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Author Topic: (2 of 3) Our passenger community - planning for the future  (Read 219 times)
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« on: March 26, 2020, 01:04:09 am »

This is the second post in my trilogy.

The first set out how the world is changing, and how that will effect UK travel and transport:

This second post looks towards outcomes once we get past the pandemic, but still face climate change

The final post looks at how we partner during the current times to save people, safeguard resources, prior to working together to build something better for our new world:

So - in a month, in a season, in a year, I emerge from my burrow, look around, take in the smells of spring, summer, autumn or winter and think "what do I want to do now?"   Chances are that if I was a five day a week commuter, I won't want to face that same journey on a daily basis - there were benefits working from home.  Chances are that if I was travelling to Uni for the odd lecture then working in the library that I'ld prefer to bunch the lectures and travel less frequently.   Chances are that my business meetings have to a greater or lesser extend moved online and the question is "do I really need to go there" and indeed "did I actually need to go to such meetings in recent years".

Leisure travel will require a confidence that people can travel - and socialise - in safety. I suspect that such travel will come back with a few brave souls initially, and may then take off; I'm not going to suggest whether the outcome will be a lower level than we're used to, or a resurgence over, above and beyond what we've ever seen as people appreciate what they had temporarily lost.  I would suggest that leisure travel journeys may tend to be shorter than of late - stepping back to the times when Swindon shut down for a week and everyone went to Weston, Malvern or Weymouth, rather than spending time in Ayia Napa or Pokhara, Prague or Orlando.

The New World Order questions the need for extended resources. Will another runway be needed at our largest UK airport?  Will the main road from London to the West of England need to have an increased capacity brought about by tunnelling a dual carriageway through part of Wiltshire?  Will long distance travel from London to Birmingham, Manchester and Leeds grow back to the extent that extra capacity-busting lines are needed?  Just asking.

Let me speculate on where we might wish to end up.

Hourly trains from London to Bristol, London to Plymouth (alternate Penzance), London to Cardiff (alternate Swansea) and London to Worcester, each calling key stations from London and becoming most stations further along the way.   Hourly trains London to Didcot, London to Westbury, London to Oxford calling at most stations which terminate at their outer stations just before the 'further' train calls there.

Hourly trains, Bristol to Solent area, Devon to Birmingham (and probably beyond) via Bristol, South Coast to Birmingham (via Reading and Oxford). Characterised by having a few extra stops along the way compared to current services.

With few exceptions, local trains at least hourly / half hourly within "travel to work" areas, ensuring service to all stations. 

Although I question the need for broader long distance infrastructure, and for superfast trains on journeys where the best current journey has been under 3 hours, there is justification for long distance trains for journeys where an airline flight has dominated in recent years.   I speculate on much of what is, or isn't, needed in terms of capacity; it rather depends on whether the United Kingdom remains united, and whether our relationship with countries on the other side of the English Channel encourages volume travel or not.

Where I would encourage infrastructure improvements is at the local and regional level; schemes in the pipeline for Portishead, Tavistock, the Henbury loop make sense, and a reduced long distance service count will free up space for local trains. The local train from Weston-super-mare should once again be able to reach Bristol Parkway for longer distance connections, and not terminate one station short, for example.

Buses (shock, horror!) to include connecting with trains at stations, and with train tickets to automatically be "plusbus".  Interchangeable train and bus tickets where a journey can be made by either mode.  Buses to run early morning into the evening on most routes; in places, heavy route revision would be useful to move buses from bring OAP only services back to general community service.

Fare and fare systems to be single pricing level - no peak / off peak - with loyalty railcards offering 25%, 50%, 75% reductions based on fee paid for card.  Probably some short distance season tickets needed too.  Some advance fares available too, to help balance load.

The final post looks at how we partner during the current times to save people, safeguard resources, prior to working together to build something better for our new world. It is at

Coffee Shop Admin, Vice Chair of Melksham Rail User Group, and on the board of TravelWatch SouthWest.
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