TRAIN passengers from around the country gathered in Chester to learn how their regions can benefit from the influx of tourists visiting in the city.

A passenger panel gives everyday passengers on Virgin Trains the opportunity to register grievances or suggest improvements.

Now the panel want to see how the introduction of a new service and co-operation with Chester's tourist organisation Visit Chester and Cheshire has won the city so many more visitors and its businesses more tourist cash.

They met at the Queen Hotel and toured Chester in an open-topped bus to see what the city has to offer.

Steven Knight, Virgin Trains spokesman, said: “We talked about how the improved train service to Chester has helped boost tourism and the economy.

“It shows that, with good transport links and promotion, you can boost business.

“It's been so successful that we want to say this is what we've done in Chester and use it as an example and for people to consider whether there are opportunities where they live.”

Virgin’s decision to almost treble the frequency of its London rail service from five to 14 trains a day, and introduce its fastest ever service – London to Chester in less than two hours – arose after Visit Chester and Cheshire approached the company four years ago.

Business from London and Milton Keynes to Chester is now up 38% year on year.

A short breaks promotion campaign to promote the new train-links, which ran from May to September 2009, delivered an economic impact of £17.9m and reached 12 million people.

Nicola Said, of Visit Chester and Cheshire, said: “They're impressed with the fact that being able to work with Virgin Trains on a regional basis has facilitated the promotional efforts for Chester.”