Saturday, August 13th, 2022

UK train operators cut hundreds of services owing to staff shortage | Rail transport

Hundreds of daily train services are being removed from timetables in an attempt to improve reliability after weeks of cancellations at short notice, according to rail firms.

At least eight train operators have either already reduced frequencies on many routes or will do so in the coming days in response to pandemic-related staff shortages. Passengers travelling on New Year’s Eve also face major disruption because of industrial action.

The Rail, Maritime and Transport (RMT) union said a 24-hour strike by its members employed by CrossCountry was “solidly supported”, causing the majority of the operator’s services to be cancelled.

In recent weeks rail firms across Britain have cancelled trains at short notice owing to staff who are self-isolating or are unwell.

Many have responded by issuing reduced timetables in an effort to create more certainty about which services they can and cannot operate.

A spokesperson for the Rail Delivery Group, an industry body, said operators were “working hard to provide a reliable train service” amid reduced staff numbers.

“Some rail companies are introducing amended timetables owing to much less demand for train services,” they said. “This could mean short-notice cancellations and changes for customers, so our advice to anyone travelling is to check online before they set out or to sign up for automatic alerts from National Rail alert me [app].”

Anthony Smith, the chief executive of the consumer watchdog Transport Focus, said: “This is a pragmatic response to rising staff illness. But services must meet the needs of those who still have to travel, especially key sector workers.

“These include protecting first and last services, providing enough capacity to keep passengers at a safe distance from each other and making the new timetable reliable and the information accurate.”

ScotRail said it wold introduce a temporary week-day timetable from Tuesday until January 28 because the Omicron variant of Covid-19 had resulted in a large number of staff absences.

More than 150 daily ScotRail services will be cut, Glasgow to Edinburgh via Airdrie/Bathgate; Glasgow Central to Lanark; Edinburgh to North Berwick; and Edinburgh to Tweedbank.

South Western railway (SWR) announced it would operate a new timetable from 17 January as Omicron had had a “significant impact on its services.

The operator said: “Our focus is on producing a timetable that is deliverable so that we improve reliability for our customers and caters to key workers, school pupils and those who cannot work from home.”

SWR has not revealed which services are being cut.

Greater Anglia said it would not operate about 70 weekday services next week because of a combination of falling passenger numbers and staff shortages.

Affected routes include Norwich to London Liverpool Street; Colchester to Ipswich; Cambridge to Ipswich; and Norwich to Great Yarmouth.

Southern announced on Thursday it would suspend services to and from London Victoria – one of the UK’s busiest stations – until 10 January because of “coronavirus isolation and sickness”.

Great Northern, Thameslink and Hull Trains have also unveiled reduced timetables.

CrossCountry has removed about 50 trains from its Monday to Saturday timetables between 27 December and 8 January.

The industrial action affecting its New Year’s Eve services involves train managers and senior conductors – in a row over the role of guards.

CrossCountry said passengers were “strongly advised to alter their plans and avoid travel”.

The company is not operating any trains between Aberdeen and Edinburgh; Glasgow Central and Edinburgh; Derby and Nottingham; Peterborough and Stansted; Cheltenham Spa and Cardiff Central; Newton Abbot and Paignton; and Plymouth and Penzance.

A “heavily reduced service” is in place between Edinburgh and Plymouth; Manchester Piccadilly and Bournemouth; as well as Birmingham New Street and Peterborough.

Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.