The latest information for rail businesses
We’ve created a special section of our website, designed to house the latest information on COVID-19 for the rail industry. We know that there is a lot of information (and mis-information) out there, so we’ve created a simple and effective area called COVID-19 ONE PLACE for you – our rail industry colleagues.
We’ve compiled the latest Government and Public Health England guidelines in an easily digestible format – this will update as and when further information becomes available.
Alongside this, we have the latest news relevant to the rail industry, dated so you can see a timeline of events as it unfolds.
Additionally, a FREE directory for our rail industry colleagues is available below to share what your business is doing during this challenging period. We want everyone to impart good practice and learning experiences as we keep the railway community communicating positively and proactively.
We’ll continue to update this page, but the two most important things are that we stay safe and that we work together.
Support for rail industry colleagues
There is fantastic support available for all rail industry colleagues during this time.
T: 116 123
Railway Benefit Fund
T: 0345 241 2885
W: RBF website
T: 07793 246528
A message for Network Rail suppliers: COVID-19 - added 20/3
We are currently facing exceptional circumstances which are having a widespread impact on the UK’s economy, infrastructure and people.
The situation is fast moving and ever changing, and it could well last months. I wanted to take an opportunity to update you on what this means for Network Rail and what you can expect from us.
Over the coming weeks and months, we will face a significant challenge in keeping Britain moving. Absolutely critical, is getting goods to market and key workers to their jobs. To do this we need your help and I want to thank you for the numerous messages and commitment you have already shown us.
With Easter approaching, I have asked Rob McIntosh our Regional Director for Eastern, to review our critical worksites, considering COVID-19. Our current plan is to proceed with all major work across the Easter weekend for which we have planned in excess of 3,200 worksites across more than 800 planned possessions. Rob is currently working with leads to scenario plan and identify what work should be prioritised, if absolutely necessary.
We want the railway to be at its very best when the country emerges from this crisis, and for that reason I have asked my colleagues to consider where there maybe opportunities to bring work forward, to make the most of additional access, given the reduction in train service. If you have any specific thoughts on this then please do get in touch with your contact point in my leadership team.
Our policy is to follow Government guidelines and we expect the same from you, our supply chain. At Network Rail, colleagues who can, have been asked to work from home. However, we are a diverse organisation and that means we can’t have a one size fits all approach. Clearly you can’t signal trains or maintain track from your living room. And it means many of our colleagues with key roles will still be travelling to work and that is considered to be within Government guidance.
Many of you will have already heard from Clive Berrington, Commercial & Procurement Director, who will continue to keep you up-to-date. Please have open and honest conversations with him and your contacts. We’ve also set up a dedicated email address for you to ask any questions: COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org.
Wherever and however we work, now more than ever is a time where we must work together and make sure we are keeping each other safe and supported to deliver the very best for those who depend on us, at work and at home.
Thank you for what you do.
What you need to know - Government health advice - added 20/3
- If someone becomes unwell while at a transport hub or on their journey with a new, continuous cough or a high temperature, they should be sent home.
- Passengers should wash their hands for 20 seconds before and after they have been on public transport and catch coughs and sneezes in tissues.
- Frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products.
- Advise passengers they should not travel if they are feeling unwell with symptoms of coronavirus (COVI-19) – a new, continuous cough or a high temperature. This will also help to protect others from infection.
- Use announcements in transport hubs to reinforce key messages, such as washing hands before and after travel, and what to do if well.
Visit the GOV.UK page by clicking here for more details
What can I do to protect myself? - added 20/3
- Wash hands regularly with soap and water, use a hand sanitizer gel if soap and water are not available, especially after coughing and sneezing, before handling and consuming food.
- Avoid close contact with people who appear unwell and avoid sharing personal items.
- Use tissues when coughing or sneezing and dispose of used tissues carefully and promptly.
- Do not touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean.
Advice for anyone thinking of travelling - added 20/3
The Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO) advises British people against all but essential travel worldwide due to unprecedented international border closures and other restrictions. As at 23/3, the Foreign Office asked all British Nationals to come back to the UK ASAP.
You should take precautions in order to minimise the risk of transmission, including:
- Avoid unnecessary travel – can meetings be held via phone calls, Skype or video calling instead?
- Avoid visiting live bird and animal markets, backyard or commercial poultry farms and do not touch wild or domestic birds (alive or dead).
- Avoid any contact with animals, birds or surfaces that may be contaminated with animal or bird droppings.
- Do not eat or handle undercooked or raw meat including poultry, egg or duck dishes.
Advice for businesses and employees
Latest from the Trade Associations
Trade Associations have listed ways in which they can support member businesses and have specified what their teams are doing during this time.
Railway Industry Association
Rail Forum Midlands
Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - added 22/3
Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, all UK employers will be able to access support to continue paying part of their employees’ salary for those employees that would otherwise have been laid off during this crisis.
All UK businesses are eligible.
How to access the scheme
You will need to:
- designate affected employees as ‘furloughed workers,’ and notify your employees of this change – changing the status of employees remains subject to existing employment law and, depending on the employment contract, may be subject to negotiation
- submit information to HMRC about the employees that have been furloughed and their earnings through a new online portal (HMRC will set out further details on the information required)
HMRC will reimburse 80% of furloughed workers wage costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC are working urgently to set up a system for reimbursement. Existing systems are not set up to facilitate payments to employers.
If your employer cannot cover staff costs due to COVID-19, they may be able to access support to continue paying part of your wage, to avoid redundancies.
If your employer intends to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, they will discuss with you becoming classified as a furloughed worker. This would mean that you are kept on your employer’s payroll, rather than being laid off.
To qualify for this scheme, you should not undertake work for them while you are furloughed. This will allow your employer to claim a grant of up to 80% of your wage for all employment costs, up to a cap of £2,500 per month.
You will remain employed while furloughed. Your employer could choose to fund the differences between this payment and your salary, but does not have to.
If your salary is reduced as a result of these changes, you may be eligible for support through the welfare system, including Universal Credit.
We intend for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to run for at least 3 months from 1 March 2020, but will extend if necessary.
COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility - added 24/3
The Covid-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) will provide funding to businesses by purchasing commercial paper of up to one-year maturity, issued by firms making a material contribution to the UK economy. It will help businesses across a wide range of sectors to pay salaries, rents and suppliers, even while experiencing severe disruption to cashflows. Commercial paper eligible for the scheme will be issued by non-financial companies that make a material contribution to the UK economy and that had, prior to being affected by Covid-19, a short or long- term rating of investment grade, or financial health equivalent to an investment-grade rating. Including new legal powers in the Covid Bill enabling the Government to offer whatever further financial support it thinks necessary to businesses, and increasing grants to small businesses eligible for Small Business Rate Relief from £3,000 to £10,000.
Deferral of tax - added 23/3
Value Added Tax (VAT)
The deferral will apply immediately until the end of June. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. Businesses will not need to make a VAT payment during this period. Taxpayers will be given until the end of the 2020-21 tax year to pay any liabilities that have accumulated during the deferral period. VAT refunds and reclaims will be paid by the government as normal.
Income Tax Self-Assessment payments due on the 31 July 2020 will be deferred until the 31 January 2021. This is an automatic offer with no applications required. No penalties or interest for late payment will be charged in the deferral period.
Financial support for exporters - added 24/3
UK Export Finance (UKEF) works with banks and insurance brokers to help companies of all sizes fulfil and get paid for export contracts. It provides guarantees, loans and insurance on behalf of the government that can protect UK exporters facing delayed payments or transit restrictions. Help from UKEF includes:
- If your business is facing disruption due to late payments, UKEF can help ease cash flow constraints by guaranteeing bank loans through its Export Working Capital Scheme
- If you are concerned about getting paid, UKEF offers an export insurance policy that can help you recover the costs of fulfilling an order that is terminated by events outside your control
- UKEF can also support finance for overseas buyers through the Direct Lending Facility scheme, so they can continue to buy your goods and services
- UKEF has over £4 billion of capacity to support UK firms exporting to China, as well as significant capacity across other markets affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) to help cover these risks.
Further notice to exporters
- The DIT Export Control Joint Unit (ECJU) has issued two Notices to Exporters concerning the impact on training and licensing activities. For general export control queries please contact ECJU’s Helpline on 020 7215 4594 or email@example.com.
- To find out if UKEF covers your region, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Lay-offs and short-time working - information from GOV.UK - added 20/3
Your employer can ask you to stay at home or take unpaid leave if there’s not enough work for you.
A lay-off is if you’re off work for at least 1 working day. Short-time working is when your hours are cut.
How long you can be laid off
There’s no limit for how long you can be laid off or put on short-time. You could apply for redundancy and claim redundancy pay if it’s been:
- 4 weeks in a row
- 6 weeks in a 13-week period
Lay-off pay entitlement and short-time working payments
You should get your full pay unless your contract allows unpaid or reduced pay lay-offs.
If you’re unpaid, you’re entitled to guarantee pay.
2. Guarantee pay
Rate and length of statutory lay-off pay
You’re entitled to guarantee pay during lay off or short-time working. The maximum you can get is £29 a day for 5 days in any 3-month period – so a maximum of £145.
If you usually earn less than £29 a day you’ll get your normal daily rate.
If you work part-time, your entitlement is worked out proportionally.
You cannot claim guarantee pay for any day that you do some work.
Eligibility for statutory lay-off pay
- have been employed continuously for 1 month (includes part-time workers)
- reasonably make sure you’re available for work
- not refuse any reasonable alternative work (including work not in your contract)
- not have been laid off because of industrial action
Statutory lay-off pay and your employment contract
Your employer may have their own guarantee pay scheme. It cannot be less than the statutory arrangements. If you get your employer’s payments, you do not get statutory lay-off pay on top of this.
Not paying guarantee pay counts as an unlawful deduction from your wages – you could make a claim to an employment tribunal.
3. Applying for redundancy
You could apply for redundancy and claim redundancy pay if you’ve been laid off without pay or put on short-time and receive less than half a week’s pay for:
- 4 or more weeks in a row
- 6 or more weeks in a 13-week period
- Write to your employer to claim redundancy within 4 weeks of the last day of the lay-off or short-time period.
- Your employer has 7 days to accept your claim or give you a written counter-notice.
- If your employer does not give you counter-notice, you can assume they’ve accepted your redundancy claim.
- A counter-notice means your employer expects work will soon be available – it must start within 4 weeks and must last at least 13 weeks.
Your employer can withdraw their counter-notice in writing.
You must resign to get redundancy pay. The timing is crucial – you have 3 weeks to hand in your notice, starting from:
- 7 days after you gave written notice to your employer (if you did not get a counter-notice)
- the date your employer withdrew their counter-notice
You can get help from Citizens Advice.
4. Extra work or claiming benefits
You can take on another job while you’re laid off or on short-time (unless your contract says you must not).
- get your employer’s agreement
- make sure you’re not working for a competitor
- make sure you’re available for your original job once the lay-off or short-time ends
Benefits you can claim
The above is the normal position and clearly the situation is anything but normal and therefore additional support or guidance may be provided by the government in due course.
Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme - added 21/3
The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will be launched shortly by the British Business Bank to support businesses to access bank lending and overdrafts. The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan to give confidence to continue to provide finance for SMEs. The government will not charge businesses or banks for this guarantee and businesses can access the first 6 months of this finance interest free.
This scheme will be delivered by the British Business Bank through providers previously accredited to deliver facilities under the Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG).
It will operate in a similar way to EFG but will offer more attractive terms for businesses and lenders, with the aim of supporting the continued provision of finance to UK businesses during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The scheme is in the process of defining and agreeing the details, specifications and eligibility. Therefore information is subject to change.
An official guide to social distancing on construction sites - added 24/3
The Construction Leadership Council has released a guide for social distancing and how to tackle Coronavirus on a construction site.
Can you help?
Request for Business Intelligence - added 24/3
The Government is closely monitoring developments in relation to potential economic impacts on the UK economy and individual businesses and supply chain. BEIS welcomes information from businesses on:
- The impacts across supply, demand and labour markets
- Actions being taken by firms to address these impacts
- Any gaps in the Government response from your perspective
Please send your intelligence to email@example.com. BEIS is aware individual company information may be commercially sensitive, and it will be treated accordingly. This inbox is only for receiving intelligence only and does not provide business advice.
Network Rail Suppliers - Can you help keep Britain moving? - added 24/3
Commercial & Procurement Director | Route Services
We are putting plans in place to minimise disruption to rail services and support the movement of key workers and goods around our country at this difficult time.
A crucial element of our business continuity planning is ensuring we can call on enough skilled and experienced frontline workers to maintain rail infrastructure. The measures put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19 mean there will be times in the coming months when this will be extremely challenging.
We require your support in meeting this challenge head-on by making us aware of any members of your teams who could fill our business-critical roles. Specifically, we are looking for:
– Ex-Crossing Keepers
– Ex-Roster Clerks
– Ex-Mobile Operations Managers
– Ex-Electrical Control Operators
If you are aware of any members of staff who are willing to help us, please could you contact us via your local Network Rail teams or the following email address to provide their names, experience by role, competencies and location to COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org.
DE Group - Call for PPE from Contractors - added 23/3
While stocks of PPE are already depleted and orders are backing up, we might find ourselves not really having meaningful use for what we have got.
If that were the case, there are likely to be massive shortages within the NHS and probably zero current stocks for all Vulnerable Group Charities and Organisations. We should, therefore, retain a base stock and make the rest available to those that will need it most.
Cantillon and De Group are pulling together their resource to reach out to our competitors, peers and partners to seek quantities of excess Masks, Overalls, Glasses and Gloves.
The team has contacts within the NHS and the Emergency Services who have already said this would be gratefully received. They may use it themselves or indeed direct us to the Vulnerable Groups. The fact is, it can do a lot of good, but not while it sits on our shelves gathering dust.
This is a free of charge donation, giving back in an hour of real need.
Contact Paul Ford via email: email@example.com to commit products, or raise any queries via mobile on 07973 116786.
Alternatively, contact Paul Cluskey via email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07867 369943.
Any other useful information
Useful Links - added 20/3
Support for rail businesses and employees
General advice and personal support
Our COVID-19 ONE PLACE Directory
Click on the logos below to find out what companies across the rail industry are doing to keep themselves busy.
Want to submit your own? Email Rachel at email@example.com and submit your entry for FREE.