Train travel demand has risen to two-thirds of normal levels for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic began, new figures illustrate.

Provisional data from the Department for Transport demonstrates that the rail travel journeys made on Britain’s mainline network on Monday 23rd August was at 66% of the level compared to the same date in 2019.

This is up from 56% three weeks earlier.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), an industry group that supports the companies that run the railway network, said the rise is as a result of increased leisure travel.

Millions of people went on domestic breaks and day trips this summer instead of holidays abroad, meaning more people used trains to get to their destinations.

Speaking to the Press Association, RDG chief executive Jacqueline Starr said: “It’s great to see more and more day-trippers and staycationers travelling by train to see the people and places they love as life gets back on track, whether that’s a seaside trip, a night out or a shopping spree.

“These journeys are boosting businesses and high streets that have struggled during the pandemic, helping to build a fair and clean economic recovery from the pandemic.”

Commuting and business trips by rail are still well below pre-coronavirus levels, with the sector’s overall revenue for the year just 59% of what it was at this point in 2019.

Public transport groups have expressed concern that the pandemic has put millions of people off using public transport.

Road traffic has recovered to nearly 100% of pre-virus levels, and on some days even exceeds that figure.