Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel information

Updated 5 November 2020

If you travel by train, travel with confidence

National lockdown in England

On Saturday 31 October, the Government announced a national lockdown in England from 5 November to 2 December.

If you plan to travel with us, please ensure you are following the latest Government guidance on the new national restrictions.

Planning your journey

We are currently running an amended timetable on our network, which is focussed on delivering a reliable railway for customers travelling with us. We’re also ensuring we deliver the required capacity to make it easier for you to maintain social distancing when travelling with us.

For more information on our amended timetable and to help you plan ahead click here.

You should try to travel at quieter times, to better plan your journey we have created a guide on our busiest trains. Our guide shows when major stations tend to get busy on weekdays, and the crowding levels during our busiest times.

What can I do to travel safely?

If you are travelling with us, we want you to travel with confidence.

There are a number of steps you can take to help keep you, your fellow passengers and our colleagues safe.

  • Wear a face covering - You must wear a face covering on our trains and at our stations (unless you are exempt) or you could get a fine from the British Transport Police. Fines start at £200 for a first offence (£100 if paid within 14 days). The fine doubles for each subsequent offence with no discount, up to a maximum of £6,400.

    You should put on your face covering before you enter the station and keep it on until you leave the station at your destination.

    Children under 11, and people with a disability, illness or condition that means they cannot wear a face covering are exempt. For more information about exemptions click here.

  • Travel outside of busy periods - you should still try to travel at quieter times. To better plan your journey we have created a guide to our busiest trains. Our guide shows when major stations tend to get busy on weekdays, and the crowding levels during our busiest times. If your station isn’t listed, then the level of crowding is likely to be low.
  • Keep your distance - make sure you follow the latest Government guidance on social distancing.
  • Wash your hands regularly - please wash your hands before and after you travel, you may also want to carry your own personal hand sanitiser.
  • Download the NHS COVID-19 App - you can download the NHS COVID-19 App here.
  • Plan ahead - check your journey in advance – you can find more information on our amended timetable here.
  • 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. Find out more about Touch Smartcards here.
  • If you do need to buy your ticket at our stations, use contactless - cash is now accepted at our ticket offices and most ticket machines, but please use a payment card or contactless payment wherever possible.
  • 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. Where possible, travel side by side or behind other people, rather than facing them.
  • Be prepared to queue - we may need to introduce queuing at our busier stations to ensure social distancing, which means your journey may take longer.
  • Travelling outside of the SWR network - if your journey will see you travel to a different country within the UK, make sure you check the specific guidance for Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

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

  • Running additional trains and carriages in order to maximise space and facilitate social distancing. 
  • 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.
  • Using a powerful sanitising product which provides strong, long-lasting antimicrobial protection against a range of bacteria, viruses and pathogens (see below).
  • Rolled out hand sanitiser dispensers across our network (full list here).
  • Outlining when our key services and flagship stations tend to get busy so you are able to travel at quieter times.
  • 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.
  • Making regular announcements and using our information screens to remind customers of the latest guidance on social distancing.
  • Encouraging good hand hygiene amongst our colleagues.


No longer travelling? You may be entitled to a refund. You can find more info on refunds on our dedicated COVID-19 Refund Page.

Ticket Acceptance

In the event that you have an Advance ticket for travel and your intended train is no longer running, you will be allowed to travel on any other service on that day, including connecting services with other train companies as shown in your itinerary. You will not be able to use your Advance ticket on alternative routes operated by a different train company. However, if you choose not to travel, you can claim a full cash refund (with no administration fee).

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

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.

Frequently asked questions

Who should and shouldn’t travel by train?
What do rail staff do to make sure people wear face coverings on trains and on stations?
Why are people allowed on my train without face coverings?
Is help still being provided – such as Passenger Assist?
Are toilets still open on trains and at stations?
How can I buy a ticket?
Will you have hand sanitiser I can use at stations and on trains?
Do I need to reserve a seat?
What if more people turn up than are allowed on? Will I get left behind?
Does Delay Repay still apply and are you offering additional compensation?
I’m no longer planning on travelling, can I get a refund of my ticket, season ticket, PlusBus or car park season ticket?
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?
Are your catering trolleys still in operation?
I have a National Rail Voucher that I have not been able to use and is due to expire, what do I do?
How do I collect lost property?
I have a Railcard which I have been unable to use during the travel restrictions, will there be any changes to the duration of my Railcard so I get the full 12 months usage?
My child uses the train to travel to school, do you have any information I can share with them?

Heading home from University?

Taking the train home for Christmas will be different this year

Find out more

NHS COVID-19 app

Download the official NHS COVID-19 contact tracing app

Find out more

You must wear a face covering

Please be considerate of others. Hidden disabilities or medical conditions may mean not everyone can

Find out more

COVID-19 ticket refund update

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

Find out more

Live updates

Check your journey before you travel

Find out more

Amended timetable

A reduced service is running on our network. Please check your journey before travelling

Find out more