The Blue Train is back on track

Londiwe Dlomo Journalist
The leisure travel industry is raring to go. Leisure travel on The Blue Train will resume with a full schedule including some local destinations, from 1st November 2020.
The leisure travel industry is raring to go. Leisure travel on The Blue Train will resume with a full schedule including some local destinations, from 1st November 2020.
Image: Supplied

The leisure travel industry is raring to go. For travellers who love the old world charm of travelling by rail, they’ll be happy to know that luxury charter The Blue Train has resumed operations.

Disease can spread quickly inside the close quarters of transport such as trains and ships, this explains why many commuters are hesitant about going back to this form of travel during the Covid-19 pandemic.

To put passengers at ease, trains and airlines have had to put certain safety measures in place.

SowetanLIVE spoke with Safety Officer Lethabo Vilakazi on their preparations to get the train running.

“We have allocated a specific coach for quarantine so that should we experience any challenges en route then we know  that we have a medical practitioner on board The Blue Train that will assist in taking care of that particular guest. So yes, we do have an isolation space in the train,” Vilakazi says.

The staff on board the train has undergone training and awareness sessions in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The staff on board the train has undergone training and awareness sessions in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Image: Supplied

But before things get this far there are other safety measures in place. Guests have to fill in a questionnaire when making a booking, two weeks prior to their trip and on the day they board as well as get screened, by having their temperature taken and checked for Covid-19 symptoms.

The staff on board the train has undergone training and awareness sessions to detect any symptoms on passengers; they have also been equipped with the relevant PPE to do their jobs.

There are pamphlets and notices on board to remind the guests and staff on what is expected of them to keep each other safe.  

“We have supervisors and train managers, so if the butlers are not sure they always have an opportunity to contact their line managers.”

There are pamphlets and notices on board to remind the guests and staff on what is expected of them to keep each other safe.
There are pamphlets and notices on board to remind the guests and staff on what is expected of them to keep each other safe.  
Image: Supplied

The train has three lounges which will ensure that guests adhere to the social distancing rules, by use of markings and of course reduced numbers. Guests will also no longer be able to order food as they sit down in the dining cart, their seating has also been separated and the glass on the table extended to make a cubicle-like structure. They now have to pre-order during the screening and questionnaire phase.

"We are pleased to be opening up operations as the country settles into level 2 of the risk adjusted response to Covid19. While we are excited that tourism is opening up, we are cautious about how we are proceeding, having implemented a stringent hygiene protocol.

"Our protocol ensures that over a number of days before travel, we will be in touch with guests and pre-screen them numerous times prior to their departure date. We want our guests to know that they are safe with us, to have the confidence to step on board the Blue Train and let go of any anxieties, and truly surrender to the luxury,” Vincent Monyake, executive manager at the Blue Train, said in a statement.

The Covid-19 pandemic has hit the entertainment and leisure sectors especially hard. Thankfully, the Blue Train has not had to do any job cuts.

“With the borders closed it means that we cannot reach our international market, which was the market for the Blue Train. Yes, we have lost revenue, revenue was definitely affected but I can say we were blessed that there were no retrenchments at the Blue Train. We are blessed that everyone still has their jobs,”  says Vilakazi.  

Charter bookings resumed on the 1st of September and leisure travel will resume with a full schedule including some local destinations, from 1st November 2020.

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