The Great British Railway Transition Team (GBRTT) has highlighted the significant role the leisure market is playing in the growth of Great Britain’s rail industry with its latest Train Travel Snapshot for the second quarter of 2023. GBR covers England, Scotland and Wales but not Northern Ireland.

The team responsible for preparing the change from Network Rail to Great British Railways showcased the fact that the leisure market accounted for 75% of the increase in overall rail revenue during the Q2 period but added that the industry was still seeing a “sizeable hole” in its finances.

GBRTT director of passenger revenue Suzanne Donnelly said that more could be done to encourage the modal shift to rail: “We need the collective clout of all parts of the industry working together to drive growth.

“Local rail leaders know their own contexts best, but by bringing decision-makers across the industry together to prioritise investment, GBRTT is supporting joined-up decision-making that works across the whole network.”

Alongside the rise in leisure-related revenue, GBRTT also said the statistics from the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) showed a 13% increase in overall revenue in Q1 2023, adjusted for inflation, up to £2.6bn ($3.2bn) from 1.4 billion journeys.

The overall revenue, made up of £1.4bn from the leisure market, £929m from the commuter market and £197m from business travellers, continues a strong period of growth in the British rail industry, which is almost back to pre-pandemic levels of passenger journeys.

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The news was also celebrated by the rail industry, with Darren Caplan, the chief executive of the Railway Industry Association, describing the numbers as “hugely encouraging” while echoing Donnelly’s words that the industry must continue to push forward. 

Caplan said: “It’s a reminder that, as a country, we must not take our foot off the pedal of rail investment and that we need to think about future demand today by planning capacity for tomorrow.

“Rail growth, both now and in the decades ahead, can only be achieved by a reformed railway alongside a long-term plan with a visible pipeline for rail suppliers.” 

Positive news on passenger numbers and revenue will be particularly welcomed by the rail industry in the country, which has had a difficult year with multiple strikes by rail workers, proposed job cuts for both cargo workers and rolling stock manufacturing staff and the government’s axing of the HS2 leg to Manchester.