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Train Travel Statistics UK 2020


Train Travel Statistics UK 2020

So many of us Brits rely on trains to get from place to place. They provide us with a way to commute, travel to our holiday destinations, and much more. But what do we really know about train travel in the UK in 2020? 

In this article we share all of the most up-to-date facts and figures about train travel in the UK, from the most popular train operators, most commonly used train lines and more. 

When do we look for train times most? 

One of the most important searches we make online before a train journey is looking up the train times. Figuring out what time your train is due and making sure you get there on time really does make all the difference. 

Whether you’re on your way to the airport, a doctor's appointment or even a job interview, one thing we can control is getting to the station on time. But unfortunately, whether or not your train arrives on time is a totally different matter! In this section we reveal the latest train times statistics in 2020: 

  • Just over 1 million searches (1,040,000) are made on average every month in the UK for the term ‘train times’.
  • As you’d expect, on a weekday, searches for train times peak at around 6am, with the highest frequency of searches being made between 6 and 9am. 
Screenshot 2020 10 13 At 09.23.44

Searches for the term ‘train times’ made in the UK from Monday 12th October to Tuesday 13th October 2020.

  • At the weekend, people tend to search for train times much later, with the highest peak in searches occurring at around 11am on Saturdays and Sundays. 
  • Also during weekends, people seem to be much more likely to search for train times throughout the day, rather than just at one specific time. As you can see from the graph below, the peaks on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (7-9th October) are rather prominent, whereas the peaks on Saturday and Sunday are much more gradual.
Screenshot 2020 10 13 At 09.51.34

Searches for the term ‘train times’ made in the UK from Wednesday 7th October to Sunday 11th October 2020.

We gathered this search data using the online tool Google Trends, which allowed us to analyse the average number of searches made for the term ‘train times’ within any given time period. 

Which is the most popular train ticket retailer? 

To discover which train ticket provider is the most popular in the UK, we analysed online searches for popular train ticket retailers using the tool Keyword Finder. The analysis revealed average monthly search volumes from the last year (2019/20), and found that:

  • The most searched for train ticket provider by far is the Trainline, receiving an average of 2.7 million searches every month in the UK.
  • National Rail is the second most popular (in terms of search volume), with approximately 1.45 million searches being made for National Rail each month. 
  • Red Spotted Hanky and Raileasy are also popular, receiving 21,600 and 12,700 average monthly searches. 

Which are the busiest train stations in the UK? 

To find out which train stations are used the most in the UK, we analysed the Office of Rail and Road (ORR)’s most recent data collection, which shows train station usage statistics from 2018 to 2019. The data revealed that: 

  • The least used train stations are mainly in parts of the North West, with Denton and Stanlow and Thornton stations having the fewest passengers out of all train stations in the UK between 2018 and 2019. Reddish South in Greater Manchester and Barry Links in Scotland also have very few passengers pass through their stations. 
  • The most used train station in the UK is London Waterloo, followed by London Victoria, London Liverpool Street and London Bridge. Birmingham New Street is the 5th most popular station, followed by London Euston and Stratford (London).

Here’s a full list of the top 10 busiest train stations in the UK:

Train Table

The top 10 busiest train stations in the UK 

As you can see, a staggering 9 out of 10 of the country’s busiest train stations are located in London. This is no surprise given that London has the largest economy out of every city in the UK, so a large proportion of these travellers are bound to be commuters.

Commuting by Rail Statistics 2020 

To find out more about the most recent train commute statistics, we gathered data from the Department for Transport’s most recent rail fact sheet. The data revealed that commuting is by far the most common purpose of travelling by train. This is followed by leisure, business and shopping. 

The impact of Coronavirus on UK Train Travel 

As you can imagine, the increase in working from home, new social distancing measures and self isolation rules have had a significant impact on the rail industry, particularly when it comes to commuters. 

The ORR (Office of Rail and Road)’s recent rail usage report has found that in the first quarter of 2020, only 35 million passenger train journeys were made in Great Britain. That’s just 8% of the journeys that were made in the same quarter last year (439 million). 

As you can see from the graph below, at the start of 2020 there were less passengers on trains than there have been for over 20 years. 

Screenshot 2020 10 13 At 12.50.19

Number of passenger journeys overtime (Credit: ORR

The number of people traveling by train in the UK has now however begun to increase. The approximate percentage of people travelling by rail has risen from 5% at the start of April to 43% at the start of September, as a rise in workers are resuming their commutes to and from the office. 

We hope this article has been useful in providing you with all of the most up-to-date train travel statistics. 

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