Rail minister Chris Heaton-Harris leaves DfT
A new rail minister has been appointed to replace Chris Heaton-Harris, who has become minister for Europe. His replacement is Wendy Morton, 54, who is the MP for Aldridge-Brownhills. The Railway Industry Association’s chief executive Darren Caplan has welcomed her. He continued: ‘We look forward to working with Ms Morton at this pivotal time for UK rail. 2022 will be a particularly important year, with the railway industry continuing to support the UK during the Coronavirus pandemic, the sector undergoing a major restructure to the new Great British Railways model, and as we deliver major improvements to the network. I would also like to say thank you to Chris Heaton-Harris. There are few rail ministers who have had to deal with such a crisis as Covid, but during the past 18 months Mr Heaton-Harris really has worked tirelessly with the rail supply sector, to both ensure services kept running and to enable work to continue on renewing and enhancing railway infrastructure and rolling stock at a time when many other sectors could not function, through no fault of their own. We wish him the very best of luck in his new role.’
Train services change again in reaction to new Covid crisis
The latest variant of Covid-19 and new restrictions on travelling to work have triggered more changes to train services. Greater Anglia has reduced the number of trains it runs from today, and is also making contingency plans in case its staff become affected by the Omicron strain. GA said ‘We believe this is better than cancelling trains on the day.’ However, GWR is restoring a half-hourly service between London and Cardiff today. Class 387 units are also being introduced on the route in addition to the existing IETs.