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Rail travel now more popular than at any time since the 1920s when the network was twice present size

According to figures released last week by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) ten of the 14 cities that have seen the highest growth in rail journeys between 2008 and 2012 are outside the south-east.

Fourteen cities, six of them among the most populated in Britain, recorded double-digit growth in rail journeys over the last five years despite a double dip recession.

Cities growth in rail journeys


The reasons suggested by ATOC for the changes noted in journey numbers over the five years varied between cities:

  • Coventry has seen the biggest overall growth of any city with journeys up 30% in five years.
  • Business journeys have jumped 48%.
  • Commuter journeys into and out of Birmingham have more than doubled in five years (103%).
  • Milton Keynes registered a 28% rise in the number of leisure trips along with a 37% increase in business journeys to and from the city.
  • Plymouth saw commuter journeys increase 38% over the period.
  • Ipswich saw a 29% rise in leisure trips.

Between 2008 and 2012, the Government required train companies to increase the average cost of a season ticket by above the rate of inflation every year. Yet as operators have attracted people to travel by train by offering Off-Peak tickets, good value Advance fares and Railcard savings, the average price paid per journey has actually fallen from £5.19 to £ 4.95 in real terms.

According to ATOC’s latest figures, over 1.44 billion journeys were made by train last year. After years of declining use, rail travel has grown almost every year since the 1990s, making it more popular now than at any time since the 1920s.

Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of ATOC said: “The last time train travel was this popular was almost 90 years ago when the rail network was around twice the size. Significant investment and an industry focused on attracting more passengers have turned around decades of decline to deliver better stations, more trains and faster services.”

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