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Reduced timetable to keep the country connected

Rather than a standard newsletter, this is a brief update on the measures we are taking to ensure that our railways, and the people who work on them, are able to help key workers like nurses, police officers and firefighters get to work.

These are exceptional times. COVID-19 is changing how everyone in the UK lives, works and travels. But we know that Britain’s railway is a vital artery that keeps the economic and social lifeblood of the nation connected and we wanted to update you on what is happening to train services. From Monday 23 March, Britain’s railway will be moving to a reduced timetable to ensure that train services can keep running throughout a prolonged coronavirus outbreak. This follows government advice asking people to avoid all but essential travel.

Robert Nisbet,
Rail Delivery Group, Nations & Regions Director

“At a time of extraordinary national challenge, the measures rail companies are putting in place with government will preserve services so that we can continue to get key workers to where they need to be, deliver food to supermarkets and get fuel to power stations.”

The national move to a reduced timetable - agreed with government - will see approximately half the usual number of trains running compared to a normal weekday and will remain in place until further notice, though service levels will be kept under regular review. This balances the currently significantly reduced levels of demand, with the need to reduce the number of people required to run the network, which will ensure there are enough staff to keep services running in the coming weeks and months.

Wherever possible, train operators are ensuring that early morning and late evening services that key workers may use to and from their place of work, will remain in timetables. Reducing timetabled services also frees up space so that vital supplies can go by rail as lorry drivers become unable to work – on average, a freight train carries the same as 76 lorries.

Other measures the rail industry has been taking include:

  • Stepping up cleaning in stations and on trains with a particular focus on high-touch areas like handrails and ticket machines
  • Supporting the national effort to contain the spread of the virus by putting Public Health England posters up at stations and on trains
  • Waiving fees for refunding and rescheduling journeys on all anytime, off-peak and advance tickets
  • Supporting retailers in Britain’s busiest and biggest stations, and small business tenants across their commercial estate, with Network Rail cancelling all first quarter rent payments, providing significant relief for small businesses who are worried about the impact of the virus on their footfall.

Our top priority is that we keep our passengers safe and our frontline staff safe as they keep the railways operating as effectively and reliably as possible, even in in this most challenging of situations.

Click here for the latest travel advice.

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Big Plan. Big Changes. is a rail industry campaign driven by Rail Delivery Group. Copyright © 2019 Rail Delivery Group.

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Last updated 20th March, 2020