How to travel safely on the train during Covid-19

Thursday 20th August 2020
Given the current coronavirus situation across the UK, travelling may not be top of your agenda. Nevertheless, if you’re keen to hop on a train to visit family, have a change of scene or simply get to work, keep reading and find out how to travel safely this summer. For the most up-to-date information and advice on Covid-19, please check our dedicated travelling with us section of our website.


So, what are we doing to keep you safe? As well as following government guidelines on social distancing and face masks, we’ve also put safety measures in place across all our trains and stations so you can feel comfortable before, during and after your journey. This includes regularly cleaning and sanitising every train, in addition to cutting the capacity of our services by half to allow you to distance from your fellow passengers.

There are a few things you may want to still think about if you’re taking a journey by rail sometime soon. From planning ahead to following the rules around face coverings, here’s just a few pointers on what you can do to travel safely with TransPennine Express.

Woman in mask at train station

Always plan ahead when taking the train

Whether you’re going one stop on the train or you’re setting off on a long journey, there are numerous ways you can plan ahead to make sure your journey goes as smoothly and safely as possible.

Before you head for the station, consider doing the following things:

  • Try to travel off-peak
    Unless you have to get somewhere within peak hours, it’s best to avoid train travel at these times. You’ll have a much quieter journey with more space to social distance. Note that peak hours tend to be on weekdays before 10am and between 3pm and 6pm. 
  • Buy your ticket online before you travel 
    To help your journey to run as smoothly as possible, book your ticket online before you travel. You have a couple of options to do this us, either through our website or via our app.
  • Check your journey before you leave
    As we’re working on a reduced timetable, our journey times are subject to change. It’s always a smart idea to check our travel updates page before you leave for the station to make sure your service hasn’t been affected by delays or cancellations.
  • Give yourself plenty of time
    To avoid having to rush at the station, give yourself a little extra time than normal. Set off ten minutes or so earlier than you usually would for the station – you might get there early, but you’ll have time to get your bearings and even grab a hot drink before you board!
  • Book assistance in advance
    If you need help boarding one of our trains or getting around the station, please book in advance via our assisted travel page. This will make sure one of our staff members is definitely on hand to help you when you need it.
  • Use the TransPennine Express app 
    It couldn’t be easier to book tickets and have them close to hand thanks to our amazing app. You’ll benefit from a door-to-door journey planner, live seat availability on some services so you can spot the quietest carriage before your train arrives, and live times including platform information. What’s more, choosing an e-ticket to have it sent straight to your phone, will minimise the number of surfaces you’ll need to touch at the station.

You’ll notice that the ticket machines at our stations are either card only or card and cash allowing you to pay buy card wherever possible and limit the number of surfaces you need to touch during your journey. If you can only pay with cash for whatever reason though, please try to use one of the card and cash ticket machines or head to a manned ticket office.

Woman in mask on escalator with mobile phone

Staying safe during your train journey

We’re doing all we can to ensure your safety on our services, but we need your help too. Three of the most important things you can do to keep both yourself and those around you protected when travelling with TransPennine Express are:

  1. Keep your distance 
    While guidance may have changed on how close you should stand to people outside of your household or bubble, it’s still a good idea to keep a safe social distance. There are no seat reservations on our trains, so you can sit with members of your household if you’re travelling with them, but make sure you keep your distance from people you don’t know where possible. You should still travel on your booked train if you have an Advance Purchase ticket and we always recommend buying your ticket online or via our app ahead of travelling. Whilst at our stations, try to use the floor markings which show how far you should be standing from your fellow travellers when you’re queuing or waiting.
  2. Wear a mask 
    It’s currently compulsory to wear a mask when using public transport in the UK (unless you’re exempt), so make sure you cover up before you set foot in the station! The benefit of wearing face coverings is that they stop the spread of airborne particles which could be carrying Covid-19 germs. Remember that you’ll need to wear your mask for the duration of your journey (and in every station) unless you’re exempt.
  3. Use hand sanitiser
    While face coverings will go a long way to keep everyone protected, using an antibacterial hand sanitiser regularly will also help stop the spread of infection. You’ll spot sanitiser at convenient locations throughout our stations and it’s there for you to use if you need to. It’s also a good idea to carry your own and wash your hands thoroughly before and after your journey.

Man and woman in masks using hand sanitizer

Remember to be smart

It’s all well and good following the above safety tips – but remember that you should never travel if you have any potential coronavirus symptoms. Even if you feel physically fine, a tickly throat, continuous cough, rise in your temperature, or even change in taste could be a sign that you have contracted the virus. Follow the government advice if you have any symptoms and don’t use public transport.

Person on apple laptop with mug and book

What is it like travelling by rail at the moment?

We know that just telling you what we’re doing might not settle your nerves before you travel so we asked one of our recent customers what it was like to travel with us at the moment and this is what they had to say:

“I recently caught the TransPennine Express service from Manchester to Sheffield so I could visit my parents for the first time since lockdown began in March. After booking my tickets online the week before, I was initially worried about what to expect. I didn’t want to feel anxious and share a busy train. But I was pleasantly surprised when I got to the station (with my mask on ready), everything was marked out clearly on where to go and there was plenty of hand sanitiser stations throughout.

My train was already on the platform and was relatively quiet so I could easily get a seat away from others and everyone seemed to be sticking to the rules by wearing a mask and keeping their distance which definitely helped settle my nerves. The journey went smoothly and didn’t seem to get much busier at each stop.

After spending the weekend with my parents, the train back from Sheffield was exactly the same, proving to me that travelling by train was a lot better than what I thought it was going to be, so much so that I plan on going to visit my mum and dad again soon.” – Joseph Woodcock, aged 25 from Manchester

TransPennine Express Train at Train Station

Now you’re all clued up on everything we’re doing to keep you safe - and a few tips on how to keep yourself safe onboard, why not get planning your next journey with TransPennine Express? Buy your tickets online or download the TransPennine Express app to have everything you need right at your fingertips.

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