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Chaos for commuters as hundreds of trains axed every day

Written by: Emma Lunn
Rail passengers have been advised to check train timetables before they travel as networks axe hundreds of services each day.

Temporary train timetables have been introduced by several train companies as rail staff are affected by the Omicron variant and forced to isolate. 

The Rail Delivery Group also said that the reduced services were in reaction to low demand as more people work from home.

The group said that temporary timetables deliver a more reliable service for passengers and better value for taxpayers by better matching service levels to the current number of passengers.

The Rail Delivery Group said a number of train companies are now introducing amended timetables temporarily to ensure that passengers get a more reliable service with fewer short notice cancellations at a time when staff absence is higher because people are affected by the virus. 

Some operators have already started to introduce amended timetables and others will be doing so over the coming fortnight. New temporary timetables will focus on known peak travel times to provide trains for key workers, school pupils and those who cannot work from home. 

The new timetables will also ensure key freight services can continue to move vital goods such as medicines and food around the country. 

To create more space for passengers when there are fewer trains, where possible more carriages will be added to services.  

Passengers are also reminded if their booked train is cancelled, they can use their tickets on another train without having to pay extra. 

Susie Homan, director of people, operations and railway strategy at the Rail Delivery Group, said: “The temporary timetables that rail companies are putting in place, with government support, will help ensure more reliable services with fewer short notice cancellations so that we can continue to get people and goods to where they need to be.   

“The government has supported the railway with over £15bn since the start of the pandemic and it makes sense to better match the number of trains that are running with the number of people travelling so that the industry gets the most out of every taxpayer pound and doesn’t take more than its fair share of public money.

“We would advise anyone travelling to check online before they set out on their journey or to sign up for automatic alerts from National Rail Alert Me.” 

The announcement about temporary timetables came just weeks after it was announced that rail fares will rise by 3.8% in March.

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