Britain’s trains took passengers on 1.59bn journeys in the 12 months to the end of March, the Office of Rail Regulation said.
London and the south east of England experienced a 7.3 per cent increase, and the region is the starting or end point for nearly seven in 10 of all rail journeys made on franchised services in the UK. Traffic in this part of the country is now 31.5 per cent higher than it was in 2009-10.
Overall the railways are almost twice as busy as they were in 1996-7, when 801m journeys were made, and the network is heading towards the record traffic levels of the 1920s.
The Rail Delivery Group, an industry body, said yesterday that the figures underscored a “strong partnership between the public and private sectors”.