Minister: Rail firms need to be ‘flexible’ as demand for train travel returns

Demand for train travel will return to pre-pandemic levels – even though it is lagging behind the growth in car use, a minister said yesterday.

The number of journeys being made by train is 57 per cent of what it was before Covid, while car use has fully recovered, Department for Transport figures show.

Asked if train passenger numbers will return to normal, rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris replied: ‘I think we will, but I don’t think there’ll be the numbers at the same times of day that there used to be.’

The number of journeys being made by train is 57 per cent of what it was before Covid, while car use has fully recovered, Department for Transport figures show [File photo]

The number of journeys being made by train is 57 per cent of what it was before Covid, while car use has fully recovered, Department for Transport figures show [File photo]

The number of journeys being made by train is 57 per cent of what it was before Covid, while car use has fully recovered, Department for Transport figures show [File photo]

Before the pandemic, the rail network saw a surge in demand from commuters at the weekday morning and evening peaks, but was often quiet during other periods.

Asked if train passenger numbers will return to normal, rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris replied: ¿I think we will, but I don¿t think there¿ll be the numbers at the same times of day that there used to be'

Asked if train passenger numbers will return to normal, rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris replied: ¿I think we will, but I don¿t think there¿ll be the numbers at the same times of day that there used to be'

Asked if train passenger numbers will return to normal, rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris replied: ‘I think we will, but I don’t think there’ll be the numbers at the same times of day that there used to be’

Mr Heaton-Harris said: ‘We’re going to be sweating the assets in a very different way. The leisure market is recovering strongly. Probably for the first time in the railway’s history you’re getting as many people travelling on Saturdays and Sundays as during the week – and in lots of places more.’

He also said ‘rail has to compete for its market’ because it was competing with ‘a host of factors’ such as cars and virtual meetings.

He added: ‘We are going to have to be flexible, innovative. We have a resilient, reliable, spotlessly clean railway with excellent people working on it, with great customer service. We need to set about winning our market back.’

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