UK railways are preparing for a 2 million passenger fall as, post-Covid commuting patterns have changed, prompting rail companies to start swinging the axe on jobs.
Forecasts prepared by the railway industry’s Covid forecasting group for Network Rail highlighted that, in the worst case scenario, numbers will only go up to 60 per cent of pre-pandemic levels, the Telegraph first reported.
Expected to last for the next four years, the slump in passenger numbers could potentially cost Netwrok Rail £4bn per year, bringing the company’s fare revenues from £10bn before Covid-19 to £6bn post-Covid.
“You could be talking about a £1bn gap or you could be talking about a £3bn-£4bn gap every year. That’s the challenge at the moment … a significant minority or possibly a majority of people, the classic office workers, simply will not be going back five days a week,” the Telegraph reported a senior railway source as saying.
“The economics of the railway is that you can’t have a railway where everybody wants to travel on a Wednesday.”
The news come amid talks between Network Rail and railway unions about potential budget cuts that could cost thousands of people their jobs, wrote the Telegraph.
According to the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers (RMT), the potential cuts were not discussed with the union.
“This proposed job loss scheme across the rail industry has not been agreed with the RMT and we would call for it to be withdrawn before serious damage is done to industrial relations at this critical point as we emerge from the pandemic,” said RMT general secretary Mick Lynch.
“It’s crystal clear that cutting rail jobs will adversely impact on passenger service, safety and accessibility.
“We will not allow the Covid-19 pandemic to be used as a cloak for a jobs massacre across the rail industry. These plans should be withdrawn to allow normal industrial relations and procedures to continue without this threat hanging over us.”