Train services in England, Scotland, and Wales will start operating services from today. Rail services are restoring 90 percent of services as schools reopen and the government is encouraging people to return to work.
However, the remaining services that are suspended by the government are not resuming sooner than December. Therefore, unions are urging the government to fully restore the timetables. Due to the concerns that schedules may end up being permanently cut.
Follow the Safety Measures
Train operators will be adding extra trains to some peak routes. Most importantly on services serving schools, although trains can only safely carry around half of their capacity due to social distancing requirements.
Staff will also be on hand to ensure social distancing among older children and explain the rules on face coverings.
Rail passenger numbers are currently about one-third of pre-pandemic levels.
Gaining Confidence Back
Rail Delivery Group CEO Jacqueline Starr says operators “want people to feel confident taking the train.”
She said, “Rail companies are doing everything they can to ensure people start the term with a smooth journey. Including boosting cleaning, providing sanitizer at stations, and offering better information about busy services.”
“Some train times will change so we’re asking people to check before they travel and plan their journeys for quieter times if possible.”
Transport Focus, the passenger watchdog, appreciated the increase in services. Chief executive Anthony Smith said, “The rail industry must focus on maintaining good performance. So that passengers can travel with confidence. Disruption and any crowding from this will be especially unwelcome.”
Mick Lynch, the RMT union’s senior assistant general secretary, called the 10 percent reduction to services throughout autumn. “A retrograde and damaging step that flies in the face of the government plans to get Britain back to work.” Describing it as a “hostile act that could usher in further and deeper cuts down the line”.
He said, “Any moves towards transport austerity with the purpose of slashing services, jobs, and conditions will be vehemently opposed by RMT every step of the way.”
The government is not accepting the suggestions that services would be cut in the long term. And said it is an inaccurate and untrue statement.
The Department for Transport said, “We have asked operators to increase service levels ahead of schools returning in September. Ensuring current excellent reliability levels are maintained while providing more space for social distancing and extra capacity for the future.”
“With passengers returning as the economy restarts. Our intervention means the railway is ready and able to support the national recovery from COVID.”