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Revenue and passenger journeys both smash records

Britain’s railways hit record levels of passenger revenue and usage during the second quarter of 2015-16, with both measures at their highest since since the time series began in 1996, the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) has revealed.

Passenger revenue increased by almost 6% compared to the same quarter in the previous year, reaching £2.3bn. This was the case with all sectors, with revenue mainly driven by anytime/peak ticket sales, which increased by almost 10% - the highest quarter on quarter increase of all ordinary ticket types.

As always, half of this money was brought in entirely by the London and south east services, which account for over 70% of journeys.

But long distance services also collected 6.5% more cash than during the same time last year, at a record level of £788m. Cash from anytime/peak ticket sales grew by over 13%.

Regional operators also saw an increase of 4.6%, but the highest proportionate increase was observed in non-franchised operators, which brought in almost 20% more money in quarter two.

The unprecedented growth in non-franchised operators’ cash pool was likely a direct result of the increasing number of passenger journeys the sector has seen over time, the ORR said.

These operators – including First Hull Trains, Grand Central and Heathrow Express – recorded a 15% growth in passenger journeys, despite only increasing their timetabled kilometres by a marginal 0.3%. This means that the considerable increase in revenue and travelled kilometres was “almost entirely down to increased usage of current services”.

But First Hull Trains has faced some performance issues, and was one of three operators whose performance figures slumped below 80% for period 8, according to Network Rail.

Its PPM of 78.3% contrasted with period 8 last year, during which the operator recorded a ppm of 84.4%. It has also been recording high amounts of cancellations and significant lateness, falling just behind Virgin Trains East Coast during period 7, during which over 6% of its trains were substantially delayed. However, this is still considerably less than the stark cancellation figure of 8.6% it recorded in period 6.

Grand Central also recorded a similar cancellation and significant lateness figure during period 8, in line with Govia Thameslink Railway’s percentage of cancellations in the same time frame – despite being the largest operator in the UK.

Overall, across both franchised and non-franchised sectors, passenger journeys increased by 1.4% in quarter two.

Although this isn’t particularly high, the London and south east sector recorded the highest amount of journeys since the time series began in 1994, growing by 2.1% compared to the same time last year.

The same can be said for the long distance sector, which recorded just 1.2% more journeys than in quarter two of 2014-15, but still the highest overall amount. Journeys made on anytime/peak and off-peak tickets also saw the highest growth in this quarter.

The franchised regional sector, however, saw a decrease of nearly 1% in passenger journeys made for the third time in a row. Despite this, journeys made on advance tickets saw the highest quarter on quarter growth.


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