Demand for rail returns to pre-recession levels during last six months, new analysis shows

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A significant increase in demand for rail travel during the first six months of 2010 has seen a return to growth in passenger numbers on the railways not witnessed since before the recession.

Analysis published today by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) shows that October 2009 marked a turning point when demand on the railways began to recover and that since the start of 2010 overall demand for rail travel has begun to grow significantly.

Analysis shows that:

– During the first quarter of the calendar year 2010 (January to March) passenger journeys rose by 4.4% when compared to the same period last year
– During the second quarter of 2010 (April to June) passenger journeys rose by 6.1%
– During the first six months of 2010, there were 681m passenger journeys. This compared with 648m during the first six months of 2009 – an overall rise of 5.1%.

Demand has grown on all parts of the railways since the turn of the year. A breakdown by sector shows that for 2010:

– Long distance Q1 growth was 7% and Q2 growth was 7.7%
– Regional Q1 growth was 1.8% and Q2 growth was 6.2%
– London and SE Q1 growth was 5.1% and Q2 growth was 5.9%.

There are over a 1.2 billion journeys made on the railways every year, with journeys up 60% since privatisation in the mid 90s. The trend of strong growth is expected to continue as demand is forecast to double within the next 20 years.

Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of ATOC, said: “The strong growth in passenger journeys that we have seen since the turn of the year is hugely encouraging, both for the railway industry and for the broader economy.

“Passenger rail underpins economic growth, supporting thousands of businesses and helping millions of people every day to get to work, meet friends and family or just to get out and about to have fun.

“All sectors of the railways performed well during the first half of the year, but the turnaround in London and the South East is particularly marked.

“But, it is vital that we don’t take the nation’s fragile recovery for granted – the threat of the economy slipping back into recession remains real and serious. Train companies will continue to work hard to ensure that they attract customers onto the railways and can play their part in helping to secure the nation’s continued economic recovery.

“Whilst the recession may have had a short-term impact on growth, demand for rail travel is expected to double over the next 20 years, underlining the vital importance of long-term investment in rolling stock and improvements to the network. However, we need to improve the cost-efficiency of every pound invested in rail and to ensure that investment is more focused on projects with the strongest business case.”


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