The total number of journeys booked between the middle of February and the end of March increased by 13.8% compared with the corresponding period in 2015 to 1.8 million.

When VR Group announced its strategy to cut long-distance fares in August 2015, it was achieving average load factors of just 32.4% on long-distance services, a figure which had increased to 39.7% by March.

Ridership on long-distance services has declined in recent years due to the recession and the liberalisation of the long-distance bus market.