More trains set to run – but how can you travel safely to work?
PUBLISHED: 10:12 12 May 2020 | UPDATED: 11:56 12 May 2020
Greater Anglia is to increase the number of trains it runs on services in the region as the government has published new guidance on remaining safe on public transport.
The Department for Transport has said ideally people should walk or cycle to work if that is practical. If not, it suggests they should use a private car.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said that if social distancing rules are followed, trains can carry only about 10% of capacity – so people should avoid them if possible.
The news comes as Greater Anglia announced plans to increase the number of trains it runs from next Monday – but warned they should only be used for essential work journeys.
The government said if there is no alternative to public transport, they have provided a list of measures to make journeys as safe as possible:
■ Keeping two metres apart from others wherever possible
■ Wearing a face covering if you can
■ Using contactless payment where possible
■ Avoiding rush hour travel where feasible
■ Washing or sanitising your hands as soon as possible before and after travel
■ Following advice from staff and being considerate to others
However it acknowledges the two-metre guidance might not always be practical and that “there may be situations where you can’t keep a suitable distance from people”, such as on busier services or at peak times.
The document states: “In these cases you should avoid physical contact, try to face away from other people.”
It goes on: “The risk of infection increases the closer you are to another person with the virus and the amount of time you spend in close contact.”
From Monday, Greater Anglia will run an amended Saturday timetable, which sees increased frequency on the Great Eastern Main Line. Regional lines will remain as they are currently, but the hourly Norwich to Cambridge service will now run as a direct through service to Stansted Airport again.
The Norwich-London intercity service, will continue to run once an hour, but during peak periods will not call at Colchester or Chelmsford running non-stop between Manningtree and Stratford.
Passengers at Colchester will be served by three trains per hour and at Chelmsford by four trains per hour on the Great Eastern Main Line.
Jamie Burles, Greater Anglia managing director, said: “Government advice is still to avoid public transport, so please only travel with us if your journey is absolutely essential.
“We are continuously monitoring passenger numbers to make sure customers can continue to follow government and Public Health England guidelines on social distancing wherever possible.
“Our top priority is that customers and staff can travel safely while the coronavirus outbreak persists. We will continue to pay particular attention to cleaning high contact areas on our trains and stations such as push buttons, door handles and grab rails.
“We would kindly encourage customers to buy tickets online or via our app. If that’s not possible then please use contactless payment on our ticket vending machines.
“We have marked up our trains and stations with tape and markings to help customers to socially distance. A one door in and one door out system may be in operation on some trains or stations, please look or listen out for instructions from our staff.
“There are other ways that customers can help us to keep them safe – please consider starting or finishing work earlier or later so that not everyone is travelling at the same time.”
All transport operators have been issued guidance on ensuring stations and services are regularly cleaned, making clear to passengers how to stay two metres apart where possible in stations, airports and ports, and to ensure routes for passengers are clearly communicated to avoid crowding.
The government’s guidance also sets out steps operators should take to provide safe workplaces and services for their staff and passengers across all modes of private and public transport.
Mr Shapps said: “Transport operators and staff have been working hard to ensure that people who need to get to work are able to do so, including crucial NHS workers and all those on the frontline of the fight against the virus.
“Alongside the cycling and walking revolution we are launching, and clear guidance to passengers and operators published today, we can all play our part by following the advice and reducing pressure on public transport.
“If we take these steps, all those who need to use public transport should feel confident that they can do so safely, with the space to maintain social distancing as far as possible.”
This follows a £2bn package of cycling and walking investment announced on Saturday, aimed at delivering a green revolution in travel. It will aim to ease the pressure on public transport services by helping more people than ever choose alternative forms of travel.
This included £250million for local authorities in England to create pop-up bike lanes with protected space for cycling, wider pavements, safer junctions, and cycle and bus-only corridors.
Greater Anglia has been running trains for essential workers only that have been carrying only about 5% of normal passenger numbers – the cost of running the services has been met by the government.
But as more people do start to return to work, passenger numbers are likely to rise. Managing director Jamie Burles said last month that the company was looking at ways of ensuring it could carry passengers safely once demand for rail services increased.
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