Train and bus operators in Leeds issue travel update ahead of Monday lockdown changes

Bus and train operators in Leeds have issued a travel update for passengers ahead of the lockdown changes on Monday.

Friday, 9th April 2021, 11:45 am
Updated Friday, 9th April 2021, 11:48 am

First, Northern and the RDG (Rail Delivery Group) all issued statements to the Yorkshire Evening Post in anticipation of a heightened demand of passengers from next week, where the next stage of lockdown easing comes into force.

Britain's rail services are being ramped up ahead of the further easing of lockdown restrictions.

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Industry body the Rail Delivery Group said more than 1,000 daily weekday services have been added to timetables since mid-February.

The increase means nearly 18,000 services will run from Monday, when non-essential shops, pub beer gardens and outdoor visitor attractions are among premises allowed to reopen in England.

A more significant uplift is planned for May.

Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions at the RDG, said: "In addition to enhanced cleaning and providing better information to help people avoid busier times, rail companies are increasing space on trains across the country by adding services as we take steps out of lockdown.

"We are closely monitoring passenger numbers as restrictions ease to carefully balance service levels with demand, and the need to run the railway efficiently for taxpayers."

The Rail Delivery Group told the Yorkshire Evening Post that in instances where services are not being increased in Leeds, trains may be made longer to increase space for passengers.

Northern - who operate trains from Leeds station - said their timetables wouldn't be changing from Monday.

A spokesman said they believe demand will stay relatively low until May.

However, the spokesperson added: "We’re proactively working to identify any potential pinch-points and, as always, will be keeping an eye on the weather, especially around bank holidays.

"We’ll have standby units and crew ready to strengthen as needed or to provide additional services on key routes where demand may increase."

First West Yorkshire - who operate buses in Leeds - said it had restored timetables to pre-lockdown frequency earlier in March.

The decision had been made in consultation with transport officials in the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and follows guidance for operators and local authorities to consider returning bus services as lockdown measures begin to ease.

Speaking earlier this month, Martin Hirst, Commercial Director of First West Yorkshire, said: “The services we’re reintroducing will help to manage a gradual change in passenger demand as lockdown restrictions are removed and have been agreed with the local transport authority. We will do all we can in the coming weeks to respond to travel behaviour and ensure there are services to meet our customers’ needs as daily life resumes.”

First is encouraging customers to use contactless payment, if possible, including the mTickets available on its app, which features a live bus map to check available seats on buses approaching a stop.

Buses undergo daily enhanced cleaning of all touchpoints and surfaces and at selected interchanges and stopovers between service changes.

Martin Hirst added: “It’s the law to wear a face covering on the bus, unless under 11 or exempt, just as in shops and other indoor places. This must cover the nose and mouth throughout the journey and we encourage everyone to follow the public health guidance to wash hands or use a sanitiser before and after travel.”