photo - Family on a train

Leisure travel helps boost quarterly rail revenue by £295 million

  • Analysis of the latest rail statistics shows revenue from leisure travel grew by a fifth (19%) quarter-on-quarter
  • Commuting (+6%) and business travel (+8%) also saw an uplift in the second quarter of this year (1 April to 30 June 2023), as more people are going into the office on more days
  • GBRTT is bringing the industry together to better meet the needs of today’s customers, including by making ticketing simpler and better value for money, and improving communications and information
  • Although this quarter has seen an uplift, rail still faces a sizable hole in its finances and GBRTT is calling for the industry to work together to go for growth

Released today, Great British Railways Transition Teams’ (GBRTT) Train Travel Snapshot continues to track the sustained growth of the leisure market, accounting for more than 75% of the increase in overall rail revenue in the three months to 30 June.

Increased use of Railcards since the pandemic underscores the popularity of leisure travel. With high levels of inflation known to be affecting household decisions and placing greater emphasis on value for money, 21% of revenue this quarter was for travel using discount Railcards, up from 16% in the same quarter in 2019.

The latest Office of Rail and Road statistics revealed total revenue, adjusted for inflation, was up 13% (£295 million) on the previous quarter, showing a steady upward climb and a record high since the beginning of the pandemic.

While accounting for a smaller share of overall revenue, spring months saw people taking more trips for business reasons than previous quarters, up 8%, as did commuting which was up 6%. This aligns with reports that more people are going into the office on more days now.

Although this quarter has seen growth, rail is still facing a sizable hole in its finances and it is all the more important that all parts of Britain’s railway are working collaboratively to seize the opportunities for mode shift to rail.

Suzanne Donnelly, Director of Passenger Revenue at the Great British Railways Transition Team, said

“Encouraging more people to choose rail when they’re weighing up their travel options will not only help make our railways more financially sustainable, but support Britain’s economic and environmental ambitions.

“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.

“There are a few areas where we’re focused on making collective progress. These include service reliability, optimising how capacity is used across the network in light of new travel trends, making ticketing simpler and better value for money, and improving communications and information to customers. These are areas we know will have the biggest impact in encouraging more people to choose the train, more often.”

Rail passenger revenue by journey purpose, 1 April – 30 June 2023

Journey purpose


Revenue change from last quarter



£197 million


26 million


£929 million


161 million


£1,431 million


203 million


Notes to editors

The figures in this release have been adjusted for inflation.

Previous editions

The last edition of GBRTT’s Train Travel Snapshot can be found on Great British Transition Team’s website.

In the previous edition the total number of journeys in Great Britain were provisional due to a technical issue in LENNON overestimating Elizabeth line journeys. ORR have since worked with TfL to adjust the data to more accurately reflect the actual number of journeys made and have updated the historic quarterly data.

GBRTT’s Train Travel Snapshot Methodology

National industry revenue and journeys figures are taken from those published by ORR each quarter. These figures and the methodology used to infer them can be found on the Passenger Rail Usage page of ORR’s data portal.

Data from the Wavelength survey has been used by GBRTT’s Passenger Revenue team to infer an estimated split of revenue and journeys by market for each quarter. These proportions have been applied to the overall ORR revenue and journeys figures. All revenue data is presented in April to June 2023 prices.

The statistics for 2023 Quarter 1 (1 April to 30 June 2023) were published by ORR on 9 November 2023, and so the figures presented in this report represent the latest available data.

The definition of business, leisure and commuter travellers is based on responses from the Wavelength survey:

  • A business traveller is someone who is travelling on company business, i.e. for a work meeting
  • A commuter is someone who is travelling to or from their usual place of work or education

Leisure passengers include those travelling for personal leisure reasons (e.g. visiting friends or family, days out, shopping, entertainment, sports activities, etc) plus people travelling for personal business reasons (e.g. a health appointment, a job interview or other appointment).