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COVID-19: Keeping the country connected

  • This is a joint rail industry open letter - published in The Sun on Sunday, The Sunday Times and The Observer on March 22.

These are exceptional times. COVID-19 is changing how everyone in the UK lives, works and travels. But we know that Britain’s railway is a vital artery that keeps the economic and social lifeblood of the nation connected through this challenging period.

That is why, in order to keep essential services running over what may be a prolonged period of disruption for the country, we have worked with government to switch to a reduced timetable from Monday. It is not an easy decision, but it is a necessary one which will allow us to match the number of services available to our reduced workforce. It means that key workers like nurses, police officers and firefighters will continue to be able to get to their jobs over the coming weeks and months. It means that freight trains will continue to deliver the goods that keep our supermarket shelves stacked and our power stations running.

The reduced timetable will have around half the number of trains running compared to a normal weekday, with early morning and late evening services where possible to support those doing shift work. It won’t be perfect but we are monitoring journeys closely and should it become necessary in the weeks ahead, we will adjust services to ensure they’re being delivered to where they’re needed most. We advise anybody who has to travel to check the time of their train on the National Rail website before they set out.

If your journey is essential and you need to travel by train, please follow public health advice: if you need to cough or sneeze please ‘catch it, bin it, kill it’. If you or the people you live with have symptoms, you should stay at home. Protect yourself. Protect others. Protect the NHS.

We would like to thank all passengers for their support as we work through this time of extraordinary national challenge. We would also like to thank all our colleagues in the rail industry who, like other key workers, are to be commended for putting the needs of the country first, and whose safety remains front of mind. Together, they are keeping the country connected.

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