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Passengers might stay away from trains after lockdown, says survey

PUBLISHED: 16:30 21 May 2020 | UPDATED: 16:46 21 May 2020

Greater Anglia has introduced social distancing at Ipswich Station. Picture: GREATER ANGLIA

Greater Anglia has introduced social distancing at Ipswich Station. Picture: GREATER ANGLIA

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Passengers could be reluctant to return to trains even after lockdown restrictions are eventually lifted according to a new survey commissioned by the official transport watchdog.

Transport Focus interviewed 2,000 people from across the country – and found that 41% would be reluctant to return to public transport until they felt it was safe, even if restrictions are lifted.

Only 18% said they would return to using public transport as before as soon as the restrictions are lifted – and there was a significant variation on replies to that question depending on age. More younger people would be happy to return to public transport while older respondents were more cautious.

The survey also suggested the proportion of people who would not be happy to use public transport unless passengers were required to wear face masks or coverings has risen from 51% to 62% over the same period.

Passengers are being asked to wear face masks or coverings when travelling, but it is not mandatory.

The survey spoke to 2,000 people from across the country – including 193 in the East of England – last weekend.

Transport Focus chief executive Anthony Smith said: “Governments and transport operators must work together to ensure people receive clear and consistent advice about travel.

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“They need to know who can travel, what rules exist, what they have to do and where to find information.

“It’s important that steps are taken as the lockdown is eased to rebuild confidence so that this anxiety doesn’t result in people turning their back on public transport or our roads becoming more congested.”

Concerns have been raised that some peak time Tube trains and buses in London remain packed.

Britain’s train companies ramped up services from around 50% of the normal timetable to 70% this week to reflect coronavirus travel restrictions being eased.

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A Greater Anglia spokeswoman said: “Government advice is to avoid using public transport so we can enable social distancing, wherever possible, for passengers who do need to use it for essential travel, such as key workers.

“We have introduced a range of measures at our stations to help customers and staff maintain social distancing, including one way and queuing systems and floor markings showing people where to stand. Passengers are also advised to wear face coverings when travelling on public transport.

“To cut down on the amount of time people need to spend at our stations, we’re advising customers to buy tickets online or use the Greater Anglia app, or to use contactless payment at a ticket machine if they cannot buy online. We have also introduced additional cleaning measures, focused particularly on high use areas, such as door buttons, door handles, grab rails and ticket gates.

“Our first priority is to ensure it is safe for essential travellers and our staff to use our trains and stations.”


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