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Scotland’s Railway confirms end of coronavirus physical distancing rules in Sutherland and the rest of the country

By Ian Duncan

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A ScotRail train travelling on the Highland mainline.
A ScotRail train travelling on the Highland mainline.

Scotland’s Railway has ended the one metre plus policy of physical distancing at its stations and onboard trains.

Last week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon confirmed the legal requirement for physical distancing would be removed yesterday including on public transport.

The Scottish Government also confirmed that face coverings will continue to be required in some situations. This differs to the position in other parts of the UK, where the mandatory requirement for face coverings ended on 19 July.

ScotRail is confirming it will observe the new guidelines, including the rules on face coverings, in order for passengers and staff alike to feel as safe as possible on its services, with a ‘Wear one, protect everyone’ message. Customers are reminded to follow all Scottish Government guidance and safety measures.

ScotRail’s Five Rules for Safer Travel signs and posters in stations and on trains will start to be replaced by updated messages explaining how train travel is safe, reliable, and clean.

The train operator will continue with the enhanced cleaning of trains and stations which has helped keep train travel safe through the pandemic.

Customers will be encouraged to purchase their tickets through the ScotRail app as part of the mTickets system. This means people can buy their tickets from the comfort of their home, or on the way to the station and it will instantly become available on their mobile device.

Using the system will also cut down on queues and reduce the number of touch points.

Passenger numbers and revenue dropped by more than 90 per cent during the pandemic but due to the gradual easing of Covid-19 restrictions, ScotRail is now operating at around 50 per cent of its pre-pandemic passenger numbers.

Almost 2,000 trains a day are operating to keep everyone moving in Scotland. Research shows that customers will continue to use rail, but travel behaviour will be different.

In the coming months, ScotRail will be working towards providing a timetable that supports the future needs of passengers rather than simply reverting to a pre-Covid schedule that reflects historic travel patterns.

David Simpson, ScotRail operations director, said: “The removal of the legal requirement for physical distancing is good news for Scotland’s Railway and a significant step towards recovery.

“While there will no longer be a need to physically distance on trains, customers will still need to wear a face covering in stations and on trains and be respectful of their fellow passengers. We’re asking customers to do the right thing and wear one, to protect everyone.

“We’re continuing to provide a safe and reliable service. Customers should continue to take personal responsibility for how they travel with us and if they think a train is too busy then they should wait for the next service.

“Scotland’s Railway is getting ready to welcome passengers back to a railway that is modernising for a safe, more reliable and greener future for everyone who uses it and works in it.”

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