Advice for the railway industry and passengers.
Current COVID-19 advice
COVID-19 remains a public health risk. In England, Scotland and Wales current government guidance and advice reflects the move to an approach of managing and living with coronavirus.
On 1 April 2022, the Government introduced new COVID-19 advice for England. This replaced previous Government guidance and followed the removal of the last remaining domestic restrictions in England on 24 February 2022.
ORR has removed its previous COVID-19 guidance and refers stakeholders to the latest government advice for each country.
- Living safely with respiratory infections, including COVID-19
- People with symptoms of a respiratory infection including COVID-19
- Reducing the spread of respiratory infections, including COVID-19, in the workplace
Further information and links to other resources can be found in the sections below. This page will be kept under review and should government advice or circumstances change, this page will be updated accordingly.
Whilst there is no longer a legal requirement to wear a face covering on public transport, the rail industry is continuing to encourage passengers and employees to wear face coverings when on trains and in busy stations to promote a safe travel environment.
Please read further guidance on when to consider wearing a face covering in England. Guidance for the public on face coverings in Scotland and Wales is also available.
Important points of consideration for dutyholders and employers
- COVID-19 remains a public health issue. When considering it as a risk in the workplace duty holders and employers should manage it in accordance with public health advice.
- Employers no longer need to explicitly consider COVID-19 in risk assessments, although they may still choose to do so. The exception is where employers directly work with COVID-19 (e.g., laboratories researching the virus and health care workers caring for people infected with COVID-19). In these cases, employers have a duty to protect their employees under COSHH and must continue to consider COVID-19 in their risk assessments - more information on this can be found on the HSE website.
- Employers must continue to comply with the Workplace (Health, Safety and Welfare) Regulations 1992 and Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015 in managing health and safety risks in the workplace.
- Where working practices have changed permanently as a result of the pandemic, they should be to at least the same standard as those used prior to the pandemic and should not be to the detriment of health and safety.
- Controls and processes introduced to mitigate COVID-19 transmission may also have wider benefits – e.g., enhanced cleaning, ventilation / air filtration etc. Employers should consider these as part of their risk assessment and working practices going forwards.
- Stakeholder collaboration facilitated the introduction of COVID-19 risk controls in the rail industry. The industry is encouraged to continue working together to mitigate wider risks and hazards.
- The rail industry is encouraged to continue exploring solutions that can further reduce risks and hazards associated, especially those associated with with infectious and airborne diseases.
In most instances, reporting COVID-19 under RIDDOR is not required. The Health and Safety Executive provide guidance on when reporting of COVID-19 under RIDDOR is required - this is principally where an employee has been infected with coronavirus through deliberate working with, or incidental exposure to, the virus.
General information on reporting RIDDOR incidents and occupational diseases is available on our website.
The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) advises Government on health and safety matters and is responsible for the regulation of risks to health and safety arising from work activity in Britain. HSE’s latest advice for workplaces on COVID-19 includes information for employers on how to comply with general health and safety law and what employers need to do if employees comes into contact with COVID-19 due to their work activities.
Advice for rail passengers
Passengers should read this advice in line with government guidance on safe travel in England, Scotland and Wales
- Staff shortages caused by the pandemic may result in some short notice cancellations and the timetable on some routes may be reduced so you should check your journey before you travel.
- The UK government ‘book with confidence’ guarantee is in place until 30 September 2022. Advance tickets can be exchanged to travel at a different time or date fee-free or refunded for a rail travel voucher valid for 12 months – these changes must be requested before 6pm the day before travel. For more information please visit: National Rail Enquiries - Advance Tickets
Competition law advice
ORR's approach to the enforcement of competition law in response to COVID-19
It is ORR’s role to enforce competition law in the railways sector. Fair competition typically benefits passengers and rail users by creating rivalry between businesses to offer lower prices, better service and increase innovation. ORR nonetheless recognises that in its approach to enforcing competition in this sector must take into account the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The railway is vital to ensure that key workers can get to where they are needed most, and supply chains for essential goods can continue to function.
For this reason, ORR endorses the CMA’s guidance on its ‘Approach to business cooperation in response to COVID-19’.
Additionally, and specifically for the railway sector we also commit not to take enforcement action against any cooperation between businesses, which might otherwise have raised competition concerns, which is necessary and appropriate to achieve the primary objective of:
- Ensuring the continuity of delivery of essential products to consumers; and/or
- Maintaining effective passenger services for the transport of key workers.
We emphasise, however, in line with the CMA guidance, that we are resolved to take firm action against any behaviour which seeks to: exploit the pandemic for commercial gain; engage or embed any longer term anti-competitive arrangements; or, otherwise to use the pandemic as cover for anti-competitive activity.