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Rail Commuters Face Long Delays With 25% Staff Shortages… Thanks To COVID

news & Things
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04th Jan 2022

With rising cases of Covid across the UK, passengers are facing more rail disruptions due to high volumes of covid related staff absences.

The Rail Delivery Group said almost one in 10 rail workers were off.


There are reduced timetables announced by rail companies ScotRail, CrossCountry and LNER, and passengers have been made aware of potential cancellations.

Hundreds of staff are off work due to covid or having to isolate, according to Alex Hynes of ScotRail when speaking about the company.

He went on to say that, while ScotRail usually operates 2,000 services a day, it would be reducing this by 160 (8%) from Tuesday.


Over the last few weeks because of record numbers of Covid cases we have been cancelling too many trains so we have decided to proactively put this revised timetable in to give our customers greater certainty on the service we can offer

We have said we will offer this timetable until the end of the month but of course one of the lessons we have learnt from Covid is that we would be foolish to predict the future,

There will be a few twists and turn in this Covid tale until it’s over.

Alex Hynes, Managing Director of ScotRail


The reduced timetable will “prove to be a robust service for customers in the coming weeks”, according to Mr Hynes who said the operator was “pretty confident” in the changes.

Industries where people are unable to work from home are greatly impacted by self-isolation, and the rising cases of Covid have left swathes of the rail work-force self-isolating.

The operator CrossCountry has said more than one in ten staff are absent, and it’s “worsening each day.”

The Rail Delivery Group estimates that more than 6,000 staff, which includes crews and drivers, were currently absent.

The industry body advises anyone travelling to check timetables ahead of time as there would be “some short notice cancellations.”


We are working hard to provide the most reliable service possible and so that passengers can travel with confidence when fewer rail staff can work, a number of operators are introducing amended timetables

The Rail Delivery Group


Transport for Wales showed a staggering 49 cancellations on Monday, TransPennine Express cancelled 37 and Avanti West Coast cancelled 25.

Even major commuter stations, like London Victoria, have been negatively affected, with Southern stating it will not be putting on any direct services there until next Monday.

Ministers have been tasked with developing “robust contingency plans” in order to cope with the rising cases of worker absences – as Covid case numbers rise, we could see up to a quarter of staff of work.

Keep in mind, the transport sector is not the only sector hit by worker shortages, as the retail and hospitality industries are also affected by surging cases and self-isolation.

The Cabinet Office has asked public sector leaders to prepare for a worst case scenarios of 10%, 20% and 25% absence rates.

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