A Green Journey to GrowthVirgin Trains

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executive summary

We provided extensive new evidence on the carbon reduction benefits of switching from air to rail for travel between Scotland and London.


Virgin Trains wanted evidence to demonstrate the environmental benefits of switching from air to rail. Between 2005 and 2015, rail’s market share for trips between central Scotland and London grew from 20% to 33%. Virgin Trains wanted to quantify the resulting carbon savings.


We provided extensive new evidence for the carbon reduction benefits of switching from air to rail for travel between Scotland and London. For the first time, we measured the carbon savings generated by a switch from air to rail between 2005 and 2015. We then looked forward to analyse what level of carbon savings could be achieved if modal shift were to continue. We also quantified the environmental benefits that could be achieved for governments, businesses and individuals by changing their travel behaviour.

In 2019, we repeated our research do show the carbon savings that had resulted from a continuing switch from air to rail and record market share for Anglo-Scottish trains.


Our research won extensive positive media coverage across Scotland, highlighting the positive environmental role that Virgin Trains was playing. This included front page in the Herald, stories in the Scotsman, Independent, Press & Journal and Business Insider, and leading pieces on BBC and ITV.

Our reserach was used extensively by Virgin Trains to provide evidence of the environmental value of their services. For example, it was presented at the Scottish Chambers of Commerce annual parliamentary reception to an audience of prominent MSPs and business leaders.

Welcoming the report, Scottish Government Minister for Transport and Islands, Humza Yousaf MSP, said:

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. I welcome the publication of this Transform Scotland report  which showcases the environmental benefits of rail, and underlines the importance of having high speed rail connectivity between Scotland and London.”

Damien Henderson, the Scottish Affairs and Media Manager at Virgin Train, said:

Understanding the carbon benefits of switching to rail is vital if we are to drive this policy agenda forward. Transform Consulting delivered a persuasive and authoritative piece of research exploring this subject which generated high profile and positive media coverage. They delivered on time and on budget and were a pleasure to work with.


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