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Telegraph reporting 50-60% of services to be cut due to impact of covid

21C101

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Telegraph is reporting that government has ordered up to 60% of rail services to be cut.

Half of rail services set to be slashed​

Ministers are finalising a new emergency timetable aimed at reducing the number of 'ghost trains' following the latest lockdown

Rail services will be cut by up to half under radical proposals to slash costs after Britain was plunged into a third coronavirus lockdown....



 
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LowLevel

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Full article below:

Rail services will be cut by up to half under radical proposals to slash costs after Britain was plunged into a third coronavirus lockdown.

Plans are being finalised to introduce an emergency timetable that cuts service levels to between 50 and 60pc of pre-pandemic levels for up to three months, The Telegraph understands.

The changes are expected to mirror a so-called “Sunday-plus” service introduced in March last year as the first wave of the virus struck.

At that time, the Government effectively nationalised the railways by guaranteeing operators made a profit in return for keeping services running for key workers.

Although timetables were restored over the summer, rail franchising has been permanently cancelled and replaced with an outsourced model that shifts the burden of funding services onto taxpayers.

The rail industry bailout is expected to top £9bn in the year to March 2021.

Rail operators remain under pressure to cut costs but are unable to make timetable changes without the consent of the Department for Transport.

It is thought that scaling down current service levels will take between 10 days and a fortnight.

As Boris Johnson used a television address to announce a third lockdown on Monday night, some operators were already running empty services.

The new lockdown has closed schools and forced all non-essential retailers to shut their doors from Tuesday, along with gyms, hairdressers, sports facilities, pubs and restaurants.

The Prime Minister told the nation to stay at home and to only go out for work if it was not possible to work from home; to shop for essentials; to exercise; to provide care; or for medical appointments.

Rail bosses fear that the restrictions will lead to a repeat of passenger numbers falling by 95pc, as happened in March. “Supply and demand are poles apart,” said one senior industry source.

The prospect of spending billions of pounds of taxpayer money to run what Grant Shapps, the Transport Secretary, coined “ghost trains” is not the only concern thought to be worrying rail bosses.


The new restrictions are expected to place significant pressure on staff availability, with scores of employees likely to be unable to make it to work.

With coronavirus leading to a shift in working patterns, questions remain whether rail passenger numbers will ever return to pre-pandemic levels.

Industry projections made last summer forecast it could take up to five years for demand to return. The Telegraph revealed last month that ministers were already considering proposals to axe up to one in five train services when new timetables were due to be introduced in May.

While this work is thought to be continuing, it is unclear what impact the implementation of a three-month emergency timetable will have on such changes.

Cuts to train services have led to fresh scrutiny over the need for the Government's controversial HS2 rail scheme.

Andrew Stephenson, the minister responsible for HS2, and its chief executive Mark Thurston will be questioned by the Transport select committee on Wednesday on whether Covid has weakened the case for building the £106bn rail link.

The Government has been contacted for comment.

Separately, airlines began reducing domestic services after the new lockdown was announced.

EasyJet said it was prioritising connections to key cities and a "small number of international routes", while travel operator Tui said package holidays would be halted until mid-February.

British Airways said it will keep crucial links open and Wizz said it will keep routes under review so that supply met demand.
 

Wychwood93

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The photo in the link is captioned 'lone commuter at Waterloo', I would query this. The train is the 0802 to Weymouth - repainted 444003 nearest to the camera - at platform 14. The time on the clock, bottom of the departure board, appears to read 07.5x xx - perhaps the passenger is actually off of the Alton arrival at 07.53 on the adjacent platform 13? A touch off-topic as it drifts into media reporting!
 

swanhill41

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I think that this lockdown will lead to the govt reviewing all capital investment.Old traffic flows will become history,with the increase in "homeworking" and therefore less commuters etc travelling.Interesting times.
 

bengley

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No doubt once again it'll take far too long for most operators to return to any sort of useful service after the restrictions begin to ease.
 

yorksrob

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One wonders whether staff training etc, which led to the return to a proper service taking months after the end of lockdown 1, will continue this time.
 

bengley

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Training is still ongoing at my place and I've not yet heard of any stoppages.
 

Steddenm

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Is the lockdown going to affect on board services again?

Such as first class catering, availability of a shop/buffet counter, guards checking tickets etc?

I can understand the need to cut rail services, but those travelling for work reasons won't this put the burden on breaching social distancing rules, especially if as one person put to cut the Blackpool services to hourly? A lot of people who live in Blackpool, Poulton and Kirkham rely on the trains to get to work in Preston or Manchester?

The trains I've been on recently have had hardly a soul on them - and that is the classic InterCity routes on the WCML, ECML and GWML, so reducing those services could be a good idea in theory. But local services where people need to travel for work (essential travel)?

Maybe RDG can introduce a new non-discounted railcard which, with proof of entitlement, could allow essential workers to travel and those without the railcard could travel "where space permits"?
 

LNW-GW Joint

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For what it's worth, the thread title doesn't match the Telegraph headline.
It's talking about services being cut to 50-60% of pre-pandemic levels, not cut by 50-60%.
Not that it makes much difference.
 

lammergeier

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One wonders whether staff training etc, which led to the return to a proper service taking months after the end of lockdown 1, will continue this time.
I would hope it continues. With covid bubbles and regular testing the situation is significantly different from last time and with so much training outstanding I doubt the operators and unions will want to make the situation worse, if it can be avoided.
 

yorksrob

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And TPE! Let's hope that we can see 6 Nova 3s in service per day by May.

Indeed - that said TPE seems to have a pretty decent fleet at present !

I would hope it continues. With covid bubbles and regular testing the situation is significantly different from last time and with so much training outstanding I doubt the operators and unions will want to make the situation worse, if it can be avoided.

Yes, Fingers crossed so things are ready to get going again (eventually).
 

RichardKing

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I think that this lockdown will lead to the govt reviewing all capital investment.Old traffic flows will become history,with the increase in "homeworking" and therefore less commuters etc travelling.Interesting times.
I would think, like all tedious habits we've picked up, working from home will eventually become history and we will return to how we used to be.
 

Watershed

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1tph London-Watford-Milton-Rugby-Stafford-Stoke-Macc-Stockport-Manchester
1tph London-Watford-Milton-Rugby-Cov-Intl-NewStreet
1tph London-Rugby-Stafford-Warrington-AllStops-to-Glasgow
1tph London-Milton-Rugby-Crewe-Runcorn-Liverpool
I think that is roughly what you will soon see. Though probably with just one call per hour at each station south of Crewe. Perhaps two for MKC.

For TP to run Manchester-Edinburgh via Penrith

For XC to drop the Manchester branch to 1tph
That's basically already what's happening. XC have kept their timetable almost intact since the ~50% cut in March.

Usual local services to places like Blackpool and Barrow on a 1tph maximum.
Easier said than done if you want anywhere else to have a reasonable service. Blackpool is a sizeable depot that covers a lot of different services so unless you want to have loads of staff taking taxis or riding pass, running services to and from the station where the depot is makes sense. Barrow-Manchester has never been more than 1tph, but Cumbrian Coast and Lancaster services may see a reduction.

Maybe RDG can introduce a new non-discounted railcard which, with proof of entitlement, could allow essential workers to travel and those without the railcard could travel "where space permits"?
No need to have anything nearly as complex as that. At the handful of locations where demand outstrips socially distanced capacity, you can just have a queueing system where key workers are asked to come forward (with suitable proof if really considered necessary).

I don't believe the theory behind the training bubbles really changes so don't expect it to stop.
The much increased infectiousness of the new strain means that a more people are testing positive than before. Plus CEV people have been told to shield and "one metre plus" distancing is supposed to be out of the window. I think it will become much more a piecemeal approach.
 

Bletchleyite

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I think that this lockdown will lead to the govt reviewing all capital investment.Old traffic flows will become history,with the increase in "homeworking" and therefore less commuters etc travelling.Interesting times.

I don't think this lockdown will specifically, the whole situation will, though.

1tph London-Watford-Milton-Rugby-Stafford-Stoke-Macc-Stockport-Manchester

When did the WCML run through Cambridgeshire? If you must shorten it, "MK" is more usual, or if you're being really informal I've heard "the Keynes".

:)
 

wobman

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Is it only the The Telegraph reporting this story so far ?????
 

LNW-GW Joint

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In the first lockdown, Avanti ran a 2-hourly Voyager Birmingham-Crewe-Chester to feed WM passengers into London-Glasgow at Crewe.
 

trebor79

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I think that this lockdown will lead to the govt reviewing all capital investment.Old traffic flows will become history,with the increase in "homeworking" and therefore less commuters etc travelling.Interesting times.

I would think, like all tedious habits we've picked up, working from home will eventually become history and we will return to how we used to be.
I think it'll be somewhere between the two. Many of the people I liaise with are thoroughly sick of homeworking. Although I'm home based in normal times, I'm thoroughly sick of not attending any physical meetings.
An acquaintance who I know through a shared hobby does consultancy work for Toyota - they have asked him to relocate to Tokyo for 6 months as they are all thoroughly sick of attempting to do it remotely. Usually he shuttles back and forth (from Suffolk!) for meetings but that's not practical right now with isolation, quarantine etc even if there are flights. There are specific cultural factors behind this, apparently the Japanese just don't do video meetings, and have continued to commute and go into offices during the pandemic.

Closer to home, think of all those swanky office buildings Google, Facebook etc have opened in the past few years. Working in a pleasant office is certainly part of the perks and attraction to working for some firms. I speak with people who work for investment funds, and although they don't say it they are all thoroughly sick of working from their flats, and I noticed over summer and more recently they were taking every opportunity to go into the office.
And the office is where all the creativity and sharing of spontaneous ideas happens. Video is OK but it's rather anodyne and it's certainly more difficult to build a rapport with new contacts via that medium.

For sure there will be a bit of homeworking, but I'd be surprised if there was more than a 15% - 20% reduction overall once things are back to normal.

For the time being, a cut in services seems reasonable and sensible given there will be hardly any passengers and probably too little staff to reliably run a full service.
 

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