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National rail journey growth slows as GTR serves 6 million fewer passengers

Passenger journeys nationally last year saw its lowest year-on-year growth since 2009-10, as journeys only increased by 0.8%, according to new data.

In figures released today by the ORR on passenger journeys, it was also found that despite GTR still having the largest share of journeys of all TOCs, ongoing issues with the unions has led to a 1.9% decrease in journeys – with six million fewer passengers travelling on its network last year compared to 2015-16.

This follows the ORR reporting a few months ago that in Q3, GTR had recorded their largest decrease in journeys this quarter. The regulator also found in March that GTR complaints had seen a three-fold increase in Q3, rocketing up by 347.1% due to disruption on the network.

South West Trains was also found to have a disappointing year as well, as journeys fell by 3.2% over 12 months.

In terms of the types of tickets passengers were using, the ORR reported that the number of journeys made using season tickets fell by 2.9%, as the market share of season tickets fell to 40% for the first time since the series began in the mid-80s.

The report also stated that in Q4, passenger journeys had decreased by 0.4% compared to the same period the previous year.

“The fall in passenger journeys seen in the second half of 2016-17 has resulted in the nationwide slowdown in year-on-year growth,” the report read. “The London and South East sector is the main driver of passenger journey change and in 2016-17 Q4, its passenger journeys decreased for the third quarter in succession when compared to the same quarter in 2015-16.

“This offset the growth in journeys in the franchised Long Distance and Regional sectors.”

The regulator also revealed that GTR had a miserable Q4 – as journeys decreased by 6.6% in Q4, although the operator still reached 80 million passengers in this period of time.

Passenger revenue growth at lowest since millennium

The report also stated that passenger revenue growth was at its lowest since 2000-01, slowing up to 2.5%. Season tickets were again found to be faring poorly, as ticket revenue fell (by 1.5%) for the first time since 1994-95.

Overall, revenue from ordinary tickets accounted for 77% of the total revenue from ticket sales and saw a 3.7% growth in 2016-17, totalling £7.3bn.

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Jerry Alderson   27/05/2017 at 13:54

Other than union issues no possible reasons are mentioned anywhere in this article. Fares are a signficant influence on patronage.The government insists in increasing them by more than 1% above inflation (CPI). Despite above-inflation increases in England every year since 2005 when Alistair Darling introduced them, patronage has continued to increase. It's no surprise that the rate of growth is now quite small. I don't know whether the vote for Brexit has had any impact on rail usage yet, but I expect it will in the future.

Lutz   28/05/2017 at 14:07

@Jerry Alderson With respect to Season ticket sales, price increases do not affect sales to a great degree due to a large portion of them being paid for by businesses in one way or another. The simple problem is that a large number of high-paying City jobs have been disappearing over the last few years and so there is a consequent drop-off in demand from long-distance commuters.

Mark Hare   29/05/2017 at 11:19

Could it not be that the railways are simply now running at or near capacity with overcrowded trains, full car parks at stations etc and there is just very little room for any further increase in passenger numbers?

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