Britain’s journey out of lockdown has been given a huge boost — with 18,000 train services a day from next Monday and thousands of extra staff hired to keep them clean.
Rail chiefs say they are ‘pulling out all the stops’ to help the country bounce back from the pandemic on the day shops, hairdressers and outdoor hospitality open again.
They said the extra trains will have increased ventilation, while 13,250 litres of strong cleaning agents are being used each month to sanitise surfaces to help stem the tide of Covid-19.
The good news came as a survey for watchdog Transport Focus showed 90 per cent of train travellers now feel safe on public transport.
Transport for London also revealed it is running ‘a near normal level of service across London Underground, London Overground, DLR, TfL Rail, London Trams and London buses’.
Imperial College London said its monthly test for coronavirus on TfL networks found no trace of the bug.
Robert Nisbet, of the Rail Delivery Group, said: ‘Companies are increasing space on trains across the country by adding services as we take steps out of lockdown. We are closely monitoring passenger numbers as restrictions ease to carefully balance service levels with demand, and the need to run the railway efficiently for taxpayers.’
Mr Nisbet, RDG’s director of nations and regions, also promised ‘enhanced cleaning and better information to help people avoid busier times’.
The boost to 18,000 weekday rail services for commuters and other passengers is a rise of more than 1,000 since February. Some 1,500 extra workers have been taken on to clean the railway during the pandemic — up almost 25 per cent since March last year. Staff are also being given lateral flow tests, revealed the group, which represents train companies.
Christine Smith, who manages cleaning of Govia Thameslink trains, said: ‘We’ve pulled out all the stops to make sure stations and trains are thoroughly cleaned and sanitised many times every day, with extra attention paid to high contact touch points like handrails and buttons.
‘If you touch it, we’ve cleaned it.’
Mark Phillips, chief executive of the Rail Safety and Standards Board, said: ‘As restrictions ease, it is extremely reassuring that rail companies are taking the necessary steps to ensure people can travel with confidence.
‘While research continues, we know ventilation systems on most trains are effective in replacing air in carriages so transmission may be less likely on trains than other indoor environments.’
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