Government Refunding Train Tickets To Help Promote Social Distancing And Protect Key Workers
The government will be refunding all train tickets as part of new 'emergency measures' on rail services, in a bid to help promote social distancing and also protect key workers who still need to carry out vital roles.
While services will be reduced from today (23 March), operators will continue to run day-to-day trains for a 'small predetermined management fee', which will mean services required for key workers and essential travel will be operating.
However, no other passengers should travel, the Department for Transport said.
The new measures will not only ensure railways stay open for key workers during the coronavirus outbreak, but also mean that anyone who is following government advice by social distancing and working from home isn't out of pocket for 'doing the right thing'.
It also hopes to help avoid the collapse of train operators and minimise disruption to the rail sector, which the government said is vital to the wider UK economy.
Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said: "We are taking this action to protect the key workers who depend on our railways to carry on their vital roles, the hardworking commuters who have radically altered their lives to combat the spread of coronavirus, and the frontline rail staff who are keeping the country moving.
"People deserve certainty that the services they need will run or that their job is not at risk in these unprecedented times. We are also helping passengers get refunds on Advance tickets to ensure no-one is unfairly out of pocket for doing the right thing.
"These offers will give operators the confidence and certainty so they can play their part in the national interest."
I've just announced an Emergency Measures Agreement to keep the railway running for key workers, plus fee-free refunds for all advance tickets passengers. Find out more: https://t.co/OYAwZSwX2s
- Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP (@grantshapps) March 23, 2020
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The Department for Transport has said the railways have already seen 'up to a 70 percent drop in passenger numbers'.
To financially protect rail operators, the Department for Transport has said it will suspend normal franchise agreement and transfer all revenue and cost risk to the government for a period of at least six months.
Anyone with an advance ticket will be able to refund it free of charge, while all season ticket holders can 'claim a refund for time unused on their tickets free of administrative charges'.
Ticket holders should contact their retailer for further details.
Paul Plummer, Chief Executive of the Rail Delivery Group - which represents train operators and Network Rail - added: "The rail industry is working together so that people and goods can keep making essential journeys during this unprecedented national challenge, getting key workers to hospitals, food to shops and fuel to power stations.
"The industry strongly welcomes the Department for Transport's offer of temporary support and while we need to finalise the details, this will ensure that train companies can focus all their efforts on delivering a vital service at a time of national need.
"We would like to thank our people, who continue to do an incredible job in difficult circumstances."
You can find further information via the Department for Transport here.
Featured Image Credit: PA