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Train operator warns of ‘no guarantee’ over distancing

A TRAIN operating company has warned that social distancing for its passengers cannot be guaranteed ‘at all stages of a journey’.

It’s the first time that a TOC has admitted that the government’s 2-metre social distancing advice will not be achievable as rail passenger numbers rise.

The warning, from ScotRail, has come as face coverings become compulsory from Monday on all public transport.

Although all ‘non-essential’ shops will be allowed to open in England next week the Scottish Government is being more cautious, but ScotRail will still be running more trains from 15 June in a bid to increase capacity safely. The percentage of trains running will rise from 47 to 60 per cent and, because some trains are longer, 70 per cent of the usual number of seats will be available.

Meanwhile, ScotRail said capacity has been ‘significantly reduced’ to help with distancing. An eight-car Class 385 train will have space for just 80 people, compared to the usual capacity of more than 500.

The 2-metre distance will be shown on the busier stations, with floor markings and other signs on platforms and concourses, and around ticket machines. Waiting rooms have also been closed, while hand sanitisers are available. ‘Five rules for travel’ have been set out for passengers, including not travelling if they feel unwell, avoiding peak hours if possible, wearing a facemask and ‘where possible’ maintaining social distancing.

ScotRail has also appealed for patience, because passengers can expect to take longer buying a ticket and catching a train, and sometimes it won’t be possible to board the first train which arrives.

The company’s operations director David Simpson said: ‘For those who do travel, Scotland’s Railway cannot guarantee physical distancing at all stages of a journey because we only have a limited amount of capacity. That’s why following our five rules for travel is vital, particularly on face coverings. We need everyone to take personal responsibility for their travel choices.

‘There have been changes to our daily routine in everything we do, and the railway is no different.’

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