How trains are being made safe for travellers as lockdown eases in Norfolk
- Credit: Archant
It is clear as soon as you start a journey at Norwich Station that the system is very different. Rather than the hustle and bustle of commuters and day trippers having animated conversations outside the station, you are instead greeted by a one-way system with a separate entrance and exit.
Inside, while ticket machines are operating, every other one has been switched off to allow for social distancing.
Passengers are being encouraged to buy tickets online ahead of travel but, where that is not possible, they can be bought from the ticket machines or the ticket office.
At the ticket office, perspex screens have been installed at tills to protect both staff and customers and contactless payment is encouraged.
The concourse, which is normally peppered with travellers, instead has blue vinyl on the floor 2m apart from the ticket barriers to ensure social distancing while waiting to get onto the platform.
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People who do not have mobility will be able to book assistance beforehand, as usual, or at stations from staff members.
And across 73pc of stations there is flat access to trains due to retractable steps on the new fleet.
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Throughout the station, there are posters with guidance on social distancing measures and regular announcements with the same information.
The system has not changed for boarding the train, although, like the concourse, there are floor markings on platforms for social-distancing.
Seat reservations were scrapped when the new fleet began to be introduced in February, as the seating did not correspond to the online booking system, and has not been reintroduced.
This means customers can board the train at any carriage, with staff, announcements and posters encouraging safety measures, and passengers can sit on any seat.
Enforcement measures for wearing face coverings, which will be compulsory on public transport from Monday, will take their lead from government regulations.
Jonathan Denby, head of corporate affairs at Greater Anglia, said: “We are awaiting guidance from the government on how to enforce face masks for those who do not wear or refuse to wear them.
“But the public have so far adhered to government regulations and there has been a high compliance throughout the pandemic. For example, people have only travelled on trains when necessary.”
Mr Denby acknowledged the difficulty of social distancing on trains and said: “Wearing face coverings is the strongest indicator from the government that they recognise that keeping 2m away from each other is hard to do on trains.”
But several measures on board Greater Anglia trains are in place to ensure the maximum safety for passengers and staff.
There will be no ticket checks while travelling, although a conductor will be on board to deal with emergency situations and to make announcements.
Catering carts have similarly stopped running across all services – although their reintroduction is constantly under review.
Cleaning, which normally takes place at the end of a round-trip on regional routes and at each end of the Norwich to London service, is as frequent but more intensive.
It involves more staff members, more effective equipment, such as foggers, and more attention to touch points, such as handles and buttons. All services will have bathrooms, but they too will be cleaned more intensively and soap dispenser will be topped up more frequently.
And while there will be no hand sanitiser stations, customers will be encouraged to bring their own.
Mr Denby said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to our staff who have done a superb job in keeping trains running very reliably during challenging circumstances.
“We would also like to thank our customers for adhering to rail travel and social distancing guidelines.”