TRANSPORT for the North, rail operating companies, Network Rail, and the British Transport Police have joined forces to call for the region's railways to be kept free for essential travel only.

With recent days having seen people use railways to take trips to beauty spots for non-essential purposes – and in doing so risk spreading the COVID-19 virus – a clear message has been issued by the region’s transport body and rail industry to stay at home and save lives - with social distancing an absolutely vital weapon.

David Hoggarth, strategic rail director for transport for the North, said: “Rail operators themselves are having to cope with high absence levels and have trimmed back services as they begin to introduce ‘key worker’ emergency timetables.

“Together they want to ensure the rail services that do operate are kept free for those who really need them.”