Passengers rise as lockdown rules eased on trains and buses

Greater Anglia train at Cattawade

Greater Anglia trains are now carrying about a third of the pre-Covid number of passengers. - Credit: Paul Geater

This week's easing of lockdown has also seen a relaxation in the rules about who can use public transport - and an increase in the number of services being operated.

There are now more trains and buses running - and the rule that they could only be used for "essential" journeys has been dropped.

That had meant you could only travel by train or bus if it was for work that could not be done at home, to get to places of study or for medical treatment.

Now the government is advising people to minimise travel - but people can use public transport to get to shops, get to pub gardens or visit outdoor attractions like zoos or theme parks.

Adult travellers still have to wear face coverings, unless they have a medical exemption, and rail companies are taking special measures to ensure trains and stations are as clean as possible.

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Greater Anglia is now running 82% of normal rail services - including at least hourly services on all routes that normally have trains that frequently.

Ipswich Park and Ride bus

Ipswich Park and Ride restarted on Monday. - Credit: Gregg Brown

Meanwhile First Eastern Counties has restored the Ipswich Park and Ride service which has been suspended since the start of the lockdown at the beginning of January.

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There have been anecdotal reports of trains being busier since the start of this week - but it is too early for there to be full statistics to back up these claims.

And the number of passengers remains much lower than would have been expected to travel by train before the pandemic hit.

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said staff had reported seeing more travellers on services across the network. This week passenger numbers have been about 33% of what they had been in the same week in 2019 - a substantial increase in the low figures at the height of the lockdown.

However the numbers are still much lower than before the pandemic and transport operators will be hoping that if Covid numbers continue to fall there will be many more people feeling confident of travelling on train or bus during the summer.

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