RAIL patronage in Australia has fallen by nearly 50% between June and September, highlighting the impact of Covid-19 lockdown restrictions.

Nationally, passenger numbers fell by 67.23 million or 49.7% compared to the previous quarter and remained 18.4% lower than the same time the previous year.

Australasian Railway Association (ARA) CEO, Ms Caroline Wilkie, says national patronage was 70.5% lower than pre-Covid levels, with the most significant falls recorded in New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT).

“While the fall in passenger numbers comes as no surprise, it is worth acknowledging the important work of the rail industry to keep essential services operating even during the toughest of lockdowns,” Wilkie said.

“The good news is we expect to see an upward trend from October onwards due to the increasing vaccination rate and easing restrictions.”

Patronage fell in all states except Western Australia where rail use rose 9.4%.