Rail bosses set to recommend windows kept open on train journeys

Commuters will face cold winter on trains as rail bosses are set to recommend windows are kept open on journeys to stop spread of coronavirus

  • Rail bosses are hoping to reassure passengers that travel by train will be safe
  • Decision is set for approval at a meeting of the Rail Delivery Group on Tuesday
  • It comes after lockdown saw passenger numbers fall to mid-19th century levels
  • Government figures show demand has since returned to around 38 per cent of normal levels as social distancing measures and Covid fears hamper ticket sales 

Passengers could be facing a cold commute on trains this winter as rail bosses are set to recommend windows be kept open to stop the spread of coronavirus.

The recommendation is set to be approved at a meeting of the Rail Delivery Group on Tuesday, according to the Telegraph.

The decision is reportedly part of a move to try and get commuters back on the trains as they head back to the office in the wake of the national lockdown over summer. 

Ali Chegini, a director at the Rail Safety and Standards Board, told the Telegraph: ‘Even though it’s cold, even though you have to wrap up and put woolly socks on, it’s better to keep windows open than to be exposed to the risk of infection.’ 

The recommendation is expected to go through despite scientists discovering that the virus survives longer in colder temperatures.

Demand for rail travel sank to mid-19th century levels following the coronavirus outbreak, new figures show. Pictured: A deserted Waterloo station at the start of the Covid-19 lockdown in March

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said more than 400 million fewer journeys were made between April and June compared with the same period in 2019

Just 35 million journeys were made during this year’s first quarter. Pictured: A graph showing the plummet in distance travelled on railways in first quarter of this year compared to last year

Demand for rail travel sank to mid-19th century levels following the coronavirus outbreak, according to the latest figures.

The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) said more than 400 million fewer journeys were made between April and June compared with the same period in 2019.

Just 35 million journeys were made during the quarter this year, compared to 439 million last year.

Passenger revenue between April and June was £184million, just 6.9 per cent of the £2.7 billion in the same period last year.

Department for Transport (DfT) figures show demand has since returned to around 38 per cent of normal levels.

ORR director of railway planning and performance Graham Richards said: ‘This unprecedented fall in passenger numbers, the largest on record to levels last seen in the mid-19th century, has clearly had an impact on both rail usage and also ticketing revenue.

‘These figures include the period of lockdown and reassuringly we’re now seeing passenger numbers slowly increase.

‘ORR has worked closely with the industry, and continues to do so, to ensure the necessary health and safety advice and guidance is in place.

‘Rail is one of the safest ways to travel and our inspectors continue to monitor the reality on the ground to ensure people have the confidence that they can travel safely.’

In England, the most significant fall in passenger numbers were logged by Great Western Railway. They were just five per cent of normal volumes.

The most significant drop overall was recorded on Scot Rail, which saw levels that were just 4.3 per cent of those before the pandemic.

Transport for Wales’s had a 4.5 per cent figure. 

A survey showed people are avoiding public transport because of fears of catching Covid-19 

The Government were urging workers back into the office last month before a dramatic U-turn saw workers told to work from home where possible (pictured, Waterloo station in September)

A survey by the Government department also appeared to show that people are continuing to avoid public transport because of fears of catching Covid-19.

This is despite the fact that operators including Transport for London have installed safety measures such as hand sanitiser stations, one-way systems and socially-distanced carriages.

An astonishing 86 per cent of people said they had concerns for their health when considering using public transport.

Only 19 per cent had concerns about using their car.

Rail bosses hope improved ventilation will go some way to offer passengers more reassurance about safety when travelling on trains.

Susie Homan, a director at the Rail Delivery Group, tole the Telegraph: ‘Hundreds of swab tests have been carried out so far showing no sign of Covid-19 on trains or stations and there are no reports of people getting the virus on the rail network.’ 

Last month, the Government had been in the middle of a drive to get office staff back to work in a bid to help save struggling town and city centres.

But a dramatic U-turn saw Boris Johnson urge employers to let staff work at home where possible as coronavirus cases continued to surge.

The move left firms scrambling to reverse plans to return thousands of staff to their offices.

Efforts to get 80 per cent of civil servants back in Whitehall were abandoned as permanent secretaries decided with their ministers who needs to be in the office to maintain ‘full delivery of public services’. 

The PM’s spokesman said the advice was part of a package to ‘help to reduce contact, break transmission between different households and limit outbreaks’.

It comes as Britain recorded a further 12,872 coronavirus cases yesterday, marking a nine per cent increase on last Sunday’s adjusted total which followed the government’s extraordinary figures blunder.

 

 

The not-so-drastic rise in cases could be a glimmer of light to the millions across the north of England who are bracing for a raft of draconian new lockdown measures amid fears that cases are doubling week-on-week.

It also marks a 2,294-case drop from Saturday’s daily total of 15,166. Saturday’s death toll was 81 – 16 more deaths than the 65 recorded yesterday.

But hopes should not be raised too high as while the number is just 9.3 per cent higher than last Sunday’s figure of 11,776 – it is more than double the 5,693 daily cases recorded a fortnight ago on September 27.

Further adding to concerns is yesterday’s 65 new recorded deaths which is nearly double the 33 deaths seen last Sunday.

This week’s figures have remained above the 10,000-mark for seven days straight – although Sunday numbers are notoriously difficult to use as comparisons due to delays in processing over the weekend.

The figures come as a top scientist warned that a second lockdown could be a possibility.

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