Clear communication with staff and passengers is key for keeping people safe and moving as the UK moves into the next stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, Northern leaders have said.
With just 5% of passengers using rail services compared to normal and just 45% of trains running, Rail North Members have made it clear the extreme caution should be used as trains services prepare to increase from next week to 65-75% of services.
Barry White, Chief Executive of Transport for the North, explained: “Rail responded quickly to the lockdown and, while much of the policy has been set nationally, we have had local input. We have had the opportunity to help tailor services to meet local needs and this has been useful. I want to thank all our partners who have helped with this.”
Greater Manchester’s Metro Mayor Andy Burnham described the situation as “a reset moment.” He added: “This must be a moment where we draw a line under two years of chaos. We have been able to get back to a stable position. We have seen a cultural change and that’s thanks to all on the railway.”
Andy Burnham also said any increase in services must be done “extremely cautiously” adding that there needs to be “clear messaging about capacity and social distancing.”
Paying tribute to frontline staff, Councillor Judith Blake, Leader of Leeds City Council, added: “It has been an incredible effort and we owe them a huge debt. There is some uncertainty and it is going to be a day to day process. I would like to be sure there is a really clear comms strategy to ensure that staff are respected by the travelling public and it is clear what expectations are on trains, access points, barriers and ticket machines.”
David Hoggarth, Strategic Rail Director for Transport for the North, said “Throughout this crisis we have been working closely with our partners and industry through the North of England Contingency Group to share intelligence and ensure rail services can meet essential needs. We, industry, and all our Members are clear; it is vital that people help us keep trains clear for those who really need them by considering whether their journey is really necessary and, if it is, whether they could travel another way.”
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