The return to rail: Network Rail spends £1.8bn to reassure anxious passengers

Video report by ITV News Meridian's Mike Pearse

Network Rail has today (1 September) revealed it has spent more than £1.8 billion pounds in the South and South East to reassure passengers who may be anxious, as they return to work, that the network is 'safe and reliable'.

The company says they fully understand that with many not travelling for eighteen months some may feel nervous.

Managing Director John Halsall said: "It's quite understandable that people will be a little bit anxious and I completely get that."

Watch: John Halsall, Network Rail Southern, Managing Director

"That's why my team and the train operating companies have put in so much effort to making sure trains are clean, stations are clean, that one-way systems are in place.

"I'm really confident that when people try the railway, they'll find the experience far better than they were worried about."

Network Rail Southern which covers Kent, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset and Wiltshire says 4,000 engineers have continued to work as normal.

Watch: How do commuters feel about taking the trains after lockdown?

Network Rail Wessex route, which maintains and operates tracks from Waterloo to Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset, and Wiltshire, spent almost £580m maintaining and upgrading the railway during lockdown.

Credit: Network Rail

Some have even moved out of their homes to keep systems maintained and upgraded during the pandemic.

While the number of people travelling is not expected to go back to pre-Covid levels, hundreds of thousands more are expected to use trains from this week as more offices reopen and schools go back.