Will Greater Anglia cut services as passenger numbers fall in lockdown?

Greater Anglia train

Greater Anglia may reduce the number of trains it runs during the third lockdown. - Credit: Paul Geater

Speculation is rising that the number of trains running on the region's rail network could be reduced because of the third lockdown and a dramatic fall in the number of passengers again.

During last spring's lockdown a number of trains were withdrawn by Greater Anglia as the number of passengers fell to just 7% of pre-lockdown levels.

Empty train

Trains are now running with very few passengers again - during the first lockdown nearly empty services were running. - Credit: Nathan Long

As the number of passengers increased during the summer and new measures were brought in to make rail travel safer - including space markings at stations and enhanced cleaning of trains and stations - most services were restored.

The government is providing billions of pounds to the rail industry to keep services running for essential travel - but the advice is to find other ways of getting about if at all possible.

The Department of Transport is working with the rail industry to co-ordinate services and it is understood that up to 50% of services in some parts of the country - mainly commuter trains - could be taken out of timetables during this winter's lockdown.

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And services on some routes may never return to pre-pandemic levels - there are doubts whether the pre-Covid numbers of commuters will return for many years as many workers have got used to being based at home.

A Greater Anglia spokeswoman said: “There are no immediate changes to our current timetable. However, we are continuing to monitor passenger numbers and we will review our plans in the light of Monday’s announcement, to assess the right level of service provision over the coming weeks and months, as we have done throughout the pandemic.

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“If that review leads to any service changes, we will communicate those details to customers.  Our aim will always be to provide a good service for those who are travelling by train.”

A DfT spokeswoman said: “We will work with operators in the coming days to assess the right level of service provision as we have done throughout the pandemic.

“While we cannot predict the long-term effect of Covid-19 on travel patterns, it is critical that we ensure the railway can respond quickly to changes in passenger demand whilst supporting economic recovery.”

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