TfL lifts facemasks order

Facemasks are no longer compulsory on Transport for London services from today, as all Covid restrictions are lifted in England. The Mayor of London Sadiq Khan had maintained the requirement for facemasks on TfL after restrictions were eased elsewhere, and he still wants passengers on trains, trams and buses to continue wearing them, but there are no longer any penalties if they decline to do so. TfL’s chief safety, health and environment officer Lilli Matson said: ‘Following the government’s decision to lift coronavirus restrictions and the falling infection rates in London, we will be removing the condition of carriage that requires customers to wear face coverings from 24 February, but will continue to strongly recommend that customers and staff wear them as they are proven to reduce the risk of transmission and we know they provide confidence to people using public transport.’

Underground strikes to go ahead after talks break down

Members of the RMT on London Underground are set to walk out for 24 hours on 1 and 3 March, after discussions at ACAS between the union and Transport for London broke down. The dispute is over possible job losses as well as pay, pensions and working conditions. RMT general secretary Mick Lynch said: ‘Our members will be taking strike action next week because a financial crisis at LUL has been deliberately engineered by the government to drive a cuts agenda which would savage jobs, services, safety and threaten their working conditions and‎ pensions. The sheer scale of that threat was confirmed in talks yesterday.’

10.40 UPDATE

TfL has warned of ‘major disruption’ if the strikes go ahead, which could also affect services during the mornings of 2 and 4 March. Chief operating officer Andy Lord said: ‘It is extremely disappointing that the RMT is planning to go ahead with this action. We haven’t proposed any changes to pensions or terms and conditions, and nobody has or will lose their jobs because of the proposals we have set out. I hope the RMT will get around the table with us, continue talks and call off this disruptive action, which will cause huge frustration for our customers and further financial damage to TfL and London’s economy when we should be working together to rebuild following the pandemic.’

Cambrian Line to be affected for weeks by weather damage

Network Rail has warned that part of the Cambrian Line will be closed for weeks, while it repairs major damage caused by floods along one 800m section near Welshpool. Engineers have been carrying out surveys, aided by drones, at 12 locations where ballast was washed away by the water. Replacement buses will run between Shrewsbury and Newtown. After three storms, the River Severn had reached its highest level ever recorded on Monday.

Community Rail benefits from surprising find

The Wherry Lines Community Rail Partnership is £500 richer after part of the former cattle dock at Reedham station was uncovered during repairs to the car park. A large pile of bricks was retrieved and offered by Greater Anglia to a local recycling yard in return for a donation, and GA has now passed the money on to the line’s CRP. The Partnership’s development officer Martin Halliday said the donation would be put to ‘excellent use’.