Press releases

Summer months saw most rail journeys made since start of pandemic

16 December 2021
Train passenger journeys across Britain’s railway in the summer increased by more than a third (36%) in July to September 2021, with 248 million people travelling by rail compared to 182 million in the first quarter of 2021-22.
Cover Image
London Stratford railway station

The numbers are provided in the Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) quarterly reporting on passenger rail usage.

Weekly estimates of rail passenger journeys relative to pre-pandemic levels published by the Department for Transport showed the week ending Monday 6 December that usage was estimated to be at 56%, which was down from 72% recorded two weeks earlier. This follows work from home guidance issued in England due to the Omicron variant.

ORR’s statistics found that the 248 million trips made by rail were the most in a single quarter since the start of the pandemic.

The regulator’s analysis also shows the average journey lengths were shorter in 2021-22 Q2 compared with two years ago for all ticket types despite the overall increase in journey length.

Total passenger revenue was more than half (54%) of pre-pandemic levels – with £1.5 billion of revenue coming from passengers in Q2.

Feras Alshaker, Director of Planning and Performance at the Office of Rail and Road said:

"The events of recent weeks remind us that challenges remain for the rail industry, but our stats show in the summer months, people’s enthusiasm for rail journeys continued and remained strong to see the most journeys by rail in a single quarter since the start of the pandemic.

"It remains important to thank all those in the rail industry, who continue to work hard to help people travel safely and with confidence."

ORR’s statistics show that journeys in the Long Distance sector were at 63% of pre-pandemic levels, with 23 million journeys made in the second quarter of the year.

LNER saw relative usage hit 89% compared to two years ago and Avanti West Coast was at 57%.

In the regional sector, usage hit 57% of pre-pandemic levels this quarter with relative usage ranging from 69% for journeys on Merseyrail to 48% for ScotRail. Journeys in London and the south east were at 54% of pre-pandemic levels, with 166 million journeys made this quarter.

There was also an increase in the use of ordinary fare tickets (including advance, anytime/peak, and off-peak tickets) in July to September, with 211 million journeys made using these types of tickets.

Season tickets accounted for 15% of franchised journeys made in 2021-22 Q2, which is the lowest share for any quarter in the time series.

Notes to Editors

  1. The Office of Rail and Road is the primary producer of official statistics for rail.
  2. Passenger rail usage 2021-22 Quarter 2 statistical release.
  3. Analysis of rail journeys by ORR from weekly data produced by the Department for Transport indicate that relative passenger rail usage began quarter 2 at around 50% of pre-coronavirus levels, before ending September at around 65%.