Passenger numbers rise again on UK’s railways

The number of passengers carried by Britain’s 19 franchised train operators has again increased, with 1.58 billion individual passenger journeys made in 2013-2014, compared with 1.50 billion journeys in 2012-2013.

Non-franchised passenger journeys on trains operated by open access operators also rose, from 1.7 million in 2012-2013 to 1.9 million in 2013-2014.

In its latest release of statistical data on the UK rail network, the Office of Rail Regulation (ORR) notes a number of long-term trends relating to passenger numbers and other indicators, covering growth and safety. The figures on passenger numbers again confirm that more passengers are being carried on the railway than at any time since the 1920s.

However, the number of ‘potentially severe’ Signals Passed At Danger (SPADs) rose from one in the final quarter of 2013-2014 to three in the first quarter of 2014-2015, while ‘potentially significant’ SPADS increased from ten to 15.

The moving annual average for SPADs currently remains high at 77 (the 2012-2013 average was 62).

In terms of national passenger train performance, 92.1% of all franchised trains were recorded as meeting Public Performance Measure (PPM) requirements in the first quarter of 2014-15 (April-June) - this was marginally lower than the corresponding quarter last year.

Regional and Scotland operators recorded a PPM of 93.8% in Q1 2014-2015, an increase of 0.5 percentage points from the corresponding quarter last year.

But the franchised London and South East sector had a PPM of 91.3%, 1.9 percentage points worse than 12 months earlier.

The ORR says that the long-distance sector (including operators such as East Coast and Virgin Trains) is likely to have the lowest PPM of all sectors, because of factors including longer journey distances and possible accumulation of delays when affected by incidents.

This sector recorded 89.9% of trains on time in Q1 2014-2015, a drop of 0.4 percentage points from last year.

Overall, the PPM Moving Annual Average in Q1 2014-2015 was worse for all the sectors compared with the same quarter last year, resulting in the national PPM MAA ending the quarter at 89.5%, 1.5 percentage points lower than at the end of Q1 2013-14.

The ORR acknowledgd that performance in the first quarter of 2014-15 was affected by a number of factors, in particular the electrical storms that damaged signalling cables on a number of routes, particularly Great Western and Wessex.

  • This news story was published in RAIL 757 on 17 September 2014

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