Rail firms are promising to increase services ‘close to pre-pandemic levels’ next month.
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) said the introduction of a new timetable on Monday 7 September is ‘designed to build on the gains in punctuality performance seen during the lockdown period’.
London Liverpool Street July 2020
It said that in designing the new timetable, train operators have worked closely with local schools and education providers to identify potentially busy stations or trains and certain parts of routes that will experience higher demand for travel by school children when they go back.
‘Where possible in these areas, train operators will run more frequent services or add extra carriages to create more room and staff will be on hand to explain to older children the rules on wearing a face covering and maintaining social distancing.’
RDG chief operating officer Jacqueline Starr, said: ‘We want people to feel confident taking the train as they get back to school and adding services back into the timetable where they’re most needed will support that.
‘Rail companies are doing everything they can to ensure people start the term with a smooth journey, including boosting cleaning, providing sanitiser at stations and offering better information about busy services.’
The RDG said that since April, the proportion of trains arriving on time to the minute ‘remains at an all-time high of 80-90% and within five to ten minutes, routinely above 95%’.
It said ‘reducing the timetable during the pandemic and then increasing in phases has led to improved performance’, but acknowledge that this may not be possible with a network at capacity, stating that firms will add extra services to the timetable ‘when they are confident this will not affect punctuality long term’.
The improvement is also likely to be a result of a significant drop in passengers.
Schools in England and Wales are opening in early September, which is likely to see people with childcare responsibilities to return to workplaces.
ScotRail increased services in early August ahead of Scottish schools opening in mid-August.