Transport union TSSA has today welcomed the clarity on Christmas travel arrangements issued by the Department for Transport (DfT). Measures include running additional rail services, scrapping fees for changing tickets, and postponing or altering rail engineering works to facilitate more services during the government's five day 'Christmas bubble'.
TSSA is urging passengers to book ahead and change their travel times to catch quieter services. The union is warning that Covid safety measures – including social distancing, mask wearing and hand washing – must be followed to protect both staff and passengers.
Manuel Cortes, TSSA General Secretary, said: “We welcome the sensible approach taken by the government and our rail industry towards facilitating safe Christmas travel and the clarity given to our members and passengers today.
“Our members understand the importance of being able to travel to see family and friends over Christmas. Given the government’s announcement of a Christmas bubble for 23-27 December, we of course understand the desire to travel and the decision to alter engineering works and rail services to accommodate this.
“As there is more uncertainty than ever about passenger volumes this year, it is vitally important that passengers book ahead and are prepared to alter travel plans to catch quieter services. Scrapping charges for changing tickets, and reducing ticket prices across services, is a practical and welcome approach to help spread passenger volumes evenly across services.
“Social distancing and mask wearing must be maintained to prevent the spread of the virus, and festive cheer and respectful behaviour must be shown to rail staff at all times. I’m confident that with the right support, rail travel can be safe and efficient this Christmas.”
TSSA wants to see safety critical rail engineering works rescheduled as a top priority and for scheduled works to be completed in full. Many intercity services will only allow passengers on trains if they book tickets in advance, including for example on LNER and Avanti West Coast. This means numbers will be restricted to ensure services are Covid-secure.
All information regarding Christmas travel measures can be found on the DfT Website.