Rail passenger figures must prompt government cuts U-turn

Railway tracks with platform in view and lighting on. Early morning sky.

Rail passenger figures must prompt government cuts U-turn - Cortes

TSSA General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has called on the government to ‘think again’ over plans for deep cuts to the railways after new official figures showed a dramatic drop in rail travel during the pandemic.

The data from the Office of Rail and Road – covering the period 2020-21 – saw Britain’s rail passenger usage drop 78 per cent compared with the previous year. This was the lowest level of journeys seen since at least before 1872.

Highlighting the impact of the covid pandemic the figures showed that for the first time in 17 years London Waterloo was not the most used station in Britain. Waterloo saw the biggest decrease in passenger usage, with 12.2 million entries and exits compared to the 86.9 million in 2019-20.

Commenting, union leader Cortes said: “These are stark figures and highlight the importance of our rail network to the whole country.

“Frankly we are at a crossroads – and looking at this report Ministers should think again and abandon their foolhardy plans for further cuts to our railways which would hamper the country-wide recovery from the pandemic.

“One thing is absolutely certain – we need fully functioning public transport day in day out because millions rely on these services for so many reasons.

“To truly build back from this terrible virus we should be seeing investment in our railways across the board, rather than more than £2 billion of Tory cuts. It’s vital for the future of our whole country, and climate, that more people are encouraged onto our railways.

“Boris Johnson should step up to the plate now by making a commitment to ditch the cuts his government is implementing and give passengers some Christmas cheer by reducing rail fares rather than contemplating a counterproductive hike in the new year.”