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ORR’s rail industry finance report shows impact of COVID-19 pandemic

Posted: 1 December 2021 | | No comments yet

The Office of Rail and Road has published its latest finance report which highlights just how much the rail industry was substantially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 to 2021.

ORR's rail industry finance report shows impact of COVID-19 pandemic

Credit: Office of Rail and Road (ORR)

Britain’s Office of Rail and Road’s (ORR) Rail Industry Finance (UK) report shows the income, expenditure, and government funding of the UK rail industry for the financial year 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021.

The rail industry in 2020 to 2021 was substantially affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Passenger journeys fell to historically low levels and the government used emergency measures to keep train services running, which led to a large increase in train operator subsidy.

The rail industry has started to recover from the impact of the pandemic. In 2021 to 2022 Q1 (April to June 2021) 182 million rail passenger journeys were made in Great Britain, more than five times the 35 million journeys made in 2020 to 2021 Q1.

The main points of the report include:

  • As a whole, the industry in 2020 to 2021 cost £20.7 billion, which was funded through fares and other passenger income (£2.5 billion), government (£16.9 billion) and other sources (£1.3 billion). 
  • Fares income in 2020 to 2021 was £1.8 billion, a drop of £8.6 billion from the previous year, due to the impact of the pandemic. The number of passenger journeys reduced by 77.7 per cent in 2020 to 2021 (compared to 2019 to 2020).
  • Government funding of the operational railway increased by £10.4 billion to £16.9 billion largely due to the use of emergency measures to support passenger train operators.
  • Industry expenditure was £21.0 billion in 2020 to 2021. This represents a £0.8 billion annual increase. The rail industry ran 20.9 per cent fewer services, which meant that variable expenditure, such as fuel, Network Rail charges etc. reduced. The pandemic also increased expenditure in some areas such as the cost of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), additional cleaning costs, and staff absences.

The full report is available from the ORR here.

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