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Edinburgh train station
Photograph: Dmitry Naumov / Shutterstock.com

Trains are now more popular than planes for London-Edinburgh trips

Lower fares and more frequent rail services have coaxed loads of people out of the skies

Written by
Ellie Muir
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What with all the train strikes and resulting cancellations of the past few months, the railway industry doesn’t have the best rep at the moment. But here’s a spot of good news: rail services are now officially more popular than planes for London-Edinburgh trips. Lower fares and more frequent journey times have coaxed loads of people out of the skies, according to analysis of Civil Aviation Authority data.

More than half (57 percent) of trips between Edinburgh and London were taken by rail between April and August, compared with 35 percent pre-pandemic. New train firm Lumo said it would be carrying its millionth passenger in November, having run more than 2,500 services since it launched in October 2021 – equivalent to 4,000 full flights.

Aviation emissions are a significant contributor to climate change, so limiting domestic flights can only have a positive impact on the environment. But when flights are often cheaper (and take a fraction of the time), it can be difficult to convince travellers to opt for the train instead. 

Electric train firm Lumo launched with a mission of targeting the air travel market and urging passengers to ‘cure your flight shame’. The cheapest off-peak one-way fare offered by Lumo is £26.90 (but this is very off-peak and has to be booked well in advance), with the average ticket price at £37. However, most tickets on its site currently seem to be around £60 for a one-way journey, which makes it about the same price as flying. If you’ve got a railcard, mind, you can save a third on your ticket fare.

Martijn Gilbert, of Lumo, said: ‘It is vital for the economy to have an affordable and sustainable means to travel long distances. I know we have opened up the route for people for the first time just by being cheaper than the alternatives previously available. 

He added: ‘Lumo has not changed passenger habits on its own – but the rail network has proven its value, comfort and convenience to passengers convincingly.’

ICYMI: now UK border staff could be going on strike over Christmas.

Plus: this is officially the best Christmas market in the UK.

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