A boost in figures for intercity rail travel over the past 18 months has prompted the chairman of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) to comment that domestic air travel could become “the choice of the minority” with some cities not linked by air at all.

The figures show that from 2008 to 2010

•from Birmingham to Edinburgh, market share has gone up from 14% to 31%

•from London to Manchester, market share has gone up from 69%  to 85%

•from Birmingham to Glasgow, market share has gone up from 15% to 27%

•from London to Glasgow, market share has gone up from 12% to 21%

Total journeys by rail on the ten most popular domestic air routes between 2006 and 2009 went up by 31% while air travel dropped by 20%.

ATOC director of corporate affairs Edward Welsh remarked on the figures: “If these trends continue, we can expect domestic air to become the choice of the minority, with flying between some cities disappearing altogether.”

The volcanic ash chaos could skew the figures for part of 2010, however they still show that the rail market share continued at a higher level after the disruption, indicating that people stuck to rail as their preferred choice and did not all return to catching flights.

Welsh continued: “It is clear that a fundamental shift in the way that people get around the country is taking place. Ever greater numbers of people choosing rail travel to get between our big cities is good news for the environment, and shows the importance of the railways in supporting the economy.

“The volcanic ash cloud led to a spike in rail journey numbers as train operators laid on extra services to get people around the country. But this merely accelerated a trend seen in recent years, most notably last year, when tough financial times led people to opt for the train.

“Considerable improvements have been made on the railways in the last few years to cut journey times, run more frequent services and to make services even better for passengers.

“Rail passenger satisfaction has never been higher, punctuality has never been better, the number of complaints has never been lower and investment in rail has never been more sustained – which all adds up to great value for money.”

Have you changed from air to rail travel over the past year or so? If so, what prompted the change?