Trebling trains to Manchester from London
From a city losing tens of thousands of residents following the decline of the manufacturing industry in the 1970s, the turnaround in Manchester's fortunes over the last 25 years has been remarkable. With a particular focus on redeveloping the city centre to attract many more people to live and work there, the Greater Manchester area now has 1.4million workers, contributing £62.8billion to the national economy.
The transformation of intercity train services has made an important contribution to that turnaround. Significant increases in services to other major UK cities, investment in modern trains and reduction in journey times has helped support major investment from elsewhere in the UK and around the world.
When Virgin Trains took over the intercity service to Manchester in 1997, there were only 17 trains to London every day, by 2008 this was almost three times higher, with 46 trains per day. To put that in perspective, a Virgin Pendolino train carries the same number of people as 500 typical cars, so not only did these changes bring many more people into Manchester, it also made significant strides in reducing congestion and emissions. Domestic flights have also fallen significantly as intercity rail journeys have improved. In 2007, rail carried 70% of all rail and air journeys from Manchester, but today that is 92%
That step‐change in rail capacity saw passenger numbers double at Manchester Piccadilly over the same period, to nearly 28m per year today. Those faster, more frequent and more comfortable services have transformed the way investors, suppliers and potential customers can get to Manchester.
The broader growth in the city has seen major companies moving to Manchester, including Google, Amazon and Microsoft, as well as global financial companies. The BBC and ITV moved large parts of its operations to MediaCity in Salford, and Manchester has become an international hub in high tech sciences, from biotech to futuristic materials. The visitor economy, worth over £7.5billion in Greater Manchester, has benefited from many more people arriving in Manchester by train for its many cultural, retail and sporting attractions.
Virgin Trains’ investment in new trains to deliver hundreds more services each year saw its total passenger numbers more than double across the country from 1997 to today. The rail sector as a whole will deliver 6,400 extra services per week ‐ 1,283 per day ‐ by 2021. For Manchester, and for towns and cities across Britain, that means more businesses reaching more customers, helping the creation of new jobs and thriving local economies.