UK train operator Greater Anglia has announced that it will increase the train services offered in a bid to maintain social distancing during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The change in the emergency timetable will safeguard the essential workers who have to travel.

Effective from 18 May, the operator will operate a changed Saturday timetable, which offers a higher frequency from Colchester, Clacton and Southend to London on the Great Eastern Main Line.

The service will also be increased on the West Anglia Main Line between Cambridge and Liverpool Street.

The regional rail service will continue according to the existing service while the Norwich to Cambridge service will operate as a direct service to Stansted Airport.

During the peak hours, the Norwich-London intercity service will not stop at Colchester or Chelmsford and will operate non-stop between Stratford and Manningtree.

Greater Anglia MD Jamie Burles said: “Our top priority is that customers and staff can travel safely while the coronavirus outbreak persists. We will continue to pay particular attention to cleaning high-contact areas on our trains and stations such as push buttons, door handles and grab rails.

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“We would kindly encourage customers to buy tickets online or via our app. If that’s not possible then please use contactless payment on our ticket vending machines.

“We have marked up stations with tape and markings to help customers to socially distance.”

Last week, Greater Anglia started simulation training for drivers who will test-drive the company’s new electric commuter trains.