New statistics reveal a drop in the number of rail journeys for the first time since 2009-10, with 1.4 per cent fewer trips than last year.

The statistics from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) shows this decline in 2017-18 may be fuelled by a 9.2 per cent fall in season ticket journeys. Furthermore, a 3.8 per cent increase in ordinary tickets suggests a shift in the type of fares used by passengers.

It’s the largest annual decrease since 1993-94.

In total, about 1.7 billion journeys took place on the UK’s rail network.

The decline comes in a year when passengers have faced disruption due to strikes, timetable changes and delayed infrastructure projects.

London and the South East – which makes up about two-thirds of the national total – saw passenger journeys drop for the second year in a row, with South Western Railway experiencing the biggest fall at 7.9 per cent to 212 million. The ORR says this is the lowest number of journeys on the franchise since 2012-13.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) had the largest number of passenger journeys of all operators, but factors such as industrial strikes, staffing issues and planned cancellations contributed to a decrease of 2 million journeys.

Chiltern Railways, which opened the direct route between London Marylebone and Oxford City Centre in December 2016, saw a 6.4 per cent increase in passenger journeys. Meanwhile, Scotrail saw its highest growth rate since 2014-15 (3.8 per cent), which the ORR says could be attributed to the completion of improvement projects and electrification works.

In the regional sector, Northern saw a decrease of 8.9 per cent in the wake of snow storms and staff strikes.

Passenger revenue reflects the drop in journeys, with the growth rate falling to 2.3 per cent – the lowest level since 2000-01, according to the ORR.

Total revenue across the UK for the year reached just over £9.7 billion.

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