The Railway Industry Association says the Government should plan rail investment for increased capacity in the future as Department for Transport figures show passenger numbers closing in on pre-pandemic levels.
Between 6 July and 17 July, passenger numbers were at 90% or more of pre-pandemic levels – a figure matched over the ten days from 10 June. On London Underground, passenger numbers are nudging the 80% level too.
RIA Chief Executive Darren Caplan said that although leisure travel has driven the increase in passenger numbers, the number of commuters travelling outside peak times is also rising.
‘All of us in the railway industry now need to accept that many of the dire predictions of rail's demises are wide of the mark and take a “can-do” approach to ensuring the future for rail is positive. Accordingly, we urge policymakers and the Treasury not to base 30-year plans and forecasts for rail on the last two abnormal years, but to plan for much-needed increased capacity in the future, as more and more passengers return to the rail network in the months and years to come,’ he said.
Mr Caplan added that without industrial action and heatwave-related disruption, the passenger figures could have been even higher, and that as 2019/20 passenger numbers were the second highest on record, the recovery is even more impressive.