Reassurance for Sussex pupils travelling by train on return to school

With schools and colleges returning to face-to-face learning this week, rail operator Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) is sharing advice and reassurance to pupils and students who plan to travel by train.

Last month GTR introduced a reduced timetable to better match the fewer number of passengers travelling due to lockdown.

The new timetable follows feedback from key workers and schools, but GTR is encouraging all returning students to check before they travel as train times may differ from the last time they used the railway. All changes have been reflected in online journey planners, such as National Rail.

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Chris Fowler, customer services director for Southern, says: “We have used feedback from local schools, businesses and key workers to design timetables based on their needs. The new, reduced timetable supports schools and colleges on the route, but we would ask everyone using our services to check before travelling.

A member of Southern's station team carries out daily cleaning

“We’re really looking forward to welcoming pupils, students and teaching staff back to our trains but would like to remind all customers that face coverings must be worn at all times unless you are exempt. With more cleaning and safety measures in place across our network, customers who need to travel can do so with confidence.”

At the start of the pandemic in 2020, the train operator introduced an enhanced cleaning regime across its network to protect staff and passengers. This included more cleaning teams, installation of 1,250 touch-free sanitiser points at stations, a range of processes to aid social distancing and applications of a long-lasting viricide at stations, depots and offices.

In addition, protective screens have been installed at 54 stations where ticket office windows are next to one another, as well as 108 screens now in place between self-serving ticket machines at 23 stations.

GTR staff also carry out weekly Covid assurance checks across the network, which look at cleanliness, passenger messaging, social distancing and face covering compliance.