The coronavirus pandemic has hit the transport industry in Lincoln hard. Now, as lockdown restrictions are eased and students prepare to return, can the transport system handle the influx of passengers?

The old saying, ‘let the train take the strain’, no longer applies. Photo: Alex Bilton

Lincoln is a major hub within the county of Lincolnshire and has multiple higher education institutions, including the University of Lincoln and Bishop Grosseteste University.

In 2019, Lincoln Central railway station alone saw over 1.9 million passengers.

Many students and lecturers rely on the transport systems in Lincolnshire to get to and from these institutions every day.

By September, use of public transport is likely to rise, as students begin making their way back to the city, to prepare for the start of the next term.

Other residents may also use the transport network more, as a relaxed lockdown means many people will need to return to work.

In effect, it may be difficult to maintain the ideal social distancing of one to two metres.

As well as this, some services in Lincoln have previously been limited to a small number of carriages. Unless more are added, it may be almost impossible to implement proper social distancing, which makes some passengers uneasy.

One third-year student at the University of Lincoln said: “I feel like my family would be being put at risk if social distancing cannot be maintained on board the service.

“More carriages must be put in place if social distancing should be maintained.”

Bus services face a different problem – proper social distancing slashes the number of passengers a bus can carry at one time.

Some operators in Lincoln have cancelled services, and those still running must abide by the same guidelines as trains, including mandatory face coverings.

The old saying, ‘let the train take the strain’, no longer applies, as the government and rail operators have advised the public not to use the railways, and to only travel by train if there is no other alternative.

Grant Shapps, secretary of state for transport, announced that people should walk, cycle or drive to work, wherever possible.

But, for those students who are further out, driving may not be an option.

One third-year geography student at the University of Lincoln said she would struggle to find the money to pay for petrol, parking and maintenance of her car.

The university is still adapting to the situation and releasing guidance for students as further information is made available.

The ongoing pandemic has paralysed the U.K.’s public transport network, leaving many uncomfortable about the safety of travelling.

But, as the country takes larger steps to reopen by the end of the year, trains and buses may be relied upon if driving is out of the question.

By Alex Bilton

News Editor at The Linc.