VT in­creases share of Scot­land-Lon­don air/rail mar­ket

Rail (UK) - - News -

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.

PETER FOS­TER.

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.

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