The number of journeys made by 16-25 Railcard holders on UK railways has soared by 60% in just five years.
The news was released this week by ATOC (The Association of Train Operating Companies).
It’s clear that insurance premiums and petrol prices are influencing choice among the young, but this soaring demand proves rail is increasingly popular.
HS2 opponents have claimed there is no overcrowding problem on UK railways. Click here. But this is contradicted by rising demand and operators adding new services or carriages where possible.
HS2 opponents have also repeatedly claimed internet technology reduces the need for travel, but surely if this were true we would be seeing evidence with a decline in rail use among the 16-25 age group?
Record numbers of young people now have a 16-25 Railcard and make 50 million journeys by rail every year, 60% up on five years ago.
ATOC reports there were over 1.2million 16-25 Railcard holders last year, almost a third higher than the 950,000 who had a Railcard in 2005.
On average, young people with a Railcard make an annual saving of £159 a year off the cost of their rail travel and make around 40 journeys each by rail a year.
Across the rail network passenger numbers are rising at 5-6% per year and we have the highest numbers travelling since the 1920s.
It is often forgotten that the UK rail network was twice the size it is now, in those pre-Beeching days.
In the West Midlands rail operator London Midland has added thousands of extra seats on local services (December 2011) and Virgin has added extra carriages and new services to meet demand.
Of course this is all at odds with HS2 critics who say that there is no capacity problem and emerging technologies have replaced the need to travel.
It may even be that new technologies are freeing us up to work remotely and travel more.
The issue of rail capacity and emerging technology is discussed elsewhere on this blog. To read please click here.