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Coronavirus

Southern Rail ticket refunds and service protection as emergency measures begin

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The Government is taking emergency measures to support and sustain necessary rail services as operators face significant drops in their income.

The Department for Transport will temporarily suspend normal franchise agreements and transfer all revenue and cost risk to the government for a limited period, initially six months. Operators will continue to run services day-to-day for a small predetermined management fee.

This will allow us to ensure that trains necessary for key workers and essential travel continue to operate. No other passengers should travel. As we have already announced, services will be reduced from today.

Anyone holding an Advance ticket will be able to refund it free of charge. All season ticket holders can claim a refund for time unused on their tickets free of administrative charges. Ticket holders should contact their operator for details.

The railways have already seen up to a 70% drop in passenger numbers. Rail fares revenue has also reduced as people increasingly work from home and adopt social distancing, with total ticket sales down by two-thirds from the equivalent date in 2019.  

The Government has provided today’s offer to minimise disruption to the rail sector, vital to the wider UK economy, through these difficult times. Allowing operators to enter insolvency would cause significantly more disruption to passengers and higher costs to the taxpayer. The management fee will allow operators to act in the national interest in tackling Covid-19.

Fees will be set at a maximum of 2 per cent of the cost base of the franchise before the Covid-19 pandemic began, intended to incentivise operators to meet reliability, punctuality and other targets. The maximum fee attainable will be far less than recent profits earned by train operators. In the event that an operator does not wish to accept an Emergency Measures Agreement, the Government’s Operator of Last Resort stands ready to step in.

Secretary of State for Transport Grant Shapps said:

“We are taking this action to protect the key workers who depend on our railways to carry on their vital roles, the hardworking commuters who have radically altered their lives to combat the spread of coronavirus, and the frontline rail staff who are keeping the country moving.

“People deserve certainty that the services they need will run or that their job is not at risk in these unprecedented times. We are also helping passengers get refunds on Advance tickets to ensure no-one is unfairly out of pocket for doing the right thing.

“These offers will give operators the confidence and certainty so they can play their part in the national interest.”  

Paul Plummer, chief executive of the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators and Network Rail, said:

“The rail industry is working together so that people and goods can keep making essential journeys during this unprecedented national challenge, getting key workers to hospitals, food to shops and fuel to power stations.

“The industry strongly welcomes the Department for Transport’s offer of temporary support and while we need to finalise the details, this will ensure that train companies can focus all their efforts on delivering a vital service at a time of national need. “We would like to thank our people, who continue to do an incredible job in difficult circumstances.”

Coronavirus

‘With community spirit & patience we will get through this’ – Crawley Police Chief thanks residents for staying at home

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Chief Inspector Shane Baker who is the District Commander for Crawley and Mid Sussex has thanked the towns residents and his own officers for their commitment to following the governments emergency measures.

Since the measures were introduced the majority of residents have been following the measures and when not required to go to work or to do essential travel have been staying at home.

But the Chief Inspector was also quick to point out that those who do flaunt the measures will find his officers will enforce the legislation where necessary.

CI Baker confirmed his officers who have been actioning ‘Operation Apollo’ have only had to deal with a handful of situations where some people were not abiding by the new rules but that these were very few.

So far officers had only had to deal with some shoppers breaking rules in a supermarket, gatherings being arranged on social media in several wards and some house parties.

He also confirmed that whilst 5% of his officers were off self-isolating, there was no disruption to their service as demand for general policing, in particular residential burglaries, was down due to people being indoors.

CI Baker added that those officers working from home were still able to continue investigative duties.

Nationally the police have had to contend with a lot of backlash as some forces were deemed to be acting far too heavy handed. CI Baker said that so far there had been no need for officers to fine anyone and that he was keen his officers used tactics of visibility and persuasion first and foremost.

His officers were also taking measures to protect the public as much as possible by keeping social distancing between themselves where possible and where it wasn’t such as within patrol cars, they were working with the same colleagues to minimise any potential spread.

CI Baker said:

“I thank the vast majority of Crawley residents and my officers for their continued commitment to the governments emergency measures.

We are still seeing people out without cause; these are not guidelines, this is for your own safety. My officers will enforce the emergency legislation where proportionate and necessary, but they should not have to.”

“We are all impacted by this pandemic, but with a sense of public duty, a community spirit and continued patience we will soon get through this whilst saving the lives of many.”

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