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14 May: news in brief

Social distancing ‘impossible’ on London Underground

REPORTS from the first day of more people travelling to work suggest that social distancing to the approved distance of two metres is proving impossible on crowded Underground trains and buses in London. One commuter also told the BBC that many passengers were not wearing face masks yesterday. New government guidance tells operators: ‘If services, concourses or interchanges become too crowded, or queues become too long, operators should consider the full range of operational responses available.’ These responses can include telling passengers to ‘stay away or disperse’.

More timetable changes announced

MORE rail operators are announcing increased timetables from Sunday or Monday. One of the latest to do so is Govia Thameslink Railway, which will be running more trains on Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern, although its Gatwick Express services remain suspended. However, ScotRail is making no changes for now. It said the Scottish Government’s Rail Recovery Task Force ‘continues to plan for any potential future increase in services whenever lockdown measures are eased’.

Rail contractor fined for deaths of fatigued workers

RAIL contractor Renown Consultants Limited has been fined £450,000 and ordered to pay costs of £300,000 after two workers died in a road accident while travelling in a company van following a night shift. The man driving the van was aged 20, although the company’s insurance specified a minimum age of 25. Renown had been found guilty on 19 March and was sentenced yesterday by a judge sitting remotely at Nottingham Crown Court. The judge ruled that Renown’s gravest failing had been to ‘perform a suitable and sufficient risk assessment on the day before the fatalities, which led to the company failing to comply with its own fatigue management procedures’. The ORR’s chief inspector of railways Ian Prosser said: ‘We welcome the sentence, which is the first time that ORR has prosecuted in relation to failures of fatigue management.’

Trespassing during lockdown delayed trains by almost 400 hours

NEW figures from Network Rail have revealed that trespassers disrupted train services 34 times a day on average during the first month of lockdown, and the incidents accumulated a total of 380 hours of delays. Network Rail said fewer than 20 per cent of the trespassers were youngsters, and that its latest anti-trespass compaign has reduced trespassing by young people by almost a third in ‘high priority’ areas.

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