The UK’s Rail minister Andrew Adonis has officially opened the £8.9bn upgraded London to Glasgow West Coast Mainline.

The line, which also serves Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool, has been upgraded over the last five years, allowing for a 30% drop in journey times and a 45% increase in long-distance train services on the line.

The route is the UK’s main rail artery accommodating long-distance passenger trains, local and regional passenger services and 40% of the nation’s rail freight.

Rail minister Andrew Adonis said that this work had changed the transport map of Britain.

“Five years ago, Manchester was nearly three hours from London and was served by barely one train an hour. Today trains reach Manchester in two hours and run every 20 minutes throughout the day,” said Adonis.

“This project helps to better connect Britain. Businesses rely on it to move their people and to move their freight, giving them the connections they need to help our economy through these difficult times.”

Passenger numbers on the line have doubled since 2004 and the amount of journeys taken has grown by one third since 2004.

New rolling stock has been ordered to cater for the extra capacity. Four extra Pendolino trains have been ordered, while 31 existing Pendolinos are to be lengthened from nine to 11 carriages.