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waterloo station during London's lockdown
Photograph: Sandor Szmutko / Shutterstock

London rail commuters must pre-book trains among new transport measures

Pre-allocated seats, carriages at a third of the capacity and crowd control at train stations for the return to work

Written by
Laura Richards

Although the advice remains for Londoners to avoid public transport unless it’s absolutely essential, the government is also encouraging those who can to return to work as the UK’s lockdown starts to ease. That’s pretty confusing, right? Ultimately, what it means is that train operators running services in and out of the capital as well as rail stations within London are having to adopt new measures to protect those who have to work and travel. The rail network might be back to running 70 percent of its timetabled services, but things are going to look incredibly different on the daily commute. 

For starters, as well as holding a ticket, passengers might have to book a seat reservation in advance of all journeys from now on. LNER (London North Eastern Railway) is among the operators issuing advice to passengers that states they must pre-book seats on trains. Passengers have also been told to sit in window seats, with only one passenger for every two rows and for those passengers to sit on alternate the sides of the train. 

Network Rail chairman Sir Peter Hendy told BBC Breakfast that stations across the UK were being reorganised for the safe flow of increasing numbers of passengers, and that space could be made outside for queuing should entrances and exits need to be closed to control overcrowding on platforms. ‘We want people to stay apart if they humanly can and if they can't, then a face covering is a quite sensible thing to do for the brief moments when you might be getting on or off a train or moving through a station,’ he said. 

Stations in the capital have introduced extra security staff trained in crowd control, with more British Transport Police officers present to help maintain social-distancing measures, too. 

Check out the latest guidelines on wearing face masks in London

What are the latest measures and changes to travelling on the London Underground

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