The ORR figures are based on ticket sales - long report on last year's at http://www.rail-reg.gov.uk/upload/pdf/stn_usage_report_0910.pdf
- and they list tickets which are excluded and assumptions made. As you would expect with a complex fare system, they have a longish list of tickets which don't actually get counted again stations, and on the flip side they mention return tickets only used one way, and split ticketing, which are counted as multiple journeys where only one journey is made.
In some cases the "quirks" of the fare system lead to a dramatic difference between ticket sales and journeys made. In one particular case, a 64% drop in passenger numbers reported was due to a change in the fare structure; people who had been in the habit of buying a cheaper ticket for a longer journey from a near-"parliamentary" station stopped buying those tickets ...
I couldn't see mention in the report about any allowance made for ticketless travel (but then the report states it's based on ticketed travel) either illegally or legally.
Most of the people on the ground and the incumbent operators know full well where the oddities lie, station by station. The knowledge of these issues in London (DfT, ORR and their various consultants) varies - as witnessed by the ORR report described above which states "Reason for decline not apparent" against that 64% drop I mention above. And I fear it would be something of a miracle if bidders for the franchise who have not previously operated trains in this area were aware of where to add pinches of salt (or take pinches of salt away form) the data.
Questions I have:
1. When a list of bidders in announced, will there also be an announcement of how to feed local inputs on topics like this to them?
2. I know stats are hard to gather on ticketless travel, but are there any indicators / figures available at all for either the illegal or legal?