Today’s figures from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) show that rail travel started to rebound between April and June 2021, following the gradual easing of government Covid restrictions.
Overall, there were 182 million rail passenger journeys made between April and June this year. This is more than five times the 35 million journeys made in the same quarter last year (April to June 2020).
However, this is still a long way down on the 437 million journeys made in the same quarter two years ago (2019-20 Q1). Looked at in conjunction with Department for Transport statistics, numbers indicate that passenger rail usage in Great Britain began the quarter at around 30% of pre-coronavirus levels, before increasing to as high as 55% in early June.
In terms of passenger revenue, this was £999 million, equating to 35.9% of the £2.8 billion in 2019-20 Q1, based on 2021-22 Q1 prices. Franchised passenger revenue per journey fell from £6.26 in 2019-20 Q1 to £5.45 in 2021-22 Q1. This was due to a combination of a decrease in average journey length and an increase in the proportion of journeys made using off-peak tickets.
The London and South East sector recorded 127 million journeys in 2021-22 Q1. This equates to 42.2% of the 301 million journeys in the same quarter two years ago (2019-20 Q1). London Overground (55.9%) recorded the highest relative usage this quarter with TfL Rail (53.0%) and c2c (48.2%) also recording around half of the journeys made in 2019-20 Q1. By contrast, Chiltern Railways had a relative usage of 34.5% this quarter.
The regional sector recorded 40 million journeys in 2021-22 Q1, giving a relative usage of 41.2%. Relative usage in this sector ranged from 54.5% for Merseyrail to 32.2% for ScotRail. The Long Distance sector recorded 14 million journeys this quarter, equating to 39.3% of the 36 million journeys in 2019-20 Q1.
Notes to editors
- Passenger Rail Usage 2021-22 Quarter 1 statistical release
- In 2020-21 Q1 there were 35 million passenger journeys in Great Britain. This represented the lowest level of passenger usage since the mid-nineteenth century.
- Restrictions were gradually eased during 2021-22 Q1 with non-essential shops opening in England on 12 April and indoor hospitality reopening in England on 17 May. Estimates published by the Department for Transport (DfT) indicate that relative passenger rail usage in Great Britain began the quarter at around 30% of pre-coronavirus levels, before increasing to as high as 55% in early June.
- ORR is the accredited primary provider of railway industry official statistics. We publish a range of statistics, including railway performance, rail usage (both passenger and freight) and safety. The trustworthiness, quality and value of our statistics are overseen by the UK Statistics Authority’s regulatory arm – the Office for Statistics Regulation.