Rail services in Britain will be reduced to 72% of pre-pandemic levels and passengers are being asked to check before they travel that their service is running.
Working with government, train companies will be reducing services but will ensure key workers and others who need to travel can do so and will focus on maintaining space for social distancing. Operators will continue to monitor and adapt services to ensure they meet demand.
Train operators are asking people who must use the railway during lockdown to check before they travel. While the time of some services may change, other services may no longer be running during the period of increased restrictions.
The railway was operating approximately 87% of pre-COVID service levels before the announcement of lockdown on 4 January 2021.
The Rail Delivery Group (RDG) argued that the change to a 72% service reflects the lower numbers of people travelling and delivers better value for taxpayers; while ensuring services will continue to run reliably if COVID-19 affects the availability of rail staff.
Changes are being made in a way so that services can be restored as quickly as possible when restrictions are eased meaning not all operators are stepping timetables down at the same time, so people who are travelling should continue to check train times regularly over coming weeks.
Robert Nisbet, RDG director of nations and regions, said: “Changing to a reduced timetable during this period of much lower demand will deliver certainty for those people who need to travel while saving taxpayers’ money. We ask people to check before they travel in the weeks ahead and we thank our frontline rail staff whose hard work is keeping other key workers moving.”
The RDG said changes are temporary and are being made in such a way that rail services can be restored as quickly as possible when restrictions are eased, and more people begin to travel.
The changes are designed to make the railway more responsive if services need to be increased during lockdown. Not all changes will be introduced immediately, with operators monitoring services throughout this period to ensure sufficient capacity. Rail companies will be promoting changes to timetables to passengers on trains, at stations and on social media.
Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris said: “It is critical that our railways continue to deliver reliable services for key workers and people who cannot reasonably work from home, and that they respond quickly to changes in demand. The new reduced timetable delivers that, as well as reducing the financial burden on the taxpayer.
“Levels of services will vary by operator and changes will come into effect steadily over the next few weeks. Passengers who are using the railways, including those who need to travel to vaccination centres, should check their route before they travel, and aim to do so outside of peak times wherever possible.”
Anyone whose travel plans have been affected by the introduction of increased COVID-19 restrictions should speak to their retailer to change their ticket or find out if they are eligible for a refund.
People whose travel plans have been affected by the introduction of increased COVID-19 restrictions on 4 January can change their date of travel, request a refund or apply for a travel voucher depending on the type of ticket they have purchased. Remote changes or refunds on all ticket types are available.
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