Coronavirus COVID-19

Briefing to members and the travelling public

Railfuture takes the health and safety of its members and the travelling public extremely seriously, as does the rail industry with its passengers and staff. We want to campaign in a safe environment, aware of the dangers of COVID-19, taking account of measures being taken by government, and aware of advice from government and health organisations.

Government advice

To protect yourself and to ensure compliance with legal requirements it is essential to keep abreast of government advice, noting that there are differences between England, Scotland and Wales. The Scottish and Welsh Governments have legal responsibility for COVID-19 advice in Scotland and Wales which apply to everybody when in those countries.

The GOV.UK website gives up to date information for England and GOV.Scot and GOV.Wales give up to date information for Scotland and Wales.

NHS advice, getting a test, Track and Trace

The NHS website gives advice on how to protect yourself against COVID-19.

Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently and not touching your face when out and about, together with social distancing, remain the principal levels of defence against contracting COVID-19.

The NHS Website also gives advice on symptoms of COVID-19, how to arrange a test to detect if you have the virus and how the new Track and Trace system works. The test is now available to everybody with symptoms of COVID-19.

Meetings and travel

Railfuture welcomes the announcement by the Prime Minister in the Downing Street Coronavirus briefing on 18 July 'that in England, from today, we are making clear that anybody may use public transport'.

The requirement that journeys must remain local in Scotland and Wales was withdrawn in Scotland on 3 July and Wales on 6 July. Train and bus travel is now available for work and for those who need it in Scotland and Wales. We await further announcements in Scotland and Wales following the Prime Minister’s announcement which applies to England.

Capacity was drastically reduced to comply with 2 metre social distancing requirements. This rule has been modified to 1 metre plus where necessary, such as on public transport. Additionally the train operating companies increased capacity with a new timetable from 6 July which includes additional and longer trains on some routes. At the same time air and coach services have resumed for all journey reasons including leisure travel.

Train companies are now welcoming you back on our trains but asking us all to 'Stay safe' by adopting these guidelines:
  • avoid peak times
  • wear a mandatory face covering (see how to make and wear a face mask)
  • wash your hands before and after your journey
  • carry a hand sanitiser with you
  • reserve a seat where possible
Passengers are also asked to buy tickets on line or use smartcards, and to show consideration to others when on busy trains or disembarking.

The Rail Safety and Standards Board (RSSB) aims to ensure that passengers are able to travel safely and confidently again. Their modelling has been validated, showing that there is only a 1 in 11,000 chance of catching COVID-19 on trains and that rail is still safer than road, even after taking account of COVID-19.

Employers are asked to liaise with staff regarding a more general return to the workplace from 1 August. Trains are therefore likely to get busier from 1 August as a result, but many organisations are likely to continue using video conferencing for meetings. Railfuture meetings are taking place in this format currently.

Trips abroad

Railfuture is aware that many members and rail supporters take holidays abroad and that the situation is changing rapidly. The Worldometers website is updated daily and gives the situation in every country affected.

A 14 day self quarantine period was introduced to apply to everybody returning to the UK (except Ireland etc) to apply from 8 June. The government has since announced that although 14 day quarantine remains as the default position, people returning from a list of over 60 countries will not be required to quarantine on return to England (Scotland and Wales have indicated they are likely to follow but have not announced this yet)

IMPORTANT NOTE. This is not as indicated earlier. It is the UK’s unilateral position and each country will set its own rules for entry into that country. It is important therefore to check individual country entry rules and note that these are changing. The UK list is also likely to change if countries listed see an upturn in Covid-19 infections.

The UK, whilst witnessing a declining trend in new infections, still has a very high incidence of new infections. Current government advice is on the basis that the declining trend will continue.

Many airlines are now offering flights to European destinations. Eurostar is building up its service to Paris and Brussels from 18 July and is reinstating stops at Lille. The popular Amsterdam service was reinstated on 9 July. This is followed by the Disneyland Paris service on 4 August. (Note Eurostar have not committed to reopening Ebbsfleet and Ashford. The Marseille and Ski train services have been withdrawn for 2020 and 2021.

If you do plan to travel abroad it is essential to make sure you are up to date with possible changing UK government advice and the situation at your destination and that your tour operator has proper insurance protection. It is also wise to check that any bookings are changeable or refundable. The Foreign Office gives travel advice on individual countries.

If you plan to travel with a tour operator or book through a travel agency it is important to check and ensure it is properly bonded or ATOL protected and that you are properly insured to avoid being stranded. All operators should be able to produce evidence of this if asked. Railfuture will not publish advertisements from any rail or tour operator unable to demonstrate proper protection for potential clients.

Updated 30 September 2020. Railfuture will update this advice as the situation progresses and further changes are made.


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