A SIGNIFICANT expansion in the number of trains between Edinburgh and London on the west coast main line was announced today by Virgin Trains.
The train operator will increase daily services between the capitals from one to six in each direction from December by extending most of the current cross-Border trains which start and stop in Birmingham.
The trains will also have around twice as many seats as at present after passenger numbers more than trebled in the last five years, with the current five-carriage services increased to between nine and 11.
Virgin hopes the move will win over passengers who currently fly, as well as offering more frequent cross-Border services to places south of Birmingham such as Coventry and Milton Keynes.
Six of Virgin’s Glasgow-Birmingham trains in each direction will also be extended to London, supplementing its current 15 services in each direction between Glasgow and London.
Chief operating officer Chris Gibb said: “We face intense competition from airlines, motorways and other train companies, and will continue to drive forward improvements to attract more customers and stay ahead of our competitors.”
Transport minister Keith Brown said: “We very much welcome the recognition by Virgin Trains of the increasing demands on services between Scotland and Birmingham and the additional capacity the extra 3,300 seats on these services every day will bring.”
Edinburgh Chamber of Commerce chief executive David Birrell said: “We are delighted Virgin Trains is adding this capacity on its Edinburgh to Birmingham routes. These additional seats will hopefully stimulate the business and employment opportunities as well as supporting Edinburgh’s already strong tourism offer.”
Stuart Patrick, his Glasgow counterpart, said: “This is an extremely positive step. Increasing the capacity from Glasgow to the United Kingdom’s second biggest city will certainly be of interest to the city’s business community, while leisure customers visiting Glasgow will also benefit from the additional seats.”