DfT advise TOCs that full timetable is to be restored on 6 July

Huntergreed

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A reassuring article from Rail Gazette:


It looks like the DfT is pushing for a full timetable to be restored in time for the reopening of tourism, hospitality and leisure industries. This is very reassuring and it’s looking like we may finally have our sights on a return to some form of “normal” next month.

Given the operational and staffing challenges associated with this, is it realistic to assume this will happen and is this the right time to reopen the railways given our progress with the virus and the state of the economy?
 
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MikeWM

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Better than us never getting there [1]. But I wonder if sending even more trains carrying fresh air around the country is actually helpful as far as optics are concerned.

[1] and now no excuse for TOCs not to start producing printed timetables again :)
 

Bishopstone

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I’d settle for a Saturday service, M-F, at least until September, and think this would be more robust than trying to run a full peak timetable from July.
 

yorksrob

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The priority should be ensuring that all routes have a usable day long service. That's probably more important than increasing hourly services to multiple trains per hour.
 

Skymonster

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Senior managers also remain concerned about ensuring the safety of staff as they are exposed to increasing numbers of passengers. One insider told Rail Business UK ‘we haven’t got a waiver from health and safety law. The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 has far more primacy than a phone call from the Prime Minister telling us to do something.’
Sigh... So maybe some of the resistance IS coming from inside the industry. I can't say I can see much of a difference between staff on the railway and staff in a supermarket, with the latter having worked all the way through. Supermarkets had their moments when they cut back hours to enable shelves to be stocked, but now they are back to normal in most cases. Time for the railway to step up to the plate and do the same, accepting that more trains equals more space for those who travel equals less risk.
 

Romsey

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Oh dear, another "shoot from the hip" announcement from No 10!

But the government still want long trains for full social separation.

Did the government bother to check with RDG let alone any TOC's that this was feasible with a sizeable percentage of operational staff shielding or isolating?

The only reason that so many trains on outer suburban routes are running as 8 or 12 cars is that only about 50% of trains are running. Run the full service and many trains will drop to 4 or 5 car formations. Yes there are units sat in sidings which haven't been used, but that won't make up the difference.

What is encouraging is this quote : "One insider told Rail Business UK ‘we haven’t got a waiver from health and safety law. The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 has far more primacy than a phone call from the Prime Minister telling us to do something."

I've not seen a press release any of the railway trade unions yet, but I suspect they will support that attitude.

Perhaps a "standard hour" service would be a good starting point - a Sunday service ramping up to Saturday service as loadings increase and the travel restrictions release. Running a full SX service would really be a waste of resources.

It's all a big "IF" so long as infection rates continue to decline across the country.
 
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Bletchleyite

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In my part of the world, it’s the M-F peak extras - eg the Eastbourne-London Bridge services - which caused the resourcing headaches, even in the pre-Covid era.
And there is a possibility they will no longer be needed with likely a permanent reduction in London commuting. Just stick an extra 4 coaches on an all-day 8 car service for a few trains each way.
 

Skymonster

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What is encouraging is this quote : "One insider told Rail Business UK ‘we haven’t got a waiver from health and safety law. The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 has far more primacy than a phone call from the Prime Minister telling us to do something."
Discouraging, not encouraging... What about all the supermarket staff, the bus drivers, the existing rail staff that are working? How is it they can work but a few more staff cannot? This may be the nub of the problem - the railway industry does not want its customers back. If that's the case, I think its high time the coronavirus funding was cut off if operators are not prepared to up their game.
 

yorksrob

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Perhaps a "standard hour" service would be a good starting point - a Sunday service ramping up to Saturday service as loadings increase and the travel restrictions release. Running a full SX service would really be a waste of resources.
You'd need better than a Sunday service to get that around here !
 

Romsey

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It's encouraging that someone in management is looking out for the well being of their staff! ( It took some time for a local bus company on the South of England to provide masks for drivers and even longer to provide half-hearted screens which don't provide a barrier.)

I would agree about Cross Country and West Coast not wanting passengers - please reserve a seat for any journey seems to be their motto for some years.
All TOC's are having their costs are being paid whether they carry a thousand passengers or none. As an aside who gets the saving on track access fees the TOC 's or the DfT?

Also some TOC's are a bit close to running out of train crew with shielding or isolating.

A question: Is it better to promise the full service and fail (cancellations) or take a realistic view of the situation and run a service which can be fully resourced?
At least someone in the industry has thought before making a statement. More than can be said for No10.
 

Romsey

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Discouraging, not encouraging... What about all the supermarket staff, the bus drivers, the existing rail staff that are working? How is it they can work but a few more staff cannot? This may be the nub of the problem - the railway industry does not want its customers back. If that's the case, I think its high time the coronavirus funding was cut off if operators are not prepared to up their game.
It's many years since I had any involvement with train crew planning, but a weekday service used to take twice the number of staff required for a basic (no engineering works ) Sunday service. What is currently running South of the Thames is much less than a Sunday service.
 

Bikeman78

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Oh dear, another "shoot from the hip" announcement from No 10!

But the government still want long trains for full social separation.

Did the government bother to check with RDG let alone any TOC's that this was feasible with a sizeable percentage of operational staff shielding or isolating?

The only reason that so many trains on outer suburban routes are running as 8 or 12 cars is that only about 50% of trains are running. Run the full service and many trains will drop to 4 or 5 car formations. Yes there are units sat in sidings which haven't been used, but that won't make up the difference.

What is encouraging is this quote : "One insider told Rail Business UK ‘we haven’t got a waiver from health and safety law. The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 has far more primacy than a phone call from the Prime Minister telling us to do something."

I've not seen a press release any of the railway trade unions yet, but I suspect they will support that attitude.

Perhaps a "standard hour" service would be a good starting point - a Sunday service ramping up to Saturday service as loadings increase and the travel restrictions release. Running a full SX service would really be a waste of resources.

It's all a big "IF" so long as infection rates continue to decline across the country.
I'm inclined to agree that a Saturday timetable would make more sense. Also I can't see much point in putting Stansted Express back to four trains per hour. There must be plenty of spare stock for most TOCs. The current West Anglia timetable requires 44 units instead of the usual 73.
 

Silverlinky

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Oh dear, another "shoot from the hip" announcement from No 10!

But the government still want long trains for full social separation.

Did the government bother to check with RDG let alone any TOC's that this was feasible with a sizeable percentage of operational staff shielding or isolating?

The only reason that so many trains on outer suburban routes are running as 8 or 12 cars is that only about 50% of trains are running. Run the full service and many trains will drop to 4 or 5 car formations. Yes there are units sat in sidings which haven't been used, but that won't make up the difference.

What is encouraging is this quote : "One insider told Rail Business UK ‘we haven’t got a waiver from health and safety law. The Health & Safety at Work Act 1974 has far more primacy than a phone call from the Prime Minister telling us to do something."

I've not seen a press release any of the railway trade unions yet, but I suspect they will support that attitude.

Perhaps a "standard hour" service would be a good starting point - a Sunday service ramping up to Saturday service as loadings increase and the travel restrictions release. Running a full SX service would really be a waste of resources.

It's all a big "IF" so long as infection rates continue to decline across the country.
Can only speak for my TOC but we have next to no people shielding or isolating now.....the 12 week shielding letters have in most cases expired, and apart from the odd one or two members of traincrew a week we have no isolations. Our new traincrew roster has been signed off to come into effect on 5th July, having been delayed since May. Coincidence?

As for passenger numbers, still relatively low, around 10% of pre covid commuter numbers, but these numbers have picked up considerably in the past two weeks, and off peak is also becoming busier.

I would guess that once the "essential journeys only" message is withdrawn, the passenger numbers will rise quickly.....
 

Romsey

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Can only speak for my TOC but we have next to no people shielding or isolating now.....the 12 week shielding letters have in most cases expired, and apart from the odd one or two members of traincrew a week we have no isolations. Our new traincrew roster has been signed off to come into effect on 5th July, having been delayed since May. Coincidence?

As for passenger numbers, still relatively low, around 10% of pre covid commuter numbers, but these numbers have picked up considerably in the past two weeks, and off peak is also becoming busier.

I would guess that once the "essential journeys only" message is withdrawn, the passenger numbers will rise quickly.....

That is good news for your TOC and staff.

I wonder was the operational date for the new rosters was a guess or was there some background guidance? (I'm not expecting an answer.) (West Coast Railways advertised the start date for the Jacobite before the advice from the Scottish Government on when tourism could start to reopen..... )
 

JonathanH

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I would guess that once the "essential journeys only" message is withdrawn, the passenger numbers will rise quickly.....
Office workers aren't going back - commuting is essentially dead - the survey of the local rail users group appears to indicate about 90% of its membership saying they won't be travelling for the foreseeable future - while it is true that some people want to go back to an office the reality is that they will be nervous and any coughs or sneezes will cut the atmosphere like a knife just as it did back in mid March.
 

route101

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Will this apply to Scotrail?

Still reckon if the essential journeys message is dropped , still will be quiet.
 

westv

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Office workers aren't going back - commuting is essentially dead - the survey of the local rail users group appears to indicate about 90% of its membership saying they won't be travelling for the foreseeable future - while it is true that some people want to go back to an office the reality is that they will be nervous and any coughs or sneezes will cut the atmosphere like a knife just as it did back in mid March.
Our London office is working to 10% from 29/6, 20% one week/20% next from 1/9 and 40% one week/40% next from 12/10. Well that was the latest info they sent out anyway.
 

Ianno87

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Tentatively, that is some very, very major light at the end of a sizeable tunnel.

There must many senior railway managers who do in fact want discretional and leisure passengers back on the railways the second government advice permits.
 

87015

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If it’s accurate (or was on 5 June) that is, rather than being a single TOC soundpiece like most of those articles from the author who happens to have a free pass...
 

JonathanH

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Our London office is working to 10% from 29/6, 20% one week/20% next from 1/9 and 40% one week/40% next from 12/10. Well that was the latest info they sent out anyway.
They may be working to that but depends on the level on compulsion - ours with a not immaterial workforce says that any return to the office will be gradual and even then on a voluntary basis.
 

infobleep

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Sigh... So maybe some of the resistance IS coming from inside the industry. I can't say I can see much of a difference between staff on the railway and staff in a supermarket, with the latter having worked all the way through. Supermarkets had their moments when they cut back hours to enable shelves to be stocked, but now they are back to normal in most cases. Time for the railway to step up to the plate and do the same, accepting that more trains equals more space for those who travel equals less risk.
The whole country was not advised to not visit a supermarket though, unlike on the trains.

Also I note you say in most cases supermarkets are back to normal. That means not all are.
 

Bishopstone

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Office workers aren't going back - commuting is essentially dead - the survey of the local rail users group appears to indicate about 90% of its membership saying they won't be travelling for the foreseeable future - while it is true that some people want to go back to an office the reality is that they will be nervous and any coughs or sneezes will cut the atmosphere like a knife just as it did back in mid March.
Also no business conferences; no trade shows; no festivals; no live cultural events; no live sports; no school groups; minimal inbound tourist trade; lots of families scared to expose little Jonnie/grandma to the risk; no face to face pitching for contracts etc.

It’s going to be very quiet for a few months: key and retail workers; independent teens, rail enthusiasts and the tiny minority who get to Morrisons by train for their weekly shop... and that’s about it.

But you need to rebuild from somewhere, and I think there’s a trap for any party in the industry who insists it’s all too difficult, or too dangerous, or unnecessary because nobody wants to use the train anyway. A big trap.
 

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