With hundreds of schools across Kent set to reopen next week, Southeastern is launching a Back to School Safety Guide for parents and students – and increasing its timetable to 98% of pre-Covid capacity to provide extra space on board.
The eight-step checklist has been designed to help students feel safe as they return to public transport and to help them easily navigate the new travel requirements.
Alongside this checklist, the operator is launching a new webpage to provide all the latest information for parents, guardians and students.
And while the checklist and webpage prepare students themselves, Southeastern is also prepping stations with one-way systems and additional station staff to aid passengers with social distancing.
To accommodate the increase in passenger numbers, Southeastern will be increasing services to 98% of the pre-Covid timetable on Monday, September 7.
This will provide over 50,000 extra seats each weekday and additional space on board to allow for social distancing. All timetable changes are listed online so passengers can check their train times before they leave home.
All children aged 11 and over, that do not have exemption, are currently required to wear a face mask on public transport, making masks the new ‘Back to School’ essential for students. Southeastern is committed to ensuring no child will be prevented from travel and will therefore have a supply of face masks in case a child forgets to bring their own.
Thousands of students pass through Southeastern stations on any given school day, and so to control the flow of passengers, the operator has hired additional staff at the busiest student stations who will serve specifically to control the flow of students, guide passengers through one-way systems and promote social distancing.
Some of the busiest student stations on the network include Tonbridge, Sevenoaks, Faversham and Maidstone.
These new measures have been introduced on top of existing safety protocols across the network, including enhanced deep cleaning processes, contactless payment facilities and hand sanitiser dispensers.
David Statham, managing director of Southeastern, said: “At Southeastern, we realise what a big moment the return to school will be for the students; and as a father, I understand how important the safety of their children is to parents.
“The Southeastern network provides a lifeline for students in accessing their education, and we take our responsibility for getting them there safely very seriously.
That is why we have been working with schools across the county, as well as reaching out to all of our existing customers, to share our safety guidelines as widely as possible.”
To support measures taken by Southeastern, the operator encourages all passengers to employ personal protective measures such as washing their hands before and after they travel and using sanitisation points available at key stations.
All detailed safety information can be found at the Southeastern Back to School site , including details on exclusions from the face mask policy, how to register for contactless ticketing and a breakdown of the timetable changes.
You can also click here if you are in need of a JAM Card, created to allow people with a learning difficulty, autism or communication barrier to tell others they need ‘Just A Minute’ discreetly and easily.
Southeastern staff across the network are trained to recognise JAM cards and Sunflower lanyards as identifiers of passengers who may need additional support.