Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel information

Updated 29 May 2020

Mark Hopwood, MD, has provided an update on our service as government lockdown restrictions ease and the subsequent changes we have made to protect our staff and passengers. Mark explains that customers should only use our SWR trains, and other public transport services, if they have no alternative options.

The latest Government advice asks the public to continue to work from home if they can. 

If you do need to go to work, you should consider using alternative means of transport such as walking or cycling. If your only option is to use our services, this should be for essential journeys only.

Along with the rest of the rail industry, we will be providing a number of additional services from Monday (18 May) to support customers during the next phase of the coronavirus response.

What can I do to travel safely?

  • Plan ahead - if you do need to travel check your journey in advance – we have an amended timetable in place – you can find more information on our amended timetable here.
  • Travel outside of busy periods - with social distancing in place, we have limited capacity so you should try and travel off-peak if you can such as between 10:00 and 16:00 and after 19:00.
  • Buy your ticket online - buying your ticket online will make your journey through our station seamless and contact-free. Make the switch to our Touch smartcard, it’s free and you don’t need to queue to get your tickets, simply buy your tickets via our website or app and load them straight to your Touch smartcard. What’s more once you have a Touch smartcard you get access to additional smart only ticket types like Carnet and monthly auto-renewal season tickets. Find out more about Touch Smartcards here.
  • Follow Government guidance on face coverings - passengers are strongly advised to wear a face covering when travelling on public transport.
  • Be prepared to queue - we may need to introduce queuing at our busier stations to ensure social distancing, this may mean your journey may take longer.
  • If you do need to buy your ticket at our stations, use contactless - our ticket offices and ticket machines are not currently accepting cash, use contactless or your card if you need to buy your ticket at our stations.
  • Follow social distancing guidance - where possible you should maintain social distancing with our colleagues and your fellow passengers as best you can. At our stations we’re introducing markings and signs to encourage social distancing. However, we know this may not always be possible especially when boarding and alighting our services.
  • Allow other passengers off before you board - stand well back and allow your fellow passengers off the train before you board, giving them plenty of room.
  • Be considerate of fellow passengers - when finding a seat consider your passengers and respect social distancing. Try and leave at least two rows free between yourself and other passengers when finding a seat.
  • Wash your hands regularly - please wash your hands before and after you travel, you may also want to carry your own personal hand sanitiser.

What we’re doing to make travelling with us safe:

  • Continuing to pay particular attention to commonly touched surfaces such as ticket machines, grab handles, stair handrails and door buttons when cleaning our stations and trains.
  • Introducing floor markings at our stations to encourage social distancing.
  • Introducing stickers on board our trains to encourage social distancing when you are looking for a seat.
  • Playing regular announcements and using our information screens to remind customers of the latest guidance on social distancing.
  • Planning on introducing hand sanitiser machines at around 100 of our stations.
  • No longer accepting cash payments at our ticket machines and ticket offices.
  • Encouraging good hand hygiene amongst our colleagues.
  • Following the latest guidance from Public Health England, the Department for Transport and other Government agencies.

Ticket Acceptance

If you have a ticket that is for a specific train operator this may be used on any service provided by any operator between the same start and end station, group or Zone.

Normal Peak/Off-Peak time restrictions will still apply.

Advance ticket holders will be permitted to travel on other operator’s services if the original booked service has been delayed or cancelled. Travel must still be on the same date.

London Underground and DLR services are currently not included in this acceptance.

Assistance and advice when travelling

If you are using our services:

  • Guards will still be on our trains
  • Colleagues will still be available at most stations
  • Our Twitter team will be able to provide essential journey information
  • We will update this page with the latest information
  • Train time information can still be found on our journey planning and live train times pages

Please do not overload our Twitter team with non-urgent enquiries (e.g. regarding refunds), as doing so will reduce their ability to provide essential journey information to those that need to travel.

It is important that we keep everyone working or travelling on the railway safe at this time.

But if you do need help or see something that does not look right, please contact one of our guards, station teams, rail community officers or the British Transport Police by texting 61016 or calling 0800 405040.

We all have a vital role in beating this pandemic. Please help us keep trains running for those who need them, and do not travel unless it is absolutely necessary.

Frequently asked questions

What is your advice following the PM’s statement?
Is it even possible to safely travel, for example keeping to 2 metres, on a train even with more services running?
Should I wear a face mask on your trains?
With expectations raised about lockdown restrictions easing, what are you going to do if more people travel this week on a reduced timetable?
Are you worried about their long-term finances if people decide not to commute into work in the future?
Is help still being provided – such as Passenger Assist?
Is ‘contactless’ just encouraged or now the only way to pay?
Will the ticket office be open?
Will you take my temperature? What if I had to run and am hot and flustered?
Will they have hand sanitiser I can use?
Will all these checks mean I need to be there early?
Do I need to reserve a seat?
What if more people turn up than are allowed on? Will I get left behind?
How far in advance can I search for a journey?
Who is allowed to travel/will I be questioned if I travel?
Is it safe to travel/what are you doing to keep me safe? What extra measures have you put in place to keep me safe?
How can I buy a ticket?
Can I use cash or is it card only?
Season tickets – can I renew my season ticket if I cancelled it?
What is your advice to passengers at stations?
Will people need to queue outside stations?
Does Delay Repay still apply and are you offering additional compensation?
If I decide not to travel due to concerns about coronavirus, will I get a refund?
I have bought a season ticket but will now be working from home. Can I get a refund?
If I need to self-isolate can I still use train services?
If I have coronavirus can I still use train services?
Will there be staff available if I need help?
How do I collect lost property?

COVID-19 ticket refund update

We've made changes to refund eligibility because of the Coronavirus outbreak

Find out more

Amended timetable

We’re making some changes to our amended timetable from 18 May

Find out more

Live updates

Check your journey before you travel

Find out more

Travelling on our trains

How you can protect yourself and others from coronavirus

Find out more