East Anglia rail bosses say it is safe to return to trains as demand rises
- Credit: Archant
Bosses at Greater Anglian and Network Rail have given their final update on services during lockdown – explaining how trains are now running normally again and how they are prepared for an increase in the number of passengers.
Network Rail route director for East Anglia Ellie Burrows and Greater Anglia managing director Jamie Burles have written this joint message:
The last four months have been very testing times for everyone and we’re really proud of the way everyone has pulled together to fight the virus and help each other out.
We want to thank all our passengers for adapting to the new ways of travelling that have been put in place over the last few months, often at short notice. You’re helping us to keep everyone safe by wearing a face covering, distancing yourself from others and following the one-way systems at our stations.
Your commitment means that we can keep on providing a good rail service for customers and communities across our region.
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We’re incredibly proud that the railway has enabled hospital staff, police officers, firefighters, ambulance crews and all the other emergency service and public service workers, as well as teachers, supermarket workers and our own transport staff, to get to work throughout the pandemic.
Our staff have delivered a consistently reliable service over the last 18 weeks, with punctuality between 95% and 97% throughout the period.
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They have shown resilience and have stepped up to all the challenges that have come their way, helping people travel to safely during these difficult times – and they will continue to do so in the months ahead.
Now, with pubs, cinemas and more shops beginning to open, the health and wellbeing of our passengers and staff remains our top priority. We want to help you to travel safely and with confidence this summer, so we are doing everything we can to keep you safe.
We’re taking more steps to make your journey safer and easier, as part of the rail industry’s Safer Travel Pledge, which is already being displayed in railway stations around the country.
The Pledge highlights the actions we are taking across the rail industry – including running more services, undertaking extra cleaning, helping with hygiene (with more frequent replenishment of soap in station and train toilets) and providing more information and travel advice.
There are also four things you can do to help keep yourselves and others safe: check before you travel, wear a face covering, wash hands regularly and travel at quieter times.
From Monday 6 July we re-introduced most scheduled Greater Anglia services – up to almost 93% of the normal service and increased the number of seats available on weekdays by over 46,000.
A full timetable is now in place on most routes, with just the Stansted Express and the Norwich-London intercity service still operating at a reduced frequency to normal.
However, an extra 18 services a day (on Mondays to Fridays) were added on the intercity route, supplementing the core hourly service with some additional services across the day, including in the morning and evening peak periods.
On-board catering is also now available again on intercity services. We’ll continue to monitor demand on a daily basis and plan for the phased re-introduction of the remaining intercity and Stansted Express services when appropriate.
We’re still cleaning our stations and trains thoroughly, with an increased cleaning team providing an extra focus on key touch points such as buttons, grab rails and door handles, as well as using special “fogging guns” to help clean larger areas such as carriage saloons or vestibules.
Hand sanitiser points are also in place at the busiest stations and bottles of sanitiser will shortly be available at all our ticket offices for anyone who needs to use it on the go.
It’s important to reiterate that face coverings must be worn when using public transport both at stations and on trains (with the exception of under 11s and those with specific medical conditions for whom that’s not possible).
We know that information is key to help our passengers make decisions about their journeys, so we’re putting the latest service information on our websites, apps and out via the usual in-station announcements. These details will help you plan ahead and choose a different route if necessary.
Please try and buy your tickets online or at a ticket vending machine and use contactless forms of payments, but for those using a ticket office, we’re pleased to confirm that they have now all re-opened.
As our stations are becoming busier, focusing on social distancing becomes even more important, so we ask that everyone follows the signs, keeps their distance and adheres to the guidelines to keep everyone safe whether catching a train, grabbing a coffee or a bite to eat.
We look forward to welcoming you onto our services over the weeks and months ahead. There are likely to be more changes and challenges as passenger numbers start to rise. But we know we all – customers and staff – will overcome these challenges, just as we have over the last four months. Once again, thanks for your support and thanks to our teams who are doing everything they can to get you to where you need to be, safely and reliably.
Let’s travel safely this summer.
Jamie Burles and Ellie Burrows