Discussion in 'Heritage Railways & Centres in the UK' started by David R, Jul 31, 2015.
Ah, page 98, doesn't that remind me of a headcode?
Or a headache?
From the magazine the SR ticket sales were 20% down
Wareham project trial (for 2023) seems to continuing as planned, or at least no announcements of delays or extra fundraising? So far off peak leisure travel on SWR has held up, which may be a good sign.
This is not a PW specific comment, but may have some implications by highlighting the potential lack of comparability of pre and post-COVID trends and categories.
Fundamentally, I do wonder how much of the 'leisure' travel is actually 'work' travel that has been displaced from peak times. I know two organisations that I am connected with have, since COVID reduced the number of face-to-face meetings but arranged those that do take place so that those travelling can take advantage of cheaper, off-peak rail fares. This is in part enabled by an increased expectation that people can work away from their desks whilst travelling. Since COVID, I have not had to start from my local station before 9am once for an 'away' meeting - whereas pre-COVID it was the norm to be off on the 7 20 if I had a meeting in London! Travelling back on an evening train from St Pancras the other day, I ended up at a table where all four of the people (previously completely unknown to each other) agreed that this was a trend - they had all started out later that day, had late morning and afternoon meetings and then relaxed before catching the first post-peak train back home.
More recent, and perhaps more worrying for the rail industry structurally, is that, due to the unpredictability caused by strike days, I have recently been treated to relatively long-distance car travel by two organisations that I travel to visit - and in both cases I was told that it was (a) cheaper than the peak fare in all four cases and (b) in three of the four cases much quicker - with door-to-door travel meaning there was less wasted time (e.g. changing trains) and more continuous time for reading and working whilst travelling. The only exception was travelling to London, where there was a significant buffer built in to travelling to London to allow for bad inbound traffic - but coming home direct was still comparable to the train. In the case of both organisations having someone picked up by a driver is now their default - it provides the benefits of first class business travel at less than the standard class cost and with comparable speed. (As an aside, on each of my four journeys the car was either electric or hybrid. I have not checked, but I suspect this may not have been accidental - as both organisations try to have active ethical policies)
If my experiences are not unique, then I think there are some significant changes ahead for the railways that the industry has yet to understand. (Perhaps not coincidentally, many of these journeys would previously have used the east coast main line - and LNER was the first TOC to state the trend of more 'leisure' travel post-COVID. I do wonder if they have mistaken off-peak for leisure!
It's an interesting question, though my hunch is that the shift is genuine - when I've travelled off peak, the balance has clearly been towards leisure, rather than displaced peak travel
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