Coronavirus outbreak: UK govt takes over railways in Coronavirus outbreak

LONDON: The British government took over the railways on Monday in a bid to ensure services keep running for key workers during the coronavirus outbreak. The transport ministry said it was suspending normal franchise agreements with private operators, taking over “all revenue and cost risk” for at least six months.

Train services are being reduced from Monday, as passenger numbers slump in the wake of government advice to avoid all non-essential travel to stem the outbreak of Covid-19. The government updated this advice late on Sunday, warning people not to travel to “second homes, camp sites, caravan parks” whether for holiday or to isolate themselves. It followed concerns about how many people flocked to rural beauty spots and beaches over the weekend, defying advice to stay away from other people.

Several politicians are calling on Prime Minister Boris Johnson to impose tougher measures to force people to comply. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Monday that some people’s behaviour was “very selfish”, warning they must keep two metres apart. “We’re willing if we have to, to take more action,” he told BBC radio. MPs on Monday debate proposed emergency legislation to give police and immigration officers increased powers to force people to isolate themselves.

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