Network Rail and the Association of Train Operating Companies (ATOC), with support from Passenger Focus, today announced an initiative to further reduce the need for replacement buses at weekends and bank holidays.
The industry aims to keep passengers on trains rather than have their rail journey interrupted by a bus journey. Achieving this will be a significant step towards the industry’s vision of a seven-day railway.
Twenty key routes that carry 60% of all weekend passengers have been identified for special attention. Network Rail and train operators aim to offer a rail journey in almost all circumstances between key stations on these routes. The only exception is when the demands of rail improvement work make achieving this aim impractical. This commitment will be progressively introduced over the next two years.
Additionally, a rail route will always be available between London and Scotland.
Iain Coucher, Network Rail chief executive, said: “Today’s punctual, reliable and safe railway has seen passengers flocking back. Their expectations for a decent service at weekends and at bank holidays have grown and we must respond. Keeping passengers on trains and off buses is our aim. We’re working towards that and today’s commitment sets us firmly on that path.”
Michael Roberts, ATOC chief executive, said: “Train operators are delivering an ever better and more reliable service to their customers. With record levels of punctuality, we need to look at further ways of improving services, to attract more passengers to rail. One way to achieve this is to ensure that, as far as possible, rail journeys at weekends and bank holidays are not interrupted by the need for a bus journey.”
Anthony Smith, Passenger Focus chief executive, said: “We are pleased that Network Rail and the train operators have signed up to our pledge, making a clear commitment to keep passengers on trains wherever possible rather than use buses, and to ensure certain towns and cities are connected by train at almost all times. We have been asked by the government to monitor this.”