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Rail services in the UK – statistics & facts

In the United Kingdom, annual revenue made from national rail ticket sales has been growing to over ten billion British pounds, of which the majority was generated through ordinary fares – that is, fares excluding season tickets. By contrast, the length of rail routes open to passengers has declined over the past five decades: While 1955 recorded a peak rail network length of almost 24,000 kilometers, by 2019 this figure had decreased to just over 14,500 kilometers.

Traffic on the rail network

As the United Kingdom’s capital city, London remains the nation’s busiest region in terms of rail passenger traffic in the UK, thanks to its multiple railway terminals and numerous rail operators offering services into and out of London. The city currently handles around 420 million arrivals and departures to and from the city on a yearly basis, with connections further afield to France and Belgium. It remains to be seen how far the controversial planned HS2 high-speed rail line connecting London with other significant UK cities such as Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, and Manchester will foster further growth in inbound and outbound traffic.

UK railroads moved 17 billion tonne-kilometers of freight in the most recent financial year, with figures decreasing following the 2014/15 financial year, when more than 22 billion tonne-kilometers were hauled. By comparison, over the last three financial years, the volume of domestic intermodal freight has remained flat at around 6.77 billion tonne-kilometers. By 2024, industry is expected to generate revenue of roughly 1.4 billion U.S. dollars annually.

Controversy, conflict, and coronavirus

Customer satisfaction with the UK’s rail services is generally poor, as inadequate infrastructure improvements have led to regular delays and cancelations, increasing rail fares, and overcrowded trains. Conflict over whether the rail industry should once more be nationalized is growing – especially as a result of the ongoing increase in rail fare prices.

The UK’s rail network was officially privatized back in the 1990s to boost competition on the rail network. The Covid-19 outbreak in early 2020, however, resulted in the UK government’s temporary and unofficial “reassumption” of the national rail industry’s financial risks, timetabling, and staff as it enforced strict regulations during the lockdown beginning in late March 2020. This shift in regulatory power over railway services meant that private rail franchises were able to somewhat compensate their subsequent dramatic loss in ridership and revenue with public funds issued by the government.

For further information about the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, please visit our dedicated Facts and Figures page.

Key figures

The most important key figures provide you with a compact summary of the topic of "Rail services in the UK" and take you straight to the corresponding statistics.

Rail stations

Rail freight

Consumer behavior

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the {amountStatistics} most important statistics relating to "Rail services in the UK".

Rail services in the United Kingdom

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Rail services in the UK – statistics & facts

In the United Kingdom, annual revenue made from national rail ticket sales has been growing to over ten billion British pounds, of which the majority was generated through ordinary fares – that is, fares excluding season tickets. By contrast, the length of rail routes open to passengers has declined over the past five decades: While 1955 recorded a peak rail network length of almost 24,000 kilometers, by 2019 this figure had decreased to just over 14,500 kilometers.

Traffic on the rail network

As the United Kingdom’s capital city, London remains the nation’s busiest region in terms of rail passenger traffic in the UK, thanks to its multiple railway terminals and numerous rail operators offering services into and out of London. The city currently handles around 420 million arrivals and departures to and from the city on a yearly basis, with connections further afield to France and Belgium. It remains to be seen how far the controversial planned HS2 high-speed rail line connecting London with other significant UK cities such as Birmingham, Leeds, Liverpool, and Manchester will foster further growth in inbound and outbound traffic.

UK railroads moved 17 billion tonne-kilometers of freight in the most recent financial year, with figures decreasing following the 2014/15 financial year, when more than 22 billion tonne-kilometers were hauled. By comparison, over the last three financial years, the volume of domestic intermodal freight has remained flat at around 6.77 billion tonne-kilometers. By 2024, industry is expected to generate revenue of roughly 1.4 billion U.S. dollars annually.

Controversy, conflict, and coronavirus

Customer satisfaction with the UK’s rail services is generally poor, as inadequate infrastructure improvements have led to regular delays and cancelations, increasing rail fares, and overcrowded trains. Conflict over whether the rail industry should once more be nationalized is growing – especially as a result of the ongoing increase in rail fare prices.

The UK’s rail network was officially privatized back in the 1990s to boost competition on the rail network. The Covid-19 outbreak in early 2020, however, resulted in the UK government’s temporary and unofficial “reassumption” of the national rail industry’s financial risks, timetabling, and staff as it enforced strict regulations during the lockdown beginning in late March 2020. This shift in regulatory power over railway services meant that private rail franchises were able to somewhat compensate their subsequent dramatic loss in ridership and revenue with public funds issued by the government.

For further information about the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, please visit our dedicated Facts and Figures page.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the {amountStatistics} most important statistics relating to "Rail services in the UK".

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