NO TRACES of coronavirus were found on board trains or in pedestrian areas of railway stations, a recent study has shown.

According to Network Rail, two rounds of testing were carried out in January and June, in a bid to determine the safety of the rail network from the virus as passenger numbers slowly start rising towards pre-pandemic levels.

The study analysed places passengers regularly touch such as escalator handles, ticket machines and benches.

These places were swabbed, while hour-long air samples were also measured, and taken to Imperial College London for analysis.

The tests were carried out at London Euston, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly stations, while similar tests took place on board trains travelling between these stations.

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This week, it has been confirmed that those tests found no traces of Covid-19, either on surfaces, or existing in airborne particles.

While no tests were carried out in Wales, the outcome will almost certainly have an effect on measures on this side of the border.

Currently, face coverings remain mandatory aboard trains in Wales, while social distancing measures are also still present.

While there is no suggestion that these measures will change any time soon, the study is an encouraging sign in terms of returning to pre-pandemic confidence in rail travel.

Rob Mole, senior programme manager for Network Rail’s response to the pandemic, said: “Station cleaning teams and train staff have made it their mission to keep passengers safe during the pandemic and this is proof their dedicated approach works.

“We want all passengers to travel in confidence on the railway network and we will keep doing our part by rigorously cleaning trains and stations.

“We ask passengers to do their bit too by wearing face coverings while travelling out of respect for others so we can all stop the spread of Covid-19.”

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For a Welsh perspective on the study, A spokesman for Transport for Wales said: “We are very encouraged by the results of this study by Network Rail and Imperial College London, which suggests the contact transmission risk from COVID-19 on board trains or at stations is very low.

“The safety of our passenger is always our priority and since the beginning of the pandemic we have introduced enhanced cleaning regimes using approved antiviral products on trains and at stations, provided hand sanitiser at larger stations, encouraged social distancing where possible and ensured passengers wear face coverings, unless exempt.”