Rail passengers are reminded that from today (15 June) it is mandatory to wear a face covering on public transport in England, as Network Rail implements increased safety measures at major stations in the Western route, including London Paddington, Reading and Bristol Temple Meads.

Passengers should continue to follow Government advice around the use of public transport – that means only travelling if necessary, and if they do need to travel, wearing a face covering as mandated by Government. Passengers are also advised to avoid peak times where possible, maintain a two-metre distance from others, and regularly wash and sanitise their hands.

The new rules around face coverings have been introduced to help protect passengers, the public and railway staff.

Network Rail staff will have limited supplies of face coverings available to hand out at Paddington, Reading and Bristol Temple Meads to anyone that doesn’t have one. There will also be vending machines where coverings, hand sanitisers, gloves and anti-bacterial wipes can be purchased.

A number of other measures have also been introduced at Paddington, Reading and Bristol Temple Meads, and Network Rail’s other managed stations, to keep everyone safe and reassure passengers. This includes one-way systems, floor markings to keep everyone two metres apart, dedicated social distancing staff, hand sanitising stations, spaced seating areas and an enhanced cleaning regime. 

Mike Gallop, Network Rail’s Western director, said: “We have been working non-stop to put a huge number of measures in place to keep you safe when you travel through our stations, and face coverings now form a vital part of that.

“You’ll notice our stations will look a bit different, and our staff may have their faces covered, but this is all to make sure your journey run as smoothly and safely as possible. But remember, only travel if you have to.”

Mustaq Haji, London Paddington’s station manager, said: “As well as all the physical changes passengers will notice, we’ve intensified our cleaning regimes and employed more dedicated cleaning staff, with specific COVID 19 response training, to ensure deep cleans can be carried out during the day as well at night. 

“Every day all touchpoints including handrails, mobility buggies, toilets and much more are regularly sprayed with an advanced cleaning treatment well-known for its efficacy in disinfecting highly trafficked areas.”

Robert Nisbet, Director of Nations and Regions at the Rail Delivery Group, said: “Rail companies have been working closely with government to get the country moving with more services, including some longer trains where possible, while encouraging people to travel by train only if they need to and at quieter times as social distancing guidelines mean space is limited.

“Wearing face coverings on trains and at stations will help protect others and ensure those who need to travel can do so safely, which is why we’re reminding people of the rules with posters at stations and announcements by essential workers.”