TSSA calls on UK government for urgent coronavirus transport summit
Posted: 9 March 2020 | Sam Mehmet (Intelligent Transport)
The TSSA General Secretary has written to Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, stating that “we need a coordinated response across the public transport network on how we tackle the threat that this virus poses.”
The Transport Salaried Staffs’ Association (TSSA) General Secretary, Manuel Cortes, has urged the UK government to immediately convene a transport sector summit on tackling the recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19).
Cortes said that the aim of the summit would be to put in place measures which would reassure transport workers as well as passengers to keep trains, buses, trains and trams running up and down Britain. “We want to ensure our transport networks are resilient in the face of a possible epidemic and urgently need consistent advice and a pro-active plan of action for public transport” the letter to Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, read.
Cortes claimed that the transport sector needs a “much more detailed response to the virus given the crucial role [the transport industry] plays in the economy and society, and the potential to spread – or minimise the spread – of the coronavirus.”
The union boss also asked the government to look into prevention measures across public transport – including “the possibility of cleaning teams conducting overnight deep cleans of train carriages and stations, focusing on frequent touch areas such as handrails and ticket machines.”
“Can hand sanitiser be made available at all stations and on-board trains? Can the public address systems be used to give passengers practical tips? How can key routes be kept open?” read some of the questions proposed in the letter.
“It’s essential that Grant Shapps convenes this summit in the next few days so that experts across the industry can get a real grip of the situation. We must do all we can now to keep travel routes open – millions depend on us doing so,” Cortes commented.
“Of course this is a public health matter first and foremost, but privatisation is frankly adding risk to the situation. Our privatised and fractured railways network system is of very little help in terms of a strong and fully coordinated response to an emerging crisis.”
The letter called for the input from representatives of each devolved administration, Metro Mayors, train operators, trade unions and medical experts at the summit.