Regional Rail Journeys set new records but figures mask huge regional variations

The latest ORR regional passenger usage profile shows an inexorable increase in rail travel, but a closer look at the figures shows that performance is far from uniform and varies widely.

Passenger journeys in Great Britain have more than doubled since 1995-96 and they reached a record 1.27 billion high in 2012-13. Last year’s figures were 3.3% up on 2011-12, and traffic has increased in every year except 2009-10, when the economic downturn caused a slight dip.

However, the figures mask wide variations between (and within) the 11 main regions.  For instance, the best inter-regional growth rate results were between the North West and the East Midlands (up 10%), whereas the least successful – between the North East and South West – dropped 9.5%.

These regional usage figures differ from the passenger rail usage figures in that they do not count breaks in journey /changes of train as is the case with the latter source. This makes them more reliable and less prone to double/multiple counting.

Most of the profile data was drawn from the MOIRA2 (Model of Inter-Regional Activity) demand matrix, one of the rail industry’s main planning tools for measuring traffic flows.  It also included LENNON (Latest Earnings Networked Nationally Over Night) data from ATOC’s central ticketing system.

Measuring single or return journey ticket flows is relatively straight forward; the difficulty arises when multiple-journey or multi-modal tickets have to be factored (estimated) in. London and other PTE travelcards are now included along with other multi-journey ticket types like rovers and rangers, etc. Season tickets are another problem area and have to be weighted (eg, 10.3 journeys given for a weekly season, or 480 for the annual equivalent).

This gives some idea of the complexity in compiling statistics of this sort.

The ORR looked at passenger journey number between regions and within them: the 11 main regional groups (with the number of sub districts in brackets) are:  East of England (10); East Midlands (9); London (5); North East (8); North West (9); Scotland (27); South East (19); South West (15); Wales (22); West Midlands (8); and Yorkshire & The Humber (8).

Of the 1.27 billion passenger journeys recorded in Great Britain last year, the ORR found that around one third were between different regions, but the other two-thirds fell wholly within the boundaries of one of the eleven main regions.

Taking each category in turn:

Journeys within regions

In 2012-3, total intra-regional passenger journey numbers increased by 3.4% to 847.8 million.

London accounted for half of this, with journeys up 6.3% to 429.3 million. Journeys also increased in Eastern England to 29.9 million (up 4.2%); in the South West to 22.7 million (up 3.1%); in Scotland to 81.9 million (up 2.9%); in Yorkshire & the Humber to 40.9 million (up 2.4%); in the West Midlands to 47.9 million (up 1.6%); in Wales to 19.2 million (up 1.0%); and in the South East to 79.2 million (up 0.8%). However, passenger numbers fell wholly within the North West to 82.7 million (down 2.7%); the East Midlands to 8.2 million (down 2.3%); and in the North East to 5.8 million (down 0.7%).

The best intra-regional district results occurred in: Suffolk, Eastern England (up 11.9%); East London (up 10.0%);  West Berkshire, South East (up 9.3%); West Lothian, Scotland (up 9.2%);  Devon, South West (up 9.0%); and Merthyr Tydfil, Wales (up 7.8%). The most disappointing  results were: the Isle of White, South East (down 7.9%); Merseyside, North West (down 6.2%); North East Lincolnshire, Yorkshire & the Humber (down 6.0%); Kent, South East (down 5.8%); Gwynedd, Wales (down 5.6%); and Middlesbrough, North East (down 5.2%).

The intra/inter mix varies from region to region: In Scotland, for example, inter regional journeys accounted for less than 10% of the total, and in London for around 30%, , but in the commuter heartlands of the South East the proportion was over 50%, and nearer 70% in the East of England.

Journeys between regions

In 2012-13, total inter-regional passenger journey numbers increased 2.7% to 421.2 million.

The two largest inter-regional flows were (and continue to be) between London and the South East, and London and the East of England, which together accounted for 306.2 million passengers (or 72% of all the inter-regional traffic). At the other extreme, the least significant inter-regional flows were between Wales and the North East (37,000 journeys), and between Wales and Scotland (49,000), which accounted for a mere 0.009% and 0.011% respectively.

Commuter traffic is the main driver behind London’s growth, though its long distance traffic to Scotland and the South West declined slightly.

The West Midlands and the East of England achieved the best overall regional growth rate rises, up 4.1% and 4.0% respectively. The other regions recorded smaller increases, except the South West, which suffered a 0.2% decrease in passenger journeys (attributed mainly to the exceptionally poor summer in that year).

When the traffic between the regions is examined in more detail, a more complex pattern emerges: 11 regions equates to 55 different inter- regional traffic flows (see matrix below), and the three best results (growth rates) were obtained between: the North West and East Midlands (up 10.0%); the East Midlands and Scotland (up 8.9%); and the West Midlands and East England (up 8.0%). However, the results also showed that 18 – nearly one third – of these 55 inter-regional traffic flows actually declined. The three poorest results were between: the North East and South West (down 9.5%); the North East and Wales (down 9.0%); and the North East and West Midlands (down 4.9%).

The best performing districts  handling inter-regional traffic were: North London (up 10.6%); South Ayrshire, Scotland (up 10.2%); Hartlepool, in the North East (8.4%); Monmouthshire, Wales (up 7.8%); Warwickshire, West Midlands (up 7.4%); and Milton Keynes, South East (up 7.3%). None of the other five regions made the 7% grade.

The least satisfactory districts were: Argyll & Bute, Scotland (down 10.2%); Moray, Scotland (down 8.6%); Pembrokeshire, Wales (down 7.4%); Cornwall, South West (down 6.9%); Plymouth, South West (down 6.2%); and North Lincolnshire, Yorkshire & the Humber (down 6.2%).

 

Table showing 2012-13 Inter-regional  passenger journey numbers  (in thousands) and percentage growth rate changes (in brackets)  on previous year
  EE EM London NE NW Scotland SE SW Wales WM Y&H
EM  1,576 (3.7)                    
London  120,542

(4.0)

 8,564

(1.6)

                 
NE 339

(-0.1)

227

(-2.2)

 2,208

(3.4)

               
NW  639

(4.6)

2,992

(10.0)

 9,037

(2.2)

944

(-0.3)

             
Scotland  283

(2.1)

 208

(8.9)

2,047

(-0.7)

 1,637

(3.9)

 2,016

(3.8)

           
SE  3,447

(6.0)

 1,118

(5.3)

 185,678

(2.2)

 274

(3.5)

 1,445

(4.1)

 249

(3.00)

         
SW 610

(-0.7)

 358

(1.4)

11,253

(-0.4)

103

(-9.5)

622

(-0.6)

88

(-1.5)

6,272

(-1.0)

       
Wales  163

(1.3)

140

(-1.0)

 2,264  (1.4) 37

(-9.0)

1,847

(-0.4)

 49

(1.1)

698

( 2.3)

 2,678

(2.9)

     
WM  807

(8.0)

 3,807

( 0.7)

10,493

(5.9)

237

(-4.9)

 4,070

(4.5)

 281

(0.4)

 2,839

(6.9)

 1,514

(0.9)

1,145

(-0.2)

   
Y&H  907

(1.7)

 3,291

(1.0)

 6,057

(1.3)

2,439

(0.2)

 7,601

(2.8)

887

(-0.7)

 718

(2.1)

405

(-3.6)

149

(-2.6)

950

(0.2)

 
Regional totals 129,314

(4.0)

 22,281

(2.7)

358,142

(2.8)

8,445

(1.3)

31,212

(3.3)

 7,745

(1.9)

202,738

(2.3)

23,903

(-0.2)

9,169

(1.2)

26,142

(4.1)

23,403

(1.4)

 

 

 

ORR: 2012-13, Regional Usage Profile (Passenger Journeys)

646/May 14

 

 

 

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