Analysis finds domestic shift from air to rail

Analysis finds domestic shift from air to rail

The widespread adoption of airline-style pricing by train companies has led to a shift from air to rail travel in the UK, according to the Association of Train Operating Companies.

Train use on domestic air routes has jumped almost 60% in the past six years, according to figures out today.

An analysis of the 10 busiest domestic air routes, mainly between the south of England and Scotland, shows that rail’s market share increased from 29 to 46% between 2006 and 2012.

Train usage rose 52% to 7.7 million trips while airlines saw passenger numbers fall 26% to just over 9 million.

The total market dropped 3% over the period, reflecting the impact of the economic slowdown.

The £9 billion upgrade of the West Coast main line, completed in 2009, also boosted the appeal of the train.

The work cut journey times between London, Manchester and Glasgow by up to 30%, improved reliability and enabled the introduction of more services.

The cut in journey times has all but killed off the London-Manchester air market, with only 15% of journeys still made by aircraft, the Financial Times reported.

Those travellers are normally transferring on to international flights at Heathrow.

Virgin Atlantic’s new domestic offshoot Virgin Red has just started serving Heathrow from Manchester together with flights from Aberdeen and Edinburgh.

The main domestic air market is between London and Scotland, where train operators still do not come close to matching airline journey times – measured city centre to city centre.

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