Coronavirus: Is it safe to get back on trains?

The number of passengers on the railways has dropped massively since March. Credit: PA

ITV News has filmed two passengers in different parts of the country, both taking their first rail trips on Monday since the coronavirus lockdown.

They each had similar concerns that trains may become more crowded now that schools have re-opened and many more employees are going back to the workplace.

An industry that has always relied on filling seats now sees empty ones as crucial for social distancing.  

A big extension to timetables on Monday now means rail capacity is reaching around 90% of pre-pandemic levels, but passenger numbers are still only a third of previously (33%).  The latest government advice is to keep a two metre distance on trains. 

If that's not possible, they say you should maintain one metre and take precautions, including traveling side-by-side rather than facing other passengers and avoiding peak travel. 

The government says you should wait for the next train if you can't travel at a safe distance from other passengers.


But how well observed that will be, and whether it can be enforced on platforms, remains unclear. The industry says it is working to prevent any overcrowding, for example encouraging passengers to pre-book.  

The network's new timetables bring capacity back almost to normal, but it is still very far from business as usual for the UK's rail industry.