Covid travel disruptions: trains halted and delayed across UK as Covid and strikes lead to staff shortages

Despite hundreds of services being cancelled or reduced, National Rail said 95 percent of services are still running as normal

<p>Passengers have been held up at train stations across the UK since the Omicron variant became the dominant strain and Covid restrictions were reintroduced (Picture: Getty)</p>

Passengers have been held up at train stations across the UK since the Omicron variant became the dominant strain and Covid restrictions were reintroduced (Picture: Getty)

As Covid continues to wreak havoc across the UK, staff sickness and isolation has led to a number of issues across rail services.

From Scotland to Birmingham, London and Leeds, commuters have been warned to expect cancellations and delays across the festive season and into January.

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In addition to Covid related issues, engineering works and strikes have added to the difficulties rail operators are facing.

So, what networks have been affected and when will things go back to normal? This is what you need to know.

Which rail networks are experiencing disruption?

TransPennine Express, ScotRail, Avanti West Coast, Northern Rail, LNER and Greater Anglia have all reported an impact on services caused by a lack of available staff.

While isolation periods have been under review by Westminster and devolved governments, there continues to be a 10 day isolation period for anyone who has or lives with someone who tested positive for Covid.

While Covid has been a major issue for services, East Midlands Railway is also impacted by industrial action by the RMT union, with an amended service expected to run on January 2.

RMT General Secretary Mick Lynch said the disruption could have been avoided if rail companies had taken the concerns of staff seriously.

“The added problem of Covid absences proves that the railway runs at its limits on staffing levels and should mean an immediate halt to threatened staff cuts in the New Year,” he added.

There are also disruptions due to engineering works which Network Rail claim have been scheduled to take place during the festive season.

National Rail said the 370 engineering projects it is carrying out over Christmas were planned “months, and in some cases years, in advance”.

England, North

In the north, Leeds will have a reduced service between December 27 and January 3, including a “very limited” service on January 2.

On 27 December, there were 12 service disruptions due to staff illness - including major disruptions in Saltburns, Middlesbrough and Leeds.

Disruptions should also be expected at Carlisle, Preston and those travelling from Scotland to London Euston.

England, West

In the west, CrossCountry trains will not call at Bristol Parkway between December 27 and December 31.

Some Great Western Railway services to and from Bristol Temple Meads will also be affected.


Scotrail has posted on its website: “Due to the rapid spread of the COVID-19 Omicron variant and its impact on staff availability, we will be operating a reduced timetable from 4 January until 28 January, as well as our normal reduced Christmas timetable.

“Please check the Timetable Update page for the services impacted.”

On 27 December, Scotrail also posted to Twitter: “Our timetable is changing between 4 & 28 January 2022. We have colleagues absent due to COVID-19 and we want to give customers some certainty about which trains are running. The alterations are mainly in the Central Belt, but everyone should check their journey before travelling.”


The London tube has also been affected by the continued Covid issues,  with the Piccadilly line closed between Heathrow Airport and Acton Town until December 30.

There is no service on the Jubilee line between Willesden Green and Wembley Park nor on the Metropolitan line between Wembley Park and Aldgate until December 28.

The Metropolitan and City line has been shut completely since December 23 and will not reopen until “early January”, according to TfL’s website.

The London Overground is shut between Gospel Oak and Stratford until December 29.

Transport for London said: “Between Friday 24 December 2021 and Monday 3 January 2022, most of our services will be running. However, there will be service changes and planned works on the public transport and road networks.”