Areas frequently touched by passengers, such as escalator handrails, ticket machines and benches, were swabbed at four major stations, in two periods of testing that took place in January and June of this year. Hour-long air samples were also taken on station concourses as part of the testing regime.
The same tests were carried out on inter-city train routes running between the four stations: London Euston, Birmingham New Street, Liverpool Lime Street and Manchester Piccadilly.
Results of the tests were analysed at Imperial College London. Scientists found no contamination of any surface tested, or airborne particles, in any stations or on any trains.
This was despite passenger numbers rising 287 per cent across the four stations in this period between the two rounds of testing.
Rob Mole, senior programme manager for Network Rail’s Covid response, 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.”
David Green, senior research fellow at Imperial College London, said: “This approach provides a way of quantifying the amount of virus circulating in these public environments and the effect of mitigation strategies like cleaning and wearing face coverings.
“This is part of a wider programme of work with the public transport sector to understand where this virus is most prevalent so that we can return to pre-pandemic activities as safely as possible.”