Free bacon sandwiches and coffee to lure commuters back on the railways

Commuters will be offered free bacon sandwiches and coffee as part of a government charm offensive to get Britons back on the railways.

A commuter rewards website is being launched that will also offer free audiobooks and discounted theatre tickets. Passengers only need to sign up online and will receive a QR code to claim their perks.

Businesses signed up to the scheme include bakery chain Greggs and coffee shop Pure. The number of free bacon rolls will be limited to 1,000 each day, however.

Boris Johnson has struggled to convince the public to return to the office despite dropping advice to work from home last week.

Passenger numbers have risen by just 5pc since so-called Plan B restrictions were lifted. They are currently at just 50pc of pre-pandemic levels.

The end of rail franchising means that taxpayers must make up the shortfall for running trains that are not at normal capacity. Keeping services running during the pandemic has cost the Exchequer billions of pounds. Increasing passenger numbers will help limit the burden on the public purse.

Rail bosses said that the rewards website could also give passengers the opportunity to learn a new skill during their commute and enjoy some “me time”.

The rollout would also benefit businesses that have been hit by a sharp reduction in footfall at train stations.

Companies will foot the bill for the discounts and freebies, hoping to recoup the costs by upselling items in stores.

Jacqueline Starr, head at trade body Rail Delivery Group said: “Taking the train is more than just a journey – it benefits the environment, economy and local businesses.”

Spencer Craig, the chief executive of Pure, said: “Like most businesses that rely on the commuter market we saw our customer base drop by over 50pc due to the work from home restrictions coming into force, and rail commuters no longer coming into the city.”

The move to entice commuters back to the railways comes as train operators continue to run reduced schedules with around one in four trains cut.

Emergency timetables introduced in response to the omicron variant will remain in place until the middle of February, the Telegraph revealed over the weekend. 

The reduced services led to criticism from commuter groups. Emma Gibson, from London Travelwatch, said: “No one returning to the office this week will want to turn up at their local station and find their train isn’t running or face overcrowding when their train does turn up.

“We’ve been asking train companies to make sure that they increase the number of trains on their routes as soon as they can to take account of increasing demand from commuters. Temporary cuts to train services due to Covid must not become the norm.”

Could incentives like free bacon sandwiches, coffee, audiobooks and discounted theatre tickets lure you back on the railways? Let us know in the comments section below

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