'Don't all rush at once' as trains return


A number of rail operators have reintroduced rail services cut as a result of the pandemic but have warned of limited capacity under social distancing requirements.

An update to the National Rail app tells passengers if a specific train or station is looking busy. It will take operational messages about busy trains and stations that are sent by frontline rail staff to control rooms and display these in ‘passenger-friendly’ language on their journey planning websites and apps.

People will see a red or yellow warning triangle when they search their journey and will be able to find out more by clicking on it.

Despite resuming operation of its standard weekly timetable on Monday (18 May), c2c, which runs services between Fenchurch Street and Shoeburyness, said that social distancing means that capacity remains extremely limited.

It urged passengers to avoid its busiest trains in the morning and evening peak.

Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR), which runs Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern trains, also asked passengers ‘to help keep the railway clear for key workers and others who need it most’ during rush hour.

The firm has been running a reduced service because staffing levels have been affected by coronavirus but has been adding extra services and lengthening trains when NHS workers and others have sent in reports of busy trains.

East Croydon station

GTR said it made further improvements from Friday (15 June) with some extra services and longer trains to improve capacity where it is needed. On the Great Northern suburban services to Moorgate, there are additional early morning services and evening peak trains, plus extra carriages in the morning and evening peak on the busy Southern route between Epsom and London Victoria via Sutton.

Chief operating officer Steve White said: ‘Lockdown is easing from Monday but capacity on the rail network remains limited, especially in the morning peak, due to the requirement for social distancing. Please wear a face covering and help us keep trains clear for those who really need them by avoiding the busiest times of the day.’

GTR said it is supporting social distancing with a wide range of measures (see photos below):

  • One-way and queuing systems at the busiest stations, with 19,000 floor signs across the network, 25,000 train signs, posters, adverts and announcements to remind people to socially distance
  • 1,000 touch-free hand sanitiser points have been put in at stations
  • A staff app to monitor passenger volumes and movements to identify ‘hot spots’ across the network, using data from trains, ticket sales, ticket gates, and from staff seeing where social distancing may not be being observed. This can also be used to modify services where possible.

There is also an enhanced cleaning regime focused on touch points (see photos and video below):

  • All 2,700 train carriages are sanitised every night and…
  • GTR has treated all its trains with a powerful new viruscide which sticks to surfaces, killing viruses for up to 30 days.
  • This product is also being used to treat stations, offices and other staff locations such as depots.

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