Passenger journeys in the UK fell to their lowest levels since 1872, when records began, due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to official statistics released by the Office of Rail and Road today.
As a nation, we made 388 million journeys in 2020 – 2021 (April to March), which is just 22% of the 1.7 billion made in 2019-2020.
This has therefore transferred to a reduction in passenger income. 2019-20 saw £10.4bn made from tickets, but last year, this reduced to just £1.9bn.
80 million journeys were made in Q4 of 2020-21, January to March, which is down from the 139 million in Q3 (October to December) and Q2 (July to September), where 133 million journeys were made. However, this is still double the 35 million journeys made in Q1 (April to June).
Three operators of trains in and around London recorded the highest usage levels, TfL Rail (32.5%), London Overground (31.8%) and c2c (31.7) were the only operators to record at least 30% of journeys made in 2019-20 in 2020-21.
Merseyrail (29.5%) and Caledonian Sleeper (24.9%) follow up this with the fourth and fifth highest journey numbers.
South Western Railway, Southeastern and Greater Anglia all recorded 22.4% of journeys, with Govia Thameslink Railway recording 21.8%. Northern (20.3%)
ScotRail and Transport for Wales both recorded the lowest levels of relative usage, with 14.9% and 15.8% respectively.
Heathrow Express comes bottom of the list with just 4.7% usage in 2019-20.
Graham Richards, Director of Planning and Performance at the Office of Rail and Road, said: “This unprecedented fall in passenger numbers, the lowest annual fall since the time series began, has clearly had an impact on both rail usage and ticketing revenue.
“Despite this, recent estimates published by the Department for Transport show that rail usage has recovered to around 45% of pre-COVID levels by the end of May 2021.
“ORR continues to work closely to support industry and help passengers back on to the railway safely.”
Commenting on ORR’s passenger rail usage statistics, Robert Nisbet, Director of Nations and Regions at the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Despite plummeting passenger numbers during the last year, Britain’s trains have helped to keep key workers and people who cannot work from home on the move throughout the pandemic. As restrictions are lifted, the rail industry, through our safer travel pledge, will welcome more people back to train travel and help to support the country’s economic recovery.”
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