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New figures show the drop in Greater Anglia passengers in lockdown

PUBLISHED: 16:52 08 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:52 08 October 2020

Only a fraction of normal passengers are using London's Liverpool Street station. Picture: NETWORK RAIL

Only a fraction of normal passengers are using London's Liverpool Street station. Picture: NETWORK RAIL

Archant

The number of passengers on Greater Anglia trains during the lockdown fell to 7.7% of the 2019 figure for the same time of the year – and they were, on average, making shorter journeys according to new figures from the official rail watchdog.

At the height of the lockdown near-empty trains were travelling between Norwich and London. Picture: Nathan Long/Greater AngliaAt the height of the lockdown near-empty trains were travelling between Norwich and London. Picture: Nathan Long/Greater Anglia

The figures from the Office of Road and Rail (ORR) showed that during the second quarter of the year – from April to June – there were 1.65m journeys on Greater Anglia trains compared with 21.43m during the same period last year.

And the passenger miles figure fell to 6.4% – meaning that journeys were, on average, almost 17% shorter than they were in 2019.

MORE: Greater Anglia ran near-empty trains during the lockdown

During these months the official government position was that people should only travel by public transport if their journey was vital – to get to work, education, or a medical appointment – and this advice was not relaxed until the middle of July.

The ORR said that nationally there were 35m journeys by train during the three-month period – the lowest figure carried by the nation’s railways since the middle of the 19th century before many of today’s lines were built.

Passenger revenue between April and June was £184 million, just 6.9% of the £2.7 billion in the same period last year.

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A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said demand has since returned to around 34% of normal levels across its network.

She said: “We are doing all we can to keep people safe while travelling with us. We’re cleaning high-touch areas around our trains and stations more frequently and using powerful anti-viral cleaning products.

“We’ve invested in fogging guns which are used for spraying and sanitising large areas. We’re replenishing soap in our stations and trains more often and have installed hand sanitiser points at all stations which have a ticket office.

“We’ve put up social distancing messaging around our trains and stations which will remind people to keep apart. We’ve made our trains longer and added more services to help social distancing.”

MORE: Why travelling by train felt safe again

ORR director of railway planning and performance Graham Richards said: “This unprecedented fall in passenger numbers, the largest on record to levels last seen in the mid-19th century, has clearly had an impact on both rail usage and also ticketing revenue.

“These figures include the period of lockdown and reassuringly we’re now seeing passenger numbers slowly increase. ORR has worked closely with the industry, and continues to do so, to ensure the necessary health and safety advice and guidance is in place.”

Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions at industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said: “With the majority of company bosses planning to keep some home-working beyond the pandemic, train companies are keen to work with Government to introduce flexible season tickets that will incentivise more people safely back on to trains.

“Fares reform is a crucial component of wider industry proposals to enable train operators to better respond to the rapidly evolving needs of their local customers.”


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