All aboard! Big growth in public transport use in past 5 years

tube commutersThe public transport network across the capital is seeing a rise in passengers at twice the rate of population growth.  In the past 5 years the number of journeys taken on the Transport for London system of Tube, train, tram and bus has gone up by 14% while the population has risen by half that rate to break the 8.6 million mark.

The number of people in inner London, who may be more reliant on public transport,  has grown slightly faster than the rate for the capital as a whole, but the data underlines that the greater use of the transport network is linked not just to population but to economic factors.

The greatest growth in passenger numbers is on the Tube with 20% increase in journeys between the financial year 2010/11 and the most recent 12 months. Bus journeys rose by 5% rise over the same period. But the bus is still the most popular form of transport. Latest data from TfL shows that in the last 12 months buses carried 2.4 billion people while 1.3 billion Tube journeys were recorded.

TFL growth all

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR), London Overground trains and the trams service make up just 5% of the journeys over the 5 years. But the growth in the DLR over that period has been strong as an improving economy has brought more jobs and homes along its routes.

TFL growth DLR

The biggest growth is in London Overground, the orbital train network around the capital. Passenger journeys have increased by 81% over 5 years but this is not a like for like comparison as the network has expanded during the period. The link between Clapham Junction and Surrey Quays was opened at the end of 2012 and the network recently added more lines including Liverpool Street to Enfield, Cheshunt and Chingford.

The only mode of transport that has seen a decline is the tram. Passenger journeys are down in recent months, but this may be related to station development work at Wimbledon which means the service is currently not running to this main connection point with the train and Tube network.

Source data

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Thousands forced to stand as train overcrowding worsens

© Olilee2 | - Train At Clapham Junction Photo-2

Photo: © Olilee2 |

Around a quarter of the 563,000 people who arrive at London’s main rail terminals each weekday morning on their commute to work have to stand for their journey. That’s 139,000 people each day who don’t get a seat in exchange for their ticket.

The data was released by the Department of Transport and gathered by the train operators in autumn 2014. It shows that the number of people standing on trains in the morning rush hour has gone up by more than 15% since autumn 2013.

Of the 139,000 people who are forced to stand 84,000 of them arrive in London in the peak hour 08.00 to 08.59. The numbers are better on the way home. Only 78,000 are standing during the evening peak period as journeys home from work are more staggered than arrival times.

Paddington Station has the highest rates of overcrowding on arriving trains each weekday morning. And the train operator with the worst rates is First Great Western.

Train overcrowding is measure in a statistic called Passengers in Excess of Capacity (PiXC). This shows the proportion of standard class passengers in excess of the capacity of the service at its busiest point.

Train overcrowding London

The rate at Paddington in the morning rush hour is 13.5%. Trains arriving at Blackfriars and Moorgate are 10.6% over capacity, and the rate of overcrowding has increased at all London’s main train terminals except Victoria and Euston since 2013. The largest increase in the over capacity rate was at Moorgate.

train overcrowding london rise

The average rate of overcrowding for all trains at London terminals in the morning rush hour is 5.4% and slightly lower at 4.1% if morning and evening are counted together. This is directly in line with a 4.2% increase in passenger journeys between autumn 2013 and 2014. Much of the increase in is due to the improvement in the economy which has resulted in demand returning to pre-recession levels due to a growth in employment in central London.  Outside London, Manchester is the city with the worst rates.

Train overcrowding national


The one service that emerges with a good statistical record from these rather grim figures is London Overground. It has no over capacity rates on morning or evening services, but many of its trains have fewer seats and more standing areas, increasing their capacity but not necessarily the comfort of the passengers. It has the highest proportion of passengers standing of any train operator but they are all within the train capacity limit.

Source data

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