Train timetables changing due to staff Covid absences
- Credit: GWR
Train services in the south west are being affected by staff absences due to Covid-19.
Rail operator Great Western Railway (GWR), which operates Exmouth and Exeter St David's stations and others across the region, is introducing a temporary reduced timetable in response to staff being absent or self-isolating due to Covid, as the Omicron variant continues to surge.
The temporary timetable reduction comes into effect from Saturday (January 8).
The reduced timetable will be updated on a weekly basis and is only expected to be in operation for a short time – until the impact of the Omicron variant has lessened.
Services between London Paddington, Bristol Temple Meads and South Wales will run to an hourly frequency at weekends as a result of pre-planned engineering works. A slightly reduced service will operate from Monday to Friday.
There are also some reductions to long-distance services on other routes on the network.
Other affected routes include some of the Devon and Cornwall branch lines.
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The St Ives branch will revert to hourly services on weekdays and some other services in the West are also impacted.
Planned upgrade work between Newton Abbot and Paignton means that no trains will run for the next two weekends – and a bus replacement service will be in operation.
GWR managing director, Mark Hopwood, said: “We are taking some sensible measures using the experience, knowledge and good processes we have developed over the past 20 months to give customers confidence in our timetable.
“In the past few weeks we have already taken steps to maintain service levels across the network, including cancelling all non-safety critical staff training.
“Like many other businesses we are expecting prolonged periods of staff absence due to Covid to continue in the coming weeks and the objective of this temporary timetable is to provide a service that can be relied on, reducing the potential for ad hoc short-notice cancellations.
“This means reducing our timetable a little to shore up the large number of services we continue to operate. We have prioritised high-use school, college and other known key worker services and we very much hope that the changes will only be needed for a short period.
“We will be reviewing the need for temporary changes weekly and will update journey planners and our website gwr.com with details of any changes needed for the week ahead.
“As always our advice to customers is please check your journey before you leave home at journeycheck.com/greatwesternrailway.”
The industry’s Book with Confidence scheme has been extended until the end of March so that passengers can change their travel plans up to the evening before departure without being charged a fee, or if they choose not to travel are able to receive a refund on their unused ticket.
Those taking the train are advised to check their journey before leaving home at journeycheck.com/greatwesternrailway. If a train is cancelled, customers will be able to travel on a service immediately before or after their booked train.