AERA held a General Meeting with zoom on July 29th. Members reviewed the changing travel scene as the Government advice on “essential travel only” was relaxed and replaced by emphasis on “safer travel.” We consider it is vital to have  a joint effort by all stakeholders to highlight the advantages of rail as a safe way to travel.

We were pleased to welcome Nick Brookes, General Secretary of ALLRAIL, the Europe-wide association for new entrants in the passenger market. He stressed the importance of a level playing field for competition between operators, especially to help achieve modal shift as part of the EU Green Deal. The experience of Italian high-speed operators, from both the public and the private sector, over the past 8 years showed what could be achieved.

We also welcomed Philip Barnard, International Manager of the Rail Delivery Group, describing  its work with Train Operating Companies not only to improve service delivery but also “to make rail the first choice of transport for inbound travellers to Great Britain.”  For example, domestic rail tickets should be sold at the same time as airline tickets.

Magali Kennedy of SNCF also reported that French railways  were now near to operating a full timetable again, following  the coronavirus lockdown, with enhanced hygiene and every seat bookable.