Intercity train travel soared amid recession

Marion Dakers

Rail journeys soar between 2008-2012

BRITAIN’S cities saw up to 30 per cent more train travellers pass through their stations last year compared to 2008, according to figures from the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) seen by City A.M.

Coventry has enjoyed the biggest jump in rail passenger traffic, with business journeys rising 48 per cent and overall numbers up 30 per cent in the space of five years, Atoc statistics showed.

And journeys in and out of Birmingham, England’s second city and the destination for the first leg of the planned High Speed 2 route, rose 22 per cent, while commuter journeys more than doubled, Atoc said.

The jump is slightly higher than a 19.9 per cent rise in rail traffic nationwide between 2007-8 and 2011-12, when passengers across the UK took 1.46bn journeys, according to Office of Rail Regulation figures.

London, meanwhile, saw a 10 per cent rise in main line rail journeys, lower than the national rise. The capital has long been the focal point for UK train travel, with around 600,000 people a day entering or leaving Greater London by rail.

Atoc said the traffic figures show a boom in rail travel beyond the south east of England.

“When Britain has recorded little or no economic growth, rail has been helping our great cities by connecting people with jobs, services and leisure opportunities,” said Atoc chief executive Michael Roberts.

And the CBI said the boom in travel in some UK cities shows the need for investment in rail.

Nicola Walker, head of infrastructure policy, said: “We need to expand links between major cities to meet demand – to drive growth, create jobs and boost the private sector across the country.”

Traffic has increased despite above-inflation ticket price rises that have added more than 40 per cent to some fares since 2008.