News on the vaccine gets more and more positive (and congratulations to the Courtyard team working from Christ’s Hospital for hitting an incredible 10,000 jabs delivered!).
We have a way to go yet but we really can look forward to life steadily returning to normal.
It is possible that new ways of working will emerge from the pandemic. For some the days of commuting five days a week may never return - a day or two a week of home working may suit employer and employee alike. They may not be the only beneficiaries: not only may family life and local groups benefit from time spent more productively off the train, local coffee shops, pubs and restaurants may benefit from the greater availability of local customers. There is a lot of understandable concern across these sectors and in particular about retail and leisure in the big city centres losing out - but the corollary may be a renaissance in local centres where commuters live.
The Government to reflect how future working patterns may evolve has committed to introducing new ‘flexible season tickets’. While the cost of individual commuting journeys continues to increase, meeting the requirement for investment in the services, more flexible tickets should save hundreds of pounds for those commuting for only part of the week.
Recently I have been in discussions with GTR/Network Rail about the return to “normal”. It is sobering to see quite how punctual the service has been recently with fewer services and many fewer passengers.... The challenge is to maintain that level of services as customers and services return.
This requires continued investment. GTR and Network Rail have planned works this summer to improve the Arun Valley Line. The good news is that the Line is scheduled for investment. My frustration is that work will close the line for nine days in August (and on several weekend days either side) when I sincerely hope travel will be otherwise back to normal. However I recognise that the pandemic reduced Network Rail’s ability to conduct work while Covid and they were rightly reluctant to stop services for maintenance when they were being relied on by key workers.
It is hoped that a concentrated activity will prevent months of on-off services especially as Sunday maintenance so often results in Monday disruption.
The investment will make our line more reliable (and ease traffic flow past Littlehaven station through upgrades to the platform improving the working of the level crossing). While I welcome it, we need more ongoing investment - both in the line and in our local station infrastructure.