A generation of young people is turning to rail travel as rocketing motoring costs, rising youth unemployment and tuition fees are making owning a car an ‘unaffordable luxury’ for many under 25s.
New figures published today by the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC) show that record numbers of young people now have a 16-25 Railcard and make 50 million journeys by rail every year, 60 per cent up on five years ago.
There were over 1.2million 16-25 Railcard holders last year, almost a third higher than the 950,000 who had a Railcard in 2005.
On average, young people with a Railcard make an annual saving of £159 a year off the cost of their rail travel and make around 40 journeys each by rail a year.
Figures also show that there were almost 250,000 fewer 17 to 25-year olds taking their driving test last year than in 2005, an 18 per cent drop.
Would-be ‘boy racers’ are being particularly badly hit by hefty car insurance premiums. With the average premium quoted for young women recently topping £1,800, young men are facing even steeper quotes averaging over £3,100, meaning owning their own car is often no longer an option.
Fuel prices have also climbed by almost a quarter (23 per cent) over the past two years to 133.7p per litre by the end of 2011, adding even more pressure to the cost of motoring faced by young people.
Train companies attribute the rise in rail travel amongst 16-25 year olds to many needing to manage carefully their personal budgets. This has led them to take advantage of discounts available to Railcard holders and resulted in them making a record number of journeys by rail over the last twelve month period for which figures are available.
Edward Welsh of ATOC said:“Getting a car on your 17th birthday is no longer a familiar rite of passage for a growing number of young people. We know a lot of under 25-year olds are struggling to afford the costs of buying, running and insuring a car – and that’s on top of paying for driving lessons.
“A generation has been quick to see train travel as an affordable, reliable alternative to a car that has the added bonus of never having to worry about asking mates to chip in with petrol money.”