Rail services in the UK will be reduced to 72% of the epidemic level over the next few weeks, and passengers are being asked to make sure the service is running before traveling.
The cuts to be announced starting Thursday are less than the expected 50% reduction in services. Train operators have focused on maintaining service during peak travel times in the morning and evening so that key workers such as NHS staff can get to work.
The railroad industry argues that timetable cuts will mean more reliable service for passengers, as railroad workers, like other key workers, can become infected with the virus and disrupt wider schedules.
The railway company was virtually nationalized after the franchise ceased in March. The rescue contract was extended in October, when an emergency recovery contract of 6 to 18 months was agreed with the railroad operator last October, and the industry moved to a long-term overhaul. Ministers are already working to reduce the cost, which has increased to 9 billion in additional subsidies since March.
Prior to the announcement of new lockdowns in England and Scotland on January 4th, rail services were operating at 87% of the pre-epidemic level. According to figures from the Ministry of Interim Transportation, passengers’ use of national rail on Monday was 17% of normal levels. The new Covid-19 rules instruct people to work from home whenever possible and ban all non-essential travel.
During the first state closure last spring, rail service fell to 55% of pre-corona levels. However, the number of passengers was as low as possible by 96% compared to people staying at home. Between April and June, British Rail’s passenger itinerary fell to its lowest level in the mid-19th century. According to the rail industry regulator, 35 million itineraries were carried out, which was only 8% of the total in the same period in 2019.
After the first nationwide closure, several timetable changes were introduced to steadily increase service throughout the year as more people could travel again, and to increase the space available for physical distance from the train.
Railroad Minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: It is important that our railroads continue to provide reliable services to key workers and those who cannot reasonably perform telecommuting and to respond quickly to changing demand.
The new shortened timetable not only reduces the financial burden on taxpayers, but provides it. Service levels vary by operator and changes will continue to apply over the next few weeks. Passengers using the railroad, including those who need to visit the vaccination center, should check the route before traveling and make sure it is outside peak times as much as possible.
Railroad companies have tried to make travel safer by installing modern air conditioners on most trains and improving cleaning, replacing the air in the vehicle every six minutes to reduce the risk of Covid-19 transmission.
Since the onset of the pandemic, railway companies have paid more than 500 million in ticket refunds to those who were unable to travel due to the pandemic. Those whose travel plans were affected by January’s new Corona 19 restrictions could change their travel dates, request a refund, or apply for a travel voucher depending on the type of ticket purchased, industry agency Rail Delivery Group said.
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