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Getting past uncertainty and supporting Britain’s revival

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The prospects for Britain in 2021 are encouraging. In all probability, the worst of Covid is behind us, and we will continue to see a relaxing of restrictions. The long-term management of Covid is likely to be via vaccination, allowing people to live near-normal lives again. Already we are seeing that more people are feeling comfortable to use rail again to visit loved ones, to get out and about, for leisure and for work. 

However, there is still some uncertainty, and understandably so. Just as the onset of a pandemic was a new experience, so too is coming out of one. The impact of new variants could delay the easing of restrictions and there will be different perceptions and confidence levels. The number of cases will fluctuate, and we don’t yet know the impact of the virus on the people who become seriously ill. The news adds to this uncertainty with a positive outlook one day and a more negative one the next. 

This can be unsettling, but it is something we should learn to recognise and understand better through data, analysis and research. It is only this way that we will have more confidence about living with Covid in the longer term, and ultimately being able to live, work and travel freely again.

A better quality of life is something rail can play a really big part in. Rail gets people to school, to work, to shops, to days out sightseeing. It connects people to people, to family and friends. It gets you to the football match, the seaside, the restaurants, pubs and nights out. It gets you out and about in the fresh air. And it does all this more safely, and more sustainably than the car.

The railways have already worked so hard to adapt to ever changing circumstances since the pandemic began. And now they will have to do so again. To help liberate rail travel to its fullest potential, we at RSSB have been supporting members prepare for what lies ahead and get past the uncertainty.

Now is the time for rail to show what it can offer to the ‘building back better’ and ‘levelling up’ agendas. So while there is uncertainty, we can get past it together. I welcome your continued support and involvement in our work and encourage you to tap into the benefits on offer.

More information and links to resources

If your role concerns operations, safety, engineering or performance in a passenger TOC, ROSCO, infrastructure manager or if you support transport agencies and authorities for local, regional, devolved or national government, I would urge you to access the resources and services that could help you:

  • Inform your safety decision making with our Covid Transmission Model – this is updated every two weeks and provides members with an independent view of the average risk of transmission, and forecasts for different scenarios in the weeks ahead.
  • Manage increases in passenger numbers – discussions around the risks that passengers, staff and members of the public may face as more and more people start travelling by train again. As well as modelling analysis on the impact that the increase number of passengers and social distance may have on dwells and general network performance.
  • Stepping up SPAD focus – posters and guidance for operators to use with drivers as they start encountering more trains and cautionary or red signals. 
  • Understand vaccine development in simple terms – an easy-to-digest summary of Covid vaccine development presented by our Horizon Scanning team.
  • Support workforce wellbeing – a hub of resources which can help with workforce wellbeing and mental health.
  • Access training and consultancy – as your workforce get used to a busier railway again, it is worth considering the benefits of our training courses on non-technical skills, accident investigation and other health and safety topics. Our experts are on hand to support you – for example, we can offer peer reviews on risk assessments, and support your teams with advice on standards, rules and safety management. Members can always submit a request for help, and for bigger pieces of work, we can offer consultancy too.
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