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.


The CAA data showing domestic route analysis for all of 2012 is at CAA Domestic Route analysis 2012


Airline style discounting by rail cuts aviation’s market share

29/04/2013 (ATOC)

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:

1. London-Edinburgh
2. London-Glasgow
3. London-Aberdeen
4. London-Manchester
5. London-Newcastle
6. London-Inverness
7. Bristol-Edinburgh
8. Birmingham-Edinburgh
9. Bristol-Glasgow
10. Birmingham-Glasgow

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

Ticket types
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)

Full article at

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

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 2012Pax 2011
HEATHROWEDINBURGH 1,254,9931,271,459
HEATHROWGLASGOW        828,531        820,949
HEATHROWMANCHESTER        792,831        766,906
GATWICKEDINBURGH        696,791        669,068
HEATHROWABERDEEN        663,809        652,520
GATWICKGLASGOW        607,417        565,787
GATWICKJERSEY        553,962        574,113
HEATHROWBELFAST CITY        499,215        428,611
HEATHROWNEWCASTLE        489,726        473,614
GATWICKBELFAST INTERNATIONAL        353,248        341,744
STANSTEDEDINBURGH        346,353        390,372
GATWICKGUERNSEY        344,782        356,368
STANSTEDGLASGOW        331,607        342,785
LONDON CITYEDINBURGH        322,729        344,868
STANSTEDBELFAST INTERNATIONAL        311,454        356,523
BELFAST CITY (GEORGE BEST)BIRMINGHAM        308,289        309,364
BRISTOLEDINBURGH        295,532        286,634
BIRMINGHAMEDINBURGH        285,911        288,955
GATWICKBELFAST CITY (GEORGE BEST)        280,503        247,907
BELFAST CITY (GEORGE BEST)MANCHESTER        279,917        311,434
LUTONGLASGOW        276,488        274,576
LUTONEDINBURGH        269,797        259,408
BELFAST INTERNATIONALGLASGOW        266,987        248,253
BRISTOLGLASGOW        239,666        222,161
BELFAST INTERNATIONALEDINBURGH        237,242        236,628
GATWICKABERDEEN        233,921        177,765
GATWICKINVERNESS        230,442        222,737
LUTONBELFAST INTERNAT        230,104        144,451
BELFAST INTERNATIONALBRISTOL        217,182        179,616
BIRMINGHAMGLASGOW        208,123        211,869
EDINBURGHSOUTHAMPTON        204,488        203,591
GATWICKMANCHESTER        194,568        232,739
BELFAST INTERNATNEWCASTLE        193,123        180,490
HEATHROWBELFAST INTERNAT        191,463        289,359
ABERDEENMANCHESTER        180,733        144,547
ISLE OF MANLIVERPOOL        174,618        166,669
GLASGOWSOUTHAMPTON        173,576        139,553
BRISTOLNEWCASTLE        171,460        168,049
ABERDEENSCATSTA        168,127        154,147




CAA data for domestic air passengers 2007

Pax 2007Pax 2006
 HEATHROW EDINBURGH    1,436,598 1,495,042
 HEATHROW GLASGOW    1,207,127 1,284,469
 HEATHROW MANCHESTER       973,044 1,086,918
 GATWICK EDINBURGH       748,309        754,106
 HEATHROW ABERDEEN       658,984        673,228
 HEATHROW BELFAST CITY (GEORGE BEST)       626,218        665,656
 GATWICK GLASGOW       570,656        433,003
 GATWICK JERSEY       525,156        538,343
 HEATHROW NEWCASTLE       495,366        478,505
 BELFAST INTERNAT LIVERPOOL       459,910        475,256
 STANSTED EDINBURGH       448,745        470,164
 STANSTED GLASGOW       448,049        461,556
 BIRMINGHAM EDINBURGH       435,275        495,309
 LUTON EDINBURGH       429,107        443,977
 STANSTED PRESTWICK       427,062        469,623
 GATWICK MANCHESTER       414,350        472,942
 LUTON GLASGOW       407,691        413,876
 GATWICK BELFAST INTERNATIONAL       383,674        362,388
 STANSTED BELFAST INTERNATIONAL       372,627        373,931
 LUTON BELFAST INTERNATIONAL       360,176        366,395
 LONDON CITY EDINBURGH       353,874        313,934
 BIRMINGHAM GLASGOW       347,002        326,470
 GATWICK GUERNSEY       342,826        352,752
 STANSTED NEWCASTLE       297,882        303,682
 BELFAST INTERNAT EDINBURGH       295,704        314,353
 BELFAST INTERNAT GLASGOW       293,100        310,003
 BRISTOL EDINBURGH       260,591        318,169
 BRISTOL NEWCASTLE       246,808        246,253
 BRISTOL GLASGOW       243,065        279,870
 EDINBURGH MANCHESTER       237,836        257,595
 BELFAST CITY MANCHESTER       237,403        243,304
 BELFAST INTERNAT BRISTOL       234,322        242,941
 BELFAST CITY BIRMINGHAM       227,454        263,934
 BELFAST INTERNAT NEWCASTLE       224,565        230,438
 GATWICK INVERNESS       221,550        240,771
 GATWICK ABERDEEN       214,946        216,677
 EDINBURGH SOUTHAMPTON       208,074        237,463
 GATWICK BELFAST CITY (GEORGE BEST)       200,801        198,079
 BELFAST INTERNAT MANCHESTER       196,006        179,718
 BELFAST INTERNAT BIRMINGHAM       189,826        176,141



Big growth in rail travel for some of Britain’s biggest cities despite recession

18/03/2013  (ATOC)

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
Coventry 30%
Milton Keynes 26%
Norwich 25%
Birmingham 22%
Sheffield 21%
Bristol 21%
Manchester 20%
Cambridge 19%
Edinburgh 17%
Plymouth 17%
Ipswich 15%
Newcastle upon Tyne 12%
Nottingham 10%
London 10%

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.