European Railway Agency - ERA

Making the railway system work better for society.

COVID-19 Information Platform

Rail transport is a key enabler of our European economy and currently the most-sustainable mode of transport with a high level of safety. After many weeks of confinement measures in response to the COVID-19 crisis, it is now essential to ensure that transport services and connectivity are progressively restored, optimally safeguarding the health and safety of passengers, transport workers and staff, and to re-establish trust in rail services.

As the situation varies in each Member State and anticipating eventual temporary or local measures in case of further ‘waves’ of COVID-19, the Agency has created this COVID-19 information platform to support the sector in its efforts. Conceived as a flexible information point which is continuously updated, it should facilitate the international exchange of COVID-19 relevant information, experiences and best practices in the European transport sector and beyond.

Can we help you? For specific questions or expert advice, please write to COVID RAIL

The European Commission’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic prioritises keeping citizens healthy. This includes keeping essential transport moving, for example to transport medical supplies and other essential goods.

COVID-19 Guidelines on the progressive restoration of transport services and connectivity, published 13.05.2020, articles 53-56.

“For passenger transport to resume, it will be important to assure passengers that taking collective transport is safe. Measures need to be well communicated, visible and effective. Especially for international rail services, measures need to be coordinated among Member States and operators in order to be effective. The rail sector associations and worker organisations are working towards common rules.

Given the high number of passengers transported daily, and the number of stations served, compliance with the general rules for safe behaviour to protect public health, in particular adequate distancing, also depends on the diligence and sense of responsibility of each passenger. Random controls should ensure a good level of compliance.

As railways have continued to function throughout the COVID-19 outbreak, there is already a number of measures in place that can be retained and adapted where necessary:

  1. Distancing obligations should be applied on trains where needed, in particular as long as passenger numbers are relatively low. To enable distancing, frequency and capacity of trains should be increased if necessary to reduce passenger density.
  2. Rail operators should implement mandatory seat reservations on long-distance and regional trains, with identification of name/origin and destination of passengers. Alternatively, and especially for short-distance trains, passengers should be required to leave seats empty between them, except for passengers from the same household.
  3. Rail operators should make use of on-board passenger counting systems especially available for commuter and suburban trains (based on weight, footsteps in the door areas, and also CCTV counting algorithms which do not allow for identification of individuals) to manage capacity. The timetabling and path allocation may need flexible adjustments, including optimizing capacity in a coordinated manner to reflect demand and the need to reduce passenger density.
  4. Passenger flow management should be implemented at stations. Where adequate levels of public health cannot be ensured, the closing of certain stops or stations should be considered.
  5. Off-peak hour travel should be encouraged with incentives, such as adjusted pricing, or flexible working hours in the case of commuter trains, to avoid crowding.
  6. To avoid that passengers have to touch door handles or buttons, doors should be opened at each stop either automatically or remotely by the driver.”

For specific enquiries or questions, please write to: EU-COVID TRANSPORT

Based on its relevant expertise with railway operations and with Common Safety Methods, as well as its extensive network of communication channels (with authorities, operators, and manufacturers), the Agency has organized an Information Platform based on the existing Networks for respectively NSAs and Representative Bodies to facilitate and promote the sharing of best practices.

You’ll find here dedicated COVID-19 information bulletins for your reference. Drafted and validated by experts from ERA and from other organisations they provide advice that is not legally binding or mandatory.

Organisation COVID-19 sources of information
ECDC https://www.ecdc.europa.eu/en/covid-19-pandemic
OSHA https://osha.europa.eu/en/themes/covid-19-resources-workplace
EASA European Union Aviation Safety Agency
https://www.easa.europa.eu/newsroom-and-events/news
Eventually add here some text or pdf’s if relevant, same for each organisation
EMSA European Maritime Safety Agency
http://emsa.europa.eu/news-a-press-centre/covid19.html
SHIFT2RAIL Shift2Rail Joint Undertaking
https://shift2rail.org/news/
CER https://www.cer.be/covid-19-news
UNIFE https://www.unife.org/
UIC Information bulletins: https://uic.org/covid-19/
OTIF https://otif.org/en/

Disclaimer 

Any information given on this webpage are taking into account our current knowledge about the COVID-19 pandemic. We will update the information when necessary. Even though we did the utmost to carefully verify all information, accuracy cannot be guaranteed and ERA cannot be held liable for possible errors on this webpage. If you judge any information is incorrect or incomplete please give us your feedback by writing to COVID-RAIL.  We will check it and share the information with the sector and other authorities to the benefit of all.