Railfuture campaigns nationally and locally for a rail system which will provide better, value-for-money rail services for both passengers and freight, over a bigger rail network.

Woman and child at station face coverings.  Image by Getty/RDG

Attracting passengers back to rail

Rail passenger numbers based on ticket sales are at around 30% of pre-COVID levels and are not showing any signs of increasing, although ticketless travel is high. Maintaining rail services is costing the government around £700m per month, which is unsustainable. If numbers do not increase, the Treasury reportedly has plans to close rail lines and cut services due to lack of demand.

The government and the train operators must attract passengers back to rail with 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.

Photo 2 of 3 of a charter train promoted by SENRUG to campaign for a passenger service on the Ashington, Blyth and Tyne railway line whilst travelling

Restoring Your Railway

Despite the COVID crisis the government is demonstrating commitment to rail by pressing ahead with its Restoring Your Railway initiative. Ten successful bids in the first round of the Ideas Fund have been announced – a common factor of these bids, if delivered, is that they will connect significant numbers of people to the rail network.

Some of the other 100 bids submitted in the first two rounds, and some other potential schemes not yet submitted, could offer worthwhile benefits. We aim to engage and support the promoters and the sponsoring MP to get them (re)submitted and selected.

Purchased from iStock

Electrification - lowest cost and zero carbon

Reducing the cost of operating rail services and meeting the government's zero carbon objectives for transport require a sustainable rolling programme of electrification for Britain’s railways using a mix of technologies including overhead wiring, third rail, battery and hydrogen.

Although rail travel is reduced in the short term, modal shift to rail is essential to protect the environment and address social issues whilst growing our economy. The capacity of the rail network must be doubled to achieve this.


Fares (and Ticketing)

Fares normally rise by RPI every January but after COVID an increase is likely to deter more people from travelling, resulting in lower overall revenue, so there should be a zero increase for 2021. Fares must also be repriced to deliver value for money and remove the anomalies which lead to split-ticketing.

Many people have discovered that they can work from home so the trend away from 5 day commuting will accelerate. Flexible, clearly explained smart ticket options which support this trend without encouraging a Tuesday – Thursday peak, and which integrate with other forms of public transport, are needed.


Industry structure

The introduction of Emergency Measures Agreements offers the opportunity for the government to quickly devolve control of city region services to the Sub National Transport Bodies such as Transport for the North, managed through concessions. By bringing decision making closer to users, the railway will be better able to meet the needs of its customers.

The DfT must also take the opportunity to dramatically improve the cost efficiency of operating, maintaining and enhancing the railway, and move forward on the Market–Led Proposals that have been submitted for expanding the rail network.

There's more

Freight. A doubling of rail freight capacity is required by 2050 to shift freight traffic from road to rail, reduce carbon emissions and reduce congestion on the road network. For example, creating a western access to Trafford Park freight terminal will relieve the Castlefield corridor, increase freight capacity and shorten freight journeys.

Northern Powerhouse. Linking the great Northern cities of Liverpool, Preston, Manchester, Sheffield, Bradford, Leeds and Hull by a fast, high capacity rail network will create a single strategic economic entity to realise the economic potential of the region.

Go and compare. Railfuture searches for examples of best practice worldwide which can be applied in Britain.

Branch campaigns. Each Railfuture branch also runs local campaigns for improved rail services and expanding the rail network.

Fighting Fund

As well as working at local and national level with train operators and other stakeholders to secure a better railway. Railfuture makes awards to campaigners from its Fighting Fund to bring about improvements. Awards have been given, for example, for publicity initiatives and feasibility studies.

Information for campaigners including events, campaign guides, sources of funding and local groups.

Policy statements

A more comprehensive view of what Railfuture stands for.

Consultation responses

Before making major policy decisions, both national and local government run formal consultations to find out what the public think about the issues. Railfuture’s realistic, informed submissions are well respected, so the rail user viewpoint is considered and we can influence those policy decisions.

Successful campaigns

Our campaigns are frequently in the news.

Railfuture's fares campaign has notched up success with the recognition by the Transport Secretary that fares could rise in line with the lower CPI not RPI, and the Rail Delivery Group's 'Easier Fares for All' proposal. Railfuture campaigns have helped to open more than 400 new stations and over 950 km of new routes since 1960, supporting economic growth and providing new journey opportunities to passengers, and led to the 'Restoring Your Railway' Fund.

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