Record passenger numbers rise again
The number of rail passenger journeys made in the second quarter of 2016-17 (Q2, JulySeptember 2016) showed an increase of 0.7% compared with the corresponding three-month period in 2015-16.
This was the lowest growth rate recorded since Q4 2012-13, according to figures released by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) on December 8. The overall number of passenger journeys made in Q2 was 425.1 million.
The ORR figures also revealed that in the past 12 months 1.73 billion passenger journeys were made. Within this figure, open access operators were responsible for a record 0.6 million journeys in the latest quarter.
Passenger revenue from these 1.73 billion journeys raised £9.3 billion, with franchised operators accounting for £9.2bn and open access operators £71.6 million.
In Q2 the number of passenger kilometres increased by 1.7% to 16.6 billion, and passenger revenue rose 1.4% to £2.4bn, with a record high of £5.52 per passenger on franchised operators.
However, the overall number of passenger train kilometres dropped 0.4% to 132.4 million.
The London and South East sector recorded its first decline since Q4 2012-13, with the 294.5 million passenger journeys made in Q2 2016-17 representing a fall of 0.5% compared with Q2 2015-16.
Three operators in this sector - South West Trains (SWT), London Overground and Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) - recorded declines in passenger journeys. Combined, the three operators account for more
Of the 1.73 billion passenger journeys made on Britain’s railways in 2015-16, Govia Thameslink Railway carried the largest number of passengers (327.0 million).
Franchised season ticket journeys in Q2 2016-17 dropped 2.7% to 157.4 million, compared with the corresponding quarter in 2015-16. This is a key driver of demand in London and the South East, and is a likely reason for the decline in the number of journeys made in that sector.
Open access operator Grand Central enjoyed a record number of passenger journeys than 60% of passenger journeys in the sector. Despite the drop, GTR was still responsible for the most passenger journeys in Q2 2016-17 (79.7 million).
Journeys in the franchised Long Distance and Regional (including Scotland) sectors both rose by 3.5% in the quarter, with 35.9 million journeys in the former a record high.
Passenger kilometres rose across all three sectors, with the Regional in Q2 2016-17, with 0.4 million journeys. This is an increase of 3.1% on the corresponding quarter in 2015-16.
Northern Rail recorded the highest quarter-on-quarter increase in passenger kilometres - ORR said the rise of 13.5% was largely down to services transferring from TransPennine Express. For the same reason, TPE recorded the largest drop (5.3%).
Passenger revenue for franchised Regional services rose 3.1% in Q2 2016-17, reaching £366 million. This was the highest growth recorded across the three sectors. sector recording the highest growth in Q2 (2.9%) compared with the same period in 2015-16. SWT recorded a 3.6% fall in journeys against a 2.1% rise in passenger kilometres.
For passenger revenue the increase was 1.4% compared with the corresponding period in 201516, although this was the lowest growth recorded since Q2 2009-10.
ORR said revenue from franchised operators in London and the South East reached £1.2bn (up 0.5%), also the lowest growth since Q2 2009-102. The regulator said this slowdown was likely to be due to the decrease in passenger journeys. That sector accounts for 50.0% of total franchised passenger revenue in Q2 2016-17 Q2.
GTR recorded the highest number of passenger train kilometres in the quarter (14.4 million). However, with fewer trains planned to run, combined with continued staffing issues resulting in cancelled trains, ORR said GTR’s’ passenger train kilometres had dropped 9.2% compared with the corresponding period last year.
Open access operators’ passenger train kilometres rose 0.1% during the quarter.