Conductors are moving forward with plans to add more services between Northampton and London amid fears the return of face masks could hit passenger numbers again.
The government announced earlier this week that anyone using buses or trains or entering shops must wear a face cover as new Covid-19 rules have been introduced to combat the Omicron variant.
But the London Northwestern Railway will restore an additional train from Castle Station to the capital later this month after seeing passenger numbers increase.
LNR’s Director of Customer Experience Lawrence Bowman said: âOver the past few months, we’ve been delighted to welcome more customers to the railroad following the easing of restrictions on coronaviruses.
âIn response to customer feedback and the number of our passengers, the time has come to introduce an additional high speed train between Northampton and London on weekdays.
“This means that the departure times for many of our services will change, which is why we urge our customers to carefully check their routes.”
Official figures have revealed the astonishing drop in passenger numbers at Northampton during the coronavirus pandemic.
Statistics from the Office of Rail and Road showed that around 657,000 passengers used Castle Station between March 2020 and March 21.
This was 80% less than in 2019-2020, when 3.2 million people traveled by train.
LNR says that even now the number of trips made is only 60% of pre-Covid levels.
But the company, which operates services between Euston, Birmingham and the North West, says there has been a shift from commuting to leisure.
Thus, from 12 December, a second hourly “rapid service” between Northampton and Euston will offer passengers a choice of three trains per hour to the capital.
This will use up the rolling stock released by cutting the Northampton-Birmingham New St service early in the morning at 7.14am. Passengers are advised to use the 6:59 am or 7:37 am departures from Northampton as an alternative.