Christmas seems to be approaching ever so fast and combine that with the hope of the COVID-19 vaccine, perhaps we will be able to enjoy some sort of normality as we end 2020 and hopefully begin a fresh, sparkling 2021.
Just two reminders:
We know that the Government has allowed everyone to have 5 days of mixing 3 households over the Christmas period (23rd - 27th) but if you are thinking of travelling, you may need to really plan in advance.
We have already been alerted that the roads are expected to be busier than usual and there are fears that the the motorway network may grind to a standstill as people travel across all four nations. If you are travelling by car, please ensure that you are prepared for a long journey - take warm drinks, blankets and food in case you get stuck for some time ... oh and go to the loo before you start your journey!
If you are considering going by train, the southern rail services have published the following:
Safe travel within the new restrictions in England, Scotland and Wales
Our core message is – if you need to travel, you can travel with confidence. Passengers are following guidance to wear face coverings where they can, to wash and sanitise their hands regularly and to check and plan their travel.
We continue to work closely with operators and the rest of the industry to provide a resilient timetable and plenty of capacity across the network. Passenger numbers remain at around 25-30% of pre-Covid levels, and with around 90% of pre-Covid services running, the railway remains open for safe travel for those that need to with space for effective social distancing. We are also supporting the specific guidance for students undertaking travel between university and home over the coming months.
The railway is undertaking extensive cleaning on trains, at stations and across all parts of the network, with clear guidance to support and protect passengers and our staff. Building that reassurance now is key to ensuring passengers have the confidence to return in greater numbers to the railway when restrictions ease.
The five-day Christmas bubble – 23 to 27 December
Passengers can travel with confidence in December and over the holiday period in the knowledge that there are more staff around to help and the enhanced and rigorous cleaning regime continuing throughout.
The railway is working hard to ensure everyone can get safely to where they need to be for the five-day bubble in England, Scotland and Wales. This includes maximising space by running more and longer services where possible and providing improved travel information and travel alerts. In turn we are asking passengers to plan ahead, wear a face covering, follow social distancing guidance and make use of the hand washing and sanitising facilities available.
With all long-distance train companies now selling tickets for the Christmas travel window, passengers are being asked to plan ahead, avoid busier times and make reservations for both their outward and return journeys where these are offered. The impact of the pandemic means services on some routes are currently being finalised and people are being asked to check their train operator's website for the latest information.
Our Chairman Sir Peter Hendy has been appointed by the Government to scrutinise the Christmas travel plans of all transport operators to ensure journeys are as smooth and safe as they can be.
Improvement works over the festive period
While the vast majority of the network will be open for business on the 23, 24 and 27 December, there are improvement works taking place around the country and planning ahead is particularly important for those travelling on affected services. Passengers can find out how their Christmas journeys will be affected with their train operator, via National Rail Enquiries, or by following #ChristmasRailWorks on Twitter.
Daily work is underway to assess demand and ensure there are sufficient services and carriages in place, that extra support staff are deployed where needed, and clear advice to passengers is available in advance and during travel. While many Christmas works have been postponed, some are necessary and will need to go ahead. All efforts have been made to organise replacement transport in the form of buses and coaches so people can still reach their final destination safely.
We've made two major amendments to our original plan to support passengers travelling to and from their Christmas bubbles:
A lot of us have chosen not to travel and 'bubble' with our families this year, so that we can ensure each others safety. This is a hard decision when some of us won't have seen our families for over 9 months, but if you have chosen to do so, then look on line, as there are lots of amazing things to do to make it feel like you and yours are together...from quizzes (remember when we were all excited for those in lockdown 1?), Christmas shows including A Christmas Carol from the Old Vic (which King's Oak pupils will be watching on the last day of term), to just using the technology we are lucky to have to communicated either via FaceTime, Zoom, Hangout, House Party etc.
If you need advice on anything COVID related, then get in touch and we will try our best to steer you in the right direction.
Meic and the Imperium Federation Family.