Just a penny for around two miles – that’s the average cost of the cheapest fares to be introduced for a long-distance rail journey when Megatrain joins the Virgin Trains routes linking Edinburgh and Glasgow with Birmingham.

The lowest cost for the single journey of almost 300 miles will be a mere £1, plus a booking fee of 50p that is the same whether the booking is for one person or more, so two people travelling together could go for a total of £2.50.

In straight cash terms that’s just about as cheap as the lowest fare when the line from central Scotland opened 160 years ago, never mind the inflation that has taken place since. In those early Victorian days the old penny a mile price – 240 of those pennies to the pound – was for trains that were slower than the rest. But the Megatrain fares that have gone on sale for travel on Mondays to Fridays from 14 July are available on regular Virgin Super Voyager 125mph trains. Graham Leech, Virgin Trains Commercial Director, said: "There are already well over 100,000 seats a week available on Virgin Trains at bargain Advance fares. Now with Megatrain on our Birmingham-Scotland route and further reductions in other advance purchase fares, we are offering many of Britain's cheapest long-distance fares. This is further proof that flying and car travel is more expensive than travelling by train."

Megatrain single prices available on the www.megatrain.com website range from £1 to £9 plus 50p booking fee between Birmingham and Edinburgh or Glasgow. These prices compare with Virgin’s current cheapest Advance fare of £18 single between Birmingham and Edinburgh or Glasgow.

Megatrain fares on weekdays from 14 July are also available for journeys to and from Carlisle, Oxenholme The Lake District and Preston (Lancashire) and between Glasgow and Manchester.

Subject to availability Megatrain fares can be bought up to 03:00 hours the day before departure either online at www.megatrain.com or via the Megatrain telephone hotline, 09001 200 300 (calls cost 60p a minute).

Customers receive a unique booking reference code by email, text or post which acts as their ticket. The new Megatrain deal, operated by Stagecoach, is part of Virgin Trains’ effort to sell more discounted tickets.

Full conditions are available on the Megatrain website.