Coronavirus (COVID-19) travel information

Updated 14 October 2020

Local COVID alert system:

On Monday 12 October, the Government announced a new COVID alert system.

Before you travel, check your local COVID alert level and the restrictions in place for your area and your destination here.

Changes to train timetables - increased capacity

As the country continues to emerge from lockdown, we are working hard to make sure you can travel safely with us. Following changes to our amended timetable on 7 September, we’ve increased capacity by 20% to help you maintain social distancing when travelling with us.

Our latest additions to the timetable sees:

  • The reintroduction of some direct services
  • An increase in service frequencies on some routes
  • An increase in capacity at busy times, especially in the morning
  • The return of a near-normal timetable on weekends (engineering works and late notice alterations may apply)

For more information on our amended timetable, click here.

You should still 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?

As lockdown eases, we are pleased to see a growing number of people using our services again, but our priority remains the safety of our customers and colleagues.

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.
  • Respect the rule of six - you must not travel in groups of more than 6 people, whether you are using public or private transport, unless you are all from the same household or support bubble, or are travelling while undertaking an activity that is exempt under the rules. Please note that you will also be required to respect the rule of six when travelling to or from our stations via taxi or minicab.
  • 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.
  • 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 - different travel rules may apply in different regions of the UK as a result of local lockdown measures. A full of local restrictions across the UK can be found here.

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.

Ticket Acceptance

From 7 September 2020, you may only use a ticket that is for a specific train operator on that operator's services unless special arrangements are advised.

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

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

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

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?
Who should and shouldn’t travel by train?
Is help still being provided – such as Passenger Assist?
Are toilets still open on trains and at stations?
How can I pay for a ticket at the station?
Will the ticket office be open?
Will you take my temperature? What if I had to run and am hot and flustered?
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?
How can I buy a ticket?
Season tickets – can I renew my season ticket if I cancelled it?
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?
Can I get a refund for my 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?

Back to school

Heading back to school on our trains? Read our guide on how to travel safely

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