Railtalk November 2020: No star to guide

In the age of coronavirus, charts are all the rage. There was an outcry when Sir Patrick Vallance, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, presented a graph showing the theoretical rise in Covid-19 cases if infections continued to double every seven days. He was accused of trying to scare the public into compliance with further restrictions.

For those of us in the railway industry, future projections are not needed to set alarm bells ringing. Retrospective ridership charts display in frightening clarity the grim prospect before us.

First, the Office of Rail and Road record of passenger journeys in the first quarter of the year is a dramatic illustration of the truth of the cliché that ridership ‘dropped off the edge of a cliff’ (Figure 1). Second, the latest Department for Transport statistics of usage of the various modes of transport since the start of the pandemic reveal the slow recovery of rail ridership during the summer has stalled and may even be declining (Figure 2).

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