The number of cars on Lancashire’s roads has dropped to its lowest level for five years – while the number of train passengers continues to soar.
Transport experts today said the shift was down to the rising price of petrol and the cost of maintaining cars.
Latest figures from Lancashire County Council’s statistical unit shows there are currently 541,000 cars on the county’s roads – a decrease of 3,000 on figures from 2008.
Meanwhile, the number of people using Preston train station now stands at more than 4m a year – close to 300,000 up on figures from 2008/9.
Passenger numbers in Lancaster, Chorley and stations in Wyre and the Fylde have also increased.
Prof Stephen Glaister, of the RAC Foundation, said: “It is not just about how many cars are registered but how much they are being driven and by whom.
“Over the past decade or so, the North West has mirrored the rest of the country in seeing a big drop in young men driving but also a large rise in the number of women motorists, not least because more females than ever before are in the work place.
“Adjusting for inflation, the price of cars – both new and second-hand - has actually been falling over many years. Unfortunately being able to afford to buy a car does not mean you are going to manage to keep it on the road and the real cost of running a vehicle has spiralled.”
Chris Dale, of rail campaign group TravelWatch NorthWest, said: “I think it is mainly down to the rise in costs.
“With the line from Preston now I think people are finding there are quicker journey times to London for example.
“It is easier to travel by train and it is quicker because there is still congestion on the roads.”
But with the increase in train passengers, Mr Dale says more rolling stock is urgently needed in the north.
“The Government still has the idea that trains in the north are empty,” he added.