May 18, 2020 / 7:00 AM / 16 days ago

Britain's rail network adds more trains amid crowding worries

Passenger trains operated by Southern sit at Selhurst train depots as strikes continue on the Southern rail network, in London, Britain, December 16, 2016. REUTERS/Toby Melville/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s rail network started running more services on Monday, raising concerns that more people will start to use trains which could lead to crowding at stations and onboard amid the novel coronavirus outbreak.

Network Rail, the country’s state-owned infrastructure operator, said that it will introduce around 3,000 more trains per day on Monday but that social distancing means that capacity is constrained to about 10 to 13% of normal levels.

Train operators have put in place one-way systems at stations, floor markings with social distancing reminders, security staff for crowd control as well as taping off some train seats and new cleaning measures to make sure services are safe for use during the coronavirus pandemic.

Government advice states that people should only take the train if there is no other way to travel as part of efforts to reserve services for key workers who have no other means of getting to work.

For the last eight weeks, trains have been running to a Sunday-style timetable after train companies cut services to about half the usual number of trains on 23 March as the country went into lockdown.

The increase on Monday will put them at levels similar to a Saturday timetable, but some way off a usual weekday when about 24,000 trains run.

Reporting by Sarah Young; editing by Guy Faulconbridge

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