Between the Lines

The Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) latest quarterly report on Passenger Rail Usage must have sent shivers through franchise board rooms and the Department for Transport’s offices. Rail use has been growing rapidly over the past 20 years, but growth has slowed down across the country and the largest train operating companies (TOCs) in London and the South East are showing significant declines. The most dramatic decline has been for South West Trains, an 8.8% reduction in passenger journeys in Quarter 1 of 2017/18 compared with the same period last year; Southeastern’s numbers were almost as bad, with a 7.4% decline (p17, last month). In contrast, Govia Thameslink Railway, which has been beset by industrial relations problems for the best part of a year, only lost 5.3%. Even London Overground, which has been a star performer following its transformation under Transport for London, only grew by 1.3%.

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