As the country moves into the next stage of its coronavirus response, public transport will continue to play an important role.
The Prime Minister has announced that in England anybody may use public transport. This is accompanied by a safer travel pledge that highlights actions we have taken for our customers, and colleagues, safety and requests for the travelling public.
At the Great Western Railway we understand the importance of rail to restarting the economy and providing a welcome boost to the communities we serve, and the rail industry is working hard to make sure we deliver a robust, reliable service that is as safe as possible.
The ‘Let’s travel safely this summer’ pledge highlights the extra steps we have taken to make journeys safe from coronavirus, including running more trains and carriages to make room; boosting trains and stations cleaning; help with hygiene by making it easier to keep hands clean and increasing staff and information to help people travel safely. Those who have travelled with us recently may have noticed the abundance of hand-sanitiser on station platforms.
We’re asking customers to:
Plan ahead – travel at quieter times where they can, buy a ticket online and in advance, and book ahead if you need travel assistance;
Consider others – wear a face covering unless you’re exempt, not travelling if you have Covid symptoms and consider others, not all disabilities can be seen; and
Stay safe – maintaining your distance wherever possible; wash your hands and carry hand sanitiser, paying contactless where you can.
You can view the latest message from GWR Managing Director Matthew Golton below:
The use of face coverings by our customers is high, but it is important to remember that not everyone is able to wear a covering for health or other reasons, and those reasons aren’t always visible, so please do be considerate of others travelling.
We’re supporting the hidden disabilities sunflower lanyard initiative. Customers wearing a sunflower lanyard are subtly letting you know that they have a reason not to wear a face covering and have a disability that isn’t immediately obvious.
We ask that you are mindful that social distancing means the effective carrying capacity on trains remains greatly reduced.
It continues to be really important to us that we rebuild your confidence that when you travel with us you will find the space to travel. Through the summer we’re expecting trains to/from the South West and the South Coast to be increasingly busy and we have re-introduced a significant number of services to cater for this increasing demand, both for local and long-distance travellers, as well as continuing to operate a ‘counted places’ system to restrict the number of reservations available on any one train.
We can see the pandemic has changed our customer landscape. Our research shows that, for now, many businesses have accepted the new normal and far more people will continue to choose to work from home and will want more flexible tickets to marry with this.
Adapting to this change, we have proposed two new products to the Department for Transport; a three-in-seven and a 12-in-28 day season ticket, which, along with other proposals, we hope to be able to take forward.
We are keen to increase the number of leisure travellers exploring the great attractions across the Great Western network, supporting the communities we serve.
We continue to invest in our stations and services. Steelwork is now in place at Taunton station for a new multi-storey car park; Bridgwater and Cheltenham station improvement schemes are all but finished; our new train care depot at Exeter is on target to be operational later this year, as is our new train crew depot at Bristol Parkway, and in the next few weeks we expect delivery of the first of a fleet of upgraded Class 769 trains that will start to go into service on our North Downs route over the winter months, helping to free up trains for redeployment to other routes.
We are not just completing the programmes we have started, we are working on new ones too; multi- million programmes that will help retain jobs and support local and regional economies as we work together on recovery.
Rail is an important part of the Net Zero Carbon agenda and we have a responsibility to make sure we are part of the nation’s response to building back better and building back green.
The GWR team is looking at the future and how can we work together to do things differently so tomorrow we are all stronger, and in the best place possible to help revitalise the economies we serve.
More immediately we have also confirmed plans to support the return to school in September. Many of the services that are heavily used by schools and colleges are already operational, and where they are not, we intend to bring them back into service before 2 September, so that we are ready for students and pupils when they need us.
We are also planning a further timetable uplift on 14 September and will be in touch with more detail on this closer to the time.