Commuters Returning, but London Lags Behind Rest of UK

Commuting into London is lagging behind the rest of the UK according to the Rail Delivery Group (RDG).

London Kings Cross station concourse
London Kings Cross station concourse

Figures show that only 41% of commuters are travelling back into offices in the capital, whereas over half of commuters (54%) have returned across the rest of the country.

This is putting the recovery of London’s shops, theatres, cafes, restaurants and bars at risk, as train commuters support local businesses by spending an average of 12 GBP (14.26 euros | 16.55 USD) on food and drink, eight GBP (9.51 euros | 11.03 USD) on shopping and six GBP (7.13 euros | 8.27 USD) on entertainment each journey.

If commuting levels caught up to other regions – rising to half of pre-pandemic levels –the RDG says that London’s hospitality sector would gain roughly 43.5 million GBP (51.71 euros | 59.99m USD) every week, totalling over two billion GBP (2.37bn euros | 2.75bn USD) a year.

Adam Tyndall, Programme Director for Transport at London First, said:

“It's no secret that many sectors of the economy won’t return to growth without people returning to city centres. These numbers demonstrate yet again that the central London economy has been hit harder than anywhere else as a result of the pandemic.

“We must be honest about the uncertainty that faces us this winter and the unavoidable reality that continued short-term support for public transport is in the long-term economic interest of both the capital and the country.”

The rail industry has been undertaking several measures to encourage more people to take the train.

This has included a national marketing campaign, working with the UK government to introduce new flexible season tickets, providing enhanced cleaning and improving information on train capacity so that customers can avoid the busiest times.

Andy Bagnall, Director General of the Rail Delivery Group, said:

“We all want to support the amazing cafes, restaurants, pubs and clubs that make London such a great place to live and work. Unlike other modes of transport, train travel delivers so much more than a journey for the capital – it connects Londoners to jobs and opportunities, tackles congestion and makes the air in our city cleaner.

“Train companies are doing their bit to deliver a national recovery, including continuing to help passengers travel with confidence by ensuring trains are clean and well ventilated and introducing innovations like part time season tickets. Closing the gap between commuting in London and elsewhere will help level up the country rather than levelling down the capital.”

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