LNER breaks social distancing on trains between Scotland and England

Social distancing has been removed on all LNER trains running between Scotland and England, despite different rules on either side of the border.

The rail company said it would operate its services under ‘English guidance’, meaning that from Monday passengers could be seated next to each other.

A spokesperson later confirmed I that this applied to all of its cross-border services, whether originating in Scotland or England.

The decision has been made although the rules in Scotland are different, with a social distancing of 1m still in place in all indoor public spaces, including public transport.

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LNER also asks customers to continue to wear face covers on its trains, although this is only a legal requirement in Scotland and not England.

The social distancing policy was attacked by Michael Matheson, the Scottish Transport Secretary, who called it “unacceptable”.

“LNER services operating in Scotland must comply with the Scottish Government’s public health guidelines. I have asked Transport Scotland officials to discuss this with LNER, ”he added.

Angus Robertson, Scotland’s constitutional secretary and another member of Nicola Sturgeon’s cabinet, also criticized the decision.

“LNER is a British government owned railway company,” he said. ‘Does he still maintain that when he operates in Scotland he is going to ignore Scottish coronavirus public health and safety rules?

“It’s as tenable as Boris Johnson’s exemption from the social distancing rules.”

the SNP MP John Nicolson also criticized company policies, describing it as “unacceptable”.

“When you are in Scotland your duty is to follow the guidelines of the Scottish Government,” he added. “You can’t choose the rules and recommendations that you follow. “

Twitter user Tamsin Russell said she was “completely confused and stunned” by LNER’s policy on the matter and challenged the company to justify it.

In response to his Tweet, LNER said, “We have made the decision to operate under English leadership, regarding social distancing on cross-border services, to ensure customer consistency. Therefore, customers can be seated side by side when traveling from July 19. “

A spokesperson for LNER later added: ‘Although social distancing guidelines remain in place in Scotland, we have made the decision to apply the same seating / booking approach to all of our services, including our cross-border services. , to ensure a consistent experience for customers. “

He added that most seats on LNER services would still require reservations, to give passengers “reassurance that trains will not be overcrowded.”

“To protect the flexibility of the reservationless railroad, there will be a number of non-reserved seats in car C for standard and a number of places in car M in first class, or car E in first class in a five-car train, “he said.

“Customers without a reservation will be able to travel in these unreserved areas of the train. To ensure that customers can travel with confidence, LNER continues to deliver record levels of improved cleaning on board its trains and at stations. “

The Scottish government has been contacted for comment.

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