How are railways recovering from the impact of Covid in other countries?

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PTR 444

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With the lengthy discussion on the future of Britain’s railways post-Covid. I thought it would be worth starting a thread to find out how rail usage is recovering in other countries around the world. I’ve heard from another thread that trains in Belgium are already packed again, but is there anywhere in the world significantly affected by the pandemic where rail usage has fully recovered to pre-pandemic levels?

I expect this has probably already happened in countries affected early on in such as China, South Korea and Taiwan, but please feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.
 
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Pakenhamtrain

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Last check down here in Melbourne we are at 44 percent lower than pre covid. It is slightly noticeable coming home from the football the last couple of weeks.

To try and get more people back we did launch a 30 percent discount for weekday off peak metropolitian fares Touch off between 9.30AM and 4PM or Touch on before 4PM and after 7PM and have a live capacity app called ride space.
 

biko

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Not sure about the numbers, but the trains I’ve used yesterday in the Netherlands seemed quite well filled and stations busy considering we are still in lockdown. Each bay of 4 had at least a person in them and all airline seats also had one person in them. But this was off-peak, in the peaks I think the largest decrease is.
 

67thave

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Here in the New York area, subway ridership is roughly 1/3rd of what it was pre-Covid, while commuter rail ridership is roughly 1/4th of its pre-Covid numbers. Off-peak and weekend ridership has recovered faster than peak ridership, and the busiest times of day (at least for commuter rail) are now the times at which the construction workers travel to and from the city.
 

DanielB

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Not sure about the numbers, but the trains I’ve used yesterday in the Netherlands seemed quite well filled and stations busy considering we are still in lockdown. Each bay of 4 had at least a person in them and all airline seats also had one person in them. But this was off-peak, in the peaks I think the largest decrease is.
Especially in the weekends the trains are indeed quite busy in The Netherlands now, but at weekdays I'm usually seeing pretty empty trains (as far as I can look inside when changing from bus to bike at Veenendaal-De Klomp station on my daily commute, lucky me that I can't work from home).
Although trains can also just look busy because they're shorter, there are quite a lot of services which used to run with 12-car double decker sets which are now running with a single four car unit.

In general the number of check-ins in Dutch public transport (all, so including buses, trams and metro) is at 30% of 2019-levels at the moment. Rail usage has also dropped again now we are in the second lockdown, I believe I've once read it was at 75% of 2019 level during weekends at the end of summer. NS was already mentioning back then that they recreative travel had recovered much quicker than the number of commuters.

What the future will bring is still a big question mark. Clarity has not been given yet by the government if supportive funding will continue after October and province after province is now sounding the alarm bells as they might have to cut up to 30% of all public transport. That would partially also hit rail transport as the provinces Zuid-Holland, Limburg, Gelderland, Overijssel, Drenthe, Groningen and Friesland also are resposible for several regional railway lines.
In the mean time NS is also investing in marketing to reassure the public they will be there to transport them whenever it's allowed again...
 

jamesontheroad

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It's hard for me to accurately describe the situation nationwide here in Sweden, but what is noticeable is that the pandemic has exposed some of the unforeseen flaws in the procurement model for traffic providers.

SJ AB (i.e. the government-owned operator created out of the breakup of Statens Järnvägar) has terminated early its agreement to provide train services to Mälartågstrafik. MTR take over the assignment in December, but SJ have exercised a six-month clause and could (although it is unlikely) stop driving trains in September. Basically, the problem for the train operators is that in most agreements the operator is responsible for both ticket revenues and costs, with excess revenue shared between the operator and the region that procures the traffic, but losses are borne by the operator only.

Elsewhere, commercial intercity traffic has been hit hard. MTRX (Stockholm-Gothenburg) reported that passenger numbers through the winter were 20-50% of what they were the year before. About half as many MTRX trains run every week, fewer on quieter midweek days and almost normal levels on the weekends. Snälltåget

Vy (NSB) meanwhile has had a pretty bad start to its procured contract on the Norrland sleepers, with problems to do with rolling stock, staff availability and disruption caused by the very snowy winter this year. They have also been on the back foot with regards to their (outsourced) customer service (long wait times, poor ratings on TrustPilot etc). They got a lot of bad press for launching their service with what were perceived to be very expensive fares and misinterpretations of the COVID rules about booking of shared sleeper compartments.

Almost all long-distance train operators have protested against the Swedish government's restrictions on train travel.
 

TheSeeker

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With the sunny weather and Easter school holidays here in Belgium SNCB and the Mayor of Ostende have had to ask people not to travel to the coast. A train was evacuated at Gent for overcrowding yesterday. Conversely my commuter run into Brussels is very quiet. I'm often the only person in the carriage when traveling off peak.
 

duesselmartin

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Trains in Germany's Ruhr are also quiet, despite cancellations due to engineering.
Usually I get a four seater for myself, at the ends of the train the carriage on my Duisburg to Düsseldorf Germany is often empty.
I am estimating that we are around 30 % of the usual numbers.
 

jamesontheroad

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According to a report published this week, Sweden's public transport companies lost 7,200,000,000kr (± £600,000,000) in reduced ticket revenues in 2020, and expect to lose 8,600,000,000kr in 2021.

From Järnvägar.nu (with some Google Translate & some jamesontheroad Translate).

Halved ticket revenues this year

Travel and ticket revenues in January 2020 were approximately 50 percent less than in January 2019.

In the autumn, the government paid SEK 2.93 billion, via the Swedish Transport Administration ,to the county transport companies or the regional public transport authorities.

The compensation was based on the reduction in ticket revenues that the county transport companies had during the first four months of the pandemic, from 1 March to 30 June this year.

The Government has proposed that compensation be paid in an additional SEK 2 billion, but there do not yet seem to be any decisions on when the compensation will be paid and what period it will cover.

"It is far too little compensation," says Johan Wadman "When our members lose 15-16 billion in revenue in two years, five billion kronor is small compensation."

Lower compensation for reduced traffic

The government has announced that the regional public transport authorities that implement traffic reductions will receive lower compensation.

"We have protested against that," says Johan Wadman. "There is traffic that is reduced because other more efficient traffic arrangements are introduced, the public transport authorities should not be punished for that."
 

Austriantrain

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In Austria, regional trains have been running along the normal schedule for almost the entire duration of the pandemic. Usage depends on the respective lockdown conditions, somewhere between 50 and 80% of pre-Covid occupancy at a guess, but more often towards the latter (it really depends, since nothing is open in the evenings, obviously passenger numbers are much lower than normal at those times - not so much in the peaks though).

The number of long-distance trains was severely reduced in March/April 2020 but has been almost back to normal for a long time. Occupancy is lower than for regional services, because of the lack of business and Tourist Travel and because international Travel is much reduced. Some trains, mainly international ones, still don’t run, and on the Vienna - Salzburg line an emergency PSO is in operation for both ÖBB and WESTbahn, which provisionally run in a common Takt timetable and accept each other’s tickets.
 

route101

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What is the police enforcement like for non essential journeys or crossing local authorities?
 

Austriantrain

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What is the police enforcement like for non essential journeys or crossing local authorities?

Referring to Austria:
- there is in general no prohibition to cross local authorities borders. We have had some exceptions to this rule in the past year in specific regions. More common lately is proof of a recent test if you leave high incidence areas. Checks are carried out in trains as well as on roads, but not everyone will be controlled.
- We don’t have a „non essential journey“ category. We are allowed to travel, just not to meet with more than a very limited number of people (reducing to one person in hard lockdown areas). In any case, since hotels, restaurants, most cultural institutions etc are closed, we shouldn’t have much reason to travel (even though trains are still surprisingly well filled;) )
- in general however, the lockdown is not very tightly policed. If you remain inconspicuous, you will most probably not have a problem. If you do organize a streetside party, of course you will.
 

jedimasterc

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In Sydney Australia it is slowly returning to normal. Due to our country having pretty much cancelled Covid due to quarantines work has actually progressed faster on many rail projects like the new metro in Sydney. Here is a vlog from youtube channel Transport vlog showing progress at Martin Place station. He has also done other videos on other sites of the metro as well.

 
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