Revenue from rail passengers grew faster than passenger numbers last year as use of flexible and first class tickets grew significantly.
Figures published by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators and Network Rail, show that 1.7 billion rail journeys were made in the year ending in March, a rise of 3.7%.
Journey growth was greatest in London and the South East
But revenue from passengers grew by more than 5% to £9.3bn over the year.
While journeys on Anytime and season tickets accounted for more than one billion of the total, the RDG said demand for fully flexible and first class fares grew significantly, with an increase of nearly 8% rise in journeys on unrestricted Anytime tickets.
Off-Peak first class journeys rose by nearly 10% and Anytime first class journeys up more than 3%. Journeys by commuters with season tickets rose by less than 2%.
RDG chief executive, Paul Plummer used the increase in passengers to highlight the value of ongoing investment in Britain’s railways.
He said: ‘Rail keeps Britain moving, but our network is very busy at times due to a big increase in services as passengers numbers have doubled. It is vital that we invest and plan long-term for this ever-growing demand.
‘Billions of pounds are being spent to improve reliability and increase capacity, reversing decades of under-investment. Money from fares is helping to build the bigger, better, modern railway that Britain needs, giving customers faster journeys and improved facilities.
He added: ‘While there has been growth overall in the past year, these are challenging times. There has been a slowdown in the rate of growth in some areas of the rail market and we are analysing how factors such as a worsening economic outlook or continued low petrol prices may be affecting train travel.’
Journey growth was greatest in London and the South East, up 4.2%, while long-distance routes saw a 3.3% increase in journeys and regional routes 2.3% more journeys.