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 apply 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 new Track and Trace system works. The test is now available to everybody with symptoms of COVID-19.

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

(Please note the specific second lockdown arrangements to apply from 5th November to 2nd December in England – details below shown in red in a separate section.)

Railfuture welcomed the announcement by the Prime Minister in the Downing Street Coronavirus briefing on 18 July 'that in England, from today, we are making clear that anybody may use public transport'.

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. 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.
These precautions have conributed to London's transport network testing negative for Covid-19.

Railfuture meetings are taking place in virtual format currently.

Trips abroad

(Please note that trips abroad are banned between 5th November and 2nd December except for essential business reasons.)

Railfuture is aware that many members and rail supporters take holidays abroad and that the situation is changing rapidly. The Worldometers website is updated daily and gives the situation in every country affected.

A 14 day self quarantine period was introduced to apply to everybody returning to the UK. The government has since announced that although 14 day quarantine remains as the default position, people returning from countries on the travel corridors list will not be required to quarantine on return to Britain.

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.

Many airlines are now offering flights to European destinations. Eurostar is building up its service to Paris and Brussels from 18 July and is reinstating stops at Lille. 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.

If you do plan to travel abroad following the second lockdown period ie from December 2nd, 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 will not publish advertisements from any rail or tour operator unable to demonstrate proper protection for potential clients.

Second Lockdown in England 5th November-2nd December

The key components are:
  • People must stay at home, though they can leave their homes for the following reasons: work (where it is not possible to work from home), medical reasons, exercise and to shop for food and essentials. Education institutions will remain open.
Some further clarifications have been sent to Railfuture from the DfT.

There is no exemption for staying away from home or holiday. This means people cannot travel internationally or within the UK, unless as above.

Inbound International travel will still be allowed subject to quarantine on arrival. People on holiday in Britain are allowed to finish their holiday, but cannot go out.


Scotland has applied an expanded 5 tier system applied locally where necessary. The general guidance when using public transport applies.


Following the end of the 'firebreak' lockdown in Wales on 9 November, the Welsh Government has announced that there will be no restrictions in travel within Wales from that date. However travel to or from England will not be permitted, unless for work or medical reasons.

Updated 3 November 2020. Railfuture will continue to update this advice as the situation progresses and further changes are made.

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