Carriages inadequate at best of times
Some westcountry train services are so busy, even in normal times, that they've been defined as over-subscribed.
Now in the time of covid, GWR has asked people to avoid travelling by train where possible. GWR says that passenger numbers on 'suburban' branch lines are up 50 per cent on two weeks ago as people begin to return to work and shops reopen. They're expecting even more passengers as the hot weather continues.
Operator GWR's passenger data reveals that three key services in the region have too many passengers for the carriages. The top five 'over-subscribed' GWR routes include Paignton to Exmouth, the mainline between Plymouth and Penzance, and in Somerset between Bristol and Taunton.
They want people to do all they can to follow social distancing guidance, accepting hat this is difficult on public transport. Passengers in England have to wear face coverings, but can take them off if they cross the border into Wales and Scotland.
The train operator is asking customers to buy tickets online, wash hands before travelling and bring their own refreshments. Food and drink aren't being sold on GRW trains.
GWR Interim Managing Director Matthew Golton said: “We are doing everything we can to carry as many people, safely, as we can.
“But please do help us by planning ahead, travelling, where possible, at quieter times, and wear a face covering to keep yourself and our staff safe. It is also important to remember that not everyone is able to wear a face covering for health or other reasons, and those reasons aren’t always visible, so please be considerate to others travelling.”
GWR has also introduced a ‘counted seat’ system for reservable services, where they restrict the number of reservations available on specific trains. Customers are not provided with a specific seat number to avoid people looking for their seat once on board.