Wales lifts ban on public transport for leisure travel

Space available: a CrossCountry train from Cardiff Central: Simon Calder
Space available: a CrossCountry train from Cardiff Central: Simon Calder

From Monday, Wales will finally join the rest of the UK in permitting the use of public transport for leisure travel – “opening up trains and buses to more potential passengers,” according to the Welsh government.

Since the coronavirus pandemic began, Transport for Wales has told prospective passengers: “Thank you for not travelling with us during these exceptional times. This helps keep trains clear in Wales for key workers and those with essential needs.”

The Welsh government has announced the “essential travel only” message will be lifted from Monday, 17 August.

Lee Waters, deputy minister for economy and transport, said: “As we continue to carefully ease restrictions we are able to lift the essential travel message that was in place to allow our key workers to travel safely.

“But with the virus still in circulation it’s essential that people act responsibility when using public transport. This will involve planning journeys to avoid busy periods if possible, and washing or sanitising hands at the start and end of each trip.

“Face coverings are mandatory on public transport and could lead to passengers being refused travel if they are not being worn.”

The lifting of restrictions comes as the number of coronavirus cases continues to fall in Wales.

Because there are so many Anglo-Welsh train services, the rule has caused confusion and controversy among would-be rail travellers.

CrossCountry and GWR have opened their trains to all, even for journeys solely within Wales – such as Newport to Cardiff.

Conversely, passengers wishing to travel between two English stations such as Crewe and Manchester on a Transport for Wales train have been asked to do so only when essential.

Mark Smith, the former British Rail executive who now runs the Seat61.com international rail website, said: “It’s about time we stopped running empty trains.”

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