Soaring prices, overcrowding, delays - and a 90 year high for train travel
According to the amazingly interesting folks of the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC from now on) there were a whopping 1.32 billion train journeys 2010.
The last time more people used the railways was in 1923. Alas, since that time, there's much less track since the "Beeching Axe" in the 60s which saw huge amounts of rail being tossed aside in favour of... well... nothing.
And so, with demand for train travel clearly on the rise, it is irritating to consider that, on top of less tracks (and thereby, less choice), we're also going to be hit with a price increase and not see an improvement in service.
"2010 was a year of strong growth in rail journeys, as demand bounced back from the recession and passenger numbers rose to levels not witnessed in peacetime Britain since the 1920s," says Michael Roberts, ATOC's chief executive. "With well over a billion journeys made last year, the last time rail travel was this popular train crews were shovelling coal into steam engines and many carriages were still lit by gaslight."
Alexandra Woodsworth, of the Campaign for Better Transport, is worried: “The rise in passenger numbers on the railway is welcome news but we are very concerned that this trend will be reversed by the hefty fare rises we saw this January, and the worse that is to come next year."
"Saving a few pence on cheap advance tickets hardly makes up for paying hundreds more for a season ticket each year. The Government has recently admitted that the fare increases won’t even bring relief for overcrowding, which means we are running the very real risk of pushing people off the railway. Instead, we need to support the growth of train travel with cheaper, simpler, fairer fares.”