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Rail Partners responds to latest ORR rail passenger usage statistics

16 March 2023

Andy Bagnall, Chief Executive of Rail Partners in response to the ORR’s latest passenger usage statistics said:

“The latest ORR passenger usage statistics underline that, while passenger numbers are recovering positively, the industrial dispute and the imperative to focus operators on regrowing revenue are the most immediate issues that need to be addressed to ensure the future financial sustainability of the railway.

“What’s clear from the data is that where more commercial freedoms exist, such as for open access operators, passenger numbers are returning more quickly. That’s why it’s crucial that government pushes ahead with contractual reform to give its operators greater commercial freedoms so that they can drive the recovery of passenger numbers across Britain.”

Notes to editors
  • Research carried out by independent economic analysts, Oxera, shows that Treasury is missing out on as much as £1.6bn over two years due to restrictive contracts for operators reducing their ability to attract customers away from aeroplanes and their cars: report
  • The latest ORR data shows that despite the ongoing industrial action, passenger numbers increased in the last quarter (Q3), compared to the previous one (Q2), reaching 80% of pre-pandemic passenger journeys.
  • Open Access operators with commercial freedom continue to lead the rail recovery with passenger numbers at Hull Trains exceeding pre-pandemic passenger numbers (102%) and passengers at Grand Central up to 97%.
  • The scale of the problems facing the sector emerging from the pandemic, and our proposed solutions to attract passengers back, are outlined in Rail Partners' Fork in the Tracks.
  • The full passenger usage data for Q3 2022-23 can be accessed in full via the ORR's website, here.
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