Nicola Sturgeons plea snubbed! Fury over English rules for Scottish rail passengers

Sadiq Khan discusses face coverings on London public transport

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The SNP-led Scottish Government moved Scotland to Level 0 coronavirus restrictions on Monday, meaning social distancing is set at 1 metre whilst face masks are compulsory on public transport. It comes as “freedom day” south of the border which brought more differences between coronavirus regulations in Scotland and England, with an end to social distancing requirements in England.

LNER said it would operate under English guidance on cross-border services to allow for consistency.

The Scottish Government said it was not “acceptable that LNER has continued to issue inaccurate advice.”

CrossCountry made similar arrangements and acknowledged that social distancing may not be possible on busier services.

An LNER spokesperson said: “We are reviewing our approach to social distancing onboard our Anglo-Scot services.

“The safety of our customers and colleagues remains our top priority and we will provide an update in due course.

“We are continuing to provide an enhanced cleaning programme onboard our trains and at our stations as well as reminding customers to wear a face mask, unless exempt.

“We are also using our reservation system to prevent overcrowding and our website to continue to inform customers which are our least busy and busier services, to enable people to plan ahead and travel in confidence.”

Earlier, they said: “Whilst social distancing guidance remains in place in Scotland, we have taken the decision to operate the same seating/reservation approach on all our services, including our cross-border services, to ensure a consistent experience for customers.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “The law is clear that social distancing is required on public transport, including on cross border services.

“Anyone operating a business or providing a service in a level 0 area is required to take measures, so far as is reasonably practicable, to ensure 1m physical distance is maintained.

“This issue was flagged with LNER in advance of changes to restrictions in England and Scotland coming into force on Jul 19.”

The Government said officials claimed they received assurance from LNER on Friday that their messages to customers would be changed to reflect and respect Scottish Government law and guidance, days before the guidance was sent out.

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The spokesman added: “It is not acceptable that LNER has continued to issue inaccurate advice.

“We are now discussing this issue again with LNER as a matter of urgency to ensure an approach consistent with Scottish restrictions.”

Angus Robertson, MSP for Edinburgh Central, said the move was as “tenable as Boris Johnson’s exemption from social distancing regulations”.

Mr Robertson, who also serves as Scotland’s Constitution Secretary, also questioned if the train firm was going to “disregard Scottish public health and safety coronavirus rules” on its services north of the border.

A spokesman for CrossCountry added: “In England, social distancing restrictions are no longer in place on board our services, which is in line with government guidelines. Scotland still has a social distancing rule of 1m in place.

“However, there is an acknowledgement that on some crowded services 1m physical distancing may prove difficult.

“We continue to have a range of measures in place including information about quieter services and enhanced cleaning regimes to ensure our customers have a comfortable travel experience.

“Face coverings also remain mandatory in Scotland for the time being and we make frequent announcements to inform our customers.”

LNER is owned by the UK Department for Transport and took over the franchise for the East Coast Main Line service between London and Scotland from Virgin Trains.

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