By Rianna Croxford
By Rianna Croxford
By BBC Panorama
By Tom Burridge
Transport correspondent, BBC News
Rail operators in the South East are urging travellers to stagger their journey times to help social distancing, as more peak-time trains are set to be introduced from next week.
An adjusted timetable will be brought in from Monday 6 July, and will include longer trains between the Sussex coast and London Victoria in peak hours.
But Southern and Thameslink rail operators are asking people to avoid travelling during the busiest times of between 0600 and 0730 to help with social distancing.
They are also asking travellers to wear a mandatory face covering, to book tickets online or use contactless payments and to carry hand sanitiser and to wash hands before and after travelling.
Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) Chief Operating Officer, Steve White, said: “We are working with business organisations, and other stakeholders, to respond to the easing of lockdown measures but capacity remains limited by social distancing so, where possible, customers should avoid the busiest times of the day which are now between 6am and 7am.”
BBC Radio Norfolk
The train company which runs services from King's Lynn in Norfolk to London is spraying carriages with a virus killer that makers claim gives surfaces protection against coronavirus for up to 30 days.
Govia Thameslink staff are spraying rolling stock and stations with a viruscide that sticks to surfaces.
Engineering director Steve Lammin said: "Since the outbreak of this pandemic we have been doing all we can to protect our passengers and staff by ensuring our trains, and stations have enhanced cleaning regimes, and a switch in focus to high-touch areas and the increased use of anti-viral agents.
"We are now using a product that will kill coronavirus for up to 30 days and we are applying this to surfaces across our network on a 21-day cycle.
"We want to do everything possible to work with passengers and staff to keep them safe and this will further protect everyone who is working so hard for this country."
BBC News Online
One of the region's train companies has been explaining what it uses to try to keep surfaces clean.
Electrostatic wands and special backpacks are delivering a viruscide which sticks to surfaces and kills coronavirus for up to 30 days, Govia Thameslink Railway (GTR) has said.
The operator said its entire train fleet of 2,700 carriages on Southern, Thameslink, Great Northern and Gatwick Express trains, plus stations and staff areas have been treated.
It said the product further improves its already-enhanced cleaning regime, in which stations and staff areas are treated with more short-term viruscides, and all its train carriages are sanitised every night.
Engineering director, Steve Lammin, said they were using the 30-day product "across our network on a 21-day cycle".
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.
BBC News Online
From Sunday, the rail industry is introducing a new timetable - with a Saturday-level of service across the whole rail network.
Thameslink has published a new timetable for Southern, Great Northern and Thameslink services on its website.
It says its services in Beds, Cambs, Herts and Norfolk will be increased so more people can travel while maintaining enough space for key workers, but available capacity will remain "significantly reduced" as social distancing measures remain in place.
For that reason, it asks that - in line with government advice - "please only use public transport unless you cannot complete your journey by other means".
On yesterday's live page, we covered Greater Anglia's plans to begin running more trains again.
Rainbow posters produced by a rail operator worker to thank NHS staff, carers and other key workers have helped add a splash of colour to a West Sussex train station.
Operator Southern wanted to take advantage of empty timetable poster frames by filling them with colourful messages. Platform assistant Karl Wingate, 22, produced the rainbow designs which have been put up at Barnham station.
Karl, who lives in Bognor Regis and has worked on the railway for three years, said: “We were keen to show our support to fellow key workers and everyone at the NHS."
Area station manager Robert Walker said: "I am very proud of the Barnham team. Karl is a perfect example of great spirit and attitude.”
A Thameslink train has been rebranded to show support for the NHS.
The company, which runs though Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire and Cambridgeshire, said it was to "mark our support and gratitude to the 200,000 NHS staff and key workers who rely on our services each week".
"Support the NHS", it said.
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.
BBC Live reporter
Further changes to the region's rail services will come into effect from Monday, including the suspension of the Gatwick Express until further notice.
Operator Govia Thameslink says there's been a significant fall in passenger numbers, with the airport now served only by regular Southern and Thameslink services.
The company says this will release staff to help keep other essential rail services running.
Passengers are being asked to travel only if their journey is essential, and to check the new timetables before they leave.
The Gatwick Express service will be temporarily suspended until further notice from Monday, the company has announced.
The step comes in response to a significant fall in passenger numbers at the airport and to help keep other trains running, it added.
Southern and Thameslink trains will continue to serve Gatwick Airport.
Steve White, chief operating officer at Govia Thameslink Railway which operates Gatwick Express, said: "In this national emergency, we and the rest of the rail industry are doing everything we can to keep essential services running for key workers on whom we all depend.
"These changes will release our staff to concentrate their efforts on keeping these essential services running."
To check your journey next week customers are asked to visit National Rail Enquiries online where the revised timetables will be in place from the weekend.
BBC Live reporter
The operator of the Gatwick Express service says it's halving off-peak services from tomorrow.
Govia Thameslink says it will only run two trains an hour, freeing up staff for other services.
It says there has been a dramatic fall in the number of passengers travelling from Gatwick since the start of the outbreak of coronavirus.
Peak times will still see four trains an hour between Gatwick and London Victoria.
Heavy rainfall is continuing to cause major disruption across the Southern, Thameslink and Gatwick Express rail network.
Disruption is expected to continue until the end of the day.
Two areas have been worst affected:
On Southeastern a landslip between Robertsbridge and Etchingham means trains are currently unable to run between these stations. Disruption is expected until 19:00.
There has also been a landslip between Strood and Maidstone West, blocking the lines there too. Disruption is expected for the rest of the day.