Framework for Rail Passenger Forecasting in the UK



Framework for Rail Passenger Forecasting in the UK

Authors

SHILTON D, SWANSON J, WALLEY D and MITRANI A, Steer Davies Gleave, UK

Description

The UK has experienced strong growth in rail passenger demand in recent years. Moreover, this growth appears to have outstripped expectations based on models of demand developed over the previous two decades. Figure 1 shows trends in UK rail demand over t

Abstract

The UK has experienced strong growth in rail passenger demand in recent years. Moreover, this growth appears to have outstripped expectations based on models of demand developed over the previous two decades. Figure 1 shows trends in UK rail demand over the last 15 years

Under the UK system, implemented in the'mid-late 1990s, the national rail infrastructure is owned and managed by Railtrack - a publicly quoted company. Train operations are undertaken by 25 Train Operating Companies (TOCs) operated as franchises by private sector companies, and by freight and Open Access operators (such as Heathrow Express and Eurostar). The TOC franchises are awarded by the (shadow) Strategic Rail Authority (sSRA), which also has some regulatory powers, and track access agreements (and certain other matters) are regulated by the Office of the Rail Regulator (ORR).

In the mid-1980s, British Rail developed a framework for demand forecasting in the form of the Passenger Demand Forecasting Handbook (PDFH). The PDFH has been maintained under the auspices of the Passenger Demand Forecasting Council (PDFC), whose members are the TOCs, Eurostar, Transport for London (formerly London Transport), the sSRA and ORR, and which is administered through the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC). However, the rapid growth in demand since privatisation appeared to be beyond what would be expected from the PDFH or subsequent studies.

In April 1999, the PDFC and Railtrack jointly commissioned Steer Davies Gleave, in association with the Centre for Economic and Business Research (CEBR) to develop an updated national demand forecasting framework. The TOCs and Railtrack needed to understand what future growth in rail demand could be expected; to plan, appraise and secure funding for investment and for more immediate service planning and budgeting. Railtrack also needed forecasts for its required annual Network Management Statement (NMS) and all parties could see the benefit of developing a common forecasting framework.

The primary objectives of the joint study, as set out in the brief, were to:

* facilitate planning by providing robust forecasts of future demand

* improve TOCs' understanding of their markets in a way that enables them to take effective action both to compete and to integrate with non-rail transport

* provide consistent and reliable demand forecasts, thus enabling Railtrack and institutional supporters of rail services to have confidence that their investments are sound

Outputs required were a reference document to enable smaller scale analysis to be undertaken, and computer models which interface with each other at a national, regional and corridor level. The main emphasis was on forecasts for the next ten years, but there was also interest in the longer term outlook.

Publisher

Association for European Transport