Former rail worker Peter from Cambridgeshire has been saddened by the effects of Covid on the railway, but is hopeful for its future.
“I have a slightly biased view of rail travel as I worked in the rail industry for 35 years, first for British Rail until privatisation and then for Eurostar until taking early retirement several years ago.
“Most of my time at British Rail sadly saw cut after cut being made. Line closures, double tracks being reduced to single lines, and the wholesale closure of the Speedlink freight service.
“Rail privatisation in 1996 saw a reversal of the railway’s fortunes, with a more than doubling of passenger journeys, lines reopening, single track lines redoubled, and many new services and new rolling stock introduced.
“My time at Eurostar saw the very early few services increased year on year, the opening of the two stages of the HS1 high speed line from the Channel Tunnel to London together with our move from Waterloo to the iconic St Pancras International. Exciting times indeed!
“How sad it now is to see usage of all these services decimated by the Coronavirus pandemic, with advice given to avoid using public transport wherever possible despite little, if any, evidence that the virus has been spread by these services.
“I was also a regular user of First Group’s excellent ‘Excel’ express bus service which operates between Peterborough and Norwich from 6am to midnight at half-hourly intervals throughout the day. They have managed to operate a full service pretty much throughout the pandemic, but it’s such a shame to see their investment in brand new double-decker coaches with leather seats, tables, charging points, free wifi etc. carrying only one or two passengers on most journeys.
“My wife and I still travelled regularly by train and bus last summer between the two lockdowns. We felt perfectly safe and found most people were complying with the new protocols..
“I sincerely believe that all the good work and investment made by the rail and other public transport operators over the last 25 years was not in vain, and hope that people will not switch from journeys previously made by public transport to cars.
“As soon as we are allowed, we will definitely be back on board and can’t wait for that day!”