UK public transport operator Keolis grew passenger numbers across its light rail networks by 6.6 million in 2016/17, official figures have confirmed.

According to the latest data from the Department for Transport (DfT), passenger journeys on the Keolis-operated Nottingham Express Transit (NET) grew by 35 per cent, to 16.4 million in the year ending March 2017.

In the same period, the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) – which Keolis operates in a joint venture with asset management specialist Amey – catered for 122.3 million passenger journeys, a 4.6 per cent year-on-year increase.

The figures represent the first full year of travel since Phase 2 of the Nottingham tram system opened to the public, adding 10.9 miles and 27 stops to the network. They follow confirmation that NET has retained its status as one of the highest-rated UK tram networks for passenger satisfaction, according to independent watchdog Transport Focus. In the latest Transport Focus survey, released in June 2017, the network scored an impressive 97 per cent passenger satisfaction score.

Keolis says this is due to its ongoing investment in customer service and staff training, which has included introducing more face-to-face and social media contact options and putting 72 customer-facing staff through accredited training with the Institute of Customer Service.

In Transport for London’s most recent performance report for Q1 2017, the DLR also scored highly, with a 99 per cent reliability rating and customer satisfaction score of 89 per cent.

Alistair Gordon, chief executive of Keolis UK, said: “Reliable, passenger-friendly urban transport is a fundamental enabler of economic growth, and we are very proud of this ongoing increase in patronage across our networks.

“We’re particularly pleased to have welcomed so many more additional passengers while also maintaining excellent customer satisfaction scores. This reflects the hard work demonstrated by our fantastic staff and our ongoing commitment to equipping them with the best training and tools for the job.”

The new figures have been released as Keolis prepares to take over operation of the Manchester Metrolink. Its joint venture with Amey (KeolisAmey Metrolink) has been appointed by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM) to operate and maintain the network for up to ten years from 15th July 2017.

The addition of the Metrolink to Keolis’ UK portfolio will mean two-thirds of all passenger journeys on light rail networks in England will be on a Keolis service.