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BRITAIN’S train companies will ramp up services today to reflect coronavirus travel restrictions being eased amid warnings over the safety of passengers and staff.
Industry body the Rail Delivery Group said that services will be increased from around 50 per cent of the standard timetable to 70 per cent.
But in a bid to enable social distancing, their capacity will be reduced to as little as 10 per cent of normal levels, and passengers are being urged to avoid non-essential travel.
The RMT union described the increase in train services as a “high-risk strategy” and expressed concern that “rushed political considerations could well override the safety issues for staff and passengers.”
RMT general secretary Mick Cash said: “We are opposed to the early relaxation of lockdown measures and believe that non-essential workers should avoid using trains.
“When people absolutely must use a train there should be two new compulsory protections.
“Firstly there should be compulsory two-metre social distancing on all trains.
“It is baffling that the government is telling the public to observe two-metre social distancing in open spaces outdoors but not enforce two-metre social distancing on trains, whose confined spaces mean there is a greater risk of infection.
“Secondly there should be compulsory wearing of face masks which should be provided for free.
“It is mystifying that there is a requirement for passengers on Eurostar services in the UK to wear masks but not on other UK rail services.
“We have the crazy situation of Eurostar passengers arriving with masks on into St Pancras but then not wearing masks when they transfer to the Tube or other rail services.”
British Transport Police will have more officers at London stations in a bid to control crowds.
Transport operators are being urged by the government to rearrange, remove or limit seating “to try to ensure social distancing is observed.”
This may include blocking off seats in close proximity to others and removing face-to-face seating.
The government is urging people in England to go to work if they cannot work from home.
However the advice in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales remains that people should stay at home.
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