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Coronavirus: emergency rail timetables

Updated 08.45

TRAIN operators have started to publish summaries of how they intend to reduce their services from Monday, following the Department for Transport’s announcement today.

The aim is to avoid running ‘ghost trains’, as transport secretary Grant Shapps has said, but also to maintain transport links for essential workers. Other forms of travel are being discouraged. The reduced number of passenger trains will also release capacity for freight trains carrying vital supplies, such as food for supermarkets.

Great Western Railway is planning to run hourly services from London to South Wales, London to Bristol Temple Meads and London to Plymouth, where passengers to and from Cornwall will change trains. The Night Riviera sleeper service between London and Penzance will run for the last time tonight, and Pullman Dining restaurant services on key intercity trains are also being withdrawn. Services on regional and branch lines will be revised.

GWR interim managing director Matthew Golton said: ‘Our responsibility is to run a service that can be relied upon at this time. We are taking sensible measures to make sure we are able to do so.’

Avanti West Coast will provide hourly services between London and Wolverhampton, Liverpool Lime Street, Manchester Piccadilly and Glasgow Central. The London and North Wales route will have one train a day, with a further return service between London and Chester. In a related development, Avanti West Coast said it will no longer accept cash at stations or on its trains.

There will be ‘significant changes’ in Scotland, and ScotRail has published its revised timetables. The Scottish Government’s transport secretary Michael Matheson said: ‘Following discussions with rail industry partners, passenger services will see a reduction as we continue to tackle the coronavirus.

’We know that rail provides an important service in moving passengers and goods around the country however we will reach a point where travel is reduced to essential journeys only.

‘Moving to a reduced timetable will not only help ensure some passenger services continue to run, it will enable freight to be prioritised so goods and emergency supplies such as medicines can be moved around the country.’

Greater Anglia said its revised service will be similar to the Sunday timetable, but with additional trains at the start and the end of the day for passengers travelling to and from work.

Most GA routes will have an hourly service throughout the day, including the core London-Norwich line, although there will be a half-hourly service between Hertford East and Stratford and between Southend Victoria and London Liverpool Street.

The combination of suburban and intercity services on the Great Eastern Main Line will mean that three trains will run each hour between Colchester, Chelmsford and London

Southeastern has published a map of its reduced service frequencies, and West Midlands Trains said its new schedules will cut the level of services by half, although the details are ‘currently being finalised’.

Meanwhile, reductions on Transport for London services come into effect today, with around 40 Underground stations being closed until further notice.

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