Rail service improvements and disruptions

23.03.20

Government announces rail emergency measures

The Government have announced today (Mar 23rd) that they are taking emergency measures to sustain and withstand necessary rail services as operators face momentous drops in their income.

The Department for Transport is temporarily suspending normal franchise agreements and transferring all revenue and cost risk to the government for a limited period, primarily six months.

Operators will continue to run services day-to-day for a small prearranged management fee.

This will allow the government to ensure that trains required for key works and essential travel can continue to run. No other passengers should travel. As previously announced, services from today will be reduced.

The railways have already seen up to a 70% decrease in passenger numbers. Rail fares revenue has also reduced as the number of people working from home has increased and adopted social distancing, with a total ticket sale down by two-thirds from the equivalent date in 2019.

The Government has provided today’s offer to lessen disruption to the rail sector, vital to the wider UK economy, through these turbulent times.

Allowing operators to enter insolvency would cause significantly more disruption to passengers and higher costs to the taxpayer. The management fee will allow operators to act in the national interest in tackling Covid-19.

Secretary of State for Transport, Grant Shapps, said: “We are taking this action to protect the key workers who depend on our railways to carry on their vital roles, the hardworking commuters who have radically altered their lives to combat the spread of coronavirus, and the frontline rail staff who are keeping the country moving.

“People deserve certainty that the services they need will run or that their job is not at risk in these unprecedented times. We are also helping passengers get refunds on Advance tickets to ensure no-one is unfairly out of pocket for doing the right thing.

“These offers will give operators the confidence and certainty so they can play their part in the national interest.” 

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