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Rail passenger growth defies downturn with 17% rise since 2008

The number of passenger journeys on UK railways has grown by 17% since 2008, when the economic downturn began.

The figures from the Office of the Rail Regulator show a continuing boom in the rail sector, with passenger journeys on franchised services increasing to 407.7 million between July and September this year, a 4.4% increase on the same quarter last year. This is the highest number of journeys recorded in a quarter since data collection began in 2002-03. 

Other highlights of the data include:

  • 284.1 million journeys recorded in the franchised London and South East sector, a 4.3% rise on the same period last year.
  • 33.6 million journeys in the franchised long distance sector, a 3.5% increase.
  • 90 million journeys in the franchised regional sector, up 5.5%.
  • 0.54 million journeys on non-franchised passenger services, an increase of 16.0%.

In 2013, there were 62 billion passenger km in the UK rail industry, the third highest in the European Union behind France and Germany. Since 2008, only one country – Austria – has experienced faster growth in passenger km than the UK.

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