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Owen Humphreys/PA Wire
UK News

Railway chaplain praying for 'God's calm' as train services ramp up

by Tola Mbakwe

A railway chaplain has commended the UK government's decision to increase train services from Monday from 50 per cent to 70 per cent. 
Although more trains will be running, social distancing measures have been enforced. 

They include train capacity being reduced to as little as 10 per cent of normal levels, and passengers are being urged to avoid non-essential travel.

British Transport Police will also have more officers at London stations in a bid to control crowds.

Executive director of Railway Mission Liam Johnston told Premier it's a good move. 

"We need to obviously begin to get things back to normal but in a safe manner," he said. 

"So the measures that have been put in place by the rail industry have really helped to ensure the safety of staff and passengers."

Johnston said he has had to furlough some staff due to the coronavirus pandemic and chaplains have been mainly serving the rail industry virtually, except for in extreme circumstances such as deaths. 

He said while it's a good idea that trains services ramp up, it's brought up a lot of worries with rail staff. 

"The main concern is that of anxiety over catching the virus.

"We've had some rail staff who sadly have lost their lives to this virus. Some, that perhaps were needless, like Belly [Mujinga] who was at Victoria Station in London, [and] was attacked by a member of the public and then subsequently died of the virus. 

"So there is some concern, but everybody is doing all they can to support people."

Passengers travelling by train are being asked to wear a face covering and keep a two metre distance from other people where possible.

Transport operators are being urged by the Government to rearrange, remove or limit seating "to try and ensure social distancing is observed".

This may include blocking off seats in close proximity to others and removing face-to-face seating.

Johnston said that he thinks most people will be fine with complying with the rules. He told Premier that he's praying that the transition to more train services will be a peaceful one. 

"I'm praying for the rail staff first and foremost. I'm praying for their safety. There are those who may turn up at the railway station who may be frustrated by not being able to get on board, and I pray that they will understand and that the public will get behind the rail industry and support our rail workers. 

"I'm praying for that level of frustration to be dissipated and that a real sense of peace and God's calm comes over our industry and our nation at this time."

Listen to Premier's interview with Liam Johnston here: 

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