Metro issues social distancing plea after 'large groups' spotted breaking lockdown rules on trains

Metro bosses have pleaded with passengers to obey social distancing rules, amid warnings that ‘large groups’ have been spotted on trains.

Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 5:32 pm
Updated Wednesday, 27th May 2020, 6:36 pm
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As more workplaces and shops start reopening, people using the Metro have been urged to comply with two-metre distancing advice to stop coronavirus spreading through carriages.

Tyne and Wear rail operator Nexus confirmed that there have been “isolated incidents” of large groups of people making unnecessary journeys on the network.

Passengers are also being advised to wear face coverings, while hand sanitiser points, one-way systems, and social distancing signage have been installed at stations.

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Despite lockdown restrictions being eased slightly in the past couple of weeks, passenger numbers on the Metro consistently remain around 90% down on normal levels.

Nexus’ customer services director, Huw Lewis, said: “We are doing everything possible to provide a safe Metro system for those people who need to use it during the ongoing public health emergency. The safety of customers is our top priority.

“The public can help to enable social distancing wherever possible by ensuring that they only travel if they really need to, such as for work, if you cannot do so from home, and where you can’t walk, cycle or use a car.

“Passenger numbers on Metro remain extremely low. The overwhelming majority of people are following the Government advice. We’re all in this battle against coronavirus together and we need the public to work with us and ensure that they follow the advice.

“There have been some isolated incidents of large groups travelling. Metro staff and police remain present on the system and any large groups who are travelling around without a good reason will be spoken to.”

The Metro has now been given two government bailouts worth more than £15 million to help cover the network’s huge losses during the coronavirus crisis.

A full train timetable is expected to be reintroduced over the coming weeks to help avoid large queues at stations or overcrowding on trains, while Nexus says it now has enough cash to keep the network operational until August.

A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “During lockdown we have seen a significant reduction in the number of reported incidents on the Metro network and we would like to thank the majority of passengers who have been adhering to the restrictions.

“Working alongside Nexus, we have dedicated officers who regularly patrol the network to tackle anti-social behaviour, as well as engage with members of the public to explain the restrictions and encourage people to follow them.

“However, as we have previously made clear, where necessary we will make use of legislation available in order to protect our communities.”

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