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Rail travel demand to return to 75% of normal levels, firm predicts

Rail travel demand to return to 75% of normal levels, firm predicts

Demand for rail travel will only return to 75% of normal levels following the coronavirus pandemic, transport company Abellio Group has predicted.

Dominic Booth, managing director of Abellio Group, told MPs he is “very confident about winning the majority of passengers back”.

Giving evidence to the Commons Transport Select Committee, he said: “We expect to be able to win back around 75% on a like-for-like basis of passenger journeys.”

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Mr Booth acknowledged there will be “quite a lot of change” in travel patterns, particularly due to the shift in people working from home instead of commuting.

He went on: “A combination of winning back a very healthy chunk of our previous patronage added to an enhanced role in the climate change agenda over the next several years we think calls for quite a substantial and large-sized railway to remain.”

Abellio is the parent company of train operators Greater Anglia, Merseyrail, ScotRail, West Midlands Trains and East Midlands Railway.

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Department for Transport data shows demand for rail travel across Britain is at around a quarter of normal levels.

Rail companies were handed emergency recovery management agreements (ERMAs) in September, which mean taxpayers are covering their multibillion-pound losses and paying them a fee of up to 1.5% of their pre-pandemic operating costs.

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Sam Hewitt

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