RAIL journeys in Scotland have increased by almost 3% year-on-year, with only London and the south-east experiencing a faster growth in rail travel.

The latest report by the industry regulator revealed that the total number of rail journeys taken Scotland during 2012-13 was up 2.9% to 89.6 million, the highest level on record.

The number of passenger journeys has almost doubled over the past 18 years, rising steadily from around 49 million annually in 1995-96.

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The Office for Rail ­Regulation (ORR) report also revealed that the areas that experienced the largest growth in passenger journeys over the last year were Lothian, Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, which all grew by between 7.0% and 9.2%.

However, some rural areas also saw significant falls in the number of rail journeys. Argyll and Bute experienced a 10.2% fall in rail travel, while Moray saw the number of people travelling by train decline by 8.6%.

Meanwhile, the number of train journeys between Scotland and other regions of the UK increased by 1.9% despite a decrease of 0.7% in journey numbers between Scotland and London.

Journeys between Scotland and the north-east and north-west of England both saw increases in passenger journeys in excess of 3.8%.

For the UK as a whole, only London and the south-east experienced a higher increase in train travel, with passengers journeys in the capital up 4.7% year-on-year and 4% in the south-east region.