Rail passenger numbers based on ticket sales dropped below 30% of pre-COVID levels during the pandemic, and since restrictions were removed have still only increased to around 60%. Maintaining rail services has cost the government up to £700m per month, which is unsustainable. If numbers do not increase, the Treasury reportedly has plans to close rail lines, and timetable proposals show a reduction in services.
The government and the train operators must attract passengers back to rail with fairer fares, aggressive marketing offers, frequent services and a welcome at every station. Railfuture’s message is USE IT OR LOSE IT! Rail is still safer than road, even after taking account of COVID. Relying on your car as your personal PPE is more risky than going by train.
Our online guide for rail passengers is at Rail user help.
'Attracting passengers back to rail' originally held on 3rd October 2020.
One of our Directors, Ian Brown, took out a camera to see if people were returning to rail for off peak shopping and leisure travel in East London on Wednesday 26 August. This is what he saw. Photo by Getty Images / Rail Delivery Group.
Jane Ann Liston, Secretary, Railfuture Scotland explains why we must attract people back to rail after COVID-19. ScotRail covers train faces to encourage passengers to do the same.
Have our railways suffered another collective nervous breakdown with such strong messages so openly discouraging sustainable travel - by train? Since the DfT is funding all the franchises, has it lost all faith in its own services? The messaging is negative and inconsistent, even contradictory, not conditional encouragement – in sharp contrast to all other modes. Passengers may feel unwelcome or unsafe, and may be unable to travel. The comparison with air travel is stark.
Railfuture campaigns for faster, longer more frequent trains and bright, clean, more secure stations to attract more passengers to rail and support economic growth. Railfuture meets frequently with the rail companies, building positive relationships and gaining insight which helps us to influence their decisions in favour of passengers. In our contact with the media and the public, we seek to provide independent, informed explanation of the issues which affect passengers. For example, our Train Staff Duties article explains the benefits that that operation of the doors by the driver can bring to passengers.
Successful businesses have excellent customer service woven into their culture, gaining the trust of customers and so ensuring that growth continues. Railfuture aims to help operators to develop a customer service culture and to give passengers an easy journey, with best practice over fares, ticketing, performance, communications, connectivity, onward travel and information.
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