BtoB Rail caught up with Jash Bansidhar, Managing Director, Advantech Europe
As with many sectors, the effects of Covid-19 on the rail industry have been far-reaching, with a huge impact on operations, not least in terms of passenger numbers. Figures from the Rail Safety & Standards Board in the UK, for example, suggest that domestic passenger numbers fell at one point as low as 4%, and the picture is similar elsewhere in Europe.
While the picture is improving as national lockdown measures are gradually lifted, the legacy of Covid-19 will no doubt outlast the timescale of the current pandemic. This means that rail operators globally must find ways to deliver high-quality operations and service, and so maintain profitability, for the years to come.
The aims of the sector must be threefold – to protect passengers and employees, restore confidence and create healthy train environments. Safety of both passengers and workers is of course paramount and it is vital that these groups should not just be kept safe but see clear evidence that the environment they are entering is as well protected as possible against the spread of Covid-19.
Central to slowing the spread of Covid-19, or indeed any other infectious condition, is ensuring that carriers – whether displaying symptoms or not – are unable to enter areas where they may come into close proximity with other individuals and pass on the disease, irrespective of any social distancing, facial protection requirements, or other measures that may be in place. Precise medical testing of all individuals to determine whether or not they have Covid-19 is not an option in rail settings – or indeed any non-medical setting, due to the time taken to analyse samples.
Therefore, there is still much that can be done to minimise the risk of infected individuals entering stations and boarding trains.