Boris Johnson hints at part-time rail season tickets to encourage workers back to offices

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Boris Johnson today hinted that ‘flexible’ season tickets could be introduced soon to encourage workers to get back to offices.

The PM said the government and rail companies were cooperating ‘at pace’ to develop tickets that can be used a few times a week.

The news came as the government stepped up its efforts to get Britons to return to workplaces, amid fears that deserted town and city centres are on the verge of collapse. 

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said that more than half of staff were in the office at her department. But she said it was down to employers and employees to discuss their arrangements. 

Many companies say they cannot accommodate the normal staffing levels at their bases due to coronavirus social distancing rules.

Boris Johnson (pictured in the Commons today) said the government and rail companies were cooperating 'at pace' to develop tickets that can be used a few times a week

Boris Johnson (pictured in the Commons today) said the government and rail companies were cooperating ‘at pace’ to develop tickets that can be used a few times a week

Travellers at Waterloo Station in London this week, a key commuter route into the city

Travellers at Waterloo Station in London this week, a key commuter route into the city

And at PMQs, Tory former minister Damian Green pointed out that commuters in his Kent constituency would be unable to get better value season tickets for coming in two or three days a week. 

In counties surrounding London, it is typically cheaper to get a weekly ticket than three peak day returns. 

Mr Johnson said: ‘We are working at pace with rail companies to try to deliver new products, in terms of ticketing, which ensure not just better value, but also enable people to get back to work in a flexible way.’

Amid a push for civil servants to lead from the front, Ms Coffey said ‘more than half’ of staff are ‘fully back in the offices’ at the DWP.

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, she added: ‘But even then we have capacity on how many people can be in a Covid-safe environment within our workplace.’

Ms Coffey said that 799 of the department’s 804 sites are open, and hoped that children returning to school would give parents more opportunities to go back to the office.

The minister told the programme: ‘It’s important that employers and employees have that discussion about Covid-safe environments,’ and added: ‘There’ll be more opportunities for parents to go back into the office if that’s what is the best thing for them and their employer.’

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said that more than half of staff were in the office at her department

Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey said that more than half of staff were in the office at her department

Pictures from the previously bustling City of London this week have shown empty streets and Tube stations at rush hour

Pictures from the previously bustling City of London this week have shown empty streets and Tube stations at rush hour

At PMQs, Tory former minister Damian Green pointed out that commuters in his Kent constituency would be unable to get better value season tickets for coming in two or three days a week

At PMQs, Tory former minister Damian Green pointed out that commuters in his Kent constituency would be unable to get better value season tickets for coming in two or three days a week

Pictures from the previously bustling City of London this week have shown empty streets and Tube stations at rush hour.

But the Prime Minister has claimed that people are returning ‘in huge numbers to the office’.

A Downing Street spokesman said: ‘We’ve been clear with departments that they need to ensure Government workspaces are Covid-secure and permanent secretaries have been undertaking the work to return civil servants to the office or workplace.’

Responding, Mr Johnson said: ‘This is a leader of the Opposition who backed remaining in the EU and now is totally silent on the subject, now has performed a U-turn. He backed – in fact he still does Mr Speaker – this is a leader of the Opposition who supported an IRA-condoning politician who wanted to get out of Nato and now says absolutely nothing. This is a leader of the Opposition who sat on the front bench whilst there was anti-Semitism…’

Mr Johnson’s comments were cut off by the Speaker who called for Order.

Source


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