Saturday 23 October 2021

Coronavirus streets from Manchester to London - XLVII

It is still wild out there

I have tried to ignore the COVID-19 situation in the UK almost to no avail. It probably would not have concerned me that much until I had to travel to London. I booked my audaciously exorbitantly priced travel ticket with a seat reservation and arrived on time at the train station to board my train, whereupon the train on boarding platform was a train delayed, the train scheduled to leave before mine.

As we waited on the concourse with the main indicators showing my train as expected to depart on the same platform, the platform indicator suddenly switched from 18:55 Delayed to 19:15 On Time.

Sardines to the train

Just like that, Avanti West Coast, the train franchise company was going to load two sets of passengers meant for different trains on to one train without announcing the heretofore delayed train had been cancelled and the newly designated scheduled train meant to leave on time, soon was delayed too.

Seat reservations had become a mess as the reserved seats for our train had already been occupied by passengers of the earlier train, who had boarded earlier quite completely unaware of what was going on and no explanation was given.

When I found a seat beside my reserved seat, the train was already overcrowded and fully declassified. There is no point paying the full whack for first class seats on Avanti West Coast because it would be devalued to standard class before the train has departed the station.

No pandemic situation here

There were stickers inside my carriage to ‘Respect Social Distancing’, that was impossible and as a representative of company wrote to me on Twitter, they were following government guidance. From my vantage point in an aisle seat set in the middle of a 63-seat carriage, only two of us were wearing face masks in what was essentially a closed carriage.

Everything that should not be happening during a pandemic found expression here, a complete lack of concern for that fact that times were quite serious, we were in a seated yet crowded space, confined with poor ventilation, that the air-conditioning could not keep the carriage cool, and literally everyone without face masks.

9 carriages hurtling down to London from Manchester for just over 2 hours, full of whoever, strangers all, none checked for vaccination or COVID-19 status, if there was a place for a super-spreader situation, this was it. God forbid the worst.

We are ignoring a problem

It compounds several levels of irresponsibility from a lethargic government unable to proactively act to arrest the growing infection rate in the UK that has for weeks topped or rivalled the stakes globally, to companies like Avanti West Coast operating under the cover and license of government guidelines that if anyone catches anything, there would be no means of tracking and tracing for proximity and contact to get anyone who might have been inadvertently exposed to quarantine.

You then wonder if without any equivalent premises control measures for trains to gain a grip on this Coronavirus pandemic, these modes of transport are not part of the problem with the UK facing the possibility of another long lockdown at home if the lock outs from countries abroad don’t begin to gather pace already. For Morocco has already barred flights from the UK. [BBC News: Morocco bans UK flights due to Covid cases rising]

Our Coronavirus streets are not going away, anytime soon.

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