Rail services to be increased from September 7

Train services will be ramped up from next month as more schools reopen, the rail industry has announced.

The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators and Network Rail, said services across Britain will be increased to around 90% of pre-coronavirus pandemic levels from September 7.

Timetables were slashed in March as the virus led to a reduction in available railway workers and demand for travel.

But services were increased to around 80% of normal levels following uplifts in May and July.

The RDG said new timetables being introduced next month have been devised through communication with schools and other places of education in a bid to run more frequent services or add extra carriages on potentially busy routes.

Schools in England and Wales are reopening in early September.

ScotRail increased services earlier this month ahead of lessons resuming at Scottish schools.

RDG chief operating officer Jacqueline Starr said: “We want people to feel confident taking the train as they get back to school, and adding services back into the timetable where they’re most needed will support that.

“Rail companies are doing everything they can to ensure people start the term with a smooth journey, including boosting cleaning, providing sanitiser at stations and offering better information about busy services.

“Some train times will change so we’re asking people to check before they travel and plan their journeys for quieter times if possible.”

Social distancing guidance means only around half of people can travel on the rail network compared with before the crisis, according to the RDG.

But asked whether passengers will be prevented from boarding trains once the lower capacity has been reached, a spokeswoman for the industry body told the PA news agency it believes passengers will not want to crowd on to trains where they cannot maintain social distancing.

She added that health guidance is explained on posters at stations and on trains, while passengers can also sign up to personalised alerts about how busy their journeys will be.

Latest confirmed figures from the Department for Transport show rail usage in Britain is at 33% of pre-pandemic levels.