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Author Topic: RailFuture - "Time for Whitehall to drop advice to avoid trains"  (Read 418 times)
grahame
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« on: June 20, 2020, 01:47:00 pm »

A RailFuture Press Release

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The railways of Britain have undoubtedly been through a traumatic period as a result of the Covid 19 lockdown.  “There’s now an urgent need to get the rail system working effectively to support economic recovery” said Chris Page, chairman of the campaign group Railfuture.  “We’re concerned that the rail industry and Government are not giving this matter the attention it deserves. Cities in Britain depend on effective public transport to function and many people can’t return to work given the present levels of service and various restrictions imposed.  We’ve come up with a five-point plan to restore confidence in rail:

“One: The full train service should be restored as soon as possible. This will create capacity to minimise risks of overcrowding.”

“Two: There has to be a consistent application of distance rules across all transport modes. If it safe to effectively ignore the 2 metre rule on aeroplanes, why is this not acceptable on trains?”

“Three: There should be an agreed national standard on hygiene levels,for example,  sanitisation of surfaces, which should be made fully public. This would not only help protect users, but would restore confidence in using the rail system.”

“Four: The rail industry should urgently look at best practice elsewhere and adopt this. New York appears to be adopting a much more balanced position on social distancing for example, as is much of mainland Europe.”

“And five: The restrictions on “necessary journeys only” should be eased as soon as train services are restored to normal levels. It’s inconsistent to allow the public to engage in leisure activity, but not allow rail to play a part in that.”

“This is not about protecting the bottom line of the rail industry, although obviously we want the industry to thrive and be economically sustainable. There’s a real risk of damage to the credibility of public transport, which has huge implications for the environment. The long-term effects of climate change have not gone away because of the present crisis. If rail use declines and use of private cars increases as a result of the actions taken by the rail industry and Government, the long-term consequences of this will be serious. There has to be a balanced approach to this, and getting the railway back to normal is a key component to economic and environmental health.”

“Rail has an important part to play in supporting the wider economy, and that in turn helps to pay for the health service.   Railways can help to sustain retail in our towns and cities now that the restrictions have been eased there, and support tourism in our national parks and seaside towns. Every human activity has risks, and we recognise that the virus is still out there, but while there are inconsistent standards applied, and widespread flouting of the rules in non-transport environments, the restrictions on rail transport seem disproportionate.”
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grahame
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« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2020, 04:08:50 pm »

From City Metric yesterday

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This story might sound familiar: A collapse in ridership during the Covid pandemic has destroyed the finances of an entire transport network. Now those who run that network are demanding an injection of public money – or, they say, its future viability is in question.

This time, the network in the spotlight is Britain’s railways. Over the past three months, the rails have seen just 30 million passengers. Compare that to 439 million in the same time period last year – a drop of 93%.

Later in the article ...

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And people still aren’t travelling. The emergency measures agreements are due to run until September. The TOCs are now calling on the government to extend the arrangements by another 12 to 18 months.

Ministers essentially have three options. They can accede to the TOCs’ demands, which means continuing to pour money into subsidising rail services. They can loosen social distancing rules, and encourage people to return to rail travel (changing the guidance to allow people to stand within one metre of each other, rather than the current two, would allow trains to run at 45% of normal capacity, rather than the current 15-20%). Or they can accept that some services are going to stop running.

It’s an unenviable choice. But it’s one which is currently facing other transport networks, too. Transport for London has already received a £1.6bn bailout, which is meant to last until October. If passenger numbers aren’t returning to normal by then, the government will face a choice between pumping more money in, or accepting reductions in services. Across the Atlantic, meanwhile, the US’s Amtrak rail network has announced plans to slash services nationwide in response to pandemic-led falls in passenger numbers.

What all of these networks have in common is that, in normal times, they’re funded largely via passengers. The farebox recovery ratio – the proportion of operating expenses funded by fares – is around 95% for Amtrak, 94% for London’s Overground and DLR services, and 134% for the Underground. (I can’t find an equivalent figure for the national railways, but the reason fares rise ahead of inflation each year is because the government has been reducing subsidies.)

That’s great in normal times – but these are not normal times. Now it’s those networks that were always reliant on subsidies that stand to emerge from the pandemic in the best financial shape.

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« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2020, 04:27:04 pm »

That previous article refers to %age from Farebox and that the author couldn't find a National Rail Figure.   Yeah - tell me about it by the time you start looking at franchise premiums and payments in and out, and then start comparing lines as different as Charing Cross to Sevenoaks with lines from Ayr to Stranraer.  But let's have a go.

https://www.transport-network.co.uk/Passengers-take-on-more-of-the-costs-of-running-rail/14754

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The ORR annual rail funding report revealed that the £9.7bn of rail funding from passenger fares represents an increase of 1.1% from 2015-16, while the £3.4bn from government funding (net), was a decrease of 0.7% since 2015-16.

74% from farebox, 26% from government.   May have moved a little since the (80%, 20%?) ... but on the original figures ...

If passengers are down 93%, income is down from £9.7bn to £0.68bn and if the cost of operation is unchanged, that means that only 5% of income is from Farebox and 95% from government.   Put another way - a £5 fare is supported by a £95 payment from government at present.
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Ralph Ayres
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« Reply #3 on: June 22, 2020, 11:20:51 am »

But if government advice is being followed, that £95 is allowing a key worker to get to/from work who otherwise wouldn't be able to get there or would resort to a car, risking roads in cities at least returning to pre-meltdown levels of congestion. Given how inefficiently these things work, it probably wouldn't be any cheaper to provide a taxi for that person once all the admin had been done, and that doesn't address the congestion problem either.
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