Britain

‘We will stop trains’: Union’s warning after crowds on first day of eased lockdown

The government has been warned that rail services may have to be stopped to protect workers and passengers, following crowded scenes on some public transport routes on the first day of England's new lockdown rules.

While plenty of services up and down the country remained eerily quiet due to the ongoing threat of coronavirus, some buses and trains were packed with people heading back to work on Wednesday.

Mick Cash, general secretary of the RMT transport union, told Sky News that public transport workers were worried about the crowding and that services may need to be stopped "to keep people safe".

Image: Some stations have been busy as England's lockdown is eased

Outlining his road map for the UK to emerge from lockdown on Sunday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said people who cannot work from home – such as those in construction and manufacturing – should head back this week.

Mr Johnson encouraged people to avoid public transport to get to work, but many have no other option and so passengers have found it difficult to keep two metres apart.

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Speaking to the Kay [email protected] programme, Mr Cash said: "We've been running train and bus services throughout this crisis and have been facing problems with much-reduced services.

"Our members have been very worried about how passengers are congregating on the trains and the buses and the impact that this is going to have."

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He said strike action may be necessary to "protect workers and passengers", and that staff should "refuse to work" if they don't feel safe.

"If that's what needs to be to keep people safe, then we will stop trains," he added.

Government says those who cannot work from home should go back to work today
Busy London buses as England's lockdown eased

With social distancing concerns in mind, the government has started promoting the use of face coverings in public, but not everybody has been adhering to the guidance.

One Tube driver told Sky News: "Worrying thing for me is that hardly anyone is wearing face masks or coverings."

Some stations have placed social distancing reminders on their platforms, but the sheer number of people using some services have made keeping apart practically impossible.

One hospital worker in Blackpool described her commute as a "COVID party bus".

Julia Kate Rayworth directed her anger towards Blackpool Transport on Twitter, saying: "Think you need to step [in] and either limit passengers or put more buses on.

"My 7am bus this morning is like a COVID party bus, downstairs is so packed, no distancing put in place, I work at the hospital and the past two days have never felt so unsafe."

CCTV shows a packed platform on the West Ham Jubilee line at rush hour
Unmasked commuters pack Tube train

Many people also reported busy carriages on the London Underground, again due to reduced services dealing with increased demand from those going back to work.

However, Sky News correspondents out and about in the capital did report quieter scenes at some major stations, including London Waterloo and Shepherd's Bush.

There has also been notably more traffic on Britain's motorways this week and reports of an increase in bike use, suggesting plenty have been able to get to work without public transport.>Read More – Source

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