The unseen team at the forefront of keeping rail passengers safe during COVID-19

Published on: Thursday, 28 May 2020
Last updated: Thursday, 28 May 2020

  • Behind the Scenes

They are a tiny team of just seven, but Greater Anglia’s Customer Service Response Team have a big job on their hands.

During normal times they are kept busy as part of the train operator’s Asset Management Team, looking after the maintenance of unstaffed stations and providing support in maintaining ticket machines, collecting lost property to be taken to a central hub, carrying out internal office moves, and installing things like poster boards at stations.

However - despite the continuing very clear message that people should still avoid using public transport if possible - the slight easing of lockdown restrictions by the government, with those who cannot work from home encouraged to go to work, meant train operators needed to update their plans for keeping staff and customers safe, to allow for any slight increases in the numbers of people travelling by rail.

The plans involved putting on more trains, operating a Saturday-style service from 18 May, rather than the Sunday-style service that had been operating, but also putting additional social distancing measures in place at stations to help people keep a safe distance apart.

As a result, the Customer Service Response Team was asked to swing into action, helping to install visual social distancing instructions across Greater Anglia’s 67 unstaffed stations as quickly as possible - so that if people needed to use the trains to get to and from work, they would be able to keep safely apart in the process.

In just 1 week the small team:

  • Laid 134 footprint vinyl stickers on 67 station platforms to indicate where people should stand when waiting or queuing to keep a safe distance from each other
  • Taped off 118 benches which cannot be used at the moment because they would not meet social distancing rules
  • Installed over 400 posters at unstaffed stations giving advice on social distancing while travelling

Bench cordoned off and social distancing advice poster at Halesworth station.

Social distancing floor markings at Darsham station.

In addition, the team is clocking up hundreds of miles a week to ensure that Greater Anglia’s automatic ticket vending machines are regularly disinfected and are in good working order.

They are checking the machines at all the rural, unstaffed stations, along with those at stations where ticket offices are temporarily closed, twice a week – this equates to around 400 checks per month – as well as cleaning them and carrying out “on the spot” repairs where necessary.

It’s important that the ticket machines continue to work well so that people can buy or collect their tickets quickly and easily, minimising the amount of time they need to spend at the station.

The team also makes sure that the contactless payment function is working, so as to minimise the need to touch the equipment.

Greater Anglia’s Customer Service Response Team Manager, Shaun Lay, said, “I’m really proud of the way my team has swung into action to get this huge piece of work completed in double quick time. They’ve worked really hard and done a great job.

“The social distancing measures that have been put in place are bright, stand out clearly and will really help those who cannot travel another way to keep well apart, helping to keep passengers and our staff safe."

Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak Greater Anglia has stepped up the cleaning of trains and stations, especially high contact areas such as grab rails, door buttons, door handles and ticket gates. The operator is also topping up soap, water and toilet roll in toilets more frequently and has brought in new ‘fogging guns’ to help sanitise train interiors.

It’s all part of maintaining a really good rail service to enable key workers and those making essential journeys to travel reliably and on time.

However, the advice remains please do not travel by train at this time, unless you cannot travel another way.

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