Industry body the Rail Delivery Group (RDG) has launched a new rewards scheme in a bid to entice commuters back to railways. Government data released in December showed the number of distance travelled by rail dropped a staggering 80 percent in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Launched on Thursday, the scheme from the RDG offers commuters complimentary breakfast food, hot drinks and app subscriptions.
App offers include a one-month subscription to the Mindfulness App, a two month audiobook subscription with audiobooks.com and three months’ free on TIDAL HiFi music.
For food, 2,000 Greggs vouchers in total will be available at launch, presented on a first-come-first served basis, with complimentary hot drinks also available in London and at Gatwick Airport from food outlet Pure.
Passengers do not need a train ticket to access the rewards programme and are only required to enter a phone number, email address and details of a regular commute to access the freebies at nationalrail.co.uk/commuter.
Jacqueline Starr, RDG chief executive, said the scheme will help commuters and businesses bounce back after the coronavirus pandemic devastated railway journeys.
She said: “Taking the train is more than just a journey, it benefits the environment, economy and local businesses.
“To encourage and support commuters as they return, the rail industry has launched a new commuter rewards website offering free hot drinks, mindfulness, course upgrades, music streaming, audiobooks and more to help enhance customers’ on-train and at-destination experiences.”
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Independent watchdog Transport Focus also said: “It’s good to see the railway offering commuters discounts and offers.
“The railway needs to entice passengers back on board. This means delivering passengers’ priorities, including punctual and reliable services, enough space on board and improved value for money tickets.”
After Boris Johnson said the Government was no longer asking staff to work from home on January 19, demand for peak time trains has increased by 5 percent according to the RDG.
However, according to provisional Department for Transport figures, overall passenger numbers on Monday were still only at 53 percent of pre-Covid levels.
Bruce Williamson, national press officer at passenger campaign group Rail Future welcomed the “sweetener”, but said that more should be done to improve pricing and reliability.
He told i: “Any sweetener, I suppose, is nice but what we really need to address are the fundamentals which are the soaring cost of tickets and the quality of the service.
“If they want to attract commuters back to the railways we need reliable service for people to use.
“What is important is the quality of the product not the wrapping.”
It comes after a spike in Covid cases over the New Year period led to mass rail staff absences.
A RDG spokesperson told City A.M. at the time that “staff absences are at such a high level that we need to do more”.
On Wednesday, the UK recorded 102,292 Covid cases and 346 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.
In the seven days leading up to January 26, the UK recorded 646,796 cases and 1,831 deaths.
Since the pandemic began, the UK has recorded 16,149,319 cases and 154,702 deaths within 28 days of a positive test.