Rail travel decline reversed despite drop in season ticket journeys

A decline in demand for rail travel has been reversed despite a fall in season ticket usage, figures show.

Some 429 million passenger journeys were made in Britain between April and June, up 3.1% year-on-year, according to the Office of Rail and Road (ORR).

The preceding 12 months saw the first annual decrease in passengers – down 1.4% – in eight years.

A 3.5% spike in the London and south-east England sector drove the recent increase.

Paul Plummer, chief executive of industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: “After seeing passenger growth slow in recent years, this return to growth is encouraging.

“It underlines the importance of delivering our long-term plan for thousands of new services and engaging in a national conversation about the future of the railway.”

Most train operators saw a rise in demand between April and June, although Northern Rail suffered a 2.4% dip amid major disruption before and after new timetables were introduced.

But Govia Thameslink Railway – which also experienced severe delays and cancellations on some of its routes after timetables were changed – recorded a 4.8% increase.

The ORR data also shows that season ticket journeys fell by 1.7% over the same period, while ordinary tickets were up 5.9%.

The market share of season tickets has fallen from 48% to 35% over the past decade.

Transport campaigners believe this trend is due to a number of factors, including rising fares making regular travel unaffordable to many, and an increase in part-time and flexible working.

Last month the Government commissioned a review of Britain’s railways which will consider all parts of the network, including accountability, the franchising system and value for money.

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