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2015-02-17 RDG-001
Rail Delivery Group


Growth in leisure rail travel as Britain’s economy gets stronger

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Rail Delivery Group

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Rail Delivery Group

Growth in leisure rail travel as Britain’s economy gets stronger

related documents

KPMG dataset (KPMG, 2014)

2015-02-16 2013-14 Rail Industry Financials (ORR, 2015)


17 February 2015
source Rail Delivery Group
type Press release

Strong growth in discount leisure rail travel helped generate record journey numbers on the railway last year.

Latest figures from the rail industry show that there were 1.6billion passenger rail journeys made in the 12 months to the start of January 2015, a 5.7% rise on the previous year. Over the last two decades, passenger numbers have more than doubled to over four million journeys now taken a day.

The latest data underlines the revival of an industry which after decades of decline in the second half of the 20th century is now experiencing levels of demand last seen around the time of WW1 demobilisation.

Discounted leisure tickets – including first class fares – accounted for some of the biggest rises last year, reflecting a return of consumer confidence as the country’s economy improves. Britain’s economy as measured by GDP grew at its fastest rate since 2007 last year.

Analysis of rail travel in 2014 published by the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) today shows:

o A 9.6% year on year rise in the number of journeys made on Advance tickets
o A 7.7% year on year rise in the number of journeys made on first class tickets, nearly half of which were Advance fares
o An 8.5% year on year rise in the number of journeys made with a discount Railcard

The rises significantly outstrip the overall increase in journeys, as well as GDP. Previous industry research has shown that since the mid 1990s, journey growth has been more than double that of GDP. Growth in 2014 was also against a backdrop of a steady fall in petrol prices.

To help the industry meet the continuing rise in demand while also making improvements, £38billion is being spent by Network Rail over five years to create more capacity and help deliver better services. By 2019, there will be 3,000 new carriages on the network, and millions of pounds are being spent on improving stations across the country. The electrification of around 850 miles of the network will also bring faster and more reliable journeys to millions of rail users.

Michael Roberts, Director General of the RDG, which represents Network Rail and train operators, said:

“The railway plays an increasingly important role in Britain, underpinning jobs and driving economic growth. After two decades of growth in people and goods travelling by train, our nation leads the way on rail in Europe.

“A combination of the industry’s focus on attracting more people to travel by train by selling good value fares and the government investing heavily to improve services has helped to ensure passenger numbers have continued to rise over the last year, despite falling petrol prices.

“But we know that we still have much to do to, particularly to ensure that more trains arrive punctually and we keep passengers better informed when disruption, such as that seen over Christmas, happens. We are committed to build on the railway’s success to deliver the better services that passengers and businesses need.”


Notes to editors

Figures for journeys come from the LENNON database, the rail industry’s central ticketing system, which records around 98% of all journeys.

5 January 2014 to 3 January 2015 6 January 2013 to 4 January 2014
Journey numbers (millions) Journey numbers (millions)
Total 1,599 1,512
Advance 61.1 55.8
First Class 12.6 11.7
journeys* 110.4 101.8

*These comprise journeys made on the five main discount Railcards available, which offer 1/3 off most rail fares: 16-25; Disabled Persons; Senior; Family & Friends; and Two Together, which was launched in February 2014. The average annual saving per Railcard user in 2014 was £148.96. For more information on the different Railcards available visit

Latest figures from the Office of National Statistics show that GDP in Britain in 2014 was up by 2.6% on 2013, the fastest rate since the financial crisis.

According to fuel price reports from the AA, average petrol prices recorded in December 2014 were the lowest since the autumn of 2010.

In May 2014, the RDG commissioned KPMG to produce an updated analysis of publicly-available industry data on passenger rail operations and key aspects of performance since the introduction of franchising. Download the dataset

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