Train Operators Prepare for Return to Approximation of Normal

By Gary Cutlack on at

May 18 may well be the day some of the harder rules of our bizarre locked-in lives start to relax, as Network Rail is circling that square of the calendar with red pen for a potential return to operating something that resembles one of the railways that used to connect towns and communities in the old days.

Every day is like Sunday out there at the moment, as the network's running at about five per cent capacity for key workers only, on timetables resembling our usual half-arsed Sunday services. But we could soon see a Saturday-style service returning as soon as May 18, should the government give the go-ahead; although any potential social-distancing requirements would surely render managing passengers an utter nightmare, as there'd have to be restrictions on numbers, empty seats, everything disinfected , queues outside stations, and all sorts of additional hygiene hurdles to be jumped.

The unions would appear to be against it too, with a selection of spokespeople for the key worker representative groups telling the Guardian that they'd want huge reassurances on staff safety before agreeing to any ramp-up of passenger rail traffic. Network Rail says it's working on "...potential scenarios for an easing of the lockdown restrictions" all the same, but the May 18 date remains a guesstimate rather than official government word. [Guardian]