Coronavirus Travel Information: Facebook Shared Image Template 1200x630  Essential Travel

04 Jun 2020

Coronavirus Travel Information

During this difficult time, we’re committed to supporting key workers across the north of England, ensuring that if they do need to make that essential journey, it is as safe as it can possibly be.  

We are currently operating a temporary timetable, in line with the rest of the rail industry, designed to keep key workers and those making essential journeys on the move. You can find full details of this timetable here

The government’s advice is, if you have to travel to work because you cannot work from home, please avoid public transport - if possible, walk or cycle or go by car. For more information on public transport advice from the government click here

Essential travel only  

Capacity on our trains is significantly limited as we have put measures in place to encourage social distancing – help us to keep the trains for those who really need them. 

If your only option is to travel by train please:   

  • buy your ticket online or pay by contactless 
  • respect the 2m rule    
  • follow the instructions at stations and of staff  
  • use a face covering if you can   
  • take your face covering and litter with you   
  • wash your hands before and after your journey   
  • avoid rush hour and travel at quieter periods where possible 
  • allow extra time for your journey  

Buying tickets to travel  

We have suspended the selling of tickets on board trains.  

Customers will still require a ticket to travel and should buy before they board from stations, ticket machines, and online via the web ( or our mobile app.  

Ticket Offices: Our ticket offices remain open so, if you’re starting your journey from a staffed station during opening hours, our helpful staff will be ready to sell you the ticket you need.  

Ticket Vending Machines: Most of our stations now have Ticket Vending Machines which sell tickets to all locations in the UK.  

We are not accepting cash payments until further notice and passengers should use contactless payment where possible. Those who wish to use cash for payment should use relevant ticket machines where available. 

Conductors will also be available to help customers as needed.  

If your travel plans change​​​​​​​  

We have made changes to our refunds/amendments policy. Please click here for more details. 

What Northern is doing to protect customers​​​​​​​   

Until further notice all waiting rooms at Northern stations will be closed. This follows advice from government and is in-line with action taken by train operators across the country. 

We have a robust plan in place for cleaning our trains. This includes the removal of litter throughout the day and ensuring all surfaces are cleaned on a regular basis.  

On-board our trains and at stations, where facilities exist, there is soap and water available in our toilets for customers to follow NHS advice to wash their hands for 20 seconds.  

If you come across a toilet with no soap, please alert a member of staff.  

What you can do to protect yourself​​​​​​​   

The government is advising that everyone should avoid all non-essential public transport use and, where possible, should try to avoid rush hour services. People should also vary usual travel times to prevent crowding and, if possible, work from home.  

If you are showing any Coronavirus symptoms, however mild, you should self-isolate along with other members of your household. The latest Public Health England advice is available here.   

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Northern doing to maximise social distancing at stations?

We have put a number of measures in place at our stations to remind customers of the need to keep socially distanced. These measure include markers on the floor, posters, and audio messages. At stations where ticket offices remain open, we have additional social distancing measures in place, such as capacity restrictions and floor markers. At some stations, access to certain areas – such as waiting rooms – is restricted where we believe social distancing is not possible.

What is Northern doing to maximise social distancing on trains?

To help customers stay socially distanced while travelling on our trains we have marked some seats as ‘Out of Use’ (reducing the capacity of our trains) and laid tape to enable on-board staff to conduct their duties), we are using audio messages and have a series of notices displayed on our on-board digital screens.

What can Northern's customers do to make sure they social distance on trains?

We have a number of measures in place on our trains to help customers socially distance. But there are steps that can be taken by those travelling to help with this. Some of our trains have seats marked as out of service – where they are in place, these restrictions should be followed. Where they are not in place, customers should do their best to observe the following rules:

  • Sit at a window seat
  • Leave at least two rows vacant between you and other passengers
  • Avoid facing other passengers
  • Use alternate sides of the train
  • Where possible, try to adhere to social distancing rules when getting on and off the train.

When is the best time to travel and are there any time to avoid?

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic we are operating amended timetables with significantly reduced capacity on our trains (a reduction of more than 85%). As a result, customers should allow extra time for journeys, avoid peak travel times if possible and buy tickets online, via the mobile app, or on smartcards. Customers should, where possible, avoid planning to travel on the last services of the day.

What happens if the train I want to travel on is already full?

Government advice is that public transport should only be used if no other options for travel are available. Customers who have to travel should do everything possible to maintain social distancing. If a train is already busy when it arrives at a station, and there is nowhere to sit safely, customers should wait for the next service. Northern understands this may be frustrating, however social distancing restrictions means we are currently running services with an 85% reduction in capacity.

Is hand sanitiser available at stations and on trains?

On-board our trains and at stations, where facilities exist, there is soap and water available in our toilets for customers to follow NHS advice to wash their hands for 20 seconds. Hand sanitiser will not be provided on stations or on trains – where possible customers should carry their own.

Are reservations are mandatory, advised or not required?

Seat reservations are not available on our services and are not required to travel.

Is Passenger Assist still provided, and is the service any different from normal?

Passenger Assist services are being provided as usual and the team can be contacted on 0800 138 5560 (Text Relay 18001 0800 138 5560).

What additional cleaning is being carried out?

We have a robust cleaning regime and employ more than 400 dedicated cleaning staff across the north of England who, at the moment, are supported by colleagues from elsewhere in the business.

Every carriage that has been in service is given a thorough clean at the end of the night before being sent out the next day. We also have staff at stations who clear litter from our trains, clean surfaces, all touchpoints and toilets throughout the day to help keep them in the best possible condition for passengers.

We will continue to do all we can and hope you will also continue to play your part when travelling on Northern services.