Train journeys set to return to peacetime high

RAIL PASSENGER numbers grew by more than five per cent over the summer, helped by more travellers switching to public transport as high petrol prices force drivers to leave their cars at home.

Figures from the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) show that the number of journeys taken in the third quarter of this year rose by 5.3 per cent to 314.3m, up from 298.4 in the same period last year.

The number of train journeys is set to reach 1.3bn for a second consecutive year. In 2010 ATOC reported that passenger numbers reached 1.3bn – the highest peacetime level since 1928.

“Despite difficult financial times, more people are choosing to go by train when travelling to work and on business, visiting friends and family, or just taking a well-earned break,” Michael Roberts, the chief executive of ATOC, said.

The sale of cheap “advance tickets” for those who book early have almost doubled in the last four years, with almost a million bought each week, the association said.

Journeys in London and the South East grew by 5.8 per cent. The number of long distance journeys rose by 4 per cent while regional journeys were up by 4.4 per cent.