How railways support medical heroes
The medical staff is on the frontline of tackling the coronavirus pandemic. In these exceptional times, the railway companies are also doing their part to support medics in their difficult mission. Therefore, some operators carry them for free while others make protective equipment.
Among the latest developments is the decision of the authorities of the Liverpool City Region to introduce the free-of-charge tickets for the National Health Service (NHS) staff. Since Friday, 10 April, they are able to travel for free by bus or train within the metropolitan region.
The decision was implemented by three transport companies Arriva, Stagecoach and Merseyrail. The first two entities operate the bus services in Liverpool and its surroundings while Merseyrail is a commuter rail network in the Liverpool City Region jointly operated by Abellio and Serco. “Arriva, Stagecoach and Merseyrail have responded to my call and agreed to provide free transport for our NHS heroes,” said Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of Liverpool City Region.
The same measure had been introduced by Transport for Wales Rail Services (TfW Rail) more than three weeks ago. Starting from 23 March, the train operating company is carrying the NHS workers for free. To use this option, they only need their NHS identification card. TfW Rail will provide the free-of-charge service for the Welsh medics until 30 April. This term could be extended if the authorities notice about this. It is worth to remind the railway operator continues its train connections at a reduced timetable since 23 March.
Besides free journeys, some railway companies offer train services for the medical staff at a nominal price. For instance, two Polish regional operators have been offering the monthly tickets at a symbolic value of 1 zloty (0.22 euros). Polregio (Przewozy Regionalne) introduced this option on 4 April. Koleje Małopolskie, an operator running in the Lesser Poland Voivodeship, did the same on 10 April.
The tickets at a nominal price for trains of both Polregio and Koleje Małopolskie are available for the following categories:
- doctors, nurses, midwives, pharmacists, laboratory testers (on the basis of a document confirming the right to practice a profession);
- paramedics (on the basis of the valid paramedic’s progress card);
- medical dispatchers (the valid card of the professional medical dispatcher is required);
- ambulance drivers (on the basis of a driving license and authorisation to drive priority vehicles);
- employees involved in maintaining cleanliness in healthcare facilities (based on the service identifier).
Another example has been delivered by Koleje Śląskie, the Polish railway company operating in the Silesian Voivodeship. Its personnel is involved in producing the plastic helmets to protect the faces of the medical staff at the hospitals in the mentioned Polish region. Initially, the devices had been manufactured only for the Katowice Oncology Centre, located close to the railway company’s office. Afterwards, Koleje Śląskie decided to support three other facilities: the municipal hospitals in Zabrze and Sosnowiec as well as the M.Skłodowska-Curie National Oncology Institute in Gliwice.
The personnel of the Polish operator plans to produce around 1,000 helmets. They are made of foil (dedicated to everyday use and comb binding) and polypropylene tape. The whole is fastened with staples and special clips to facilitate the attachment of helmets on the head. Everything is done manually by the employees of Koleje Śląskie according to the design of an engineer from Szczecin.