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.
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.
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).
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.
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
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?
Rail staff engage and educate customers about the mandatory use of face coverings when they travel by train and encourage people to wear them. The vast majority of people do the right thing and help protect others by bringing and wearing a face covering while in stations and on trains. Unless they have a good reason, those that don’t wear a face covering could receive a fine from the British Transport Police up to a maximum of £6,400.
Why are people allowed on my train without face coverings?
Some people may not be able to wear a face covering due to medical conditions which may not always be apparent. Please do not confront other passengers. Anyone that isn’t exempt from wearing a face covering can get a fine from the police or Transport for London enforcement officers up to a maximum of £6,400.
Is help still being provided – such as Passenger Assist?
If you travel by train and need assistance, our staff will continue to provide help so that you can get to your destination safely.
While it is not a requirement to book ahead, we strongly recommend that you contact us on 0800 5282 100 to discuss your journey as soon as possible. You can find out more on our Passenger Assist page.
If you require assistance, we're asking our station colleagues to speak to you to understand what help you need whilst minimising contact with you.
For example, if you need to use a lift, it may be our colleague will assist you into the lift but they may not accompany you into the lift.
In addition, our colleagues have been given access to extra personal protective equipment (PPE). For example, colleagues are provided with plastic gloves which can be used when pushing wheelchairs, while plastic sleeves are available for staff to utilise when assisting a customer who has sight loss. All station colleagues are required to wear face coverings, apart from those who are exempt.
Are toilets still open on trains and at stations?
Yes. Our toilets are open as usual, however some might be closed for maintenance.
You can find out where our toilets are located on our stations page.
How can I pay for a ticket at the station?
To reduce contact between passengers and staff, we strongly encourage you to pay using card or contactless payment wherever possible. Where this is not possible, cash is accepted at our ticket offices and most ticket machines.
Will the ticket office be open?
We are strongly encouraging everyone that needs to purchase a ticket to use contactless or to buy online before they travel. This will help with social distancing at the station and reduce unnecessary contact with other people.
Our ticket offices remain open as normal, and opening times are available on our stations page.
Will you take my temperature? What if I had to run and am hot and flustered?
Your temperature will not be taken before you travel by rail. We are asking people to not travel if they have a high temperature to protect the health and safety of other passengers and our colleagues.
Will you have hand sanitiser I can use at stations and on trains?
We introduced hand sanitiser dispensers at stations across our network, so please use these before and after your journey. We are not providing hand sanitiser on our trains. The current list of stations with dispensers can be found here.
We’re adding in more dispensers at our stations and will update the list in due course.
We ask customers to carry their own hand sanitiser and wash their hands for 20 seconds before and after travelling.
Do I need to reserve a seat?
No, we don’t operate a reservation system on our trains.
What if more people turn up than are allowed on? Will I get left behind?
We need people’s help to ensure that those who need to travel by train can do so safely.
If it is not possible for you to safely board the train, we will ask you to wait for the next service.
In this situation, you will be able to use your existing ticket on the later service, irrespective of whether it is technically still valid or not.
If you are unable to board the last service, please speak to a member of station staff or use the help point so we can arrange alternative transport for you.
How can I buy a ticket?
We are encouraging customers to purchase tickets online to minimise the time they spend at the station and any social contact.
Season tickets – can I renew my season ticket if I cancelled it?
Once cancelled a season ticket cannot be renewed, if you have previously cancelled your season ticket and you need a season ticket, you will have to purchase a new one.
Will people need to queue outside stations?
It is quite possible people will need to queue outside stations. So, we would advise everyone to plan ahead, leave extra time for their journey and to travel at quieter times if possible.
Does Delay Repay still apply and are you offering additional compensation?
Yes, Delay Repay will still apply against the revised timetable and passengers can submit their claims through our Delay Repay page.
We appreciate that our service levels have reduced, however we hope customers can understand that this is for their safety, the safety of our staff and following Government advice to help limit the spread of the coronavirus.
Consequently, we will not be offering extra compensation to customers who cannot travel on their usual service.
If I decide not to travel due to concerns about coronavirus, will I get a refund?
Unless you have purchased an Advance Purchase ticket, you will be able to request a refund. See our COVID-19 refund policy for advice on requesting 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?
No, Public Health England’s guidance is clear. You should remain in your home. Do not go to work, school, or public areas, and do not use public transport or taxis.
If I have coronavirus can I still use train services?
No, NHS guidance states you need to stay in isolation, away from other people, until you have recovered.
Will there be staff available if I need help?
Yes, our guards will still be present on every train service as well as staff at stations across the network to offer advice and assistance to customers.
Our station Help Points also remain in operation.
The British Transport Police will continue to conduct their regular patrols in order to keep passengers safe.
If customers see anything suspicious or witness anti-social behaviour, they should contact a member of staff or British Transport Police on 0800 40 50 40 or via text on 61016. In an emergency always dial 999.
Are your catering trolleys still in operation?
Unfortunately, we are currently not offering onboard catering on our services, we are however looking at how we can re-introduce this service safely.
You may wish to bring a bottle of water with you on your journey.
I have a National Rail Voucher that I have not been able to use and is due to expire, what do I do?
We will accept National Rail Vouchers with an expiry date between 17 March 2020 and 16 September 2020 for a maximum of 6 months after they have expired.
How do I collect lost property?
Our lost property office at London Waterloo is open Monday to Friday 0800-1830.
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?
The rail industry is currently considering how best to manage Railcards that customers have been unable to use during travel restrictions. We will publish guidance to customers on Railcards soon. Please also visit https://www.railcard.co.uk/ for the latest information.
Back to school
Heading back to school on our trains? Read our guide on how to travel safely