At the meeting of WMTDC on 27 May, I asked whether TfWM would lobby the organisers of the national railcard scheme (the Rail Delivery Group), with a view to them compensating railcard holders for pandemic-related loss of discounted rail travel opportunities, by extending the validity of senior, disabled and young persons’ railcards beyond their current expiry dates by the amount of time lost to would-be users as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions on travel.
TfWM in its response stated its support for the extension of validity of Railcards to reflect non-use as a result of Covid-19 travel restrictions, and said that it had raised the matter directly with the DfT, who confirmed it was working directly with the Rail Delivery Group to consider options for customers, but that, as of late May 2020, no decision had been made. TfWM were seeking an appropriate contact at RDG and would then raise the matter directly with them.
On 6 July, Andrew Rosendell, MP for Romford, in a Parliamentary question, asked the Secretary of State for Transport what steps his Department was taking to ensure that railcard users who had been unable to use their card during the Covid-19 outbreak receive appropriate compen-sation or an extension, and was advised in a written response that the Rail Delivery Group was working with train companies on a number of ways to assist railcard holders in light of the Covid-19 restrictions, and that Departmental officials had been engaging regularly with the RDG as they consider possible changes to the railcard conditions.
My understanding at the time of writing is that, well over two months on, there has still been no decision on extension of validity, whereas many other organisations, for example, the National Trust, and in our own region, the Black Country Museum, have extended the validity of one-year passes, so my question is: can TfWM confirm:
- that the RDG still has not come to a decision?
- assuming there still is no decision, whether TfWM did identify a contact at RDG, and if so, what came out of it?
- that TfWM will encourage the RDG both directly, and by asking all West Midlands MPs to lobby RDG, for an early, fair (and arguably long-overdue) decision on compensation by way of an extension of, say, four months, to the validity of railcards that are to be, or already have been, renewed, since the start of the pandemic restrictions?