Public transport expects passengers to carry on wearing masks

Staff at Ipswich railway station

Staff at Ipswich station have joined passengers in having to wear masks since last summer. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

Train and bus operators will no longer be able to force passengers to wear face masks after the end of lockdown regulations next week - but they will be urging travellers to follow government advice and cover their faces on busy services.

Until Monday all passengers on public transport have to wear face masks unless they have a medical exemption - that includes people at railway stations.

A sign at Ipswich station

New signs will be going up to replace these after July 19. - Credit: Sarah Lucy Brown

But from then there will be no compulsion to wear a mask - although it is being replaced by firm government advice to do so, especially on busy services.

A spokeswoman for Greater Anglia said:  “We will continue to operate in line with government guidance. From July 19, the Government recommends that people should wear face coverings in crowded areas – such as busy trains.

“Increasing numbers of people are travelling with confidence on our trains and they can continue to do so.  

“We have many measures in place to keep our customers safe such as enhanced cleaning and sanitisation, good on board ventilation with air regularly refreshed either by air conditioning systems or by doors and windows being opened and those will continue.

“We will continue to monitor passenger numbers so that we can update our newly improved 'less busy trains tool' on our website which gives trains a red, amber, green or purple rating depending how busy it is, so people can choose to travel on a quieter train.

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“An independent company has been carrying out random Covid tests on train surfaces – and all of them have come back negative. We’re also carrying out our own 'biological residue' tests to make sure that our cleaning regime is working as efficiently and effectively as possible.”

The Confederation of Passenger Transport is the national body representing the bus and coach industry. It questioned why public transport operators had been singled out by the government for specific advice.

A statement from the CPT said: “We expect that many people, especially in busy places, will follow the Prime Minister’s call to continue to wear a face covering as a courtesy to others.

"Passengers, though, will find it difficult to understand why the Prime Minister has singled out public transport as somewhere to wear a face covering when a range of other activities share its characteristics.

“We now need to see clear guidance for operators and customers but, in the absence of regulations, it is important that we respect everyone’s right to choose whether to wear a face covering.

“The industry is doing everything it can to ensure people can travel with confidence. Operators will continue to deliver enhanced cleaning regimes, ensure buses are well ventilated and provide tools such as apps to allow customers to see how busy their bus is and help plan their journey in advance.”