Passengers journey for the three-month period between October and December (Q3) were up to 2.9% compared to the same period the previous year, according to data from the Office of Rail and Road.
The national figure of 451 million represents a record high. Journeys using season tickets, which had declined for the previous nine quarters, saw a modest 0.3% rise over the period.
The positive result follows a general flattening in passenger journeys over the last two years but was boosted by growth in the London and South East (LSE) sector. Here numbers were up by 4.5%, recording its highest number of journeys with 309 million over the three-month period. Govia Thameslink Railway, the largest operator, was boosted by improved performance during the quarter and recorded a 7.9 million increase in journeys, with its services accounting for 19% of all passenger journeys nationally.
Long-distance services saw continued growth, but at a slower rate of 1%. The regional sector saw a 1% fall in journeys, with industrial action of Northern services on Saturdays in the run-up to Christmas a likely contributory factor.