Tyne and Wear Metro first to announce reduced timetable in wake of Coronavirus

With new recommendations for reducing non-essential travel and the idea of more people working from home Nexus have announced that a reduced timetable will be in operation on the Tyne and Wear Metro for the foreseeable future. In making these changes they become the first light rail system in the UK to announce a service reduction.

As from the evening of Tuesday 17th March all additional peak hour services running between Pelaw and Monkseaton or South Gosforth will be cancelled. With many of these services often being cancelled anyway as part of the general reliability problems on the network this hopefully shouldn’t cause too many issues for those who are still trying to get about the area. Apart from these changes a normal timetable will continue to operate between the Airport and South Hylton and from South Shields to St James.

Nexus say the change has been made so passengers can be sure of when trains will run in case there is a reduction in staff in the coming days as a result of the spread of Coronavirus.

Huw Lewis, Customer Services Director at Nexus, said: “We are withdrawing Metro’s additional peak services so that passengers can be sure when trains will run, rather than face sudden cancelations should we see a reduction in available staff. Fewer people are using Metro now following public health advice, and the move by universities in the region to online teaching. There will be enough Metro trains to meet demand, although passengers may have to wait a few minutes longer. Metro has an essential role to play getting people to work, not least in the health sector, so this action is about making sure we provide a sustainable, convenient service people can plan around. Passengers can remain confident about travelling by Metro when they need to make a journey. We have taken on extra people and increased cleaning of trains and stations.”

The number of people using the Metro since the start of March has fallen by 4.5% as the impact of the Coronavirus starts to be felt.

It has also been confirmed that additional staff have been taken on to clean Metro trains and stations with new cleaning regimes now in place. This focuses on points touched more frequently by passengers, such as handrails, grab poles and ticket machine screens. Metro trains and stations are cleaned at least daily or more frequently at busy locations. On-board cleaners also work on the trains.

Whilst no other operating systems have yet to announce a service reduction in Edinburgh they are taking additional measures to help delay the spread of Coronavirus. As well as enhancing their cleaning process both on the trams and at ticket machines they have asked passengers on board trams to present their tickets to the on board team so that it can be checked without staff having to touch it and smartcards should now be presented to the readers rather than handing over to staff to do so.

Manchester Metrolink will continue to operate its current service for the remainder of this week although may be reviewed following then whilst it’s business as usual for Nottingham Express Transit. NET have also announced that they have increased their cleaning regime and are also encouraging passengers to buy e-tickets during this period. Meanwhile, Stagecoach Supertram continue to review their cleaning process to enhance this in light of the current situation.

Everyone travelling on any public transport is advised to follow the latest government guidance and to cut non-essential travel as far as possible. If travelling remember to wash your hands afterwards to try and curb the spread of Coronavirus. Please be careful and keep up-to-date with the latest news.

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