ScotRail passengers face event-style queues and one-way platforms

Major event-style queuing systems are expected for the rest of the year at main stations when lockdown restrictions are eased.

By Alastair Dalton
Wednesday, 6th May 2020, 7:31 am
Passengers may have to use separate doors to board and alight from trains. Picture: John Devlin.
Passengers may have to use separate doors to board and alight from trains. Picture: John Devlin.

New one-way systems on platforms and for boarding and alighting from trains are also likely, operator Abellio has told The Scotsman.

But this could reduce punctuality, which is currently at its highest for nearly three years because travel is down to about 5 per cent of normal and the number of trains running has been halved.

Space on trains is likely to be significantly cut so passengers can keep apart, but officials said this might be eased if face coverings leads to the 2m distancing requirement being reduced to 1.5m like in some other countries.

ScotRail staff have already been banned from blowing whistles over Covid-19 fears. Picture: John Devlin.

Abellio said it was planning for an increase in trains so it was ready for lockdown restrictions to be eased and more people being permitted to travel.

They are currently restricted to key workers like NHS staff, but Abellio said businesses had asked for four weeks’ notice for re-opening workplaces.

However, the firm said very different working patterns might develop, with more people continuing to work from home more often.

A spokesperson said: “It will have to be managed very carefully, especially at big stations.

“Crowd management like we have for major events [like sporting fixtures or concerts] could be normal practice for the rest of the year.”

One-way systems for passengers to enter and leave platforms are also being planned.

This could be extended to passengers getting on and off trains, perhaps using different doors.

They will also be encouraged not to stand up until the train reaches a station to prevent people crowding round doors.

Abellio said train capacity could be reduced to 15-20 per cent of normal, but is awaiting Scottish Government advice as to whether passengers will be required to stay one seat apart and whether some seats will have to be blocked off.

The UK Government is expected to provide an update on Sunday for south of the Border.

Measures already taken by ScotRail to keep staff safe include no ticket checks, use of whistles banned other than in emergencies, and frequent cleaning of surfaces touched by passengers such as train door buttons.

Transport secretary Michael Matheson has told MSPs: “There are real challenges in managing the demands that may be made on our rail network.

“We are undertaking a significant amount of work to understand any changes that might be made to the existing restrictions that are in place, however small they may be, by assessing what impact they would have on our transport system and whether [it] would be able to cope with demand, given the need to maintain social distancing.”

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