Surrey County Council & SW Railway updates in the light of Covid-19

Latest closures

All 15 of Surrey’s community recycling centres are closed, but waste transfer stations are open to support waste and recycling collections. Residents should check with their district or borough council for the latest collection updates and are asked to hold onto excess waste to prevent the service from becoming overwhelmed.

Physical barriers to prevent access to Surrey County Council’s countryside car parks are being installed from today. The council decided to close the car parks due to the large numbers of people visiting the countryside in groups.

Role of the Strategic Coordination Group (SCG)

Last Friday, the Surrey Local Resilience Forum (LRF) announced that it had declared the response of local partner organisations to the Covid-19 outbreak as a Major Incident – an event or situation with a range of serious consequences which requires special arrangements to be implemented by one or more emergency responder agency. The strategic intent of the LRF in the current crisis is to take all necessary steps to support health in reducing and preventing the occurrences of the outbreak of COVID19 which will deliver the best outcomes for the public’s health.

Surrey County Council Chief Executive reinforces Stay Home message

In a message to staff today, Joanna Killian reinforced the Government message to Stay at Home, Save Lives and Protect the NHS. We must do all we can to delay and suppress the spread of this virus, making it possible for our friends, family and colleagues working so hard in the NHS, and in social care, to be able to cope with the demand for services now, and in the next few weeks. Joanna thanked frontline workers, who are the only people under the guidance who are permitted to leave home, for doing all they can to protect the most vulnerable in the county. “Many of you, particularly those involved in front-line services in the community, caring for our most vulnerable residents, and those in Surrey Fire and Rescue services, will not be able to avoid this travel. Your roles are vital.”

Community helpline for Surrey

The new community helpline is available to direct you to services that can help during the coronavirus pandemic. This community phone line is here for two things:

1. To help direct residents who need support, such as picking up shopping, prescription collections or having someone who can be a telephone friend, to services who can help. I would like to refer residents in Haslemere to HaslemereHelp. More here.

2. To provide advice on where to register your offer of help to support your community. The Community Helpline will not be able to provide any public health advice (please use existing services online such as 111) or answer general enquiries relating to council services (be directed to our standard contact page).

Surrey Vulnerable People Hub

The Surrey Local Resilience Forum are coordinating measures to support the 12,000-12,500 most vulnerable in Surrey. The Hub will also support the coordination and mobilisation of volunteers and will respond to the needs of our most vulnerable. This may be supporting in the delivery of medicines and food. The Hub will also support those who feel isolated in the coming weeks and months who are feeling frightened and concerned. This work will bolster the work that is already underway by a team operating a community helpline. More information on this will follow.

Trading Standards – Circulating Scams

As the Coronavirus has continued to spread, several different scams have arisen. I wrote about this yesterday here.

However, we also continue to also see the usual scams circulating, including emails telling people that they are eligible to receive a tax refund. Further information about these type of ‘phishing’ email can be found on the HMRC website:

Please continue with the normal advice that “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is”. More information is available on the Trading Standards Website:   If anyone would like to report a scam (that is not coronavirus related) or find out about other scams they can do by contacting Action Fraud: or by phoning on 0300 124 2040.

South Western Railway, Managing Director update regarding service

Following the latest Government advice for all but essential key workers to stay at home, we have today made a number of changes which will affect how we operate and interact with our customers over the coming weeks.

We have a vital role to play in keeping trains running so key workers like doctors and nurses can get to and from work. Therefore, our operational colleagues such as drivers, guards and signallers are still working to ensure that those who need to travel, can.

However, following the latest advice, other non-operational colleagues have been told to work from home to support the country’s efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19. As a result, today we have temporarily:

·         Closed the majority of our ticket offices – Waterloo, Clapham Jct, Richmond, Wimbledon, Surbiton, Woking, Guildford, Portsmouth, Basingstoke, Salisbury, Southampton Ctl and Bournemouth ticket office will remain open but will only accept card payments.

·         Removed catering from our trains

·         Closed our lost property office

·         Stopped accepting cash payments at our ticket machines – customers can still continue to buy tickets online and on the SWR app.

·         Restricted the operations of our contact centre – which will have a significant impact on our ability to process delay-repay applications.

We know this will be frustrating for many of our customers, we don’t take decisions such as these lightly, but we believe these are the right actions to take in the current situation and the challenges the country is facing and will ensure we meet our own obligations to protect our colleagues at SWR.

These are however interim arrangements, and we are urgently looking at alternative ways of handling refunds and delay-repay applications that fall in line with the Government’s advice.

Our priority is now on keeping our trains running for the doctors, nurses, supermarket workers, police and other essential service workers who have to still get to work. We urge our customers to follow the Government’s advice and not travel on our trains if they are not a key worker.

Where passengers do have to still travel, and need assistance or advice:

·         Guards will still be on our trains

·         Colleagues will still be available at most stations

·         Our Twitter team will be able to provide essential journey information

·         Our website will have the latest information at

·         Train time information can still be found at

Whilst our Twitter team will be providing essential journey information, they will not be able to respond to non-essential enquiries such as those regarding refunds. We need to make sure they are able to provide essential journey information to key workers as a priority.

Additionally, whilst guards and station colleagues will still be on our trains and at our stations, we are advising them to keep a safe social distance and minimise interactions with customers. They will of course be on hand to help, especially where something does not look right, so too will our Rail Community Officers and British Transport Police who are contactable by texting on 61016 or phoning 0800 405 040. We all have a vital role in beating this pandemic and urge everyone to help us to keep our trains running for key workers and not to travel unless it is absolutely necessary.