British Train Ridership Hits Peacetime Record

A story about record train ridership in the UK includes this impressive graphic:

Image credit: The Independent

The chart is based on the Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc) booklet The Billion Passenger Railway. The booklet features several articles — including one that forecasts that the competitiveness of 21st century cities will depend on their high speed rail links. Andrew Curry reports from September 2083:

With the internet long hamstrung by crime and fraud, and air travel the preserve of the hyper-rich, the cities which keep their place at the table are those which have solved four problems, according to Vienna Mayor, Kristal Stangl, the host of this year’s event.

“We must make sure that our cities have enough energy to function, to be sure, and that resources like water are secure. There must be enough food. They need to be good places to live. A lot of cities can make these things happen, even in our present conditions of scarcity. But the economic part is about getting the best brains to work on the complex problems which need to be solved to build new knowledge and value. That needs good transport links, and the cities which invested in high speed rail in the first part of the century are the best placed to compete.”

Some cities have slipped off the map as the European periphery has grown and the core shrunk. Most of the ‘Euro-30’ come from the ‘Golden Diamond’ between London, Hamburg, Krakow, and Marseilles. Some long-standing rivalries have been settled; Madrid is no longer a member, while Barcelona holds on to its Convention status. Rome plays second fiddle to Milan. Manchester’s high speed link to the tunnel has helped it stay in the club, while Glasgow’s failure to gain one has exiled it to the fringes.


The Billion Passenger Railway. Association of Train Operating Companies (Atoc), April 2008.

Eurostar press release: Eurostar traveller numbers rise by over 21% to record 2.17 million in first quarter of 2008 14 April, 2008.

Taylor, Jerome, The new age of the train. The Independent, 11 April, 2008.

UK Department for Transport, Delivering a Sustainable Railway and Delivering a Sustainable Railway: Summary, 24 July, 2007. Quote from the “Summary”:

The Government believes that the investments it proposes would enable the railway by 2030 to deliver twice the passengers of today in more comfort than today. But it is possible that demand could grow even faster. This would require accelerating investment and looking at more radical options beyond those currently considered.

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