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The countdown to Christmas is officially under way and it looks set to be a record breaking one for leading west coast rail provider, Virgin Trains. With advance ticket sales the highest since 1997 people are opting to take the train to get them home this Christmas resulting in a 20% uplift on 2008 sales, with some routes seeing bookings double.

Set to be one of the busiest festive periods for Virgin Trains, even without the additional walk-up tickets, routes to London, Birmingham, Glasgow and Manchester are proving popular with nearly 145,000 advance bookings. The Chester and North Wales line is proving to be particularly popular this year with over 100% uplift in advance sales.

Advance ticket sales comparing 2008 – 2009:

London – Manchester / Manchester – London
Growth % 24%

Euston – Birmingham/Wolverhampton / Birmingam/Wolverhampton – Euston
Growth % 31%


Euston – Liverpool / Liverpool – Euston
Growth % 16%

Euston – Chester & Holyhead / Holyhead & Chester – Euston
Growth % 107%

Euston – Glasgow / Glasgow – Euston
Growth % 24%

Says Jim Rowe, Senior Communications Manager at Virgin Trains: “Christmas is always a busy time, but this year it is set to break all the records. With our high frequency timetable offering faster services, including weekends, we hope people will share the festivities with family up and down the country. ”

With a newly redesigned website ( Virgin Trains is advising people not to worry there are still seats available and the advice is simple – book early to avoid disappointment. Packed with improvements such as a shorter booking process, transparency around fare savings, interactive route maps and real time station information, live travel updates direct to your iPhone and pocket timetables, whilst still retaining the old favourites such as best fare finder, the new site has been based around customer needs.

Advance sales compare bookings made for travel between 16th December – 3rd January.