Demand for rail travel may be returning to patterns last experienced in the 1950s.
That is the view of Network Rail Chairman Sir Peter Hendy CBE, who has likened the recovery in leisure travel since the outbreak of Coronavirus to the bygone popularity of summer Saturday trips to the seaside.
Many train operating companies are now reporting Saturdays to be the busiest day of the week, as the number of leisure travellers outstrips commuters.
Meanwhile, Hendy said that in mid-September, weekday footfall at Britain’s busiest station London Waterloo had been at just 36% of pre-COVID levels, which was “busier than it’s been for weeks”.
And any growth in peak-hour commuting looks set to remain sluggish, following Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s instruction on September 22 for people to continue working from home where possible.
Speaking at the UK Rail Summit virtual conference on September 18, Hendy said: “It is clear that people’s methodology of working has changed. Many jobs can’t be done from home, but there are lots of people who can work from home and have learned something they didn’t know before and are learning to live in a different way.
“Leisure travel has returned quicker than work travel. One of the scenarios that we might want to have in our heads is that we might be going back to a situation like the 1950s, when maximum traffic on the railway was on peak summer Saturdays and not in what we now regard as normal peak hours."
For the FULL story, read RAIL 915, published on October 7, and available digitally from October 3.