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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 rail operators to make rail travel safe, 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 applies 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 Track and Trace system works.

Railfuture members and friends are advised to load the NHS Track and Trace app on to your phones as registering using the QR codes displayed at many locations is mandatory to gain entry.

Meetings and travel - the general situation

Since 5 January 2021, all nations of the UK are in lockdown. Travel is only allowed for a list of permissable reasons which includes for work (only if it is not possible to work from home), education, caring and medical appointments. Travel should only be undertaken in your local area; you may not stay away from home overnight except for a permissable reason. There is no discrimination against rail travel or public transport generally - this is a testament to the work done by the rail industry to make rail travel safe. However you are advised to plan your journey to avoid busy routes and times. Rail services have been reduced so you should check times before travelling.

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, providing longer trains on some routes. All train operators have implemented advanced cleaning regimes to minimise the risk of the virus remaining on high touch surfaces. At the same time air and coach services have resumed. Wearing face masks is compulsory on all public transport including trains and at stations. You can be fined for not complying.

Train companies are now asking us all to 'Stay safe' by adopting these guidelines when using public transport:
  • 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.

Railfuture meetings are taking place in virtual format currently.

Trips abroad

Holidays abroad are not permitted. See government guidance if you are legally permitted to travel internationally.

The Worldometers website is updated daily and gives the coronavirus case numbers in every country affected.

Many countries are not admitting visitors from Britain, and those that do may apply other limitations such as proof of a recent COVID test.

Eurostar is operating a very limited service to Paris and Brussels for those with authority to visit Belgium and France. The popular Amsterdam service was reinstated on 9 July and since includes a new direct Amsterdam to London daily train. (Note Eurostar have not committed to reopening Ebbsfleet and Ashford. The Marseille and Ski train services have been withdrawn for 2020 and 2021 as have many international long distance trains on the continent).

A 10 day self quarantine period applies to everybody returning to the UK. From 18 January 2021 you must provide evidence of a negative COVID-19 test result taken up to 3 days before departure and complete a passenger locator form. The exemption from quarantine for people returning from countries on the travel corridors list will no longer apply. The Test to Release scheme allows a reduction of the UK quarantine period upon proof of a negative test post arrival in England.

From 15 February 2021 all arrivals must take COVID-19 PCR test on the 2nd and 8th day post-arrival, and if this is positive the quarantine period is extended, whilst travellers who have been in any of a 'red list' of countries during the 10 days before arrival in England and Wales (and all travellers arriving in Scotland) must book quarantine in a government-designated hotel for 10 days, paying £1750 for accommodation and escorted travel.

Please be aware that this list is reviewed regularly and changes with minimum notice, so it is advisable to check whether you will need to quarantine directly before returning to the UK.

It is essential to make sure you are up to date with possible changing government advice from the UK government 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 does not operate foreign tours, and will not publish advertisements from any rail or tour operator unable to demonstrate proper protection for potential clients.

Updated 9 February 2021. Railfuture will continue to update this advice as the situation progresses and further changes are made.

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