Information published on 7 April 2020 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 686.

United Kingdom: Coronavirus – how we have responded so far

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The railway is working hard to keep vital goods moving and train services running for essential workers.

Here’s a look at how we have responded to the coronavirus outbreak so far:

Freight success
We have worked with the rail freight industry to keep all our usual 600 freight services a day running. Last week alone, workers from Network Rail enabled more than 370,000 tonnes of freight to be moved between west London and Cornwall and into and across Wales. It’s helped the economy, the National Health Service, petrol at the pumps and food in shops.

We have have kept the railway open throughout the coronavirus outbreak and have put steps in place to ensure key workers can get to their critical jobs and to move thousands of tonnes of vital supplies by freight.

Freight is more important than ever
A reduced passenger timetable was introduced on Monday so a reliable service would be in operation to get key workers, such as NHS staff, to work while allowing more freight trains to run to meet demand.
Of the 370,000 freight tonnes being moved this week it includes 1,200 tonnes every day of food and medicine for shops, 2,000 tonnes every day of tinplate from Llanelli to create food cans and petroleum products from south Wales to keep the railway’s vital supply chain moving.
Another vital service that has been maintained is the removal of household waste from major cities including London.

The amount of food being moved on the railway by freight across Wales and between west London and Cornwall last week increased by 20%.
It has been possible to meet this demand thanks to dedication of Network Rail teams who have continued to work as they are listed as key workers by the Government and the help of passengers who have taken advice of only to travel when it is essential.

Reduced timetable turned around in just one week
Last week we introduced a new a reduced timetable to ensure vital train services for key workers could keep running through a prolonged coronavirus outbreak.
It would usually take about 14 weeks to process a major timetable change such as this but our Capacity Planning team completed the challenge in just one week.

Helping deliver medical face masks
Railway workers drove hundreds of miles through the night to deliver two lorry loads of protective medical face masks for frontline workers in the NHS.
We took part in an army logistics plan to deliver supplies for the NHS

Rent relief for retailers

We cancelled all first quarter rent for retailers in our commercial property portfolio. On March 20, we announced swift and significant measures aimed at supporting retailers in Britain’s busiest and biggest stations, and small business tenants across their commercial estate. It came as the coronavirus pandemic began to severely impact trading.

Calling all former signallers
We appealed for former signallers to keep vital train services moving.
We’re asking former signallers to help the railway. Retraining will be provided.

Empty shop becomes a clinic
A shop at Birmingham New Street has transformed into a clinic for the NHS
An empty shop at Birmingham New Street station became an NHS clinic for patients to have routine blood tests away from hospital.

Trespass warning
We urged parents and guardians to hammer home the railway safety message ‘keep off the tracks’ amid the schools shut-down.
Trespassing on the railway can lead to death or life-changing injuries

(Source: Network Rail)