News | Published May 17 2020

Social distancing to be introduced on railways

Rail passengers have been told to purchase advance tickets and wear facial coverings as part of new social distancing measures when travelling on trains.

Such measures will be in force on the West Coast Mainline from Monday, with operator Avanti West Coast adding that carriages may only be allowed to fill to a quarter of capacity.

Services linking London, Glasgow, Manchester, and Birmingham have all been affected and passengers risk being turned away if they do not adhere to the new guidance.

Avanti managing director Phil Whittingham said: "We're appealing to our valued customers to help us and other passengers by only travelling with a reservation.

"If everyone does this, we will be able to keep social distancing in place on board, both for our customers and our people.

"If customers do turn up without a reservation, we'll do our best to help but we can't guarantee they'll be able to take the train they want."

The measures are to discourage the use of train station facilities and avoid staff members having to handle cash.

Avanti also advises passengers check before travelling, since train times are subject to change.

Among other measures, rail staff will all be instructed to wear face masks and waiting rooms and lounges at stations will be closed. Trains and stations will also be more regularly and thoroughly cleaned, with particular emphasis on regular contact points such as door buttons and ticket machines.

Refreshment shops will be closed on board some Avanti services including Voyager trains, while Pendolino services will have shops open but will not accept reusable cups.

The new rules will come into force alongside a new timetable on Monday, as the government has sought to increase capacity to accommodate for extra commuters as it encourages more people to return to work, despite telling people to avoid public transport wear possible.

From Monday, train services will be running at 70 per cent capacity compared to the normal operating timetable, having run at 50 per cent capacity through the duration of the lockdown thus far.

The government has suggested that work hours could be staggered to avoid overcrowding on trains.

Meanwhile, Chiltern Railways will launch its own new timetable on May 18, and has advised its passengers in the same manner to book advance tickets and wear facial coverings.

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Authored by

Alexander Bridge-Wilkinson
Junior Editor
May 17 2020

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