PLANS to reduce train services nationwide in response to the coronavirus emergency have been confirmed by the Department for Transport.
There had been speculation that the reduced demand for travel would be met by using Sunday timetables throughout the week, but it seems that newly-written emergency schedules will start to be introduced from Monday, although the DfT said there would be ‘gradual reductions over the longer term’.
Transport secretary Grant Shapps said: ‘We are taking decisive action to protect the public which means reducing travel for the time being, whilst still ensuring keyworker heroes can get to their jobs to keep this nation running.
‘For passengers in crucial roles, including essential workers in our emergency services and NHS, alongside people who need to attend medical appointments or care for loved ones, these changes protect the services they rely on.
‘Our railways are at the heart of this country’s transport links, and we continue to work closely with the industry to develop measures that protects operators in these challenging times.’
Robert Nisbet at the Rail Delivery Group, speaking on behalf of passenger operators, added: ‘At a time of extraordinary national challenge, the measures rail companies are putting in place with government will preserve services so that we can continue to get key workers to where they need to be, deliver food to supermarkets and get fuel to power stations.
‘This is not a decision we take lightly. However, implementing these measures now will mean that we can continue to operate trains over a prolonged period with fewer railway workers, who like so many others are to be commended for putting the needs of the country first, and whose safety remains front of mind.
‘We are monitoring demand closely and should it become necessary in the weeks ahead, we will adjust services and timetables to ensure they’re being delivered to best effect where they’re needed most, in accordance with our plan.’
Operators have started to make individual announcements, and Railnews has published a summary of the details so far.