Travel patterns have been changed irreversibly by the Covid-19 pandemic, and there is a need to reform the fares and ticketing system. That was the consensus among panellists at the revenue, fares and ticketing session of the Future of Britain’s Railways conference at Modern Railways EXPO, although there was disagreement about how quickly reform could be implemented.
Suzanne Donnelly, Director, Passenger Revenue at the Great British Railways Transition Team, highlighted the challenge facing the industry, with demand and revenue flatlining at 85% of pre-Covid levels, creating a £2 billion revenue gap. People are travelling in different ways – Ms Donnelly reported leisure usage is at 115% of pre-Covid levels, but commuting is only at 59% and business travel at just 37%. Further reflecting this change, weekends are busier than pre-Covid (108%) but weekdays quieter (81%). She said the market is ripe to both get existing customers to travel more and to encourage new people to use the railway, but the system is too complex at present.