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The use of train subscriptions reaches a record low during the shift to hybrid working

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The use of rail season tickets in Great Britain has plummeted to the lowest level on record, driven by a significant increase in working from home since the Covid-19 pandemic.

Train season ticket use in Britain has plummeted to its lowest level ever, following a significant increase in working from home since the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to figures from the Office for Rail and Road (ORR), the industry regulator, the number of train journeys made by people using season tickets fell to 13% in the year to March 31, down from 15% in the previous year. This is the lowest figure since records began in 1986-1987. Before the pandemic, in the year to March 2020, over a third (34%) of trips were made with a season ticket.

Season ticket revenues are a crucial part of rail revenues. During the pandemic, lockdowns forced office workers to work remotely, leaving city centers deserted. Since then, many employers have embraced hybrid work models, allowing employees to split their time between home and the office.

While some companies, especially in the banking sector, now require employees to spend most of their time in the office, a recent study has shown that hybrid working improves employee wellbeing and productivity. Three quarters of flex workers indicate that they feel less burned out compared to when they worked full-time in the office.

The ORR reported that 1.6 billion train journeys were made in Britain last year, a 16% increase on the 1.4 billion journeys the previous year. Passengers traveled a total of 60 billion kilometers, an increase of 13% year on year. In the three months to March, passengers made 405 million trips, an increase of 13% compared to the same quarter last year.

Total passenger revenue rose to £10.3 billion, up 13% from £9.1 billion last year, adjusted for inflation.

In response to the rise of hybrid working, the rail sector has introduced flexible season tickets, allowing you to travel on eight days within a 28-day period. However, analysis from MoneySavingExpert found that part-time plans only delivered savings for those who traveled two days a week, while cheaper options were often available.

Govia Thameslink Railway was the largest operator in terms of passenger travel in the year to March. The Elizabeth line recorded the second highest number of journeys and the largest year-on-year increase, up 54%. This increase is attributed to the increase in services following the opening of the central section of the line in May 2022, with a full service from May 2023.

The notable year-on-year increase in journeys for several operators was also influenced by the reduced timetables of the previous year. This includes ScotRail, Avanti West Coast and TransPennine Express, all of which operated shorter timetables sometime between April 2022 and March 2023.