Reporter asks about soap supplies and why last-known contacts of colleagues with symptoms are not being tracked.

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A reporter was concerned that TransPennine Express (TPE) was not being proactive in investigating and containing the spread of Covid-19 in TPE depots and train services. The reporter was aware of staff going on sick leave with Covid-19 symptoms without TPE asking who they had been in contact with before.

They were also concerned about a lack of measures to test colleagues possibly carrying the virus, especially as many use different train services through their shift. Guards were still required to physically check tickets and handle cash on trains, exposing them to what the reporter believes is unnecessary close contact with the public.

According to the reporter’s observations, trains leaving stations such as Sheffield, Manchester Piccadilly and York were also not supplied with enough soap for passengers to wash hands adequately.

The reporter was concerned that members of staff and the public were being put at risk of exposure to the virus without the means of protecting themselves and therefore asked TPE if they could:

  • investigate the spread of Covid-19 within TPE
  • consider reducing ticket and cash handling on services immediately
  • share with the company what measures are in place to reduce the spread of Covid-19 and whether any testing will take place
  • ensure hand soap is on all passenger services.

TransPennine Express’ response

We understand that these times are bringing great uncertainty among our staff, and we hope that our response will reassure the reporter. TPE has consistently followed Public Health England advice to industry with regards to managing the Covid-19 crisis. A number of colleagues have self-isolated but to date no member of TPE has been diagnosed with Covid-19, so there is no requirement to track contacts. However, all Covid-19-related absence is being reported at the point the individual notifies our absence management provider; at this point the line manager is aware.

There is currently no requirement to test for Covid-19. The requirement is to report when symptoms appear as soon as possible. Additionally, medical expertise is provided by medical professionals within FirstCare1 who would assess the category of ill-health based on the symptoms notified.

Revised advice for handling tickets, as directed by Rail Delivery Group, has been recently communicated to frontline colleagues. To date there is no medical advice that these duties should be curtailed. TPE is not aware of issues with soap supplies as colleagues have not reported this through the normal communication line. TPE and its suppliers have robust processes in place to ensure soap is replenished on trains and stations. TPE has asked suppliers to pay particular attention to this but as a result of proactively managing the Covid-19 situation rather than responding to feedback.

1 TPE’s absence reporting system

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