Drop in demand for rail travel despite push to end home working

Demand for rail services has fallen despite people being encouraged to return to the workplace, new figures show.

The estimated number of train journeys across Britain on Monday was 33% of pre-coronavirus pandemic levels, Department for Transport (DfT) data shows.

This is the same figure recorded on three days last week and six percentage points lower than Monday August 24.

Timetables were ramped up to around 90% of normal levels this week, with operators insisting their carriages are “safe to travel in” and telling commuters they can “travel with confidence”.

In late August Transport Secretary Grant Shapps claimed it was safe for more people to go back to the workplace as there are “limitations” to homeworking.

Speaking to LBC, he said: “Our central message is pretty straightforward.

“We’re saying to people ‘it is now safe to return to work’.”

The DfT’s data shows that other forms of public transport have seen an increase in demand.

On Monday, bus use outside London was at 54% of pre-pandemic levels, compared with 49% on the first working day of last week.

Over the same period, bus use within the capital rose from 54% to 58%, while London Underground use increased from 33% to 34%.

This suggests a higher proportion of workers with shorter commutes, conducted by bus or Tube, are returning to workplaces than rail commuters.

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