Minister stresses safety of rail travel
Rail is “unbelievably safe”, Rail Minister Chris Heaton-Harris told MPs at a Transport Select Committee meeting to discuss the funding of the industry on November 18 (see pages 10-11).
Ruth Cadbury MP had said: “I would be reluctant to sit next to, or at a table opposite, somebody not in my family for two or three hours on a long-distance train journey. I understand that some train companies want all seats to be available for sale.”
However, Heaton-Harris responded: “The walk-up market is very important in general terms. A lot of our long-distance operators now require a reservation. LNER most certainly does.”
He had earlier explained the ongoing scientific work regarding the industry’s safety, adding: “If you look at SAGE’s reports so far, very few cases have been identified of COVID being transmitted on public transport. If you look at the cleaning regimes and the practice now on trains, there has been an extraordinary change in the course of the last few months.”
Supporting the Minister’s claim is the work of train operators across the company.
Govia Thameslink Railway is treating its trains with a longlasting virucide, and revealed on November 16 that independent laboratory results, using samples from randomly selected carriages from across its eight fleets, showed that after 23 days there was no trace of the virus.
At Southeastern, swab tests at 20 of its busiest stations revealed no traces of COVID-19, the operator confirmed on November 17.
The operator has spent
£400,000 on additional cleaning measures across its network, as well as launching a new SeatFinder service that uses train load weight data to help passengers plan journeys and social distancing.
And Greater Anglia confirmed that every test carried out on its trains for COVID-19 has so far come back negative.