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Train firm cancelling services as coronavirus causes staff shortages

South Western Railway is set to bring in an amended timetable.

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South Western Railway is cancelling services ‘at very short notice’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

South Western Railway is cancelling services ‘at very short notice’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

South Western Railway is cancelling services ‘at very short notice’ (Victoria Jones/PA)

One of the UK’s biggest train companies is cancelling services “at very short notice” due to staff shortages caused by coronavirus.

South Western Railway (SWR) is preparing to implement an amended timetable.

A spokesman for the firm said: “Like most organisations, we’re seeing more staff having to stay at home unwell.

“That means we’re having to cancel a small number of trains at very short notice.

“We are trying to avoid this wherever possible and apologise for any inconvenience it causes and hope you understand.”

By 9am on Wednesday, some 4% of its trains were cancelled, according to the trains.im rail data site.

Demand for rail travel has collapsed due to the Covid-19 outbreak.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said passenger numbers fell by a fifth last week.

Train operators have reportedly asked the Government to renegotiate their franchise agreements to allow them to run reduced timetables and make smaller payments.

PA