Thousands of would-be train drivers have applied for just 78 posts advertised by long-distance operator Virgin Trains East Coast.
The company confirmed it has received an incredible 15,000 applications for the jobs in its first external recruitment drive since the 1980s.
The figures mean that applicants have only a one in 200 chance of landing one of the coveted roles, which come with a £57,000 annual salary.
Traditionally, the franchise holder on the East Coast Main Line, which operates services from Leeds to London, would recruit trainee drivers from its existing staff pool.
The new joiners will be trained to handle the route’s new Azuma trains, which are due to go into service in 2018.
Virgin’s HR team are now sifting through the thousands of application forms after the closing date last Friday.
The recruits will be based at five major stations on the line - Leeds, Edinburgh, Doncaster, Newcastle and London King’s Cross.
Successful candidates will first have to pass an assessment centre before beginning a year-long training course which includes classroom-based and practical sessions at locations along the famous London-Edinburgh route.
They will also spend time on a state-of-the-art train simulator.
A spokesperson for Virgin Trains said:
“We have received a huge amount of interest in this fantastic opportunity at Virgin Trains on its east coast route. The Talent team are working hard to process and update all of the applications we received. Those who have been successful in getting through the first stages of the process will be invited to attend a selection day which will include a variety of assessments and exercises that will bring the best talent into our business.”