By Laurence Cawley
By Laurence Cawley
BBC News Online
Efforts to get more commuters safely back to work by train are coming into force today following the easing of the coronavirus lockdown restrictions.
More services will be running than at any time since lockdown began, but rail companies are planning to limit the number of people boarding trains, and some seats may be blocked off. Security guards are also in place at several stations.
East Midlands Railway has warned that the new timetable will only allow a "small rise" in the numbers it can accommodate and Avanti West Coast said it would not allow carriages to be more than a third full.
The London North Eastern Railway is also asking passengers to help to keep services clear for those who need them most.
People are still being advised to use public transport only if it's essential and they have no alternative.
Emma Watson, from Network Rail, said: "We have done the calculations and analysis to ensure that we can have a certain amount of people on the concourse at any one time and yes, there will be closures to entrance and exits should those numbers increase and grow."
Following the latest government guidance for passengers on how to travel safely, a new Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern timetable with more services will be in operation from Sunday.
Passengers will need to check before travelling on the National Rail Enquiries website.
Train services will be increased so that more people can travel while maintaining enough space for key workers, but the available capacity remains significantly reduced with social distancing measures in place.
Government advice says if you have to travel for work, you should consider alternatives to public transport but if you have to use it, you can find guidance for passengers on how to travel safely on the Thameslink website.
Govia Thameslink says there will be short-notice cancellations on its services and it also needs to make further reductions during the coronavirus pandemic from Monday.
The operator, which runs Great Northern, Southern and Thameslink trains, said it is having to cancel services at short notice owing to staff having to stay at home during the current guidance issued by Public Health England.
The Gatwick Express service will also be temporarily suspended until further notice, in response to a significant fall in passenger numbers at the airport, but Southern and Thameslink trains will continue to serve the airport in Sussex.
The operators say they are doing everything to keep trains running for key workers, and are advising passengers to check before travelling as there may be further timetable changes.
Great Northern, the rail operator, says it will allow Thomas Cook passengers who have travelled to an airport to obtain a full refund for train tickets.
It said it wanted to "support those impacted" by waiving refund fees on train journeys to and from London Luton Airport and London Gatwick Airport.
It will also allow those who may return later than planned to travel on the next available service.
National Rail Enquiries has said that Great Northern and Thameslink passengers affected by the power outage will be reimbursed the cost of a taxi home.
However, when one Twitter user asked if they would be reimbursed for a taxi from London to Peterborough, National Rail Enquiries advised that he "speak to the train operator used to purchase tickets".
Natasha Winters said that she was stuck on a train in a tunnel for two hours.
She said passengers were let out in groups of ten and walked through the tunnel.
She tweeted: "Amazing atmosphere on the train. People were so nice."
By Tom Espiner
Business reporter, BBC News
"No-one took charge" during the timetable chaos that caused severe disruption on Britain's railways in May, a regulator has said.
The Office of Rail and Road (ORR) blamed a lack of "responsibility and accountability" for the problems and said passengers were "badly treated".
It said track manager Network Rail, the Department for Transport and two train companies - Northern and Govia Thameslink - "had all made mistakes".
It came as the government promised a major review of Britain's railways
The BBC follows one Northern rail user, Lorna, on her daily commute from Burnley to Leeds.
Rush hour is expected to hit earlier than usual today as England fans race to get home in time for the World Cup semi-final against Croatia.
The RAC has predicted roads will be extra busy at 17:00 BST and "dead" by kick-off.
Meanwhile, train firms Southern and Great Northern expect afternoon services to be extremely busy.
Rail firms have taken out a half-page newspaper advert to offer a "sincere apology" for their "ongoing problems" since the introduction of new timetables.
South-east England train operators Thameslink and Great Northern, in partnership with Government-owned Network Rail, wrote that the service "has not been good enough" after the rescheduling of all trains on 20 May.
In the ad in Metro newspaper, the organisations acknowledged that "we failed to launch new services as planned", which has resulted in "significant delays, cancellations and disruption".
A third new train timetable in two months - which will be introduced on 15 July - will be "more dependable", it claimed.
What do you reckon? Do you accept the apology? Do you have any hope for an improved service in the future? Send us your views to email@example.com
A third new train timetable in two months will be introduced by Thameslink and Great Northern as the operators attempt to tackle severe disruption.
The latest change will still see some services cancelled in advance, but rail bosses hope the number of on-the-day cancellations will be reduced.
Thameslink and Great Northern routes - part of the Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) franchise - have suffered major disruption since a new timetable was introduced on May 20.
An interim timetable was introduced on June 4 which saw around 6% of daily services removed, but reliability has still struggled.
Quote Message: We are very sorry for the continued disruption following the delayed approval of the new timetable. We are re-planning how we use trains and train crew on Thameslink and Great Northern to deliver a new fixed, interim timetable in July that will prioritise peak trains and reduce service gaps, progressively delivering improvement.
Quote Message: We urge anyone delayed by 15 minutes or more to apply for compensation. This can be claimed against the original timetable and there is enhanced compensation for season ticket holders." from GTR spokesman
“Dangerous” – that was the word used in a conversation between two members of Great Northern rail staff amid overcrowding at Hitchin this morning, commuters have said.