Thousands of commuters avoiding trains and still working from home

Some two thirds of season ticket holders have yet to return to using the town’s main railway station despite calls from the government for people to go back to their offices, figures reveal.

According to data released by the Office of Rail and Road, around 4,684 season ticket holders used Tonbridge Station every day in 2018/2019.

The figures, which estimate entrances and exits to train stations, show there were around 2.4 million season ticket exits and entrances at the station last year.

Rail company Southeastern has said that while passenger figures were now ‘creeping up’, the number of people using its services is only at 30 per cent from this time last year.

The Times approached the rail company for a more detailed breakdown on commuter numbers and found an estimated 3,264 commuters in Tonbridge are yet to return to travelling to work by rail.

Tonbridge Station has seen its commuter numbers fall to just 1,400.

By comparison, Tunbridge Wells Railway Station has seen its commuter numbers fall from 3,472 a day to just 1,041.

Around 10,000 workers in Tonbridge have been on furlough during the Covid crisis and it is not known how many used the train service, but many former commuters are now working at home.

Tonbridge Line Commuters, the largest rail commuter organisation in Kent, says the drop off in passenger numbers has been extremely noticeable.

“Last time I was on the platform at Tonbridge Station there was hardly anybody there,” said vice-chairman, John Reynolds. “Usually there would have been 50 to 60 people, but there were just five.”

The news comes after the Office of National Statistics released the Retail Prices Index [RPI] last week.

Rail fares are linked to the RPI, indicating that season ticket prices are expected to rise in January by 1.6 per cent.

The increase will see the cost of an annual season ticket from Tonbridge to London Terminals go from £3,540 to £3,596.

“The increase is too high,” insisted John Reynolds. “It should be linked to the Consumer Price Index, just like the wages of essential workers such as nurses are – and that would mean a maximum of one percent.”

What people are saving by working from home:

MANY Tonbridge commuters who are still working from home have cancelled their annual season tickets and could be saving more than £3,500 every year – nearly £300 a month.

For those that normally have to pay to park at the town’s Priory Street car park, they are saving more than £4,625 a year on rail fares and parking charges by working from home.

And workers that needed to use the underground to get to their office as well as park their car, could be saving nearly £6,500 a year – or around £550 a month.

But the vice chairman of Tonbridge Rail Commuters, John Reynolds, says it may not be as simple as that.

“Not everybody is working from home five days a week. Some people are having to go into the office two or three days, but they are still being forced to buy a season ticket.”

He continued: “What we need is a more flexible or a discounted season ticket for these part time workers.”


Share this article

Recommended articles


Please enter a search term below.

Subscribe To Our Newsletter