Labour demands higher rail fares are axed over Christmas to stop off-peak trains being packed
- Travel restrictions lifted from December 23 to 27 sparking fears of virus spread
- Labour calls to suspend higher fares over the five days to reduce overcrowding
- Two million people travel by rail each year between Christmas and New Year
Travel restrictions have been lifted between December 23 and 27 to allow people to spend time with family.
The party wants ministers to suspend higher fares over the five days where restrictions are eased to reduce overcrowding on off-peak trains.
Calls have been made by the Labour party to suspend peak fares to stop travel chaos over the Christmas period (file image)
But the easing of travel restrictions has sparked fears of a rise in coronavirus outbreaks.
Around two million people travel by rail each year between Christmas and New Year.
Jim McMahon (pictured), Labour’s shadow transport secretary, said a ‘comprehensive travel plan’ was needed
There are also fears the virus will spread across the UK, as ministers have announced easing of rules on household gatherings, allowing three to meet together.
The party has also called on the government to introduce mass coronavirus testing for transport workers of staff including train workers and bus drivers.
Jim McMahon, Labour’s shadow transport secretary, said a ‘comprehensive travel plan’ was needed to ensure families travelling over the UK were safe.
He also added that ministers coming to Parliament on Monday should be prepared so that ‘chaos on our roads and rail network is avoided’.
Mr McMahon added: ‘Families will be looking forward to travelling to see one other this Christmas after a really tough year.
‘However, we cannot afford to be complacent. The virus still poses a very serious risk to people’s health.’
Pictured: Chair of Network Rail, Peter Hendy (L) and Britain’s Transport Secretary Grant Shapps (R) attending a remote press conference inside 10 Downing Street in central London on June 4, 2020. Sir Peter has been appointed as the government’s Christmas travel tsar
This comes after the Government were considering putting on extra trains and may suspend engineering work as Britons hit the railways for their Christmas bubble.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has reportedly urged Network Rail and train operators to submit plans to prevent overcrowding on trains over the festive period.
In addition, parts of the railway network are due to be shut down for engineering work.
Train capacity is currently limited to around a fifth of normal levels in order to maintain social distancing between passengers.
Sir Peter Hendy, who is currently the chairman of Network Rail, has been tasked looking into whether road, rail and air links in Britain will be for for purpose when festive travel kicks in.