Winter break: How to travel safely

Train Travel

In November, the Department for Education announced  new guidelines to enable university students to travel home during the ‘student travel window’, which runs from 3 to 9 December 2020.

The Government has issued detailed guidance about how to travel safely and you should read their travel advice on the government’s ‘Safer travel guidance for passengers’ webpage.

If you do choose to travel home during the student travel window, we’ve also rounded up a few key tips to help you follow government guidelines and travel safely.

For guidance about when to travel home for Christmas, please read our ‘Winter break travel plans’ story.

If you are an International student, please refer to the travel guidance email sent to you by our International Advice and Guidance team. If you have any questions, please contact the team via email:

COVID Guidance and Travel Plans Helpline

The University has a dedicated COVID Guidance and Travel Plans Helpline.

You can call the team on: 0151 795 9500

Opening hours: Monday-Sunday 10am to 4.30pm

Opening hours during winter break:

  • Open – Wednesday 23 December 10am to 4.30pm
  • Closed –Thursday 24 to Monday 28 December
  • Open – Tuesday 29 December 11am to 3pm
  • Open – Wednesday 30 December – 11am to 3pm
  • Closed – Thursday 31 to 1 January
  • Open – Saturday 2 January onwards 10am to 4.30pm

Before you travel

  1. Before travelling, check with your transport operator for the latest travel advice on your route. Travel may take longer and you may need to allow more time if your journey involves changes between different forms of transport.
  2. Avoid the busiest routes and travel at off-peak times if you are able to.
  3. Book your ticket online in advance or pay by contactless where possible.It is also advisable to book rail travel directly with operators rather than going through a third party as it has been agreed that student ticket cancellations or rebooking during the travel window will not incur an admin charge if travel plans are changed due to COVID-19.
  4. Students who bought an Advance ticket before 11 November 2020 for a date of travel after 9 December can now change their Advance tickets to travel during the window without paying a change of journey fee of up to £10.  Flexible tickets such as Off Peak or Anytime can already be rebooked to another date without payment of an admin fee. You can find more detail about the announcement on the government website.
  5. Be prepared to queue or take a different entrance or exit to stations.
  6. If you are travelling on public transport and your journey is short, eat and drink before travelling.
  7. Download the NHS COVID-19 app before you travel. If possible, check-in where you see official NHS COVID-19 QR code posters.

During your journey

  1. Follow social contact rules.
  2. Wear a face covering when travelling in England on public transport. You must also wear a face covering at railway stations, airports, bus stations, ports and other terminals.
  3. Where possible, keep your distance when you travel.
  4. Wash or sanitise your hands regularly.
  5. If you are car sharing, you must not share the car with someone from outside of your household or your support bubble unless your journey is undertaken for an exempt reason.
  6. Try to avoid touching your face. You should cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or the inside of your elbow when coughing or sneezing.
  7. If car sharing, wear face coverings, open windows for ventilation and sit with the maximum distance between people in the vehicle.
  8. During your journey, pay by contactless where possible.
  9. If you need to dispose of your face covering when travelling, use ‘black bag’ waste bins or litter bins. Do not use recycling bins.

To help us provide the necessary student support and COVID-19 testing, please fill in our short Holiday Travel Arrangements Form. Please complete the form whether you have already travelled, are staying on campus or if you plan to go home for Christmas.

When not to travel

The government guidance states you must not travel if you:

If you are traveling outside of the student travel window (3 to 9 December) the government guidance states you must not travel if you have been told by the NHS Test and Trace service to self-isolate because you have been in close contact with someone with symptoms but do not have symptoms yourself. However, an exemption has been made for students told to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace service and who are travelling within the student travel window (3 to 9 December). For these students, government guidance allows travel during this period, as long as you self-isolate once you have returned home. If you travel home during the student travel window when NHS Test and Trace have told you to self-isolate because you have been a close contact, you should avoid using public transport where possible.

The government states you should not travel if you:

These restrictions apply to England. Remember, the rules are different in the other UK nations:

Useful resources