Modal overview and comparisonRail journeys only represent less than five percent of all journeys made in the United Kingdom by transport mode – transport by car or van dominates the modal split at around 85 percent. However, although automobiles are ranked the most popular means of passenger transportation in the United Kingdom, rail services have remained an integral part of traveling within and between cities nationwide. Demand for rail services has almost doubled since the network was privatized in mid-1990 to approximately 1.8 billion passenger journeys per year.
Interestingly, passenger satisfaction scored slightly higher with rail journeys at 83 percent compared with journeys taken by car and by bus. Rail journeys are furthermore the safest mode of transport in the United Kingdom, with an annual average of less than one fatality per billion passenger-miles; cars ranked as the third-safest form of travel in the country, and motorcycles were classed as the most dangerous form of travel.
A regional breakdownThe regions handling the greatest rail passenger volume nationwide include London, the South East, and the east of England – altogether, they account for over 800 million passenger journeys made and over 80 percent of all passenger journeys to and from every UK region. Unsurprisingly, the United Kingdom’s busiest train stations were those connected to the London Underground, including London Waterloo. In 2018/2019, Clapham Junction saw the greatest number of passenger interchanges in the United Kingdom that year, almost five times the number at Waterloo station.
Besides the metro system in London, there are various other light rail and metro systems located in the United Kingdom, such as in Manchester, Glasgow, and Edinburgh. Over recent fiscal years, Edinburgh has recorded more than 7 million passenger journeys on its tram network; Manchester Metrolink has observed ridership reaching over 44 million passenger journeys annually. When looking at the share of passenger-kilometers traveled by tram and metro out of all distances traveled by land transport in the European Union, the United Kingdom equals the average percentage of 1.8 percent.