Nicola Sturgeon has said she expects cross-Border train operators to maintain social distancing for passengers in Scotland after a train operator ditched the advice saying it would follow "English guidance". 

Publically-owned LNER came under fire yesterday after the company wrongly claimed a decision to scrap 1m passenger distancing had been agreed with the Scottish Government, in line with the easing of Covid restrctions south of the border.

Ms Sturgeon said today that companies operating in Scotland are required to follow the guidance north of the border, and that firms had a statutory duty to try and maintain social distancing. 

READ MORE: LNER criticised for "unacceptable" 'English guidance' social distancing policy in Scotland

LNER has now said it was "reviewing" its approach to social distancing and would use its booking system to try and prevent overcrowding. 

During a televised briefing, the First Minister said: “I am very clear on the legal intention of the regulations.

"It is a statutory requirement that those carrying on a business or providing a service take measures to ensure, as far as reasonably practicable, that a 1m distance is maintained."


She said she asked Scottish Government lawyers to see if the regulations needed to be tightened to ensure they covered trains.

However, she added: “The intention is clear, and I would expect companies operating in Scotland to follow the law in Scotland, and indeed to follow the guidance that is in place in Scotland, even if it is not contained in statute.

"That is, in my view, what the public would expect.

"After a bit of prevarication or controversy yesterday, I’m pleased, and would thank LNER for making clear that they intend to do that.

"I would certainly encourage all cross-Border services, when you are operating in Scotland, it is the law and the guidance that applies in Scotland that you should be following.”

Among those criticising LNER, which is owned by the UK Government, was Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harve and Edinburgh SNP MSP Angus Robertson. 

LNER had emailed passengers, saying: "Whilst social distancing guidance remains in place in Scotland, we have reached an agreement with Transport Scotland that LNER will operate under English guidance."

However, the firm has now admitted the reference to a deal was incorrect.

READ MORE: LNER reviews social distancing rules on Scotland-England trains

An LNER spokesperson said, “We are reviewing our approach to social distancing onboard our Anglo-Scot services.

"We are continuing to provide an enhanced cleaning programme onboard our trains and at our stations as well as reminding customers to wear a face mask, unless exempt.

"We are also using our reservation system to prevent overcrowding and our website to continue to inform customers which are our least busy and busier services, to enable people to plan ahead and travel in confidence.”