It is too early to predict what long-term impact the COVID-19 outbreak will have on the demand for rail travel, Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris stated in a Commons Written Reply on April 27.
Dame Cheryl Gillan (Conservative, Chesham and Amersham) had asked if the Office for Budget Responsibility’s findings that Gross Domestic Product could fall by as much as 35% in the second quarter of 2020, due to the pandemic, had been assessed by the Department for Transport against the level of demand for rail travel.
Heaton-Harris said: “There are a number of factors that will determine the demand for rail travel, including when lockdown restrictions are lifted, the nature of social distancing guidelines put in place going forward, and how people’s attitudes towards rail travel may have changed.”
He claimed that in the short term, the Government had stabilised the rail industry to ensure essential services run and that goods can be carried.
For the FULL story regarding the railway's ongoing response to the COVID-19 situation, read RAIL 904, published on May 6, and available digitally now.