set out ambitious plans to take on airlines by investing in our services and we’re delighted to see that strategy bearing fruit.

“The growth in rail travel we’re announcing today shows that the improvements we’ve made have been popular with customers, who are voting with their feet. That’s good news for passengers, good news for the environment and good for the long-terms growth of rail between Scotland and England.”

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