VT increases share of Scotland-London air/rail market
Virgin Trains reports a 33% share of the air/rail market on the UK’s busiest domestic air routes, and has ambitions for a 50% market share by 2023.
The 33% figure beats its record set in 2014 (32%), and does not include the Caledonian Sleeper services.
On the East Coast Main Line, Virgin’s market share is 37%, up two percentage points on its 2014 peak. On the West Coast Main Line, the market share is 27%.
“The Scottish Government has set some of the toughest climate change targets for the people of Scotland. I am therefore delighted to hear of the increase in the use of our railway, as it is a fundamental part of achieving our greener transport aspirations,” said Scottish Transport Minister Humza Yousaf.
Virgin Trains East Coast Managing Director David Horne said: “When we took over the East Coast route, we set out ambitious plans to gain a 50% market share between Edinburgh and London by 2023. These figures show an encouraging start to that journey and confirm an historic shift in travel patterns towards train.”
This comes at a time when research by Transform Scotland found that more passengers are travelling between the Central Belt and London (by rail and air), but carbon emissions are falling. There are now 6.7 million passengers travelling, up from six million in 2014.
VT said the growth on the West Coast Main Line between Glasgow Central and London Euston equated to saving enough CO to 2 take 145,000 cars off the road a year for the past decade.
The company also cited the refurbishment of its entire East Coast Main Line fleet, and the introduction of an extra 25 direct trains between London and Edinburgh. It added that both Virgin Trains East Coast and Virgin West Coast have lowered fares to compete more aggressively with airlines.
VT also said that in June, 180,000 passengers travelled on VTEC between London and Edinburgh/Glasgow (up 18% from 152,000 the previous year). There has been similar growth in July and August, and VTEC is expected to retain its market share, although comparable Civil Aviation Authority figures were unavailable.
VT believes its Class 800/801 Azuma fleet that is to be introduced from next year will attract more passengers onto rail, as it bids to cut London-Edinburgh journey times to four hours.
On August 24, a Virgin Trains East Coast High Speed Train led by 43313 passes a Class 91/Mk 4 set trailed by Driving Van Trailer 82210 at Marholm (near Peterborough). Virgin is reporting a 33% share of the air/rail market on the UK’s busiest domestic air routes.