Why facemasks should be worn on trains

Tuesday, 1 September 2020

Get yourself a cuppa, it’s time to sit down and talk about facemasks. We know it’s not the most riveting of topics but it’s one that needs to be addressed.

On the 22nd of June, the Scottish Government made it compulsory for facemasks to be worn on public transport. That includes ScotRail trains. It includes in the stations, on platforms and on the trains, for the whole duration of your journey. Not just when getting on. Not just when getting off. And not just when a member of staff can see you.

Recently we’re seeing fewer and fewer people complying with this and it’s creating a lot of tension amongst fellow train users and staff too. On some routes as few as 40% of passengers are wearing a mask. The rule was brought in for everyone’s best interests - to protect yourself and others around you. We fully understand that they’re not the most comfortable piece of clothing to wear and the whole situation is less than ideal. But we all have to do our bit in order to make train travel as safe as possible. And part of this is wearing a face covering like a mask.

Why must you wear a face covering on the train?

First of all, it’s mandatory. It’s not a ‘nice to do’, it is the law. It was made compulsory to help reduce transmission of coronavirus. Wearing a face covering helps protect yourself, fellow passengers and ScotRail staff. The on-train team are coming into socially distanced contact with a lot of people during their shifts. They wear a mask, not only to protect themselves, but to protect the passengers, including those travelling to and from our hospitals for work. Coronavirus can spread through droplets in the air, meaning they can land on surfaces like tables, seats and armrests. That’s why it’s still so important to keep washing hands thoroughly too, even when you’ve been wearing a mask.

Who has to wear a mask?

Everyone in Scotland, over the age of 5, must wear a mask for their entire journey, unless they are medically exempt. You can find out more about exemptions here. This includes children travelling to and from school. While we know that it’s exciting to be back amongst friends and wearing a mask can make it difficult to chat, it’s so important to keep a face covering on for the whole journey. A face covering should be worn in the station, including outdoor platforms and on the train, for the whole duration.

Which mask should you wear?

This is purely down to personal preference. There are lots of disposable ones for sale in places like Boots, Superdrug and various supermarkets. Or, there are some lovely colourful ones that crafters are selling online which can be washed and reused. Have you spotted any that match the ScotRail seats?

A lot of people are also making their own or getting talented friends and family to whip some up for them. Of course, you can always cover your face with a buff or scarf, it just needs to be able to cover your nose and mouth and still let you breathe easily. If should be as comfortable as possible, because if you’re travelling on a long journey, you could be wearing it for three or four hours at a time.

A mask for a cause

If you’d like to get your hands on a reusable one and help a good cause, MND Scotland is selling masks for £5 on their website. You can order one here.

When can you take your mask off?

Ideally, you should keep it in place for your entire journey but we understand you may need to have a drink or eat something, particularly if you're on a long journey. In these cases, we ask that you remove your mask for as little time as possible. Be careful not to touch the front of your mask and sanitise your hands after you take it off and after you put it back on. Toilets are available on the trains with soap and hot water for you to wash your hands.

And finally, thank you

To all of you who have been wearing masks, thank you. From the bottom of our hearts, we thank you for playing your part to protect the ScotRail team, fellow travellers and yourself.

Find out how we’re keeping Scotland’s railway as safe as possible.

Learn more