BRITAIN’S railways carried 344.4m passengers in the three months to the end of June, up five per cent on last year – and train operators credited some of the rise to an uptick in the jobs market.
Trains in London and the south east of England took 235.8m people in the quarter, a rise of 5.9 per cent.
Meanwhile long distance traffic was up 1.1 per cent to 29.1m journeys.
The rail system is at its busiest since the 1920s, with 1.5bn journeys taken in the last financial year.
Passenger numbers have risen every year since privatisation in 1993, apart from a slight drop in 2009-10.
A rise in workers using the train has left one in five commuters travelling into London during the morning rush without a seat, according to Department for Transport figures released last month.
“The rise in rail journeys reflects the upturn in the job market, which is good news for the economy,” said Michael Roberts, head of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC).
The rate of employment rose to 71.4 per cent for 16 to 64-year-olds in the three months to the end of May, official figures show, with 336,000 more people in work than there were a year earlier. Meanwhile the rate of unemployment fell to 7.8 per cent.
ATOC also said that the number of journeys made on discounted tickets rose eight per cent over the last quarter.
This includes both advance fares and tickets bought with a Railcard or other discounts.
“The continued growth is also down to more people snapping up good value tickets outside peak hours,” added Roberts.