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1-in-11,000 chance of contracting COVID-19 on trains

Two studies into the spread of COVID-19 on railways have found that the chance of contracting the disease by travelling on a train is extremely low.

The RSSB (formerly the Rail Safety and Standards Board) estimates that the risk of infection per passenger journey is only 1-in-11,000 journeys.

The modelling is based on a Hitachi Class 800 carriage used by LNER, loading 44 passengers travelling for 30 minutes, with 22 passengers alighting and replaced by another 22, then travelling for a further 30 minutes. The figure does not include any mitigating effect of wearing face coverings.

RSSB is now developing scenarios involving different types of train, more complex journeys, and variations in the number of passengers travelling.

Meanwhile, a German study has found “little or no evidence” that the disease has been triggered by a train journey.

The research for German train operator Deutsche Bahn concluded: “We see remarkably few infections in trains. No infections occurred in persons on board with a stay of less than ten hours. Not a single contact tracing has been identified in Germany and Austria as having been triggered by an infection on the train journey.”

It also found that the infection rate in air-conditioned carriages was lower than in vehicles without air-conditioning. It reported: “The air flow is essentially vertical rather than horizontal, which makes direct distribution of the virus by the airflow rather unlikely.”

  • For the FULL story, read RAIL 911, published on August 12, and available digitally from August 8.

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