Train passengers face emergency timetables as Covid hits staffing levels
Transport for Wales (TfW) and Network Rail are urging passengers to check their website for updates before travelling as emergency timetables come into force on Monday 3 January.
The companies say the rail service is being severely impacted by a drop in staffing levels following the latest wave of the Covid pandemic.
On 22 December TfW introduced an emergency rail timetable equating to a 10-15% drop in the existing services which were in place on 12 December, focussing the reductions on parts of the network particularly badly hit by staff absences.
However reductions of another 10-15% have become necessary to ensure the company can provide a reliable service as staff absences continue to rise, with the move said to be in keeping with other operators across the British rail network.
The new timetable, which will remain in place over the coming weeks, will be reviewed regularly as the impact of the Omicron variant on staff levels is monitored by the rail industry in Wales.
Jan Chaudhry-Van de Velde, Managing Director of TfW Rail, said: “We are very much dealing with the Omicron wave of Covid infections and, like many public service organisations, have seen a major rise in colleague absences over the last few weeks.
“It’s fundamental we continue to run as reliable a service as possible for our customers and therefore we are introducing a revised timetable from 3 January, reducing the risk of late notice cancellations.
“Wherever we can, we’ll use additional carriages made available due to the reduced timetable to run longer trains, which will help with social distancing. We’ll also provide supplementary road transport, where possible.
“We appreciate this will be frustrating for some customers, and we have not taken this decision lightly. We ask that all customers check online before they travel and follow current government advice. Our aim is to restore the timetable as soon as absence rates caused by this wave of the pandemic allow.”
All customers are urged to check www.tfw.wales before travelling and follow the up-to-date guidance from the Welsh Government.
Customers who have already purchased tickets for services affected by this change will be able to use their tickets on alternative TfW rail services. Alternatively, they will be able to request a refund by visiting www.tfw.wales.
The following routes will see all TfW rail services replaced by replacement bus services:
– Llandudno-Blaenau Ffestiniog
– Chester-Liverpool Lime Street