Coronavirus: Rail Services


Protecting rail services for passengers

In these uncertain times, the railway has an important role to play in ensuring Britain’s critical workers can travel and that vital supplies can get to where they are needed. That is why train operators are moving on to Emergency Measures Agreements, enabling greater flexibility and transferring revenue and cost risk to the Government so we can guarantee our railways stay open.We have also agreed with the rail industry to reduce train services across the country to reflect lower passenger demand, while keeping vital rail services running, so that people who need to can still get to work. Tackling this virus will require a concerted national effort and will mean changes in all of our lives, but we will ensure that people who need it still have access to the public transport they need.

We are doing this by:

  • Introducing Emergency Measures Agreements, so we can make sure our railways stay open. These agreements will suspend the normal franchise agreements and transfer all revenue and cost risk to the Government. This will lastfor an initial period of 6 months, with options for further extension or earlier cancellation as agreed.
  • Providing greater flexibility to the train operators and the Government, making sure the railway can continue to react quickly to changing circumstances. By suspending the normal franchise arrangements, we will ensure vital services continue to operate for critical workers who are keeping the nation running and that we are able to reinstate a normal service quickly when the situation improves.
  • Minimising disruption to the rail sector in the long term, guaranteeing that services and staff can be sustained over this difficult period. Suspending the usual financial mechanisms will not only guarantee that services can be sustained over this difficult period, it will also provide certainty for staff working on the railways, many of whom are working hard every day in difficult conditions to make sure we keep the railway running.
  • Ensuring that hardworking commuters - who have radically altered their lives to combat the spread of coronavirus, are not left out of pocket. Anyone holding an Advance ticket bought before today will be able to refund it free of charge, while the Government advises against non-essential travel. All season ticket holders can claim a refund for time unused on their tickets in the usual way. Ticket holders should contact their retailer or train operator for details. 
  • Reducing rail services to reflect lower demand and protect railway workers, while ensuring that people in the NHS and key industries can still get to work. Rail services will be gradually reduced from Monday 23 March and kept under review, with operators providing clear communications to ensure passengers who need to travel are well-informed of the changes