Industry News

On track for continued customer growth as LNER leads the way

Publication Date: 17th Mar 2023

London North Eastern Railway (LNER) continues to lead the way when it comes to passenger growth and usage, topping the table for franchised operators for the seventh consecutive quarter.

Between October and December 2022, passenger journeys were at 96 per cent when compared with the same period for 2019, according to new data published today by the Office of Rail and Road (ORR). The figures include eleven days of strike action and several consecutive days of engineering upgrade works at both Newcastle and York, affecting the number of services LNER could run. During the quarter, LNER recorded 5.4 million passenger journeys, an increase of 15 per cent on the same period in 2021.

LNER data shows that more than 23 million passenger journeys were made on its services between March 2022 and the beginning of February 2023. Fridays and Sundays are now proving to be the most popular days for people to travel. Meanwhile, LNER maintains its lead over the share of the air market with more than 50 per cent of journeys between Edinburgh and London as people increasingly look to travel in a more sustainable way.

The ORR data has been published just ahead of English Tourism Week. LNER is proud of the many destinations it serves along the 956-mile East Coast route, including Berwick-upon-Tweed, Newcastle, Durham, Darlington and York.

David Horne, Managing Director at LNER, said: “Our investment, innovation and dedication in putting our customers first, doing everything we can to ensure they enjoy the best possible experience, have been key to our success in attracting more and more people back to travel with LNER over the past couple of years. We have invested in our fleet and in improvements across our stations, added new destinations introduced new services and have pioneered a digital revolution, making travel smarter, simpler, accessible, and attractive. Our award-winning app enables customers to book journeys, reserve their seat and sign up to live journey updates and One-Click Delay Repay, while enjoying the benefits of our LNER Perks loyalty scheme – all at the touch of their fingertips.”

LNER’s ongoing investment and digital innovations means hundreds of thousands of tickets have already been put on sale for travel up to 8 September 2023, enabling more customers to plan ahead for great value fares for their summer getaways. Exclusive research revealed by LNER shows memory-making leisure travel is still high on the agenda this year, despite the rising cost of living. The survey conducted for LNER by Ipsos, shows that travel remains top-of-mind with 65 per cent of people planning to take a leisure trip within the UK during 2023.

Michelle Gorman, Visit County Durham Managing Director, said: “Visit County Durham welcomes the news that LNER’s passenger numbers continue to grow. We look forward to continuing to work closely with LNER to promote rail as a sustainable and convenient way to travel to our destination, and to inspire passengers to choose Durham for their next day visit or staycation.”

VisitEngland Director, Andrew Stokes, said: “With spring upon us, the Easter break just ahead and as we come together to celebrate English Tourism Week, it is timely to highlight the ease and convenience of rail travel to access the outstanding visitor attractions and destinations here on our doorstep, and in an environmentally friendly way too.”

Ian Thomas, Destination Director, NewcastleGateshead Initiative, said: “This latest data is both positive and very encouraging. In addition, we know that of the 11.51m visitors to Newcastle in 2021, 16% travelled here by rail (1.8m). These facts prove the continued popularity of rail travel and are in line with our own aim to increase levels of sustainable travel – a huge factor in achieving our Net Zero ambitions.

“Connectivity is key to delivering another NGI ambition of increasing international visits, plus these fast and reliable rail routes from London are vital for our region’s economic growth.”

Maureen McAllister, Head of Tourism at Visit Northumberland, said: “It’s great to see people returning to rail in such strong numbers. The East Coast Main Line is truly spectacular as it sweeps along cliffs that ride above the Northumbrian coast and it’s a wonderful way for our visitors to arrive. As people make a welcome return to travel, we anticipate the number of visitors travelling to Northumberland by train will continue to rise.”