Record passengers carried on UK tramways once again

It’s been a day of statistics with the Department for Transport releasing their annual light rail and tram statistic for 2016/17. The figures have shown the now inevitable increase in passenger numbers with all tramways in England enjoying increased passenger numbers although the Tyne and Wear Metro – included in the stats as a light rail system – has seen a significant decrease. In total 267.7 million passenger journeys were made in England – this is an increase of 6.2%.

The figures are compiled from the Blackpool Tramway, Docklands Light Railway, London Tramlink, Nottingham Express Transit, Manchester Metrolink, Midland Metro, Stagecoach Supertram and Tyne and Wear Metro. The figures are very London centric – as would be expected – with 57% of total passenger journeys being made in the capital. This includes the Docklands Light Railway which carried more passengers than all of the tramways and light railways outside of London put together!

2016/17 has seen major increases in passenger numbers for Nottingham Express Transit (35% increase), Midland Metro (29% increase) and Manchester Metrolink (10.2% increase. All of these can be put down to recent extension on all systems – although during this period NET did not see any new lines open this was the first full year the Phase Two lines were in operation.

The tramway – as opposed to light railway – with the highest passenger journeys remains Manchester Metrolink which has enjoyed 37.8 million journeys in 2016/17 with London Tramlink coming in second with 29.5 million.

Docklands Light Railway, Nottingham Express Transit, Midland Metro and Manchester Metrolink have all enjoyed their highest ever passenger numbers (no surprise for the latter three whilst continued development in London’s Docklands continues to help the DLR’s figures). For the Blackpool Tramway the 5.1 million passenger journeys (as reported earlier this year) is the highest number since 1994/95 (which included an all time low of 1.1 million in 2011/12 shortly before the upgraded tramway opened) whilst London Tramlink has seen an increase after two years decrease and Stagecoach Supertram has returned to its 2013/14 levels but is still some 2.4 million passenger journeys down from its peak.

Lots of other stats are also included in this release but to try and describe them all would make this a very long and boring article! However, of note is that passenger journeys on these eight networks accounts for just 3.1.% of all public transport journeys in the country (in 2015/16). This has fallen – for obvious reasons – from 10% in 1950.

Although out of scope for the main survey passenger numbers have also been released for Edinburgh Trams which has also seen a 9.4 increase in passengers carried with 5.8 million in 2016/17.

Passenger Journeys by system

Blackpool Tramway – 5.1m (2015/16: 4.9m – 3.9% increase)

Docklands Light Railway – 122.3m (2015/16: 116.9m – 4.6% increase)

Edinburgh Trams – 5.8m (2015/16: 5.3m – 9.4% increase)

London Tramlink – 29.5m (2015/16: 27.0m – 9.3% increase)

Manchester Metrolink – 37.8m (2015/16: 34.3m – 10.2% increase)

Midland Metro – 6.2m (2015/16: 4.8m – 29% increase)

Nottingham Express Transit – 16.4m (2015/16: 12.2m – 35% increase)

Stagecoach Supertram – 12.6m (2015/16: 11.6m – 9% increase)

Tyne & Wear Metro – 37.7m (2015/16: 40.3m – 6.5% decrease)

* If you want to see all the statistics this can be viewed on the Department for Transport website.

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