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.
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.