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31 Dec 2020

Southeastern makes a new year’s resolution for 2021: carry on swabbing

Southeastern makes a new year’s resolution for 2021: carry on swabbing: Swabbing - TVM

  • 100% negative Covid-19 tests will reassure rail passengers returning to school, college and work that they can travel with confidence
  • Programme continuing in new year covers stations, trains and depots
  • Some train times will change on January 4 – check before you travel at

With increasing concern about Covid-19 infection rates across the south east, Southeastern’s latest round of swab-testing for the virus has revealed a negative test result for every single station, train and train depot swabbed – ensuring that passengers can travel with confidence.

Further tests have been undertaken as part of Southeastern’s regular, ongoing programme of swabbing, which has been taking place not only on trains but also in stations and depots, helping passengers returning to school, college and work in January remain reassured that they are able to travel with confidence.

Trains at the Gillingham (Kent) depot and on the Sheerness branch line, as well as the large Slade Green (south east London) depot were all tested. Swabbing locations included ‘high touch’ points including grab poles in the passenger accommodation, toilet door buttons and the controls in drivers’ cabs.

Coronavirus swab testing was also completed on ‘high touch’ areas among 20 of Southeastern’s busiest stations in the autumn, with six more stations including Sittingbourne, Slade Green, Maidstone East, Ramsgate, Margate and Herne Bay tested in November.

By February 2021, over 40 stations will have been tested for traces of Covid-19, with all tests undertaken so far coming back negative, confirming the ongoing effectiveness of additional cleaning. The activity is part of Southeastern’s enhanced regime to protect staff and provide reassurance to passengers that they can travel with confidence if they need to, and is being undertaken by a private contractor at all 165 stations across the network.

In addition, Southeastern’s SeatFinder tool allows passengers to check in advance how busy a train might be, enabling passengers to travel on quieter services.

Alicia Andrews, Commercial Director for Southeastern said:

“We are always wanting to do more to reassure our passengers that they can travel with us confident in the knowledge that our enhanced cleaning measures are having a real impact – meaning that not a single trace of Covid-19 has been found at our stations or on our trains.

“While Government advice across our network remains not to travel unless you have to we know that some people will need to continue to travel for work, school or college, and so the railway remains ever ready to provide an essential service for key workers.”

Updated timetable

Southeastern is currently running an amended timetable in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This timetable will be updated from Monday 4 January, and some train times will change: for more information, visit our timetables page.

Tier 4 restrictions

Following the government's announcement and changes to the tier system, all stations on the Southeastern network are now in Tier 4. This requires people to stay at home where possible and not to travel unless for work, education or other legally permitted reasons. Visit the government website for more guidance on the latest tier 4 travel restrictions.

Travel with confidence

Southeastern’s teams are continuing to work hard to make sure that if you need to travel on our trains, you can travel with confidence, by planning ahead, booking tickets online – paying with contactless wherever possible - and avoiding travelling at busy times using our SeatFinder tool.

We also ask that our passengers carry hand sanitiser, wear a face covering and observe social distancing when on our trains, in line with government guidance. You can find out more about travelling with confidence on our website.

Contact information

Southeastern Press Office

0330 095 9091


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