Will trains be running during lockdown?

Some train services will not be running during the second lockdown

Qin Xie
Thursday 05 November 2020 09:45 GMT
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Some train services will not be running during the second lockdown
Some train services will not be running during the second lockdown

England is entering into a second national lockdown from 5 November, with domestic and international travel restricted to essential journeys only.

This means you can only travel for “work, education or other legally permitted reasons” and you should reduce the number of journeys where possible.

The restrictions, which are in place until 2 December, has had a huge impact on the travel industry, with many holidays cancelled as a result.

Many hotels are temporarily closing in response to the second lockdown, as only those travelling for essential reasons are permitted to stay in them.

And some airlines are cancelling flights, especially on international routes.

But while most trains are still running, entire services have been temporarily suspended in some cases.

Here’s what you need to know.

Are trains still running during the second lockdown?

Yes, most services will be running as normal - but not all.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, the British rail industry body, told The Independent: “Train operators will continue to run services throughout the national restrictions in England from 5 November for people who need to get to work, school, medical appointments and for other reasons as set out by [the] government.

“We want people who are taking the train to travel with confidence, which is why we’re cleaning more often and providing better service information, and we’re asking people to check their journey before they travel.”

However, Hull Trains and Grand Central trains have both suspended their services for the duration of the second lockdown.

Why are Hull Trains and Grand Central different?

The majority of the UK’s rail operators are run as franchises, which means they hold contracts with the government to run these services.

Hull Trains and Grand Central are open access operators, which run independently of these franchises. Normally they offer competition on these routes, meaning tickets can be cheaper.

When the UK entered lockdown in March, the rail franchise system was suspended, with the government picking up the bill to keep trains running even though demand had fallen drastically.

But because open access operators are run independently, they don’t have access to the financial support offered by the government, which means if they run empty services, they have to foot the entire bill for the loss if income from ticket sales isn’t sufficient to cover their costs.

MPs approve new lockdown restrictions

What Hull Trains has said

Hull Trains will be temporarily suspending all train services from 00.01 on Thursday 5 November.

Louise Cheeseman, managing director of Hull Trains, said in a statement: “Sadly we are reluctantly suspending all our rail services in response to the national lockdown.

“This is the second time we have temporarily suspended services and the decision has been made to safeguard the future of the business. It would be foolhardy of us to run trains when people are being asked to stay at home and our business isn’t in a position to be generating an income from passengers buying train tickets.”

Passengers booked onto affected services are able to get a full refund or transfer the tickets to another date.

What Grand Central has said

In a statement on its website, Grand Central said: “Following the announcement of a national lockdown on October 31, Grand Central has taken the difficult decision to suspend services from Saturday 7 November to Wednesday 2 December, and reduce services between 3 and 6 November.”

Those with tickets for a cancelled service can change this to a future date free of charge or get a full refund.

Will the London Underground run as normal?

Transport for London is aiming to run as many services as normal as possible, but staff shortages may mean some tube stations will close early and reduced service.

A TfL spokesperson told The Independent: “The Government is asking everyone to help control the spread of coronavirus by trying to reduce journeys during the period of national restrictions. If you need to travel, for example to work, education or other essential services, then you can, but you should walk or cycle where possible. If you need to travel please plan ahead for the quiet times and routes. 

"We’re doing all we can to make sure those who need to travel can continue to use public transport safely and everyone must continue to take the simple steps of good hand hygiene, wearing a face covering and social distancing wherever possible.

“We will continue to run as much of the network as possible and will update our website with any service changes. We encourage anyone who needs to make a journey to check before they travel.”    

What are the essential reasons for travel?

The government maintains that you should not travel unless for “work, education or other legally permitted reasons”.

While it didn’t initially list what these were, it has since produced a list. It states that you can and should still travel:

  • to work where this cannot be done from home
  • to education and for caring responsibilities
  • to visit those in your support bubble - or your childcare bubble for childcare
  • to hospital, GP and other medical appointments or visits where you have had an accident or are concerned about your health
  • to buy goods or services from premises that are open, including essential retail
  • to spend time or exercise outdoors - this should be done locally wherever possible, but you can travel to do so if necessary (for example, to access an open space)
  • to attend to the care and exercise of a pet, or veterinary services

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