Rising fuel prices are pushing more drivers to swap the roads for the tracks it appears, as recent figures claim a 4.8% growth in railway users in the opening three months of the year.
Statistics published by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) this week have revealed a substantial increase in the number of people using train services in the country.
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15 million extra train journeys
According to ATOC’s report, a total of 316 million train journeys were made in the first quarter of 2011, compared with 301 million in the same three months of 2010.
There has been an equal spread of increases across all journeys: those in London and the South East were up by 4.7%; the number of long distance trips grew by 4.1%; and regional journeys increased by 5.2%.
ATOC attributes this nationwide growth in train use as a result of the rising cost of motoring.
On average, petrol costs have risen by more than twice the rate of rail fares in the last 12 months. Train prices increased in January by a significant 6.2%. However, the cost of fuel has gone up by 13% in the past year, with a hike of 11% in the last three months due to escalating oil prices and the increases in VAT and fuel duty.
One in six blame the cost of fuel
ATOC carried out further research in March this year, surveying 794 rail users about their travel habits.
A sixth of these said they had switched from a car to the train for at least one journey during February and March this year with around half claiming it was due to rising fuel prices.
According to calculations by the rail industry, a 5% rise in petrol prices can lead to around a 1% rise in journeys on the rail network.
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But fuel prices are coming down
However, with price of oil starting to retreat, the cost on the forecourt began to come down as well yesterday, for the first time in nine months.
Morrisons was the first the cut its prices, knocking 1p off a litre of petrol and 3p off diesel.
And Asda followed its lead, taking a penny off unleaded and 4p off the price of a litre of diesel.
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