Empty Manchester Victoria station

Community Rail groups and the rail industry must work together post-pandemic

Following the recent Transport for the North Community and Rail User group event, an agreement was reached between attendees that they must work in closer partnership to protect rail services following the impact of the pandemic.

Delegates heard from numerous voices across the industry, such as Lucja Majewski, the Regional Development Manager of TransPennine Express (TPE), who said that despite an increase in leisure travel over the summer, the second lockdown hit TPE hard with them seeing just 12 to 14 percent of the passenger numbers on its trains compared to this time last year. Although, since the 2nd of December there have been signs of recovery.

She said TPE is keen to talk with community groups to inform them of what they are doing to engage with them. She further said they want to instill confidence that they can deliver services passengers are looking for and that they can see staff working hard in terms of cleaning.

The event was hosted by David Hoggarth, Strategic Rail Director at Transport for the North.

He said: “This is about rebuilding confidence. A lot of the great work the Community Rail groups have done has been about introducing people who haven’t been as familiar or confident with using the network. That work must continue, but there is also a job to do with those people who have lapsed using rail and who just need that confidence regaining.”

“Looking at our latest research around 88 percent of those using public transport in the past week felt safe doing so, yet among those who haven’t used it since around March, that figure reduces by half. The science is important, but we have got to make it come to life. It has got to be real.”

Network Rail’s, Karen Hornby, Head of Customer, Stations, and Performance for the North West Route told delegates: “We should recognise how hard Community Rail groups work. These groups are a massive part of what we do, and we need them. When the time is right, we really need to encourage people back on the railway. It’s safe, and it’s a great way to travel.”

Brian Barnsley, Deputy Chief Executive for the Community Rail Network, said: “Going back to 1993, Community Rail started primarily because lines were at risk. That’s why we started. And it has evolved. We know our communities – and we know how to get them back on the railway. It isn’t necessarily huge campaigns. It’s talking to people. People lack the confidence.”

Video: Transport for the North 


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