THE NUMBER of rail passenger journeys in Great Britain fell by 0.9% to 438 million in Quarter 3 (October to December) of 2017-18, according to data from the Office of Rail and Road.
The main driver of the decrease was an 8.1% year-on-year fall in season ticket sales. Journeys in the London and South East sector were down by 1.4%, while the Regional sector saw a 0.4% fall, the first decrease in nearly five years. Long Distance journeys were up 1.5%, growing for a seventeenth successive quarter.
Govia Thameslink Railway, the largest operator, reported year-on-year passenger growth for the first time since 2016, with journeys up 1.6%, but despite this London and South East journeys still fell due to decreases on five other operators. This included South Western Railway, which saw 54 million journeys over the three-month period, four million fewer than the same quarter in 2016-17 and the lowest figure for any Q3 in five years. TfL Rail, Great Western Railway, Southeastern and London Overground were the other LSE operators to see a fall in journeys.
Chiltern Railways saw the highest growth at 7.4%, reflecting the impact of its new route to Oxford city centre that opened in December 2016. In the Regional sector Northern reported a notable fall in journeys at 4.9%, which may have been caused by industrial action.
Continuing an ongoing trend, the number of journeys made using season tickets was down 8.1% year-on-year. The market share for season ticket journeys was 37%, which ORR says is down from almost 50% a decade ago. In contrast, there was an 8.9% rise in the number of journeys made using Advance fares. Despite the fall in passenger journeys, passenger kilometres increased by 1%, with growth across all three sectors.
Passenger revenue was up by 3% to £2,475 million, again with growth across all three sectors. Season ticket revenue fell by £17 million (3.0%), the eighth successive quarter in which it has fallen, but this was offset by growth in use of Advance, Anytime and Off-Peak fares. Revenue per journey was up by 4.1% to £5.62.