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

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 and 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.

Meetings and travel

The government is still advising that everyone must avoid non-essential travel on public transport but leisure trips are permitted on foot, using a bicycle or car. The requirement that these must remain local in Scotland and Wales is withdrawn in Scotland on 3 July and Wales on 6 July. Train and bus travel is now available for work and for those who need it. 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 will be increasing capacity with a new timetable from July 6th which includes additional and longer trains on some routes. At the same time air and coach services are resuming for all journey reasons including leisure travel and Railfuture is campaigning that the same arrangements should apply to rail, see Travel derailed.

In addition, train operators are asking you to
  • avoid peak times
  • wear a face covering (mandatory, 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 (InterCity operators including Cross Country now require seat reservations for all journeys)
Passengers are also asked to buy tickets on line or use smartcards, and to show consideration to others when on busy trains or disembarking.

Non essential meetings must be postponed or arranged using social media virtual meeting platforms. All Railfuture meetings are taking place in this format currently.

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.

A 14 day self quarantine period was introduced to apply to everybody returning to the UK (except Ireland etc) to apply from 8 June. The government has just announced that although 14 day quarantine remains as the default position, people returning from a list of over 60 countries will not be required to quarantine on return to England (Scotland and Wales have indicated they are likely to follow but have not announced this yet).

IMPORTANT NOTE. This is not as indicated earlier. It is the UK’s unilateral position and each country will set its own rules for entry into that country. It is important therefore to check individual country entry rules and note that these are changing. The UK list is also likely to change.

The UK, whilst witnessing a declining trend in new infections, still has a very high incidence of new infections. Current government advice is on the basis that the declining trend will continue.

Many airlines are now offering flights to European destinations. Eurostar is to build up its service to Paris and Brussels forthwith in gradual stages and restarting its popular Amsterdam service on July 9th followed by the Disneyland Paris service on August 4th. (Note Eurostar have said they will be reopening Lille but have not committed to reopening Ebbsfleet and Ashford as yet nor the Marseille service, which may not restart in 2020).

If you do plan to travel abroad it is essential to make sure you are up to date with possible changing UK government advice the situation and government advice/legislation at your destination and that your tour operator has proper insurance protection. 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.

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


Rail User Express Rail Action