The Daily Telegraph

So­cial dis­tanc­ing ‘not pos­si­ble on trains’

- By Amy Jones Po­lit­i­cal correspond­ent Railway Industry Association · Conservative Party of Norway

THE Gov­ern­ment should ad­mit so­cial dis­tanc­ing on trains is “not pos­si­ble”, the trans­port se­lect com­mit­tee chair­man urged, as he warned over­crowd­ing was fright­en­ing com­muters.

Huw Mer­ri­man ar­gued that min­is­ters could avoid “panic” on the rail net­work by mak­ing trav­ellers aware of the mea­sures they could take to lower the risk of catch­ing Covid-19 at busy times.

Speak­ing at a Rail­way In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion event at the Con­ser­va­tive Party con­fer­ence, he said it would help im­prove “con­fi­dence that it’s safe rather than the cur­rent sit­u­a­tion whereby if peo­ple are crammed on a train and all of a sud­den there’s big panic be­cause the rules have been breached”.

Mr Mer­ri­man als o ques­tioned whether the Gov­ern­ment had the “band­width” to de­liver its am­bi­tious in­fras­truc­ture spend­ing on HS2 and North­ern Pow­er­house Rail.

The Bex­hill and Bat­tle MP sug­gested min­is­ters were not be­ing “strate­gic” with their com­mit­ment and said there was as yet no “com­plete strat­egy” to in­te­grate the lines.

He added: “Of course HS2 will de­liver parts of the ca­pa­bil­ity for North­ern Pow­er­house Rail but it ’s not due to com­plete un­til al­most 2040. So how do we speed those other parts up?”

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