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 government, and aware of advice from government and health organisations.

Government advice

The situation is a fast developing one so it is essential to keep abreast of government advice. The GOV.UK website gives up to date information on the situation.

NHS advice

The NHS website gives advice on how to protect yourself, including advice to people returning to the UK from overseas.

Washing your hands thoroughly and frequently and not touching your face when out and about remain the principal defence against contracting COVID-19.

Expect more changes soon

The government has moved rapidly from 'contain' through 'delay' to a 'suppression' strategy. Anyone who shows symptoms (and those they live with) should self-isolate for 14 days, and restrictions to enforce 'social distancing' are being given legal backing.

Meetings and travel

Everyone must avoid 'non-essential' travel, whilst older members and those with certain underlying health conditions must avoid gatherings and contact with anyone displaying symptoms of COVID-19. Gatherings of more than two people must not take place in public. Non-essential meetings must be postponed. We recommend using remote technology such as phone, internet and social media to keep in touch.

The government has introduced emergency measures for rail services; rail services have been reduced and some London Underground stations closed as demand has fallen and fewer staff are available, so if you must travel check with the operator. Holders of pre-booked rail tickets can obtain refunds without the usual admin fee - contact the ticket retailer.

Trips abroad

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. The government advises against all non-essential travel worldwide, as many countries have closed their borders, flights have been cancelled and returning to the UK may be difficult. The Foreign Office gives travel advice on individual countries.

Returning to the UK

Returning quarantine requirements are currently in force from Italy and certain other countries, but this could be applied at short notice to more countries, applying to people returning home to the UK. Travelling to any country does therefore run the risk of a short notice quarantine requirements and uncertainty regarding insurance cover. The Foreign Secretary has advised all British-travellers to return to the UK now.

If your travel is essential, make sure you and your tour operator have proper insurance protection.

If you are travelling with a tour operator or booked 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. Many airlines are cancelling flights on account of reduced demand although some are increasing flexibility for customers to defer travel.

Updated 23/03/2020. Railfuture will update this advice as additional developments occur.

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