Posted 4th November 2021 | 3 Comments

Talks begin over new passenger contracts, but RMT protests

Talks begin over new passenger contracts, but RMT protests

Private sector transport operators were invited to a market engagement exercise on Thursday by the Department for Transport as a first step towards awarding Passenger Service Contracts, while the Rail Delivery Group said travel is recovering in the wake of the Covid lockdowns, although travelling to work by train continues to be much less popular than it was. In the face of calls for a greater degree of government control, the RDG warned that 'squeezing out' the private sector will 'stifle innovation' and leave a funding 'black hole'. Meanwhile, the RMT held a demonstration outside the DfT offices in London, and said there must be no more talk of cuts, because the latest travel figures and polls show that confidence in rail is returning to 2019 levels.

Leisure travel by train has bounced back strongly to 90 per cent of its former total, and Network Rail has issued its traditional advice to visitors to the popular Birmingham Christmas market not to leave it too late before starting for home, because later evening trains are expected to be very crowded. But commuter business has only partly recovered, and on average stands at 45 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, in spite of the introduction of ‘part time’ season tickets. In London and the south east, which is by far the largest commuting area in the country, the figure is just 41 per cent, which suggests only two out of five commuters have resumed their old habits. The commuting figure around other cities is higher, at 54 per cent. The Rail Delivery Group said the changing emphasis means that the railway is now carrying more leisure travellers, at 55 per cent of all journeys, compared with 33 per cent before Covid.

Reader Comments:

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  • Matthew Ellis, Woking, Surrey

    Having had to suffer the daily commute into London for over 25 years, I have no desire to subject myself to that hell again. And the majority of my colleagues feel the same.

    So while some suggest numbers are increasing, the majority of office based jobs can now be done remotely (and indeed many companies are moving to 2 days max in the office per week).

    Meanwhile, the RMT is off in la la land trying to keep job numbers back at pre-pandemic levels, and threatening strikes that will simply persuade more to work permanently from home.

    A better strategy would be to support their members when the inevitable job cuts come to ensure as many as possible either stay in the industry in different roles, or find equivalent or better roles in other industries.

  • Kathleen Danby, Kirkwall, Orkney

    Do the RMT even give a thought as to the damage they are inflicting on the railway system, After the downturn in rail travel during the pandemic. I live in Orkney, and getting anywhere by rail has become a nightmare. Added to the chaos caused by the pandemic, we have the disgraceful mismanagement of the West Coast Main Line by Avanti, the apparent inability of ScotRail to give any kind of service to their passengers, and the chaos being caused at both Euston and Crewe by the works ongoing for the ridiculously overpriced, and totally unnecessary HS2. In the past I have made many stress free and enjoyable journeys on the Caledonian Sleeper, but the last such journey was a complete nightmare, and my heart sinks at the thought of undertaking another one. At the end of October, RMT were urging strikes by ScotRail, Stagecoach and the Caledonian Sleeper. Plans by my friend and I to take a short break went up in smoke! We needed all three to get to our destinations of Fort William, Rannoch and Liverpool - not to mention getting to our ferry to leave Orkney, and transport to Inverness! It's time someone controlled the troublemakers of the RMT.
    [Stagecoach? No longer a train operator, unless you count South Yorkshire Supertram.--Ed.]

  • Neil Palmer, Waterloo

    ...but RMT protests

    Hardly news really. That lot would protest a free dinner.