UK Regional Rail Demand in Britain

UK Regional Rail Demand in Britain


J Segal, A Mason, J Crockett, G Whelan, MVA Consultancy, UK; B Condry, ATOC, UK


This paper describes research undertaken to develop an improved understanding of the reasons for the rapid growth in regional rail travel in Britain (ie not to/from London), and estimate the associated elasticities to socio-economic factors.


The key objectives of the study were to:
?Þ Gain understanding of the reasons for the recent strong growth in demand for many regional rail flows in Great Britain
?Þ Identify underlying drivers of demand for regional rail travel
?Þ Quantify the relationship between rail demand and the underlying drivers of demand
?Þ Provide advice on demand forecasting that can be used as evidence for a future update of Passenger Demand Forecasting Handbook

The study was undertaken in two phases:
?Þ Phase 1 involved case studies investigating the factors affecting rail demand to/from Manchester, Leeds, Cardiff, Exeter, Glasgow and Nottingham
?Þ Phase 2 involved developing econometric models to quantify the relationships identified

Each of the case studies included a single discussion group held in each city. The discussions among the interviewees helped to tease out which factors had been driving growth. From the case study analysis it was possible to develop a range of hypotheses which were explored in the econometrics phase.

In Phase 2 a suite of innovative econometric models were employed in the study so that trends in regional rail demand, and the underlying factors driving them, could be fully understood. These included:
?Þ Unobserved Components Models
?Þ Region-Specific Dummy Variable Models
?Þ Fixed Effects Panel Models

Together these allowed variations to be examined and hypotheses developed as to how exogenous demand varied by:
?Þ settlement size/regional importance
?Þ flow type(s) including direction and distance
?Þ station type(s)
?Þ ticket type

The key findings of the study were:
?Þ strong economic growth which has been considerably influenced by structural change in the local economy; with
?Þ a marked move away from manufacturing towards service sector jobs in a number of former industrial towns
?Þ cities growing strongly as centres for shopping/ entertainment and other leisure activities
?Þ increased highway congestion levels, limited car park provision and increased parking costs, making rail relatively more attractive than car ¡V small shifts from car increase demand for commuter rail significantly
?Þ the econometrics in this study provides evidence that segmenting is appropriate for different types of flows between:
− Between core cities (the 11 largest cities in Britain)
− To core cities
− From core cities
− To other major centres
− From other major centres
− Other flows


Association for European Transport