Greater Anglia more reliable - but commuters might not return

Greater Anglia train at Lowestoft

Rail bosses believe more people will want to travel for leisure after the pandemic. - Credit: Greater Anglia

Rail bosses in East Anglia are celebrating more good news with further improvements to punctuality and reliability - but the industry is preparing for a new post-Covid era when it can no longer rely on commuters to boost its profits.

The latest figures from the government watchdog the Office of Rail and Road (ORR) showed that during the third quarter of the year 2020-21 almost 82% of Greater Anglia trains arrived at their destination within a minute of their scheduled time. During the same quarter the previous year the figure was 64%.

Train cancellations were cut by 40% - but since the start of the first lockdown, which began just before the beginning of the current financial year, there has been a significant reduction in the number of trains run.

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said: “The rail industry is gradually moving towards ‘on time’ as a punctuality measure to give passengers a clearer understanding of how well their services are performing. It measures the percentage of recorded station stops arrived at early or less than one minute after the scheduled time.

“We are very pleased that our relentless focus on improving performance has resulted in strong punctuality figures and that we have continued to provide a safe and reliable service for customers who need to travel.


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“Current Government advice is to stay at home unless you need to travel for permitted reasons including work and medical appointments."

While rail companies are concentrating on running services during the lockdown, the industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) is looking at the future of the industry,.

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It expects the number of commuters to remain lower than that before the pandemic even after restrictions are eased as millions of people are able to work from home for at least part of the week.

A spokesman for the RDG said the industry was looking hard at developing a new fare structure that reflected the fact that the number making the traditional five-day a week commute had been falling even before the pandemic hit.

He said: "The industry will have to reflect the fact that many traditional commuters are now only travelling one or two days a week. That could mean a need for less capacity at some peak times."

However, traffic planners did believe that the number of leisure journeys and non-commuting business trips could rapidly recover and become increasingly important after restrictions are eased.

That could be good news for local lines which could see an increase in passengers wanting to get around on a relatively green mode of transport in the future.


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