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Bus and train passengers might have to pre-book tickets to stop overcrowding

The Welsh Government is looking at how it can stop overcrowding on trains in Wales when people return to work.

Wales’ Economy Minister Ken Skates warned that passengers might have to pre-book bus and train tickets in a bid to stop overcrowding.

He said space on services would be “vastly reduced” for passenger safety.

The warning came after Wales’ main train operator – Transport for Wales – warned that people should only use their services if “absolutely essential”.

It said the message was clear that people should only use public transport if there was no travel alternative available to them.

Over the past 10 weeks, passenger rail journeys have been down by 95% and Transport for Wales has introduced extra safety measures to protect those travelling, with the majority being key workers.

James Price, chief executive of Transport for Wales, said: “Throughout this crisis the safety of our colleagues and passengers has been our top priority and this will continue as we move forward.

“We are following all advice from Welsh Government and I’d like to reinforce the government’s message to ‘Keep Wales Safe’ and only use public transport if it’s absolutely necessary and you have no other travel alternative.

“I’d urge all those using public transport to adhere to our travel safer advice. We are taking a range of steps to ensure we can improve safety as much as possible and would like our passengers to follow our advice and assist us in this process. Through working together we can continue to maintain the safety of our colleagues and passengers.”

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Mr Skates said the Welsh Government did not want trains and buses full of commuters in Wales, as happened in London when lockdown rules were relaxed.

In Newport, a pilot project is trialling booking bus journeys by phone and app.

The ‘fflecsi’ scheme is being run by Newport Bus with Transport for Wales.

Fflecsi replaces a number of scheduled local bus services with more flexible services that can pick up and drop off near work, shops and homes by request, rather than following a set timetable at fixed bus stops.

The Welsh Government said it would also consider prioritising places on public transport for key workers and disabled people.

Mr Skates said passenger safety on public transport was a “huge consideration”.

The Welsh Government has been discussing with transport operators and unions how they will manage demand with social distancing in place.

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