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End of Covid restrictions see UK train services back on track

As governments across the UK scale back Covid restrictions, train services reopen services across the country.

Due to the pandemic, many rail operators reduced service frequency, and some stopped entirely. The pandemic saw a significant reduction in passenger numbers and some rail companies suffering significant staff shortages due to workers isolating.

“More and more people are returning to our railway”

South Western Railway Managing Director, Claire Mann

Specifically, the Omicron variant led to widespread cuts to timetables to reduce short-notice cancellations in December and January.

As a result of fewer absentee staff and busier trains, train operators Avanti West Coast (AWC) and East Midlands Railway (EMR) have announced that they are adding back more services again.

According to the latest passenger data, railway usage back to around 70 per cent of pre-pandemic levels.

AWC has now doubled the frequency of services between London Euston, Birmingham and Manchester. North Wales and Chester will get a second direct daily service to and from the capital and further timetable additions will be made on May 15.

Managing Director at Avanti West Coast, Phil Whittingham said: “As Covid restrictions are eased and people are returning to rail, we are pleased to announce a phased increase in service levels in line with demand.

“Avanti West Coast remains committed to supporting the ongoing recovery of our economy and the communities we serve, whilst enabling our customers to travel with confidence. We will continue to monitor demand and work with governments and industry partners to ensure we strike the right balance between connectivity and value for money for taxpayers.”

EMR has reintroduced 33 regional Sunday services and will reinstate its full intercity timetable. Other operators to increase services include South Western Railway (SWR), London North Eastern Railway and ScotRail.

Announcing the change, SWR Managing Director, Claire Mann said: “It has been a difficult period for our railway and the customers it serves, with significant staff shortages giving us no choice but to temporarily reduce our timetable last month.  

“With staff availability now consistently improving, we are pleased to be able to announce this uplift, which will essentially see service levels return to where they were prior to the spread of Omicron.  

“More and more people are returning to our railway, and this timetable will ensure that we match capacity and demand while delivering reliability for customers.”

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