Will trains run on Christmas Day? Train operators running reduced services - as Covid causes staff shortages

Train times over Christmas Eve and Boxing Day could change last-minute as staff Covid cases continue to cause disruption

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Rail operators have blamed Covid-related staff shortages for widespread cancellations during the Christmas getaway.

A number of train firms will be running reduced timetables over Christmas due to workers being off sick or isolating.

Passenger numbers have also been hit by the advice to work from home following the government’s roll out of Plan B.

Services are likely to increase this week as people make festive trips - though no services will be running on Christmas Day.

Rail operators have blamed coronavirus-related staff shortages for widespread cancellations during the Christmas getaway (image: PA)Rail operators have blamed coronavirus-related staff shortages for widespread cancellations during the Christmas getaway (image: PA)
Rail operators have blamed coronavirus-related staff shortages for widespread cancellations during the Christmas getaway (image: PA)

Here’s which train services will be affected over the next two weeks.

What have the train services said? 

CrossCountry said it is “expecting widespread disruption to our services this week”.

It went on: “Please pull your journey forward to sooner rather than later to get to your end destination as early as possible.”

Dozens of trains are being cancelled by the company each day, and many others have fewer carriages than usual.

Cancellations have been made on several of its routes, including Manchester to Bournemouth via Birmingham; Bristol to Paignton, Devon; Cardiff to Nottingham; and Birmingham to Stansted Airport.

Avanti West Coast told passengers: “The pandemic is unfortunately resulting in some staff shortages.

“We’re doing everything we can to run our full timetable but there may be some short-notice cancellations.”

The firm has removed all peak ticket restrictions over the Christmas period in a bid to spread demand.

Govia Thameslink Railway said a train crew shortage means there will be a reduced service across the Southern, Thameslink and Great Northern network until the end of the day on Christmas Eve.

Greater Anglia said it has removed trains from its timetables due to falling passenger numbers “as people follow advice to work from home”.

It added: “We also have to plan for our staff being affected by the Omicron variant, especially as we’re already starting to see the early signs of its impact, to ensure we can continue to provide a reliable service.”

Passengers who have booked a ticket on a cancelled service can travel on either the train before or after.

Northern said it is operating amended timetables due to “Covid and crew unavailability and major engineering works”.

Disruption is expected to continue until at least January 3.

Does the disruption affect trains to Scotland?

ScotRail is running an amended service on several routes until further notice due to Covid-19 related illness.

TransPennine Express said delays and short-notice cancellations over the next fortnight are due to “a lack of available staff caused by industrial relations issues”.

What should I do if my train is cancelled?

Under the National Rail Conditions of Travel, if you have purchased a ticket and your train is cancelled or delayed, and you choose not to travel, you may return the unused ticket to the original retailer which the ticket was purchased from and you will be given a full refund with no administration fee being charged.

A spokeswoman for the Rail Delivery Group, which represents train operators, explained it’s important to check routes before you travel as departure times could change.

“Like everyone else, our staff are susceptible to the virus but as we showed last year during the pandemic, we will ensure that key workers can get to where they need to be,” she said.

“We aren’t able to run every train as planned at the moment but we know people want confidence that their train is going to turn up so we will be working hard to give clear, accurate and timely information and people should check before they travel.”

When do trains run during the Christmas period?

On Christmas Eve and New Years Eve, train services run as usual but may end slightly earlier.

On Christmas Day and Boxing Day, train timetables stop - though airport transfer services will run on December 26.

On New Year’s Day, services will run as usual but passengers are told to expect a later start.

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