Rail bounces back with record passenger numbers


The number of rail passenger journeys in Great Britain rose by 3% to a record high in 2018-19, while total passenger revenue increased 6% to more than £10bn.

According to the Passenger Rail Usage 2018-19 Q4 Statistical Release, published by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), there were 1.759 billion rail passenger journeys during the financial year, up 51 million on 2017/18.

A packed concourse at London Waterloo

However, the 2017/18 figure represented a drop of 1.4% in passenger journeys, which the ORR said was the largest decrease recorded since 1993- 94.

The number of rail passenger journeys in the London and South East sector rose by 3.9% after falling for two consecutive years.

The number of passenger kilometres also increased in 2018-19, to 67.7 billion, with the highest growth in London and South East.

Total passenger revenue reached £10.3bn in 2018-19. The ORR said annual revenue growth of 6.1% was its highest since 2014-15.

Officials said this was driven by a 7.0% rise in the London and South East sector, which contributes half of the total revenue, reaching a record high of £5.1bn.

Passenger journeys using ordinary tickets increased by 5.0% in 2018-19 compared to the previous year.

Officials said this was driven by a 6.9% growth in anytime tickets while the number of passenger journeys made using season tickets fell for the third consecutive year, down 0.4%.

The market share of season ticket journeys was 36% in 2018-19, down a quarter from a decade ago (48%).

Govia extension confirmed

Separately, Govia said it had been awarded a short-term extension to the current Southeastern franchise, under which it will continue to operate services until 10 November 2019, with an option to extend to 1 April 2020'

It said it will also roll-out ‘Delay Repay 15’, under which passengers delayed by 15 minutes will receive compensation.

It said Delay Repay 15 'was always going to be introduced as part of the next South Eastern franchise' but that the announcement that it will be rolled out this year - later than the new franchise was due to begin - 'means that passengers will get the benefit sooner'.

Labour’s shadow transport secretary, Andy McDonald MP, said: 'It’s never been clearer that rail franchising is broken beyond repair. Yet the transport secretary today has simply waved through another sticking plaster franchise extension on Southeastern which will further delay investment and the introduction of new trains.'

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