Post Covid Passenger Rebound

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Llandudno

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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.
Is this anecdotal or fact?

Great news if true, I must admit loadings that I have witnessed on TfW, Northern and EMR Regional seem pretty good on the off peak trains I have been using recently, but has this something to do with timetable cuts and reliability issues of Cross Country and TransPennine Express…?
 
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deltic

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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.

My understanding is that average yield in terms of average fare paid and revenue per mile is broadly the same as pre-pandemic - although there have been 2 fare increases since then so in real terms it is less. One reason is that people have switched from heavily discounted season tickets to ad hoc peak fares which are more expensive per journey made.
 

ar10642

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Because lower fares would almost certainly reduce revenue resulting in the need for higher subsidies which come from the taxpayer, so why should others be subsidising your desire to travel by train? Particularly for non essential travel.

And if it's a family with children get a Friends & Family railcard which takes 1/3rd off the adult fare and 60% off the child fare, which in my experience means the total cost for 1 adult 1 child is less than the non discounted adult fare.
Right, reality check on that. If I want to take my family (2 kids over 5 years old) from Haywards Heath to the seaside at Eastbourne at the weekend it's £24.80 return by train with railcard discount and 2 child flat fares. There are no advances available.

The diesel is £10.80 return even at today's high prices. Parking is free. Why would I do that unless I really wanted to go by train for some other reason? So the railway gets £0 instead.

If I'm on my own I'll often do it.

That's before I get onto the ridiculous situation where my peak time fare to work in Cambridge is now something like £68 as opposed to driving at £45ish all in. I do actually pay that premium because it's a crap drive but to most people the economics of that do not make sense at all.
 

Ken H

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One wonders how much demand is supressed by the mask thing i have a colleague who refuses to go into thecoffice because its 'unsafe on the train and bus because they are not wearing masks'. But there
are others who are detered by being harangued to wear a mask and stay away.
 

A0wen

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Right, reality check on that. If I want to take my family (2 kids over 5 years old) from Haywards Heath to the seaside at Eastbourne at the weekend it's £24.80 return by train with railcard discount and 2 child flat fares. There are no advances available.

The diesel is £10.80 return even at today's high prices. Parking is free. Why would I do that unless I really wanted to go by train for some other reason? So the railway gets £0 instead.

Fine - so the car is cheaper. That's not a justification to make the train cheaper and make everybody else subsidise your journey even more just because you'd prefer to travel by train.

On the other journey - Haywards Heath to Cambridge, there will be a journey time plus tolls at Dartford to consider (£5) and presumably parking when you arrive at Cambridge?
 
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TravelDream

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Fine - so the car is cheaper. That's not a justification to make the train cheaper and make everybody else subsidise your journey even more just because you'd prefer to travel by train.

We are never going to have a green revolution whilst public transport is both more expensive and less convenient than driving.
For our children's sake we need to get people out of their cars.
The fact that some of the supposed 'pro-rail' people here can't see it is incredibly worrying.
 

ar10642

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Fine - so the car is cheaper. That's not a justification to make the train cheaper and make everybody else subsidise your journey even more just because you'd prefer to travel by train.

On the other journey - Haywards Heath to Cambridge, there will be a journey time plus tolls at Dartford to consider (£5) and presumably parking when you arrive at Cambridge?
Yes the £45 is factoring all that in.

Every train journey is subsidised anyway, it will never pay for itself all the time it exists. Why then encourage car travel by pricing the otherwise empty seats at a point that people can't afford it?

Ask anyone why they don't travel by train - number 1 reason will be it's too expensive.
 

Class 170101

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Right, reality check on that. If I want to take my family (2 kids over 5 years old) from Haywards Heath to the seaside at Eastbourne at the weekend it's £24.80 return by train with railcard discount and 2 child flat fares. There are no advances available.

The diesel is £10.80 return even at today's high prices. Parking is free. Why would I do that unless I really wanted to go by train for some other reason? So the railway gets £0 instead.
This I'd agree is a non-starter for the you although it could be considered as part of the day out, going by train, however I think petrol prices not rising in line with prices over the last few years is poor at the moment especially as we are now in a climate crisis / emergency, call it what you will. Indeed I disagree witht the fuel price reduction announced in the budget for all, 5p in the pound wasn't it, and should have been better targeted.

If I'm on my own I'll often do it.

That's before I get onto the ridiculous situation where my peak time fare to work in Cambridge is now something like £68 as opposed to driving at £45ish all in. I do actually pay that premium because it's a crap drive but to most people the economics of that do not make sense at all.
I wouldn't want to drive around the M25, car park. Clearly you could work on your journey from Haywards Heath to Cambridge and back. However in both cases your car journey prices it appears only fuel is factored in, what about insurance, wear and tear, MOT, tax etc?

One wonders how much demand is supressed by the mask thing i have a colleague who refuses to go into thecoffice because its 'unsafe on the train and bus because they are not wearing masks'. But there
are others who are detered by being harangued to wear a mask and stay away.
I stayed away due to masks, they made me ill wearing one. Never been harassed for not wearing one.
 
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If public transport is ever more heavily subsidied than it currently is, the meltdown that some people will have on this forum will be absolutely hilarious. Fair enough for not agreeing with increased subsidy, but I still too this day am amazed that so many people who spend a significant amount of time posting on a railway forum, seem to be so against measures that would allow the railways to continue to grow.

It does lead to good discussion the different views, which is nice to have but it still does and will continue to baffle me probably for the rest of my life to be honest.
 

tbtc

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This kind of short-sighted thinking is exactly what I mean. The railway shouldn't be in the business of telling people when they should or shouldn't want to travel. It should be in the business of finding out when people want to travel, and serving that

The railway can only serve some markets

Sometimes demand exceeds supply on certain lines at certain times, which is why we have peak fares - that's not telling people not to travel, it's just dealing with the reality that we don't have capacity (in terms of carriages or paths or station length) to cope with the absolute peaks in demand

And why wouldn’t people argue for cheaper fares (it would be good if the railways could undercut the airlines and the private motorcar) or for there to be less restrictions

Of course people on here are going to argue for those things - I'd be delighted if my ticket prices were lower and I didn't have to deal with restrictions - sure

But it's the predictability of it all - it's like people have certain paragraphs saved in a Word document so that they can copy/paste in the same things on every thread

  • Significantly cheaper fares
  • No time restrictions
  • Longer trains
  • Increased Government subsidy
  • Abolish ROSCOs
  • Electrify everything
  • Invest massively in rural branch lines
  • Large and consistent railcard discounts
  • Nationwide railcards available to everyone
  • Cheaper railcards too
  • We might as well give away tickets on quiet trains for "pennies" because it's better than them being empty

...all of which have their merits but it just feels knee-jerk - people aren't looking at how to deal with the post-Covid environment (which is meant to be the subject of the thread)

Is there a short term boost to "leisure" numbers whilst people visit the friends/family/ cities that they've not been able to see over the past couple of years (and whilst there have been restrictions on some foreign holidays etc)? How much of this is sustainable? People don't seem interested in looking at the new realities, just in banging on about the same things they always always argue for

Season ticket revenue is not as important to the railways as some seem to think. Pre-pandemic it accounted for about a quarter of total revenues

It's still important - not only does it make up a large number but it's been fairly predictable demand, fairly straightforward, and fairly cheap to collect (direct debit, rather than needing lots of individual transactions each year)

Right, reality check on that. If I want to take my family (2 kids over 5 years old) from Haywards Heath to the seaside at Eastbourne at the weekend it's £24.80 return by train with railcard discount and 2 child flat fares. There are no advances available.

The diesel is £10.80 return even at today's high prices. Parking is free. Why would I do that unless I really wanted to go by train for some other reason? So the railway gets £0 instead

So that's taking a round trip of about fifty miles, for four people, a train station less than half a mile's walk from the beach... for less than twenty five quid?

That doesn't sound a terrible example

Sure, you can drive for less - if you travel by train then someone else is driving, someone else is doing the cleaning, someone else is dealing with traffic signals and vehicle maintenance and all of the other jobs that we have on the railway - you can do all of those things yourself and save a few quid

Similarly it's generally cheaper to cook a meal at home than eat that meal in a restaurant, where someone else is doing the cooking, someone else is clearing the table etc etc - same applies

As usual on these kind of threads, I'd ask the question of "if you think that the train fare looks expensive then what level of fare would be appropriate?" - are you saying that a fifty mile round trip for four people should cost closer to a tenner?

We are never going to have a green revolution whilst public transport is both more expensive and less convenient than driving.
For our children's sake we need to get people out of their cars.
The fact that some of the supposed 'pro-rail' people here can't see it is incredibly worrying.

The green revolution is staying at home and doing gardening every weekend.

I agree with @JonathanH here - people forget the first word in "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" - lots of people seem to want to play the Green card whilst also having lots of leisure travel - I'm going to pretend to be "green" to argue for improved trains but I still want to travel thousands of miles a year gallivanting around the country etc etc

What's the alternative? Presumably @TravelDream wants train fares for an entire family to be no more than the shared petrol/diesel cost of that journey, but how do you make train travel as convenient as opening your car door and turning the ignition? Direct trains from everywhere without more than a five minute wait?

If that makes me look "anti-rail" then fair enough, but we have to recognise that the car will often be much cheaper for an entire family and often be more convenient too
 

pemma

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It's still important - not only does it make up a large number but it's been fairly predictable demand, fairly straightforward, and fairly cheap to collect (direct debit, rather than needing lots of individual transactions each year)

Is it simple though? With the exception of weeklies season ticket holders need either:
1. A photocard issued by a ticket office plus a season ticket issued by a ticket office.
2. A smartcard issued by the TOC plus access to a device to load tickets on to the smart card.

Northern seem to have a lot of ticket machines at stations with smart card readers, while it's rare to see someone actually using the smart card reader. That must have required a high level of investment. Ticket inspectors also need to be equipped with suitable devices for scanning these. When smart card season tickets were new some conductors didn't bother scanning them claiming it overheated their phones, so possibly thousands of new phones had to be acquired to scan these properly?

Then if a season ticket holder is made redundant or changes their job there's a manual process to switch or refund a season ticket.


which is why we have peak fares - that's not telling people not to travel, it's just dealing with the reality that we don't have capacity

I think that's a bit oversimplified. Often morning peak trains have plenty of spare seats on leaving their origin station. There's no need to discourage someone from travelling two or three stations from the origin station at 7am, even if they may need to discourage non-essential travel for those wishing to travel to the destination station.

From Knutsford station it seems if you want to travel to Stockport at 08:45 you have to buy a peak time ticket but if you want to travel to a destination on the TransPennine or Avanti network then the 08:45 train is good even if you have an off-peak ticket. That seems to be saying we still have limited capacity at that time but it's not so limited that we should discourage passengers making longer journeys.
 
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TravelDream

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What's the alternative? Presumably @TravelDream wants train fares for an entire family to be no more than the shared petrol/diesel cost of that journey, but how do you make train travel as convenient as opening your car door and turning the ignition? Direct trains from everywhere without more than a five minute wait?

There's no simple solution. I don't think anyone could sensibly say there is.
I never said that trains should run 'everywhere' at a five-minute frequency. That's obviously madness.

Obviously the greenest thing to do is to stay at home or to walk everywhere. But that isn't realistic.
Something does need to be done to have fewer people travel by car and more by public transport.

There is currently a total disconnect between the government's 'green spending' and on public transport subsidies. That doesn't make any sense to me and seems to go against common sense.
 

ar10642

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The railway can only serve some markets

Sometimes demand exceeds supply on certain lines at certain times, which is why we have peak fares - that's not telling people not to travel, it's just dealing with the reality that we don't have capacity (in terms of carriages or paths or station length) to cope with the absolute peaks in demand



Of course people on here are going to argue for those things - I'd be delighted if my ticket prices were lower and I didn't have to deal with restrictions - sure

But it's the predictability of it all - it's like people have certain paragraphs saved in a Word document so that they can copy/paste in the same things on every thread

  • Significantly cheaper fares
  • No time restrictions
  • Longer trains
  • Increased Government subsidy
  • Abolish ROSCOs
  • Electrify everything
  • Invest massively in rural branch lines
  • Large and consistent railcard discounts
  • Nationwide railcards available to everyone
  • Cheaper railcards too
  • We might as well give away tickets on quiet trains for "pennies" because it's better than them being empty

...all of which have their merits but it just feels knee-jerk - people aren't looking at how to deal with the post-Covid environment (which is meant to be the subject of the thread)

Is there a short term boost to "leisure" numbers whilst people visit the friends/family/ cities that they've not been able to see over the past couple of years (and whilst there have been restrictions on some foreign holidays etc)? How much of this is sustainable? People don't seem interested in looking at the new realities, just in banging on about the same things they always always argue for



It's still important - not only does it make up a large number but it's been fairly predictable demand, fairly straightforward, and fairly cheap to collect (direct debit, rather than needing lots of individual transactions each year)



So that's taking a round trip of about fifty miles, for four people, a train station less than half a mile's walk from the beach... for less than twenty five quid?

That doesn't sound a terrible example

Sure, you can drive for less - if you travel by train then someone else is driving, someone else is doing the cleaning, someone else is dealing with traffic signals and vehicle maintenance and all of the other jobs that we have on the railway - you can do all of those things yourself and save a few quid

Similarly it's generally cheaper to cook a meal at home than eat that meal in a restaurant, where someone else is doing the cooking, someone else is clearing the table etc etc - same applies

As usual on these kind of threads, I'd ask the question of "if you think that the train fare looks expensive then what level of fare would be appropriate?" - are you saying that a fifty mile round trip for four people should cost closer to a tenner?





I agree with @JonathanH here - people forget the first word in "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" - lots of people seem to want to play the Green card whilst also having lots of leisure travel - I'm going to pretend to be "green" to argue for improved trains but I still want to travel thousands of miles a year gallivanting around the country etc etc

What's the alternative? Presumably @TravelDream wants train fares for an entire family to be no more than the shared petrol/diesel cost of that journey, but how do you make train travel as convenient as opening your car door and turning the ignition? Direct trains from everywhere without more than a five minute wait?

If that makes me look "anti-rail" then fair enough, but we have to recognise that the car will often be much cheaper for an entire family and often be more convenient too

Why should it be cheaper to drive? Honestly feel like people don't want people to use the train at all here, I don't get why.
 

Bald Rick

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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.

that may be true (I don’t know), but it is certainly true that almost every northern service loses money on margin cost, and whilst the extra revenue is welcome, all it is doing is reducing losses. Being very hard nosed about it, on a purely financial basis it would be better not to run the train. I am not advocating that !


Season ticket revenue is not as important to the railways as some seem to think. Pre-pandemic it accounted for about a quarter of total revenues.

it’s true that seasons accounted for about a quarter of farebox revenue; nevertheless when you lose 70% of it that leaves a very, very big hole in the income line (over a billion and a half). To put it in context, to make up the gap would require the revenue from off peak tickets to be around 50% higher than Pre covid.
 

A0wen

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If public transport is ever more heavily subsidied than it currently is, the meltdown that some people will have on this forum will be absolutely hilarious. Fair enough for not agreeing with increased subsidy, but I still too this day am amazed that so many people who spend a significant amount of time posting on a railway forum, seem to be so against measures that would allow the railways to continue to grow.

It does lead to good discussion the different views, which is nice to have but it still does and will continue to baffle me probably for the rest of my life to be honest.

Many of us are taxpayers and recognise that such subsidy will result in higher tax bills and fail to see why we should subsidise people choosing to gallivant around the country marking off journeys they want (not need) to make which seems to be quite alot of the posters around here.
 

JonathanH

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Why should it be cheaper to drive? Honestly feel like people don't want people to use the train at all here, I don't get why.
You aren't paying someone to do the driving for you when you go by car.

Also, the costs of road maintenance and infrastructure are spread over more users.

As for all this trains are really busy comment, there are five people in the 98 seats in the carriage I am currently sitting in.
 

A0wen

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Why should it be cheaper to drive? Honestly feel like people don't want people to use the train at all here, I don't get why.

A better question is why shouldn't it be cheaper to drive.

Railways are incredibly expensive to build, operate and maintain which means those costs have to be covered somehow. And if you think more subsidy is "the right thing to do" perhaps you could explain why taxpayers should be on the hook for part funding 10-20% of journeys and not the other 80-90%.
 

ar10642

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You aren't paying someone to do the driving for you when you go by car.

Also, the costs of road maintenance and infrastructure are spread over more users.

As for all this trains are really busy comment, there are five people in the 98 seats in the carriage I am currently sitting in.

Driving is not that hard. Why do you think your train is empty?

A better question is why shouldn't it be cheaper to drive.

Railways are incredibly expensive to build, operate and maintain which means those costs have to be covered somehow. And if you think more subsidy is "the right thing to do" perhaps you could explain why taxpayers should be on the hook for part funding 10-20% of journeys and not the other 80-90%.
This is just the argument for closing railways altogether. It's a view I guess but not one I expected here.
 

JonathanH

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Why do you think your train is empty?
I suggest the following
* Middle of the day on a Saturday.
* Stopping service on a route with a faster service on the opposite half hour.
* Doesnt really go anywhere people would want to go today.
* People have better things to do and only use trains in the South East to go to London.

I doubt there would be many more people aboard if the journey was free. Walking through, there are 38 people aboard.
 
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Saying the green argument is just people sitting at home in their garden is a complete over exaggeration as well.

There is a valid argument for reducing travel, but certain posters on this forum whenever that argument is used for higher public transport subisy take it to the extreme and just say no one should travel.

Again, I'll never understand it.
 

A0wen

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This is just the argument for closing railways altogether. It's a view I guess but not one I expected here.

Not at all.

It is about recognising where rail is a sensible option and acknowledging that rail isn't the answer to all the questions. Tellingly a number of the posters on here (not me, for the record) who keep pointing this out are also people who work or have worked in the rail industry.

Saying the green argument is just people sitting at home in their garden is a complete over exaggeration as well.

There is a valid argument for reducing travel, but certain posters on this forum whenever that argument is used for higher public transport subisy take it to the extreme and just say no one should travel.

Again, I'll never understand it.

No, what I'm saying is increasing subsidy means increasing taxes and I for one can't see why I should pay more in tax (as I inevitably would) to subsidise the gallivantings and leisure trips of others - if you want to scratch off random bits of track or go to the seaside, be prepared to pay the going rate for it, not for somebody else to sub it for you.
 
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Not at all.

It is about recognising where rail is a sensible option and acknowledging that rail isn't the answer to all the questions. Tellingly a number of the posters on here (not me, for the record) who keep pointing this out are also people who work or have worked in the rail industry.
And I do agree with your second point to an extent. However you and some other users, who tellingly don't work in the rail industry take it to another level of extremity that view, which is something I personally don't understand.

Not at all.

It is about recognising where rail is a sensible option and acknowledging that rail isn't the answer to all the questions. Tellingly a number of the posters on here (not me, for the record) who keep pointing this out are also people who work or have worked in the rail industry.



No, what I'm saying is increasing subsidy means increasing taxes and I for one can't see why I should pay more in tax (as I inevitably would) to subsidise the gallivantings and leisure trips of others - if you want to scratch off random bits of track or go to the seaside, be prepared to pay the going rate for it, not for sonebody else to sub it for you.
To be honest, I'd happily have my taxes pay for subsiding gallivantings and leisure trips. Especially in the day and age where mental health is so important, and you can't put a price on that in my view. Most people wouldn't which I can understand.

I think we just both have very different views on this, so we will have to agree to disagree.

Good discussion though.
 

permarquis

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It is about recognising where rail is a sensible option and acknowledging that rail isn't the answer to all the questions.
But nobody is saying it's the answer to "all" the questions. Most of us are just arguing that the railway is a public service and shouldn't throw up its hands and give up because the population no longer travels in a way that suits existing assumptions. Things have changed, so the railway needs to be dynamic and adjust to that.

It would be an utterly bizarre state of affairs if the railway, which exists to move around people and things, responded to this change by huffily abolishing itself in large areas of the country. They'll deny it, but there are some in the industry whose obstinate mindset boils down to "if we can't have the railway our way, you can't have a railway at all" which is beyond silly.

No, what I'm saying is increasing subsidy means increasing taxes and I for one can't see why I should pay more in tax (as I inevitably would) to subsidise the gallivantings and leisure trips of others - if you want to scratch off random bits of track or go to the seaside, be prepared to pay the going rate for it, not for somebody else to sub it for you.
Ah, this tired old chestnut again. Why should I subsidise healthcare for smokers if I don't smoke? Why should I subsidise public parks if I have a nice big garden? Why should I subsidise libraries if I buy all my books? Because these things are public goods, as is the railway.

Now, I do agree with you that passengers should make a contribution, because the railway isn't universally available or accessible. But it should absolutely be subsidised sufficiently for it to provide a dynamic, high quality service that serves its passengers well throughout the country.
 
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Ah, this tired old chestnut again. Why should I subsidise healthcare for smokers if I don't smoke? Why should I subsidise public parks if I have a nice big garden? Why should I subsidise libraries if I buy all my books? Because these things are public goods, as is the railway.

Now, I do agree with you that passengers should make a contribution, because the railway isn't universally available or accessible. But it should absolutely be subsidised sufficiently for it to provide a dynamic, high quality service that serves its passengers well throughout the country.
We should the end the thread now. Exactly what I mean as well, I just can't articulate as well as you can. Brilliant post.
 

LeeLivery

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And I do agree with your second point to an extent. However you and some other users, who tellingly don't work in the rail industry take it to another level of extremity that view, which is something I personally don't understand.


To be honest, I'd happily have my taxes pay for subsiding gallivantings and leisure trips. Especially in the day and age where mental health is so important, and you can't put a price on that in my view. Most people wouldn't which I can understand.

I think we just both have very different views on this, so we will have to agree to disagree.

Good discussion though.

Well, this. It's basic socio-economic study - mobility provides huge benefits to a population. It's one reason, marginalised/disadvantaged communities up and down the country have had get-away days for decades. Yes, it's a 'nice day out', but it also helps mental health, broadens knowledge and integrates people. It's the same justification as to why buses are free for kids in London and museums are often also free entry.

I know very well, that there are people who are often feeling down or are just bored, will get out of the house, jump on the train and go somewhere. It could be to have a day out or to visit friends & family. This alone probably saves the NHS, Police & Councils millions. Many people don't even have a car, so rail/bus is their only real option. Buses are terrible outside of the cities, and with higher pollution and traffic, why on earth should rail travel be discouraged off peak?

Short-sighted ideology and increasingly feels like England only knows the value of money and not society.
 

Djgr

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One wonders how much demand is supressed by the mask thing i have a colleague who refuses to go into thecoffice because its 'unsafe on the train and bus because they are not wearing masks'. But there
are others who are detered by being harangued to wear a mask and stay away.
For most people masks are irrelevant. In my day to day life I am more likely to see a four leaf clover.
 

pemma

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Ah, this tired old chestnut again. Why should I subsidise healthcare for smokers if I don't smoke? Why should I subsidise public parks if I have a nice big garden? Why should I subsidise libraries if I buy all my books? Because these things are public goods, as is the railway.

Now, I do agree with you that passengers should make a contribution, because the railway isn't universally available or accessible. But it should absolutely be subsidised sufficiently for it to provide a dynamic, high quality service that serves its passengers well throughout the country.

Someone who never uses the train might take ill tomorrow and get prescribed a course of medication preventing them from driving. Then they might actually be glad there is a train. Even if they don't take ill they might be glad the railways help reduce congestion on the roads, especially if their evening commute goes near a major football ground.
 

ar10642

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I suggest the following
* Middle of the day on a Saturday.
* Stopping service on a route with a faster service on the opposite half hour.
* Doesnt really go anywhere people would want to go today.
* People have better things to do and only use trains in the South East to go to London.

I doubt there would be many more people aboard if the

Well, this. It's basic socio-economic study - mobility provides huge benefits to a population. It's one reason, marginalised/disadvantaged communities up and down the country have had get-away days for decades. Yes, it's a 'nice day out', but it also helps mental health, broadens knowledge and integrates people. It's the same justification as to why buses are free for kids in London and museums are often also free entry.

I know very well, that there are people who are often feeling down or are just bored, will get out of the house, jump on the train and go somewhere. It could be to have a day out or to visit friends & family. This alone probably saves the NHS, Police & Councils millions. Many people don't even have a car, so rail/bus is their only real option. Buses are terrible outside of the cities, and with higher pollution and traffic, why on earth should rail travel be discouraged off peak?

Short-sighted ideology and increasingly feels like England only knows the value of money and not society.
Exactly this. My argument is that people *will* travel, whether people on here think it is gallivanting or frivolous or whatever. I personally think we'd get more of them out of cars and onto trains if the fare was more competitive vs fuel.

If the railway can't even vaguely compete on a direct service between two towns for a family of 4 (not exactly an unusual setup surely?) then something's wrong.
 

Annetts key

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… - people aren't looking at how to deal with the post-Covid environment (which is meant to be the subject of the thread)
Part of the problem here is that absolutely no one knows what the medium or long term post COVID19
environment will look like. There have of course been plenty of people lining up to talk about their predictions. Including those that want the amount of taxes poured into the railways to be reduced (as well as others wanting more than was the case before COVID19 came along).

The railways never saw the increasing demand that occurred some years prior to COVID19 coming. How many predicted that gas, oil and electricity prices would skyrocket? Or that we would have a war in Europe?
All this shows the limitations of our ability to predict the future. There was always a likelihood that demand may slow, stop or even decline.

I personally think that at least six months should pass from the date of the legal restrictions being lifted (in each country/region as appropriate) before then looking at the current passenger numbers and current fare income.

The high energy prices, inflation and the amount of money that is available to spend by people may well also have an impact on how many people use public transport. If you have to sell your car (assuming you don’t have another, don’t replace it with something else and still need to travel further than you care to walk), you have to use public transport.

Is there a short term boost to "leisure" numbers whilst people visit the friends/family/ cities that they've not been able to see over the past couple of years (and whilst there have been restrictions on some foreign holidays etc)? How much of this is sustainable?
Again, this is hard to predict with any certainty. Was there already a trend before COVID19 for an increasing amount of "leisure" travel on the railways? Habits change. Some people having discovered or rediscovered the railways as a suitable way to travel may decide to use it more than in the past. People’s priorities may have changed. Who knows. So again, we need to give it time to see what happens.

I agree with @JonathanH here - people forget the first word in "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle" - lots of people seem to want to play the Green card whilst also having lots of leisure travel - I'm going to pretend to be "green" to argue for improved trains but I still want to travel thousands of miles a year gallivanting around the country etc etc

Yes, in terms of being environmentally friendly, it is definitely "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle in that order. So although it’s not what the railways or the government (in terms of paying money to the railways) want, environmentally it’s better not to travel if you can.

However, that’s not realistic for a lot of people. So obviously the next best thing is for people to use public transport, preferably a type that uses an energy efficient and environmentally acceptable power source.

We also live in a ‘free’ country where people can choose if and how to travel. And (most) people like being social, which means meeting others in person…

As well as looking at income, the railways are already looking to reduce the size of the workforce. But for some strange reason, more effort is going into reducing the amount of maintenance and the numbers of front line staff rather than the ‘white collar’ staff.

And the railways don’t appear to be making anything like enough effort to become more energy efficient themselves. Finding ways of becoming more energy efficient so that energy bills can be reduced at a time when prices are rising seems to be logical to me.
 
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