News Front

THE NUMBER of rail passenger journeys in Great Britain made using season tickets has fallen to its lowest level for seven years, according to the Office of Rail and Road.

During Quarter 2 (July to September) of 2017-18, the number of journeys made on season tickets was down 9.4% on the same period the previous year. Linked to this was a fall in journeys in the London and South East (LSE) sector, where operators are most reliant on season tickets, for the fifth consecutive quarter. In contrast, there were increases in the number of journeys in the Long Distance and Regional sectors.

Overall the number of passenger journeys was 424 million over the three-month period, 0.4% less than the previous year. The LSE sector saw journeys fall by 1.3%, with South Western Railway seeing the largest fall of 8.5%, although this will have been affected by the three weeks of major engineering works at London Waterloo during August. However, all four of the largest operators (the others being Govia Thameslink Railway, London Overground and Southeastern) saw the number of journeys fall, albeit for the other three operators by 1% or less.

The number of journeys in the Long Distance sector was up 1.1% and in the Regional sector it was up 2.0%. Chiltern Railways saw the highest year-on-year rise of 11.4%, likely due to the addition of its services to Oxford city centre, which began in December 2016.

ORR highlights a shift away from use of season tickets, with growth of 8.8% in use of advance tickets, 7.8% for off-peak tickets and 3.7% for anytime/ peak tickets. Passenger revenue across all operators also grew by 2.1%, reaching £2,410 million. Season ticket revenue fell for the seventh quarter in a row and the 8% fall is the biggest recorded since the beginning of the time series. Revenue growth in the LSE sector slowed to 0.2%, the second lowest growth rate ever recorded. Revenue growth was higher in the other two sectors, and revenue from ordinary tickets reached an all-time high of £1,929 million, boosted by growth in sales of advance and off-peak tickets.

Passenger journeys among non-franchised operators dropped by 1.3% compared to the previous year, with an increase in passenger journeys for Hull Trains (up 10.1%) offset by the drop in Grand Central’s journeys (8.6%).