Rail firms may ban walk-on tickets to tackle expected surge in passengers travelling to see family over Christmas – sparking calls for more carriages
- Walk-on rail tickets could be banned in a bit to prevent overcrowding on trains
- Rail network is expecting a surge in passengers as people travel for Christmas after government guidance says people can only travel within a five day window
- Fears of overcrowding has promted calls for more train carriages to be added
- Comes after the Transport Secretary urged people not to use trains at Christmas
Rail firms could ban the sale of walk-on tickets to tackle the surge in passengers travelling to see family over the Christmas period, sources have said.
The measures are expected to be introduced in a bid to stop overcrowding and aid social distancing to prevent the further spread of coronavirus.
People across the country are expected to travel to see family for Christmas after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this week that three households could mix for five days over the festive period.
Guidance laid out this week said people should not travel before December 23 or after December 27, prompting fears rail services will be overcrowded as people make their journeys at the same time.
People across the country are expected to travel to see family for Christmas after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced this week that three households could mix for five days over the festive period, prompting fears of overcrowding at stations and in train carriages
Rail networks are exploring options on how to avoid overcrowding, with sources saying measures to ban walk-on ticket sales could be introduced. Pictured: Waterloo earlier this week
Rail operators are examining ways to avoid crowds in carriages and in station forecourts, with one source telling The Telegraph limiting walk-on passengers would be an ‘obvious solution’ to preventing overcrowding.
The measures would likely be introduced on long-distance lines, where similar rules are already in place.
Travellers can buy tickets up to five minutes before the train departs in normal circumstances, but this could be expanded for the Christmas period to prevent crowds.
The news comes after Transport Secretary Grant Shapps urged Britons not to use trains at Christmas as they will be ‘too busy’.
Mr Shapps said: ‘We are going to be appealing to people to look very carefully at the transport route they take and of course even making a choice about whether they travel at all.’
Grant Shapps (right) urged Britons not to use trains at Christmas as they will be ‘too busy’ – as Boris Johnson (pictured left on screen at a Downing Street press conference last night) announced a plan to ease coronavirus rules so family reunions can happen
Paul Tuohy, CEO of the Campaign for Better Transport called for extra carriages to be added to trains to make sure demand is met
The Transport Secretary also warned that the rail network’s ‘limitations’, with major engineering work and capacity constraints, mean people should avoid using it where possible.
But the news that long distance lines could accept only pre-booked tickets has promoted calls for more carriages to be added to cope with rising passenger numbers.
Paul Tuohy, CEO of the Campaign for Better Transport, told The Telegraph if booking restrictions were introduced, extra carriages should be added to trains to make sure demand is met.
He added: ‘Millions of people rely on the railway each Christmas to see friends and family and this year will be no different.
‘Train companies need to ensure that there are enough seats for everyone who wants to travel by train this Christmas, whether that means extra services or extra carriages.’
Ministers are expcted to further outline Christmas travel advice today, although it is not known if guidance on tickets will be included in the announcement.
Additional guidance is also set to be released on the tier system, and what restrictions will apply to different parts of the UK.
The Prime Minister, who will hold a press conference this evening, told Conservative MPs last night that the new measures were going to be ‘very tough’.
The tiered system will kick at the end of national lockdown on December 2 – but the measures go further than the previous regime, meaning Tier Three is effectively a transition into full lockdown.
A government announcement earlier this week laid out how three households or ‘bubbles’ will be able to gather together to celebrate Christmas for five days from December 23 to 27.
But despite relaxing the rules, Boris Johnson warned families they must ‘think carefully’ and make a ‘personal judgement’ about the risks of travelling to vulnerable loved ones when forming a Christmas bubble.
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