ORR data shows drastic fall in UK rail passenger journeys during Q4 2019-20

Posted: 5 June 2020 | | No comments yet

The new figures outline a fall of 51 million UK rail passenger journeys during Q4 of 2019-2020, highlighting the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

ORR data shows drastic fall in rail passenger journeys during March 2020

According to new figures published by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR), rail passenger journeys across the UK saw a dramatic fall towards the end of the yearly quarter, ending in March 2020, following the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, as people heeded government advice against all unnecessary travel.

Nationally, this meant that passenger journeys ended up falling by 51 million (11.4 per cent) in Q4 of 2019-20 when compared with Q4 of 2018-19, resulting in the largest fall for any quarter since the time series began in 1994/95.

The statistics also show that:

  • The long distance sector had the largest decline in journeys this quarter at 16.3 per cent
  • The London and South East sector (down by 11.9 per cent) and regional sector (down by 7.9 per cent) recorded smaller declines in journeys
  • Franchised passenger journeys using season tickets fell by 16.7 million (9.8 per cent) in Q4 of 2019-20 when compared with Q4 of 2018-19. This is likely to underestimate the real change in usage as it will include journeys not made on some tickets purchased prior to coronavirus
  • Journeys using ordinary tickets decreased by 33.7 million (12.4 per cent).

Director of Railway Planning and Performance at the Office of Rail and Road, Graham Richards, said: “The first quarter stats for this financial year for rail passenger usage (April – June,) will obviously show a further decline in numbers, but these stats show the start of the unprecedented fall in passenger numbers. This can be attributed almost entirely to the measures taken by passengers in the middle of March as they heeded government advice to stay at home and only travel if it was essential.”

He continued: “For people starting to use the rail network, as measures are eased, we’re working with the industry to provide health and safety advice and guidance, and continue to monitor the reality on the ground to ensure people have the confidence that they can travel safely.”

Responding to the statistics, Robert Nisbet, Director of Nations and Regions at the Rail Delivery Group (RDG), said: “Rail companies are working together to keep workers moving and supermarket shelves stacked as the proportion of rail journeys decreased by up to 96 per cent during the coronavirus pandemic. We will continue to work together with the UK government to ensure a reformed railway can bring passengers back on board when it is safe to do so – supporting jobs, connecting communities and helping the economy grow.”

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