Yorkshire rail passengers 'think of others before themselves' by not using train

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People in Yorkshire and the North have been “thinking of others before themselves” by not using the train on the first day of extended services, a transport boss said last night.

Revised timetables came into force yesterday around the country as part of efforts to ease lockdown restrictions, with 70 per cent of pre-pandemic services available. But demand for rail travel remained low nationwide despite train companies across Britain ramping up services.

Network Rail, which manages Britain’s 20 busiest stations, said passenger numbers were “very similar” to last week, when they were around 93 per cent below average.

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Transport for the North, which manages Yorkshire’s two main rail franchises, thanked northerners for not using the train on the first day of revised timetables.

People wear a face masks at Leeds station, as train services increase as part of the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Photo: Danny Lawson, PAPeople wear a face masks at Leeds station, as train services increase as part of the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Photo: Danny Lawson, PA
People wear a face masks at Leeds station, as train services increase as part of the easing of coronavirus lockdown restrictions. Photo: Danny Lawson, PA | pa
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Last week northern political leaders said “crystal clear messaging” was needed to ensure the public understood the importance of helping to keep trains clear for those who really need them.

David Hoggarth, Transport for the North’s Strategic Rail Director, said yesterday: “All of us know the importance of social distancing – and all of us know the importance of rail in helping key workers and essential users access the people and places they serve at this critical time.

“What’s been really encouraging is that people appear to have taken on board the advice. This makes it safer for those using and operating the services and it is a clear demonstration of users thinking of others before themselves. It is really heartening to see.

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“Clearly it is still early days we are going to continue to monitor the situation closely,” he said, “but the measures that are being put in place, coupled with the common-sense and selflessness being shown by the public should help us all as we go about re-starting our economy and getting the businesses of the North back into action again.”

Rail services ran at only 50 per cent of the normal timetable in recent weeks due to the coronavirus pandemic causing a collapse in demand and a rise in staff sickness.

Industry body the Rail Delivery Group said they would be increased to 70 per cent from yesterday, amid fears of a spike in demand after the Government urged people in England to go to work if they cannot do their job from home.

People have been urged to avoid using public transport where possible as the capacity of trains is as little as 10 per cent of normal levels.

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Transport operators have been told by the Government to rearrange, remove or limit seating “to try and ensure social distancing is observed”. This includes blocking off seats in close proximity to others and removing face-to-face seating.

The Government said increasing services would reduce pressure on the transport network, provide more space for social distancing and increase reliability for passengers.