Virgin Trains is crediting a "golden thread" of thriving business centres - including Birmingham - for helping its Cross Country network approach a record 20 million passengers a year.
Over the last ten years - largely operated by Sir Richard Branson's company - the network has almost doubled the number of passenger journeys.
It has gone from 10.4 million in 1994/5 to 19.6 million up to April this year.
Britain's second busiest longdistance train operator said the success has been achieved by a mixture of increased leisure travel and attracting a new generation of business travellers who have switched to rail to avoid the stress of motorway congestion, speed cameras and city centre parking.
The Cross Country network radiates from its Birmingham New Street hub and has enabled easy travel between other major business centres such as Birmingham, Bristol, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Leeds, Manchester, Newcastle, Plymouth and Reading without the need to travel through London, Virgin said.
Sir Richard said: "I am very proud of everyone at Virgin CrossCountry for turning around a business that prior to privatisation epitomised everything that was wrong with railways - a business that lacked vision, imagination and above all investment.
" We have proved that CrossCountry is essential to the nation's business communities and it is our intention to build on our success by increasing the length of our trains and frequency of services through future investment."
The biggest increases in passenger numbers have come in the three years since Virgin's "Operation Princess" launched high-speed Voyager trains in 2002.
Performance dipped dramatically in the weeks following the launch, which bosses privately admit involved an over- ambitious overnight timetable change, but have since recovered.
Business travel between Birmingham and Newcastle, for example, has increased by 244 per cent in that time.
Jerry Blackett, policy director for Birmingham Chamber of Commerce, said: "This is confirmation of the importance to business of a flourishing rail service.
"The Virgin service continues to improve in terms of frequency and quality and we applaud this."
Chris Gibb, Virgin CrossCountry managing director, said: "We are now reaping the benefits of a massive investment scheme implemented after Virgin took on the franchise. We have seen a dramatic turnaround in performance and high scoring independent customer satisfaction surveys."
CrossCountry operates 184 trains every day and serves 104 stations from Aberdeen to Penzance.