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ORR passenger statistics reveal low growth in Q3

Rail passenger journeys in Greater Britain for Q3 of 2016-17 reached 442.4million, the lowest quarter on quarter growth (0.04%) since Q4 2012-13, according to new data released by the ORR.

Passenger revenue was also shown to be lacking growth, as Q3 revenue stood at £2.4bn, up only 1.2% from the previous quarter, the lowest growth the industry had experienced since 2009-10.

Despite there being the highest number of quarterly passenger journeys by franchised operators on Britain’s trains, last quarter saw the lowest quarter-on-quarter increase in passenger journeys since 2012-13, at 0.04%.

Unsurprisingly, Govia Thameslink Railway recorded their largest decrease in journeys this quarter at only 78.4 million this quarter. This revelation comes after it was revealed in Network Rail figures that Southern, a company who GTR oversee, cancelled a total of 60,000 journeys last year due to the ongoing dispute they are locked in with unions RMT and Aslef.

On the other end of the spectrum, Northern saw a 18.2% increase in passenger journeys, going up to 29.1 million – though this has been exacerbated by the transfer of services from TransPennine Express to Northern in April 2016. Correspondingly, TransPennine Express journey numbers fell by 8.3%.

Franchised regional sector did, however, see the highest number of passenger journeys ever recorded, exceeding 100 million for the first time since the series conception in 1994-95.

There was also a second consecutive quarterly drop in franchised season ticket journeys at 174.9 million, down by 3.3%, its largest drop since 2009-10. The ORR said: “Season ticket journeys are a key driver of demand in the London and south east sector, so a fall in season ticket journeys is likely to have been the main factor in the falling journey numbers in this sector.”

GTR also performed poorly when it came to total passenger kilometres, as despite being the operator with the highest passenger train kilometres in 2016-17 Q3 with 13.7 million kilometres, this made up a 10.2% drop in distance, the largest by a franchised operator compared to the same quarter last year.

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Lutz   03/03/2017 at 20:02

Given the changes that have been going on (Northern/TPE), and the problems with lost services as touched on above, the headline figures are of little value. A more detailed break-out indicates significant reversals in the southern franchises; this trend has been there for a few years but is becoming more pronounced. I am wondering if remote working and declines in Financial sector employment in London is leading to a permanent change in demand. If this is the case, it will be a problem to a number of the operators given that their plans were based on projections of stead growth in demand rather than a levelling off or even reversal (that reversal in the SWT numbers is notable - especially after all the extra capacity that was put in). It also hints that the DfT will want to review it's funding of upgrades and enhancements for projects in the South East outside of London.

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