Post Covid Passenger Rebound

Status
Not open for further replies.

Nicholas Lewis

Established Member
Joined
9 Aug 2019
Messages
3,551
Location
Surrey
As I suspected. It’s SWR that is going to be the biggest loser here. It’s whole catchment has changed its patterns more than anywhere else and it’s population in its outer area must be getting older now in any case because it’s too bloody expensive for most people to move out to. Even the metro stuff is mostly through affluent land and so will suffer big time. I reckon the rest of the network in the SE has such a mixed catchment with plenty of young people who don’t have cars it will hold to pretty well.
Interesting perspective and im sure it applies to stockbroker belt stations down the Guildford line. Riding on the 455's for a while yesterday tehy were pretty empty after lunch but usage rapidly built up after 1500 which I would observe as workers as main group. The other thing that's going to hit the bottom line is the increased leasing costs for the 701's over 455's should they ever get them working of course.
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

ohgoditsjames

Member
Joined
16 Jun 2019
Messages
366
Location
Sheffield & Shipley
The 4 and 5 car XC 220/221’s have gone back to being completely in adequate for the amount of passengers, even had the pleasure of being on a doubled up unit that was packed in the vestibules from Leeds to Sheffield a few weeks ago.
 

Starmill

Veteran Member
Associate Staff
Events Co-ordinator
Joined
18 May 2012
Messages
19,785
Location
Manchester
Bit in bold - but the term "anytime" is far easier for Joe Public to understand than "open". A shop can be "open" i.e. you can use it, but how do you know which train is "open" - whereas Anytime is clear and simple, you can travel at "Any Time".
SWR have been calling their tickets Anytime Open Return for several years.
 

modernrail

On Moderation
Joined
26 Jul 2015
Messages
721
Interesting perspective and im sure it applies to stockbroker belt stations down the Guildford line. Riding on the 455's for a while yesterday tehy were pretty empty after lunch but usage rapidly built up after 1500 which I would observe as workers as main group. The other thing that's going to hit the bottom line is the increased leasing costs for the 701's over 455's should they ever get them working of course.
I predict with no science revenue will be down by about 40 per cent for SWR to about 20 elsewhere in the SE
 

deltic

Established Member
Joined
8 Feb 2010
Messages
2,709
But should we really be encouraging more leisure travel? Leisure demand is often wildly unpredictable. Moreover it doesn't pay its way. Since capacity is finite, surely the railway should be reserved for essential travel, not moving assorted hedonists and layabouts around the country. Doubtless this market could be better served by buses and coaches instead

Who would be using the trains at weekends and during the day mid-week or in the evening? Leisure traffic is generally profitable as the marginal costs of running off-peak services is low and is covered by the extra revenue generated.

The figures I have seen suggest leisure traffic is virtually back to pre-pandemic levels - commuter traffic is around 2/3rds but business travel is only at 40%
 

permarquis

Member
Joined
11 Mar 2022
Messages
64
Since capacity is finite, surely the railway should be reserved for essential travel, not moving assorted hedonists and layabouts around the country. Doubtless this market could be better served by buses and coaches instead.
You're quite right. Nasty modern concepts like "enjoying life" must be kept away from the railway at all costs.
 

yorksrob

Veteran Member
Joined
6 Aug 2009
Messages
33,004
Location
Yorks
But should we really be encouraging more leisure travel? Leisure demand is often wildly unpredictable. Moreover it doesn't pay its way. Since capacity is finite, surely the railway should be reserved for essential travel, not moving assorted hedonists and layabouts around the country. Doubtless this market could be better served by buses and coaches instead.

But what paying customers would you get to replace the hedonistic layabouts ? Obviously commuters and business travelers are more predictable and cough up more, but there seem to be fewer of them and the rest can't be forced back

The railway has to cater to the market that is willing to be served, not necessarily the one it wishes it had.
 
Joined
18 Aug 2019
Messages
1,162
Location
London
Who would be using the trains at weekends and during the day mid-week or in the evening? Leisure traffic is generally profitable as the marginal costs of running off-peak services is low and is covered by the extra revenue generated.

The figures I have seen suggest leisure traffic is virtually back to pre-pandemic levels - commuter traffic is around 2/3rds but business travel is only at 40%
Leisure traffic has exceeded pre covid levels according to the figures I've seen.

Revenue overall is a bit more varied but has hit 75% of pre covid on certain days based on the figures I've seen.
 

Starmill

Veteran Member
Associate Staff
Events Co-ordinator
Joined
18 May 2012
Messages
19,785
Location
Manchester
assorted hedonists and layabouts
So presumably you never have any leisure time in your life, ever? You're work work work every single day seven days a week 52 weeks a year? You'll continue to be until the day you're too ill to go on? If you do have any time off what business do you have calling someone else enjoying a holiday a hedonist or a layabout?
 

JonathanH

Veteran Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
12,509
Who would be using the trains at weekends and during the day mid-week or in the evening? Leisure traffic is generally profitable as the marginal costs of running off-peak services is low and is covered by the extra revenue generated.

The figures I have seen suggest leisure traffic is virtually back to pre-pandemic levels - commuter traffic is around 2/3rds but business travel is only at 40%
Costs of running off-peak services aren't 'marginal' if the source of revenue to which they are 'marginal' no longer exists. I would imagine that off-peak services are nowhere near covering their costs, even if they are packed to 120% of capacity, otherwise the peak fares which represent the cost of the railway wouldn't be so high.
 

Nicholas Lewis

Established Member
Joined
9 Aug 2019
Messages
3,551
Location
Surrey
But what paying customers would you get to replace the hedonistic layabouts ? Obviously commuters and business travelers are more predictable and cough up more, but there seem to be fewer of them and the rest can't be forced back

The railway has to cater to the market that is willing to be served, not necessarily the one it wishes it had.
Spot on but not sure that many of them have cottoned onto that or is that DofT are still planted in pre covid thinking that only boils down to minimising costs. Given climate crisis and potentially fuel shortages looming especially on diesel as 25% comes from Russia (we thought it was clever to make us look green by outsourcing our carbon emissions to rest of the world) govt should be encourage public transport usage by at least simplifying fare structure.
 

miami

Established Member
Joined
3 Oct 2015
Messages
3,135
Location
UK
Since capacity is finite, surely the railway should be reserved for essential travel

Could you define essential travel?

Typically in a western society we rely on the market to value scarce goods. If capacity is too low for demand, increase it. If costs are not being met increase prices until demand reduces to the level.

Costs of running off-peak services aren't 'marginal' if the source of revenue to which they are 'marginal' no longer exists. I would imagine that off-peak services are nowhere near covering their costs, even if they are packed to 120% of capacity, otherwise the peak fares which represent the cost of the railway wouldn't be so high.

Why does a railway cost so much to run that 500 people paying £20 an hour for a long distance journey can't cover the expenses?

If people can no longer be fleeced out of £100/hour || £1/mile standard class tickets on the peaks on the WCML any more, and that means the railway can't be funded any more even with the large subsidies it currently gets, then perhaps its time has gone and it's time to close it down.
 

gc4946

Member
Joined
17 Jul 2019
Messages
156
Location
Leeds
Season ticket income, especially sales of annual tickets, was a bedrock of revenue for operators to/from London. For the forseeable future the railways will have to rely less on season ticket sales and more on revenue from leisure travel.
 

JonathanH

Veteran Member
Joined
29 May 2011
Messages
12,509
Why does a railway cost so much to run that 500 people paying £20 an hour for a long distance journey can't cover the expenses?
Most off-peak trains do not carry anywhere near 500 people and the fare doesn't approach £20 an hour. Some long distance ones might, but local ones don't.
Season ticket income, especially sales of annual tickets, was a bedrock of revenue for operators to/from London. For the forseeable future the railways will have to rely less on season ticket sales and more on revenue from leisure travel.
Yes, and the sums simply don't add up.
 

Annetts key

Established Member
Joined
13 Feb 2021
Messages
1,246
Location
West is best
Department for Transport statistics


Use of transport modes: Great Britain, since 1 March 2020a

Figures are percentages of an equivalent day or week.

Date[note 1]
(weekends and bank holidays in grey)
National Rail[notes 3,4,12]Revised/ provisional [notes 13]
3/5/202269%
3/6/202270%
3/7/202273%r
3/8/202274%r
3/9/202276%r
3/10/202278%r
3/11/202278%r
3/12/202279%r
3/13/202279%r
3/14/202279%r
3/15/202279%r
3/16/202278%r
3/17/202279%r
3/18/202280%r
3/19/202279%r
3/20/202279%r
3/21/202275%r
3/22/202273%p
3/23/202272%p
3/24/202270%p
3/25/202268%p
3/26/202267%p
3/27/202268%p
3/28/202270%p

Notes:

Easter and Christmas Period - users should note that the percentages of normal use for road traffic, bus use outside London and cycling are comparing to baselines early in 2020 (as set out in footnotes below) - not to the equivalent Easter/Christmas period last year. Therefore rates, especially for the Easter Friday and Monday, and the 25th - 28th December period will look much lower than normal as they are not adjusted for the seasonal change. Whereas Rail/TFL is comparing to the equivalent rolling week/most equivalent day from 2019. For TFL therefore, this does not show the underlying significant reduction in trips made over the Easter/Christmas and bank holiday period as it is comparing to a similarly reduced figure for the equivalent day in 2019.
.. Not available (see relevant notes for reason)

r Revised from previous edition

p Provisional

a We have published information on the data sources and methodology used to generate each of these headline measures:



Note 1 Although daily data is being reported, direct comparisons of change should not be made between weekdays and weekends/bank holidays. For public
transport, there are typically different levels of service/timetable in place on weekends and bank holidays than on weekdays; and for road traffic

, there is a different profile on weekend days compared to weekdays.

Note 2 Percentage of the equivalent day in the first week of February 2020.

Note 3 Percentage of the equivalent week in the previous year up to w/c 8 Feb 2021; from w/c 15 Feb 2021 this reverted to the percentage of the equivalent week in 2019.

Note 4 National Rail data is subject to revisions up to a week after initial publication. The latest days data would be an underestimate of the final result as the raw

ticket sales data matures. Since the publication on 16th September 2020, we have applied an adjustment to the latest weeks data to attempt to account for this

average upward revision which would occur as the data matures. The period should still be treated as provisional, but revisions should be smaller than they

have been to date. Contrary to this, the adjustment can occasionally be an overestimate. For example the value for Monday 11 January 2020 was originally

published as 17%, but the actual turnout seven days later was 13%. This revision therefore depicts the revision based on complete outturn journeys data,

rather than a downward trend in usage.

Note 5 Percentage of the equivalent day in the previous year (reverted to 2019 comparison on 1 March 2021)

Note 6 Percentage of the equivalent day of the third week of January 2020.

Note 7 Data on TfL Buses is not available from Sunday 19th April to 28th June due to the change in boarding policy:


Fare collection was re-enabled for 406 routes by 9 June. By 4 July this had expanded to all but 18 routes. This data may be subject to under-reporting due

to non-compliance with fare collection.

Note 8 Data on Buses (excl. London) has been adjusted to compare against typical usage on bank holidays, whereas all other data sources have not.

Note 9 Data on Buses (excl. London) is not available on 8th May, 25th , 26th, 28th December 2020, 1st January 2021 and 23rd - 26th January 2022.

Note 10 Percentage of the equivalent day in the first week of March.

Note 11 Cycling data covers England only. The data source is now available at a lag of 3 days rather than 1 from 11/9/20 so the data will be 2 days behind the

other indicators going forward. Cycling levels have been historically lower in colder, wetter months, which may influence lower cycle usage over the winter

period compared to the March baseline.

Note 12 National Rail data for the period 31st August to 6th September 2020 is an underestimate of the real rate of rail usage in this period. This is due to the fact

that the rolling weekly average for the days in this period includes the Bank Holiday Monday on 31st August but the equivalent period from the previous

year which it is being compared to did not include a Bank Holiday.

Note 13 Revised and provisional rows are indicated using r (revised) and p (provisional) notation in this column. Individual values within each row which are revised or provisional are indicated with shading.
 

Horizon22

Established Member
Associate Staff
Jobs & Careers
Joined
8 Sep 2019
Messages
4,847
Location
London

I find the speed of this rebound to be astonishing. Bearing in mind about 1 in 15 of the population has Covid, that might well be the missing 20%.

Lots of things flow from this, such as,

1. What is the case for the DfT forcing operators to cut services?

The average fare paid per passenger has decreased. This is because off-peak travel has rebounded fast, but lots of people never renewed season tickets.

2. Where is this usage in the day? How are the commuter flows looking. If they are down is something else up?

Commuter flows are down, but this is not universal (inner/suburban London has held up well for instance, longer distance Home Counties commuting is depressed). Some routes have weekend demand of +100% (pre-Covid).

2. Could we actually be in for more than 100% usage and if so why - are very high fuel prices causing people to turn to the railways?

Overall? Unlikely. Will probably stabilise at the 80-90% (pre-Covid) mark.

3. How even is this spread. I have a strong feeling the weak link in the new world is the super expensive morning and evening services. People can now swerve them by using video conferencing for early meetings or travelling off peak. Is it finally time to consign this lunacy to the bin and have more even pricing throughout the day.

You are probably correct. Could probably sell more with peak advances. That and 1st class business travel not being seen as such as necessity any more.
 

thedbdiboy

Member
Joined
10 Sep 2011
Messages
723
As I have said for years, raise some advance fares, add a bit on to off-peak fares and massively reduce peak fares. Let’s also stop calling them Anytime fares when they are open fares rebranded - and never originally intended for that purpose. That nonsense was introduced with privatisation. They are peak fares. Most people use them on a day return basis.
Given that you can never have too much pedantry in a rail fares thread I feel compelled to point out that the name 'Anytime' was introduced in 2008, a full 12 years after privatisation. Oh, and it came from Passenger Focus (now Transport Focus).
 

Horizon22

Established Member
Associate Staff
Jobs & Careers
Joined
8 Sep 2019
Messages
4,847
Location
London
But should we really be encouraging more leisure travel? Leisure demand is often wildly unpredictable. Moreover it doesn't pay its way. Since capacity is finite, surely the railway should be reserved for essential travel, not moving assorted hedonists and layabouts around the country. Doubtless this market could be better served by buses and coaches instead.

It depends. If services are getting overcrowded past 100% of capacity, it shows that fares can actually go up in the leisure market and they have been priced too low. A lot of people complain that rail fares are "too high" but frankly in some places, I'm not sure the network could cope with much more demand on the weekend.

This discussion has been had before, but extending lengths of trains at the weekend and generally improving reliability (e.g. Sunday working) is a good aim, but involves ripping up decades of operational, resourcing and maintenance orthodoxy and that's not easy to do quickly.
 

yorksrob

Veteran Member
Joined
6 Aug 2009
Messages
33,004
Location
Yorks
Spot on but not sure that many of them have cottoned onto that or is that DofT are still planted in pre covid thinking that only boils down to minimising costs. Given climate crisis and potentially fuel shortages looming especially on diesel as 25% comes from Russia (we thought it was clever to make us look green by outsourcing our carbon emissions to rest of the world) govt should be encourage public transport usage by at least simplifying fare structure.

It's a bit of both I think.

It all goes to show why electrification needs to be a priority.
 

tbtc

Veteran Member
Joined
16 Dec 2008
Messages
17,329
Location
Reston City Centre
This thread could have been written pre-Covid

The same people now arguing for

  • cheaper fares
  • removing peak restrictions
  • introducing/extending railcards in the hope that there's no such thing as the Sunk Cost Fallacy
  • the belief that there's some kind of railway "Laffer Curve", whereby cutting prices will mean an increase in revenue, because that's how people want to believe that elasticity works

..would have been arguing for exactly the same in 2019 - it's like the huge change in facts over the past two and a bit years hasn't changed people's opinions - they are steadfast in their belief that everything they used to believe is still true nowadays - about the only nod to the Brave New World of 2022 is one reference to the "DfT straightjacket" (which goes against the general notion that public control is the way forward)

Also, if we are playing the "green" card (since people like to use highlight environmental credentials to justify improved/increased railways) then you've got to understand that the first "R" in the mantra is "reduce". Cheap tickets that suit rail enthusiasts wanting to galavant about the country on a budget sound great, but it's not "reducing" anything - if we are serious about the environment then there's an argument that we should be discouraging non-essential travel
 

pemma

Veteran Member
Joined
23 Jan 2009
Messages
31,319
Location
Knutsford
The issue is revenue, more than passenger numbers.

Increasing revenue across the day - eg higher off-peak prices is another way of getting more even prices.

While annual season ticket holders provide a regular source of income, they aren't always contributing as much per journey as short distance leisure passengers.

Long distance fares are generally proportionally lower, whatever type of ticket is purchased.

if we are serious about the environment then there's an argument that we should be discouraging non-essential travel

Isn't the counter-argument that if commuter flows exist in one direction then it's both more economical and greener to incentivise passengers to use the counter-peak services, so operators aren't running a train at maximum capacity in one direction and then 75% empty for the return working?
 

jonnyfan

Member
Joined
6 Apr 2013
Messages
159
Location
Manchester
Northern has been massively boosted by leisure travel, revenue over the past few weeks has been at or above pre-pandemic levels. This is despite passenger numbers being at 85% of pre-covid. Leisure revenues are proving far more lucrative than commuter ones. Focus and resources are going to be firmly on the leisure market this coming spring and summer.
 

A0wen

On Moderation
Joined
19 Jan 2008
Messages
5,690
This thread could have been written pre-Covid

The same people now arguing for

  • cheaper fares
  • removing peak restrictions
  • introducing/extending railcards in the hope that there's no such thing as the Sunk Cost Fallacy
  • the belief that there's some kind of railway "Laffer Curve", whereby cutting prices will mean an increase in revenue, because that's how people want to believe that elasticity works

..would have been arguing for exactly the same in 2019 - it's like the huge change in facts over the past two and a bit years hasn't changed people's opinions - they are steadfast in their belief that everything they used to believe is still true nowadays - about the only nod to the Brave New World of 2022 is one reference to the "DfT straightjacket" (which goes against the general notion that public control is the way forward)

Also, if we are playing the "green" card (since people like to use highlight environmental credentials to justify improved/increased railways) then you've got to understand that the first "R" in the mantra is "reduce". Cheap tickets that suit rail enthusiasts wanting to galavant about the country on a budget sound great, but it's not "reducing" anything - if we are serious about the environment then there's an argument that we should be discouraging non-essential travel

Where's the "like" button when you need it......
 

yorksrob

Veteran Member
Joined
6 Aug 2009
Messages
33,004
Location
Yorks
Overall? Unlikely. Will probably stabilise at the 80-90% (pre-Covid) mark.

Given that pre pandemic we supposedly had around double the passenger market of the early 1990's, there would have to be serious problems with the way the railway is being run, or the prevailing political ideology not to be able to make a reasonable balance between subsidy and fare box revenue from those numbers.

It depends. If services are getting overcrowded past 100% of capacity, it shows that fares can actually go up in the leisure market and they have been priced too low. A lot of people complain that rail fares are "too high" but frankly in some places, I'm not sure the network could cope with much more demand on the weekend.

Our alternatively, there are still too many 2 carriage DMU's pootling about.

The railway needs to serve the public that needs it, particularly if we want to encourage people into public transport.
 

permarquis

Member
Joined
11 Mar 2022
Messages
64
I find this kind of discussion incredibly frustrating, because a common view which invariably comes up is that passengers are a bit of a nuisance, really, and should structure their lives at the railway's convenience.

The railway is a public service. It should exist, primarily, to serve the needs of the people who use it and the society it exists in. If the people who use it want to go on holiday more and commute less, it needs to find a way to serve those demand patterns.
 

A0wen

On Moderation
Joined
19 Jan 2008
Messages
5,690
While annual season ticket holders provide a regular source of income, they aren't always contributing as much per journey as short distance leisure passengers.

But the Season Ticket holders are paying much more overall because the short distance leisure traveller is, at best, travelling 2 or 3 times a month and usually less than that rather than 2 or 3 times a week and often more than that.
 

yorksrob

Veteran Member
Joined
6 Aug 2009
Messages
33,004
Location
Yorks
Northern has been massively boosted by leisure travel, revenue over the past few weeks has been at or above pre-pandemic levels. This is despite passenger numbers being at 85% of pre-covid. Leisure revenues are proving far more lucrative than commuter ones. Focus and resources are going to be firmly on the leisure market this coming spring and summer.

I'm both a regular commuter and a leisure travellers on Northern. I've long felt that the leisure side needed to be better served. They need to end the neglect of services which are well suited to leisure, such as the Whitby line to realise this aim.
 

A0wen

On Moderation
Joined
19 Jan 2008
Messages
5,690
I find this kind of discussion incredibly frustrating, because a common view which invariably comes up is that passengers are a bit of a nuisance, really, and should structure their lives at the railway's convenience.

The railway is a public service. It should exist, primarily, to serve the needs of the people who use it and the society it exists in. If the people who use it want to go on holiday more and commute less, it needs to find a way to serve those demand patterns.

And a public service can only offer a "one size fits all" rather than a tailored, bespoke service. True of health, education, social and council services up and down the land as well as in many other countries.

So your basic premise that the service should flex to the users simply isn't viable with a large scale public service.

The reality is regular commuters and business travellers have for donkeys years provided the bedrock of income for the railways and leisure passengers have enjoyed a subsidised service as a result. Well Covid has dealt a blow to that model and the money to cover that needs to come from somewhere and the leisure traveller as a result isn't going to continue to enjoy such a subsidised existence.
 

pemma

Veteran Member
Joined
23 Jan 2009
Messages
31,319
Location
Knutsford
But the Season Ticket holders are paying much more overall because the short distance leisure traveller is, at best, travelling 2 or 3 times a month and usually less than that rather than 2 or 3 times a week and often more than that.

I was referring specifically to the annual season ticket holders, so they will be usually travel every day except for when they're on annual leave, their sick or it's a bank holiday. However, from a business prospective why would 400 annual ticket holders be better for a train operator than 2000 leisure travellers making the same journey on a less regular basis? Leisure travellers are usually spread out so they aren't the ones causing operators to run long formations at peak times on weekdays, which are then longer than necessary for most of the rest of the day.
 

Starmill

Veteran Member
Associate Staff
Events Co-ordinator
Joined
18 May 2012
Messages
19,785
Location
Manchester
Why does a railway cost so much to run that 500 people paying £20 an hour for a long distance journey can't cover the expenses?
It's rather expensive to crew trains. The costs are significantly higher than for buses or trams.
 
Status
Not open for further replies.

Top