Coronavirus: Rail services to be increased as travel restrictions ease" width="976" height="549">
There are plans to increase train services from Monday 18 May across Britain, in preparation for the eventual easing of travel restrictions. The move will ensure the railways are able to cope with a rise in passengers when some people return to work. Rail bosses and government sources told the BBC that services will be increased to about 70% of the normal timetable. At the moment, only half of normal rail services are running due to the coronavirus lockdown.Adopting a new timetable and reintroducing more trains requires a lot of planning, so preparations are being made for an increase to - on average - around 70% of the full timetable.
Rail bosses say staff shortages within the industry due to illness or people self-isolating means the new timetable is the maximum level of service they can provide.
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A spokesman for the Department of Transport said: "We are examining a range of options on how transport can respond to support the recovery in a timely way when the time comes and it is safe to do so. "We continue to prepare for any scenario we might be asked to support."Resources are likely to be focused on urban commuter lines, rather than long distance intercity routes. While services will be increased, this does not mean that large numbers of people will be returning to work on 18 May. The easing of travel restrictions is likely to be done gradually - the government has suggested that working hours might be staggered to limit passenger numbers. If maintained, two-metre social distancing measure would cut capacity on trains by up to 90%, so managing any increase in the number of commuters will be a real challenge.
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Grant Shapps
Coronavirus pandemic
Network Rail
Department for Transport
Rail travel
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