Growth of 6.9% in 2010 takes demand for rail travel to new high levels31/01/2011
The number of people travelling by train rose to record new levels in 2010 as the rail industry bounced back strongly from recession, carrying more passengers in a peacetime year than at any time since the 1920s, according to figures published today.
The figures, published by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), show that 1.32 billion passenger journeys were made by train last year – a rise of 6.9% when compared to 2009 and a rise of 37% when compared to 2000. Passengers travelled a record 33.3bn miles by train.
Growth was highest in the summer months, which saw a year on year rise of 8%. Year on year demand also grew strongly during the final quarter of the year despite two heavy bouts of snow in December that caused disruption across all forms of transport and across the country.
According to official statistics, the number of passenger journeys made in a peacetime year haven’t been higher since the mid 1920s when the railway was roughly twice the size that it is now and the vast majority of the network ran on steam trains.
ATOC says that the growth was partly driven by people taking advantage of cheap tickets.
For example, the sale of cheap Advance tickets rose 12% compared to 2009 and the average price paid for a single journey fell from £5.00 to £4.96. Other contributing factors were:
- A 15% rise in petrol prices over the course of 2010.
- Continued improvements to rail services, including historically high punctuality, more frequent services on many routes and the roll-out of services such as wi-fi.
- The return to growth of the broader economy for much of 2010 and employment holding up better than expected in parts of the country.
- The successful rollout of Oyster Pay as You Go to all national rail services in the capital, which is thought to be a significant factor in growth in London and the South East. The latest figures show two million journeys a week on Pay As You Go on national rail trains in the capital.
Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of ATOC said: “2010 was a year of strong growth in rail journeys, as demand bounced back from the recession and passenger numbers rose to levels not witnessed in peacetime Britain since the 1920s. With well over a billion journeys made last year, the last time rail travel was this popular train crews were shoveling coal into steam engines and many carriages were still lit by gaslight.
“Despite tough times for many people, train companies have been able to attract greater numbers of passengers to the railways with a range of affordable tickets for all types of customers. The average price paid for a single train journey actually fell at a time when the cost of petrol rose significantly, playing a part in encouraging people out of their cars and onto the railways.
“Passenger rail supports thousands of businesses and helps millions of people every day to get to work, meet friends and family or just to get out and about to have fun. The challenge will be to continue this growth during 2011.”
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