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UK rail passenger numbers reach 99% of pre-covid heights

After slow but continuous growth since the easing of pandemic lockdown restrictions, the dwindling passenger numbers within the rail sector have made a triumphant return to a post-covid height of 99%, as recorded on Friday 18th November.

This news comes ahead of the Department for Transport’s upcoming announcement on the Statement of Funds Available (SoFA) on Friday 2nd December. The returning passenger growth to the UK rail sector is encouraging for economic and environmental stability throughout Britain, especially as the industry is still working around the ongoing industrial actions that continue to disrupt travel availability.

Speaking on these promising statistics, Darren Caplan, Chief Executive of the Railway Industry Association, said:

“It is clear from DfT passenger figures just published that passengers are coming back in force, even during the working week.

“With 99% of pre-Covid levels recorded on Friday 18 November, we are getting tantalisingly close to the figures recorded in early 2020, a period which marked the second highest year on record for UK rail passengers.

“Coupled with the news that passenger revenues are at around 85% plus of pre-Covid levels – and despite the impact of industrial disputes and service issues in some parts of the country – the message to Government couldn’t be clearer.

“Whilst we appreciate the renewed commitments to HS2, “core” Northern Powerhouse Rail, and East West Rail, we mustn’t take our foot off the pedal of investment in the existing rail network too, which is close to capacity, will need even more capacity in the years ahead and which is the cleanest form of transport for Government to invest in.

“We urge the Treasury and DfT to take note of the return to rail and recognise that – even in the current tough economic times – rather than being a cost on the public purse, rail actually supports 710,000 jobs, £43bn in GVA, £14bn in tax revenue, and for every pound spent on rail, £2.50 is generated in the wider economy. With it being only a matter of time before 100% of pre-Covid passenger levels are reached, we urge the Government to ensure work is properly funded on the existing network in its SoFA for the 2024-29 period, as well as to push on with its welcome support for the major projects.”

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