Friday, April 11, 2008


INDEPENDENT, UK Britain is witnessing the dawn of a new era of rail travel as an unprecedented demand for environmentally friendly transport encourages people to take more train journeys than at any time since the Second World War. Figures released yesterday revealed that the number of miles traveled on the rail network reached a record-breaking peacetime high of 30.1 billion during 2007, capping a huge rise in popularity in which passenger numbers have increased every year for the past 13 years.

The rise in passenger miles, documented by the Association of Train Operating Companies, indicates a boom in demand for rail transport at a time when the threat of climate change is encouraging more people to find greener ways of moving around.

George Muir, director general of Atoc, described the resurgence of train use as astonishing. "We knew that we were growing but it was only when we looked at the graph that we realized how sudden that growth was," he said. "If you take out the war years, for much of the past 80 years passenger miles have hovered around the 20 billion mark, but within the past 10 years it has grown dramatically.". . .

Tim Leunig, a historian from the London School of Economics who helped compile the figures, said current trends meant passenger miles were likely to continue breaking records "time and time and time again" as demand increases. A White Paper last year estimated that Britain would need to double its rail capacity by 2030 to meet demand.


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