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Railhub Archive
2003-12-30 ATO-001


One billion rail passenger journeys in 2003 - highest for more than 40 years

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Association of Train Operating Companies

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One billion rail passenger journeys in 2003 - highest for more than 40 years

30 December 2003
source ATOC
type Press release

Passengers awarded "Freedom of the Network" and one year’s free rail travel

A family trip on the train turned lucky today for husband and wife Stephen Setford and Lynn O’Malley, who were today awarded "The Freedom of the Network", giving them a year’s free rail travel anywhere in Britain.

Lynn and Stephen were travelling from their home in Norwich to London with their eight-month-old son James when they were chosen to win special tickets allowing unlimited free travel in the coming year.

The family’s trip was among the one billion passenger journeys that have been made by rail during 2003, the highest number for more than 40 years. The Association of Train Operating Companies announced that the billion mark had been reached for the first time since 1961. The year has also seen the highest number of passenger kilometres travelled since 1947.

To mark this achievement, Transport Minister Tony McNulty presented the couple with their award when they arrived at Liverpool Street station in London.
The couple are certain to get plenty of use from their prize, which is worth an estimated £15,000. Lynn will be able to use her free ticket to travel daily to her office in Ipswich, while Stephen will use his to travel regularly to London, where he works as a freelance writer and editor of children’s books.

But they already have plans to visit friends and relatives far and wide with their new ticket. "I have family as far away as Newcastle and Bath, and Stephen’s family are down in Brighton, so they will be seeing a lot of us next year," said Lynn, 36. "We were coming to visit family today and now we have this terrific prize."

Stephen, 43, is looking forward to travelling without the worries of road travel. "I always use the train coming down to London. You never know what will happen on the roads and you can get held up by an accident or a breakdown."


The winners will be able to travel the length and breadth of Britain’s 11,500 mile railway network and will be able to make unlimited single or return journeys on local, regional and long distance services, whether from Perth to Penzance, Wick to Weymouth, or Holyhead to Hastings.

Mr McNulty said: "Today represents a remarkable achievement of which the rail industry can be proud. The magic billion figure has been reached and the railway is now carrying more passengers than at any time since 1961. However there is still much work to be done. The Government will continue to invest unprecedented levels of funding to ensure passengers get the modern reliable railway they deserve."

Stewart Francis, Chairman of the Rail Passengers Council commented: "It is good to see this milestone passed and rail travel growing again. I know passengers would like me to send thanks to all the people who work in the railways - on the track, on trains and at stations – I know how committed they are."


ATOC Director General, George Muir, commented:

"We have one of Europe’s fastest growing railways with the youngest rolling stock fleet; big investment programmes to modernise the infrastructure and stations; vastly improved timetable and journey planning information; and the new multi-million pound Train Protection Warning System installed on all trains."

Over the past seven years, train operators have responded to more than 30% passenger growth or 240 million extra journeys by running a record number of train services – 18,805 trains every weekday in this winter’s timetable.

People are also travelling further by train than ever before. There were around 40 billion passenger kilometres recorded in 2003 which represents an increase of nearly 40% since 1994/5 and the highest figure since 1947 when post-war demobilisation was at its height.

A poster campaign to say "Thanks a billion!" to passengers for their custom during 2003 was launched at stations today up and down the country thanking passengers for their custom in 2003 which has contributed to the achievement of this historic milestone.

- ends -

For further information, please contact:
ATOC Press Office on 020 7904 3010
Notes to Editors

See also separate ATOC Background Note on "One Billion Passenger Journeys in 2003"

Passengers travelled 40.1 billion kilometres between October 2002-September 2003 ( Source: SRA National Rail Trends)

The Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) is the official voice for the passenger rail industry – representing train companies to the government and other opinion formers on transport policy issues. Britain’s train operators are working together to change rail travel for the better.

ATOC manages many joint activities for train operators including revenue allocation and settlement, impartial retailing, National Rail Enquiries Service (NRES), marketing of railcards, international products and licensing of travel agents.

Railhub Archive ::: 2003-12-30 ATO-001


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