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Coronavirus: 'You do your utmost to stay safe... but people beside you aren't wearing a face mask'

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Belfast Telegraph reporter Allan Preston speaks to passenger Nigel McAlpine from Bangor outside Lanyon Place Station after travelling on a train wearing a face mask

Belfast Telegraph reporter Allan Preston speaks to passenger Nigel McAlpine from Bangor outside Lanyon Place Station after travelling on a train wearing a face mask

Sean McMahon from Seahill

Sean McMahon from Seahill

IW McClean from Coleraine

IW McClean from Coleraine

Belfast Telegraph reporter Allan Preston speaks to passenger Nigel McAlpine from Bangor outside Lanyon Place Station after travelling on a train wearing a face mask

From reports of reckless sneezing to responsible teenagers doing their bit, and those so disgusted by wearing masks that they shelled out for large taxi fares instead, taking a journey on public transport is now a very different experience.

And rail passengers travelling to Belfast yesterday reported a mixed experience over face coverings.

Taking a train for the first time in months, this reporter boarded the 12.33 service from Greenisland to Lanyon Place Station.

The station was more than well sign-posted, and no passenger could be in doubt about the rules.

On a hot day, wearing a face covering was certainly a stuffy experience but tolerable for a short journey.

Around seven passengers were in one carriage, with around four older passengers all wearing masks while three teenage boys did not.

The conductor taking the ticket wore a face mask and gloves, and on the return journey was seen instructing other teenagers to put on their masks before letting them on board in Greenisland.

In the Lanyon Place Station premises, approximately half of passengers were wearing face coverings but all staff were complying.

IW McClean (82) from Coleraine was wearing his face covering when he arrived, and said with the relatively low number of passengers at midday he felt happy to travel.

"It was very quiet today and I did feel safe with so few passengers. I don't really come into Belfast very much anymore as there's nothing there to attract me anymore," he said.

"I don't really think the station building is sufficiently crowded enough to have to wear your masks, I took mine off as soon as I got off the train."

Nigel McAlpine (54) from Bangor was heading home after visiting friends.

"It's a bit disappointing when you get on the train and see a large proportion of people not obeying the rules," he said.

"You're doing your best but people sitting beside you aren't wearing any face covering. Yesterday there was a guy beside me actually sneezed and didn't even try and cover his face.

"So I felt like getting up and moving and thought it was very awkward. I feel sorry for conductors as it's not really their job to police it as such."

Wearing an improvised face covering yesterday, he said he would wear a surgical mask but only if other passengers obeyed the rules too.

"I think there should be a few more conductors there to police it, but I don't know if that would open them up to abuse. There is very good visibility about what you're supposed to do. People wear masks walking through the door but pull them straight back down again on the train."

Sean McMahon (19) from Seahill said most people did obey the rules on his journey into Belfast.

"I felt safer even though it doesn't eliminate the complete risk. It seems to be a lot more control now, in terms of people's attitudes towards being stricter.

"For me, it's about everybody doing their bit to make sure we're all doing the best we can to eradicate the issue.

"I find a lot of people my age may not have cared as much a couple of months ago as they do now.

"I saw one passenger actually challenge another to wear a mask, saying it wasn't fair on everyone else."

Rebecca Laurel from Bangor paid for a taxi to Belfast yesterday instead of the much cheaper option of taking the train with a mask.

"Masks are annoying, they're so warm and they don't actually protect you from the other person.

"It's probably that I forget to bring them with me all the time that makes me hate them. Taking the taxi is expensive but once I get it into my head I don't like something, I stick to it."

Belfast Telegraph