Coronavirus: unions warn against decision to increase rail services

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Railway union leaders have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson with “serious concern” over plans to increase rail service.

Transportation Secretary Grant Shapps told the BBC on Sunday that more buses and trains would run as part of a phased approach to facilitate locking.

The letter says it is “totally unacceptable” to endanger passengers and railway personnel.

The government says workers should always stay at home as much as possible.

“Our advice is clear that the best way to protect our NHS and save lives is to stay at home if possible,” said a spokesperson for the Department of Transport (DfT).

“Our rail system has transported key workers and freight across the country since the current restrictions were put in place, but we need to make sure the network is ready to respond to a change in demand when they are lifted.” “

Safe delivery

Union bosses say there are currently no plans to increase services while maintaining social distance.

“We therefore call on the government and train operators to work with us to determine where there is a real demand for increased services and, where there is, how it can be delivered safely,” the letter said. signed by the secretaries general of Aslef, the RMT and the TSSA – Mick Whelan, Mick Cash and Manuel Cortes.

Last month, a rail boss told the BBC that social distancing of any kind would be “extremely difficult” to manage and control. Another said it could reduce the capacity of an individual train by 70 to 90 percent.

At present, about half of the normal rail services in the UK are operating so that essential routes are possible.

Stay at home

The DfT said in response that it understood that discussions would be needed on how to increase services.

“Restoring service is a complex and time-consuming task, which is why we are in talks with the rail industry and the unions on this issue,” he said.

“In the meantime, it is imperative that people continue to follow government advice and stay at home and use public transportation only when necessary. “

Earlier, Shapps told the Andrew Marr Show that the government is considering a range of options for getting people to work, including encouraging what he has described as “massive expansion” of interest in “active trips” such as cycling or walking.

“There are a number of different things we can do, including amazing work schedules, working with companies and organizations to do this,” he said.

He also said he was working with rail companies and unions to maintain social distancing rules on platforms and at bus stops.

Eurostar passengers will be required to cover their faces from Monday or risk being denied travel.

The railway company said that the rule for travelers to wear face covers was in accordance with the directives of the French and Belgian governments.

Any type of face covering is allowed “as long as it effectively covers your nose and mouth,” according to a statement.

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