A RAIL operator that serves Oxfordshire has bucked the national trend by continuing to grow its number of passengers. 

Some 1.7 billion train journeys were taken in 2017/18, down 1.4 per cent on the previous 12 months, according to new Office of Rail and Road data. This marks the first decline since 2009/10.

Chiltern Railways, however, has seen a rise of more than 1.5 million journeys in the space of a year.

The Oxford Times:

Meanwhile, Great Western Railway, in keeping with the rest of the nation, has seen a moderate decline of more than 1 million journeys. The service had 103.7m journeys in 2017/18, compared to 104.9 over the previous 12-month period. 

The recent decline was driven by a record fall of 2.1 per cent in the London and South East region, which makes up more than two-thirds of all journeys.

The number of trips paid for with a season ticket was down 9.2 per cent, while use of regular tickets rose 3.8 per cent, suggesting a shift in the type of tickets being used.

Britain's busiest franchise, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), saw a fall of almost two million journeys (0.6 per cent) amid industrial disputes, staffing issues and planned cancellations.

This was the second consecutive year that journey numbers fell on the GTR network.

South Western Railway recorded a 7.9 per cent fall in demand, equivalent to more than 18 million passengers.

Major engineering work at London Waterloo, industrial action and a transfer of franchise ownership all occurred in the 2017/18 period.

There was an increase of 6.4 per cent in Chiltern Railways journeys, boosted by the direct route between London Marylebone and Oxford city centre which opened in December 2016.

ScotRail saw growth of 3.8 per cent, which coincided with the completion of improvement projects and electrification works.