Because of COVID 19, some people have been claiming that trains are an unsafe way to travel, without providing any clear evidence to back their claim.

Research in several European countries, including the UK, Germany, Austria, France and Spain, and internationally by the UIC (Union internationale des Chemins de fer) covering 70 countries or operators, has shown that the risk of infection during a rail journey or at stations, is extremely small.

In the UK, the Rail Safety & Standards Board found that the risk of infection during a 60-minute train journey was only 1 in 11,000, and only 1 in 20,000 if all passengers wore a face covering (as they are now required to do.)

Studies in Germany and Austria, based on contact tracing, found not a single infection resulting from a train journey. Researchers in Spain could to identify a single case of coronavirus resulting from travel by public transport, and judged the risk of contagion as much lower than in other enclosed spaces, thanks partly to the use of face masks and improved ventilation.

In France during the four months May to August, only 1% of COVID cases could be linked to public transport; while in Switzerland not one of the infection hotspots in August was related to travel on public transport.

Much of this data has been collected and publicised by the European Passengers’ Federation, of which AERA is an associate member, and which is monitoring the situation closely.

Train operators are taking a wide range of measures including frequent cleaning and sanitising, giving advice to passengers and careful organisation, to keep their services safe.

Rail already has a well-deserved reputation for being a safe mode of travel and all the evidence points to it keeping that reputation during the current pandemic.