Passenger numbers continue to rise

Rising numbers: A pair of Great Northern Class 387s call at Alexandra Palace on 16 August 2023. Philip Sherratt

Passenger numbers increased by 14% to 397 million between 1 July and 30 September 2023 compared to the same period a year ago, according to the Office of Rail and Road. This amounts to around 89% of pre-pandemic levels.

Its latest figures also show a 21% rise in the number of journeys made in the 12 months to the end of September to 1.5 billion. The number of passenger-kilometres increased by 10% over the quarter to 15.1, while real-terms revenue also increased by 10% to £2.6 billion.

Eight franchised and two open-access train operators recorded double-digit percentage increases in passenger journeys over the three months compared to the year before. MTR Elizabeth line’s 58% rise to 55.5 million reflects the continued popularity of the new railway: ScotRail numbers rose by 26% to 21.1 million, Avanti West Coast by 25% to 8 million, London Overground and TransPennine Express by 15% each to 44.6 million and 5.6 million respectively, and Caledonian Sleeper by 13% to 0.1 million. Completing the double-digit franchised operators were Greater Anglia (up 11% to 18.7 million) and CrossCountry (also up 11%, to 7.7 million).

Open-access operator Hull Trains was up 34% to 0.4 million, with East Coast main line stablemate Lumo rising by 16% to 0.3 million.