Covid and rail upgrades cause chaos for returning commuters

Covid and rail upgrades cause chaos for returning commuters as thousands are expected to be hit by train cancellations as they head back to work

  • Nearly one in ten rail workers are off with coronavirus-related sickness
  • Swathes of people are returning to work tomorrow following Christmas period 
  • More disruption to be caused while Network Rail finishes 370 engineering works

The chaos affecting rail services over New Year is set to cause more misery for commuters returning to work this week.

Nearly one in ten rail workers are off with Covid-related sickness, meaning the staff shortages that forced the cancellation of nearly a third of services in recent days will continue.

Train operator Southern has announced that no services will run into or from London Victoria – Britain’s second busiest station – until January 10 due to high levels of ‘coronavirus isolation and sickness’ among staff. 

Nearly one in ten rail workers are off with Covid-related sickness, meaning the staff shortages that forced the cancellation of nearly a third of services in recent days will continue

Further disruption will be caused while Network Rail finishes 370 engineering works scheduled over the Christmas and New Year period.

They include flood-protection upgrade work on the West Coast Mainline between Milton Keynes and Rugby.

James Dean, Network Rail’s West Coast South route director, confirmed the works would mean fewer services, more tightly packed carriages and longer journey times.

Analysis by ontimetrains.co.uk found passengers at Manchester Airport have been among the worst hit, where 30 per cent of scheduled services were axed on New Year’s Day.

On New Year’s Eve 30 per cent were also cancelled and 26 per cent on 30 December.

People are pictured at London Euston station on December 23rd.  Train operator Southern has announced that no services will run into or from London Victoria – Britain’s second busiest station – until January 10 due to high levels of ‘coronavirus isolation and sickness’ among staff

Nearby Manchester Piccadilly, a key north-south and east-west hub serving the West Coast Mainline, was also among the worst for cancellations, with 16 per cent, 20 per cent and 15 per cent of services axed respectively on those days.

Elsewhere, Birmingham Moor Street had 17 per cent, 26 per cent and 22 per cent cancelled respectively.

For Cardiff Central, the figures were 14 per cent, 19 per cent and 14 per cent while at Edinburgh 23 per cent of services were cancelled on 31 December and 20 per cent the day before.

At some stations, less than 50 per cent of services arrived on time on some days.

On one day at Manchester Airport, December 19, a staggering 39 per cent of services were cancelled, with 35 per cent the day before, causing havoc for air passengers trying to reach the airport by train.

One of the highest cancellations figures recorded was 53 per cent of services at Manchester Oxford Road on 19 December. On that day, just 20 per cent of services arrived on time.

The rate of cancellations does not bode well for commuters looking to return to the network in the coming days, with large swathes returning to work from tomorrow following the Christmas period.

Industry body the Rail Delivery Group, which represents operators, insisted only about 5 per cent of services across the whole mainline network were axed on New Year’s Day.

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