Decline in long distance passenger travel

Latest quarterly figures from the Office of Rail Regulation show long distance passenger kilometres have declined over the last two successive quarters.

Although relatively high, the latest Q4 figures (for the period ended 31 March 2014) are  4.8 billion passenger kilometres as against Q3’s 4.9 billion, down on the record 5.0 billion passenger kilometres of  Q1 and Q2 (and also the  previous year’s Q2).

‘Long distance’ means intercity journeys made on the East Coast, West Coast, East Midlands, Great Western, Greater Anglia and Cross Country passenger franchises.

Also, the latest Q4 figures are only 0.1% up on the same period for last year (2012-13). For the year as a whole, long distance passenger kilometres increased just by 1.9% from 19.5 billion passenger kilometres to 19.7 billion, compared to London & South East’s 8.1%, and Regional’s 2.0% over the same period.

LSE’s strong showing is due to population growth and long distance commuting, but long distance (intercity) traffic is growing at a much slower rate and appears to be stalling. This does not augur well for HS2, which predicates stronger growth rate levels.

Long distance passenger journey numbers also dropped from 33.2 million in Q3 to 31.3 million in Q4 (and were only 0.6% up on the previous year’s Q4 figure of 31.1 million). The annual number of long distance passenger journeys grew by 1.1% from 127.8 million to 129.3 million, considerably less than either London & South East’s 5.7%, or Regional’s 2.9% growth rate figures.

We previously reported (LTT 2 May), that ORR’s Regional Usage Profile (for year ended 31 March 2013) recorded declines in London-Scotland and London-South West passenger journeys of 0.7% and 0.4% respectively.

649/Jun 14

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