14 May 2020
RMT Press Office:
Crowded train and bus services are “categorically less safe” and should not run unless two metre social distancing can be enforced says RMT.
TRANSPORT UNION RMT said today that crowded train, tube and bus services are “categorically less safe” and should not run unless two meter social distancing can be enforced.
The union said unless the government took urgent action to enforce two meter social distancing public transport would become a “turbo charged Covid -19 breeding ground” driving a new wave of infections. The warning has come as the Government begins it's back to work drive this week with a surge in passenger numbers expected on Monday morning.
The union said its advice was in line with general government advice that two meter social distancing should be observed at all times and industry assurances that train services should run with 80% less passengers compared to normal services. See editors note below.
RMT General Secretary Mick Cash said
“We have a contradictory and potentially lethal approach from government which says on the one hand when we go outside our homes into open spaces two meter social distancing must be maintained at all times but then on the other hand the government is not lifting a finger to prevent the cramming of passengers into confined spaces on bus, train and tube services.
"We have seen the consequences of the governments contradictory response in the pictures of rammed out buses and tube carriages.
"The union is saying categorically that public transport is less safe if passengers cannot practice two meter social distancing. The government must take action to enforce it's own public health policies otherwise public transport will become a turbo charged Covid -19 breeding ground driving a second spike of infections.
"With the premature relaxation of the lockdown many people feel they have no choice but to go back to work for purely economic reasons. They do not have the cushion of savings and the option of working from home. This is now clearly a class issue with a dividing line between those who have to work or provide essential services and those able to make the choice to stay at home.”
Notes to editors
The Public Health England website says
“At all times, you should continue to observe social distancing guidelines when you are outside your home, including ensuring you are 2 metres away from anyone outside your household,”
The Rail Industry Coronavirus Forum says
At this time, the railway is still in PHASE ONE of the coronavirus pandemic and is running a reduced passenger service for predominately key and essential workers. There will be further phases as lockdown is relaxed.
PHASE TWO A -is likely to commence from 18th May and will be a stepped increase in train services. Subject to lockdown relaxation messaging, it is our current assumption the initial usage increase will not be high. This short phase will also allow testing and refinement of measures that would come out of the discussions agreed via the RICF principles for relaxation lockdown.
PHASE TWO B - would be expected to follow soon after and involve further increases of usage, noting the average 20% loading capacity constraint and average 70% of trains operating and as result of the government lockdown relaxation.