Severnside Community Rail Partnership (SCRP) have published their annual progress report. The Severnside CRP Progress Report contains good news about local community initiatives, and bad, but not unexpected, news about local rail ridership plummeting during COVID -19.
SCRP is a Community Interest Company who receive funding from train operating companies, local authorities and specific grants from other sources. These funds are spent on delivering local community projects around rail travel, improving station environments and promoting use of rail for leisure – the latter aim temporarily paused during COVID-19.
Severnside CRP Community initiatives
FoSBR members have commented how they admired pictures of the new artworks at Stapleton Road, news of the energetic Friends of Parson Street Railway Station group and the forthcoming (post-COVID) “Days Out from Local Station” guides and walking maps.
The Severnside CRP Progress Report also contains statistics that show the impact of COVID-19 on passenger numbers. Previously we had only seen Office for Rail and Road (ORR) figures to the period up to March 2020, at the very start of the pandemic. SCRP have a process to annualise the data with interim figures for the complete calendar year to December 2020.
Nine months of the COVID effect caused 2020 Severn Beach Line passenger numbers to fall to half those of 2019. This low level of ridership was last seen in 2009.
If we assume that the first three months of the year were at 100% of normal ridership on the Severn Beach Line, then the next nine months ran at 33% of normal ridership in order to average out at a 50% drop in passenger numbers for the calendar year.
According to the above table, the Severn Beach Line has fared better than other regional services. Bristol – Taunton passenger numbers have dropped by 53% and both Cardiff – Portsmouth and Bristol – Great Malvern passenger numbers dropped by 58%.
Longer-distance leisure and commuter journeys have fared even worse. In the first lockdown of April 2020, it was reported that trains were running 80% empty. In November 2020, passenger numbers nationally were down to 31% of the levels of the previous year and there is concern that 20% of commuters will stay away from rail travel indefinitely.
We’ve updated our Passenger Growth page with the latest Severn Beach Line figures from SCRP. At the time of writing, travel restrictions are gradually being lifted, and we hope that 2021 sees a return to higher levels of leisure and commuter rail use in the new normal.