Transport User Voice – January 2021 – A very different Christmas

17 December 2020

Around Great Britain


As coronavirus rates across Wales continue to be a cause for concern, Christmas travel will be very different this year. It is important for operators to be mindful that many passengers may not have travelled since the initial lockdown in March as the ‘work from home if you can’ message has been in operation in Wales throughout the pandemic.

Passengers need reassurance about the cleaning measures in place, ticketing options, engineering works affecting their journey over the festive period and any new processes such as booking/reservations. We have been working closely with Transport for Wales Rail (TfW Rail), feeding back on clarity of information on its website around Christmas travel. TfW Rail’s new capacity checker is a welcome addition to the various tools available to help passengers plan their journey. We have been pushing for further improvements that can be made to this to support passengers in finding the best time to travel to enable them to maintain social distancing.

Wales’ first minister has recently announced a revised coronavirus control plan. The plan sets out four alert levels from level one (low risk) to level four (very high risk). Wales will face new restrictions after 24 December and furthermore, a full national lockdown has been announced for Wales from 28 December. It will be of utmost importance to ensure that information about who can travel is crystal clear and accessible, particularly in border areas.


ScotRail introduced a new timetable from 13 December 2020. As passenger journeys have fallen this year in response to the pandemic, some services have been withdrawn. In the new timetable, ScotRail is operating 81 per cent of normal services, providing hundreds of thousands of seats each day.

As Christmas travel guidance is published following the announcement on the easing of Covid restrictions, we’re all probably thinking about what we might do in the five-day Christmas window (23 to 27 December). We’re working with public transport operators in Scotland to make it easier for passengers by letting them know what is on sale when and how busy services are expected to be.

We have responded to the Scottish Government’s consultation ‘Free bus travel for people resident in Scotland aged under 19’, making use of our specific research with young people which set out to understand the current experiences and views of young bus passengers and how the industry could attract and retain them as the bus users of tomorrow.


It’s been a busy month for London TravelWatch heading into the holiday period. This includes publishing a festive guide to help those who need to travel over Christmas which includes some tips on what tickets to buy, the engineering works that are taking place and links to useful webpages.

Earlier this month London TravelWatch presented a webinar on the initial findings from interviews and surveys about what transport might look like in London after the pandemic. The webinar had some great feedback from those who watched on YouTube. London TravelWatch is looking to publish a report on this early next year so keep an eye out for that. See the London TravelWatch website to watch the webinar back.

Finally, London TravelWatch produced a short report following speculation that Transport for London (TfL) would be removing the option to buy tickets using cash at all ticket offices and machines on the London Underground, London Overground and DLR. London TravelWatch received comments from over 250 people across London expressing their concerns about this and how this will negatively affect their lives. TfL suggested an alternative of topping up using cash at a retail shop. However London TravelWatch found that in several instances the shop was either too far away from the station or there wasn’t one available at all. The report has been circulated within the senior team at TfL and London TravelWatch expects a response from the Transport Commissioner Andy Byford to this letter very soon.


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