UK Railways have made some good improvements over recent years and passengers are now starting to feel the benefits, but at what cost?
According to figures released 31st January 2011 by ATOC (Association of Train Operating Companies) in the UK, train travel has now reached levels that have not been seen since the 1920s. Figures now show that 1.32 billion passenger journeys were made in 2010 and a record 33.3 billion rail miles. This is good news for the train companies and good news for the future, but why is this happening?
Why are the railways so busy
The railways are finally starting to see some of the improvements that have been worked on for so long. In another set of figures released on 26th January 2011 by ATOC, passenger satisfaction is increasing on many lines. This can include anything from general running of trains, station cleanliness and how friendly the staff are. The majority of lines throughout the UK have seen new rolling stock which has been improving reliability and timekeeping, and improved security with many trains now having internal CCTV.
The availability of cheaper advance purchase tickets has improved leading to a 12% increase in sales. Many of the online ticketing sites have been revamped over the last couple of years making them much easier to use for the general public.
Ever increasing motoring costs caused my higher insurance, extra tax duties and congestion charging is driving more passengers onto the nations railways. With their improved reliability this is having a snowball effect by making the trains even busier.
What about the future of UK railways
The future of the railways is looking a little more uncertain. Without a doubt the railways will continue to be busy, but the higher levels of unemployment forecast for this year together with above inflation season tickets rises may have an impact on railway revenues.The UK government has stated that the traveling public will need to pay more for their train services as it tries to lessen the dependency on government tax payers leading to costlier peak time travel.
The future of the railways is going to be dependent on increased levels of investment to reduce overcrowding and by using new forms of ticketing by, for example, reducing the cost of season tickets for traveling outside peak hours. Further investment needs to go into more rolling stock to lessen the overcrowding and my lengthening station platforms to accommodate the extra length trains.
The UK rail industry has come a long way over recent years and is generally a good example of mass public transport. Only by improving the service to the highest paying passengers who travel during peak times can people start to feel more satisfied.