Airline style discounting by rail cuts aviation’s domestic market share
On the 10 busiest domestic air routes, mainly between the south of England and Scotland, (or Bristol or Birmingham to Scotland) the market share of rail travel increased from 29% to 46% between 2006 and 2012. During those 6 years, the number of train journeys rose 52% (to about 7.7 million journeys) while at the same time the number of domestic air passengers fell by about 26% to about 9 million). The total number of trips by both means fell by some 3% over the period, due to the economic slowdown. The rail companies have taken to giving more discounted tickets over recent years. Data from the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) shows that around a quarter of all rail journeys are made using one or other sort of Railcard, giving around a third off the price. The growth of use of these Railcards has grown by some 92% over 6 years. The number paying full fare has fallen by some 37% and those buying advance tickets has risen by some 103%. There were some 21.1 million air passengers on all UK domestic routes in 2012, and about 2.3 million passengers in 2011. By contrast there were some 26 million domestic air journeys in 2006.
Airline style discounting by rail cuts aviation’s market share
Young people, the over-60s and passengers with disabilities are helping to increase rail’s share of the domestic travel market due to train companies’ use of airline style pricing and Railcard discounts.
On the 10 most popular domestic air routes in Britain, rail’s market share grew to 46% last year up from 29% in 2006, according to research by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) released today.
The findings also show that on these routes, between the financial years 2006/7 and 2012/13:
• Use of Railcards, providing a third off most fares, has risen by 93%, far outstripping the 49% growth in overall train journeys. Over this period, the number of journeys made with Senior Railcards has risen on average by 145%, Disabled Persons Railcards by 140% and 16-25 Railcards by 88%.
• Sales of cheap Advance fares, available up to 12 weeks ahead of travel, have grown even faster, rising by 103%. Advance fares are now used by around four out of every seven rail passengers on these routes, and sales of First Class Advance tickets have more than doubled on many of them. Use of Off-Peak fares has also seen 32% growth.
• Purchases of full price Anytime fares have reduced by over a third – on average, nine out of 10 journeys in 2012/13 were made with Advance and Off-Peak tickets.
Operators also attribute the rise in market share to significant investment in and improvements to services. Since privatisation, the number of services across the rail network per day has risen by 4,000, or 20%, and passenger satisfaction as measured by independent watchdog Passenger Focus has risen from 76% in 1999 to 85% today.
Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of ATOC, said: “Train companies have been winning market share from airlines by competing head to head and adopting airline-style discounting.
“Significant investment and an industry focused on attracting passengers are creating a virtuous circle where growing revenue is sustaining funding for faster and better services, in turn encouraging more rail travel.”
Notes to Editors
Top 10 domestic air routes:
The findings are based on a comparison of rail industry figures with data published by the Civil Aviation Authority. More information about the CAA is available from its website here.
2006-07 2012-13 %age change
Total rail passenger journeys 5,184,525 7,726,106 49%
Journeys made with Railcards 1,043,845 2,012,623 92.8%
Journeys made with Senior Railcard 212,773 521,571 145%
Journeys made with Disabled Persons Railcard 22,720 54,535 140%
Journeys made with 16-25 Railcard 550,790 1,036,798 88%
Journeys made on Advance fares 2,201,350 4,472,538 103%
Journeys made on Off-Peak fares 2,019,492 2,662,490 32%
Journeys made on full price fares 632016 397646 -37%
Train companies offer a number of different Railcards which offer a third off most fares. More information is available at www.railcard.co.uk
Advance fares are available to buy up to 12 weeks before the date of travel and can usually be bought up until 6pm the day before you travel (subject to availability). They are single tickets that are valid only on the date and train shown on the ticket. Changes can be made up to 10 minutes before departure but are subject to a £10 admin fee and other terms and conditions.
Advance fares are unregulated, so operators can set the prices to make sure they are competitive with other types of transport customers can choose for these journeys. Train companies have almost doubled the number of Advance fares available in the last few years, and now sell around a million every week.
Off-Peak fares are cheaper tickets for travelling on less busy trains. These tickets may require you to travel at specific times of day, days of the week or on a specific route, but offer the advantage of not having to travel on a specific train. You can buy Off-Peak tickets any time before you travel.
Airlines feel the strain as UK passengers take the train
By Mark Odell (Financial Times)
The shift from air to rail travel in the UK market is revealed by figures from ATOC that show train use on domestic air routes has jumped almost 60% in the past 6 years.
There has been an 85% drop in the numbers flying between Manchester and London, due to the faster rail times between the two cities. Many of those choosing to fly to London do so because they are catching onwards flights from Heathrow.
CAA domestic air passenger traffic
CAA data for 2012 on Domestic Air Passenger Traffic To and From Reporting Airports for 2012 – Comparison with previous year, is at http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/80/airport_data/2012Annual/Table_12_2_Dom_Air_Pax_Route_Analysis_2012.pdf
There were some 21.1 million air passengers on UK domestic routes in 2012, and about 2.3 million passengers in 2011. By contrast there were some 26 million domestic air journeys in 2006.
CAA data for Domestic Air Passenger Traffic To and From UK Reporting Airports for 2007 Comparison with the Previous Year
CAA data for domestic air passengers in 2012
|Pax 2012||Pax 2011|
|BELFAST INTERNATIONAL||LIVERPOOL (JOHN LENNON)||447,571||422,595|
|BELFAST CITY (GEORGE BEST)||BIRMINGHAM||308,289||309,364|
|GATWICK||BELFAST CITY (GEORGE BEST)||280,503||247,907|
|BELFAST CITY (GEORGE BEST)||MANCHESTER||279,917||311,434|
|ISLE OF MAN||LIVERPOOL||174,618||166,669|
CAA data for domestic air passengers 2007
|Pax 2007||Pax 2006|
|HEATHROW||BELFAST CITY (GEORGE BEST)||626,218||665,656|
|GATWICK||BELFAST CITY (GEORGE BEST)||200,801||198,079|
Big growth in rail travel for some of Britain’s biggest cities despite recession
Fourteen cities, six of them among the most populated in Britain, recorded double-digit growth in rail journeys over the last five years despite a double dip recession.
Figures released today by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) show that ten of the 14 cities that have seen the highest growth between 2008 and 2012 are outside the south-east.
Reasons for the changes in journey numbers over the five years varied between cities:
• Coventry has seen the biggest overall growth of any city with journeys up 30% in five years. Business journeys have jumped 48%.
• Commuter journeys into and out of Birmingham have more than doubled in five years (103%).
• Milton Keynes registered a 28% rise in the number of leisure trips along with a 37% increase in business journeys to and from the city.
• Plymouth saw commuter journeys increase 38% over the period.
• Ipswich saw a 29% rise in leisure trips.
Between 2008 and 2012, the Government required train companies to increase the average cost of a season ticket by above the rate of inflation every year. Yet as operators have attracted people to travel by train by offering Off-Peak tickets, good value Advance fares and Railcard savings, the average price paid per journey has actually fallen from £5.19 to £ 4.95 in real terms.
According to ATOC’s latest figures, over 1.44 billion journeys were made by train last year. After years of declining use, rail travel has grown almost every year since the 1990s, making it more popular now than at any time since the 1920s.
Michael Roberts, Chief Executive of ATOC said: “When Britain has recorded little or no economic growth, rail has been helping our great cities by connecting people with jobs, services and leisure opportunities.
“The last time train travel was this popular was almost 90 years ago when the rail network was around twice the size. Significant investment and an industry focused on attracting more passengers have turned around decades of decline to deliver better stations, more trains and faster services.”
Notes to editors
– The table below shows the cities that have experienced double-digit growth in passenger rail journeys over the last five full calendar years. The six cities highlighted in bold below are among the ten most populated cities in Britain.
City 2008-2012 % rise in rail journeys
Milton Keynes 26%
Newcastle upon Tyne 12%
Source: LENNON database
Some of the improvements introduced by train companies include:
– Virgin Trains now run over 600 services a week on the line between London and Manchester – up from 440 a week in 2008. They now run around the same number of trains on Sunday as they used to run on weekdays.
Since the introduction of a new timetable, Coventry and Birmingham are now served by 630 trains a week which equates to around one train every 20 minutes Monday to Saturday and on Sunday afternoons.
-In 2011, Chiltern upgraded the route between Birmingham and London, cutting their Mainline journey times by up to 20%. The company worked with members of the Birmingham business community to define their new service which includes free Wi-Fi and the ‘premium economy’ Business Zone that allows ‘on the spot’ upgrades. The launch of this new product was very successful with Chiltern seeing year on year growth of 46% from Birmingham to London.
– Greater Anglia offer Advance tickets between London and Ipswich that start at £8 and there are now more frequent services operating on some routes into Ipswich.
– First Great Western has reported a rise in the number of journeys being made into and out of Plymouth on branch lines both for business and leisure trips.