<p>Departing soon: London Waterloo station, previously the busiest transport terminal in Europe</p>

Departing soon: London Waterloo station, previously the busiest transport terminal in Europe

Rail companies welcome return to the office after commuting slump

‘Taking the train is crucial to a green economic recovery for our towns and cities’ – Rail Delivery Group

Simon Calder
Travel Correspondent
Wednesday 19 January 2022 16:23
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As figures reveal that rail and tube commuter figures are still less than half pre-pandemic levels, transport groups have welcomed the prime minister’s removal of the advice to work from home in England.

Boris Johnson said the guidance was ending immediately.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, representing train operators and Network Rail, said: “We look forward to welcoming passengers back to the railway.

“The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way people travel, but taking the train is crucial to a green economic recovery for our towns and cities.

“So that passengers can travel with confidence we will monitor timetables closely, running services to fit changed travel patterns and ensuring that rail is an attractive choice.

”This is in addition to carrying out extra cleaning and providing better information about how busy services are.”

Using the latest Department for Transport (DfT) figures, The Independent has calculated that rail use on the first 10 working days of 2022 was just 47 per cent of pre-pandemic levels. Over the past two weekends, the figure was 53 per cent.

The figures for the London Underground are identical.

Private car use over the first 10 working days of 2022 averaged 81 per cent.

Paul Tuohy, chief executive of the Campaign for Better Transport, said: “Now that people will no longer be required to work from home, we want to see government encouraging workers to return to workplaces sustainably by public transport.

“Not only is this better for the climate, it will also stop the car-led recovery we’ve started to see by stemming rising traffic levels in our towns and cities and helping reduce lethal air pollution.”

In response to the collapse in commuting, as well as staff shortage blamed on the Omicron variant of Covid-19, many rail companies have cut services.

On South Western Railway, whose London hub at Waterloo was previously the busiest transport terminal in Europe, many services have been cut – including all through trains to Weymouth and most to Exeter.

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