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Transport services slashed as demand collapses

Train, coach and bus frequencies are being cut amid a collapse in demand and Government advice on social distancing.

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Train companies are reducing services due to the coronavirus (Victoria Jones/PA)

Train companies are reducing services due to the coronavirus (Victoria Jones/PA)

Train companies are reducing services due to the coronavirus (Victoria Jones/PA)

Public transport operators have started slashing services due to the coronavirus.

Train, coach and bus frequencies are being cut amid a collapse in demand and Government advice on avoiding non-essential travel.

Northern Trains said there will be cancellations on a dozen routes on Thursday “as a result of Covid-19”.

The affected routes include Liverpool-Manchester Airport, Leeds/Sheffield–Nottingham and Newcastle-Carlisle.

South Western Railway said it is cancelling trains at short notice as, “like most organisations, we’re seeing more staff having to stay at home unwell”.

Govia Thameslink Railway has cancelled a “small number of services” due to workers being unwell or self-isolating.

Great Western Railway has announced its sleeper service between London Paddington and Penzance – known as the Night Riviera – will be suspended after Friday “to protect our customers and colleagues”.

Robert Nisbet, director of nations and regions at industry body the Rail Delivery Group, said train companies will operate services to “as many places as possible in line with demand”.

He added that this must be balanced with “ensuring we are able to maintain staffing levels needed”.

Transport for London said it will close up to 40 London Underground stations until further notice in a bid to “ensure a safe and reliable service”.

The Night Tube, which normally operates on Friday and Saturday nights, has been suspended, and there will be no Waterloo and City line services.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

Buses in the capital will operate fewer services.

The UK’s largest operator of scheduled coach services, National Express, said it will reduce its capacity by 80%.

This means it will be running the equivalent of a Christmas Day timetable every day.

The firm’s bus networks – which operate across the West Midlands and urban services in Coventry and Dundee – have been cut to a typical Sunday service.

This amounts to the removal of around 40% of its bus mileage.

Stagecoach will introduce a reduced timetable on bus services in Greater Manchester from Monday “until further notice”.

The company said the new schedule has been “carefully created” to ensure critical routes are maintained “wherever possible”.

Earlier this week, the firm predicted that its bus and scheduled coach services would see a 75% fall in demand.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has spoken of his desire to avoid “ghost trains”, but noted that it may be desirable to keep as many services running as possible to provide space for passengers to comply with social distancing requirements.

He told MPs on Tuesday that rail companies, as well as bus firms and airlines, could be temporarily nationalised to help them through the coronavirus outbreak.

He said good organisations “shouldn’t be going bust” as a result of problems caused by the spread of Covid-19.

PA