UIC: scientific evidence shows trains are corona-safe

The Covid-19 taskforce of the international union of railways UIC published a document about the scientific evidence demonstrating that travelling on trains is a safe mode of transport. This publication informs members of the studies done about the spread of Covid-19 in trains and to allow passengers to regain their trust in travel by rail.

The publication provides examples based on scientific research, case studies and mathematical models on the rarity of the virus spreading in trains. Additionally, the research shows that even among train staff the risk of getting infected is low.


Part of the research was done by conducting studies through contact tracing to determine clusters on trains. A methodical review of 65 studies involving 108 cluster infections was done and only one cluster relates to a train journey. Furthermore, data collected from France analysed linking only one percent of clusters in transport, while in Spain a .05 percent linked to clusters related to transport.

A second approach was examining rates of infection due to public transit use. Results from the studies found no correlation between the rise or fall of local Covid-19 cases and the rise or fall of public transport use. The conclusion was that what passengers do at the end of their journey has more effect on the risk of contamination than using public transport. Included in the study was public transport companies which tested their trains for the coronavirus and found no traces of it.


Mathematical models were also created by researchers to examine train travel contamination risks. These models conducted examinations by collecting data from train passengers who had the virus and passengers who had contact with the infected. The results were that overall transmission risk for the close contacts was 0.32 percent and the average transmission rate increased by 0.15 percent per hour of the co-travelled passengers. The conclusion derived was that the attack rate among passengers is related to the spatial distance and co-travel time on the journey. This study also supports physical distancing is a tried method that reduces transmission risk.

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Author: Sarah Chebaro

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