Leading rail expert accuses government of ‘world-class waffle’ on public transport safety

leading rail expert accuses government of world class waffle on public transport safety scaled

A leading figure in the rail industry has condemned “ministerial carelessness/incompetence about public transport’s Covid-19 infection rates”.

In the new edition of Rail magazine, managing editor Nigel Harris criticises the universities minister, Michelle Donelan, over what she said – and did not say – during a BBC Today interview on 11 November which touched on public transport safety.

Many studies worldwide – including some funded by the UK government – have concluded there is a negligible risk of contracting coronavirus on trains and other forms of public transport.

Neil Ovenden, head of engineering for the Rail Delivery Group, has said: “Nobody has detected any residues of Covid-19 on any surfaces in any rail environment anywhere in the country.

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“Not on handrails, escalators, door buttons or ticket machines.”

Ms Donelan was asked about students travelling home for Christmas. The presenter, Martha Kearney, said: “If they get on public transport at all, should they get a test when they get home?”

Instead of responding by explaining the extremely low level of risk, Ms Donelan, appeared to avoid the question. She said: “The whole point is that they have been through the period of national restrictions. Our advice says that at the end of that they pose a much, much reduced risk to anybody else.

“What we’re talking about here is reducing and managing that risk and allowing students to make a choice and have the ability to get home for Christmas.”

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